Any major life change provides an opportunity to grow and learn, as well as the dangers of stagnation. Retirement is no different. When I started this journey, I decided I wanted to explore something I have never done before. I chose learning how to draw and paint. Being good at it was irrelevant. The important thing was to try something new and perhaps find a passion that would carry me through the next chapter in my life. The cover photo is a pastel I did 2 weeks ago in drawing class. I never would have thought I could produce anything of the quality of that little pastel – especially not dashing it off in 3 hours during class.

I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sights in the world on my travels, and have captured many in photographs. There were times when I was looking at the riot of color at the Floating Market in Bangkok, the cherry blossoms in Japan, or the prospect from the Great Wall of China, and I wished I could capture that in paint. Not “would”, but “could”. Trying to see if I had the ability to do that one day was what ultimately led me to take a drawing class. What kept me from signing up earlier was the certainty I would have to draw a human at some point. Murphy’s Law.

Working in the tight confines of the studio, I’ve learned my hair is a great place to hold pencils, blending sticks and vine charcoal. There have been classes where I looked like a porcupine with all the tools of the trade sticking out of my head. Now I need to learn to take them out at the end of class. I recently went to the grocery store and the dry cleaners with a 2B pencil in my hair after class, and no one told me. I am well on my way to being the Neighborhood Eccentric.

We are all creatures of habit, and changing 30+ years of fully-ingrained habits is about as easy as putting together anything from IKEA – there are always screws or bolts left over that you know should have been included, but you can’t figure out where they were supposed to go. You’re left with the sinking feeling the whole thing is going to fall apart at the worst possible moment.