Archive for the ‘Project 365 of Gratitude’ Category

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My husband, Jason broke his neck when he was 15 years old.  About a year into his new life he came to a crossroads where he needed to find a way to take his hope in his future life to the next level.  He pulled out a piece of paper and numbered it from 1-100 and started writing down the things he was grateful for.

The first 25 were easy – food, family, a home, a bed, friends, etc.  The next 25 were also pretty easy but more specific.  The third 25 started getting difficult for this teenager to think of.  76-100 were a test, indeed.  He was thankful for ketchup, lightbulbs and  and the posters on his wall.  If he could see it then he wrote it down.


It’s been about 27 years since that first Gratitude List was created in the bedroom of a 16-year-old.  Many Gratitude Lists have been created since in the Hall house.  I go through this process on a regular basis.  It has taken different forms over the years – I’ve made lists of 1-100.  I’ve kept Gratitude Journals like these for a year at a time.  My first Project Life album was dedicated to finding something I was grateful for each day and taking a photo of it.  Click on my “Project 365 of Gratitude” category for past posts about this project or look at this post or  this post or this post to see why I love using Project Life as a gratitude journal.

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I believe gratitude is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal in the battle against discouragement, negativity, heartbreak, depression and every life challenge that we can face.  It is a life skill that takes practice in order to become strong.  As a habit, it straightens our spines, clears our minds and opens our hearts to hope.  Simply said, gratitude overcomes negativity and creates joy.

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Take a moment this holiday season to write down what you are thankful for.  Make a list of 1-100.  Your children can be very successful at this activity as well, even if you break it up into multiple sittings.  Post your list somewhere that you can look at often to remind you of your blessings.  Big things, small things – include them all on your list.  Mine had Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Bettona Pants from Athleta.  When we choose to be grateful for things like that, it’s easy to be grateful all day.


Another way to do it is to write down something you are grateful for each day for a month.  See how it changes your heart, your attitude, your outlook on daily life, and how you interact with others.

I’ve added some shapes to my Silhouette store that will help you with your gratitude lists.  I hope you enjoy them!

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I’ve been involved the scrapbooking industry for many years.  Trends have come and gone throughout the course of the the 10 years that I’ve been going to trade shows and events.  But one thing that hasn’t changed is the ability that Becky Higgins has to record life in a meaningful way.  Project Life is no different and now that she has been doing this a few years, we are scouring the internet for creative ideas of how to personalize our Project Life albums even more.

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If you own a Silhouette, you’ll love these Project Life Cards that are now available in my Silhouette online store.  Here’s a look at what you will find:

Quotes 1, Quotes 2, Quotes 3, Quotes 4, Ampersands, Arrows 1, Arrows 2, Months of the Year, Days of the Week

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What are you doing with your Project Life Cards?  Let’s see!  Send me an email with images or links to your blog and we’ll feature it here!

Happy Cutting!

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Many of you know that I am a fan of Becky Higgins’Project Life,” a photo album consisting of at least 365 photos depicting an entire year.  The idea is to take one photo a day, write about it and then compile it into an album.  Since starting the project two years ago, I have adapted it to fit my needs each year and usually add more photos each week, less journaling.  The writing became a little cumbersome and I found I wanted to show more photos than just seven per week.

I just received my Project Life album (currently unavailable through amazon.com but more are coming in the next few weeks) and although I do not use all of the pieces and parts to the kit, I find that the 70% I use well worth the cost of the entire thing.  For me, it just works.

  • I like being able to simply slide my photos into my album, jot a few lines on the journaling card and walk away.
  • I like adapting the concept to fit my needs by often using a whole week or multiple spots for just one important event that I don’t want to limit to a single photo sleeve.
  • I like that all of the scrapbook-ish elements are already done for me and I just have to pay attention to capturing the moment through my lens and pen.

  • I like that I can leave it out in my family room throughout the year and that people actually browse through it as a work in progress because it’s manageable to look at.
  • I like that I end up taking a lot of photos of things that I wouldn’t normally have a reason for snapping that shutter button but are important pieces of our lives.
  • But mostly, I like that at the end of the year I have an entire album full of our family’s memories and if I didn’t want to do any other memory keeping, I wouldn’t need to.  Done.

So yes, this system works for me.  I love the idea of using her digital version because I am very into the compactness of albums from Shutterfly or Snapfish or mac.com, etc.  Big albums become so cumbersome.  But I can’t get past the fact that so many people enjoy the work in progress aspect of the photo album format so I keep coming back to it.

What do I use from the kit?  Here are the specific items that I use every year:

  • specialized sheet protectors (vital for me)
  • printed “designed” cards that create a title and ending page and label each week (also vital – I don’t want to scrapbook this stuff myself)
  • journaling cards (I use about half of what is given)

The rest is available for me if I get ambitious or want to add a little something but to be honest, I end up not using most of it.  I order a new 12×12 album from We R Memory Keepers simply because I like their classic leather ring albums in all the sizes.  All of this means that I don’t really do this project because it is cost effective, although it can be if you stick to using Becky’s album.  I use the kit because it is simple and incremental and half of it is done for me.  And it even allows me to also be able to spend a little time on other memory keeping projects if I want.

Here I go with Project Life.  Another loosely-interpreted “photo a day” year at the Hall house.  Or should I be more realistic and just call it “Project Cole,” since 90% of the photos revolve around this little rascal anyway.  Good thing he’s so dang cute!

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Daily LIfe

Another day to love Project 365.  Nikki, Cole’s babysitter and my friend, snapped this photo while Coleman watched the kids play from his favorite spot at my office window.  Not much could be better than a sippy cup, a sunny day, and a window that is one foot off the ground.  Although I didn’t take the photo personally, it’s going right into my Project 365 album for the year.

This is daily life.

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I spend a lot of time in my home office.  It is at the front of our home and I like looking out the window at our neighborhood.  Cole can easily reach this window and I have found him looking out of it a lot as well.

It stands to reason, since this is my view for the majority of my day, that I would find many things out my office window to photograph.  The snowplow that actually came into our cul-de-sac for the first time since we’ve lived here (hooray!), the Christmas tree waiting to go to the dump in our neighbor’s trailer, two neighbor kids using our paver pathway to walk along and play.  Daily life happens right outside my window.

We have had a lot of fog over the last couple of weeks.  It makes the air smoggy as well and we can’t wait for a little wind or a storm to blow it all out of the valley and give us our fresh, clean blue skies.  When I go out for a run I come back smelling like a diesel truck and even have to wash my hat in order to get rid of the smell.  Gross.  I can’t wait for fresh air.

One of my favorite photos in my Project 365 book, however, was taken on a foggy day, through my office window.  I see this picture all winter long when I sit at my computer and just glance to my right.  Then I see the same view without the snow all summer long.  This particular day it seemed so beautiful to me, with the fog and haziness.  I think I captured the essence of the scene with this photo.

This is what I love about Project 365 – the freedom to take photos that might seem random but are the bits and pieces of our lives.  For our Download Day, I’m giving you something wintery,  just like the scene outside my window.  You can craft while you stoke up the fire and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate.


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I’m a believer.  When I was younger you could probably categorize me as gullible but really it’s just that I like to believe – in ideas, in events, in people.  I like giving people the benefit of the doubt.  I want to see the best in others.  I make conscious choices to not get offended because I would rather believe the best instead of see the worst.  I’m a believer.

As I finished up my “Project 365 of Gratitude” for 2009, I turned those 52 pages and browsed (again) through the snapshots of our year.  I didn’t find it difficult to be grateful every day, but it was a little tricky to come up with unique things to take photos of.  I am grateful for new things all the time, that’s true, but my gratitude runs deep for the same things every day as well.  That became the challenge – to find different things I was grateful for each day for a year.

But in looking back I realized something.  My book is filled with people.  There are a few objects or scenes here and there, but far and away this album is a record of people.  People who impact my life in big ways and small ways, on a daily basis or for just a moment in time.  So often our needs are met through someone else – someone stepping up, lending a hand, giving a hug, offering a shoulder to cry on or the shirt off their back.

Thank you, friends.  I have a priceless record in my Project 365 of Gratitude album but the real treasure is in my heart and my mind as I think back on the people of gratitude in my life.

What’s in store for 2010?  Bits and Pieces.  I put together my new album from Becky Higgins last night so that I am ready for the year (click here to order your own).  I will be focusing on the bits and pieces of our lives this time around because I have other plans for my daily gratitude (which I will share next week with you).  After using the kit for a year I have learned how I like to approach it so I have set it up a  little differently this time.

I like putting more photos in the pages so I have already inserted the weekly date cards in the upper corner but instead of having a journaling block in every “small” space, I only used four per week – two on each side of the page.  That gives me seven 4×6 spaces and four mini spaces for photos each week.  I also decided that I am not going to use the Sunday-Saturday stickers.  I’ll just write a date if I need a specific one listed on the journaling card or not worry about the date at all.  I found that it was pretty obvious which photos I was writing about with each of my journaling spots last year so I’m opting to take that step out to make it a little easier for me to keep up.

Here’s the first page, ready for the photos that I have already taken this week to be printed and inserted.  I can’t wait to collect another year of memories.

Next week I’ll start a new feature on my blog that will probably last all year.  It’s called “Every Needful Thing” and I’ll tell you all about it in a few days plus give you a project to put together so you can share my journey with me if you want.

Thanks for being part of the people in my life that I am grateful for.  Here is my last entry in my Project 365 of Gratitude.  It truly has been a year of miracles.

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Jason and I love to go to Broadway shows.  When we lived in Connecticut we were just outside of New York City and would head into Manhattan on a regular basis to check out the new plays and shows.  We started collecting the window card posters of our favorites, thinking that we would use them someday in our home.

Someday has arrived.  For Christmas to each other, we decided to frame our window cards so that we could put them up in our home.  We have this big tall wall that is right in front of you when you go down our stairway.  It’s a challenge to know what to do with a space like that but inspiration struck and we decided to put all of our window cards there.

Collections have the most impact when you group them together so we chose 18 window cards, had them framed all the same and then sat them on the landing in piles until I could put them up.

They sat there….and sat there….and sat there….for the last month and a half.  I admit, I was scared to put them up.  I knew we wanted three columns and six rows but I was nervous about getting everything straight and evenly spaced, etc.  Plus, the top row would end up about 18 feet above the landing and I was a little apprehensive of that height.

Last night we had our neighbor, Kevin, come over to fix a few things for us and Jason asked him to help us put the pictures up.  I had gotten halfway up the wall with the first three rows – and trust me, there were many more nail holes in the wall than just the nine that were supposed to be there.  It was really hard to make them look right!

But Kevin, a true professional, pulled out his level and his laser surveyor (I wish I had one of those!) and went to work measuring and marking until he had nine more holes placed in the wall – the top three rows.  When I handed him each picture I was shocked and DELIGHTED to see that his system of measuring and planning lead to perfect placement of each picture – on the first nail hole try.  I felt like I was watching our own show on HGTV.  Kevin was a rock star.

So now we have all of our window cards up on the wall and they look stunning, if I do say so myself.  And Kevin’s perfection on the top three rows help my rows look even better.  As a whole, they really make an impact.

Thanks, Kevin.  I’m grateful that you stuck with us so long to hang our pictures in such a professional way.  I’m grateful that you are so easy-going and kind.  I’m grateful that now we have such great memories in a place that we can enjoy them every day.

And I’m grateful that you were the one on top of the ladder instead of me.

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Yes, it’s true.  I’m grateful for Jim.  When I first started my boot camp workouts I was driving to Jim’s Gym and realized that in the rush to get Cole to the babysitter’s, I had forgotten a towel and my knee braces.  I ran into the Walgreens pharmacy that was on the way to Jim’s thinking that I would find both there.

I grabbed the braces I needed to keep my knees from getting loosey-goosey on me and went searching for a towel I could buy.  All I could find was an endcap full of Thanksgiving dishtowels (which I thought was pretty early for them, if you want to know the truth).  I chose one as quickly as I could and rushed to start my workout.


At first I assumed I would just use that towel one time and then move it to my kitchen but as I saw the words embroidered on my towel hanging there on the equipment, it made me pause.  It said “Give Thanks” and as I used the elliptical machine I began to do just that.

I was grateful that I have the means to go to Jim’s Gym.

I was grateful that I have a fabulous babysitter for Cole that made it possible for me to do it.

I was grateful that Jim has the skill to help me work harder than I would have on my own.

I was grateful that I have little Coleman – the “baby-belly” reason why I was even at the gym in the first place.

I became more grateful – and as I did so, the workout started to go from misery to something a little better than that.  Yes, that was the day that I threw up so obviously the workout wasn’t easy.  But being grateful helped me get through it easier than if I had chosen to just complain.

I take that towel a lot to Jim’s.  It’s not cool or even remotely sporty enough for the gym.  But it reminds me of the gratitude I feel for the opportunity to get fit.  Opportunities for giving thanks are all around us and it’s remarkable how our perspective changes when we see the world through grateful eyes.

What are you grateful for today?

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My thoughts are turned to the past as we remember September 11, 2001.  We were living in Connecticut at the time, in a small town where most of its residents commuted to NYC.  We had friends who worked in the World Trade Center.  We had friends who worked in the surrounding buildings.  We had friends who were supposed to be in meetings on the 89th floor but felt like they should cancel them.  We had friends who ran back into buildings to help and friends who we couldn’t find until the end of the day because they were trying to make their way home.

Many did not make it out alive that day but all of our friends and acquaintances did.  For me, when I think of the tragedy of 9/11 I can’t help but also think of the miracles that came with it.  The protection of many lives and the heroes, both professionals and common citizens, who rose to the occasion and helped those around them.

Thank you.

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Jason went to the grocery store for me again the other day.  He does this a lot.  I don’t like shopping in general and although he can do many things to help me with Cole, he can’t lift him in and out of his crib or up off the ground or make his bottle or change his diaper or get him dressed…all the things that require use of your hands.

But he can go shopping for me.

So, now that he has his new van (finally!) Jason has become the errand-runner in our family again.  I think that is what I missed most when he was vanless – his ability to go places independently.  But going to the grocery store is different for him than it is for the rest of us.  He can’t grab things off the shelf and so he has to ask other customers or employees to help him load his basket or grab his credit card from his wallet or take his bags to the car.  Armed with the list I have given him Jason conquers his task with the help of half a dozen people along the way.

He often will have me on the phone, asking me questions over his bluetooth headset.  Not only does this ensure he is getting the right items but it is a bonus for me as well.  I get to hear the conversation of each person who helps him get a particular item in that aisle.

“Excuse me – can you help me grab this?”

“Oh!  Sure!  Which one?  Oh, ok.  Here you go.  Anything else I can get for you?”

“No that’s all.  Thanks.”

Then more often than not, I’ll hear some sort of motherly love from the helper as they tell him how impressed they are that he is going shopping on his own.  It’s usually a tender little moment for them – I can tell.  As women, we just can’t help ourselves.

Of course, there is the random person who when asked to help just look at him like he is a crazy quadriplegic stalker and hurry away – but those are few and far between and make us laugh in the process so it’s ok.

So, Jason went to the grocery store and this time he hadn’t called me to ask many questions.  He was confident with his own knowledge of the list and buzzed through the store taking one employee with him through the baby aisle and another one to round up all the rest of items in the store.  When he got home I unloaded all of the grocery bags and saw that he had gotten bananas, just like the list said.  There were three sets – all in varying shades of ripeness.


I hadn’t told him to do this.  Jason knows, after all of his shopping expeditions, that I like to get bananas this way.  Some for now, some for a few days from now, and some for after that, each set turning ripe when we are ready to eat them.  Along with the fact that he was being a huge help to me by going to the grocery store, that day I was grateful for so much more than just an errand run.

Jason knows me.  He knows me and cares enough about me to do this task in the way that I would have done it because he understands that it makes me happy.  These are my favorite bananas simply because of how they came to be sitting on my counter – chosen with care, hard work and thoughts of me in mind.

This week I’m grateful for bananas and all they represent – and along with those bananas, I’m grateful for you, errand boy.  We make a good team.

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