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6 life lessons from 6 years of blogging

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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...



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. 


2009 Blog
Positively Present in 2009!



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. 



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. 


Positively Present Guide to Life
The day my book arrived!



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 PresentIt 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. 



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!


Dani DiPirro
Working as a designer now!



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!


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Congratulations on your six years...and Happy Birthday to Positively Present!

I was so happy to read this post and hear your story. I come from some hard places, and to hear of your slow climb and success is very encouraging. It makes me think, "if she can do it, I can do it!" I started my blog only this past fall, so it is still a "baby," and sometimes the enormity of the internet and moving forward with it, seems daunting or discouraging. But your story makes me believe even more that anything is possible.

I struggled for years with what to do with career choices and what I want to do. My upbringing led me to believe that you take whatever you can get, even if you drudge through and hate it, you suck it up and keep going, get bills paid, and live life like that. But I have developed a new attitude from some huge trials in my life. Life is too short to hate what you do, even if it isn't easy to get to what you do like. I believe if you follow what you love doing, and keep doing so, it will lead you to what will sustain you. I can't provide proof of that through my own life yet, but I have faith deep down that one day I will be able to. Your thoughts here only confirms what I have come to believe!

I would love to see more posts on what you had to do to get where you are, the ups and downs, the ways you dealt with things etc. How you stayed positive, how you fought discouragement. (I have felt a lot of that the past month or so.)

I love that you design too! I started out doing multimedia design, and still unsure if that is my true passion or not, but I do find it fun. I used to design brochures, business cards, even designed some multimedia videos too (mostly for friends and, etc.) And one of my biggest passions, since very little has been writing like you.

Anyway, I have rambled enough, but I am just thinking to myself, that I am so glad I decided to load your blog first this morning with my coffee. It has set a nice positive tone for my day, and put a little bounce in my step. Now time to get some work done! =)

Thanks for all your positivity, uplifting so many people (me being one of them), and congrats again on your milestone!


Kat - Thanks so much for your comment! I'm so happy to hear that this post and my story has inspired you (even more details about my beginnings are in my upcoming book so you might enjoy that!). Life is definitely too short to hate what you do so I'm glad to hear you're aware of that and starting to go after what you want. It really is true: when you do what you love and you work hard, you're able to sustain your life doing what makes you happy. Thanks again for your wonderful comment. It made my day to read about your experience!

Congratulations- it is very inspiring to read how things evolved. If you put what you love out there, other things do come from it. I have had a long background in illustration, I am currently finishing up a certificate program in drug and alcohol counseling. I want to combine these two interests in helping people recover with therapeutic art and group activities-to a new & better more positively present life. Thanks for your inspiration-I'm learning to let it unfold slowly-

Katie - Thank you! That's such a great idea for you to combine those two interests. Art has had such a positive influence in my life and is one of the things that has really helped me stay sober. Can't wait to see what you do with your artistic abilities!

Hi Dani,

I am a new reader of your blog and I find your story fascinating and oh soo encouraging! Your story is my dream come true - blogging, writing, doing things you are passionate about and being successful at it. I am a fresh blogger myself, trying to find time between million of other things for my blog and for the children's book I am secretly writing. This post of yours made my day and lifted some weight of insecurity and fear off my shoulders. Thank you for that!


Congratulations. What you wrote was truly inspiring and gives me good vibes and motivation about my ventures.

Hi Dani!
I've followed your blog since the beginning, and I wish I could tell you how many life changes you've inspired me to make! Probably the two biggest have been letting go of alcohol and starting my own blog. I feel as excited for your success as I would for my own! (I feel a little creepy admitting that) Congratulations! I can't wait to read your book!

Katya - So happy you've recently come across Positively Present! It's hard to find the time to write when you've got a lot of other things going on, but if you love it, make time for it. It's so worth it!

Erin - Thank you so much! I'm so happy to hear that you've received some good vibes and motivation from this article. Keep doing what you're doing!

Gaby - Thank you so much for being a loyal Positively Present follower! I know just how many wonderful online resources there are out there and it means a lot to know that you choose to spend time here at Positively Present. :) Congrats on your two big successes: quitting drinking and starting a blog. Those are some major, life-changing things and I'm so excited to know that I've helped inspire them in some way. Haha, don't worry - I don't take it in a creepy way that you're excited for my success. In fact, it made my day to read that!!

Hi Dani! Happy birthday to Positively Present! I'm new in the blogging world and reading this article is encouraging me. I know how scary going all-in, but I guess it's somehow the reason of a blog really gets its success. Sometimes you just have to work reaaaally hard on your blog and hope for the best. Hopefully in the next year Positively Present could be even better and spread more great articles :)

HappyMaggy - Thank you! I just checked out your site and I love it. So inspiring! Best of luck to you and your blogging adventures!

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