Every Day Matters: Getting Ready for 2018



So thrilled that, for the fourth year in a row, the Every Day Matters Diary is available so you can be inspired, motivated, and enlightened throughout 2018! Working on this project is one of my absolute favorite projects, and it gets better and better with every year that I work on it. It might seem early to think about the new year, but I always find these "ber" months (September, October, November, and December) scoot by more quickly than the rest of the year, so it's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to make the most of 2018!

In working on the diary (aka, planner, if you're in the US), my ultimate goal is create something beautiful that's filled with knowledge and inspiration to make the most of the year. Each month focuses on a unique topic with week inspiration provided in the form of thought-provoking quotes paired with actionable ideas for making the most of each and every day. Themes for 2018 include: Openness, Imagination, Gratitude, Awareness, Passion, Perspective, Friendship, Patience, Connection, Focus, Compassion, and Transformation. Each one is explored in detail through motivating affirmations, relevant quotes, engaging activities, and provocative questions I've chosen specifically to help you feel engaged and inspired.

Watch me flip through it and chat briefly about each monthly spread here: 

Can't see the video? Click here to watch on YouTube


Creating this diary has become an annual tradition for me, and it's one of my favorites. It not only serves as a guide for others to embrace positivity, awareness, and self-love all year long, but I also use it myself, and, even though I was the one to write it, I still find new and surprising insights every time I use it. If you purchase the diary and make use of it throughout the year, you'll find yourself empowered and informed by the words of wisdom, the weekly activities, and the makes-you-think questions. And, perhaps the greatest thing about the diary is that it'll inspire you to explore the topics in the real word, with activities and prompts that get the ideas off the page and into your daily life! 

If you're ready to get ready for 2018, pick up your copy at a local bookseller or online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers! Here's where you can get in on Amazon US: 

Every Day Matters 2018 - Desk Size 

Every Day Matters 2018 - Pocket Size 

I hope you love using it as much as I love creating it. If you have any questions about the content, layout, or where to purchase a copy in your country, leave a comment below! 

17 Years Ago I Turned 17: Part 2



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!)



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. 



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! 



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



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! 



"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



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!  



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. 



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



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. 



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.  



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)



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! 



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.




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.



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.



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! 



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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Finding Freedom: 6 Ways to Connect to Your Passion



Freedom is a hot topic every July (at least here in America!), and this year is no except. I happened to be doing a little research on the topic and came across my own blog post, What's Your Road to Freedom? (oddly, this is something that happens to me a lot — I'll be doing some research and stumble across something I wrote years ago. I take it as some sort of sign that it's something I need to revisit work on, or, in my more optimistic moments, as a sign that I already have the knowledge I need within me). 

This post really resonated with me, so I thought I'd update it a bit and share it with you.  Let's first start with the lyrics to Ben Harper's "One Road to Freedom," the song upon which the original post was based:  


Tell me which road are you traveling,
which road are you traveling on?
Tell me who will you turn to
when the light has gone?
I hear somebody calling
I hear somebody calling to me
With so many roads to travel,
there's just one can set you free

There's just one road
one road to freedom
There's just one road
one road to freedom

In my life I have been blessed
In my life I have been cursed
I have lived the best of times
I have suffered the worst
Do you know which road you're traveling?
Do you know where you want to be?
With so many roads to travel,
there's just one can set you free 


Listening to this song again brought me back to the time I first heard it, when I was asking myself, What is it that sets me free? And I still think what I thought before: what sets each of us free — what gives each of us that pure, thrilling sense of liberation — is focusing attention, work, and energy on what you're passionate about. 

You can be passionate about things, actions, people. You can be passionate about feelings and abstract concepts. You can be passionate about just about anything. And, as I've discovered and am now rediscovering, it's when those passions are pursued that true freedom is achieved. 

Of course, passions aren't always easy to identify or dedicate time and attention to. We may feel strongly about something, love it with all of our might, but that doesn't mean it'll come easily. Some passions take a lot of hard work and dedication. Some passions require being brave and pushing beyond boundaries. Whether your passion is cultivating creativity, rising to the top of a corporate ladder, growing a joy-filled family, or any other experience that fills your heart with excitement and purpose, it can sometimes be challenging to determine what your passion is. And, even if you've figured it out, it can be tricky to make it a priority in your life. 

It might sound simple — if you're passionate about something, that should be where you spend most of your time and effort — but, of course, we all know it's not that simple. But the more we're able to connect with our passions, the more free we become. Here are the ideas I came up with connecting with your passion, and making sure you continue to travel your own road to freedom: 


  1. Figure out your focus. If you're super passionate about something (for me, it's creating), it's tempting to want to do it all, to explore every little experience on that path, but if you don't get specific with what you're passionate about, you'll  find yourself overwhelmed with all of the possibilities. If you get too overwhelmed, you might even end up pushing your passion aside. So start small. Figure out what you're most interested in and zero in on that. You can always expand your vision later, but start off narrow at first. If you feel completely overwhelmed and don't know where to start, make a list of the things you love about whatever you're passionate about and rank the items. You'll quickly discover what matters most, and that's where you can direct attention. 

  2. Share what you love. Don't hide your passion from the world. Sharing your passion with the world in whatever way you can will not only bring joy to others (people love passionate people!), but it'll also make it more likely that you'll connect with like-minded people. When I was younger, I used to be secretive about my creative endeavors. I wrote in diaries; I drew and painted alone in my room. With Positively Present, I began sharing my creativity not only with people online, but I also began integrating my creative passions into my life. It can be hard (and intimidating!) to share your passion, but the more you share, the more opportunities you'll have to integrate your passion in your life. 

  3. Work it 'cause it's worth it. If you truly want to connect with your passion and create more freedom in your life, you're going to have to work at it. When you're in the midst of it, you've got to give it your all. And you've got to try to put yourself in the midst of it as often as possible. People often think that those who are passionate about their work or parts of their life have it easy, but that's not the case. Just because you're passionate about something, doesn't mean it won't involve hard work. Often we don't think "freedom" when we think "hard work," but the more work you put into your passion, the more liberated life feels. 

  4. Find a way to make it fun. When people are passionate about something, sometimes they lose sight of the fun. To make sure you don't miss out on that, take a step back from engaging in your passion and figure out how you can make it enjoyable. What inspired you in the first place? What makes you feel great when you're doing it? No matter what you're passionate about, there's a way to make it fun. One way to make your passion more fun is to include others in it. Whatever you love, there are probably others out there who love it, too. Find them and start a group or club. Or, if you can't connect with those who love what you love, find a way to share your passion with others in a way they can enjoy. 

  5. Innovate and create. Two things you should keep in mind when it comes to your passion: innovation and creation. You already have the drive and desire to talk about, think about, and work on your passion, but it's important to take it to the next level so you're always growing and learning. It's pretty hard to stay passionate about something if it's always the same thing. You don't have to do anything groundbreaking, but if you want to keep your passion alive, you've got to keep it fresh. Try experiencing it in a different place, using different tools, or with different people. 

  6. Take a passion break. One of the best ways to keep yourself connected to your passion is to take a break from it. This can be challenging if you're super excited about it (or if it's part of your job and the source of your income...), but a break is essential. You don't have to be doing something 24/7 to be good at it or get the most out of it. In fact, taking a break from whatever it is you love will make it even more enjoyable when you go back to it. And breaks give you a chance to reflect, come up with new ideas, and make sure your passion a freeing, not limiting, experience. 

While I've always been passionate about helping people find their passions, revisiting this old post and thinking about passion in relation to freedom has made me realize just how liberating passion can be. It give you the ability to find purpose and joy; it allows you to connect with the parts of yourself that you love most. Personal passions aren't always easy to identify, but I believe everyone has something s/he is passionate about, but some of us just have to work a little hard to figure out what it is.

If you know what your passion is, I hope this post inspires you to make it a priority in your life. If you don't yet know what it is, I hope you're inspired to find it. Because, revisiting this post four years after writing it has made me realize that passion does, in fact, lead to freedom. If you want to experience that liberation, you've got to connect with your passion. 



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