The distant mountain of gray-blue contrasts against the white sky, which silhouettes the gnarled, twisted scrub oaks, looking like a movie set — as though an army of armored trolls is about to come in the scene. As I sit here, bright pinkish clouds begin to light up the horizon and illuminate the sky to the sound of angels singing.
Fields of little yellow flowers sprinkle the naturally weed-filled fields, and the beginnings of crunchy brown leaves are sprinkled in between. Signs of fall in Texas, a place where rich color is rarer than finding a diamond in a cave.
On the old porch, red Adirondack chairs remind us of the place we spend our summers and mark our return here to Texas. Though we’re always sad to leave the Adirondack Mountains, the stunning fall color had ended and the ice was beginning to form on the lake, which is not a good thing when you have to get your food and supplies in by boat. For everything, there is a season, and we’re here to enjoy Texas again until late spring.
Living in Lockdown
Though life is grand, and it’s good to be home, I know many people who are struggling with the continued lockdown and its impact on their “normal” lives or incomes.
If you know me, you know I’ve been preaching about rewarding yourself with things that stimulate your creativity by doing things you love, avoiding the news and social media, and trying to “keep your head in the game.”
All the bad news, fear, misinformation, confusion, and vitriol are not good for our immune systems. We become what we mentally eat. And though the elections are entertaining, like a great football season, we can all get caught up in believing the world will end if our side does not win. Every election we hear “this is the most important election in history,” and the fear and worry become fever pitch, getting us all worked up.
We have become emotional targets, manipulated by fear. If you can step back, step out of your fear or anger, and look at it from a distance, you can see exactly how we’re all being played.
I don’t share my politics because I love my followers and don’t want to disrespect you by not respecting your opinions. I would never step out to share my thoughts — because I respect you, and I also don’t think it’s smart business.
I’m NOT Running
About six years ago a major, well-known political operative approached me and inquired if I would run for the U.S. Senate. I thought about it for about 10 seconds before declining the offer out of respect for the quality of life I’m living and the need to be here for my family. And, frankly, I don’t want to make enemies. I want to love and be loved and would not be capable of launching a negative campaign against another. It’s not a game I want to play. I wouldn’t run for dogcatcher.
Over the next nine days, we’re all likely to be glued to our screens like we’re seeing a great cliffhanger in a movie. We’ll probably see more mudslinging than we’ve ever seen before. We might see unexpected things that rock our world and make us lose faith in humanity. We’re even likely to hear things about people we love and respect that will severely disappoint us. No, I have no inside information, I just know that there is a war on for your vote, and lots of missiles will be fired over the coming days. I’m guessing the unexpected will surprise us all.
A few thoughts to get you through the next nine days, and probably the months to follow, where sore losers will try every possible thing to change the outcome.
- Stay in prayer. If you’re one who prays, remember to turn everything over to God. Pray for His will to be done in your life and in this country. This, more than anything else, gives me peace about all the craziness.
- Be there for others. Everyone is worked up. Everyone needs a distraction. Everyone needs to know you care for them. You can be there without talking politics. But, with all that is going on in the world, suicide hotlines have seen huge increases in calls. People have fears about their future, and you can help them through it.
- Boost your mental and physical immunity. Fear and worry destroy your immunity. You need to do things to increase your happiness. Do things daily that give you joy, that are fun, and that distract you from doom and gloom. Eat well, take your supplements, and get exercise.
- Keep your head down. If you’re in the middle of a political discussion, there are bullets flying over your head. Do you really want to be in the middle of that negativity? You cannot change anyone else’s mind, and they cannot change yours. Is this where you want to spend your energy?
- The only things you can always control are your actions and your reactions. Voting is one thing you can control, and avoiding the negativity and the negative people is another. Change what you can control.
- Be the kind of person who lifts others up. We all know them and look forward to being around them. Don’t be the kind of person who is constantly firing bullets at others over politics. I’m so disappointed in the social media vitriol, which is why I’m trying to avoid it.
- Think for yourself. I’ve come to know that I cannot trust ANYONE to have accurate information. I can’t trust any news source. I cannot trust social media. So you have to dig for your own facts, try to find multiple perspectives. Don’t just look for things that reinforce what you already want to believe. Seek balance.
- Let go of “shoulds” — things we’ve told ourselves we should do. We all have preconceived ideas based on our past, our families, our parents, our friends. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself why. Why am I voting? Is it emotional, because I don’t like someone? Is it practical, because I want something accomplished? Or is it based on something I have always done, and changing makes me uncomfortable? Don’t listen to your friends, your family, the people you have always followed, but examine your own heart. Just because you’ve always voted a certain way does not mean it’s right for you today. Peer pressure is intense. But follow your heart, not what you or your family have always done in the past.
I want nothing but the best for you. I want you to have pure joy in your life and peace. I want your life to be what you want it to be. I want you to live your dreams. Everything we have in life comes from what we manifest, where we focus, and how we react and respond to the world. If you respond with love, peace, and with a smile on your face, your life will be filled with grace, which beats high blood pressure, anger, fear, and hate.
If nothing else, this is going to be a wild ride. Enjoy it.
PS: This summer, after several days of back pain, I discovered a chiropractor, “Dr. Joe,” who was able to make my problems disappear. We hit it off on the first visit because he had just created his first paintings ever. I was able to give him some ideas and tips, and every time we met all summer, he would ask me for more ideas and tips on painting. The day before we left, I went in for a final tuneup, looked forward to next season, and said a fond farewell. He asked if he could contact me for painting advice through the year. Of course I said yes, and looked forward to coaching a beginner (I love teaching).
Little did I know it would be the last time I saw him. Three days later, Joe was dead. He had pulled the trigger on his own life for reasons I’ll never know.
Though I had only known this young man (about 30) over six visits, I was really bothered by this news. Such a nice guy, such a talented chiropractor, such a promising painter. But the demons inside his head got the better of him, and though I don’t know what those demons were, someone has to be hurting deeply to want to take their own life. He had never shared hurt, but I’m wondering if I could have made a difference, helped him through his pain, shown him an alternative path, or offered him a new perspective. If only I had gotten to know him on a deeper level.
Then last week, an acquaintance, painter Greg LaRock, also a fairly young man, fell while rollerblading with his wife, and experienced head trauma that resulted in his death. Another brilliant candle snuffed out too early.
We all tend to be optimists when it comes to life. I think most of us plan to live long lives. We don’t expect an early passing from an accident, a disease, or even being so distraught that we end it ourselves. Yet life is fragile. The reality is that none of us know when our time will come.
In each of these cases, my first reaction was that I wished I had known them better, on a deeper level. I wish I had taken the time and made more of an effort. It’s a reminder for us all to get to know people on a deeper level, seek to understand their needs, and step in to offer help if needed.
Live each day as if it were our last.
Last week I completed Fall Color Week, a week of painting fall color with friends. Then we completed Realism Live for a huge number of artists in 27 countries. And I just announced our January watercolor conference, Watercolor Live.
Halloween is just around the corner. Find a way to have some fun, even though it will be less than normal. We all can use a little more fun these days.
Oh, I did my internship at a suicide hotline, and taught suicide prevention in the public school system when our community had a spike. Just in case someone wondered where a fellow artist was coming from in giving the advice.
Thanks for this. I just signed up for the regular blog. I’ve experienced the sudden death of a health care provider, that I had bonded with yet only visited a handful of times. It’s tuff. You have a good outlook on the things you expressed in this article.
It’s a risk factor to those that knew your friend/chiro, because when you know someone that’s done that it increases the risk, if they don’t have a positive outlook. Here’s practical advice, on what you can do specifically for his group. See if you can contact a family member. Share this post with them, asking if it could be mailed out to or shared with his patients. Those that knew him longer and knew him as the one to help them feel better, would benefit from the faith expressed in this article/blog.
More good advice from you to a crowd of us who are always eager for it, Eric! Thank you again and again. These have been such high stress times and you are always a positive voice, no matter what you are talking about. Myself, I have hit highs and lows through this whole jumble of 2020, (one high was PleinAir Live!!) and am sure that there are millions of us on the same roller coaster ride. But am SO SORRY to hear about Dr. Joe and your loss of him. It seems that some have such deeply hidden pain and/or problems that they might not even know themselves if the trigger to suicide might suddenly, without warning, push them over the edge? That’s not something that is easily detected by anyone, even close family members. How often it is that a suicide is a total shock. A number of suicides seem to be spur of the moment, unplanned, not with a trail that you could follow in hindsight. All the more reason to cherish and be close to our family and friends, as you say. Prayers for everyone. Condolences and also Congrats on your success with Realism Live (what a mix, but then it’s typical of this year, yes?). I was in the Adirondacks, but can clearly see from the comments above that it was another huge success!
Thank you for your wise and encouraging words concerning the way to walk through this turbulent time, and especially about taking time to know others deeper! You are a huge blessing!
Thank you Eric for another inspiring read.
I am thankful Dr Joe was touched by your spirit at his end.
Realism Live was another of your marvels…Thank you!
I really enjoy your Sunday Coffee weekly posts. I feel like you are talking directly to me. It is uplifting to have something like this to help me “keep my head in the game. I have recently taken up Watercolor painting and I am excited about Watercolor Live. I have been following your daily videos for a couple of months now and have learned alot with your help. Please keep up the good work and help us all to grow and learn. Thanks for all you do for the painting community.
Thank you, Eric, for sharing your insight and for your dedication to us, your followers. May God bless you and yours richly.
Great advice Eric. All the best to you and your family.
Eric, wonderful reminder. thank you for your encouragement and inspiration 🙂
I echo Sharons sentiment and wish you the best Eric!
You Eric are “awe-inspiring”. As you wrote, I thought I was thinking out loud…for your “shares” are often, what I’ve written in my journals, and what I’ve shared with those whom I am close to…thank you for caring, enough to share! From another artist (of over 45 years)…no where near the acknowledgement, not a fraction of 1%…God Bless!
Dear Eric, I’m so sorry to hear about your chiropractor. I know the feeling of wishing you could’ve done more. Thanks for your encouraging words during these stressful times. I’m praying nonstop. The Lord’s will be done. Thanks for RealismLive too. Get some rest. Love and prayers.
Your words are so real and heartfelt..God Bless you for sharing
Hi Eric, I always love to read your Sunday Coffee. This Sunday was special because you encouraged us to chill over this crazy year, and the even the crazier election. Thank you for that=saving our mental health!
You are always looking out for us and trying to keep us happy and engaged in our Art.
I love the Streamline Art Videos you promote, they are very informative and I have purchased a good many from the collection.
Thank you again and again for what you do. Much Love ❤️, Dee Miller, Boise, Idaho
Oh my goodness…To think that you did Realism Live with all of this going on in the background…And then got up today and wrote about it, with insightful thoughts for the peace and happiness of others, just blows me away.
I am deeply indebted to you for all that you have done for me and so many others with Plein Air and Realism Live. You clearly love what you do and are clearly loved by all who meet you and work with you.(they’d be mad not to)
The generosity of Realism and Plein Air Live, (including, and especially, the delicious scented cushion I received from the Adirondaks, which has become something of a comfort blanket for me – I gotta go there sometime!) the knowledge brought and learning taken awa , the global artistic community you have created, the importance you place on and encouragement you give us all to ‘just do it’ could not have happened without the leadership of an extraordinary leader, to say nothing of all that goes into heading up a team to stage a technical, virtual, global event like this happen online is nigh on miraculous and I thank and salute you for it.
Dr Joe was very fortunate to have had you appear in his life shortly before he ended it. The sister of someone who did the same thing once said ” If that is what my brother chose to do with his life, who am I to resent him for or be unhappy about it” I remembered that when I read what you wrote.
You are one of a kind Eric Rhoads.
Stay safe, stay well
With deep gratitude
Thank you Eric for your wisdom and caring. You are an amazing and talented person much admired . It’s hard to express how much we love you for all you do and want to comfort you in this time as I’m sure you are hurting too. Take care and stay with us
Thanks Eric. This article was fun to read. Then, it became meaningful and full of encouragement. Well done.
Thanks Eric for the thought provoking words today. Just what I needed. This election is not like any other I have experienced except maybe in 2016. I’m 71 years old. I need some calm and peace in my world right now. We are moving from our home of 47 years and going to live with my wonderful daughter and her family 9 hours from where all our friends and other family reside. There is a plan in all the chaos of selling our home in the middle of a pandemic with the horrible hatred going on in our country, leaving behind our home of 47 years and getting rid of all of our treasured belongings. Then I think of the people who have no home to go to and have little to eat. With winter coming, it will be bad for them. So, I am blessed.
Gayle in MN – I so look forward to these posts every week. This one is especially powerful, In so many ways, so thank you. I am a pastel artist who specializes in portraiture & during my upcoming retirement will have an opportunity to get back into art work. Around my 50th birthday my hubby & I won legal custody of our then 18mo old grandson. For years I have been in the unrecognized category of “submerging” artist. I am excited to learn & paint again.
Oh the tears as I read what you wrote. I couldn’t agree more Eric. 💕
Wow, every week your post is strong and inspiring but this one really resonated, with me anyway. So positive and insightful.
Thanks so much, Eric. This one is a keeper.
I loved this so much! Thank you for being someone to admire and respect!
Thank you Mr. Rhoads for this Sunday Coffee email, I so needed it.
Thank You, enjoyed morning coffee, we all lose someone that we wished maybe if we had more time with them, but the time you shared is a gift to be shared with others.
But the time we did have is a gift to carry with us for every. Life is short goes by too fast enjoy every day ,share a smile and a song with others.
And know when to give a “HUG”.
Your best Sunday morning writing yet! Inspiring, encouraging — and then very sobering.
You are a gift to all of us.
Once again, you have given wise council. Your impact on the art world is tremendous giving of your time during these troubled times. I thank you for that and look forward to the live broadcasts daily. It is so sad that a young life was so complicated that Dr. Joe saw no other way.We can always feel that we should have done more, but the short time that you were a part of his life added some pleasure for him. I am saddened to hear of Greg LaRock passing, so tragic. Let’s just think about what he left to the art world. My world circles around family, friends, art and taking care of my gardens. This is what brings me peace. Thankful to GOD for all that I have and to think ahead for the next painting. Take good care and HAPPY PAINTING.
Life is precious and fragile indeed. Thanks, Eric.
Be safe. We have all become dependent on your positive outlook on life and art. I had just started admiring Greg LaRock’s work when I read your article this morning. It just doesn’t make sense, such a talent.
Being a Libra I try to live life in balance. I try to see the positive aspects of our politicians and their supporters, as hard as it can be sometimes!
I am painting more now with good results. I wake up each Sunday to your writings and watching my PBS stations’ artists doing their best to inspire us all.
Hang in there and don’t spread yourself too thin.
Your Sunday Coffee emails have helped me so much. Your thoughts are full of wisdom and grace. Thank you so much!
Eric–sad for your loss of 2 people that have touched your life.
Thank you for wise, heartfelt and inspiring directives to get thru the next week. It is the kind of message to live everyday by.
I am grieved to hear of the loss of these men. Thank you for your honest and caring reminders to shield ourselves in this hostile climate. My husband and I left our home in Tennessee on Columbus Day to change the climate of our lives by delivering needed water filters to the Navajo Nation. I had to miss Realism Live to do this, but it has been a healing adventure for us, and we hope a help for some of our original people.
Thank you for continuing to point the way to hope, creativity, and community.
OMG Eric I am sending this to everyone I know. Its absolutely perfect. Thanks you
It is always uplifting to read your post ! Thanks for all the time and thought you put into sharing with us Hope your winter is joyful and pray we get some rain in our drought ridden South Texas!!!
Today’s column feeds calm to our caring and creative spirits. Thank you!
Thank you, Eric, for your musings. Every Sunday, I look forward to your words, to start my week with sanity. Today’s are especially touching to me: so profound, and wise. I will take your words to heart. How sad for your young chiropractor; what demons he must have been dealing with. I can understand your feelings of inadequacy. To have been so close and not to get an inkling of what was going on. You are so right. Every life is so fragile, and we have no idea when it is our time to leave. The older I get, the more I feel the tremendous need to spread calmness and acknowledge the beauty of each and every one of us and the magnificent world we live in. Again, thank you so much.
Love these posts.
Amen. Well said, and thank you. One can fall into a pit of despair over the state of our country and the anger and division among its people, as much as the politics that are the cause and result of our imbalance. Your graceful reminders of how to place our focus on what is most important to each and all of us is a breath of fresh air. Turn off the news, the electronics and take a walk in the autumn leaves. The world will still turn, no matter what we do or don’t do, but focusing on loving is much better way to go about what ever we choose to do than fretting or hating. Your reminders have helped me immensely.
Thank you Eric for a thoughtful Sunday Coffee a perfect cap to the four days of RealIsmLive. A friend I had sort of lost track of died too early this week. It was a good reminder that life is fragile and there may not be time to do all your plans. RealismLive helped sooth my grief. Thank you. Art, you, and your work has helped ease life in this crazy world.
Your articles for Sunday Coffee are fabulous! I especially appreciate this one about the upcoming election! I praise God for someone like you in the field of art who is so purely enthusiastic, caring, sensible and successful as well. Thank you for your words that paint pictures as beautifully as does your brush!!! I have taught art for 60 years, am in my 45th year of business with our full service art studio and have written “through the artist’s eye” articles for a local magazine for 7 years. You inspire me to KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON!!!! Thank you!
Good thoughts, though I would take issue with number 7. Social media, of course, is not a bona fide news source but merely a source of opinions.
Many national newspapers, on the other hand, have a history of reporting that we can look at and decide how reliable it tends to be. Good journalists are trained to present news quite objectively, though they are not infallible. Could any one of us have uncovered the facts behind Watergate, for instance, on our own? Would we have the skills, the time, and the resources to do that kind of investigative journalism? Reliable sources of news are essential to the functioning of our democracy, and we need to evaluate them and decide which ones are reliable and support them. They do the necessary kind of work that we, as ordinary citizens, are incapable of doing. (in my own city, our local newspaper did the kind of investigative reporting that revealed the skullduggery of Mr. Epstein. Something I could never have discovered on my own).
Dear Eric, You are such a “mensch”. You’ve been gifted with endless energy and you give it to so many people by encouraging people to feed their souls and you show them the way to do just that. Realism Live was a huge success and it was so inspiring to see how those great paintings are made. I knew Peter when I lived in NYC and he was with Dahesh. It’s always such a pleasure to hear him speak because he’s so knowledgeable and knows the right way to share what he knows with us. We have a bundle of talent here in Austin and I hope to become an official painting student again as soon as I finish up maintenance and final plans for getting my Dreidel Sculpture ready to be in the Trail of Lights here in Austin which will begin at the end of November I believe. It’s all still a work in progress. I told Peter I want to go to Vienna with you folks next Fall! I have fond memories of our cruise down the coast of Spain a few years ago and I want to repeat that experience. Thanks for all you do!
I love your Sunday mornings. It is such a tumultuous time and your musings take life down a notch. Thanks for taking the time to write these.
Good morning dear Eric,
First timer for Sunday coffee. ‘Keep your head in the game’ an advice that will keep resonating in my head every time I warch the news, I remember your words, shake my head and just turn to my easel😊, so sorry for the loss of the lives of the two gentlemen☹life is short anyway. We deserve to live and give as long as we breathe.
Thanks Eric,it was a delicious Sunday coffee😊thanks for sharing your thoughts. Blessings to you and your family
thank you for this Newsletter which was very profound and comforting at the same time.The world is an uncertain place especially in these difficult times. I’m not a famous artist but it’s a passion I share and it has helped me through
Sad moments in my life. I live in Switzerland so unfortunately I can’t participate in your plein air workshops. At present I’m doing a 6 week course via zoom. It’s not the same and not easy to interact. However for the moment it’s the next best thing to do.
Thank you again and stay safe
Eric, thank you so much for all you do! The 3 o’clock video clips, your noon sessions, PleinAir Live and Realism Live have enhanced my love of art. I was also happy to finally get a black mirror 😉 Now I have to start working on putting all that new knowledge to use. Again, thank you so much for all you do for the art community!!!
Thank you for your uplifting message in “Sunday Coffee.” Also, thanks for creating Realism Live which I attended for 4 days. It was absolutely amazing and inspiring. Thank you!!!
Thank you Eric, for sharing such personal insights during this troubling confusing time. It’s so important to seek beyond the fear, hate and division and to find comfort in good and beauty, creativity and generosity. Your reminders about self care are appreciated too. I purposely did not watch the final presidential debate for that very reason. Just to hear your kind and reflective words meant so much. I really felt like we just shared coffee on a Sunday morning.
Wow!! I am and shocked and so sorry to hear about the two deaths especially the one about your Chiropractor, what a shame…
Yes, I am trying to forget the dirty politics and just live in the present moment everyday, that’s all we have.
I really enjoy reading your Sunday Coffee,
Take care Eric,
Right on. We artists have the best life. Artist friends an love of beauty that can be seen in magestic mountains or the face of a homeless person. Thank you for your constant encouragement.
Sorry about Dr. Joe and Greg LaRock. May they rest in peace.
I am looking forward to catching up what I missed in Realism Live. Thank you for continuing to offer us those opportunities.
Excellent and very timely post, Eric. Rock on!
This week was great just like Plein Air Live! Thank you!
Thank you for Sunday Coffee today. I don’t mind some political banter as long as people are nice, but unfortunately our elections get nastier and nastier. The subject I feel the strongest about is my faith in God, It is what gives me joy and peace. I truly want that for others! Sadly, we are human and can’t touch everyone who is suffering. We just need to be bold when the opportunity arises.
Thank you Eric for very wise, loving counsel. I forwarded AGAIN to many in my family.
I enjoyed the REALISM LIVE this past week. Although my internet wasn’t very good and I had to miss some also because of travel. So very glad I took advantage of the extended replays.
You make a huge impact on many. So sorry for the loss of Dr Joe. One never understands “why”, but you had offered him all you had. I’m sure those conversations brought much to his short life.
God bless you, your family and your business.