Dreams, Winding Roads and Gratitude: A Joy List

It's been a while since I've done a Joy List here, but with Thanksgiving this week I thought it would be a good time to focus on gratitude. My heart is filled with gratitude right now.

houseplants, flowering plants, bulbs, flowering bulbs, amaryllis, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I know it's been a challenging year for many. So much in the news to bring us down. It's been a tough few years for me. It isn't easy, latching onto a dream and fighting to make it a reality while life, well, life does its thing. Life's what happens when you're busy making other plans, right, John*?

gardening, winter, autumn, marigolds, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Looking back over these last seven plus years since I first set out to change my life, it's interesting to see the twists and turns and where they've brought us. I know the roads ahead will continue to wind, probably in some more unexpected directions. While you're in the thick of it, it can be hard to keep the faith, but you just have to keep going.

violas, gardening, flowers, winter, november, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I regularly share the dreams I'm realizing here on my blog, but lately, one of the biggest and most exciting dreams belongs to Matthias. Last Friday he had a soft opening for his computer repair shop. It's right on Main Street in our little town.

Mac Help LLC, Computer Repair, Viroqua Wisconsin, Matthias Minnig

That dream wasn't even on the horizon seven years ago (I don't think it was even a year ago) and it probably wouldn't have been possible if we'd followed the path that we'd originally set out on.

None of this has been easy, and I know there will continue to be challenges and setbacks and bumps in the road, but I'm sharing this with you because I want you to keep going, too. Whatever it is that you're dreaming and striving for. Hold onto those dreams and also let go of control. Allow for twists in the road. Allow for detours. And enjoy the journey.

One of my big twists in the road was starting to teach on Skillshare. Seven years ago I would never have dreamed of teaching online, but it's been so rewarding. During the span of my giveaway contest it's been wonderful to see the student projects coming in.

Skillshare, student projects, painting goldfish, painting violas, watercolor, art classes

This is a sampling** from my new goldfish class and the viola class. I love teaching beginners and knowing that you're setting off on your own journeys. You may or may not discover a passion for watercolor, but my intention is to encourage you to experiment and play and not give up. Being a beginner can be hard, but it's also so important. It's a precious time of learning and growing and not something to be rushed through.

Thank you to all of my students. You bring me so much joy!

And now for the giveaway winner!

Skillshare, Giveaway, Contest, Random Drawing, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Congratulations, Linda Smith! You'll be hearing from Skillshare about your free year's membership soon.

Something else that has been bringing me joy is hearing plant stories from people on Instagram. With my latest houseplant paintings I've opened up a discussion about the memories and experiences we have with plants. It's at the heart of my art, this connection to plants and flowers and nature and I think that's why my art resonates with the people it does. Plants remind us of our histories. Of people we've known and loved. Of times past. I love hearing these sorts of stories (take a look here and here and join in on the conversation if you'd like). Thank you to each of you who have shared your story.

I want to share one more thing with you today before I close with the rest of my Joy List. The connections that I've made through my blog and on Instagram mean so much to me. It's wonderful to meet kindred spirits and to have you here cheering me on and to cheer you on, too. There is so much creativity and passion in the world and that brings me hope. One sweet kindred spirit is my friend Carla. Carla lives north of me in Wisconsin (though we haven't met in person yet). It brings me joy to see her following her dream of being a flower farmer. Her business, The Little Garden That Could started as a flower stand and has grown to a subscription service and now is also sharing garden joy all year long with lovely photo note cards and houseplant deliveries.

The Little Garden That Could, Note Cards, Carla TePaske
The Little Garden That Could Autumn Card Collection***

To celebrate her new ventures she's having a giveaway on her blog now the lucky winner will receive all four cards from her autumn collection. She's announcing the winner on Small Business Saturday.

Phew, that's a lot for one post, but as I said at the beginning, my heart is filled with gratitude. I am so grateful that you're here reading these words. I hope that you are taking time to notice joy even on dark days. I always think that it's most important to focus on joy and gratitude on those dark days, to even write a Joy List of things you're grateful for.

Here's some more of mine:

  • mixing colors for a new painting
  • watching birds at the birdfeeder
  • potato leek soup with leeks from the garden
  • an exciting collaboration with an Internet kindred spirit
  • being surrounded by plants and flowers
  • family visits and holiday plans
  • snoring kitties and greyhounds (and a third greyhound in the house visiting)
  • Botanica!
  • a few days of sunshine
  • the new Philip Pullman book

I hope your list is filled with many good things! Have a wonderful week. I'll be back next Tuesday.

*"Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans" is in the song Beautiful Boy by John Lennon and the idea can also be traced back to a Reader's Digest Magazine from 1957.

**Photos by my students on Skillshare (left to right, top to bottom): Linda Smith, Alicia (., Petra G., Marije Verkerk, Suteja Rao, Linda Smith, Joanna Hall, Sandra Homewood, 5 Flavors

***Photo by Carla TePaske, The Little Garden That Could


  1. A lovely post Anne with you giving credit to so many others as you always do. So happy for Matthias and you in his new venture! Congratulations with your success on skillshare and for mentoring so many willing students! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving week :)

    1. Thank you, Simone! Glad to have you here cheering me on!

      Hope you have a wonderful week!

    Three cheers for dreams coming true (and all the hard work that goes into that!)
    Sending big, big hugs out to Wisconsin.
    With gratitude for you and yours, Anne,

    1. Thank you, Karen! (Hard work, indeed!).

      Sending big, big hugs and much gratitude back to Vermont!


  3. Dear Anne,
    Thank you for the lovely write up. I do appreciate it.
    I am so excited for your husband. What wonderful news!!

    Thank you again. I am so thankful for our friendship. I do hope someday we meet. :-) We just have to meet, we live in the same state. :-)

    1. Thank you for your support and encouragement, sweet Carla! I wish you and your little garden all the best.

      We will meet someday, I just know it. :)

  4. Congratulations on you and your husband's achievements Anne! So much to be thankful for and look forward to. Here's wishing you lots of happy times ahead.

    1. Thank you, Sharon! I wish you lots of happy times ahead, too!! Thanks for being here!


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