Rich, deep blues fill the cloudless sky, surrounded by massive ancient growth cedar and pine trees. The mirror we call Spitfire Lake is a perfect reflection, not a ripple in sight.
Distant log cabins on the lake are starting to fly their flags, an indicator that people are coming in for the summer. Soon this quiet spot will see an occasional fisherman, some sailboats and water skiers. Signs of summer are upon us.
Not only is the lake reflecting, but I find myself reflecting on my father, with this being the first Father’s Day I’m unable to make a call, send a gift, or see him in person. Not a day has gone by since his passing in March that I haven’t started to e-mail or phone him to share something, only to realize they don’t have e-mail in Heaven.
My Guest Today
I thought about the best way to honor my dad on this day, and since I’ve talked about him a lot in the past weeks, I asked myself what he would want, or what he would say, if I had asked him to be a guest writer. This, I think, is what he would say to you, as he looked at you with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face:
You Are Special
“I see things in you that you may not see in yourself. I think there are big plans for you that you may not realize, and it seems to me that you are maybe not thinking big enough. I don’t think God has small plans for any of us. I think he expects us to make big plans, and I think he has given us exceptional abilities to do big things.
Curiosity Is a Gift
“I know what you’re thinking … I don’t have the skills, or the money, or the special circumstances or advantages. But part of the gift you have is the curiosity to discover the things you need and find a way to do them. Though you’ll have roadblocks, and moments in your life when you’ll feel there is no hope, I know that you’ll look at them, study them, and make a list of 50 ways to achieve them, and one of those things you think of will do the trick. You just have to know that failure is not an option. You were not made to fail, you were made to win, and you can always find a way to win ethically.
Ethics Rules, Always
“You might be tempted to take shortcuts, but you need to always think in terms of excellence. How can you do things better than anyone on earth? How can you stand out? How can you be the best of the best? Anyone can take shortcuts, anyone can succeed by ignoring ethics, but they can’t look at themselves in the mirror. You want to know that you succeeded without doing things illegally or immorally, or with compromise, or by taking the low road instead of the high road. And don’t be a copycat. Anyone can copy other people’s ideas and make a couple of slight changes. Instead, be original. Copycats are simply unethical thieves who are too lazy to invent their own ideas and want to ride on the coattails of others.
Whose Dream Will You Chase?
“How do you want to spend your time? Do you want to spend your time living someone else’s dream, or living your own dream? You only have so much time, and it will leave you very quickly. Your time should be spent building a dream you believe in, something that will change the world, something that others cannot do, that only you can do. You’re special. You’re here for a purpose. You should not waste what you’ve been given.
Monitor Your Mind
“You will have doubts. Negative thoughts are normal, but as soon as you realize you are having them, you need to push them out. They don’t serve you well. Remember, if you think you can’t, you are right. If you think you can, you will. Things may seem overwhelming, but when that happens, break them into smaller projects and win them, one small piece at a time.
All People Are Important
“You will meet a lot of people along your journey. Some will not seem important to you, and you may ignore or dismiss them. This is a mistake. People can see through you if you only spend time and attention on people you need. Every person you meet, no matter what their station in life, has a gift and you can learn something from them, and you can contribute something to make their life better, usually by pointing out things they can’t see in themselves. Everyone can use a cheerleader and someone to give them hope.They have been placed in your path for a reason, so use that to help them. It’s not always about finding others to help you.
The Gift of Giving
“There is an unwritten law that when you help others, you end up helping yourself. You should not do it for that purpose, but it always turns out that way. When you give of your time, your mind, and your encouragement, you can make a big difference. When you give of your money, you’ll see a return even when not intended. But never talk about your gifts. That’s private. If you’re doing it to brag, it won’t serve you well.
“Life is about quiet elegance. Be the best you can be, but don’t toot your own horn too much. Instead, there is power in knowing what you’ve done and not feeling the need to tell the world. Humility is a great gift. But being a wallflower won’t serve you either. You need to learn to speak up for yourself, and sell your great ideas. If you lack the ability to tell your stories and motivate others, it will be hard to make your dreams a reality. Invest in learning to sell, to speak in public, and to convince others in the face of obstacles. Remember, a sale always starts with a ‘no.’ Don’t give up, don’t give in, but do it in a way that others can see your vision, the benefits to them, and in a way that they can save face. Build others up, not with flattery, but with true belief in their abilities.
The 3-Month Rule
“You can change the outcome of your life, your business, your relationships within 90 days. I’ve seen companies go from zero to being on the road to giant success just with one idea and 90 days to implement the change.
“If things are not going well, remember, it’s your fault — not someone else’s, not market conditions. Don’t be a blamer. Be a contrarian. Don’t accept the excuses others are using. Great fortunes were made in the Depression. And don’t follow the advice of the masses. Use thinking time, and don’t stop with one idea, keep going till you try new, less obvious ideas. Thinking time will solve even the most challenging problems. If you follow the pack, you’ll go off the cliff with the pack. And don’t cloud your decisions (especially investments) with emotion. Emotion is wrong 50 percent of the time. Facts and data rarely lie.”
Dad would cap everything with his idea of the ticket to Heaven (John 3:16).
It’s hard to wrap a life of Dad’s lessons into a few paragraphs, yet there is power in his words, and I’m honored to share them this Father’s Day.
You can do this. You’ve got this. Now, go for it. Dads, this is your day!
PS: Yesterday, after a week of painting at my 10th annual painters’ retreat, we all said our goodbyes. My kids say I tear up with goodbyes, and yesterday was no exception. After a year of anticipation, and a lot of quality time from morning till late night, I hate for it to end. It’s truly like a summer camp experience for adults who happen to love painting. We timed it so everyone could get home for Father’s Day. I want to thank everyone for all the hugs and virtual hugs and hand bumps, and for the time we spent together getting closer acquainted. We had a lot of fun. And it feels so right to be together again.
PS2: I’ve discovered that paintings with the most vibrant colors are pastel. And if you want to learn pastel as a beginner, or want to improve by learning from the world’s leading pastel artists, explore our August Pastel Live event, which will be held online. And more of our virtual art events are coming this year.
PS3: I’m taking a group of art lovers, art collectors, and artists on an European Art Tour. Fine Art Connoisseur editor Peter Trippi and I lead the tour, and this year we’re going to Vienna and Berlin. You’ll experience art like never before. It’s not a painters’ trip (though some paint in their spare time). Check it out.
PS 4: Fall in the Adirondacks is spectacular. My Fall Color Week painters’ retreat will be here this year only, at a new location, a camp called Saranac Village. It’s a classic old Adirondack great camp that has been converted to a kids’ camp. This is the only time we’ll be able to get in ever, and only because of COVID. Check out the event and join us this fall.
PS5: Making for an even busier fall, I’m taking a group of painters to tour and paint Russia. You can paint the great cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow (plus tour) and the inland villages. It’s a rare trip that is not easy to create. We have 50 seats only, and I’ve just learned that two seats are still available. Because of visas, these need to be locked up soon.
PS 6: Wanna go with me to New Zealand next March? I’m not 100% sure it will happen, but if you want to join the list to eventually be first to get the info, go to www.paintingnewzealand.com.