365 Grateful blog

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.

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 from a Crazed Mother

Hailey Bartholomew - Thursday, July 28, 2011

This post is by  Sara van Bentum

Sarah a mother who was inspired by the 365 Project and shares about being a mum.

From a crazed mother… who is grateful.

Being a mummy is wonderful work. But it is also challenging and exhausting. Especially when one of the kids you are mum to is a high-spirited, energetic and creative 3 year old who gets up before the sun. Always. And yes, by high-spirited I do mean slightly crazy.

Amongst the nappies, tantrums and sleep deprivation, a battle with postnatal depression and the general madness that is life with two little people, I felt like I had lost myself. Life was going on in the strange way that it does. And I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to really enjoy it.

So when a wonderful friend mentioned a 365 Grateful project that she had read about in her fave magazine, I was encouraged, inspired and challenged. But could I really find one thing per day to be grateful for? For a whole year?

More than 100 days later I have found that indeed I could.  Surprisingly enough, I began to see all the little, crazy parts of my day in a new light. And I was actually grateful for them! I guess it is true. If you seek, you will find.

Sure there are days that are hard. And all I am grateful for is that my loves are (finally!) asleep. Or for any few moments I can grab for myself.

But most of the time there is an array of “grateful moments” throughout any given day...

Moments of hilarity or joy created by my little ones. All of a sudden, I wasn’t frustrated at my son turning his cheesy toast into a guitar. And a boat. AND a number 6! I was instead reminded of the awesome gift of creativity and imagination.

Moments when I’m reminded of the many people whom I cherish. And those who make my world brighter by simply being in it. Like my husband bringing home flowers. Or easing my Mondayitis by getting both kids up and dressed. And cooking me breakfast!

Moments when the littlest things seem to happen at just the right time. Like a red light. While mostly annoying, every now and then you get one just when you need it. To relocate a dummy for a restless baby. Or pick up a toy for a hyper toddler. Or take a much needed sip of coffee.

Moments that bring me back to earth and remind me of what is good and true in my life. Freedom, faith, family and love.

Yes, it is hard work raising my minis. And yes, sometimes I get lost along the way. But in my journey of gratefulness I am realising that despite the many challenges faced daily, I actually wouldn’t change my hectic, wonderful life with my little loves for anything. And for that realisation, I am truly grateful.

But while being a mum is a huge part of who I am, and everything I do revolves around it, I’m beginning to remember that it’s not all that I am. Somehow, through all these wonderful moments, I am finding myself again. I’m remembering what it is I love. To write and create. I love words and stories. And I want to make the world better because I was here. Even if that is simply by impacting and encouraging those I’m blessed to have in my world.

Strangely enough, this little project is doing that in the most unexpected way. I could never have expected how many friends would be encouraged by my simple daily stories. And now people in my world, both near and far, have embarked on their own journey of gratefulness. Each day, I look forward to seeing all the different and creative things they have to be grateful for. It almost feels like a revolution of gratefulness. And I love it!

“Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melody Beattie)


To see my 365 Grateful project, visit  here

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