Some people wake with a smile on their faces, and others not so much. I’m most definitely not a morning person, and naturally sway towards seeing the glass half empty, as opposed to half full. I have to work at rewiring my negative thoughts. Sometimes it’s as simple as making the effort to smile at a stranger I pass on the street, and the joy a smile in response can bestow. A confirmation we are not alone, that in some way we are all connected as humans. Other times I’ll write, then go back and edit any negative remarks or connotations into positive ones, and my mood seems to follow. When all else fails I make grateful lists.

Julie Anne Rhodes
Sometimes I’m just too serious

The first time someone suggested I try this, I retorted with a string of strong explicatives. Life as I knew it was over. With 20/20 hindsight it was just the end of a chapter, but at the time I felt I’d lost everyone and everything that mattered to me. “Can you feel the sun on your skin?” she prodded. “Yes, well put that down on the paper,” and so it began with little baby steps. Miraculously, I started acknowledging more things that made me happy, and found it easier to let go of what didn’t. Reprogramming my thoughts ensures that glass stays half full.

Lisa Borgnes, Claire Stansfield, and Julie Anne Rhodes
Lisa Borgnes, Claire Stansfield, and Julie Anne Rhodes

It gets easier with practice, but I’m still a constant work in progress. Life happens and it’s easy to slip back into old familiar thought patterns, so I was particularly enchanted with my friend Lisa’s post about The Atoms of A Life this morning. She was referring to the moments in our lives that culminate into who we become. I deliberately keep happy memories in silver picture frames dotted around my home, and I suppose I do that with this blog as well, but it dawned on me how powerful a visual grateful list could be.

art that makes me smile

Art that makes me smile

Let’s try it! I’ll post one photo on Sundays of something that uplifted my consciousness (my visual grateful list). Something that made me smile, giggle, or feel inspired to help start the next week on a positive note. My hope is you’ll either respond to that photo, or share something about your week that did the same for you in the comments section. If a personal grateful list can make a difference, imagine what a collective one could do!

Here’s my ‘Atoms of Gratitude’ photo for this week:

atoms of gratitude photo for the week

The crew in action

Growing up with a mother who was also an artist instilled an appreciation for all things artistic. I mentioned last spring that my daily walks with Daisy have become more like treasure hunts for new street art in the neighborhood. This week we happened upon a crew at work. I know some people view this as vandelism, and I respect your opinion, but it brought color into a gray rainy week for me. What brightened your week?

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” – author unknown

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  • February 19, 2012
    10:35 am

    I love this kind of wall art. To me, graffiti in a vandelism form is different… words sprayed on someone’s fence or whatever. Tagging. This is beautiful. Urban expression.

    Great idea Jewels and what a great time of year to start this!

    This week I was grateful for my daughters. After a week or two of people having colds, I finally came down with it. One morning, I woke up with both girls in bed with me, cuddled up tight to me and Ava patting my cheek and telling me “I love you for ever and ever, Mama”. I was also bowled over and very grateful to person I’ve yet to meet in person. This person heard my husband was recently out of work and offered to put his name out to a few friends who could also help. There are never a shortage of surprises.

    • February 19, 2012
      12:26 pm

      Daughters (and sons, although I don’t have any to speak from experience) are what makes the world go round in my book, but then the one thing I ALWAYS knew I wanted to be was a mother – even when I was knee high to a grasshopper I longed to be a mother.

  • February 19, 2012
    10:33 am

    I can’t see why would be a Vandalism to bring color to a gray area, but…

    There’s this theory, I’ve seen somewhere, and more than once, that the more positive actions/thoughts we take, we attract more and more great things. Surround yourself with positive people is very impoprtant, and you seem to be doing that very well, Julie Anne. I have, as my personal view of life, that the meaning of living is to learn, and expand horizons, so I am really happy to see people I admire (you in this case) learning more and more each day and showin people that there’s no “end” in our way, there are only new doors to be opened.

    Sometimes we do wake up in that lazy and down mood, like if the day had begun already raining, but it’s only up to us to change it. Sometimes I do it with confort food or with some music (lately Paul McCartney, Roxy Music and Japan have been great for it) but this idea of the gratitude list is very interesting and I might be trying soon. =)

    I also have journals, but it seems that they work in a opposite way: if I write all the frustations there, I tend to forget. And in a couple of months – or years – when I read it, I just end up having a laugh. I guess part of the life-learning process is to find out what works best for you.

    <3 Love <3


    • February 19, 2012
      12:02 pm

      Erika – you hit on an especially important point for me. Refusing to feel our feelings under the guise of positivity is counterproductive. Sometimes it is a process to get from down to back up on our feet again. I can’t always do that by just focusing on the positive – sometimes I need to vent and purge myself of any anger or frustration as you do with your journals. I think this as valid a part of the healing process as any other so long as you do not remain stuck in there.

      I think most of us reach for comfort food periodically, but I really do caution against it. We should eat when our bodies need nourishment, not when our emotions need placating. Using food in this way is very much like turning to drugs and alcohol – it’s a form of avoiding the feelings rather than feeling and dealing with them, and easily snowballs into self-destructive behavior.

  • February 19, 2012
    10:43 am

    As I read this blog I began to cry~everything that you wrote was me! Taking life far too serious. Everyday I have to force myself to fight through the negative and depressing thoughts that run through my mind~trying to run away from that dark cloud that seems to follow my mind where ever I go and into everything that I do. This question always comes to mind~”I live in a world with billions of people roaming all over the place and yet I feel all alone!” How can this be possible? So many people around and yet I feel like I am all by myself. I keep a gratitude journal, actually many gratitude journals-possibly far too many! I have never kept a “visual gratitude journal of things that make me smile, things that make me happy!” I am open and willing to try absolutely anything and everything that will bring me closer to the happiness that so many say I deserve. Your post has been so helpful in letting me know that I am not alone and that if one thing is not working, there are other options! You truly inspire me~and give me hope! So much more to say, but I have a feeling that it would just be my rambling on. Again, a big THANK YOU!!!

    • February 19, 2012
      1:31 pm

      Please join us in the cyber living room, Debi! It’s a very welcoming group and these ladies are ALWAYS there for you… it’s not always about cooking and baking… there is a BOATLOAD of support in there for all sorts of things!

    • February 19, 2012
      12:41 pm

      Debi – it so much more difficult to see the up side of life when your quality of life is severely hampered by pain and chronic illness. I found a lot of my own battle with Crohn’s had to do with forgiveness – I can do that much more easily with others than I can when it comes to forgiving myself (still a work in progress there too). You are more willing to heal than anyone I know – YOU inspire me!

      • February 19, 2012
        12:47 pm

        Debi – you are a premium member! Why don’t you join us in the cyber living room – you will find the most wonderful, supportive people in there you ever met, and will never need to feel disconnected and alone again.

        Top of my grateful list is my daughter and the rest of my family, but my members run a close second for that very reason.

  • February 19, 2012
    11:16 am

    Clowns can be scary, love that pic with you and Claire Stansfield, one of Simon’s old flames, wow! She still looks amazing. Love all these pics you post, keep em coming Jules, (((Hugs)))

    • February 19, 2012
      12:42 pm

      Claire is happily married to a great guy, and they have two of the most beautiful little boys I’ve ever laid eyes on. Health and happiness does have a way of making us look our best!

  • February 19, 2012
    11:39 am

    I SO needed this post today. I’m a glass half empty person myself. I need to really work on that.

    My happy moment of the week was yesterday. Hubby and I took the princess to the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale. They were having a ladybug release. She was so amused with having all the ladybugs crawling on her, flying around. The wonder of children is something we can all learn from!

    • February 19, 2012
      12:51 pm

      I agree, the wonder in a child’s eye is priceless, and something I strive to recreate in my own life always. Nick used to make fun of me for collecting elderly friends, but the reason I did that was when we were in our 20’s all our friends were too busy acting cool and grown up – they forgot how to see the world with wonderment, but my elderly friends knew the secret to enjoying life was to always stay open to new experiences and embrace them as inquisitively as a child would.

  • February 19, 2012
    6:10 pm

    This observation may seem a bit non sequitur, but it defnitely falls under the category of “things to add to your grateful list”: It is quite difficult to be grumpy when your precocious 5-year-old son can verbatim recite for you (dimples in their full regalia, belly laughs interrupting the performance) SNL’s closet organizer faux commercial. The entire litany of items to be organized spills out in perfect, giggle-filled order (“dirt, water, marbles, pies! pies! pies! pies!, important papers, additional water…”). Life is good when you have moments like that to punctuate your day.

  • February 19, 2012
    9:59 pm

    Hope you video’d it.

  • February 19, 2012
    10:19 pm

    This week my family tops my gratitude list. My husband working so hard at learning a new career, and learning how to cook all at once. Snuggles and understanding from my children. A visit from my nephew who truly missed me and wanted to visit. My dogs who always unconditionally love me no matter what my mood. My daughter, in particular, is opposite me: perpetually, easily happy go lucky, and her smile lights up the room. She makes all of us smile!

  • February 20, 2012
    11:50 am

    My niece is like that – just a ray of sunshine to be with.

  • February 20, 2012
    11:52 am

    My friend, Domenico Masucci just shared this on my facebook timeline, and I had to share it with all of you – it’s BRILLIANT idea!

    “Just read the blog, Greatfulness is one of the keys I agree, Having something on you anything even a stone in ur pocket or something round your neck as I do and turn it into a greatful charm as a constant reminder helps to exercise the thought processes. x”

  • February 20, 2012
    10:33 pm

    I love the idea of posting a photo on Sundays to jump start the positive reinforcement for the week. I am so much like you, I wake up and lay very still trying to motivate myself to get up. It would be so easy to just lay back. But, I get up and if I manage to do that without losing my balance, I laugh and figure that’s a good sign, karma is working in my favour to allow me to get up and not land flat on my face. I’m not the most positive person in the world, I work hard on trying to be positive and see things in the right light, so that they show their best side. Your photo of the tagger’s art is wonderful! To find such a punch of positivity painted on grey, boring buildings is surely meant to show us that if you look for beauty, positivity, you will find it in the most unlikely places. We do have so much to be grateful for and need to acknowledge these parts of our lives and focus less on the not so wonderful parts. You’ve taught me that cooking can be a pleasurable activity and now I look forward to those days when I cook up multiple meals and freeze them. As much as I dislike the shopping part, I know that once that aspect is done, the next day comes along and I get to cook, music playing in the background, and I stop momentarily and thank the heavens for making me find your blog and learn that I can cook, I deserve to have decent meals and that all this has helped me find a family – you and the community. I am so grateful for these blessings! You have made such a difference in so many lives, mine included. My list of grateful starts off with your name. Hugs to you and Daisy!

  • February 21, 2012
    4:34 pm

    Oh, Ruthee – that just made MY grateful list. Thank you. xo

  • February 21, 2012
    5:01 pm

    You have inspired me to make a grateful list. I ran into a old friend who said I was wearing all my stress on my face. I didn’t even know it lol Love the street art by the way.