because what do we have to lose ?!

by Sharon Santoni

There are many things to be grateful for as we grow older, and I think that one of these is the realisation that it’s good to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, because frankly what is there to lose?!

And maybe this past year with all of its craziness and difficulties has brought it home to me even more, that life is made to be enjoyed, to make the most of, not only for ourselves but for those around us.

Have you noticed how this pandemic has made people more mindful of others? And how it has made the small pleasures in life seem more important? As if being forced to change our daily routine has enabled us to change focus, and think more about our priorities, our pleasures and how we use our time.

One of the things I started doing last March during the first confinement were my live videos on Instagram. It was a huge step for me, to be in front of the camera instead of the other end of the lens. As my daughters succinctly put it, I simply had to get over myself. So I did, and they were of course right. While I still don’t really enjoy seeing myself on my screen, I do love the conversations that I’ve had with some amazing people. The interviews, the shared moments.

And tomorrow I am taking the potential for making a fool of myself one step further, since I’ll broadcast a live video of me taking a watercolour class. Crazy? yes probably. But as I said, seriously, what do I have to lose.

I’m really looking forward to attempting a watercolour painting under the guiding hand of artist Ann Engelhart. She is talented, highly trained, and (I hope) very patient! Her watercolour will be masterful and mine won’t, but I look forward to the shared moment. It will be fun to chat with Ann, and to hopefully bringing those watching some enjoyment too. The live will take place at 3.30pm French time, and 9.30 EST, and after that it will be available on my Instagram page here.

So now I have a question for you. And I’d love to hear your answer in the comments below. When was the last time that you put yourself in danger of looking ridiculous? Or simply put yourself out of your comfort zone? and how did that go?

And of course if you would like to join us tomorrow then that would be great! Below is the list of materials you’ll need for the class, and if you send me your pictures after we finish, I’ll happily share them on my Instagram story.

All illustrations for this post are by Ann Engelhart @ann.engelhart. Information on her classes here.


Fran Bacon January 21, 2021 - 12:45 am

After a very busy career and a ‘gap’ that needed sorting, I started painting from scratch, seven years ago – at 68 years – such joy and frustration ( temporary, as I found learning art cannot be hurried !. ) I’ve had so much pleasure, made so many good friends, had some wonderful laughter, and given friends and family joy with gifts of work, and with Covid restrictions, can paint to my hearts content on my own. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, whatever you create and please show on your blog your progress. Well done. I’ve been following your wonderful MFCH from the start. Completely love it.

Marg Gibbs January 21, 2021 - 12:50 am

I am learning to navigate Canva – an online graphics/ designer tool. I have stepped out of myself to film myself on Youtube, not easy but worth a go. Learning demands new possibilities. Fun and forever leaping into the unknown.

Kate Granado January 21, 2021 - 1:01 am

Thank you for introducing Ann. Her watercolor paintings are beautiful.
I ventured out of my comfort zone this month. I am about to release, online, the second installment of a memoir I am writing. And, I would like to thank you! You
were my inspiration to move forward with my writing when you released your two stories. Both of which were so lovely.
Great luck in your watercolor classes. Is there a show and tell in our future??
be well

Robin K. January 21, 2021 - 1:37 am

I learned French in undergraduate school and admittedly was not the best in the class. was a goal of mine to someday revisit this study. A year ago I registered for a beginner’s French class. My French teacher quickly told me that I should at least move to the next level class as I knew most of what she was sharing. My response was “oh no I simply can’t–I don’t want to make a fool of myself.” She responded to me: ” CHALLENGE yourself and move forward and not play it safe. How are you going to ever learn the language.” So I held on to the beginner’s class for review but simultaneously added the next level class. I must say I never regretted the decision. The added challenge and push did much for me to learn the language. I continue to move forward on more conversation classes. I still have that voice in the back of my head “oh you sounded ridiculous just now.” However, I know that if one doesn’t take the risk, one will also never experience the success and feeling of progress. Enjoy yourself!

Marian Somes January 23, 2021 - 5:10 am

I leaped out of my comfort zone a few years ago when I wrote a book about building our French style farmhouse and making a garden. To my delight it was published and this led to speaking in public and learning how to do PowerPoint etc. At 70 I decided I certainly wasn’t in dress rehearsal mode so I conquered my fears and did it.
Still working up courage to join an art class though!

Vicky from Athens January 21, 2021 - 2:00 am

Sharon, what fun! I started taking art several years ago and it’s brought me such joy! I had to step out of my comfort zone to try something I’d always wanted to do but let life get in the way. In that time we’ve explored so much … acrylics, oils, watercolor, mixed media and so much more. I paint with friends I never would have met had it not been for art classes. Covid forced us to go to zoom classes for a while but now some of us meet in the studio two mornings a week, also. Can’t wait to follow your progress … I have a feeling you are way ahead where I was when I began!

Sue M. January 21, 2021 - 2:52 am

I love Ann Englehart’s work! Wish I was as talented and imaginative as her in that area. My out my comfort zone project is I finally decided to go for it and sew myself ten dining room chair slip covers. I’ve put it off for two years and now since I’m homebound so much more went for it. I ordered all the supplies (25 yards of canvas, piping, thread, lace, measuring tape, pins, etc.); have all the how to videos, blogs, and photos at the ready. I can sew but this is way out of my comfort zone. I keep telling myself to just take my time and keep going. It may take me weeks and weeks but I’m just going for it.

Lisa January 21, 2021 - 3:00 am

I taught 7th grade for 26 years, so I ran the risk of looking foolish all day, every day. I retired last May and I actually do miss that part of teaching. Being with 12 year olds all day gave me permission to be silly – and I miss having silly in my life.

Lisa January 21, 2021 - 4:11 am

Thank you for teaching! Investing yourself into our youth is truly priceless❤️

Lisa Kilday January 21, 2021 - 4:08 am

I so enjoy reading everyone’s comments! Seeing this makes me want to take a painting class- I will add it to my bucket list!

I was invited to go on a 8 day, 83 mile canoe trip (tent camping on river bank each night, no cell service, electricity or any modern convenience we take for granted) down the Rio Grande River that runs between Texas and Mexico. I’m hesitant, but the adventure and challenge of it all, plus beautiful scenery that most will never get to experience is pushing me to-

Sharon, thank you for inspiring and encouraging us! ❤️☀️

Deirdre Hayes January 21, 2021 - 10:14 am

Sharon you have so inspired me to take the plunge! My husband gave me some painting materials for christmas which are still sitting in a neat pile! I will be joining you today – this is a sign! Thank you for all your lovely encouraging posts on instagram in these strangest of times.

darby callahan January 21, 2021 - 2:30 pm

I have not returned to my sketching in months, hoping that this will inspire me to start again. Perhaps I will even take advantage of my learning in retirement art class when it becomes safe. I had asked my daughter for a print subscription to MFCH for Christmas, but have yet to receive it. I know the mail has been slow but she ordered it in November. I was really looking forward to it, I have such wonderful memories of my time in Normandy.

Kim-Pacific Northwest-U.S. January 21, 2021 - 7:38 pm

My 8 year old grandson got street hockey sticks for Christmas. With Covid, he has nobody to play with so this Grammy got out of her comfort zone and has been playing street hockey. We played for a hour the other day and it felt like maybe 10 minutes so that is how you know you are doing something you enjoy. Mostly I enjoy spending time with him but I am also enjoying my new form of exercise.

Maudie January 23, 2021 - 3:26 pm

You are my hero!

Alice Genzlinger January 22, 2021 - 12:39 am

I had always enjoyed drawing simple things and when I retired I decided to take a water color class. There were only four of us and it gave us permission just to have fun. I enjoyed it so much. My teacher even asked me if I would draw for her. I had to decline because I felt her art should be her own ideas. Now I want to take oil classes.

Dawn Johnson January 22, 2021 - 3:00 am

I saw your email this morning and just happened to still have my watercolor supplies out and just happened to have bought a few pears yesterday. So first thing this morning I joined the class. I really enjoyed it. Ann is a tremendous artist. I loved how your picture turned out. I’ve been dabbling in watercolors for about a year. Never had a formal lesson but it certainly does make us live in the moment for a while and decompress. I agree that creating something no matter what that is enriches us beyond words. I am beginning a writing course with one of my favorite authors this year as well.

Ellen Deman January 22, 2021 - 4:33 pm

As you write be grateful asceet grow older ..yes that is for sure it seems that those feelings come naturally. What new interest or hobby we pick up it gives joy. I bought myself a Cello at 72 never played a note in my life and found a wonderful teacher it opened so many new doors . 7 years later I brought a new puppy in my life to keep me company walks every day out in the world meeting more dogs and owners what joy . It all keeps me on happy healthy engaged and in contact with the outside in these difficult time. I receive you beautiful magazines and enjoy every bit they are my happy readings . Thank you Sharon for creating so much beauty.
Ellen in Vancouver

Giftbasketworldwide January 28, 2021 - 1:36 pm

Your blog post is stunning. Thanks!!


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