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Learning to Find Beauty Around Us

By Becki Cohn-Vargas February 15, 2022 Lifestyle

“When you do something beautiful and nobody notices, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle, yet most of the audience still sleeps.” – John Lennon

It is so easy to forget the beauty that surrounds us in our lives – no matter who we are or where we live. Of course, that does not wipe out sadness or misfortune, but beauty can uplift us even in the darkest moments. It also can remind us to feel gratitude when things are going well.

At a recent zoom webinar, the speaker asked each person to bring something beautiful into their screen. By the end, I was feeling inspired. I hope you will feel that way by the end of this short blog.

Beauty in Connections

The speaker pulled out some hand-embroidered napkins that her mother embroidered with exquisite floral designs. She said that she always kept them hidden away, but a friend encouraged her to use them and enjoy them.

Beauty is about connection and relationship. I quickly dug out some Limoges plates and monogrammed silverware with my great grandfather’s initials. My grandmother had managed to ship them out of Nazi Germany right before she had to flee for her life. I proudly displayed them on an antique cabinet that she also rescued.

Another person highlighted a song by Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A’Changin. Music brings back beautiful memories. Do you have a song?

One man talked about his roses. Roses come in so many brilliant colors and flower many times a year. They also take tender care and nurturing.

The sweetest share was when a man in his 80s pointed to his wife with white hair, looked shyly at us out of the zoom box, and said, “This is my beauty, my wife of 60+ years.” Beauty is reflected in love.

Beauty in Nature

Recently, I have been taking care of my one-year-old grandson, Anteo, a few days a week. I had planted milkweed for monarchs to eat, and he marveled at the spectacular orange and black butterflies all summer long.

At first, he could only say Bye (first and last syllables), but he could say butterfly by the end of the summer. Then, very late in the season, we found a tiny yellow and green caterpillar after the frost had started. So we brought it inside in a jar because our California weather had become stormy and cold.

Luckily, the milkweed had not died back. We named the caterpillar Fofo, the nickname of my husband’s brother, who died in December 10 years earlier. Each day Fofo ate and grew bigger and bigger, just like the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Our Monarch Beautie

Then one night between midnight and 1am, Fofo suddenly became a chrysalis. The monarch chrysalis is green with flecks of gold. The word chrysalis comes from Latin borrowed from the Greek “gold” (referring to the metallic gold-like sheen of some butterfly pupae).

It seemed like Fofo stayed in that chrysalis far too long, and we began to worry. But then, one morning, we watched as Fofo emerged with wet wings and hung there for a while. We had spoken to two Monarch rescue organizations who advised us that we should not release Fofo until the rains had stopped and it was a bit warmer.

Monarchs can live inside for a few weeks. So, we adapted a box into a home for Fofo to flutter around. We put orange slices and purple flowers for nectar. The rain eventually stopped, and it came time to release Fofo, who turned out to be a female. It is easy to tell the gender of a monarch. The males have some specific spots that females do not have.

Anteo was present for the release. Fofo sat on some Mexican Lavender flowers for a few minutes and then flew up into the sky. Beauty was present in Fofo’s metamorphosis; beauty was present in little Anteo’s eyes as he watched Fofo alight; beauty was present in rescuing a magnificent animal at risk.

What brings beauty into your life? Please take a minute to go around your house or garden and find something beautiful to share in the comments below.

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The Author

Becki Cohn-Vargas, Ed.D, has been blogging regularly for Sixty and Me since 2015. She is a retired educator and independent consultant. She's the co-author of three books on identity safe schools where students of all backgrounds flourish. Becki and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have three adult children and one grandchild. You can connect with her at the links below.

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