A most cherished friend introduced me to watercolor painting last year. How could I have gone so long on this earth without such happiness?

Perfectly imperfect, magical, unexpected outcomes. Every time. Some parts of the process can be controlled, some can’t. And learning to lean into that unknown has been exhilarating beyond measure.

To be open to detours and happy accidents. To wait patiently for a piece to dry and mature and evolve. To let go while I paint, and to let go and share a piece with someone else because of joy instead of perfection.

Because I want to remember to pay attention to this moment. Because I need to remember to hold all things loosely. Because I don’t want to forget to find amazement and connection in the charm of simple things.

Because high hopes are always good, but too many expectations (of ourselves, of others, of this broken world) are not.


Author and photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva spent time with people who live above the Arctic Circle. She describes the polar night, “the poetic name for the two months of darkness that’s not just winter here but also a state of mind.”

Photo by Stein Egil Liland on Pexels.com

“One day I felt sad,” she says, “the polar night causing my thoughts to run in chaotic directions. I came to [meteorological station chief Vyacheslav] Korotki with a cup of tea and asked how he could live here, alone, every day the same.”

He told me: ‘You have too many expectations, and I guess it’s normal. But every day is not the same here. Look, today you saw the bright aurora borealis and a very rare phenomenon of thin ice covering the sea. Wasn’t it great to see the stars tonight, after they were hiding from us behind the clouds for over a week?’

“I felt guilty for gazing too much inside of myself,” says Arbugaeva, “forgetting to observe outside. From then on I became all eyes.”


At the end of this long year, may you choose to become all eyes. Notice where you need to loosen the reins. Notice your world, notice your people, notice what makes your heart come alive.

Notice how you can share hope with someone who’s struggling. You won’t have to look far.

© 2020 Carol Stillings