This week I received one of those calls you don’t want to get. An old friend was in ICU on life support, and the family was told to start deciding if they want to pull the plug or, if she comes out of her coma, to be ready to place her in a facility for regular treatments and tube feeding for the rest of her life. 

You Next?

When asked, “What would you want?” it got me thinking. Would I want someone pulling the plug if I had a chance of coming out of it? What if I came out of it and had to spend my life on a feeding tube and other treatments? What would I do?

I hope I never have to face such decisions with my family and I hope they don’t have to face them with me, but I also know it’s best to have an answer, and a living will, in advance so others are not burdened. 

More to Offer?

And I started thinking about my friend who, in her late 60s, is mentally alert, sharp, highly intelligent, and has a lot to offer the world. Would she want a chance to do more? Maybe she would be in a facility and not terribly mobile, but what if she could write a life-changing book? What if she could use her brain in other ways, though her body is shutting down? Or what if she could defy the odds and find a way to get her body back to a better state? Though unlikely, we’ve all seen miracles happen.

Then I think of another friend who was in that exact situation: mentally alert but completely unable to function otherwise. He called me one day and said, “Get me out of here. I can’t stand living in a nursing home.” But there was no way to accommodate him. He died of a broken spirit, not even 55.

Moments like these bring more questions than answers, but also temporary moments of clarity. What if it were me? What would I want to have accomplished before that time comes? 

Wasted Days

I get terribly frustrated when I see friends who have lots of life left but who seem to be throwing it away, not making any meaningful contribution to the world. Not living a large life. Spending all their time on video games or television when they could be doing so much more. I wonder if they will look back and wish they had not thrown away their time on meaningless pursuits and substances — or maybe that’s the best it will ever be. Plus, who am I to judge? What’s for me  isn’t necessarily for them.

If Your Lungs Work…

If you’re breathing, there are still contributions you can make. They might be major earth-changing ideas or simply offering lots of love to a child who will make great things happen because of your encouragement. 

Life is fleeting. Moments like what my friend is experiencing really make me take notice. I like to think it’s best to be intentional about our life and the experiences we want to create. That means being deliberate, often creating a plan and following it. Some lives are filled with accidental magic, but what if you could create more magic, and more experiences and memories?

Eric Rhoads

PS: My friend has improved, but is likely to need around-the-clock care going forward. 

This is a reminder to me that I want to live life to the fullest. Sometimes I avoid things because I tell myself I’m too busy or don’t want to spend the money, but I usually regret it. I’m going to seize every possible opportunity to create memories, travel, make memories for my family, and do the things I love to do. My friend was fine one day, then BOOM, she wasn’t. It could happen to any of us. Let’s not get complacent when it comes to living a rich, full life. Live for experiences! Live large!

Hard to believe it’s about to be July 4th. Have a wonderful celebration of this great country. It’s imperfect, but it’s still an amazing place. Enjoy the celebration.

Last week my son returned from a mission trip where he helped Ukraine refugees and others in Slovakia. We’re glad he is home but very proud of him. I’m only wishing the entire family were together. I’ll work on that so I can create some lake memories. 

This week I also held a free webinar about pastel painting with the editor of Pastel Today, Gail Sibley. If you want to see it, you can view it here

Our next big event will be our international online conference for pastel painters (Pastel Live!). I’m already getting excited about it. I hope you can join me and artists all over the world.

Last week I announced that we are cutting off registration for our New Zealand painting trip, but in reality, it’s just because we’re almost sold out and because we want to have time to get the travel plans done before prices go up. But if you really want to go, we can squeeze you in. Just go to