For Carol Bruno of Little Silver, everything happens for a reason.
For 30 years, she worked alongside a dentist focusing on the patient in the chair until "out-of-the-blue," she was told that her services as a dental assistant were no longer needed 18 months ago.
"That was very traumatic," Bruno recalled, perched on a stool around her tiled kitchen island on a recent afternoon. "It took a long time to get over it," she said, adding that ultimately she made the decision to move on for good.
"It was all a part of my journey," Bruno, 55, said.
Bruno, who has lived in Little Silver for 30 years, decided that the job loss offered the opportunity to expand the "Yankeegirl" art business, named for her beloved Yankees, she had launched three years earlier to sell the paintings and photos she worked on in her cozy home studio.
"Things really lined up," Bruno said, explaining that she and her husband, Chick, had just paid off the mortgage on their North Sunnycrest home and she was starting to see some money come in for her artwork that she sold through the crafty website Etsy. She also has a site where she sells vintage goodies at This Girl's Stuff.
Bruno came to art later in life. While she said she had always been "very creative," it wasn't until a brother died nine years ago that she decided that there was no time like the present to start exploring painting with watercolors and started working with teacher Jane Lux in Little Silver.
"I never looked back," she said of her "love affair" with watercolors and said she's inspired by nature, the beach and her backyard.
She also found out recently that an image from her "Girlfriends" series will be a part of Women's Running magazine's holiday gift guide.
"I'm still pinching myself," she said, standing in the middle of her studio with her golden retriever Madison pressed at her side. "I never thought I'd end up here."
Do you have a similar story to tell? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and your business could be featured in an upcoming "Next Chapter" column on Patch.