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From Duty to Beauty

I have decided to, at the end of the year, put down professional endeavors. The time feels right, and I have great energy for leaning into and discovering what the next chapter will be. To be clear though, I’m not “retiring.” That’s an adjective that’s probably the opposite of how most experience me!

My process has actually been in play for several years now. Five years ago, on bit of a lark, I began taking water color classes – something entirely unlike anything I had done before. My goal was to learn and enjoy myself. I immediately got hooked. Even with a plan, things change: too much water, colors merge, perspective out of kilter. I love its layered quality, where subsequent additions bring more depth and interest. I enjoy the emerging process that water color calls me to: I’m helping guide water and color to paper, and there’s a magic that sometimes happens when the paper, the paint, the brush, and the technique come together skillfully. A new blank sheet offers that possibility every time. 

The other thing water color has brought me is that I now notice the world around me much more fully: the subtle colors in a sunset, how a tree’s shadow hits a path, the vibrancy of a geranium against a white clapboard house. I’m seeing small particularities that can not only make a nuanced difference in what I paint but also just bring me joy and wonder in the moment. There is magic all around us if we but see it.

With only a few changes in words my description above could very capably describe my professional life. However, there is one important difference. While my work was very satisfying, soaking in art feeds me deeply in a different way. I often and easily lose track of time as I get absorbed in a painting. Nothing else occupies my mind, just a blissful presence. It is relinquishing duty for the joy and discovery of beauty.

The other joy I’m more fully anticipating is that of being a grandma. My times with my grandson are the ease of being with whatever the moment calls for. Blowing bubbles? Great! Reading a book together? Snuggle in! Walking in the park? Let’s go! Again, no duty, just wonder and joy.

And so, my life will continue to unfold. The questions I will continue to ask myself will include:

  • The pattern of duty is deeply engrained. How can I move with more ease in this next chapter of my life?
  • What brings me joy?
  • What wonders do I see around me?
  • How can I still continue to grow?


Do these questions resonate with you? Are there opportunities to turn duty into beauty in your day-to-day? 

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