Positively Present's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide!

  2017-Gift-Guide-Positively-Present

 

After encountering hours of Black Friday commercials (love you, Hallmark Channel, but I could do without the incessant selling!) and watching a video entitled "How Likely Are You to Die in a Black Friday Sale?," it's pretty hard for me to deny that the holiday shopping season is upon us.

I've always been a huge fan of gift-giving, but, the older I get, the less impressed I am by the ever-growing fervor of holiday shopping. It's a wonderful feeling to find a perfect gift for someone you care about, but so much of this gift-giving feels forced, feels like it's becoming less of a want to and more of a have to

It could just be my age (after all, this is my 35th Christmas) or maybe I'm just changing what matters most to me, but gift-giving feels different now than it once did. For this reason, I decided to make a holiday gift guide of my own. No sales. No special deals. Just gifts that you can give anytime, and to almost anyone. 

 

for the friend who feels uncertain right now : encouragement

for any single person you encounter today : love

for the incredibly frustrating family member : compassion

for the boss or colleagues or who count on you : energy

for the parent or sibling who's done you wrong : forgiveness

for the friend or partner who remains faithful : trust

for the stranger filled with road rage or hostility : empathy

for the child who wants to show you what s/he can: attentiveness

for the partner who is always there by your side : intimacy

for the person who's beliefs seem almost insane : tolerance

for the introvert (or teen) who would love alone time : privacy

for the coworker who goes above and beyond : recognition

for the best friend who's had a really tough year : comfort

for yourself, because you deserve this, always : self-love

for the one you haven't spoken to in far too long : honesty

for the go-getter who appears to be a bit stuck : inspiration

for the person who asks you what you really think : advice

for the passing stranger in the hallway or on the street : connection

for the loved one who gives his or her heart to you : passion

for those who are so different from you in so many ways : acceptance

for the ones you want to cling too tightly to : independence

for those you've kept at a distance for no valid reason : affection

for the children who want to feel like they're all grown up : responsibility

for the person who cuts you off in line or on the road : kindness

for the pal who isn't yet sure which path s/he should take : reassurance

for the child (or pet. or adult.) that makes you feel crazy sometimes : patience

for the person who always finds a way to make time for you : time

for the one you've worked with who's looking for a new opportunity : endorsement

for the partner you may have been neglecting a little bit lately : romance

for the person (or Virgo) who's always, always on time : punctuality

for the friend you always do the exact same thing with every time : adventure

for the person who is rushing or speeding or in your way : consideration

for the ones who are heartbroken or hurting or all alone : tenderness

for the loved one who has never, ever stopped lifting you up : support

for the fellow human beings, who are just doing the best they can : vulnerability

 

Of course, most of of us (including me!) will still buy physical gifts for those we love, and there's certainly nothing wrong with gift-giving. (In fact, I wouldn't be at all mad if you wanted to gift someone a copy of The Positively Present Guide to Life or the Every Day Matters 2018 Diary or Gratitude or Compassion or Living in the Moment or Forgiveness...) But I hope this post has inspired you to think outside the box when it comes to gift-giving, to remember the wise words from Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas: "Maybe," the Grinch thought, "Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."  


Hooray! It's Gratitude Challenge Season!


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It's the SEVENTH year of this Gratitude Challenge, and I couldn't be more excited to tune my attention to what I'm thankful for throughout the month of November. It's been a bit of a rough year for me, but one thing that has helped me stay positive and present all year long is keeping a gratitude journal (I used my Every Day Matters diary as a way to track gratitude this year, and it worked so well!). Whether things are good or bad, focusing on what you're thankful for makes them even better, and I'll hope you'll join me in the Gratitude Challenge this year and get some of that gratitude goodness in your life. 

This year is going to be a little different for me. As you might have noticed if you follow me on Instagram, I've been doing a lot more illustrating since I got my iPad for Christmas last year. It's been a game-changer for me, and I haven't posted photos on Instagram since the spring. So, while I encourage you to share whatever you want in your personal Gratitude Challenge, I'll be focusing on sharing my gratitude through illustrations. 

 

THE CHALLENGE DETAILS

  • “Challenge” is just a word.

    The goal of the Challenge is to take and/or share something (a photo, illustration, quote, etc.) every day using the prompts to help you feel more appreciative. Feel free to get creative, make up your own prompts, etc. And don’t feel pressured to attain perfection, either. Thankfulness is what it’s all about; no need to be a professional photographer or artist!
  • Join in at any time.

    The point of the Challenge is to focus on staying thankful for thirty days. You can start the challenge on November 1 and do it for the whole month (as I am doing), or you can start the challenge any day that works for you and follow along at your own pace. I see people discovering and partaking in the Challenge all year 'round so don't feel limited to November!

  • Use the hashtag #Gratitude30.

    Sharing your pics on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.? If you tag them with #Gratitude30, others can see them and you’ll be able to see all of the other cool things that other people are sharing. It's one of my favorite things ever to look through all of the posts and see the various ways people interpret the prompts. 

  • Save or print out a reminder.

    Keep up with the prompts by downloading the photo above (save it to your phone, perhaps!) or, if you’re more of a IRL type, print out a version to post wherever you'd find a reminder helpful so you can stay on top of the prompts. Of course, you don't have to do them all in a row, but there is something special about spending 30 days focusing on what you're thankful for. 

 

THE 2017 PROMPTS


Day 1: Beauty

If you pay close attention, you can find beauty almost anywhere. Today, make seeking beauty your goal. Strive to find something beautiful in every situation, and share as much beauty as you can with others.

Day 2: Happiness

What brings you happiness in your day-to-day life? We all find happiness in unique places! Consider, today, what brings you joy and why you find it so enjoyable. 

Day 3: Nature

Nature is one of life’s great gifts. Pay attention to the nature around you today and how it makes you feel. Is there an aspect of nature you feel particularly grateful to experience?

Day 4: Inspiration

Tune into the world around you, and you'll have a pretty hard time not being inspired by someone or something. What inspires you the most right now?

Day 5: Amusement

Laughter is the best medicine, they say, and it's often true. Today, focus on what you find entertaining, amusing, or comical and, if possible, share some of that with someone else!

Day 6: Kindness

When have you experienced (or shared!) kindness this year? In addition to sharing this experience with #Gratitude30, consider adding a kind act to today's to-do list.

Day 7: Comfort

Today, focus on your favorite form of comfort. Do you love the physical comfort of a hug or a blanket, or is emotional comfort (a good listener, wise advice) your go-to? 

Day 8: Self-Love

No matter what you're experiencing in any given moment, the one thing you can always count on is yourself. Spend the day reflecting on your positive traits and embracing the amazingness that is YOU.

Day 9: Feeling

Feelings can evoke positive or negative vibes, but try, today, to embrace all of the feelings you're experiencing, and celebrate both the good and the bad. What's your favorite feeling?  

Day 10: Nourishment

What nourishes your mind, body, or spirit? Today, tune into what provides you with energy, enjoyment, or excitement, and be grateful for the ways they add positive value to your life.

Day 11: Music

As Nietzsche said, "Without music, life would be a mistake." What music are you most thankful for right now? What sounds have shaped your life this year? 

Day 12: Freedom

What are some of the freedoms you're thankful to have in your life? Pay attention today to the activities in your life that make you feel the most free. 

Day 13: Optimism

Attitude is everything, and even if you're not always optimistic, you're likely to have experienced a positive perspective at some point. Today, be thankful for all the times you've found the good. 

Day 14: Challenges

Struggles always make us stronger. Be thankful today for the challenges you’ve encountered, and, if you’re in the midst of a difficult period, be thankful for the lessons you’re learning now.

Day 15: Health

This is one almost always makes gratitude lists, and for good reason! Reflect on (and be thankful for!) all of the ways in which your mind and/or body is working well today.

Day 16: Creativity

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a creative person, you've created your life up to this point so far! Today be grateful for your own abilities or those of someone you admire. 

Day 17: Memories

Staying present is usually ideal, but that doesn't mean you can't be grateful for good moments in your past. Focus on one of your favorite memories and be thankful for the opportunity to have experienced it.

Day 18: Home

What comes to mind when you see the word "home"? Home can be so many things — a place, a person, a feeling. Whatever the word means to you, take time to embrace the comforts of home today.

Day 19: Friendship

Friendship is priceless, and today’s the perfect day to be grateful for the loving, supportive relationships in your life. (And to say "thank you!" to your friends!)

Day 20: Innovation

The world is filled with amazing innovations (especially in the realm of technology!) that make our lives better. What innovation are you most thankful for in your life right now? 

Day 21: Love

Love comes in so many shapes and forms, but regardless of how it arrives, it brings with it a bit of magic. Today, be grateful for every bit of love you've given and received (and share more today if you can!)

Day 22: Awareness

Staying in the moment is tough a lot of time, but try carving out some time today to be fully engaged in something — your work, a conversation, a moment in nature — and appreciate how it feels to do so.

Day 23: Family

Regardless of whether, for you, "family" means blood relatives, a partner, your friends, or all of the above, it’s a wonderful thing to have. Be thankful for your family-filled moments today. 

Day 24: Solitude

Not everyone loves alone time, but it's often during time spent alone that we grow closer to understanding ourselves. If possible, spend some time alone today and be grateful for the solitude.

Day 25: Generosity

What was the last thing you gave or received? The generosity of others is something to be thankful for (and you can pay it forward by being generous to someone else today!).

Day 26: Wonder

Out of all possible scenarios, here you are, in this life, being you. Spend time today pondering the wonder-filled things in your life, and be thankful for all that's wonderful.

Day 27: Meaning

We choose what we give meaning to, but meaning itself is something we should all be grateful for. Without it, life would be pretty hard to get through! What means the most to you? 

Day 28: Peace

In today's crazy world, peace isn't always easily attained, but reflect, today, on the last time you felt truly at peace. What made you feel peaceful? Could you recreate that feeling today?

Day 29: Knowledge

If you're truly living, you're probably always learning. Use today to reflect on what you’ve learned (maybe focusing on the past year) and share some of knowledge with #Gratitude30.

Day 30: Growth

Consider all of the ways you've grown in the past year. What growth have you experienced recently? What growth was most important? Be thankful for your ability to keep flourishing!

 

I'm so thrilled to be doing this challenge for the seventh year, and I can't wait to see all of your photos and creations this year! As you might know from social media / previous posts, I'm currently recovering from surgery (ugh!) so I might not be as on top of it this year as I've been before, but I'll be doing my best — and I'll definitely be checking on the #Gratitude30 hashtag for inspiring and uplifting content as I recover! 

 

    

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17 Years Ago I Turned 17: Part 2


Positively-Present-Birthday

 

Last week, I celebrated the seventeenth anniversary of the day I turned 17 (yes, I'm now 34!) by sharing some of the life lessons I've learned over the past year. Like so many of us, I'm always learning and growing and changing, and I really enjoy reflecting on what I've learned over the past year. (I highly recommend doing it whenever you have a birthday. We're often so busy and moving so quickly through life that we don't often pause to reflect on what we've learned, and b-days are a great time to do this!)

Without further ado, here's Part 2 of the 34 life lessons I've learned this year. (And here's Part 1 if you missed it!)

 

18. PICK PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOUR B-DAY.

This might sound superficial, but the way people react to your birthday says a lot about them and your relationship (even if they're not a big "birthday person.") Birthdays are kind of silly, yes, but they're also symbolic of the day you were born. If the people in your life aren't excited about that, well... That's not great. Birthdays are a great time to assess where you stand with people, and whether or not those people are having a positive impact on how you feel about yourself. 

 

19. BE KIND TO YOUR BODY. 

Over the past few years, I've had to deal with health issues, which is something I'd not encountered before. It's taught me a lot of things, but mostly it's taught me that health is a kind of wealth (see: Health Is Wealth: How to Cope When You're Feeling Poorly), and you have to work hard to achieve it. While I've been very consistent about my yoga practice, I definitely need to step up my game when it comes to eating healthy food! 

 

20. YOU WILL NEVER REGRET BEING NICE.

Sometimes being nice is really, really hard. Depending on the situation, your mood, the other people involved, etc., being kind can be the most difficult choice to pick, but I've been reminded over and over again this year that you'll never regret being nice. Even when you have a completely different point of view, when you're angry or upset, being nice is the right choice. For some tips on niceness and compassion, check out:  Campaigning for Compassion: 8 Essential Tips We Need Now

 

21. MAKE THE MOST OF A BAD DAY. 

Every one of us encounters bad days from time to time, but I've discovered that most bad days are only as bad as you make them. Once things start going downhill a little bit, it's difficult not to feel like everything is going downhill, to take notice of all the little annoying things you might not think about on a good day. Over the past year, I've had a lot of stressful days, so I made this for myself: Stressful Day?: 20 Things to Add to Your To-Do List. If you're stressed, it might help you too! 

 

22. LEARN ABOUT WHAT YOU LOVE. 

"Do what you love" is one of those cliched phrases that's wonderful if you have the ability to make it happen, which isn't always the case for everyone. This year I've had to do a lot of things I don't really love, but I've realized that there's something you can also do what it comes to things you're passionate about: learn about them! There's a freedom that comes from being passion about something, and there are lots of ways to connect to it. Check out this for ideas: Finding Freedom: 6 Ways to Connect to Your Passion

 

23. DO SOMETHING NEW EVERY SO OFTEN. 

For some people, doing new things is easy, but, if you're like me and really love that comfort zone, it can be hard to push yourself out of it, but it's worth it. I've rarely looked back and thought, wow, I wish I hadn't tried that thing. Even if I hated it, it gave me an experience I'd never had before and experience really is the greatest teacher. One new thing I did this year was create and launch a new product, the Instant Insta Self-Love Card Deck, and it was so great to try something new!  

 

24. REMEMBER: IT WON'T LAST. 

The good times? They're fleeting. The bad times? Also fleeting. When things have been tough this year, I kept coming back to this concept because, whether it's a good time or a bad time (like when you're coping with a meltdown), reminding yourself of the fleeting nature of life usually brings you back to the present and allows you to either enjoy the good moment or cope more effectively with the bad. 

 

25. LOOK FOR MAGIC EVERYWHERE. 

The concept of magic has become a trend over the past few years, but I've always been drawn to it. I'm not talking about magic in the witchcraft sense (though that is fascinating too!); I'm talking about the magic of everyday things and experiences. So often we focus on some grand future moment that we're not realizing how much magic is already in and around us. This year, I've focused a lot on self-love, and part of that had to do with learning to reclaim my own magic

 

26. SHARE WHAT YOU'VE LEARNED WITH OTHERS. 

One of the reasons I started Positively Present all those years ago was so that I could share what I was learning as I was going through my own growth. I always love learning life lessons from others so it made sense that I'd want to share my own, like some of the ones I shared in How to Make Your Life Uncommonly Good. Despite our differences, we all go through a lot of the same experiences and emotions and you can create real connection with others when you share what you know. 

 

27. FEAR IS PART OF LIFE. LEARN TO SIT WITH IT. 

Like most people, I don't love being afraid. But I've faced some pretty dark moments over the past year, like when I wrote this Clearing the Clouds: How to Cope with Panic, and those difficult times have reminded me that fear is a part of life. No matter who you are, you're going to experience some fearful, panic-inducing moments, so rather than try to run from them (as I'm always tempted to do), this year I really learned to sit with my fear.  

 

28. BE GRATEFUL EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Cheesy as this sounds, today is not guaranteed. Every day you wake up, regardless of what you wake up to, is a fresh opportunity. I've always been well-aware of the value of gratitude, but this year I started keeping a detailed gratitude list, and I think it's helped my mindset in some big ways. If you're looking for some gratitude inspiration, here are three posts I've written this year about it: 26 Things to Be Grateful For (+ a Free Download!)100 Things to Be Grateful For (Part I), and 100 Things to Be Grateful for (Part II)

 

29. GET RID OF WHAT YOU NO LONGER NEED. 

This spring, I wrote Springtime Simplifying, Sorting, + Selling while I was in the midst of getting rid of a lot of things. Not only did it feel amazing to get rid of things I no longer used or needed, I also made a good bit of extra money selling some of my things. :) For a lot of people, I know letting go of things can be challenging, but I recommend giving it a try, waiting a few days, and assessing how you feel. More often than not, you'll have completely forgotten about what you got rid of! 

 

30. APPRECIATE THE PEOPLE (AND PETS!) IN YOUR LIFE.

I'm so thankful for the people I have in my life who provide me with support, encouragement, and love. Because I've been fortunate to have a great group of people around me for most of my life, it's sometimes easy to take them for granted. Still, with the help of my gratitude list, I've been reminded daily of how lucky I am. Here are two posts about the wonderful benefits you might get from those around you: 10 Positive Benefits of Having a Sibling and The Positive Power of Pups: How Dogs Can Help You.

 

 

31. KNOW THAT YOU WILL ADAPT. 

One thing that's definitely topped my life lessons list this year: you might not think you could ever handle a certain situation / person / job / etc., but if faced with something difficult, you will be stronger than you ever thought you could be. We, as people, are pretty darn resilient, and we can adjust to new situations surprisingly well. I learned this first hand a few times this year, and shared some thoughts on it in this post: 5 Tactics for Conquering Positive Change.

 

32. DON'T HATE IT 'TIL YOU'VE TRIED IT. 

It's fine to dislike certain things, but not without having given them a fair shot. Unless something truly terrifies you, try giving it a chance. It won't kill you to try a new food or get out on the dance floor for a song or two. The minute you say, "I don't..." or "I can't..." you limit yourself. Open-mindedness is an important life skill and one I've used a lot over the past year. You can check out me lettering a piece and chatting about it here in Lettering Life Lessons: Being Open-Minded.

 

33. KEEP YOUR PERSPECTIVE IN MIND. 

If you want to make the most of your life, I've learned that it really, really helps if you try your hardest to imagine where other people are coming from. So much of what we think and experience has to do with our personal perspective (read more about the power of perspective in Sky or Screen? : The Power of Perspective.) While it's not always easy to be aware of your own perspective, practicing doing so will help you cultivate compassion and empathy, which leads to better relationships! 

 

34. EMBRACE YOUR IDIOSYNCRASIES. 

This is a lesson I find myself learning over and over again each year. There are some things I get really into (Halloween, October, dogs, rainbows, just to name a few) and not everyone gets my weird little obsessions. For the first time in a long time, this year someone called me weird (and not in the nice, jokey way!) and it really inspired me to think about what it means to embrace your weirdness. I, in fact, like being different, and I like people who are different. Embracing weirdness (and having other people around you who do the same) is actually pretty awesome! 

 

 

Whew, that's quite a long list of lessons! It's fascinating to reflect on all that I've learned since my last birthday — both new lessons and old ones brought back into the light — and I hope reading these has inspired you to think about what you've learned recently. If you have any great life lessons you'd like to share, leave them in the comments below! 

 

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