Thinking of Gratitude


Angela’s most recent post reminded me of a profile I read a few years ago, of the actor Tommy Lee Jones (OMG, it was in 1994!).*  The writer spent several days with Jones, and noted his habit, at the end of each day, of listing the good and interesting things that had happened that day.  Here’s an example from Oct. 31st:  “This was a good day.  We got the pumpkins.  We made jack-o’-lanterns.  We saw Hoagy and Bogart and Bacall in ‘To Have and Have Not.’  We trick-or-treated.”

I’ve forgotten everything else about the article except for this habit of his. Sometimes I use it myself when my mind is buzzing and I can’t get to sleep at night.  For me, this is a form of gratitude, and a tool for an optimistic realignment of my bad attitude.

I like Angela’s idea of choosing a theme for the year.  Looking forward to the blog posts that will flow from the theme of gratitude!

I’d also like to say thank you to the readers of our blog.  We are honoured that you’re reading us.



image by horrigans, from Flickr

*Ross, Lillian.  (1994, April 4).  “Onward and upward with the arts:  Keeping up with Mr. Jones”  The New Yorker, 57-63.


Creatively Yours: Gratitude for a New Year

Journal Entry

image by JoelMontes, from Flickr

There has been much written in the past few years about gratitude and how being grateful opens the doors to abundance. Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her book Simple Abundance, suggests we keep a gratitude journal and on a daily basis write five things we are grateful for. She suggests that over time you will find that the small, simple, overlooked things are what give us the most happiness. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and guru of happiness, is also a gratitude advocate.  She says,  “Gratitude is the key to happiness. Consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives.”

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage talks about the “Three Good Things” exercise, suggesting we keep a journal of three good things that happen to us each day. He calls this the “Positive Tetris Effect” which simply means that when we think about positive things we see things in a more positive light, which leads to more positive experiences, which creates more happiness. And, when we are happy we create more positive experiences – and so on.  And who wouldn’t want to feel happier?

But like many other good ideas, it is a matter of choosing something and sticking with it long enough to notice the benefits. Achor suggests that we need to do something for 21 days before it becomes a habit. So there is the challenge! Will you do what you set out to do (your new year’s resolutions or goals) for 21 days to achieve the benefits?

As I mentioned in my December blog post Before the Clock Strikes 12I am not big on resolutions and prefer to pick a theme to focus us.  So for 2012 I have decided that the theme will be gratitude.  Equipped with a beautiful leather bound journal and sparkly pink pen, I started my gratitude journal today.  Day one – check mark!  I’ll let you know how it’s going in 21 days!  And for those of you who have made resolutions or goals for 2012, and those who didn’t – I wish you much happiness and success, and I am grateful for your readership of our blog in 2011 and hope you continue to tune in during 2012!

Creatively yours,


Moleskine Journal Hack

image by budcaddell, from Flickr

New Year’s Resolutions After the Fact

stalled resolutions

Stalled Resolutions by ruffin_ready, from Flickr

As we move into the third week of January, I’m thinking it is time to address the concept of New Year’s Resolutions. New Year’s resolutions were first recorded by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago.  The focus of these resolutions was to ensure the return of farm equipment as the new year coincided with the start of a new farming season.  The New Year was moved from March to January by the Romans who spent their time counting stock from the previous year so that more ambitious goals could be set in the following year.  The Chinese equated New Year’s resolutions with house cleaning, viewing the new year as a time to clean the house from top to bottom.

Modern day resolutions can be defined as “a formal expression of intent” or “commitment to a personal goal.”  Resolutions almost always focus on self-improvement by making changes in habits and lifestyles.

At the end of the Depression, about ¼ of American adults made New Year’s resolutions.  By the start of the 21st century, about 40 per cent made resolutions.  Only about 10 percent of those that make resolutions actually keep them.

I’m personally not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  Any of my “bad habits” that I should change, I am really not that interested in changing.

The problem with most people who make resolutions is that they set goals that are not sustainable.  Let me give you an example.  One of the goals that most people make is to exercise more.  First of all, the goal needs to be tangible.  What does exercise more look like?  The more tangible the goal, the easier it is to attain.  So say your goal is to exercise three times a week.  What kind of exercise will you do?  Often people will choose an exercise that they hear is great to lose weight (running?) or a place to exercise (because apparently the Club has good equipment).  If you don’t like a particular form of exercise, DO NOT DO IT!  If you are not a runner but perhaps you love to dance, then dance!  Don’t join a club because your friend enjoys it.  People are Club exercisers or they are not.  Find out what you like to do, where you like to do it, and set a tangible, measurable, realistic goal.

Same thing for diet!  As most of you know, I love wine, broccoli and ice cream.  I probably consume too much of all three but if that’s my biggest food and drink issue, oh well!

Rather than taking away things from your diet, try to add.  For example, try to add more veggies to your diet (or in my case, variety of vegetables).  Try to drink more water (one glass every time I brush my teeth) and never be hungry (carry nuts with you at all times).

So my external goals are simple:  eat more kale and swiss chard, drink more green tea and add those dead lifts to your weight lifting routine at least three times a week.

How’s that for setting goals?  Internal goals to follow!


p.s.  Resolutions are more sustainable if you share!

New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution by mikecogh, from Flickr

New Year’s Greetings to All!


image by hometownzero, from Flickr

How are you feeling?  Today seems like the day we can finally resume our routines and complete the post-holiday-recovery phase.  Over the holidays I seemed to communicate mostly in single words, such as “Tape?” and “Dinner!”, with occasional indulgences in multiple words like “When will you be back?” and “Could you get up now and help me lift this?”, not to mention “Is your hedgehog warm enough?”  My holiday coping strategy seems to require me to focus my thoughts on the present crisis, and potential crises in the immediate future, leaving no room for eloquence or reflection.

So I’m glad to get back to thinking and writing in complete sentences, and to taking a slightly longer view.  Hence, a blog post!

I came upon an article in the Toronto Star last week which might interest you.  It tells the story of a woman whose mother has early onset Alzheimer’s.  Although she can no longer talk with her mother, she is keeping their connection strong by exploring her mom’s collection of recipes and documenting the cooking and memories in a blog.  This idea reminded me of Angela’s blog post about her mother’s letters.  It seems to pull together the nurturing aspect of food, the way that smell and taste becomes embedded in our memories, and the informal diaries that can be created on our recipe pages.  Do you make notes on your recipes?  (And do you want your offspring to read those notes in the distant future?)

Speaking of offspring, it was life-changing for me a few years ago when I read about brain research that revealed that the brains of children continue to grow and develop until they are around 25 years old.  This information has helped me to have more reasonable expectations for the young people in my life.  Even if they are as tall as adults, they are still kids (until they pass the age of 25, when my expectations for responsible and considerate humans will kick back in).  So how can we tell when they’ve crossed over into adulthood, if not by appearance?

Here’s something I read this weekend, from the novelist Lynn Coady, who has a crowd-sourced advice column in the Globe.  She says, “True adulthood occurs the moment we grasp that the people who raised us do not exist solely for our comfort and reassurance. From that point on, the steady stream of unconditional love and support we’ve expected from them all our lives has to flow both ways.”  What do you think?

Bye for now,


Creatively Yours: Before the clock strikes 12!

shirley temple new year 1937

image by carbonated, from flickr

The count down is on – three more days and the New Year will be here!  I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t spend much time thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I might pick one thing I want to focus on and in 2011 it was happiness! I started the year off by reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project and made myself a promise to “work” at being happier. According to Gretchen there are things we can do to create more happiness in our lives. I tried some of her suggestions but then decided that I would find my own path to happiness. As the year passed I found myself more aware of what created happiness in my life. A few key things that I am certain increased my happiness quotient this year are:

Peace in my relationships with my husband, children, family and friends. It takes work but it pays dividends!

Getting off the couch and getting regular exercise – walking is my new sport of choice!

Getting involved with a cause I believe in – Art for Cancer

Making art! Any day is a good day when I create something!

Spending time alone, or in the company of my dog Jessie.

Saying yes to new challenges like biking, hiking and riding horses even when my mind and body agree: “this is going to hurt afterwards.”

Writing for this blog!  I could never have guessed that I would enjoy writing as a creative outlet!

Writing letters to my children!  See my October 24, 2011 blog post Letters from my Mother for why you might want to consider doing this.

Rediscovering meditation – the ultimate gateway to happiness!

So rather than thinking about resolutions for 2012, I will ring in the New Year enjoying the happiness that I have right now. And that I believe creates more happiness than losing 10 pounds!

Wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!

Creatively yours,


p.s. if  you want to know the one thing I will focus on for 2012, you will have to read about it in January!

Your Daily Dose of Inspiration


photo by HaPe_Gera, from flickr

A number of years ago, a friend sent me an invitation to sign up for inspirational e-mails that would arrive in your inbox on a daily basis.

This daily feel good message, Notes from the Universe, has over 385,000 subscribers in 189 countries.

Here is a selection of some of the e-mails I have received.

Having a dream is more important than having it come true.  Just a little oddity to spin the wheels of your mind.
The Universe

Detours, challenges and crisis are simply covers for miracles that had no way of reaching you.  It’s all good.
The Universe

The light is getting brighter
The path is getting clearer
And you are getting closer
That’s all I am saying
The Universe

If you are interested in receiving these daily e-mails (with no strings attached), check out

May the forces be with you,


Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything!

Pine cone ornament
It’s that time of year again; shopping, wrapping, eating, drinking (responsibly), partying, scurrying about and relaxing in front of the fire. The Christmas and holiday season is upon us again!  And as you are likely too busy to read anything lengthy and philosophical (I’ll save that for New Years), I thought I would start a list of gift ideas for the person who has everything. Here are 12 ideas to get you started, and out of the malls.

  1. A book – easy to order on line. The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell is a little book I recommend which reminds us that friendship is a gift in and of itself.
  2. A Christmas Tree Ornament- simple! It marks the passage of time and tests our memory of who gave it to us.  It becomes especially meaningful when that person is no longer here.
  3. A bag of homemade goodies along with the recipe – a gift that lasts for generations!
  4. Soothing bath salts and creams – always nice to have!
  5. A Christmas card with a picture of family and friends – something to put into our empty photo albums, now that all are pictures are digital (you can order them on line).
  6. Anything handmade – made by the giver.
  7. A  hand written note or letter – a lost art.
  8. A CD – Michael Buble’s Christmas Album is awesome!
  9. Tickets to the movies or theatre from the person you are going to go with – a win-win!
  10.  Coupons for breakfast in bed, vacuuming the house, taking the garbage out, walking the dog…the possibilities are endless.
  11. A new or old, favorite game – brings family and friends together.
  12. A re-gift gift. Something totally useless that has clearly been passed around a few times. HoHoHo! The gift that keeps on giving!

So, if you haven’t found the perfect gift for the person who has everything on my list, I invite you to add your own gift suggestions to the list in the comments section!

Hold the wrapping paper, and let’s have a green Christmas!

Creatively yours,

Short Bread - Mom's