Monica Lee

Monica Lee

Mid-life Monica picked up a paintbrush and created her perfect vocational day

Walking out into the garden, Monica Lee gathered some bright yellow daffodils and deep violet irises. She plucked some greens, stuck them in with the blooms, looked up at the blue sky, and gave thanks for another beautiful day. Glancing at her wetsuit stretched out in the sun to dry after an hour of boogie boarding in ocean temperatures of 55 degrees, Monica smiled. “This is the best time of my life,” she whispered to herself as a soft breeze gently ruffled her long silver blonde hair.

She gazed at her reflection in the window and noticed she was still wearing her leotards after an hour of yoga. It was nearly 9:00 a.m, time to take Char Lee, her new German Shepherd puppy, for a walk. Upon their return, Monica planned to jump into the shower and sip a tall cool glass of orange juice. After this mentally and physically energizing ritual, she would be prepared to face her easel. Today’s challenge would be to give it life through the scene she was designing for her painting, “Scene of a village in the South of France.”

Having raised four children, the eldest nearing 40, Monica was now just two years shy of her 60th birthday, and a grandmother of ten. Looking back in time to her earlier years, she couldn’t help thinking how much she had grown and changed throughout the decades. Never would Monica have imagined the bliss and motivational surge she is experiencing at this time of her life.

At 40, Monica picked up a paintbrush for the first time. Not long after that, she was transferring her thoughts and feelings to canvas and selling her paintings worldwide! With maturity, she realized it was of little importance how others perceived her work. Instead, what really mattered was how much she enjoyed putting color and form on canvas. The fact that others responded to her art in such a delightful and positive manner, Monica believed, was, and is, a true blessing.

Today Monica enjoys creating for the many Mo Van collectors worldwide, not because she consider herself a great artist, but because God has given her the ability to create for and resonate with all those art lovers who feel and actually live the joy with which the works were inspired and painted.

Monica opened her own gallery, but the uncertainty of making ends meet each month led her to sleep in the back, in a makeshift bed. She showered under a back yard hose and laundered her clothes by hand while she rented her home for the summer to supplement her income as an artist.

Once she was financially comfortable, Monica traded it all for the insecurity of owning her own gallery. She had to follow her dream—she just had to design and live her own perfect vocational day!

She had to paint even if her studio was a small dark hole in the wall, and she had to sell her works globally. “Doing” never scared her—but not doing terrorized Monica! Then at 57 years of age, the ocean enticed Monica to heed its call once again. After many summers as a young surfer riding the tumultuous waves, she was reunited with the foamy surf. She acquired a boogie board, braided her hair, slipped into a wet suit, and at 57 years young became a boogie boarder!

No one asks to experience cancer, or the grueling treatments that are part of the healing process. Cancer is unwanted; something that comes upon you like a flash of lightening. Monica could say it stole a year of her life. Instead, she chooses to believe it added life to her years. She could talk about the aches and pains of growing older, but she enjoys instead telling about the joy of having a new puppy lick her face for the first time in her life. She could tell you getting up at night when he needs to relieve himself isn’t fun, yet she would rather convey the joy in watching her little pup run to her, happily wagging his tail when his business is finished; waiting for Monica to pat his silky little head and tell him “you’re a good boy.”

In Monica’s philosophy of growing older, we can choose to experience and share our joys and accomplishments, or we can dwell on our sorrows and regrets, clouding some of the wonderful moments we could be living.

Monica looks in the mirror and likes what she sees. Why? Because she sees herself as a source of inspiration to all she meets. Monica would rather speak of her blessings than focus on her trials. She wants to encourage and empower. Monica wants to motivate and inspire. Life after 50 can be an enlightening and gratifying experience. The years have given Monica the wisdom to choose the right path and the courage to continue her still adventure-filled journey.

There isn’t anything she will not attempt, and it doesn’t matter whether she succeeds or not. What matters is that she gave it her best effort—that she actually did it!

What can we learn from Monica?

It is never too late to follow your heart and do authentic work