Quiet and stillness fill the cool Texas air. Not a single leaf is fluttering, and the deep orange morning light entertains my eyes with streaks of color as it blasts the front porch of my art studio. Morning or afternoon light glow is something I never noticed before picking up a paintbrush.
Silence is a good thing on any morning. I love awakening early, before anyone else is awake, and sitting quietly with my thoughts. There is a special place, right between getting up and waking up. It’s as if it’s a time when my thoughts are more abstract, more free.
Hello Silence, My Old Friend
Today silence is especially welcome. We are all numb from a year or more of election drivel, of intense dialogue coming at our brains from every direction. I’m wishing all the political signs would come down, and I’m thankful the advertisements have stopped. I’m ready for silence, for quiet, for peace. Though I’m not sure that wish will come true anytime soon, which is why each of us must look for the means to find solace in our own way.
Trophies for Every Child
Sadly, there are sore losers, and frighteningly, I’m seeing more name-calling and anger than any time in the last year. In a world where every child receives a trophy, where we must not hurt any feelings, it’s a time when we all have to swallow a dose of reality.
How We Deal with Losses
No one cherishes the idea of losing, but in any contest we enter, we understand that not everyone will be a winner. We are each dealt our cards, and we have to handle the outcome. It seems to me that how we deal with our losses is what defines who we really are. Are we dignified and high-road? Or are we low-road and sore losers?
Each time any of us is challenged by a loss or by adversity, we’re made stronger. Pain always equals gain. And though we don’t want to face our pain, we always grow from it.
Though it may seem odd, my prayers are not a wish to Santa Claus in hopes of gifts for Christmas. Though I’m tempted to ask for more, or for perfect outcomes, or for winning, I try to ask for what I need, but in all cases, I simply ask for God’s will. I figure He knows a lot better than me. And, as I browse my life, I’m thankful that my prayers of the past were not all answered. Though our losses may be painful and seem unreasonable, there is always a plan, and trusting in that plan and learning lessons is helpful. Learning to trust may be the hardest lesson of all when things in our lives don’t seem to make sense. Why would this happen to me? Why not? Maybe pain is forging a lesson we all need.
When Pain Is OK
The absolute best things that have happened in my life have always emerged from the most difficult and painful moments. It’s when maturity sets in. Those moments make you raw, which makes you sit up and take notice of things you were not seeing. That’s why I want my kids to lose from time to time. Though I pray for their safety, I also pray that they face adversity and difficult challenges, because I know that will serve them better than perfect lives. I want them to experience pain, I want them to be frustrated and challenged, I don’t want them to win every contest or do everything they are trying to accomplish in their lives. Their lives will be better, more appreciated, if things are not always as they wish.
A Tough Moment
Flashing back to fourth grade, my life was crushed. My Ds and Fs resulted in my being held back because I’d come in before I was ready to go to school. I was suddenly an outcast. My friends from kindergarten moved on while I stayed back. I was a marked man. And it was no secret from the third-graders, who were now my equals. All of this resulted in a very difficult time making friends. It was a painful time, and I was very angry at my parents. I did not understand it, and I was not mature enough to realize that it was no one’s fault but my own. I blamed my parents, teachers, principal, and others, but I never accepted the blame for my own actions. In hindsight, it made me stronger, made me work harder, made me come out of my shell, and helped me develop skills and coping mechanisms that helped form who I am today. It was not fun at the time, and I’m sure my parents had a tough discussion about whether it was the right thing, but it was.
Pushing a Little Harder
Now that my kids are in college, I look back and realize they needed more pain growing up. They needed to work harder, they needed to be challenged more. We kind of let them decide what they wanted to be involved with, and we felt sorry for the kids whose parents forced them to play sports or take piano lessons. But we may have been wrong, because pushing kids beyond their own wishes develops important skills, and the pain of all those kids pushed to do things resulted in their developing talents and self-esteem, and perhaps a work ethic that gives them an advantage. Though I have few regrets, I can see some lacking life skills because we protected them from pain.
We have a small monthly cash budget we give our kids in college. They don’t really need much money because meals are covered, but a little for gas or extras is helpful. But we’ve made it clear: They get it on the first of each month, not a day sooner, just like a paycheck, and they have to make their money last. This week one of our kids is already asking for his December money in early November. Though it’s tempting to help, we said no. He needs some pain, he needs to learn to manage his money, he needs the reality of life, and if he needs extra, he needs motivation to go make it. The pain won’t be fun, but it will be better than not having learned how to manage his money once he has a family.
None of us wants to face the hard decisions in life or the tough love moments with our families, yet it’s losses, failures, and pain that make us stronger. We can’t all get our way all the time. Therefore hold your head high, be a high-road person, and move on. And ask, what am I supposed to be learning from this moment in time?
What about you? What lessons should you be seeking?
PS: There has to be more to life than working all the time. Due to quarantines, people are discovering they need something more. As a result of the forwarding of this blog to others, and tens of thousands subscribing, and my “pitch” that art is good for each of us and enriches our souls, I’m hearing of people all over the world who are trying art for the first time. Many are signing up for lessons locally, others are using our videos online, others are watching me at noon ET daily on YouTube and Facebook, where I have artists teaching, and still others are watching the free 3 p.m. ET video of the over 600 art instruction videos we’ve produced. I find this very encouraging, and I want to help you grow and discover yourself through your art.
A foundation in art is critical, and it starts with learning what we call values (lights and darks). I have a few free lessons to get you started. Hope you’ll check them out.
Our online virtual conferences are really bringing the world together and teaching thousands of artists worldwide. Our next is in January; it’s called Watercolor Live. Watercolor is a terrific place to start, and we’ve got the world’s finest artists on this 4-day event (Beginner’s Day is one of the days). It’s a great way to dip your toe in the water without the expense or commitment of an in-person event.
I am so excited to once again see this in my email. I have missed you for months. Signed up again.
Always enjoyed it. Somehow I feel like I have failed my children also. It seem like I was doing a good job teaching them but now that my husband has passed away neither Them nor my grand children seem to need me very much so I am trying to and learn to need my art since having friends and doing things don’t seem to bean option any more thanks for your inspiration
My goal when my children were young was to be there for them. Hugs when needed. Support their interests. Set an example. And, let them experience pain, i.e., rejection my their piers, not getting everything they wanted, cleaning their rooms. I wanted them to know that ALL of their emotions were OK. Never say, “don’t feel bad or don’t feel that way.” I hope I instilled what I thought was good for them.
Thanks for Sunday coffee break comments. Words of wisdom indeed! At eighty one years of age I have stopped trying to emulate the works of the seasoned artists on your demos. However that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying their observations. To be able to walk in wonder; with my dog Bella; drinking in the beauty that surrounds us is reward enough. Thank you Eric And all your contributors.
So well said. I thoroughly agree with these comments.
Once again words of wisdom…look forward to Sunday Coffee..Peggy
This is a great message, Thank you so much!! Joanie ANderson
I too didn’t receive the Sunday morning blog. Had to hunt for it!
My Sunday Coffee was not in my inbox either, but so glad this showed up in my feed. Thank you, as always a great read. I came from a very dysfunctional family, and instead of focusing on bad memories, I am so grateful I had it hard. Everything I earned was appreciated because I earned it- nothing was a hand out. I am sad for children who don’t know the value of hard work. This is an important conversation.
Eric, I think this blog may be an eye-opener for many parents. Letting kids experience failure young and teaching them how to deal with it and thrive from it are great life lessons, better learned young while parents are there to help. Well-meaning parents want to keep their children from pain, that’s only natural, but saving them from their own mistakes, bad luck, or even mean kids doesn’t prepare them for more the dire consequences of life when they’re older. I would like to send out an alert to parents and teachers that many children aren’t ready for kindergarten at five. Boys, in particular, tend to develop later than girls. Keeping them out another year, or repeating kindergarten works better than waiting. Every year gets harder for them to adjust with their peers. As a reading specialist and teacher for forty-one years, I’ve seen the benefits of making sure children are developmentally ready. Children who are held back until the right level of maturity will more likely reach their potential, not only academically, but socially, in their leadership and other social skills. After spending my life mostly in my left brain in academic pursuits at the high school and college levels, I began painting in my mid-seventies. Getting into my right brain was a new adventure! I no longer feared failure. Every little improvement has felt like a gift. Learning something so radically different is full of surprises. Thank you so much for the noon and three o’clock lessons. They stimulate my mind and distract from pain better than pills!
Thank you! I am so lucky I found you early on at the beginning of the pandemic. I realized it was the perfect time to get back into art/painting. You have been an immense help!
Being afraid of a bit of pain is a choice to live only half a life. Embrace the challenges with open arms because in the process is growth and transformation. During the years i spent screwed to a hospital bed unable to do more than blink it taught me to focus the being on something other than fear, wants and desires. Out the other end came peace because there is nothing that can happen now that compares. Can live fully now that i am able to walk and communicate again almost normally. Once again fully engaged in art and painting.
My grandkids have just moved from the city to the country to experience a life that they know nothing about. Its my chance therefore to support them in the ability to challenge themselves
Eric, one thing I have admired about you is your “will” to push through the stifling of your business by the shutdown. You and your team have accomplished something that has never been done before because of your LIVE events. You did not sit back and be a good loser. Just as in recent events our country is not going to sit back and be good losers to a possibly corrupt system. I pray for justice and a strong will for our country.
my Sunday’s coffee was not in my inbox this morning. I am always looking forward to reading it!. I do not get the daily links to Facebook and YouTube interviews with artists. What happened?
My Sunday Coffee was not in my mailbox this morning. I started searching and found in a strange place. I have resigned up to make sure I have not been deleted..Have been reading for years. It is my Sunday Morning routine. I was concerned something had happened to this great inspiration!
I so can relate and thanks Eric !
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree completely, especially about sheltering children from difficulties, solving all their problems for them, and putting the idea in their head they will always “win”. Its like carrying a child in your arms all its growing years so they never fall and skin their knees, and then setting them on their feet at 20 and expecting them to run. How can they? They are crippled! I appreciate your “Coffee” reflections and all you have done for artists during this “time of covid”. Thank you!
Always inspiring & insightful messaging; Thank You. This one I will share with my sons, ages 25 and 21. However, it’s not the win vs lose aspect I’m currently struggling with; it’s the cheating, rule changing and deception that seems to surround us. Upon reflection, if this were my son’s soccer game I would probably have told him in the end it’s best to compete to the best of your ability and keep your integrity in tact?
Just what I needed this morning-thank you:) We are all marching on..brushes and all.
Your comments are always insightful, and I look forward to reading them, even when I am pushed for time. It is like a small oasis in the desert for me. I was especially struck by your remarks on letting God’s will drive your desires vis a vis the election outcome. That is what kept my thoughts in a calm place this year. Loved RealismLive and am looking forward to Watercolor Live. Just sorry to have missed PleinAir Live!
Thanks Eric. It is nice to begin Sunday with you, Willie Giest and my coffee.
Eric thank you for sharing this special blog this morning and weekly! All well said. I appreciate at 60 years of age all words of wisdom, from God and people as yourself who can put perspective to our mature life experiences. Thanks♥️