365 Grateful blog

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

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