The Magic of Summer


Heat is radiating down on me this morning, the warmth of the summer sun. Spring didn’t last long here, and it’s already almost 80, just after sunrise. I can feel the warmth on my skin as I absorb my Vitamin D in the bright red Adirondack chair here on the back patio. Squinting from the brightness, I can barely make out the screen on my iPad with all the reflections around me. I’m always grateful when winter leaves and summer arrives.

My friend Richard Saul Wurman, founder of the TED conferences, once told me that we should plan our lives based on how many summers we have left. Summer is, after all, the time most of us take time for ourselves and our family, take vacation, and spend our time doing the things we love. Though no one is ever sure how much time there is, he based his remaining summers on the average lifespan of a man.

A Magic Trigger

Something magical happens to trigger something inside us when we think in terms of summers. Some may have three or five left, others fewer, and still others have more. Yet even if you’re 30, you have only 48 summers left. If you’re 60, you have 19 left. Someone born in 2017 will get 79 summers. Somehow this puts things in perspective.

Busy Winters

I spend a lot of my winter “hunker down” months looking forward to summers, when Laurie and I don’t have to wake up at 6:45 to get the kids off to school, and when we can all spend our time playing. Though I work all summer, other than my painting camps and a week off with the family, admittedly, I sneak out early and go in late most of the summer.

Remember those last few weeks of school, when you could hardly wait till school got out? It seemed like the last two weeks were as long as the whole school year.

What Could Have Been

As a teen I used to look at myself in the mirror and think about what I might look like as I age, thinking I had plenty of time. And now I look in the mirror and see someone I don’t recognize, and realize that every moment counts. I wish I had taken the “every moment counts” attitude to life when I was 20. I wonder what might have been if I had understood then what I understand now, yet I can’t look back with regret. I need to accept where I am today and change what I don’t like. And, as you probably know, I am opposed to self-talk about aging, and I operate as though I’ll live forever. Who knows, some tech gurus say that is coming, with 3D-printed hearts and the ability to transfer the contents of one brain to another.

Much to Get Done

My prayer this morning included a request to help me get done what needs to get done to help the most people possible. I’m not asking for more time, but I’m extremely focused on achieving my goals. One of my goals is to teach a million people to paint because painting changes lives — and I’m working on something that, if it works, will give me a reach of 24 million people next year. And at the Plein Air Convention, I had over 200 attendees stand when I asked for volunteers to teach painting to veterans in their town. Therefore, the PleinAirForce Veterans Squadron will soon be helping hundreds of veterans, some PTSD victims, by teaching them to paint.

One of my goals was getting a new book done to help artists discover ways they can make a living and live their dreams — and if I didn’t mention it before, we already hit #1 bestseller on Amazon in two different categories.

Releasing the Brain Muscle

One of the things I love about summer is the release of the brain muscle. It’s tight all year, jammed with projects, workload, and stress, and summer provides a chance to stop squeezing that muscle at that level and allow new ideas to float in at a leisurely pace. Walks through the woods, painting by magnificent waterfalls, floating on a lake — it can all play an important role.

Time off is important work time, something most people don’t fully get. When my team members take one week off, and then a week later at another time, I don’t feel like they are fully relaxing. It takes me a full week to come down from my busy life. That second week is when the magic happens.

26 Weeks of Vacation

I once met a billionaire who told me he works 26 weeks a year and takes the other half of the year off. When I asked how he could possibly be productive, he told me he was more productive and more focused in the weeks he was working because he’d given his mind a rest. Another fellow CEO just told me the same at a recent mastermind meeting. Who knows, maybe I’ll try it one day.

In just a couple of weeks, my kids will be out for the summer, and a new chapter for the year begins.

I’m looking forward to it as a reset button in my life. Time to get grounded, time to think, time to play, to sleep, and to give my busy little brain a rest. I hope you’ll do the same.

How many summers do you have left?

What bucket list items need to get done so you can check that box? I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, so I’ll be taking a group there in the fall. The Canadian Rockies, Banff, and Lake Louise are on my bucket list, and I’m taking a group there as well. And because I can’t get enough art, I’m taking a group behind the scenes in Italy.

I think back to my friends who have dreams they keep putting off. Then, like lightning, some ailment stikes and their chance of doing those things has vaporized forever.

Where is your summer bucket list?

What do you need to get done in your remaining summers?

Throughout my life I’ve always found barriers like money, time, obligations — yet if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to remove those barriers.

Since summer is right around the corner: What will you do? If you learned that this is your last summer, what would you get done that you’ve kept putting off? Sadly, it will be the last for some. My dear friend Sean, a stroke victim, had dreams he never fulfilled because he did not want to spend the time or the money, and now he is trapped in his body in a hospital, unable to move or speak, with very little hope of any quality of life. I think he would love me reminding you that now is the time. Never put anything off.

Here’s to making this your best summer yet.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Months ago I wrote about my kids’ desire to talk us into getting a dog. Then I wrote about how we adopted a senior dog, Tucker. This weekend we are mourning his passing from cancer. We gave him five amazing months of a great life. The house is quiet, and we miss him. We’re all pretty upset, but the kids are really having a hard time with it. We would appreciate if you keep us in your prayers. We become close to our faminals (animal family members) and losing them isn’t easy, no matter how much we knew it was coming.


  1. Aleada Aine Siragusa May 20, 2018 at 4:45 am - Reply

    You may be able to transfer the contents of your brain to an AI, but this will be a facsimile of you- it will not be you, Your soul is what makes you who you are and this is not transferable. Have a nice summer and may you live forever young. Aleada

  2. Bruce Newman May 20, 2018 at 5:10 am - Reply

    Eric, Laurie and kids,

    I am so sorry for your loss of Tucker. We have always had dogs and right now we have Putney (11.5 year old chocolate brown), our third cocker spaniel over the last 37 years. I hope you will bring another dog into your lives because of the joy he/she will bring you…and vice versa! All the very best to the Rhoads family!

  3. Janet bickham May 20, 2018 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Wishing you peace in knowing you brought happiness to Tucker at a very important time in his life. Prayers for comfort for all of you

  4. Fran Wood May 20, 2018 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Lovely “morning coffee” today, Eric. And my sympathies on the loss of Tucker. Same name as my daughter and son-in-law’s retired greyhound. It’s always good to adopt and older dog. On the minus side, you don’t have as long with it as you would a puppy. but on the plus side you’ve given an animal critical love and security in their later years. I hope you’ll adopt another.

    On the subject of not putting of what you want to do, my husband and I are eagerly looking forward to our South Africa trip with you in September. We assume your office will be issuing a list of essential/advisable vaccinations.

  5. Krystal May 20, 2018 at 5:35 am - Reply

    I always enjoy Sunday morning coffee with Eric. Thanks for sharing and I’m so sorry to hear of Tucker’s passing. Love to you and yours.

  6. Edith Lemke May 20, 2018 at 6:23 am - Reply

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dog Tucker, they are a real member of the family giving their love to all. I lost my dog Luke, an English Cocker Spaniel, a few months ago. Yesterday, I adopted his son Ace, 10 yrs old, whose master died
    recently. So, as we both head into our senior years we will give each other love, comfort and joyful times together.
    Hopefully, you will find another “Tucker” to give love and joy to in his/her later years. Blessings to you and your family.

  7. Bobbi May 20, 2018 at 6:39 am - Reply

    I am so very sorry to hear about Tucker. Our family has been blessed with many dogs over the years and their passing on to the other side is always difficult. Blessings to you and your family.

  8. Patricia Bachhuber May 20, 2018 at 6:52 am - Reply

    Eric, I’m so sorry about Tucker. I wanted to ask you how he was at the Plein Air Convention. Bless your heart for giving an old timer a beautiful end of life. I love animals so deeply. Actually, that’s what (who) I paint. I love capturing their expressions for their humans and I have to humbly but proudly state that i have mastered fur. Please tell your family how sorry I am, one of your readers. I put this loss in the category of unbearable sorrow. The only cure that I know of is to give a home to another one. There is no shortage of animals that need homes, God knows. I am one of the people that stood up to teach painting to veterans with PTSD. My plan is to incorporate the healing power of animals into this process. I don’t know how exactly yet but I’m thinking and I will get there. There is a VA hospital in Milwaukee where I live so this should be relatively easy to launch. Please accept my deep, deep condolences in this time of sorrow for the loss of that little soul in your life.

  9. Mary B May 20, 2018 at 7:06 am - Reply

    Please accept my prayers and most sincere condolences. I think all animals share a special place in our hearts. My husband and I moved out to the country several years ago. I’d always been a “dog person” in the past. However, shortly after our move, we found ourselves with 5 cats. They were all feral or abandoned, but in need of care. It took some time and effort on our part to win their trust, but it’s all been worth it. The joy they’ve given us is unspeakable.

  10. Bonnie Jean Brahms May 20, 2018 at 7:07 am - Reply

    It is wonderful that you gave this older dog some happy moments, what a blessing for Tucker and for your family. I am so sorry that he left with such an ugly disease. My parents are gone as of last year, and now I have their pets, Me Too, a black lab that they found by a soap weed when she was a puppy. And Winker an older orange tabby male cat, he seems to be putting on more weight now, but was pretty thin and weak a month ago. He doesn’t have very many teeth left so we buy him shredded cat food. I hope Mom and Dad are smiling down from above as I take care of the pets they left behind.
    I am sorry for your loss, hugs and blessings at this sad time.

  11. Shirley Hackett May 20, 2018 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Somehow, it seems, losing a pet is ever so much harder. We love them, and they us, so freely. There are no judgements from pets, no holding back. Just pure, always flowing affection. They give us what we seem to need the most. Its really hard to give that up.

    Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

  12. Patricia Rose Gauthier May 20, 2018 at 8:16 am - Reply

    At first I was slightly depressed by your Sunday morning comments. I too have made a life change, recently retired from active ranching. Now I set my alarm to get up earlier so I can get the most out my day. Yesterday I painted a plein air oil 8×10 and seem to break out my mold of tight painting, although it did get a bit mushy. I was with part of our family at the beach, where they were camped. It was a glorious evening I set up my paints started it, stopped when was called for a hamburger. Finished it in a hour and spent the rest of evening sipping wine by the campfire with my husband and my daughter’s family. This is going to be a start to a wonderful summer.

    Thanks for your comments

  13. Susan F Greaves May 20, 2018 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Remember the movie “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”? Brad Pitt’s character started old and got younger and younger. Could that happen with knowledge? I’ve often wished that I knew earlier what I know now, including what I’m learning from your materials, Eric. Thanks for encouraging us to use each day, week, month, and season effectively.

    • Susan F Greaves May 20, 2018 at 8:39 am - Reply

      And don’t put off adopting another dog that will help God fill the hole in your hearts, Eric.

  14. Karen Scharer May 20, 2018 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    So sorry for your family’s loss of Tucker. They leave such a huge empty space when they go. I too, encourage you to adopt another. Although another animal can’t replace the one who has passed, it is the only thing I have found to ease the loss. Warmest thoughts to you…

  15. Elgin Cannon May 20, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Eric, I feel for you and your family over the loss of Tucker. He was a fortunate dog to have a home to call his own and people who loved him during his last months alive. I have buried 3 dogs in the last 2 years, (10,12 and 14 yrs old) The last was Phoenix my 12yr. old Golden Retriever. Now I have Peanut, 5yr. old Chihuahua. We help each other getting through the mourning. I agree with the suggestion that you get another dog in your loving home.

  16. Lindsay Tozier-School May 20, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    I am so sorry for the loss of Tucker. He touched your lives and you gave him a part of your hearts. You are all enriched by your time with him. Thank you for taking Tucker into your family and into your hearts.When the time is right, maybe another cold nose with a warm heart will come through your door. Thank you for sharing. Keeping you all in my thoughts.

  17. Theresa C Jordan May 20, 2018 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Absolutely exciting art trips – I have been to Africa and Italy – unfortunately am not able to travel to Lake Louise this year. Do keep me on your e-mail list!

  18. Sher May 20, 2018 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Is anyone in Spartanburg SC doing this to help vets in some way?

  19. Kathie Bugajski May 20, 2018 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Oh Eric,

    I know that lose all to well and I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers!

    II can’t tell you how much I look forward to Sunday Coffee! Thank you for always sharing your heart and wisdom with us. You are a special man and God has blessed us by bring you to the art world and life period. Keep on keeping on!

    Your fan,

    Kathie Bugajski

  20. Frances E Pampeyan May 20, 2018 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    I’m praying for your family -so sorry about the loss of your dog.
    Wow, your letter is very thought-provoking. I am praying about retiring so I can spend the rest of my life painting.

  21. Danielle Wexler May 20, 2018 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    So sad that Tucker passed away. It is always so very hard to lose an animal…much love to you and your family.

  22. Carolyn Pettie May 21, 2018 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Dear Eric,
    It is very touching how much you and your family love and miss Tucker. I am sure he felt the love that you and your family gave him and loved you all in return.
    It is such a sad time when our beloved pets have to go. Our family will always miss our beloved pets who had to leave us. They mean so much to us.
    I will surely say a prayer for you, your family, and precious Tucker.

  23. Gina Murrow May 21, 2018 at 11:35 am - Reply

    As always, Eric, your Sunday Coffee posts hit home, but this one is especially important for us to remember. Thank you for the reminder not to put things off.

    We’re caring for my dad who has Alzheimers. He still knows most of us, which is a blessing, but he can’t do most things anymore. He had a long bucket list of adventures that he never did. Your post, and my dad’s condition, remind me to get going on those dreams.

    Sorry to hear about Tucker. Bless you all for giving him a great end of life. I’ll be praying for all of you.

    Thanks for blessing us with your writing.

  24. Kathryn Leitner May 23, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I was very moved by your post! I rarely leave comments, but wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your perspective. I feel very much the same way but your idea of “how many summers” was a sweet thought and put it very much in perspective! The real reason I am commenting, though, I want you to know you and your family will certainly be in my prayers. We have just added a new puppies to our family she in our six-year-old border collie mix bring a lot of joy to our lives. Losing them is so very hard but giving them a wonderful life is even more important. I will pray that you find comfort and peace with your loss and that, soon, you are able to share your love with a new friend in your lives! Thank you for taking time to write. I hope you have a blessed week and I will be looking forward to reading more of your posts! Sincerely, Kathryn

  25. Michael Warth May 26, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Eric, why did I wait so long to start paying more attention to you? I’ve seen your work pop up in my feeds and have seen video of you speeding for years. Knowing how many summers I have left, or should I say, not knowing how many summers, I feel like I’ve found a spark to ignite my dreams and take advantage of the days I have left. This blog of yours, and your book, “Make More Money Selling…” (which I purchased on kindle just about an hour ago) came at the most appropriate time.

    I’ve read many marketing books and some may have derailed my art dreams but the mind trash, self-doubt, myths, you name it have done nothing for my goals. We will meet someday, and I promise I’ll be changing my stars and be the artist I’ve always invisioned I would be.

    All I can say is, thank-you. I hope we can paint together one day, have a cup of coffee and laugh at my fear of becoming the artist I want to be.

    • Michael Warth May 26, 2018 at 10:20 am - Reply

      *speaking not “speeding”

      Apparently the coffee I’m drinking now is too strong. Haha

  26. Michael Delaney June 1, 2018 at 4:13 am - Reply

    Eric,I like your Sunday Coffee Emails ,this one especially it hit home . I`m struggling with when to retire and put Art at the front. My current job is 60 hours a week with little time for painting and have less than nineteen. Thank you for a different perspective on Life Mike Delaney.

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