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.






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.  





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 - Lori - Closer to Calm

Hailey Bartholomew - Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Another great Guest Post from Lori.


I can be a stressed-out kind of person. 

This is why I love to surround myself with people (like this beautiful friend in the painting) who consistently have a relaxed and peaceful energy around them.  Just being near this person fills me with peace.

See, I want to be the kind of person who rolls with life’s ups and downs.  Who is quiet and composed in the center, even when the rest of the world is loosing their marbles.  

The truth is that I am so much closer to calm since I have started my Hundred Thank Yous Project.  I am not sure exactly why this project having such an effect on me, but I do notice that I am less reactive than I used to be. What I notice is that when I am super grouchy or stressed out, gratitude is missing.  I notice that I am not being grateful and instead have “the complaining tape” running on repeat in my brain.  That tape is not helpful for a happy life.

I think my gratitude project has made being grateful a normal part of what I do every day.  So when I am not in my grateful space, I notice it and am better able to switch my thoughts from what’s wrong to what is good in life.  Even if I am so grouchy that I can only think of one good thing - that’s a start - a little bright spark and eventually things begin to look up again.

I may never be as calm as my friend who I adore.  But I can bask in her peaceful glow and know that one day it may begin to wear off on me.




Link: Hundred Thank yous     



365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary of gratitude.




Guest Post - Lori - For the Love of Greyhounds

Hailey Bartholomew - Tuesday, July 05, 2011


This week our Guest Post is from Lori who is doing the amazingly special 100 Thank Yous





I made this painting as part of my Hundred Thanks Yous project for the president of local greyhound adoption agency.  The agency is where my husband and I adopted our two dogs, Mia and Mason.  She has been more than generous with her time with us, especially when we had some issues with one of our dogs. 

First we adopted Mia, a sweet-as-can-be retired racing greyhound.  She wasn’t a very good racer, so they retired her early, just before she turned 3 years old.  She is fawn colored and looks just like a deer.  Mia is about the easiest dog I could ever imagine having for a pet.  Other than having to teach her how to go up the stairs, which she really struggled with, she honestly doesn’t do anything “bad.”  She is calm and gentle, sleeps a lot and likes to play. She is pure joy to watch running - incredibly powerful and graceful at the same time.  You can tell she really enjoys doing what she was bred to do.

A year after we brought Mia home we knew we wanted to get another greyhound.  Our second greyhound was Mason. 

Immediately I knew there was something different.  When we first met Mason, he was pulling on his leash and scrambling around.  He seemed crazy, nervous, wild-eyed.  He was a top racer and competed a year longer than Mia.  This guy had spent 4-years of his life at a track in Florida, mostly in a crate. 

The first three months were hard, as he adjusted to us and we adjusted to him.  He growled and lunged several times when one of us got too close to him as he was lying on the floor.  We learned that is called “sleep space aggression” that some greyhounds have from spending most of their life in a crate and never having to share sleep space. 

The adoption agency president calmed me down when I called her crying on several occasions and assured us that he would be okay, that it was common with some retired racers, that he was adjusting, and that things would get better.

Now, just a few months later, Mason is such a big blessing in our lives.  He has completely adjusted to life off the track and we adore him.  He is the sweetest dog ever.  He is affectionate and has calmed down quite a bit, although he is still energetic and assertive, he is very smart and listens very well to our commands. 

I am so grateful she helped us stick it out with our guy, Mason. He has taught us patience and understanding and is a great addition to our family.  Mia loves him too!



365 Grateful - a documentary about the extraordinary power of gratitude





Guest Post - Lori - Thank Your For Your Music

Hailey Bartholomew - Monday, June 06, 2011

This week our Guest Post is from Lori who is doing the amazingly special 100 Thank Yous.

 


If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
Meister Eckhart

 


I made this painting for David and Mira Newman, two beautiful musicians that I have been lucky enough to meet in person when they performed at my local yoga center.  Their music touches my heart in a way that it often makes tears well up in my eyes! 

 


A few days after I finished this painting, I got an email newsletter from David and Mira announcing the birth of their baby, May 2, 2011 at 6:16 PM.  I realized that the day Mira gave birth was the day I started on their painting.  I loved that that they were in my thoughts and I was sending them love that entire day.  It felt like such a sweet connection, one that I hadn’t planned on, but just sort of happened.

 


At first I didn’t notice, but similar stories of connection have happened so many times since I started the Hundred Thank Yous project.  It makes me think that my paintings in this project are actually prayers.  Prayers of love and well-being for people I care about.  I believe the paintings carry the energy of deep, heartfelt gratitude that I hope will be a blessing in their homes, one that lasts a lifetime.







At the moment all comments are turned off while we transition to our new website, please comment on Facebook.


365 Grateful - A documentary about the extraordinary power of Gratitude!

 

 




Guest Post - Lori

Hailey Bartholomew - Monday, May 23, 2011
Hi, I’m Lori Portka. I am an artist living in central New York and I was inspired by Hailey and her project, 365 Grateful, to do my own grateful project titled: A Hundred Thank-Yous. I am making a hundred paintings for a hundred people who have touched my life. I am a little more than half-way through the project and my life is changed for the better. Focusing on gratitude for others has filled me up with a deep love that is different from anything I have ever experienced. I feel calmer and more connected and present to the world around me.


When I first started the project I knew in my heart that I wanted to do it, but I also had a lot of fear. Could I do all of those paintings? Would there be enough creative ideas? I followed my heart and bought one hundred 8x10 canvases, anyway.


Each time I sit in front of a blank canvas I quietly close my eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. I acknowledge the fear that is always there. I say thank you for the opportunity to be giving my time. I give thanks for my creativity and ask that I be connected with something bigger than myself that will help me to make a painting that the person (that I love) will love. I tear up almost every time I do this. Then, I open my eyes and pull out my list of 100 people. I scan up and down until an idea comes into my mind for a person on the list (usually within 30 seconds) and I begin.


This is the first painting I did for the project.





It is for my dear friends who live out in the country. She is a gifted glass blowing artist and he is a PhD scientist, environmentalist and mushroom expert. Together, they are entirely delightful. They live slightly off the grid, more connected to nature and the earth than the computer or technology.



One night my husband and I were at their house for dinner, where much of the food served was grown from their own garden, and they told us a story of a perfect weasel specimen that their cat brought to the front door a few weeks ago. A weasel? We didn’t even know we had weasels here in upstate New York and I didn’t really know what one looked like! They were so excited about the little guy that they put him in a baggie kept him their freezer, and after dinner they pulled him out to show us. We still laugh about that night to this day, since it is so unlike anything my husband and I would ever do, we found it hysterical! I made this painting of their beautiful sunflower garden and added the little weasel guy on the side!





For more inspiration please visit Lori's 100 Thank Yous blog