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16 06, 2019

Seeking Lifetime Moments

2019-06-14T16:13:05-04:00

The lake is still, reflecting like a giant mirror of rich blue cloud-filled morning sky. Cool air meeting the warmth of the water produces a thin layer of fog dangling over the glass, muting the colors of the dark forest greens and converting them to shades of blue gray. Ripples interrupt the stillness as the feet of a raptor swoop down to snatch up a small fish lingering right below the surface. In the distance a purple blue mountain hails from above, calling me to climb her.

View of a Candy Store

Last year, toward the end of summer, I hiked to the top of that mountain with my 50-pound backpack of paint, easel, tripod, painting panels, and an enthusiastic spirit. The view from the top, a giant panorama of lakes, mountains, and sky, give me more choices to paint than a candy store of tempting treats, knowing I could take only one … at least on this trip.

Creativity on Steroids

Here today, the promise of an unscheduled summer ahead, I tell myself I’ll climb it more often, get out and paint more often, and end the summer with a stack of painted memories of this, my favorite place. The Adirondacks captured my spirit decades ago, first as a photographer and then, knowing of its endless beauty, I converted to painting, which allows me to push the limits of my creativity in a way I never could with a camera.

Intentional Slowing

My conversion also slowed my pace. For decades I’d travel to distant lands, iconic scenes, and stunning vistas only to set up, take my shot, and move on to the next trophy. Somehow I felt guilty — why am I not packing a lunch or a backpack and staying here, in this one spot, all day? Why am I not camping here for a few days? The answer always came back that there was so much more to see, and stopping would keep me from seeing it all.

My Own Voice

Painters like me often use photos for reference, which comes in handy when snapping a rare moment you otherwise couldn’t capture even with a sketch pad in hand. And though I do that from time to time, I do so less now that I’ve discovered that time in a place impacts the feeling of my paintings. After all, for me it’s not about making a reference photo or recording the place for posterity, it’s about saying something more about what I see, the impact of my study of the scene, the memory of the place or the experience.

Finding Helpers

Rarely do I sell the small paintings I make on location, because they are my memories and very precious to me. On occasion my gallery will receive a bigger version, painted in the studio from one of the small studies. Each painting is tied to something … the reason I stopped the car in a particular spot or the reason I set up my easel in this place on a hike, and often the paintings hold reminders of children who stopped by alongside their parents, and I let them paint on my canvas to encourage them. Or the friends I was with, painting in the rain in the shelter of a minivan, or the animals that wandered into the scene.

A Big List

There is much to be done this summer. Not only paintings I want to do in the vast landscape, but my son wants to sit for a portrait, something he has denied me for the last 17 years. I also have a painting I want to do of a local Native American acquaintance, who has such an interesting face and such beautiful costumes. And the best Father’s Day gift of all would be time with my kids, as much as possible all summer, whether it’s them doing what I like to do, or me doing what they want to do. One son wants to hike all 46 peaks of the Adirondacks, though I may slow him down if invited.

Drawing in Family

I’ve often quoted RIchard Saul Wurman, who talks about how many summers we each have left, and how we want to make the most of them. This will be my last summer without triplet high school kids — next year at this time they will be in college. It’s hard to know if they’ll spend the rest of their summers with us. We can only hope, and try to provide a place to visit that is a magnet against their distractions of steel.

Ultimate Father’s Day

Narrowing this concept, I have to ask how many more summers, or how much more time, will our kids get with us? Or for those blessed to still have our parents, how many more summers will we get with them? This is more evident than ever since I recently lost my mother, and for me an ideal Father’s Day would be time with my wife, my kids, and my own father. For years I struggled to find the ultimate Father’s Day gift, only to come to the stark realization that the best gift I can give is time with them. It’s becoming more evident, with the prospect of distant colleges, future marriages and children in possibly faraway places, and the birds leaving the nest to start their own nests. I marvel at families who have managed to keep their kids close to home, yet I also want my kids to experience the world and chase the dreams that may take them as far away as Mars.

Looking Beyond Flaws

Today as we honor our fathers, we don’t have to honor their flaws, their mistakes, or our grievances over past conflicts. It’s a day to look the other way, and honor them for the gift of life. For some it may end there, while others honor the gift of sacrifice, of their fathers’ toil to keep food on the table, for the time fathers took nurturing us when they had to find a way in spite of a busy schedule or working multiple jobs. We honor their words, their stories, their wisdom, and their love.

Honor Good Memories

This day is painful for some and meaningless for others, and for you, we honor the good memories and hope that the painful memories don’t cloud the good that came from the time you had.

Here’s to You, Dad

To fathers, I salute you. I never understood what fatherhood meant until I had my own kids. I hope your day is filled with calls, or visits, or at least good memories. It’s not the day to dredge up the bad, or if it is, remember that the most powerful word in the dictionary is forgiveness.

Eric Rhoads

PS: My dad is 93, in great shape physically and mentally, socially active, working 15-hour days, and he loves life. I consider myself blessed to have a dad who has tried to be there for me and my brothers. If he could not be there in person, he was on the phone. Sometimes he would drag us to business meetings or to work conventions — we often didn’t want to go, and though we thought he was teaching us future lessons to apply to our own lives (and he was), I now know he was grabbing moments and creating memories.

One of my most powerful memories was a visit with my dad to New York when I was 14, to a convention or something. When we had a free Saturday, he asked what I wanted to do, and I wanted to visit a New York radio station. He made it happen. Throughout his life, he made sacrifices we could not understand as kids, but the fruit of those sacrifices was used to build memories in our later years. I have him to thank for introducing us to the Adirondacks, and so much more.

No, he’s not perfect. But then, there is only one perfect Father. The rest of us are flawed, sometimes make boneheaded decisions, and we go through life like pinballs, bouncing from one experience to the next, never knowing if we’ll bounce around for a while or end up in the gutter, hoping to get another shot, after a bad decision. We do what we know, we do the best we can, but we are not perfect. Rather than looking at the flaws of our fathers (which sometimes are strengths that we perceive as flaws), let’s embrace them for who they are and understand that our expectations of perfection or what we want them to be may also be flawed.

Dad, I’m grateful for the endless love, the endless sacrifices, and your endless efforts to keep making memories for the family.

Seeking Lifetime Moments2019-06-14T16:13:05-04:00
9 06, 2019

The Gift of Friendship

2019-05-29T17:55:57-04:00

Trying to stay warm, I’m in my red flannel “buffalo check” pajamas. A fire is roaring in the old stone fireplace of this 100-year-old house. Above me, an “out of service” canoe, as old as the house, hangs from the rafters, displaying the beauty of its wooden slats and craftsmanship. The windows, fogged with mist, display the deep greens of the forest and old growth trees surrounding the house. Birds tweet feverishly, and the giant 600-year-old oak in the front is swaying to the breeze, while its branches reach out to cloak the entire cabin.

 

The Giant Sucking Sound

Each year a giant magnet pulls me to a place I love passionately. Though I’ve traveled the world, and love many places, there is something about the Adirondacks that has touched my life since the time I was introduced to it, over 30 years ago. I’ve always felt like it’s where I belong. Always where I felt closest to nature.

 

A Big Day Ahead

One of my biggest goals is to return here every summer, which is why, four miles up the road, there is a group of “campers” at my 9th Annual Publisher’s Invitational event. As soon as I finish my coffee and get ready for the day, I’ll join them in the cafeteria for morning announcements about where we’re going to paint today, our first day. Everyone checked in last night and we had a lovely dinner and orientation and a chance to get to know one another better. We’ll do this every day this week, painting all day, starting and ending with meals together, sitting up at night talking, playing music, painting portraits, and looking at our “catch of the day” — the paintings we’ve all done.

 

One More Time No Matter What

I set up this annual event knowing our time at the Adirondacks may one day come to an end because of the eventual sale of the old family home on the lake. This event allows me to return at least once a year no matter what. Only time will reveal how that works out.

 

Summer Camp

Nothing like this had existed in my life since I was a kid. I remember going to summer Boy Scout camp at Camp Big Island two or three summers in a row, and also to the YMCA’s Camp Potawotami for a couple of years. It was a chance to see old friends that you saw only once a year.

For me, and others, this event fills that “summer camp” void. We start with hugs and will spend hours catching up about what’s happened in our lives during the last year. And there are new friends who join us each year, making it even more wonderful.

 

Eric’s Own Commune?

When I was a young man of about 30, I recall my big dream of buying a giant piece of property on a lake, inviting all my favorite people to build houses on that property, and having a lodge where we could all cook together and hang out all summer, every summer. I never got around to doing it, but this may have turned out to be better — I’ve made friends I would never have known otherwise, because of people who showed up or came with others.

 

Crystalized Thinking

This event has made me realize the importance of friendship and of making a point to spend time with friends every single year. Though some come and go due to family obligations, rarely does someone miss two years in a row. When someone is not there, it’s not quite the same without them. And I kinda hope this continues, in some form, for the rest of my life. It’s that precious to me.

I’ve often talked about the importance of family traditions, but I now believe that friendship traditions are also critical. Seeing those who are important to us at least once a year makes for a rich life.

Of course, local friends should be seen as frequently as possible, but even then our busy lives sometimes mean we get together only once or twice a year. I joke with a lot of my local painter friends that I have to go to the Plein Air Convention in another city to see them. That should not be.

 

Revisiting Priorities

Some recent tragedies in my life have helped me revisit my personal priorities. Though my mom’s recent funeral wasn’t fun, seeing family members and old neighbors and friends for a few hours afterward was a highlight of my life.

Finding more family time is at the top of the list … making more time for my kids, my dad, my brothers and their families, my wife’s family … and seeing the other friends has moved up to a high priority as well. All too often old friends are seen every few years, if that, and when we get together we wonder why we don’t do it more often. In reality, what can be more important? Without the rich experiences of friends and family, everything else pales.

I feel blessed that my painting events like the Publisher’s Invitational, Fall Color Week, the Plein Air Convention, and the Figurative Art Convention provide me with rich experiences with painting friends. But my focus is to find more time with everyone at these events, and outside of these events.

What about you?

Who would you miss if you got the call they had disappeared? Call those people NOW and find a way to get together with them soon.

Most good things that happen in life are not accidental — most are planned. Are you making enough of an effort to plan time with friends? If not, consider scheduling something now. Make a list and ask yourself who you most want to spend time with this year.

Also, where is healing needed?

A friend estranged from her dad for two decades recently told me that upon his death she realized her grievance was petty, and she now regrets the distance she put between the two of them.

There is no time like the present. Time is fleeting and lives are fragile.

Make time for friendships. It’s the one thing you’ll never regret.

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: If we have not met and if this painting thing seems fun, I’ll do an event much like this one at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch in New Mexico this fall, and then I’m doing an art lovers’ trip to Provence and the South of France, and Scotland too. Make some time for yourself. Let’s become friends in person.

The Gift of Friendship2019-05-29T17:55:57-04:00
2 06, 2019

Making Dreams Come True

2019-05-29T16:44:57-04:00

A symphony of birdsong fills the morning air as the early-rising sun streaks through the trees, making long purple shadows and golden light as it hits the tops of the tall grass and pear-shaped cactus. A bright yellow spider makes its way across the glass door of my little brown art studio, probably frustrated after his web across the doorway was deconstructed in a split second. Cool breezes move the trees and chill the air slightly before the afternoon blast of heat melts everything in sight. It will soon be time to escape the summer heat, if just for a week or two. My painters’ event in the Adirondacks, starting this weekend, will be saturated with deep green forests, cushy reddish brown pine needle forest floors, and gushing waterfalls, all waiting to be preserved in paint.

 

Seeing Past Stress

Thoughts of my plans get me through an otherwise busy, sometimes stressful year. Though I used to be Mr. Spontaneous, something I learned from my dad, who would wake us on a summer morning and say, “Get up, we’re leaving for vacation in one hour.” I’m sure the demands of his job were such that he could not often plan. I followed suit for many years. Though I love an occasional random and spontaneous trip, I’ve found that having something to look forward to is the best possible medicine to get me through busy moments. Knowing something is coming in a month, or even a year, is soothing.

 

Gifts From Mom

Last weekend at my mom’s memorial, I was reminded of three traits she had that I think I inherited. She loved to travel (she was a travel agent), she loved to be with friends, and she loved to find ways to make people happy. My life has been designed to incorporate those things.

All of this came out of a thought process to design my life, which made me think about what would make a deeply rich life, what would make for wonderful experiences, and what would make me happy at the same time.

 

No Retirement

I also combined this with thoughts about retirement, which came down to not ever wanting to retire. I love what I do, I love the people I work with, and I love the people I get to interact with, most of whom have become my friends. If I stopped, I’d be spending my time trying to get back in.

When designing my life, I tried to determine how much traveling I would do if I were not working, and I found a way to do that now so I don’t have to retire.

 

Exact Plans for a Rich Life

Designing my travel was very deliberate. For instance, I love to visit Europe, I love to visit museums, and I love the perks of my job, which often get me invited behind the scenes at the museums, often to meet with curators or directors. But I also love being with friends and I love sharing those perks with them, because chances are they would never get to do those things on their own. So I do an annual trip where we visit different parts of Europe. The one this fall is our 10th, which will be very special. This trip scratches the art lover and Europe itch, and I don’t have to wait till retirement to get it done.

 

Planning for Painting

I was also deliberate about painting trips. Life is busy, and time to travel to beautiful places to paint has to be scheduled. Though I sneak out on a weekend here and there, having a week of painting is life-changing because it improves my work as I do two or three paintings a day. So I do this twice a year … once in the spring to get tuned up for summer, and once in the fall, to get some color and a last shot before winter. Sometimes I even do a winter trip to someplace warm and exotic. I always invite anyone who wants to come along, and I usually end up with 60 or a hundred painters for a week, which is a blast. Sometimes they are pros — for instance, someone very famous is showing up at my Adirondack event next week — and there are also people at all levels, including beginners. We all hang together because we are all equals. (I reserve my summers when the kids are off to be with them and do no business travel.)

 

There Is Always a Way

Frankly, I would not be able to do this much travel if it were not for making it part of my work, but I started by saying, “How can I accomplish these goals?” and then worked backward to find a way. And I think there always is a way.

Many artists, for instance, schedule workshops in beautiful places so they can get others to pay them to go to those places. Others teach art on cruise ships, or get free months at artist fellowships in beautiful places. Some countries will even pay for artists to come and bring other artists in order to boost tourism. The key is determining what you want to do, and working backward to find a way to accomplish it. Start with the goal, then make a step-by-step plan.

 

“Someday” Is a Copout

For several years I invited my mom to come to the Plein Air Convention with me, because she loved to paint and would have loved it. “Someday,” she would say. “This isn’t a good year, but keep asking.” Years passed, I kept asking, but it never happened.

Too often “someday” gets in the way of action. There is never a good time. Never perfect conditions. Never enough money. I could tell a dozen stories of somedays that never came, people who told me they were going on one of my trips but who have since become disabled, or worse.

 

You Are Healthy and Alive Now

The opposite also happens. I met a lovely lady at my Fall Color Week who came every year, and planned to keep coming back. Little did she know this past fall was her last. She passed away a couple of months later.

No matter what your dreams are … act now. They might be travel dreams, big goals, something you’ve always wanted to do.

What are you wanting to do that you’re not doing?

Where do you want to travel that you’ve not yet been?

My friend Richard Saul Wurman says we should think in life of “how many summers” we have left. Of course, we never know.

Whatever is getting in the way, is it worth it? Is there a way around it?

My hope is that you have the rich experiences you desire in your life. I encourage you not to play the “someday” game.

 

Eric Rhoads

 

PS: My event, starting on the 8th in the Adirondacks, can fit a few more people. I’ve already hit my goal, but I can open up a couple more rooms if necessary. (Though that’s not true at every event, I can do it this year at this one.) I have a contract this year and next year — after that, all bets are off. Hop in the car and paint with us. Even if you’re new to this painting thing. You’ll meet your new family and be instantly embraced.

Making Dreams Come True2019-05-29T16:44:57-04:00
26 05, 2019

I’m Cured of a Disease

2019-05-22T13:10:54-04:00

Whiirrrr goes the ceiling fan overhead, trying its hardest to move the thick, hot, sticky air inside the little fenced-in back porch. To my left is a small two-story rabbit cage, complete with a little pet bunny. At my feet lie three dogs, two tiny and one fairly large. Orchards in the garden are in full bloom and the scent fills the air.

On a Plane

Yesterday morning we flew into Fort Lauderdale as a family. One of our first stops was “Nana’s” old house, where the kids loved to go … not only to visit their grandmother, but to play on the nearby beach. It was a chance to visit the house one last time and commit it to memory, much like I did with my grandparents’ home before they died 30 years ago. Those memories have served me well for a lifetime, and my kids too will have fond memories of “Nana’s house.”

Memories of Grandparents

Some of my most cherished possessions are a couple of little memories I picked up when my grandparents passed … a small 8” x 10” brown-and-white print of Vigée-Lebrun’s portrait with her daughter, which I looked at often when staying at their house. The other is a painting of two deer by a stream, done by my grandma’s sister. It may be the reason I fell in love with painting. I can remember hot summer nights with the old round black fan in the window and the streetlights throwing light on that painting. Now it’s my kids’ turn. A chance, along with other family members, to pick out a few choice memories.

The Big Sift

The last time I was in my mom’s house was a couple of weeks ago, the day she passed. Knowing I had a busy summer ahead with work and family plans, I needed to play my part in sifting through a lifetime of stuff. Because Mom grew up in the Great Depression, she never would throw anything away. Her motto: “We might need it someday.” Though I can’t possibly relate to what she and her family went through being without, I know she trained me well.

Well Trained

As a child I would do a spring cleaning of my little green bedroom, fill up my wastebaskets, go off to school, and find everything back on my shelves again when I got home. She would say things like, “We paid good money for that. You might regret throwing it out.” Or, “You’ll look back and wish you had that as a memory.” Therefore I rapidly went from being a clean freak to being a pack rat. And like Mom, for decades I’ve saved every little thing because I might need it again someday.

Going through Mom’s stuff was cathartic and helped me cope with the grief of her passing. It was also a chance to see hundreds of old photos — which will be scanned, saved, and distributed to the family. With so much stuff, I had to set some rules: All photos get kept. All financial papers older than 7 years go away. Anything that looks like insurance, stocks, or important contracts gets saved. Almost everything else goes unless it has family memories attached.

Signals

Thankfully, Mom made it easier than I expected. She wrote notes on everything — an envelope would say, for example, “Receipts for taxes 1958.” This was a gift. If something had meaning to her, she wrote it on the outside. But I had to comb through everything because I quickly learned she would stuff a $10 bill inside an old pillbox or between the pages of a book.

The Great Depression

Because of her generation, I suppose, when everything was on paper, my mom printed out every e-mail she ever got and printed out every photo someone sent her by e-mail, not understanding that everything was saved on her computer. Those alone filled up several garbage bags.

At the end of the first three days, when I had to return to my family and my work, we had probably filled a hundred garbage bags, without touching personal items, clothes, furniture, and special memories.

I’m Officially Cured

Upon returning home, I told my wife, “I’m cured.” I declared that I am no longer a pack rat. My kids will have no idea what to do with things, the meaning of my junk, what is valuable and what is clutter.

On a Mission

As soon as I returned home, I started decluttering my art studio. I used to keep every old jar I might need someday, or a favorite old brush that was no longer usable. I went through my drawers and filled a few bags with stuff I had saved. Then I attacked my office, which had files of things I’d been keeping for decades and realized I no longer needed. I threw out thousands of old business cards, which not only made me realize how many people I’ve met, but that I’d not looked at some of those cards in 30 years. Why save them? Anyone I need to reach now is in my contacts folder on my computer. I’ve filled another 10 bags from my office, and I’m just getting started. Drawers and files that have been cluttered for years are now empty. My once-disheveled bookshelves are neatly organized. There are no piles.

Free at Last

It took my mom’s passing to teach me that getting rid of clutter is very freeing. It’s been in the back of my mind as a someday project for years, yet it never got done. It’s also taught me that if I don’t use it, don’t touch it for a couple of years, it needs to get trashed or sent somewhere for someone else to enjoy.

Don’t Pass It On

I’ve learned that someday never comes when it comes to clutter. My mom’s gift to me was allowing me and family members days of work so that we know the kinds of messes not to leave for our own kids to deal with.

A Big Dent

Whether or not I get through all my someday clutter piles in the garage, I’ve already made a significant dent. Rather than keeping things as memories, I’m happy taking photos to remember them. I’m more likely to see things in my photos on my phone than to touch them in person as they sit in a file cabinet somewhere.

The Big Rip

I also had a horrible habit of ripping pages out of magazines, writing notes on them, and saving them. I probably found 1,000 pages as I cleaned up. I looked at every one of them, and instead of keeping the ones that were still relevant, I snapped photos and immediately e-mailed them to others if action was needed. And last week while reading a magazine, I ripped out a page, caught myself, shot a photo, and threw the page away.

The End of an Addiction

I’m happy to report that my days of being a pack rat have come to an end. My lifelong addiction to stuff is over. My intent is to label everything, write on things with instructions or meaning (heaven forbid my kids send my best, most valuable paintings to Goodwill), and I’ve always written the story on the back of every painting I do … where I was, who I was with.

What about you?

Spring cleaning is something I’m told other families did every year. I can’t say I experienced it, but my intent is to declutter at least annually.

I feel unusually free, and my wife shared that going into my office and other areas had been stressful for her because of my piles of stuff. Those piles are gone.

The Gift

One of the best gifts you can give your family is to get rid of everything they won’t need, and to label everything they might need and mention why it’s important. Though I’d mentioned clutter to my mom a couple of dozen times over the last 30 years, she eventually got to the point where she was too feeble to even lift a box. She told me that the idea of moving overwhelmed her. Thankfully, we were able to keep her in her home rather than moving her into an assisted living facility.

Emotional Baggage

Decluttering isn’t just a gift for loved ones, it’s a gift for you. Stuff is tied to emotion. We hold on to things for a reason. Maybe to hold on to a memory, or maybe to feel more comfortable. Perhaps just because we might need it someday. Though I can’t speak for you, I’ve found decluttering to release a lot of anxiety I did not know I had. Someday never comes.

In the airport I was wandering around the gift shops, thinking, “I’ll just end up throwing it away. I don’t need it.” Now before I buy something I think about whether it’s going to end up in a pile, a file, or the garage. I think twice. In my big cleanse I threw away dozens of gadgets I’d bought over the years that were THE hot gadget at the moment. Soon the next gadget would come along, rendering the old one obsolete. Yet because I had paid money for something, even though I knew I’d never use it again, it was hard to part with. I threw away 30 years of gadgets and cords I’d been saving. It was insane to have kept it all.

Yes, We Can Still Change

It’s never too late. I just made a significant change in my life and overcame something that has been a lifetime addiction. I’m now rethinking what I need, what I buy, what I keep, and what I shed. In reality, I need very little. Everything else is just a burden.  

Is it time for you to declutter?

Are you clinging to things?

It took me decades to learn this lesson. Less is more.

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: The week before Father’s Day I’ll be painting with a bunch of friends among the mountains and waterfalls of Upstate New York. If this plein air thing sounds like fun to you, come up and spend a week with us. It’s a low-pressure way to “break in.”

Also. if you love art and want to see a lot of it for a week in Europe, I’ve got a trip planned this fall to see the art of the South of France, Provence, and even a separate trip to Scotland. It’s not a painters’ trip (though some do paint in their spare time). It’s the best way to see art because we take our guests behind the scenes.

I’m Cured of a Disease2019-05-22T13:10:54-04:00
19 05, 2019

An Unexpected Detour

2019-05-17T17:14:29-04:00

Warm sunshine peeked through a slot in the closed blinds of the bedroom, aiming right for my face as if to tell me it’s time to wake. Covers quickly went over my head, yet the sun had done its job and I could sleep no more. So I meandered to the coffee pot, then made my way to the pollen-covered porch to enjoy the perfect spring morning.

My mind has been traveling through some paths I’ve not visited for years as part of the grieving process over the passing of my mom last week. A memory of a special time when we grabbed my mom for a road trip from Florida to Indiana, the purpose of which I can’t remember.

 

How Far Are We?

Driving through Tennessee, a spurt of spontaneity turned into the most meaningful hours of summer ’98 for me and Laurie, then pre-kids. “Aren’t we close to Knoxville?” I said as she studied the map (remember maps?) from the passenger seat. “Check to see how far out of the way it would take us to visit Jamestown.” She looked at me with that, “Oh, no, here we go again” look, but then told me it would not be too far out of the way at all. That’s why I love her! Though we had a destination, a time constraint, and my mom traveling with us and asleep in the back seat, Laurie said, “It wouldn’t be much out of the way at all.”

Mom’s ailing aunt and uncle lived near Knoxville, and Mom hadn’t seen them for several years … and might never see them again. Wouldn’t this be a nice surprise for her? By the time Mom woke up, we were in Jamestown, Tennessee. Mom was tickled.

 

The Smell of Biscuits

The next morning, the promised of a home-cooked country breakfast woke us early. Biscuits beckoned … and do they ever know how to cook biscuits in Tennessee! We burred like bees down the hilly country roads at Armathwaite, passing chicken coops built by distant cousins and homes built by other ancestors generations earlier. We passed the Mount Helen Church, built by my great-grandpa Sam Garrett, and the cemetery nearby where he rests today. Then it was down along the Honey Creek Loop to Uncle Clifford’s farm, a farm that has been in the family for at least five generations. In fact, I just learned that my grandfather had given this farm to his cousin — Uncle Clifford.

 

Going Back in Time

Driving toward the farm was like going back in time, and I was getting younger with every mile. This was the place where I spent my summers tending chickens, and playing in the tall corn or the waterfall nearby. When we pulled up in front of the house, the smell of breakfast made the daydream inescapable — I was 10 years old again.

I had heard that Uncle Clifford and Aunt Ruth were doing well, and when we arrived they didn’t look any different … except that they needed some assistance getting around. We did what all families do — eat and talk. I asked Uncle Clifford about family legends I had heard as a kid, and although they weren’t quite the same as I had remembered them, it was fun hearing from the eldest family patriarch. Now it’s my turn to be “The Keeper of the Legends” for a future generation. I only hope my biscuits are as good.

 

Holding Back Tears

Time passed, and commitments called. We had to say goodbye … always hard when you know it may be the last time. Tears were shed, hugs were exchanged, glances were loving. We drove back over that winding, family-filled road, knowing we may never drive this way again. Everyone in the car was silent as we replayed the precious moments of our visit with Clifford and Ruth and committed those moments forever to memory. Mile after mile, as we got farther from the farm, I felt my years return. By the time we reached the Interstate, I was just another middle-aged guy, with a tear in the corner of each eye.

We almost didn’t make the detour to see Uncle Clifford and Aunt Ruth. It was a major inconvenience, put us a full day behind schedule, and wasn’t in the plan. But the little voice that whispered us toward Armathwaite made the next few hours the most memorable and meaningful of our trip.

Taking a driving vacation this summer? Follow your heart. Change the plan. Listen to the voices.

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: I adapted this piece from one I wrote on July 31, 1998. I discovered it in an envelope my mom kept. She kept everything I ever wrote or everything written about me, including an editorial I once wrote called “Listen to Your Mother.”

That was, in fact the last time we ever saw Ruth and Clifford, and the last time we visited the family farm and church. And now my mom is gone too, which makes me especially grateful that we took this detour, and took her on a road trip that year.

We all live very busy lives, where impulsive side trips can be annoying, but looking back, that 24 hours became one of the richest memories of my life. It turns out it was one of the most important things I have ever done. At the time, it was a sudden impulse. I remember thinking … “Not this trip, maybe someday in the future.” Now, a couple of decades later, I can say I’ve never driven that way again. But it’s something I need to do … go see the old farm, and little cousins I played with as a child who are now senior citizens. Take the time. Take the side trips. Grab a family member and take them back to their childhood.

PS2: I’d love to make some new friends and have you join me in the Adirondacks starting June 8 for a week of painting and hanging out together. I’ve made some of my closest friendships as a result of this event.

An Unexpected Detour2019-05-17T17:14:29-04:00
12 05, 2019

The Perfect Mother’s Day

2019-05-08T17:12:21-04:00

There are days that, in spite of the bright light, the cheery spring flowers, and the perfect spring weather, are not perceived as they are meant to be. Today, for me, is one of those rare days when I’m a lot bluer than normal.

An Urgent Call

On Sunday, just after writing last week’s Sunday Coffee, I received a call that my dear mother was sleeping continually, not eating, and had needed to be rushed to the hospital. Monday I was on a plane, and I arrived at about 2 in the afternoon to find my mom lying in a hospital bed struggling for her life.

A Sight I Never Expected to See

The shock of seeing her in this state was beyond anything I had comprehended previously, and I assumed she would not know me or see me until she recovered, if she recovered. I tried talking to her, but she just lay there.

Precious Last Words

In a moment of utter frustration, knowing she had hearing issues (a family tendency caused by skeet shooting at a young age), I took my own hearing device and placed it in her ear, and cranked up the volume. Suddenly she perked up, opened her eyes, and saw those of us who were there. Though her speech was slurred, she communicated with us, and I heard the words “I love you” from my mom. Her big blue eyes opened briefly, giving her assurance that my brother, sister-in-law, and I were there, and a big smile came across her otherwise struggling face.

Without the Smile, She Was Different

That smile was her trademark. This is a woman who never met a person she did not like, and if she did, we never knew it. She wanted everyone to feel her love. And I quickly realized I had never in my life seen this beautiful woman without that smile. This hospital visit was the first as I watched her struggle with pain.

Tough Decisions

Soon, a meeting with the doctors gave us the bad news that her meds were not working, and I had to make the most important adult decision of my life, which was to remove her care, move her into hospice, and allow her body to shut down in peace. In spite of its difficulty, it never once felt like the wrong decision. And though I wanted to cling to my past with her, I knew we had to keep her comfortable and allow her to enter her next chapter.

An Angelic Moment

People tell me of odd occurrences they experience in this situation. Some talk of loved ones awakening before they pass, calling out that they see heaven. In my case, the night before, I laid my head on her arm and said a prayer that she be taken without more struggle, and when I opened my eyes, I saw her in a somewhat white, almost fuzzy light. Her skin was youthful and her silver hair was glowing. It was clearly an angelic, peaceful look. I can’t explain it, I was not hallucinating, and it was so special that I can’t even begin to articulate it. It was almost as though she had been taken from her body at that moment, though she continued to labor hard with her breathing.

An Experience I’d Never Trade

Hours passed, and there were a few more moments of consciousness and recognition, a few words, and then a lot of sleeping. She responded when I kissed her goodnight and left for the evening, thinking we would watch her go through this for a couple more days. Yet when morning came, before I made it to the hospital, she had graduated to the next level in the cycle of life.

This, the hardest day of my life, was met with a lot of tears, but remarkably, a lot of feeling OK about her being ready. I spent a lot of time consoling others, which made my own angst over this moment somehow easier.

And, with death, for the first time, I was faced with the decisions so many others have handled in the past, such as funeral and burial arrangements, things I’d never before considered. Then, in a cathartic sort of way, sorting through her stuff, finding papers and photos for the rest of the day, was also part of the process.

An Empty Day

Flowers will arrive at my mom’s house for this weekend because I had already planned ahead, yet I remember thinking last Sunday, before this all happened, whether this would be my last Mother’s Day with her. And today is my first without her. And today, I realize for the first time that Mother’s Day is as much about the rest of us celebrating our mothers as it about their accepting our adoration.

Those of you who have been through this in the past, who miss your mom, sometimes after 30 or 50 years, know exactly how empty it feels. And if you’ve still got your mom, cherish every moment.

Giving Up Everything

My friend Skip tells me he would give all his wealth, all his success, everything he has, just for one more conversation with his mother and his dad. Our wealth lies in those we love, not the things we acquire. It’s acutely obvious to me today, more than ever.

If Only

As I look back, regrets in my mind, I see too many times when my mom did not receive the respect she earned and deserved, whether it be teen years of rolling my eyes or talking back, or dismissing her wishes in her older years. In an instant, those regrets sting.

In Celebration

Today, though my heart hurts, I celebrate my own mother, and the mothers around this earth. Being a mom can be a thankless job, brutally difficult at times, yet amazingly rewarding. There is no possible way to accommodate all the sacrifices these women make on our behalf, so the least we can do is give them our time and attention today.

Join me as I toast my own mom, and those around us today.

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: My pastor often talks about how the world’s religions make us think we can earn our way into heaven. Yet heaven is for perfection, and perfection can only come through your life being substituted by the perfect one. It’s not about earning. No one is good enough to earn their way. It’s about accepting the gift of Christ.

Not one doubt enters my mind on this day when a celebration is taking place, with big smiles as my mom enters the Kingdom to see those who went before her. Though I rarely talk about my faith here, because people tend to take offense (not my intent), today, in honor of my mom and her Maker, I celebrate with her. Tears and grief cannot overcome the joy I feel for her at this moment, making this the perfect Mother’s Day for her.

The Perfect Mother’s Day2019-05-08T17:12:21-04:00
5 05, 2019

The Impact of Your Pebble

2019-05-02T12:30:55-04:00

Spring sprinkles kiss the tall green grass as a light wind makes the stems flow like dancers in unison. The long porch is entertained by the droplets pinging off the metal roof like BB’s. Mindlessly I watch droplets dangle off the branches of wet spring foliage and drop into the puddles below, each drop creating a circle of waves as it hits, pushing farther and farther out from its center until one circle intersects another. These puddles are filled with waves created by the little circles. Though there is science behind the inertia of the droplet, the energy and movement, I can’t help but wonder what purpose they serve.

Throwing a pebble into a still pond makes a slight ripple, while a larger rock makes a visible splash and pushes much larger waves much farther out. The bigger the rock, the bigger the wave, the bigger its reach.

The Weight of Droplets

You, me, and others are droplets into the water of the lives around us. Our waves touch and intersect, and often ripple through the world.

Though soft-spoken and quiet, some of us have an impact and a ripple that make change happen. Others, with a larger platform, a louder voice, and greater influence, spread our ripples over longer distances. And, like the puddle in front of me, a small circular wave intersects with another small wave, which intersects with others … passing information from one to another as waves cross.

Though volume and a large platform tend to get heard more, a soft voice with powerful words can ripple through the world with equal or stronger impact. Words at a whisper often have more power than at a scream.

Yet one thing is required for your voice, even your quiet words, to be heard. They have to be spoken. The droplet has to hit the water in order to be amplified.

The Famous Unknown Artist

In my art marketing training, I speak of an artist who died unknown, but whose work was discovered after his death and ultimately exhibited in major museums. A soft-spoken postal worker in England, he never told a soul about his work. He was a loner with no known friends or family. We’ll never know if he created his art with hopes of one day being noticed, or if he did it for himself and never cared for recognition. The only reason his droplet hit the puddle was because his landlord discovered the art upon this artist’s death. Perhaps, if he had revealed his art to the world while living, he could have enjoyed the impact of his art and seen the effect of his ripple.

It was lucky he was discovered at all. Another, less perceptive landlord might have hauled it all to a dumpster and a life’s work may have been wasted.

Meek and Reserved

I recently met someone who was quiet, meek, and almost unable to speak for herself but revealed to me that she had dreams of becoming a famous artist. Yet her fears of speaking up were preventing her from realizing her dreams. I coached her on how to overcome these issues, and she is already starting to come out of her shell after staying inside it for almost 50 years. Now, her droplets are about to hit the water.

I’m thankful she spoke up and shared this fear, but in the process she was hoping someone would solve her problem for her. And though I nudged her with some advice, she had not fully accepted the fact that her future was in her own hands, and waiting for someone else to solve her problems was folly. One wonders what kind of parenting left a child with such insecurities.

I firmly believe each of us is placed here for a very specific purpose and that it’s our responsibility to make sure that our droplets hit the water and spread. We may think we have nothing to offer or that others don’t want to hear from us, or we may fear speaking up or stepping out — yet if we don’t do it for ourselves, who will?

Waiting for Prince Charming

Too often we wait for things to be perfect, but waiting for perfection is an excuse to take no action. Or we wait for permission, or for someone to come along and rescue us and make our dreams happen, but Prince Charming never comes. We can’t wait for the knight in shining armor or for someone to give us permission. We have to be our own advocate. Though “random” discoveries happen, they don’t happen a lot.

Lives can be wasted because of our fears. The ripple from what we have to offer may never be experienced by others until we discover how to advocate for ourselves.

Ask yourself this…

Which is worse? Never experiencing your dreams, or living with the fear that something bad might happen if you step out and try?

I’ve met hundreds of people who are writing books that will never be published because the books never get done. When I probe why, it usually boils down to fear of failure. Books that never get written never get published.

Excuses are fears in disguise.

You know the excuses … “I don’t have enough money, time, experience, education, degrees, connections, knowledge … I’m afraid of failure, being laughed at, getting rejected, someone won’t like me if I’m successful.” Or, “No one wants to hear what I have to say. I don’t have the advantages of others.”

Our lives are meant to change the lives of others, and each of us has something to offer that needs to be heard, seen, and experienced by the world.

What is stopping you from dropping your pebble in the water?

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: Last week close to a thousand artists gathered at the Plein Air Convention & Expo in San Francisco. There is no way to explain or articulate the experience, but I watched lives changed thanks to the generous faculty members who taught and worked with others. I am grateful to everyone who came, and I want to say thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.

I met hundreds of Sunday Coffee readers who came to learn more about the plein air lifestyle experience. It was good to have many of you take that first step. I also met dozens of people who did their first plein air painting, and some who did their first painting of any kind. Thanks for trusting us to show you how.  We announced our next event will be in May 2020 in Colorado, and as of this morning, we’ve already sold 411 seats — a year in advance. If you want to come, but you’re fearing it, the quarter-inch step is to sign up now so you have all year to look forward to it.

The Impact of Your Pebble2019-05-02T12:30:55-04:00
21 04, 2019

Finding Your True Self

2019-04-18T20:30:19-04:00

Goosebumps rise on my skin as I open the creaky old door from the house to the sun-drenched porch. A blast of arctic air sends a message that winter is fighting hard not to let go, not to lose control to spring. The two have been fighting it out for a couple of weeks now. Soon, hopefully, spring will win, and then before long spring will lose to summer.

A brilliant green layer of pollen covers the long boards on the porch and the old wicker chairs are spray-painted with this evil dust, which I brush away before I sit. Achoo!

Today, much of the world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe died, was buried, and returned to life three days later. Happy Easter. Last year at this time, we spoke about personal resurrection.

Memories of Easter flood my brain. I remember my crafter mom spending weeks before Easter covering her shoes with different fabrics so she would have “new” shoes for the holiday. She would also make a new Easter hat. We always dressed up for church, me in my bright red sport coat, with my 007 Secret Agent cap gun shoulder holster under my jacket. One of our grandparents would always make a feast centered around a giant chunk of meat. Coloring eggs was always fun, as was hunting for our Easter baskets. Our triplets are 17 and still love the tradition. Maybe we’ll hide them in their cars this year.

Easter signals a new season.

Spring is new birth, new life, new growth.

Summer is full, rich life.

Fall is aging.

Winter is death.

Each brings us a reminder to embrace them for what they are.

The longer I live, the wiser I tell myself I become, and I realize that the biggest hindrance to a rich, fully lived life is a focus on self.

In the season of spring, we’re full of energy, life, and self-confidence. A little cocky. When summer hits, success breeds more arrogance and belief in ourselves. We start to believe our own press.

Fall brings falling leaves, sagging midsections, backaches, often other health issues, and the unwanted realization that we’re not in control at all. We start facing the reality that once winter hits, we’d better have finished everything we wanted to get done. Suddenly it becomes evident that our cockiness, our arrogance, our over-inflated self-confidence never served us all that well and we need to focus on what’s truly worth the time we have remaining.

The reality is that we never had control, we just thought we did. And when we’re focused entirely on self, we miss the importance of reliance on the grand plan for our lives, and the joy that comes from serving others and serving our Master.

This isn’t a suggestion to give up positive thinking or to age out before your time, or to give in or give up, but I’m starting to understand that loss of self is where we begin to focus on what is intended for us, which is where the rich treasure lies. It too is a form of resurrection because when the “focus on self” dies, the true self is revealed.

Happy Easter.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about getting to San Francisco for our big event next week. For me it’s like Thanksgiving with my plein air painter family. I’m truly looking forward to seeing everyone out there. If you want to watch the noise, you can follow me on Instagram @ericrhoads or Facebook @ericrhoads. (Facebook puts a limit on friends that I can’t change, but you can still follow my feeds.)

 

Finding Your True Self2019-04-18T20:30:19-04:00
14 04, 2019

A Bright Spot in a Dark World

2019-04-11T19:41:10-04:00

A flash of light so bright it jolted me out of my bed, and less than a second later, the ground shook like a mega missile had struck. I remember counting seconds from the flash of light to the sound of thunder. This one was so close it had to be one of the old oaks on the property of this old Texas farmhouse.

Rushing Water

A pounding like the sound of a waterfall is amplified on the old tin roof above this porch, which goes the distance of the house in the front and the back. It was always my dream to live in a house with a tin roof and a big long porch, so I could sit dry and safe in a storm.

Flights Overhead

In the sky, the sound of thunder is like continual flights overhead, and the dim gray clouds mute the light so all the trees are evenly lit with a soft glow. Though wildflowers are still in bloom around the area, there are none here, and I’m hopeful this storm will feed the bags of wildflower seeds I scattered across the property weeks ago.

A Sad Call

Soon after I awoke this morning, my dad phoned and started the call with, “I’ve got some sad news.” That’s never good, and indeed an old family friend, Gladys Gorman, had passed. I knew she was sick and I had failed to visit her in a hospital nearby in San Antonio, knowing she was in a coma at the time. I’m regretting it now.

The last time I recall seeing her was at the funeral of my all-time best friend, Charlie Willer, probably more than 12 or 14 years ago.

Full of Life

I first met Gladys over 40 years ago, when she came to work for my dad. And though she was probably only there for five or 10 years, she was in our lives forever, because she was the kind of person you wanted to be around. Full of life, full of positive reinforcement, and overflowing with joy.

Sacrifices for Others

Gladys was a living example of living on the cause side of life, which I talked about last week. I don’t know anything about her upbringing, but when I first met her, she was raising three daughters as a single mom, making sacrifices to make sure they grew up in a nice house in a good school district, which had to be a stretch for her.

Self-Educated

She made her living as a housekeeper and a cook, but she always had something on the side. I remember her having a booth at the local antique mall, selling something she had made. She was an entrepreneur and filled with ideas, most of which she pursued. She was always taking classes to better herself, listening to tapes (she asked to borrow many of the tapes I would buy to educate myself), and she was always getting certified in different things so she could make more income. Most important to her was an education for her kids.

Three Amazing Daughters

The best testament to her drive and positive attitude was that she raised three amazing daughters — one is an MD, another is also a doctor, a psychiatrist, and the third is a thriving artist. A single mom, making a living as a housekeeper, putting three girls though college. And they all turned out to be really quality people who deeply care about others.

I had a lot of time with Gladys over a few years, and I always looked forward to being with her. I can remember thinking, “I hope I see Gladys today.” I think it’s because she always made me feel so good about myself.

A Bright Spot

Gladys lived as a bright spot. To everyone she touched, she was the bright spot of their day. She projected joy, she was deeply interested in other people, and she would always make you feel good about yourself.

No Whining

I cannot imagine the hard times she had and the sacrifices she made being a single mom, working odd jobs, and still managing to get those girls the best possible education. Yet I never once saw her down, never once heard her complain about her circumstances, never once saw her play the victim. In fact, she always talked about how much she felt God had blessed her.

I Want to Be Like Her

Her passing reminds me of what I want to be. And I wanted to honor her today by telling you about her, so that her light will shine on through those of us who want to live as she did … a bright light that fills the room with joy.

Do people look forward to being around you, or do they run the other way?

Do you lift others up, or do you tear them down?

Do you share or whine too much about your circumstances, or do you accept them, embrace them for what they are, and focus on being joy-filled?

I can’t say I’ve lived up to the high bar that Gladys lived, but in her honor, I’m going to try harder.

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: My gut told me that I needed to go see Gladys, but I allowed busy to get in my way. Follow your gut.

Today, Palm Sunday, is a special day for many of us, and next week, Easter, is even more special. I hope you’ll find a way to gather with family next week to celebrate together. Right after Easter, my family of plein air painters will gather for a week to celebrate our craft. This past week I ran into three people who told me they were still trying to figure out how to go. I hope they do — a family gathering without all the family members isn’t as special. I’d be honored if you join that gathering. We can always find room for another seat at the table.

 

A Bright Spot in a Dark World2019-04-11T19:41:10-04:00
7 04, 2019

Living with Cause and Effect

2019-04-04T18:56:38-04:00

After a cold week, the porch is drenched in warm sun, the plants on the property are glowing as the sun streams in to light their edges, and the mountain in the distance is still purple gray. Thank goodness for spring.

“Your Ideas Are BS, Eric”

Last week I received an e-mail from an artist who had read my new marketing book. In the book I talk a lot about the importance of managing your own mindset and its impact on your life, to which she suggested that “positive thinking is complete BS.” Her words were a little stronger than that.

My Tortured Friendship

In my response I told her what I’ve learned about this recently and the story of my dear friend Chris, whom I met when I was about 18. Chris ran a local radio station, and I was a young budding broadcaster. We became friends and remained friends as he moved up the ladder to different jobs across the country. We shared a love for radio broadcasting.

Yeah, But

Though Chris was a dear friend, the one thing I used to kid him about was how negative he was all the time. He too thought positive thinking was BS. “It’s easy for you,” he said. “You grew up in a good family, your dad owned a business, and you had a lot of advantages, which is why things are going so well for you.”

Tough Circumstances

Chris had grown up in a much more difficult climate. His mom had passed away and his dad, who had to work all the time, placed him in a boarding school and was unable to spend much time with him. He felt abandoned. He stayed in boarding school from a young age through high school, then college, and then he was on his own. “Is it any wonder I’m a negative thinker?” He would say to me. “I did not get the breaks you had.”

Of course, you and I both know that boarding school and college would be considered a big advantage by many people.

Advantages Don’t Matter

I spent most of our friendship trying to get him to look at the brighter side of life and never got him to agree. I pointed out that I knew people who grew up with great advantages, wealthy families, great educations, parents who offered to help them start businesses, and still those advantages did not help them. I also pointed out people I knew who came from really difficult situations, growing up in horrible families, horrible neighborhoods, struggling and starving, who pulled themselves up and made successes of their lives. It was thinking that made the difference, but he refused to agree.

Impact on Your Health

One day I told Chris his attitude was going to shorten his life. I then cited evidence. More BS, according to him. Years later at lunch he revealed that doctors thought he had brain cancer, and he decided he was going to give up smoking. He was really scared. Yet the next day, after he’d been given an all-clear, he started smoking again, and two years later he died of lung and brain cancer at a young age.

I bought Chris the book Think and Grow Rich, which changed my life. He never read it. Though it was written back in 1937, it turned out to be right. Today we have significant evidence that the brain reacts to the ways we interpret things.

Two things have been PROVEN scientifically:

  1. If you visualize something happening to you, in detail, and you take action toward those dreams, there is a high likelihood you can achieve things that are seemingly impossible. It can work in reverse if you think of the worst that can happen to you.
  2. If you treat others who don’t believe in themselves as though you believe in them, and tell them about how much you believe in them, and how much you know they will succeed, evidence suggests it can begin to remake their brain chemistry and positively change their lives until they get to the point they can manage their own mindset. Belief is a powerful thing.

The key in both cases is that positives need to outweigh negatives 10 to one.

I’ve been teaching these things for a while and find them fascinating, so much so that I’m actually taking a course to become a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) coach. No, I don’t plan to quit my job and become a coach, I just want to understand it in depth, because my personal experiences with NLP have been game-changing and I want to take it to the highest level of performance.

In NLP, the foundation of everything in life is CAUSE and EFFECT.

In Chris’ case, “My dad put me in a boarding school and abandoned me” is cause. “I’m at a disadvantage because I did not get my dad’s love, and therefore my life sucks” is effect.

Chris was playing the victim.

I don’t doubt that he was hurting, or that he did not understand why his dad put him into boarding school. But instead of accepting it for what it was and managing his life in spite of it, his hurt became his excuse for problems and negativity his whole life. It’s OK to lick your wounds for a short time, but at some point you have to move on or you’ll get stuck.

Cause and Effect: One thing causes another thing to happen.

“I’m late because of you.” You caused me to be late.

You made me late. It’s an “if/then” mentality. If you did this to me, then this is the result.

Sadly, most of us spend our time in effect mode. Effect is always someone else’s fault. Frankly, it’s easier to blame others than to blame ourselves or accept personal responsibility. Plus, making it someone else’s problem gives us a subconscious excuse to fail.

  • “I didn’t get that job because you made me angry when you told me I needed to wear a tie, so I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.” 
  • “I can’t concentrate on my homework because dad has been mowing the lawn and making too much noise.” 
  • “You broke a promise years ago, therefore it’s OK for me to treat you badly.” 
  • “My boss is a jerk because he embarrassed me in front of others. Therefore it’s OK to steal from the company.” 
  • “All rich people are evil, so it’s OK for me to steal from them.” 
  • “I don’t like your politics, so it’s OK for me to slam you on social media.”

Are you stuck in the effect side of life?

So what’s the alternative? After all, bad things are going to happen.

To be better at cause, the key is never to blame others or blame circumstances. Accept what is and move on. “In spite of the car breaking down, I made sure I got all my meetings done anyway.”

Brush It Off

Learning to brush off cause so you’re not living with effect will change your life. Why waste energy on effect?

“I am so proud of myself. I had a challenging day. I had to concentrate really hard since they were working with a jackhammer outside my window. But once I had decided that I was going to concentrate on the job, the noise didn’t bother me.”  

Looking back in the future, do you want to say, “If it wasn’t for this or it wasn’t for that, I could have made a lot more out of my life”?   

When you are on your deathbed, do you want to be looking back and blaming other people or your circumstances for not having realised your potential?

The Difference Between “A” Players and Others

I spend time with a lot of highly successful people and all of them spend their time in cause and not in effect. In fact, I’ve found that A players are cause people, and B and C players are effect people.

Who are you blaming?

Why blame anyone or anything? Why not just accept circumstances and live the best life you can live without excuses?

You cannot ever expect anyone to pull you up out of your circumstances to make things better. Only you can be responsible for making that happen.

Which side will you spend your time on? Cause or effect? Cause is bright and sunny. Effect may be comfortable, but it’s dingy and dark.

You decide.

Either “I am in charge” or “Things happen to me and I am the victim.”

Where will you live the rest of your life?

Eric Rhoads

PS: Yesterday I had the pleasure of being the judge of the Paint the Town plein air festival in Marble Falls, Texas, and I met some amazing people and even had a chance to do a marketing talk earlier in the day. Today I drive back to judge the quick draw. I love my job. Then in just a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading out to the Plein Air Convention to spend time with my tribe. You should check it out. It’s a lot of fun. Did I mention I love my job?

 

Living with Cause and Effect2019-04-04T18:56:38-04:00