Upon returning from her adventure, going back to Kansas with a click of her heels, Dorothy uttered, “There’s no place like home.” I feel the same. After being away for several weeks, visiting Sweden, Spain, and Florida, I have returned to my long wooden back porch at my Texas ranch house, looking out over the arid plants, twisted and gnarly oaks, and distant purple mountains, enjoying the crisp morning air and the remaining vibrant hues of autumn.

I’m still basking in the gift of Thanksgiving, having had the triplets home, gathered around our table, and feeling as though nothing ever changed and no one ever left. And I’m comforted that each is doing well and finding their way. Yet today, everyone heads back to their roles elsewhere, and we start our quest to get everyone back again for Christmas. Yet I can’t help but reflect on the Thanksgiving spirit that still lingers in the air. A spirit of gratitude, of togetherness, of compassion, and most importantly, of hope.

I can never articulate it, but it’s as though someone sprinkled magical fairy dust on me, starting about last Tuesday. Suddenly, I was consumed by true gratitude for the people in my life. I had clearly launched into holiday mode on Tuesday and had a hard time focusing on work on Wednesday, though final year-end planning has to get done.

The Power of Hope

Hope, that resilient flame that flickers even in the darkest of times, is what I find myself drawn to today. Hope, the driving force that propels us forward, that motivates us to believe in a brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow filled with possibilities and the promise of a better world. Some days it’s hard to find hope when you track what is happening in the world, yet I have faith that mankind always finds its way and settles its issues. When I see the spirit of Thanksgiving spread across my deep network of friendships, my confidence in mankind is renewed. 

Lessons from Thanksgiving

In the aftermath of Thanksgiving, as we bask in the warmth of shared meals and sleepy tryptophan-fueled couch napping, along with the joy of family gatherings, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But amid the chaos, let’s not forget the profound lessons Thanksgiving has imparted — lessons of gratitude, kindness, and the power of human connection. What if we were all more grateful every single day?

Hope: A Guiding Light

These lessons, like the gentle rays of the sun, have the power to illuminate our lives, to guide us through the darkest of times, and to remind us that even in the face of adversity, there is always hope. Hope is not just a fleeting emotion; it’s a powerful force that can transform our lives. It’s the belief that things can get better, that we have the ability to make a difference, and that we’re not alone in this journey.

A Journey of Hope

As we navigate the ups and downs of life, let’s seek out hope like a precious lighthouse, guiding us toward a brighter future. Let’s nurture it with our actions, with our compassion, and with our unwavering belief in the inherent goodness of humanity.

The Power of Human Connection

Remember, hope is not a destination; it’s a journey. It’s the continuous act of choosing to believe, to persevere, and to make a difference in the world. It’s having faith in our fellow man, and understanding that deep down, everyone means well and has purpose. Conflicts are driven by differences, fueled by people feeling as though they are not being heard. All conflicts can be resolved by listening. Seems naive, doesn’t it? Yet it’s the foundation of settling everything.

Spreading Kindness

So, as you go about your day today, let the spirit of hope guide your steps. Let it inspire you to reach out to those in need, to spread kindness wherever you go, and to believe in the limitless possibilities that lie ahead. Instead of that cold, hard shell we often put on when passing a homeless person, judging them for begging on the streets, perhaps we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and be grateful that it’s not us or a family member, understanding that this person is someone’s son or daughter, struggling with bad choices or uncontrolled circumstances or the inability to cope. I’m sad to say that I’ve experienced seeing someone I love be homeless, and it is a helpless feeling because you know that at some point, they will have to pull themselves out of it, even after so many attempts by others to rescue them. Yet everyone can use a friend and a helping hand.

Creating a Better Future

For it is in the depths of hope, in the resilience of the human spirit, that we find the strength to overcome challenges, to build a better world, and to create a brighter future for generations to come. And as the Christmas season officially begins and people are showing their greed by fighting over big-screen TVs in Walmart, let’s all keep the spirit we’ve captured this week, carrying it through Christmas and into the new year. And as we think about resolutions for the soon-to-be-coming new year of 2024, let’s remember that the spirit of generosity and giving should fuel us each day — and it will, if we allow ourselves time to let that spirit consume us.

Happy Sunday, and may the warmth of hope fill your hearts and homes.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Time away and reflection have brought me to some new and frightening places, because my thoughts have pushed me out of my comfort zone and are driving me to pursue some new things in the coming months. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think it will be a good thing. I like the idea of change for the sake of change. I don’t want to be the man who lives to be a hundred and has repeated the same year, the same things, a hundred times. I want to live each year as its own, with its own unique experiences. No more Groundhog Day. Every day, every year, fresh and new. Like I said, I can’t tell you what it means or what it is, but I’ve had this feeling before and I feel change coming. Stay tuned — it’s going to be an interesting year.

PS 2: One project is to write a new book, different from my last two, which were different from one another. This one is broader, with deeper purpose. It’s started, and will continue to progress until it’s done. Honestly, I don’t want to do it because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to examine my life and my theories. But I know I can help millions of people by saying what others haven’t said. I have no interest in repeating what’s been said before and copied hundreds of times by others. I have a big vision for this, and I look forward to seeing what happens.

PS 3: These last few weeks of the year are the most important of all. Not just because of the spirit of the holidays, but because what you decide now, plan now, and begin to implement will determine the direction and success of your year. Time spent now will make a big difference because, as you know, the minute the year begins, it’s already over. As I look at all the gurus on Instagram who give everyone all the advice about how to be rich or successful, few if any ever mention the most important part: planning. If you could pick one giant thing you want to have happen and two smaller but important things, what would they be? Can you measure them, so you know when you’ve accomplished them? If you lay those things out, then lay out 50 steps toward each one, then throw those steps in your calendar, you will hit it. You can do this in one day, though it deserves more thought and time than that. What if you took the time and got that done so you hit the ground running in 2024?

PS 4: Remember this. If you think 2024 is going to be a bad year because of the economy, the election, wars, or other things, you’re exactly right. On the other hand, if you think it’s going to be a great year, possibly the best year in your life, you’re also right. You have the choice. It starts with what you’re believing and ends with who you’re listening to. No one else has the right to tell you that you’re going to have a bad year no matter what you do. Don’t listen unless it’s constructive or helpful. 

PS 5: I don’t have actual numbers because so many people receive this when it’s forwarded, and I don’t really care how big or small the audience is. But I know this. If you received one thought, one idea, one bit of encouragement, or some value out of reading this, sharing it might be a gift to someone else who needs those things. Who do you know that needs a rudder in their life? You know what to do.

PS 6: This weekend tens of thousands of people got some great bargains during our Black Friday sale on art instruction streaming videos. According to our stats, they are already opening them and viewing them, and gradually, as they watch, they are being transformed into artists, or better artists. Even those who don’t believe they have what it takes. I want that for you because most of us need something other than work and kids or grandkids. We need something that is our own, expressing our creativity. Those deals are still out there at www.painttube.tv. These make great gifts too.

PS7: And if watercolor is something you are destined to master, join our Watercolor Live worldwide virtual conference in January by signing up now at www.watercolorlive.com