Finding Grace in Every Day #14

Finding Grace in Every Day #14

Back in 2011, when I started the habit of writing down 3 things that I was grateful for at the end of the day I didn’t think I’d stick to it. Knowing myself all too well, I though for sure that one day I’d call it all bullshit and toss the journal deep inside a drawer. And sure enough, there came many nights when I was tired, angry, bitter, depressed – you name it – and feeling grateful was the last thing on my mind.

But I underestimated how determined, and suborn, I could be. And so on the good days, and bad, I’d make myself write three, however smallest, things that didn’t suck that day.

What I soon realized was that it was on those difficult days that expressing gratitude, if only in writing, was the most critical, and transforming. It was on those hardest days when it truly made the difference.

“Just an observation: it is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.” ~Steve Maraboli

Gratitude gave me the much needed perspective, and with it, patience and inner strength. It helped me restore balance to my negatively skewed outlook and look at the experience from a whole new angle. Through the power of gratitude, I started seeing not only the ugly (failures, obstacles, trials, pain, disappointments) but the beautiful as well. I’d search for the silver lining and find it with more and more ease.

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Gratitude is not about creating unrealistic, or beautified, versions of reality. It’s about looking at the whole situation, having a perspective, and seeing things we couldn’t notice before. It’s about living in the now and being open-minded about our experiences. It’s about being fully present and appreciating the whole story. And it works, at least for me.


Happiness Through Making Art

One of my resolutions this year was to make room for more creativity in my life. You see, I promised myself I would be a bit selfish and put myself first for a change. And I did it by giving myself the permission to make art. Every day.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it!” ~Kurt Vonnegut

Happiness Through Art - Photography by Joanna Ciolek

Art has been my passion ever since I was a kid, but I had constantly pushed it aside as more pressing matters took over my day to day. You know, things like handling that design gig, putting dinner on the table, and putting band aids on scraped knees (sometimes all at once).

After all, who has time for making art when you’re wearing a ridiculous number of hats already, right? But consider what happens when we subscribe to the “all work and no play” attitude. Is that the life you want to live?

Frankly, I want to live a life where my focus, my attention, is on things that most closely align with who I am. And I am a creative.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~Pablo Picasso

As it turned out, the time was easier to find than I thought. It was a matter of simplifying while staying true to my top 3 priorities: family, creativity, and inner peace. For example, I deleted “Candy Crash” and replaced gained time with doodling – both were just as relaxing but only one aligned with my priorities (creativity). That got me inspired to keep going.

I was motivated enough to stay determined and not give in to binge-watching TV (mostly); this became easier (and more automatic) over time. In the end, I just had to belief that I, too, deserve to fulfill my passions (in however small steps, like a doodle a night).

Not only that, art became my therapy, my escape from the daily grind and brain chatter, my looking at the world differently, my personal walk into the abyss where I could let go of control and just be.


We mothers tend to do put others’ needs ahead of our own all the time. If left unchecked, this can leave us unfulfilled, uninspired and even resentful. But we matter too. We have our wants and needs, dreams and passions.

This year, I’m committing to being creative and making art every day, whatever form it takes. Photography, scrap booking, journaling, doodling, painting, writing… the possibilities are many. Whether I have only few minutes or are blessed with hours of time, I’m dedicated to making art every day. And since angst can lead to better art, this should be a fun ride.

How big a role does art have in your life?

Taking Control By Letting Go

Taking Control Over You Life By Letting Go - Joanna Ciolek

Growth is as much about doing the things that work as it is about letting go of the things that don’t work.

Taking control over you life by letting go might sound counter intuitive but it actually makes sense. Letting go of the hurts, failures and missed chances of the past frees your energy so that you can focus on the now. Letting go of the things we’re supposed to do or be gives us the freedom we need to build a life we truly want. Letting go of the things that hold us back from reaching our potential and our dreams is critical.

Taking Control By Letting Go

“You want to fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” ~Toni Morrison

A while back, my friend Kerstin posted her fucket list. Last fall I had my “fuck it” moment too. It made me realize that we often stand in the way of our own happiness, and it inspired me to make some drastic changes.

Today, I no longer:

  • allow others decide how I feel (or try to hide my feelings),
  • ruminate (there’s no point to holding onto those negative thoughts),
  • put myself last (this has already proved quite life changing),
  • second guess myself (related to ruminating; learn from your mistakes, then let go),
  • assume the worst (have a little bit of faith in the world, others, but especially in myself),
  • multitask (like eating while reading, or cooking while helping kids with homework),
  • try to be perfect (there’s no need to cook gourmet dinners 7 times a week, is there?),
  • try to please everyone (that often means saying “no” to clients I don’t want to work with).

At some point, we have to realize that we have all it takes to build a rich and fulfilling life. And it starts with letting go of the things that stand in our way.

What will you stop doing?