Hearts and Grit

the 366 Hearts blogFour years ago, I wrote a blog post about Hazel McNab, a woman who challenged herself to design a heart to go with an inspiring quote every day for a year. She held herself accountable by posting her journey online. It just so happened it was a Leap Year, hence the name of her blog: 366 Hearts.

Well, it’s four years later, and let me tell you she is still going strong! As I write this, Hazel just posted her 1775th heart! How amazing is this?? I really LOVE it, on so many levels….

First of all, I love the symbol of the heart and all that it represents. I love quotes. I love loose, sketchy watercolors. And I love things that inspire me. 

But most of all, I love Hazel’s example of tenacity and grit…. of deciding to do something creative and then really sticking with it….. even to the point of going above and beyond her original goal. 

Lately I’ve been fascinated by grit…. how it motivates us, and how we can develop more of it. By mid-February I’m guessing many people have become discouraged and abandoned their goals for the new year, if not forgotten them altogether. I think I’m not alone in my desire to grow in this area!

Because I feel so inspired by Hazel’s story, I asked her to share her thoughts on how she not only achieved, but went far beyond the creative goal she set for herself. Here’s what she told me:

“When I began to paint a heart a day for a year I did not think I would still be posting daily five years later!

I post everyday because I said I would. It’s the accountability which is the big thing. When I started my blog I felt like I was shouting out to the world “Hey, I’m going to paint a heart a day – come and see!” thinking maybe no one would even find me. Now I have many followers and I don’t want to let them down. I hope when people open my email in the morning it helps them start their day with a smile. You can follow me at 366hearts.com

Sharing my goal online makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself…. something that reaches around the world to share love and kindness. I send love out and I get love back. I love receiving unexpected messages from people both near and far away when a specific heart touches them.

It’s rewarding to set a goal and accomplish it. By saying I’ll paint a heart every day and then doing it, no matter what else happens that day I have achieved something, even if it’s small. That means I’m achieving something every day, which adds up in small steps toward bigger goals. I set out to paint a heart a day for a year. If anyone had told me then that I’d be at nearly 2000 hearts today, I couldn’t have imagined it.

The biggest thing I’ve learned through all this is that it’s so important to have ‘me’ time.

At the end of every day, when all is quiet and it’s just me, I can sit and think about what’s going on and how I feel. When I first started painting these hearts I thought it would take me 5 minutes – just paint a heart and find a quote. But within the first week a friend suggested that I make it personal, think about what I want/need for the next day, some courage, energy, calmness, etc. Since then, this has become my personal journey and it’s lovely to know it resonates with others. Sometimes I know exactly what I’m going to paint from earlier in the day. Sometimes I just sit and look around me…. it could be as simple as a plant on the fridge that inspires me. Sometimes I haven’t a clue but I put my paintbrush into a colour and just doodle. Taking this time to be quiet, unwind and be with myself is a form of meditation for me.

The quote that went with my very first heart was “She believed she could so she did.” Doing something consistently every day will remind you to keep believing in yourself.”

If Hazel’s words resonate with you, subscribe to the 366 Hearts blog so you can get a daily dose of her inspiration! While you’re there, check out Hazel’s books, prints, and cards, and see some of her commissioned work. I hope Hazel’s story will inspire YOU to find your own version of hearts and grit!

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