curiosity, creativity and joy

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I believe those three are intrinsically linked.




The key is to always be paying attention. If you are, you'll naturally be curious about what you encounter and discover.

Last Monday on my Joy List I mentioned a fat caterpillar. I didn't include the photo I took of it because I didn't think it was "pretty" enough. Thinking back, that was stupid. Caterpillars are what they are. Perhaps not pretty, but fascinating, miraculous, magical.

caterpillar, moth caterpillar, imperial moth, imperial moth caterpillar, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I was delighted when I spied it in the grass at the entrance to the disc golf course and nature walk near our house. It was big, maybe four inches long. After we got home I was determined to find out what kind of moth it would become. It's surprising how poor the insect identification information is on the internet (if you know of a good site that's easy to navigate and that has quality information and photographs, please let me know!), but eventually I came to the conclusion that this was an imperial moth caterpillar.

A few days later returning from a walk I saw another huge caterpillar beside our back steps.

caterpillar, moth caterpillar, imperial moth caterpillar, imperial moth, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

After more internet searching I eventually determined that despite the color difference, this was probably also an imperial moth caterpillar. I have some books ordered at the library and am hoping I can confirm my speculation when they arrive.

In the meantime I looked through a field guide of butterflies and moths and became fascinated, again, by the diversity and beauty of this tiny fraction of insect life. Thinking about this and the vastness of all the other diversity and beauty in this world takes my breath away.

With the field guide open on my table in my studio and my paint palette filled with leftover paint, I couldn't help but be inspired to sketch a moth in my sketchbook.

moths, imperial moth, sketchbook, watercolor sketchbook, nature sketchbook, watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Just quick and pale from a single layer of paint, but still it brought me joy. It would have been easier to have rushed from one "important" thing to the next, focused merely on checking off items on my to-do list, but it certainly wouldn't have been as fulfilling or as joyful.

The joy of the world's magic. The joy of discovery. They joy of taking the time to brush paint on paper.

Again, I'm reminded of the importance of slowing down. Of taking time.

Just taking the time to glance out the window brings me discoveries on a daily basis. Like these clouds the other day:

clouds, sky, storm, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I've never seen clouds quite like these. Hard to photograph the drama of the layers, like swooping sheets of cotton batting. Even though I ran outside with my camera, the best view was from the upstairs window through a screen (hence the screen texture in the photograph). If I hadn't taken the time to look out the window I would have missed it.

I'm sure I do miss a lot. Focus can only be trained in one direction at a time. Even so, watching, listening, paying attention is something I remind myself to do constantly. I never know what I'll discover.

These sorts of discoveries make it to my Joy Lists more than anything else (well, maybe not more than food...).

I've been determined, lately, to write Joy Lists every day, a habit I'd fallen out of. Writing them helps me to pay attention. It keeps me focused and aware and it helps me to cultivate daily gratitude (even on the most difficult days). Joy Lists might sound frivolous, but I think they're important.

Will you join me in writing your own Joy List today?

Joy List Monday: 

a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

My list:

  • caterpillars, moths and other nature discoveries
  • sunshine and blue skies (after seemingly endless rain)
  • a pile of gorgeous eggplants from my mom sitting on the kitchen counter
  • apples for baking, freezing and making into juice
  • nesting and working on projects around the house
  • my paint palette -- always, always, always
  • a beautiful glimpse of the moon and stars on my way home from work
  • being able to still cut flowers for the house
  • tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes
  • a new student project in one of my Skillshare classes
  • hummingbird visitors still feasting on my flowers
  • a sneak peek of something very exciting
marigolds, autumn colors, flowers, crochet doily, flower arrangement, simple bouquet, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Wishing you a week filled with much curiosity, creativity and joy!


  1. waking up at home in Vermont after a few days away.
    enjoying the results of a daylong cleaning frenzy.
    supper with batman out on the picnic table, enjoying the view.
    the scent of two cords of firewood delivered over the weekend.
    the golden sunshine that floods the kitchen as the sun sets.
    clean laundry fluttering on the line in the breezes up here.
    finding a new little sketchbook in a package in the mailbox.
    (i could go on and on...)

    1. What a wonderful list, Karen.

      Glad to know that you could go on and on with your joys and gratitude. Just as it should be.


  2. The caterpillars look huge in the photos! I think moths are underrated and make some of the most impressive caterpillars! I love your billowing beautiful clouds and don't recall ever seeing such a sky. I am sorry I have not been commenting much lately Anne. I seem to have had a social spurt in my life and there is so much to do and see!

    Today's joy list:

    Visiting my lovely blogging friend Anne's blog
    Making things for the craft fair in November
    The peace and quiet of having the house to myself
    Ice lollies in the freezer to cool down in the hot evening
    Seeing life through happy eyes
    Awaiting jewellery making supplies
    Discovering lots of interesting YouTube channels

    Enjoy the rest of the week Anne :)

    1. They were pretty huge, Simone! :)

      Thanks for sharing your lovely list. I'm so glad to hear that you've been busy doing and seeing!

      Enjoy the rest of your week, too, my friend!

  3. I love your list. I think I need to start doing them daily and sharing them just as a means to make it a habit. The world is truly a wonderful, awe inspiring place. P.S. I just pre-ordered your sneak peek. I look forward to getting that this winter. :)

    1. Thank you, Dana. I do hope you start keeping daily Joy Lists! You're so right about the world being a wonderful place... keeping Joy Lists helps us not to forget.

      P.S. :) that makes me so happy!!!!

  4. Hi,
    I put apples on my list too. :-)
    I love the photos of the caterpillars. WOW they are big!

    1. Hi, Carla! It's an apple-y time of year! :)

      And don't you just love nature's magic?!?

      Wishing you much joy!


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