Thanks to my best editor and influencer, my curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé has completely changed in appearance. Instead of using words to describe my work history, I use images that show my skills and career path. My CV has morphed enough in the last two decades that I could curate my own art exhibit with the iterations. The document has adapted as I’ve found my style as a visual artist.

Not much in life is perfect. The real story of my career path is more butterfly shape than straight line, adapting and redirecting as new learning and working opportunities have presented themselves. When I say butterfly shape, I think of three different things.

Orange and brown monarch butterfly with white spots on the with tips. ©2018 Outspoken Images by Marie Warner Preston
Monarch butterfly illustration
©2018 Outspoken Images by Marie Warner Preston

Morphing: As a caterpillar goes through a period of cocooning to become a butterfly

Migrating: Not simply because I’ve moved internationally twice in the last decade and plan to do it again soon

Modifying: Adapting plans, habits, and dreams to meet reality as external influences change

Metamorphosis is «a complete change in appearance, character, circumstance, or physical structure». Externally, my shift from photographer to illustrator happened fairly quickly. Internally, it began a few years ago. I evaluated what type of work was joyful for me, discussed this with my best editor and influencer, and took behind-the-scenes steps to start a pivot into a new outward appearance.

You might be thinking, ‘Not everyone can reinvent themself!’ To which I say, ‘Not true’. We have the choice to do so each day. Small changes to your mindset become habits that can create a change in lifestyle. Why not start by sharing something beautiful in your ordinary day with someone else, something for which you are thankful?

Some butterflies do this each year, flying long distances to find food or warmer weather. I have physically moved myself (and things I own) long distances for new opportunities, but this idea also applies to our mental health. Moving toward positive challenges that keep us from becoming stagnant. Moving away from negative influences. Maybe it even means pivoting in our vocation when we reach the peak of our learning curve.

My friend Dave Mitchell once spoke about our journey through life, saying, ‘We can’t stay here. It’s too uncomfortable. Or it’s too comfortable. … Don’t go back to what you’ve been: Become something better.’ We’re pretty good, as human beings, at knowing when we should move on. We’re pretty bad at actually taking that step, mostly because of fear, but that’s a topic for another day. Find and be involved in a community that can support and lift you up as you chase your dreams.

For butterflies, it’s adapting to changing climates, new predators, fewer plants to eat. It’s not so different for us. Making smart choices as individuals and fellow human beings is vital to a healthy planet—this past year made it especially clear that we don’t know what tomorrow shall bring. Working, teaching, learning, and home life have felt very different from what we expected. I hope you have found new ways to express kindness for yourself and those around you, to find joy in your everyday.

Photograph: Blue morpho butterfly on green leaves. Framed in white photo matte/passepartout with black wood frame.
But Still Beautiful. Xcaret, Mexico ©2007 Marie Warner Preston

I’m finding ways to create responsible artwork and support sustainable lifestyles. I’m not perfect—far from it—but I’m adapting as I learn. Proceeds from my Change2Neutral collection support Palawan Natural History Museum. Can you guess what type of natural beauty they nurture and protect?

What dreams are you nurturing and protecting? Who has helped you along the way? Thank someone who’s been a positive influence on you. Do it now, do it today. Give them a call. Give ’em a hug if you can. Send a gift if that’s what brings them joy.

Published by Outspoken Images by Marie Warner Preston

Creating illustrations for sustainability, stewardship, and science communication.

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