2013 30-day gratitude photo challenge


It's November, which means it's time to focus in on gratitude! For the past two years, Positively Present has hosted a 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge (see here and here) and this year I'm bringing it back again. I've really loved taking part in a challenge that helped me feel more grateful—and it seems like other people have really enjoyed partaking in the challenge, judging from the photos on Flickr and the repins on Pinterest. 

The premise of this year's challenge is the same—snap photos of the items listed in order to stay more present and grateful every day—but, as I did last year, I've added some new items and changed the order a bit as well. If you're new to the challenge or need a refresher  here's what you need to know:


* No photography skills needed. You don't need to be a photographer or even all that interested in taking photos to participate. All you need to be is interested in staying present and focusing on things you're grateful for.

Don't be scared by the word "challenge." It's just what these photo things are called so don't let it prevent you from participating. There's no reward, no punishment—just an opportunity to be more present.

* Any kind of camera works. You can take your photos anyway you want to—with your phone, with a digital camera, with a DSLR, Holga, Instax, SLR, Polaroid. Anything goes when it comes to cultivating gratitude.

* Start at any time. You can start the challenge on November 1 and do it for the whole month (as I'm doing) or you can start the challenge any day that works for you. The point is to focus on staying present for thirty days. 

* Use hashtag #Gratitude30. If you post your pics on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc., be sure to tag them #gratitude30 so others can see them. I'll be posting mine on Instagram (positivelypresent).

* Share your photos. You can share by using the #gratitude30 hashtag, by posting the links to your photos (if you have them online) in the comments section, or by joining the Flickr group here and uploading them.

* Print out a reminder. You can copy the photo above (save it to your phone, perhaps!) or you can download and print out a version to post wherever you'd find a reminder helpful by clicking here.


You might think that, after two years of gratitude challenges, I'd be tired of coming up with creative ideas for staying present using photography, but each year I've done this, I've found it to be such a great way to stay present. Knowing that I have to take a photo a day, I find myself being more mindful of the world around me, and I also find myself being particularly mindful of that day's specific item. If you've done the challenge before, you probably already know how helpful it is when it comes to staying present and thankful. And if you haven't tried it out yet, give it a go and see how it feels! (And don't forget to follow along with me starting November 1 on Instagram!)



Wondering how you can stay positive and present on a daily basis? Check out my book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, filled with daily tips, advice, and inspiration for making the most of every day. Stay Positive is available in Paperback and PDF. Learn more about the book (and watch the video!) at StayPositive365.com

a december to remember & project life giveaway!



'Tis the season for giving! The Stay Positive giveaways might be over, but this week we have an extra special giveaway from Project Life -- just in time for the holiday memory-making. Thank you, Project Life, for offering Positively Present readers a chance to win a set of three fantastic products -- all of which I own and love. See the end of this post for details on how you can be the lucky winner!


As the end of November draws near, all around us are signs of the holiday season. It's the most wonderful time of year -- and the most stressful. With all the holiday tasks crammed onto already full to-do lists, it's easy to feel like the holidays are more stress than celebration. But don't despair if you're one of the many who feels overwhelmed by the hecticness of the holidays. Most of us do. 

But I've found a trick for taking some of the chaos out of Christmas: focus on memory-making.   

Memories made during the holiday season are priceless. Memories don't cost money. They don't (usually) need to be purchased and wrapped. They are the reason that, deep down, we come back to the fuss and frazzle of the holiday season each and every year. Memories that stay with us long after the tree has been taken down and the ornaments put away, and focusing on making memories will bring you back to what Christmas is really about -- fun, merriment, family, and friends.  

Focusing on making memories might not seem like a very present-moment-focused solution to combating holiday stress, but I've actually found that when I focus on making (and capturing) memories, I stay in the moment, enjoying whatever holiday-related activity I'm partaking in. Instead of worrying about what needs to be crossed off my to-do list -- or stressing about all the last minute things I have to take care before the holidays -- I'm focused on the moment right in front of me. And as a result, I end up creating a more memorable December. 

With all the holiday hustle and bustle, however, it's not often easy to stay in the moment (no matter how much I might want to!). I need some tips and tricks to make the most of the holiday season. Here are some ways I've tactics that have helped me create a December to remember: 


Pay attention to the present. 

During the holiday season, there is so much going on. Events to attend, gifts to purchase, and an array of over-stimulating holiday decorations everywhere! Amid all this commotion, it's easy to get distracted from the moment. When you find yourself overwhelmed by the chaos of the holiday season, pause, take a deep breath, and remind yourself to pay attention. Even the tiniest things -- a holiday display in a store window or a smile from a cheerful stranger -- can make staying in the present worthwhile. Take a moment to pay attention to what's going on around you and you'll be more likely to remember the wonderful parts of the holiday season long after it's passed you by.  

Embrace your favorite traditions. 

Holiday traditions are often where our holiday memories stem from -- and where they new memories can be created. Are there things you love to do every year? What traditions did you take part in when you were growing up? What can you do today to keep those traditions alive? Sticking to the traditions you love is one way to make sure the holiday season is memorable. Embracing traditions you know and love helps to make your holiday more memorable -- and creating new traditions is also a wonderful way to create seasonal memories. 

Be open to new experiences. 

A great way to make this December one to remember is by doing something you've never done before. Don't know where to get new ideas? Ask your friends and acquaintances what their holiday traditions are. Some might sound strange to you, but you're bound to hear one or two ideas that sound like fun. Trying something new is a great way to make a moment memorable. Doing the same thing over and over again can make December seem dull. If you want to spice up your holiday season and make this December memorable, don't be afraid to break away from the things you've always done. You might just create a new tradition -- and even if you don't, you'll certainly create some holiday memories. 

Capture your moments on film. 

Sometimes the most important memories aren't the ones you typically capture on film. We often look through the lens at the obvious "memorable" moments -- opening Christmas morning or sitting down as a family at the holiday feast -- but what about those not-so-obvious holiday memories? This year, pay attention to the moments that matter most to you -- especially those that aren't the most conventional -- and make an effort to snap a photo or two. The moments you capture don't have to be meaningful to anyone but you. Just make sure to have a camera or phone nearby because you never know when a truly memory-worthy moment will strike! 

Take time to write it down. 

Take some time this December to write about the moments that matter most to you. You don't have to be Plath or Woolf to put the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to record of what inspires you this holiday season. All you need is an open mind and a little dedication. When rushing from one thing to another this December, it'll be hard to pause and write down the memories you experience, but you'll be happy if you took the time to do it once the holiday season is over. Even if you don't have a ton of free time (and who does!), set aside a few minutes at the end of every day to write about your day. Focus on the (positive!) things that mean the most to you, and be sure to take note of what you're grateful for. Putting the moments in writing is a great way to remember each day -- and it also serves as a reminder to pause and stay present. 


Creating a memorable December is hard. Though it's the time of the year when we should probably be making the most memories and staying in the moment, it also seems to be the most difficult time of year to stay present. Hopefully these ideas will help you to enjoy the crazy, hectic month of December. And to help you keep your December memories documented for years to come, we have a very exciting giveaway today from Project Life. I've been using these products for a few months now, and I love them. Read on for details on how YOU can enter to win this awesome giveaway! 






  • Do one or more of the following: (each counts as one entry!) 
  • Post a comment below stating how you spread the word
  • Leave your email address (or another way we can contact you) 


  • Every post / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry 
  • Winner will be chosen at random and must be a US resident 
  • One winner will receive: 
  • Winner will be notified via email on Monday, December 3, 2012 


30 day gratitude photo challenge (2012 edition)

Gratitude Challenge 2012

Last year on November 1, I launched the 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge (see here) and it was such a hit! People loved taking part in a challenge that helped them to feel more grateful -- and I really loved seeing all the photos here on Flickr. This year I decided to revamp it a bit and launch another challenge. The premise of this one is the same -- take photos of the things on the list in order to stay more present and grateful -- but I've changed some of the items and added some new ones. Here are the things you need to know about the challenge: 


  • You don't need to be a photographer or even all that interested in photos to participate. All you need to be is interested in staying present and focusing on things you're grateful for. 

  • It's not so much a "challenge" as it is something to inspire you to be present. Don't let the word "challenge" scare you and prevent you from participating. There's no reward, no punishment -- just an opportunity to be more present. 

  • You can take your photos anyway you want to -- with your phone, with a digital camera, with a DSLR, Holga, Instax, SLR, Polaroid. Anything goes when it comes to your photos!

  • Feel free to start the challenge at any time. You can start on November 1 and do it for the month of November -- or start any day of the year!

  • If you post your pics online, feel free to share the links in the comments section. Or if you post them on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc., use the hashtag #Gratitude30. You can also join the Flickr group here.  

  • I printed out the challenge for myself and posted it on my wall. If you want to print and post the challengedownload 2012 Gratitude Photo Challenge print out here.


Over the years, I've realized that being grateful for the things around me -- both big and small -- really does help me to be more present and more positive. If you're struggling with gratitude (as I sometimes do!), I'd highly recommend taking part in this challenge -- or creating one of your own. Having a challenge like this serves as a reminder to focus on being grateful and the more you practice the art of gratitude, the more it will become an effortless part of your thought process.  


Speaking of gratitude... I need to give a shout-out to my boyfriend, for whom I am extremely grateful for. Yesterday we celebrated our third anniversary and I'm so thankful to have him in my life. He is amazing, wonderful, fantastic, incredible, and every other positive adjective you could possibly imagine. I am so thankful for him and for the three awesome years we've spent together. xo

project life's perks : 5 surprising scrapbooking benefits


Guess what? There's still time to enter to win one of two awesome giveways featured on Positively Present this week! See below for details. 


Though I strive to live in the present, I've always been a big fan of preserving memories. For as long as I can remember, I've been documenting my life in some form through journal entries, short (but true) stories, photos, etc. And over the years I've made countless scrapbooks for other people. But I've struggled when it comes to keeping a scrapbook of my own. I love the idea of using words and images to capture moments that meant a lot to me -- but actually following through with it has been uncharacteristically difficult for me. Instead of organized albums, I have a box under my bed filled with greeting cards, photos, and miscellaneous memorabilia. Definitely not my typical keep-everything-organized style. Something was holding me back from making the most of my memories. 

What's been holding me back in recent years is the idea that scrapbooks are for people with children, people with big families who have milestone moments like "first steps" or "first haircut" to document. As a twenty-something with no children, I've struggled with the term "scrapbooker" because it doesn't seem like something I should be doing. I don't have kids. I do almost everything on the computer. Why in the world would I want to create a scrapbook? 

But the thing is, I did want to create one. I'd spent hours and hours of my life creating them for other people. Why shouldn't I have one for myself? I didn't need kids. I didn't need to live in the country with a white picket fence and a barn out back. Scrapbooking, I decided, could be cool. It could be for young women. Child-less women. Women who believe that things not on a computer screen could still be modern and cool and fun. (Men, too, can be scrapbookers -- though I've yet to meet one who was really interested in partaking in it...)

A few months ago I came across Project Life, and I knew I'd met my match. Project Life looked easier than traditional scrapbooking (the pages had layouts built in!), and it seemed much more modern. In short, it seemed cool. Sure, most of the examples I'd seen were created by women with children and filled with the memories of first birthday parties and clever kid commentary, but that didn't mean I couldn't create my own kind of Project Life

Inspired to take on the task of creating a scrapbook that worked for me, I decided to add "Create a Project Life album" to my list of 29 Things to Do Before I Turn 30. Putting it on that list made it so much more likely that I'd actually do it! I then got to work gathering supplies (including the fabulous Clementine binder + core kit and the Big Variety Pack 2 photo pages, courtesy of Project Life). Picking out the supplies was fun enough -- but getting down to the actual scrapbooking turned out to be even more enjoyable than I'd anticipated. Because I was making this for me, and not for a friend or loved one, the pressure for perfection was off. I could put in anything I wanted -- and not worry about mess-ups or mistakes. Yay for liberated scrapbooking! 

Scrapbooking might not be for everyone (though I'd highly recommend taking a look at Project Life if you think you're not the "scrapbooking type"), but keeping track of memories has a lot of great benefits. Here are the benefits I've already received just from the few weeks I've been working with my Project Life album...


Positive Benefits of Project Life

1. Creativity. In the past, I'd created scrapbooks for friends and loved ones in the past because not only was it a thoughtful gift for them, but it also inspired me to be creative. Some people might be reading this and thinking, "I'm so not the creative type..." but don't count yourself out. When you're working on a Project Life album (or any album that's just for you), you don't have to worry about what other people will think of it or if it looks "right." You can include anything you want in it -- and add as much or as little details as you'd like. And the brilliant thing about Project Life is that it comes with such great supplies that you can still be creative even if you don't consider yourself a creative type of person. 


2. Reflection. As you probably know, I strive to live in the present and make the most of the current moment. But that doesn't mean I don't make time for a little recollection every now and then. While working on my Project Life album, I spent time reflecting on the past few weeks (I started working on it in late September) and, odd as it might sound, allowing myself to flip through photos and miscellaneous memorabilia from the past few weeks made me more present. It made me look at the things I'd taken note of then and consider all the things around me to concentrate on now. Also, now that I'm working on the album, I'm always on the lookout for fun things / quotes / photos to include, which makes me much more reflective in the present moment. 


3. Focus. This might not happen for everyone, but when I'm working on a creative project -- whether it be a story or a painting or a Project Life album -- I get a zone. I'm experiencing what positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to as "flow." When I'm working on the album -- choosing photos, cropping images, selecting items to tuck into the pages -- I'm fully immersed in what I'm working on. I feel a sense of energized focus, in which I'm fully involved in (and enjoying!) what I'm doing. As an incessant multitasker, any activity that allows me to experience this deep sense of focus is a worthwhile pastime. When I'm deeply involved in an activity, I'm 100% in the moment -- which is one of the best benefits of working on the album. 

4. Fulfillment. Taking the time to look back over the past week / month / etc. provides me with an unexpected sense of fulfillment. I don't have the best memory -- or the best knack for pausing and trying to remember things -- but working on the album has forced me to slow down and recap the recent weeks. In doing so, I've actually begun to feel more fulfilled. Rather than moving quickly through each and every day -- rushing from one activity or even to the next -- I'm considering all the things I've done / seen / accomplished. Though I never realized it before, I do a lot in a week. Now, rather than simply glossing over life's events, I've given myself a reason to pause and take note of them -- leaving me with the realization that I'm doing -- and being -- a lot of things that leave me feeling fulfilled. 


5. Insight. There's nothing quite like tracking your own life to give you some insight into yourself. Working on Project Life has helped me to see some of the things that are really important to me. It's also helped me to identify some of the areas of my life that I could focus more on. I'm a big proponent of learning to love yourself -- and one of the best ways to do this is to get to know yourself. Project Life has helped me make time to focus on me, to pay attention to the things that happen to me and the things that matter most in my life. You could, perhaps, get a lot of this internal insight by looking at your Facebook page or Pinterest board, but there's something about creating your own album -- an album you could keep entirely to yourself if you wanted to -- that gives you a deeper insight into who you are and what matters most to you. 


Clearly I've received quite a few positive (and surprising!) benefits from working on my Project Life album. I'm not only learning more about myself, but I'm also looking at my life through a different lens. Making a scrapbook might seem just like a crafty diversion, but I'm discovering that there's much more to it than I would have thought. Even if you don't consider yourself a "scrapbooking type," (I certainly didn't!), it's worth trying, if just for all the positive benefits that can come along with it. Much to my surprise, I've found that creating a book of memories is a great way to stay both positive and present.





1. Link to StayPositive365.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, 
    Instagram, Google+,etc.
2. Mention which giveaway you want to win (Positivity or Relationships) 
3. Post the link in the comments section below 
4. Leave your email address (or another way I can contact you) 


* Every mention you post / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry. 
  Enter as many times as you want! 

* 2 winners (one for each giveaway) will be chosen + notified via email on
  Friday, October 19, 2012


stay positive : positively present's first book!

PBOOK007It's here! The first book by Positively Present! 

I'm so excited to announce the launch of Stay Positive : Daily Reminders from Positively Present! The book, available for sale here, contains 365 daily reminders for anyone striving to live positively in the present moment. If you enjoy Positively Present, you're gonna love this book! 

The book has twelve monthly themes—Positivity, Relationships, Inspiration, Acceptance, Self-Love, Motivation, Productivity, Beauty, Change, Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Happiness—and each month is filled with insight and inspiration on that topic. You can dive into the book any day of the year—and it's also a perfect way to kick off 2013 positively! 

Want to learn more about the book (and watch the video!)? Visit the Stay Positive website: 




And stay tuned for lots of excitement coming up on Positively Present. We'll be featuring amazing giveaways and positively awesome promotions for the next few weeks to celebrate the launch of Stay Positive!


Spread the Word!


Love Stay Positive and Positively Present and want to help spread the word? Below are some tidbits you can copy and paste to Twitter, Facebook, your email, and anywhere else where you think people would be pumped to hear about this new book!


Want to live a positive life 365 days of the year?
Check out the new book, Stay Positivehttp://staypositive365.com/

Positively Present's book Stay Positive just launched!
Grab a copy here: http://staypositive365.com/

So excited about Positively Present's new book Stay Positive!
Pick up your copy here: http://staypositive365.com/

Start living positively every day. Read Stay Positive daily.
Available in paperback and PDF. http://staypositive365.com/