Finding Grace in Every Day #17

Finding Grace in Every Day - Joanna Ciolek

My gratitude practice has become an integral part of my daily experience.  Since I journal at the end of each day, it makes me focus on all the good things I might have otherwise not even notice, or simply take for granted. The simple act of writing down the things for which I’m grateful for – as opposed to just thinking about them – makes me more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.

Yes, sometimes I’m really tired and feel like it’s just another things on my to-do list, but truth be told, I’ve never regretted pushing myself to do it anyway – it just makes me feel good. And it’s great for sleep too. So, onward we go.

Finding Grace in Every Day #17

Today I am thankful for:

  • Crispy winter morning air that makes me feel energized and alive
  • Home made donuts that taste so good you can’t stop yourself from eating “just one more” again and again
  • My new coffee/tea percolator serving me liquid crack love as I work
  • Cozying up on the sofa at the end of each day with the most important people in my life
  • Sunny Sunday stroll in the park with Roxy (it was nearly 70 degrees!!!)
  • Watching kids play street hockey with a local teen – he’s a great role model for my boys
  • Bubble baths by candlelight when the house is all peaceful and quiet
  • Soft snow collecting on the window sill in the morning, then quickly melting away in the midday sun
  • Boys shoveling our elderly neighbor driveway last weekend
  • Starry skies I escape to after I put kids to bed – the best way to quickly relax after a long day
  • Calming yoga practice in the comfort of my own home
  • Booking camping trips for the summer – so excited for a new season of swimming, hiking, and just being in nature
  • Daily fruit smoothies courtesy of my 9 yo budding culinary star
  • Friday night dance parties full of impressive dance moves, ton of belly laughs, and general shenanigans all around
  • Hubby surprising me with a oh-so-heavenly tiramisu cake
  • Getting better at staying mindful in stressful situations
  • Roxy putting her head on my lap while I meditate
  • My middle kid blossoming beyond my expectations in the last few months
  • My new go-to snack, dill pickle sunflower seeds

What are you thankful for?

My Word For 2015: WELLth


I didn’t have a word for 2015 up until the last minute. Of course. I’m a master planner when it comes to business or family matters. But as for self, well, I’m still learning.

But on December 31th, as if on cue, I read an article somewhere that mentioned the word “WELLth” and I knew I had it. All of the things I wanted to focus on in the new year had one underlying theme: health & wellness. This year I’m focusing on the health & well being of the mind, as well as the body – and so “WELLth” feels just right.

So what does WELLth mean for me in practical terms? What habits do I want to make this year?

It’s actually a simple three-step plan: yoga, meditation & everyday self-care. Yes, I know, it’s all about me this year. But you know what, after 30 something years on this earth, it’s about time I placed more focus on loving and taking care of myself more. And that’s exactly what I’ll be doing this year. Not, in a selfish way, but in a caring & tending way, with a goal to look after my well being & happiness.

So this year, I’m hopping on the yoga bandwagon. Not for vanity reasons, or because it’s trendy, but for health reasons. And if you’re a skeptic, like I was up until last year, here’s a little review of the health benefits of a regular yoga practice. No, I’m not joining a fancy studio, buying a mat or super cute yoga clothes that will make people look thin or sexy. Well, maybe. But mostly, since I’m a straight-forward no-fuss girl, all I need is guidance (this is where quality YouTube channels come in), my living room, and determination to practice twice a week.

Meditation is as important to mental health as physical exercise to the health of your body. It improves memory, learning, emotional flexibility, strengthens the immune system, increases resilience and calm, decreases negative emotions, lowers stress and anxiety, helps with ADHD, OCD, depression, and more. I’ve already been meditating a bit last year but it’s not been a simple habit to pick up. There’s still lots of resistance, my mind running places and even lack of willingness to put in the time (because how do you do “nothing” when there’s a million things you really have to do!). Guided meditation worked really well so far, but this year I’m determined to sit for at least 10 minutes each day & meditate all on my own. By the end of this year, I want to be comfortable with sitting for 20 minutes each day.

Self-care can help us feel a sense of happiness, gratitude, hope, and healing. The goals are simple: be good to myself, be gentle and treat myself well, like I would my best friend. Every day, no exceptions. It could mean a bubbly baths, reading good books, slowing down, respecting my boundaries, making art, dancing when I feel like it, taking care of my needs before taking care of others, being mindful about what food I put in my body and what thoughts I put in my mind, belly-laughs, long walks, doing what feels good and right for me as opposed to what I think I should do, and more. The fact is, every day there are endless opportunities for self-care but it’s often the last thing on our mind, way at the end of our to-do list (and often we simply run out of time). Well, this year, I’m making it a priority. No more putting myself last, neglecting my needs & desires, self-criticism & self-doubt. No more inner mean girl!

It took me two years to work out “acceptance” – my goal for 2013. Let’s see how this journey goes.

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up



Last year was full of changes & new beginnings for me – one of them was my daily drawing practice I started in February. What began with simple doodles soon morphed into zentangles, inkpen illustrations & more elaborate drawings I often share on Instagram.

Along the way, I created a dedicated space for making art. My cave mini studio became a place I now escape to when I need some solitude  – it’s become a place I can reclaim my SELF amidst all the chaos that is life.

In essence, art has become my therapy (without the bill!), and I’ve loved every minute of it!

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Here’s a quick view of what I’ve been up to last fall…

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: Fall Round Up

Do you keep a drawing book, sketchbook or an art journal?

Please share a link to your art – I’m curious about your adventures in art and creativity.

My First Handlettering Experience – Simple Thanksgiving Illustration



Inspired by a class on Skillshare, I did my first hand lettering project last week. It was a fun learning experience.

Here’s the process in pictures.

  1.  I started off hand lettering in pencil on tracing paper. After reworking & polishing the letters many times, I then finalized it with ink. Next, I scanned the sheet into PhotoShop and cleaned it a bit.
    My First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving IllustrationMy First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving Illustration
  2. I also sketched few fall-theme elements, with pencil/ink, which were then scanned into PS as well.
    My First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving IllustrationMy First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving Illustration
  3. The fun part was putting it all together, starting with selecting the color scheme, then creating a design using the various elements I’ve drawn earlier.
    My First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving IllustrationMy First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving Illustration
  4. After finishing, I’ve uploaded the design to Society6 to test how it looks on different products. The following two are my favorite.
    My First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving IllustrationMy First Handlettering Experience - Thanksgiving Illustration

It’s no Da Vinci but not bad for a beginner either. What do you think?

Finding Grace in Every Day #16

Finding Grace in Every Day - Joanna Ciolek

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’ve been reflecting on my gratitude challenge and how it facilitated a positive change in me. It’s been three years in the making.

The one thing I’m grateful for the most was making that first step, saying “enough”, taking ownership of my own feelings, actions, and emotions. That commitment to making a change has ignited my personal transformation that I’m still working through.

Finding Grace in Every Day #16

Today I am thankful for:

  • mornings spent doodling and painting in my art studio – it’s now my favorite place to be
  • cozy bed blankets I can bury myself under on these cold nights lately
  • sharing delicious grapes from the garden with neighbors & friends before the first frost hit us last week
  • buying new art supplies, which make up half of my Amazon wish list (obviously)
  • Sia’s new album – she’s talented & authentic, and the lyrics are like a healing balm for my soul
  • playing ping-pong for the first time in 20 years and still kicking ass
  • my memory foam pillow – one of the best things I got myself this year
  • Jack cooking his signature dish on Sundays
  • My brother & sister in law buying their first house!!!

What are you thankful for?

Daily Drawing Practice: July/August Round Up


It’s November, folks. Which is completely crazy because my knee scar from our last camping trip (in August!!!) hasn’t healed still. Also, I haven’t posted any summer drawings (however few) here on the blog either, and I hate procrastination. So here it goes…

Daily Drawing Practice: July/August Round Up

My focus on fun and family in the summer months meant getting little to no work done, which also meant little time for creativity. Here’s a short gallery of my not-so-daily ink pen drawings from the summer.

Daily Drawing Practice: July/August Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: July/August Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: July/August Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: July/August Round Up

Daily Drawing Practice: July/August Round Up

Do you keep a drawing book, sketchbook or an art journal?

Please share a link to your art – I’m curious about your adventures in art and creativity.