Positively Present turned six years old last Saturday. SIX!
It's hard to believe that just over six years ago, I was sitting on my bed, laptop on my lap, pushing the keys and deciding to create a site where I'd share my attempts at living a more positive, present life. I can vividly remember the moment when I shared with my then-boyfriend what I thought the name should be. I had no idea, way back then, what the words "Positively Present" would come to mean to me — and to my readers. Those two words have changed my life and I hope, if you've been following along for awhile, that they've somehow changed yours too.
A lot has happened in the past six years. I've left my job to work on Positively Present full time, I've experienced my life-long dream of writing books, I've fallen in love, I've faced tough break-ups, I've suffered some serious loss (particularly my sweet little Bella), I've discovered new passions, and I've sure as hell discovered a lot about myself. When I look back on it, it's been a pretty amazing period of my life, and I've learned so much not only about myself, but about blogging, about writing, and about life in general.
Here are some of the life lessons I've uncovered over the past six years...
IT'S PERFECTLY OK START OFF SLOW.
When I started off, I kept the blog a complete secret. It took me two full months to even put my name out there (see here), and much, much longer before I shared the link with people I knew in real life. I'm not a shy person and I've been sharing my writing for as long as I can remember (in fact, one of my fondest memories of this is when I was in the midst of writing a short story for English class and all of my friends took turns reading it, all of them dying to know how it was going to end). But for some reason, I had a really hard time sharing this site with the world, probably because a lot of the posts are pretty personal. Whatever the reason, I started off very slowly and I realize now that that's okay. Going slow generally isn't my thing (I'm more of an instant gratification kinda girl), but starting off slowly isn't a bad thing. It gave me time to form a vision, to discover what worked best for me and my blog, and to let the content and design evolve naturally. Starting off slow helped me realize that you don't have to rush to make something a success.
GOING ALL-IN IS SCARY (AND AWESOME).
After three years of blogging, I decided I wanted to give it a go as a full-time career. This didn't happen on a whim. I did a lot of planning and a lot of adding to my savings account before I took the plunge. In 2012 I left my full-time job and, man, was it a scary move to make. I had some really great coworkers and a pretty decent income and even though I wasn't in love with what I was doing, I certainly was comfortable. All of that changed in March 2012 when I said goodbye to the comfy corporate work and leapt into the unknown world of working for myself by myself. Taking this plunge was actually pretty exciting. The scary part came after I'd done it and found myself alone in my apartment all day, trying to get a handle on what exactly I was doing and how I was going to tangibly turn my ideas into a business. It was scary just starting out and it was scary doing it all on my own. But I'm not going to lie: it's pretty awesome to be in control of what I do all day, to decide when and how I'm going to work. My situation wouldn't be ideal for everyone, but the lesson I've learned is this: whatever you want for your career (or your life!), go all in. It'll be terrifying, but it'll be worth it.
IT HELPS TO HAVE A BIG, EXCITING GOAL.
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer. As a kid, I would daydream about what it would be like to see a book I'd written propped up on a shelf at my favorite bookstore. Admittedly, when I left my job to focus on Positively Present, I didn't have a very specific plan of how I was going to make the whole publishing-a-book dream happen, but I knew that's what I wanted more than anything. I knew if I worked hard enough and put myself out there, it would somehow happen. And now it is. It's all happening! (For days I've had this scene from Almost Famous in my head...) Just last week I received an advanced copy of my book The Positively Present Guide to Life, which will be in stores and available to ship online March 10. It was literally a dream-come-true moment. I felt like a princess in a fairytale, but instead of twirling around a ballroom dancing with a prince, I was awkwardly jumping up and down in my apartment with a book in my hand. A book with my name on it! My picture on the back flap! It was such a surreal moment and it made me realize just how important it is to have goals and dreams. Working toward something (and seeing it come to life) is really one of the best feelings in the world.
WHAT YOU DO (AND LOVE) MATTERS.
Writing a book was always my goal, but I wasn't the best at going after it in the traditional sense. I wanted the instant gratification of publication, which is why I chose to self-publish my first book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present. It was a successful venture, going the self-published route and I was content to keep heading down that path. As I was working on my second book, I received an email from Watkins Publishing, wondering if I might be interested in writing a book. It turns out they were looking for something Alice in Wonderland-themed and had discovered my site via this Alice in Wonderland article in an online search. It was an article I'd written years ago about a topic I was extremely passionate about: one of my favorite books. For most of my life, Alice has been my favorite, but I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined my love of Alice landing me a book deal. While I didn't end up writing about Alice, the connection made with the publisher led to the book that's debuting in a few short weeks. (YAY!!!) I've learned that what you love (in this case, Alice) and what you do (in this case, writing a blog post about it) can lead you to very unexpected and exciting places. What you do matters. What you love matters.
TRYING NEW THINGS CAN BE LIFE-CHANGING.
The same year that I left my job (2012), I took my first online class at Nicole's Classes to see if I could pick up some tips on graphic design. I'd always been fascinated by graphic design (I can remember as a kid playing around on my laptop designing book covers for my yet-to-be-written books and spending hours just testing out different font pairings!), but I'd never considered it something I could do. After all, I didn't have any professional experience and I hadn't studied it in school. I decided to give it a try anyway and found out that I love it. Since that first online class, I've spent countless hours taking classes, experimenting with the design programs, reading books, and doing what I can to educate myself on design. And all of that hard work has paid off, turning itself into a new part of my career! Just last year, I launched Twenty3, my design studio and have put together a pretty decent little portfolio. Writing will always be my first love, but I really enjoy designing, and I never would have uncovered this new passion if I hadn't given something new a try!
OTHER PEOPLE ARE VITAL RESOURCES.
Even though I work for myself and I spent most of my time by myself, there is no way I would be sitting here writing this post today if it weren't for the help, support, and encouragement of other people. My friends and family have supported me 100% throughout the past six years (when I eventually opened up enough to tell them about it!) and there's no way I would be where I am if it weren't for them. I've also needed other people to help me learn new things, to create connections, and to form new online friendships. I've also been lucky enough to have people take a chance on me as a new designer, which has helped me learn and grow not only personally, but professionally as well. I consider myself an independent introvert, but even the most independent ladies need the help and support of others. Sometimes it's hard for me to ask for help or to reach out to create connections, but I've learned over the past six years that, even though I work alone, I am by no means completely on my own. No man is an island, as the saying goes, and no one who is successful in business (or life!) is doing it all on his or her own.
For those of you who have been reading for years, thank you! You don't know how much it means to me to know you're out there, reading and supporting and encouraging me to keep writing. And for those of you who are new visitors or who just stumbled on the site today, welcome! I hope you'll enjoy what you find and that my words will show you just how powerful staying positive and present can be. It's changed my life and it can change yours too!