365 Grateful blog



Guest Post - Amy Gill - Tis the season to be thankful...

Hailey Bartholomew - Sunday, November 27, 2011

We welcome in the Christmas season with some wonderful wisdom from Amy.


TIS THE SEASON TO BE THANKFUL


‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la….

Really already?

I am not sure where the year has gone or how it is possibly the start of December this week, but it is, and so the most crazy, busy, stressful, financially draining and exhausting weeks of the year begin.

But to be honest, I don’t see it like that at all. Let me start again….

I am not sure where the year has gone or how it is possibly the start of December this week, but it is, and so the most wonderful, joyful, family-centered, season of giving begins.  Bring it on!

I love Christmas. I love the parties; the way people get together and rejoice in each other’s company. I love the atmosphere out and about – carolers, decorations and excitement in the air. I love the smell of pine throughout my house and the giggling of my girls at the slightest thought of anything christmassy.

But most of all, I love the traditions that come with Christmas. I am grateful for the traditions my parents established for us as we grew up – fresh Christmas trees every year; setting up the nativity set without baby Jesus who would magically appear on Christmas day; reading ‘The Night before Christmas’ after mass on Christmas eve before we would set out food for Santa and his reindeer. My girls now follow the same traditions and have some new ones to call their own. We now make a point of travelling to the city to see the Christmas windows; our advent calendar brings gifts from Christmas angels; and our Santa photo experiences are traditionally a disaster! All these things add to the season and they make me happy.

This year I also wanted to start two new traditions with my girls. The first stems from something my mum did when I was younger. Mum would often make up a hamper of food and presents at Christmas time for a family in need. It was a different family every year. Mum would find a way each time to anonymously deliver the hamper to this family.  One year the hamper went to a family of a lady mum worked with. The lady didn’t know me so mum dressed me up as an elf and sent me off to deliver the hamper. I will never forget the look of gratitude in her husband’s eyes as I gave him the hamper. “Who is this from?” He asked. “Santa,” I replied. “Thank you. Thank you.” Hopefully, our new tradition will teach my girls that it is more important to give than receive.

The second tradition I want to start is centered around gratitude. Each day when we mark off a day on our advent calendar I want us to write down something we are grateful for as a family. I want to string these pieces of gratitude together and hang them around our tree.  This is what I want Christmas to be about for our family – gratitude. Gratitude for all that we have had throughout the year; gratitude that we have our health and each other; gratitude that we have a house over our head, food on our table, presents under the tree.

Christmas should be a time to celebrate each other and give thanks for all that is good in our lives. Maybe it is time to start a new tradition in your house too?

And while you are thinking about what that tradition might be, spare a thought for poor mothers everywhere, trying to get the perfect Santa photo to place on the mantelpiece 




Guest Post - Lori Portka - A Tuscan Villa

Hailey Bartholomew - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great to have another post from Lori - one that is very easy to relate to!  I usually freak out when I miss out on something so this is a great reminder to me to view those times differently.  Thanks Lori!



The Tuscan Villa

In the United States, this is Thanksgiving week.  It is a big holiday in this country filled with family and feasting, thanks and giving.  I will be spending this Thanksgiving at home alone with my two dogs.  I know that sounds like a sad story. At first I was sad and I actually didn’t handle it very well (many meltdowns, lots of crying.)  See, my Italian husband is in Italy this week with his entire Italian family (I refer lovingly to them as, The Italians.)    

For various reasons, I decided not to join them.  I felt so sorry for myself that I was missing out on all of the fun.  I even felt left-out, although it was my choice not to go.    It’s interesting how my mind can make up stories out of things that aren’t true and the story leads to misery.  I spun around in that unfortunate mess for a few days.

But again, like so many times in my life, gratitude has come to the rescue.  I asked for a change in perspective- a new way to view this holiday and situation with love and gratitude instead of anger and envy.  Later that day, as I was washing the dishes, I began to feel gratitude pouring over me.  I felt happy for my husband and the rest of The Italians, giddy almost, that they were going.  I felt grateful for the time to myself.  Having quiet time with my dogs to do whatever I want?  Fabulous!  This is an incredibly busy time of year with my art business and more than once this season I have felt overwhelmed.  This would be a week of quiet, to package and mail orders, paint, have lunch with friends, read, and eat my favorite soups.  Delightful!  I also felt grateful that my art business continues to grow, making it really hard for me to travel at all this time of year.  The kindest thing to do for myself is to stay home.  I felt so grateful for the choices that I have.  I felt so grateful for the family I adore so much.

It’s true, I will probably tear up a bit on Thanksgiving Day when they will all be in Tuscany staying at the villa my husband and I stayed in on our honeymoon.  I loved everything about that place so much that I actually cried when we left.  I made a painting for the B&B owner for my Hundred Thank Yous project (part of which you will see below). 

I imagine myself going back there one day.  Maybe I will get to give her the painting in person!  For now, I will send love to all my people who are laughing, feasting, taking in the beauty and enjoying each other.  I will send love to myself this week by doing what I want to do and showering myself with kindness.  All is well.






Guest Blog - Amy Gill - Coming home

Hailey Bartholomew - Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I think I am with Amy on this one.  Just about to head off there now.  Thanks, Amy, for sharing your life with us. 


Coming Home

“I need to go,” I say.

“Why?” he replies.

He just doesn’t get it! I NEED to go. I am homesick.

“But you are at home…” he says.

Did I mention he doesn’t get it? He is used to it though. It is not the first time this has happened and he knows it won’t be the last.

“Well, get packing”, he says smiling.

“GIRLS… We are going! “

Annabelle and Penny do a happy dance in the lounge room as we begin to pack supplies for the days outing. Already my heart is singing.

Ten minutes later we are ready to go. Two-year-old Penny looks ridiculous. She has her swimmers on, her hat, her goggles over her eyes and her inflatable swim ring pulled up around her middle.  Annabelle doesn’t look much different, but she has chosen a boogie board instead of the ring and is surfing down the patio stairs. I smile. I think they have my genes.

We pile in the car and begin the drive to the beach. It is only a forty minute drive from our house to the beach, but as I have spent most of my life only five minutes away, forty minutes seems like forever.

I grew up on the Central Coast of NSW. I was surrounded by the beach and beach culture. The beach was a place my family connected after a day of work and school. It was the place where I reflected on my life and found clarity when I needed it. When I was older, my brother and I used to walk on the beach together a few times a week and I loved the conversations we would share. I spent hours on the beach with my friends laughing, swimming, sharing stories and creating new ones. For me the beach, any beach, feels like home and sometimes I am over-whelmed by a need to be there and only there.

Finally, after approximately one hundred and eleven ‘Are we there yet?‘s”, we arrive. I open the door, step outside and breathe.

Oh salt air, how I love you.

I give thanks to the sun for its beams, to the waves for the beautiful music that rings in my ears, and to the sand for the way it shifts to accommodate the shape of my feet.

The kids are already building sand castles. I walk to the shore and dive into euphoria. I am home and I am grateful.





Guest Post - Lori - Practicing Gratitude

Hailey Bartholomew - Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lori has been doing the most amazing paintings as a grateful project.  You can like her Facebook and check out more of her work.

Practicing Gratitude

Wow, all my paintings for my gratitude project are on my art table right now!  I decided to get myself organized since I am three-quarters of the way through it. 

When I look at this pile of goodness, I want to jump up and down and clap my hands and laugh endlessly.  I CANNOT WAIT to give them all away!  I want to start flapping my arms and spinning in circles around the table.  Maybe even do cartwheels.  This is a joy pile.  A love montage.

I have never done anything in my life that has made me as happy as working on these paintings. 

This project places gratitude front and center- in my mind, in my heart.  This is where I want gratitude to stay.  I have learned that being grateful is a practice.  I need to keep it in my mind at all times or I can easily slide into ungrateful complaining about the little irritations in life.

I’ve also noticed a surprising connection between gratitude and fear.  When I’m aligned with gratitude the fear often disappears. 

In fact, it happened today.  I checked our bank account on-line and noticed that there was only $64.00 in checking…$64.00!  That was WAY less than I was expecting.  Minor meltdown.  Deep breath.  Oh, okay, this makes sense.  Lots of extra expenses I had forgotten about.  Okay, now let’s transfer PayPal money over to checking.  Thank goodness for the money I have in PayPal.  Thank goodness someone created PayPal so people can conveniently buy my work from afar and have it delivered to their doorstep.  It opens my market as big as the universe!  Thank you PayPal.  Okay, I also have two checks from my local cooperative art gallery.  I’ll go to the bank today and deposit them.  Thank you Cazenovia Artisans!  I already went grocery shopping, kitchen is stocked.  I am so grateful.  Gas tanks are filled.  Thank you. 

 

One minute, “Oh my God, there is NO money!”  Next minute, “I am so grateful for all that I have.”   My fear turned to gratitude and appreciation.  Thank goodness!

I have already decided that once this project is over and I hold the exhibition and have given all 100 paintings away, I will still continue this active gratitude practice in some way. 

 

I want to keep my grateful heart.  





Introducing Sarah Davies - new guest blogger!

Hailey Bartholomew - Friday, October 07, 2011

I have known Sarah's husband Dan for a few years and I have just started enjoying getting to know Sarah.  What a world changer!   Sarah's boys are also some of the loveliest little people you will meet.  Enjoy this introduction - it is inspiring. Hopefully we will hear from Sarah now and then.    Toni

Introducing Sarah

I’m pleased to share with you this entry of gratitude. I am Sarah Davies, Mum to three little boys and wife to an absolute legend

I’d like to tell you my grateful story. Therefore I have to start by telling you how I first came to be so ungrateful.  I was always positive once. I grew up living in “Fairy land” as mum would say, in love with the simple beauty of life and nature. I loved grass and flowers and the smell of clover and was always deep inside my head lost in a world I can only describe as “happily humming.” I loved to laugh and talk to people and see others laugh. I loved being spontaneous and free and float against the current of what the world decided was normal.  I loved to paint and write and sing and when I think of that person I think of a girl who was never knocked by life’s blows, for she never gave them enough attention to even feel them hit. That was me, that was the young woman my husband met, the woman he married and for a good while that was who everyone around us knew me to be.

In 2008, 3 days after our firstborn’s first birthday and 5 days after our 5th wedding anniversary I lost our second baby at only 10 weeks pregnant. When it happened I was partly not surprised, that motherly intuition told me something was not right all along. However I was surprised by the sting of death and the realization that I was not immune to pain or heartache as I thought I was. With the loss of our baby, I lost my passion for romance, my enthusiasm for spontaneity and my belief in the power of beauty. I lost a baby and somehow I also lost me.

We had our second son a year later yet I was living a little numb. It was like the very ground in which I walked on my entire life had fallen away and instead I was floating through, never really touching anything. Part of me was hateful. I’ll confess that I found my ability to yell in situations where once I’d laugh, I found my ability to use cuss words…. frequently and I found an ability to complain a lot where once I would have said “ It doesn’t matter”. Instead of being a girl who used to unknowingly deflect negativity, I became the breeder of it in my own home. I was like a festering piece of fruit that just got stinkier with every day. We still lived and made plans and had hopes for the future. Only it was like I held everything and everyone at arms length in order not to let anything fully touch me, in case it broke and broke me with it.

Then one day not too long ago, my husband came home after chatting with Toni. He told me about Haley and her Grateful story and I thought to myself “I should try that, it couldn’t hurt me!”

So I picked up a journal and I began my first entry of gratitude and it was like a Lilly bulb that lay dormant inside of me began to stretch a thin green stem toward sunlight. With each day I began looking forward to my entry of gratitude. I began to smile more. I began to laugh again and strangest of all, people starting saying I had a bright face! Only a few weeks into my grateful journey I had four people in one week say what a bright face I had, or “you just seems so bright”. And with that I knew I was on my way to that girl I once was.  It was like I was on drugs! J Grateful drugs.

Like any vitamin supplement…. the longer you take it the better it benefits your body. My first entry was on the 19th of May 2011. That’s 134 journal entries to date, although I haven’t written my entry today.

We now have three beautiful boys and we are about to pack up our house and head off on a crazy adventure to Tasmania, fighting for others against modern day slavery. I’m sitting here and in reflection and today I am grateful for Haley. I am grateful, someone whispered in her ear to be GRATEFUL. I Grateful she listened and began whispering in the ears of others. I am grateful that message reached me and help me shed my skin.

In sorrow and Fear I tucked myself inside a shell, thinking it would save me, only to realise that I was withering beneath it. I am grateful, to be grateful, to realise that this world has so much beauty in it. It just longs to be named and honored. I am so glad to be here. Shedding my skin and starting again.

I realised in the writing of this blog that I have not painted since we lost our baby. Three and a half years and I haven’t picked up a paintbrush. That’s nuts considering I used to sit at my easel whenever I had a moment. I know I’m not quite there yet. I’m still healing. I’m so glad though for the chance to start again and the realisation that healing is within my own hands and easy, if only I let the world be, and simply be grateful within it. Maybe I need to find my paints….

This is me, 



Glad to be Grateful!


365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of gratitude.




Guest Post - Lori - A True Healer

Hailey Bartholomew - Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thanks Lori, we love you sending us your wonderful blogs!   toni


A True Healer

When I got divorced I noticed that my jaw hurt so badly and at times, I could barely open my mouth to eat with out significant pain.  TMJ.   This problem would come and go over the years.  Finally, my dentist recommended that I go through a complex procedure to fix my jaw involving several different stages of corrective retainers, massive amounts of pain and recovery time, and thousands of dollars.  I left the office in tears and of course, called my best friend.

“Go to a Chiropractor,” she said.  She knew about this since she also developed TMJ during her divorce. 

Another friend recommended chiropractor, Dr. Mara.  The first time I went to see her I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I hardly knew what to say.  Everything she said made sense to me.  The adjustments she made to my spine changed the way I walk, stand and hold my shoulders and increased the level of confidence I feel.  I began to feel relief in my jaw and head right away.  I still see Dr. Mara today for maintenance.  From time to time when my jaw flairs up again (stress!) or I have hip or shoulder aches, I know she will work with me until it is better.  I am grateful beyond words for her healing work.

This is a piece of the painting I made for her for her with abundant love and thankfulness

(for my Hundred Thank Yous Project.)




365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of gratitude

 



Guest Post - Lori - Lessons Learned in Gratitude

Hailey Bartholomew - Sunday, September 18, 2011

Again we are honored to have another guest post from Lori....



I took the month of August off from making any paintings in my grateful project.  I was taking three trips out of town that month.  Plus, I had been working on the paintings since January and as a result, had let other business and personal matters take a back seat.  I thought a break would be good for my creative spirit and I would return to painting in September renewed and ready to continue my project. 


But an interesting thing happened.  


In stepping away from my project, I ended up stepping away from gratitude.  A couple of weeks into August I noticed that I just didn’t feel as good.  I started taking everything more seriously.  I started worrying and fretting and feeling sorry for myself. 


I recently told a story on my blog about how I spiraled down into an angry pit when I heard we were being dropped from our home owners insurance after making 3 claims in 5 years.  I started feeling very angry.  The next thing I knew I was feeling angry and sorry for myself for a huge list of things.  Everything in my world just seemed so unjustified.  I kept adding to the list of problems and woes.  I was even starting to feel a little hopeless. 


Thankfully, after a good long while of spinning horribly negative stories in my head, I stopped and realized that I was completely and utterly ungrateful in that moment.


I took in a deep breath.  I believe in living with a grateful heart.  I believe life gives us only what we can handle and that there are seeds of goodness in every problem. 


What would this all look like if I were grateful?


Suddenly, I was flooded with thoughts of all that was wonderful about the situation.


How amazing that we had homeowners insurance in 2007 that fixed the ice dam that left cold water gushing down the wall and into our home in the middle of a snowy winter.  How wonderful that we had insurance in 2009 when we had a literal shit-storm in our basement when the sewer backed up and swamped the entire basement floor.  (I am still little traumatized by that.)  But, it was cleared out and cleaned up in one day by a team of 4 beautiful people in hazmat suits serving the world in such an incredible way.  We were never harmed, it was covered financially, and there is no trace of the mess today.


I was flooded with gratitude.


Thank goodness my only car accidents have been “scratches & dings” in parking lots.  How wonderful that I have never had a serious accident on the road!  I thought of the woman I saw on the Today Show that morning while at the gym, who had to learn to walk again after suffering a horrific car accident that landed her in a coma with a broken spine.  I thought about how filled with gratitude she was for her life and how I had tears running down my face on the treadmill as I watched her live with such courage and thankfulness.  Wow, how awesome that my accident was in a parking lot and no one was hurt!  Suddenly, paying a little more money for car insurance seems like a gift in itself. 


By this time there were tears in my eyes. 


I read recently that if everyone put all of their problems in a pile, up for grabs, that we would all end up taking our own problems back. 


I realized at the end of that angry day that I will work to make gratitude a central part of my life forever.  It is a nicer way to live.  It makes me warmer, kinder, more loving to myself and others.  It is so easy and simple to do.  And, it doesn’t mean I won’t get angry or jealous or hurt.  I can allow myself to feel all of my feelings and honor them.  But importantly, honor myself by getting back to gratitude.


Gratitude really is the sweetest thing.  (Now I’m feeling grateful for gratitude!)


Links:  My blog: 







Guest Post: Lori 'We met in Boston, remember?"

Hailey Bartholomew - Sunday, September 11, 2011

It is has been a while since we heard from the lovely Lori, our New York guest poster.  Please visit her wonderful site  "100 Thank Yous"


From Lori:

I love to read.  I love to carry books around with me and leave them in stacks around my home, just waiting to be read.  Books are one of the things I am most grateful for in the world. 

One of my favorite authors is David Sedaris.   He is witty, honest, and brilliant and throws in just the right about of sarcasm and charm that make his writing irresistible.  Most of his stories are about pieces of his life, often filled with such craziness it is nearly awful and yet he shares it with hilarity and kindness, reminding me of the flawed humanness that exists in all of us.

One morning while on a weekend trip to Boston, I was traveling around town with my step-daughter while my husband was working.  We were browsing in a neighborhood bookstore when I over heard a man say, “Hello, I’m David Sedaris.” I whipped my head around, star struck.  There he was in person, doing a book-signing.  We immediately bought his latest book and walked up to where he was sitting. 

He asked if Katie was my daughter.  We both replied, “step-daughter” in unison.  David smiled, leaned in toward Katie and said in a slightly wicked voice, “I see.  Is she an eeee-vil step-mother?”  Katie thought that was the funniest thing she had ever heard.  Then he signed my book, “We met in Boston, remember?” 

I have to say that meeting David changed the course of the rest of the day for Katie and me.  We started out the morning a little tired and stressed, unsure of how we were going to spend our day.  The surprise of meeting David lightened things up for us.  We were more fun-loving and grateful and met the rest of the day knowing that wonderful new surprises could be right around the corner.

I made this painting for David Sedaris as part of my Hundred Thank Yous project.  I am very grateful for my brief encounter with him that day in Boston.  It still makes me smile every time I think about it.

Link to David Sedaris: 




365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of gratitude.



Guest Post - Amy - Creative Gratitude

Hailey Bartholomew - Saturday, August 20, 2011

This week we have one of our regular guest posters: Amy, thank you , for another delightful post!


"There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."

    Lucy Maud Montgomery (The Story Girl)

Over the past few weeks I have had the utmost pleasure of rediscovering, through an old friend, the wonderful and inspiring words of Lucy Maud Montgomery.  You all know Montgomery, I am sure - writer of the classic tales of Anne Shirley.

Anne Shirley has always been my heroine. So much so, the Anne in my daughters name came as a result of the effect Anne Shirley had on my life. I used to think I was Anne of Green Gables and would lie by the lake reciting poetry praying that Gilbert Bligh would sweep my off my feet. I became a teacher, just like Anne. I am a dreamer, just like Anne and now, as I get older I am becoming a storyteller, just like Anne. Maybe, just maybe, I am the modern Anne of Avonlea?

All this got me to thinking of the power of story telling. I am a creative person – a drama and music teacher. I don’t think mathematically or scientifically, I think with my heart.  Books, music, theatre, photography, art, architecture all awaken my soul.  Without creative inspiration I would be lost.

So today I am grateful for my dear friend who has brought me back to Montgomery. You are a kindred spirit through and through.

I am grateful for Montgomery whose literature makes my heart sing, Anne Shirley who set my imagination free and all storytellers whose words can have such a profound affect on our souls.

I am grateful to my friend Kim who I love sharing books with.

I am grateful for creativity, for imagination. Grateful for music, art, and my beloved theatre.

I am grateful for Hailey Bartholomew whose photography was my saving grace.  You are a creative genius!

And most of all I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story through 365.

I think Montgomery also understood the power of gratitude –

"I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."

    Lucy Maud Montgomery

Be creative. Start a 365 grateful project today in whatever medium inspires you!







365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of happiness



Guest Post - Amy - The Shoebox

Hailey Bartholomew - Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I love this wonderful blog post from our regular guest poster Amy.  


The Shoebox

Snap. I have taken my first photo and my 365 journey has officially begun.

Snap. I have taken my 50th photo and I am starting to feel change.

Snap. 104 photos in my album and I am beginning to heal.

Snap. 223 and I am definitely feeling happy with so much to be grateful for.

Snap.  Up to 300 and I now feel alive.

Snap. 365 - Time to start living!

My 365 Grateful Project was in many ways just the beginning for me. The first step in renovating my life. Since completing my project I have started to repair some of the cracks, clean up the areas in my life where grime had begun to build and polish the areas that I know used to shine and could again.

Doing this also meant that I had to open a shoebox that I had stored in the darkest place and for so long I had chosen to ignore. In this box I had placed memories that I hadn’t been able to face for over 10 years.

You are probably thinking, “Man, what horrific trauma did this girl endure?”.

I am not sure I can call it a horrific trauma, but I am pretty sure that is what my later teenage years felt like at the time. Yes, that’s right… my later teenage years filled with endless emotion, loads of dramatic tension, heartbreak and bad decisions.

Such a profound effect did this time have on me that I was unsure whether I could lift the lid on the box. I thought I had filled the box with regret and pain, but when I finally summoned up the courage to open it I found it was filled with love, friendship, excitement of things to come, life’s biggest lessons and the foundations on which I was built. I could see the mistakes I had made but I could also see they were lined with hope. Hope that one day I would know what to do with them.

And I do.

“Get closure. Heal all the rifts in your life. Apologize if it’s overdue. Release anything or anyone that’s hanging over your head. Speak to someone who’s not speaking to you or to whom you are not speaking. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Any unresolved issues, fallings out or grudges can hinder progress and render you incapable of flying high through life.” (Anthea Paul, Girlosophy).

I am grateful for those years in my life where I had the chance to make mistakes.

I am grateful to that boy in my biology class that taught me how to love.

I am grateful for my friend Joanna who held my hand through those years and who welcomed me back in her life just last week with open arms and forgiveness.

I am grateful for the power of enduring friendship and the gift of kindred spirits. (Thank you Mel and Cath.)

But most of all, I am grateful that I survived!

That shoebox is part of who I am and instead of continuing to hide those memories away, I am going to leave the lid open and embrace them.  










365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of gratitude