Monday, January 9, 2012

To Grow with Gratitude

If I were to sum up my resolutions for 2012 in one word it would be to GROW. To extend myself, as a mother, as a crafter and as a human being. To take great leaps into the unknown, to learn new things, to expand my heart. Today is the exact one year anniversary to the day that I started this little blog. It was probably the day I tentatively stretched out my first shoot, that first curling tendril, that first leaf.

Before that I was not in a place where growth was an option.

I have a complicated child, my first child. When you have a complicated child everything is, well, complicated. Every single tiny thing is hard. To just feed your child and leave the house is hard. Spending time with other people and their uncomplicated children is hard. For a long time your complicated child does not let you sing, or take photos, or like to be touched. You start to feel like most of the joy in being a mother has been stolen.  Many many many hours are spent learning how to help your complicated child do the things that other children can just do. This does not leave much time for anything else and it can be a very lonely path to travel.

But as you walk along this road, and the weeks turn into months and the months turn into one, two, three years,  gradually the fog starts to lift and you can see something in the distance. A little light, in a little room. And a sign on the door that says, YES , you have turned the corner, it is getting easier every day. And people stop noticing your complicated child, he is a little less complicated, and you start to worry a little less.

And many, many people turn up when you need them, to give you advice, or support, or to guide you in the right direction. And then maybe one day you wake up and you are not filled with the anxious dread of how you are going to get through another complicated day. And you remember once, when you were not filled with complicated thoughts, that you loved to make things and be creative. And you want it back, and you think there might actually be a little time now. And so you start a blog. Because one cannot have a blog, without doing something blogworthy.

A year ago I started this blog with the sole purpose of being more creative. Along the way I have found much to inspire me, many new friends, and have surprised myself with what I can achieve around the day to day with two small children. What I was not expecting was that by finding the tiny moments of goodness in what may otherwise be a complicated day or week, I have come to love my complicated child so much more. I have learnt that through adversity comes strength. And with the retreat of adversity, comes joy. Simple joy for tiny things that are hard won.  I am slowly learning that gratitude is indeed the best attitude.

A few months ago I cut out a review of this book and it stuck it on my pin board. I remembered to ask for someone to buy it for me for Christmas. And it was more inspiration than I expected. John is a lawyer whose life is not in a great place. At an all time low point he has an epiphany that he needs to express more gratitude and he commits to writing a thank you note every day for a year. The old fashioned way, with a pen, paper and a stamp.

And then while shopping for Christmas presents, I came across this book and bought it for myself. Gretchen is a writer and mother of two small children in New York who realizes while she is not depressed, she is hardly happy as a clam. She does a massive amount of research on happiness and then undertakes a project where over the period of a year she will implement her distilled knowledge of all this happiness research. Given that I would describe her as a neurotic over thinker, we had a lot in common. It heartened me that she with her uncomplicated life and uncomplicated children would need to undertake such a project.

Gratitude is very current, very trendy for want of a better word. I had already been inspired by this grateful project where a young photographer mum took a photo of a moment to be grateful for, every day for a year. But I was not inspired enough to actually do it.

After reading 365 Thankyous, I felt differently. This was daily gratitude, but to me this was bigger. Not only was it taking a moment to be grateful but it was taking the time to write a real thank you and send that gratitude onto someone else and hopefully brighten their day. And this was enough to inspire me.

So my big scary committed project?

Every day for 365 days, I am going to write a thank you to someone who has created a positive moment  in my life. And I am going to write it by hand on a card and then post it, snail mail style. I have done eight already and it feels good.

It is scary too. That is a lot of cards, a lot of words, a chunk of time. What if I don't have the right words, what if I run out of people to thank? It will probably involve having to make some of my own cards.

So, if this inspires anyone, I have called mine " Gratefully yours, 365" as this is how I will be signing my cards. At the end of every month I will let you know if I am keeping up. Feel free to join in and bounce that gratitude right around the world. Or just get your hands on these two books, you will inspired.

I am so looking forward to learning, sharing, being inspired, being humbled and walking down this road with all of you. A whole lotta people I really like. 2012, Bring it On. And for anyone with a child, complicated or not, remember as I learnt from Gretchen, The days may be long, but the years are short.


  1. A 365 project is a big undertaking but very satisfying. I did one over 2010, making a small drawing each day about a small happiness or heartache or banality that occurred. It was a tiny record, a commitment and an expression outward. It felt great. I recently started a blog too, just to make myself continue the journey back to being a creative person- not that mothering isn't creative -but sometimes it is nice to create for the sake of creating, just for yourself. Good luck with your project.

  2. What an amazing inspirational post......your wonderful!

  3. What a beautifully written post Mel. I had no idea you had a 'complicated' child... I clearly can't put two and two together!! Good luck with your project. And well done for a year of blogging. I still remember your lovely email to me when you first started and I'm pleased you're still around.xx

  4. Mel,
    I echo what everyone else has said. A beautiful post. I'm thinking I may read those books as they sound very 'grounding'. Sometimes it's hard to do everything and try and manage everything without some sort of stock-take once and a while.

    I think you'd be surprised at how many bloggers have 'complicated' children. Being a mother isn't all fun and laughter, but I think you're doing a pretty good job. And I've loved your blog from Day One.

    PS. That complicated child's drawings are always quite spectacular. I think that says something about him.

  5. Good luck Mel. I hope 2012 is a brilliant year for you - I think being a Mum gets easier with time and I hope things keep moving in an upward direction for you!

    Take good care.

  6. Hi beautiful Mel! I think this is a most worthy challenge and I am seriously considering joining you. I want to say a big thanks to you for sharing your world with us. You face the world with such humour and creativity that I would never have known that you were facing tricky times at home with your small man. You are an inspiration. Sending lots of love! bec x

  7. Oh Mel, this is a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it. I can't do it justice in a quick comment...what I write won't come close to expressing how much it really really touched me. I don't like to get to personal on my blog, but that quote from Gretchen about long days and quick years really struck a chord with me (and is so true)

    I'm going to hunt down both of those books and will drop you a line when I've read them.


  8. What a lovely post Mel. Almost cathartic.
    I think blogging is something to be grateful for; and I'm grateful I found you. x

  9. Very inspiring post and I look forward to seeing how you go. I've seen the Happiness Project online before and thought it looked a very interesting read.
    In a rather late reply to your question (sorry!) I bought an old cast iron sink (I believe it's around art deco judging by the house it came from) from ebay for $50. It was green and rather more scratched than the photos had suggested. So for around $450 we had it resurfaced by a Canberra company (though there will be resurfacers in every city) in white. It's very easy to clean, very solid and I love it. Hope this helps!

  10. Mel you are someone to admire. It sounds like it was a bumpy road with your boy at the start but all that time, love and effort sounds like he is growing into a very happy little boy.

    This project you are embarking on sounds like it will be very rewarding and will make you and a lot of other people very happy. I look forward to following you on your journey. I will definitely be looking at getting those books too, thank you for the inspiration. xx

  11. Mel Thank you so much for your words. They are beautiful, thoughtful and from the heart. You are a wonderful Mother and your children and Husband are so very lucky to have you in their lives. Your kind nature and words have taken my breath away on numerous occasions. You have inspired me to go out and buy the books and follow your journey. I believe this is a wonderful project that will not only help you grow as a person but also others. I am going to put a lot of thought into joining you on this wonderful journey. I look forward to keeping up with your project. Kimberley xx

  12. beautifully written Mel, I'm so glad you started your blog a year ago, you have inspired many of us and for that I THANK YOU!

    Good luck with your project, I think I could take a little leaf out of those books too. xx

  13. Oh Mel, what a gorgeous, sincere and moving post.
    I am half way through the Happiness project. I'm reading a chunk to Bren every night. It is really changing a lot of how I think. I'm halfway through decluttering my wardrobe the Gretchen way.
    I think your project sounds wonderful.
    I wish you so, so many moments to be inspired and grateful for. xx

  14. This is so beautifully written - thankyou for sharing! I too am feeling grateful this year, for love, health, a roof over my head and so much more. Thankyou for the book recommendations, I actually have the happiness project in itunes and have not listened too it yet, I will now. I think your project is brilliant and I wish you all the best with it :)

  15. marvellous! i love love love that idea. i write to my mum and besties every week and it makes me and them super happy. your project is kinda what the january photo a day project is doing for me. getting my creative juices flowing and turning me into an inspiring photo taking machine. i'm seeing more beauty, smiling more and having lots of fun thinking up the next day's theme. i wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing how you go. enjoy and have a wonderful 2012. you deserve it. xxx

  16. greatfull to feel your gratitude, Mel, what a gorgeous piece of loveliness to get in the post the other day. I am humbled that my blog and listening ear were so helpful to you at a difficult time. When I read my card to the Mr, even he got teary...
    I love the way your writing style is developing. This is something I want to work on this year, taking the time to write well and communicate that which is important to me.
    Glad to be hearing you loud and clear, Trace xx

  17. Loved reading this post and gaining a little more insight into your lives at Betsy. A wonderful project for 2012 which I'm sure will bring lots of smiles. gxo

  18. lovely Mel - what a gorgeous post! thank you for sharing part of your heart and your world with us. i really believe that people will find whatever they are looking for and it takes practice to look for the joy - in our days, in our world and in our people. thanks for the reminder to stop and be intentional with our time, thoughts and words.

    Kel x

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  20. Hi Mel:) Could you let me know your email and I'll send you the links to where we went on Wednesday so you could check it out with your kiddos. It's definitely a nice day trip. xx

  21. Beautiful post Mel. Although we face different challenges, much of what you wrote struck a chord with me. I have also embarked on a little project of being grateful and looking for joy. It IS there though....somedays we just have to look a bit harder for it. Thanks for sharing Mel and for keeping it real.

  22. I am a little late in commenting on this but I just had to.
    What an amazing and honest post, totally struck a chord with me.
    My complicated child is now 14 and actually not that complicated anymore or have we all just learnt how to uncomplicated things?
    I have changed my life through my blog and I am a much happier bunny.
    You are fab!