The Joseph Group

A New Passion Shows the Beauty of the World Around Us

November 10, 2020

To Inspire:

Our dear friend and client Claudia Cook wrote a feature article for the Columbus Dispatch recently. We love that she has found a new hobby during the Covid pandemic and thought sharing excerpts from that article (Coronavirus Chronicles: Painting her way through the pandemic) might inspire some of you as to give thought to new hobbies and pastimes that can help add beauty and greatness to your life. Enjoy…

My husband and I love to travel. Our first big trip was in 1998, when his parents invited us to join them on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

We were in Glacier Bay on an unusual sunny day, standing on the deck watching the glaciers glistening in the sunlight and calving huge chunks into the bay.  I was hooked; I wanted to travel to see other things like this.

Photo courtesy of Claudia Cook

Many trips later, I find that no matter where we go, I experience the same stirring of my imagination — sometimes from astounding views of mountains, waterfalls and sunsets, and sometimes from the delights of people and cultures and food.  And every time, on returning home, I experience what Marcel Proust described when he said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  My heart and mind are opened to life around me, and even Columbus becomes a place filled with wonders.

In the middle of this past March, we were scheduled to leave for a monthlong cruise down the west coast of South America, around Cape Horn and up to Buenos Aires. We were already packed and full of anticipation when the pandemic hit.

Grateful that we were able to cancel at the last minute and receive credit on a future trip, we unpacked our bags, both relieved and disappointed. I put away the many books that I had read to prepare for our adventure and resigned myself to waiting until the pandemic was over to experience that spark of joy that I had come to associate with these trips.

My husband and I are both over 65; we have had to be careful to avoid catching the coronavirus, even maintaining a distance from our grandchildren. So when my oldest daughter told me that she and her six children were learning about watercolor painting by following a free tutorial online, I saw an opportunity to connect with them by joining them in painting the same tutorials and then texting our paintings to each other.  I had never painted before and had no expectation beyond some fun and connection.

Photo courtesy of Claudia Cook

To my surprise, the very first time that I tried it, I sensed that something magical was happening. Mixing the vibrant colors, brushing them onto the paper, focusing on capturing the beauty of a piece of fruit or a single flower, activated my imagination and brought me joy in a way that I had previously associated only with trips.

I felt as I had in Glacier Bay; I was hooked. As soon as I had finished one painting, I found myself anticipating the next one. When I decided to try doing paintings inspired by photos from our trips, I found that my joy was doubled, as the painting process enriched my memories.

Now, as my husband and I take our daily constitutional around the neighborhood where we have lived for 35 years, I find that I am seeing everything with “new eyes.” I notice the different shades of green in the grass, trees and bushes. I admire the intricate, multicolored designs of the flowers. The sky is a canvas on which the changing pattern of the clouds stand out against the many shades of blue spread out behind them. The chili peppers on my deck have delighted me as they turned from green to purple to red.

As I unpacked our suitcases when the pandemic started, I felt sad at losing the joy that I had been anticipating. Much to my surprise, I discovered the truth of that familiar saying, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” As I have painted my way through the pandemic, I have found not only a new passion, but a new window through which to see the beauty of the world around me.

Claudia has taken the challenge of this time and turned it into an opportunity to learn a new pastime and experience all of the beauty that is around us. How can you turn this time of challenge into a time of opportunity? Greatness…it lies in each of us.




This WealthNotes article was written by Matt Palmer, Co-founder and Chairman