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March 2015
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put your heart to paper: celebrating moms!

Put-Your-Heart-To-Paperflower illustration via freepik

In our digital-dominated world, the art of putting words on paper isn't as common as it once was, but I think it needs to have a comeback. The act of writing something down — sending a letter or mailing a handwritten card — is so meaningful. It's not only an incredibly positive act (and something the card-receiver greatly appreciates), but it's also a wonderful way to stay present. When you sit down to write something by hand, you bring yourself into the moment, putting your full attention on the words coming from your heart. 

With Mother's Day just around the corner (May 10, in case you need a reminder!), it's a perfect time to think about putting pen to paper and jotting down something meaningful for the mom (or mom-like figure) in your life. I've teamed up with Hallmark and the Put Your Heart To Paper campaign to explore some of the beautiful ways you can put your heart on paper this Mother's Day using some of the beautiful cards designed for Hallmark. 




I've been fortunate to have strong, inspiring, and empowering women in my life, and Mother's Day is a wonderful day to take time to celebrate these women and to reflect on how they've made my life better. In particular, I'm going to share the positive influences of four women who have, whether they realize it or not, inspired me with their maternal guidance and wisdom. Only one of these is my biological mother (the best mother in the world, I might add!). The others are women who have shared love and wisdom just like a mother would. I'm so incredibly lucky to have had them in my life, improving me and my view of the world. Below are the cards I'm going to give them (or wish I could give them, in some cases...): 





First and foremost is my best-ever biological mom. I can't even tell you how lucky I am to have her for a mom. She's the kind of mom that all the other kids wished was their mom, the kind of mom that grown adults say, "I wish were your daughter." She's awesome. And this first card (one of my favorites of all the cards this year!) is perfect for her. On the outside, it reads, "Good moms let their kids lick the beaters" (my mom always did) and inside it says, "Great moms turn the mixer off first." That little bit of sass is perfect for my mom who definitely has a little wildness in her. ;) In the card, I plan to tell her just how thankful I am for her — for both all of the fun times and all the times she did her best to protect me from harm. She's such a wonderful mom that it's not hard to think of wonderful things to say about her, but I always try to make an effort to put it in writing (especially on Mother's Day!). 



The next card goes out to my best friend / cousin who is celebrating her first Mother's Day this May. Being a new mom is tough and she's had some extra challenges to cope with, but she's been such a strong and inspiring mother through it all. Not only that, but she's been a bit like an older sister to me all my life, sharing her wisdom with me and teaching me the ways of the world. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a family member they consider a best friend and I'm so thankful for her. That's why this card, with the beautiful words "You are so very loved and admired" is perfect for her. Not only do I love her like crazy, but I also really admire her, particularly for how strong she's been over the past year. She's truly and inspiring woman and I'm so lucky that I have her in my life. 



Though she's no longer a part of my life in a tangible way (she passed away after a long battle with cancer), this next card would certainly be perfect to send to the mother-like figure I spent so much time with as a child. The mother of my best friend, I was always over at her house and so she became sort of like a second mom to me growing up. What was so great about this was that she was so different from my mom in so many ways, which gave me the experience of having insight from a completely different perspective. This card reads: "A mom's heart is always there — ready to comfort, ready to give, ready to love." From this woman, I learned so much, especially about how a mother's love isn't biological and, instead, comes from something deeper than that. I was so lucky to have her in my life as a child and though she's no longer here, she'll always be a part of me. 



An online mom sounds a bit silly, but what I mean by this is a woman I don't know in real life, but who inspires and motivates me constantly with her words and her wisdom. For me, this is Danielle LaPorte, a woman whose wisdom I return to again and again online, in her books, and via the Truthbomb deck sitting on my desk. This superwoman card is perfect for her because she helps so many women around the world. Inside, the card reads: "Thanks for always using your powers for good," and that's just what Danielle does. She has a lot of online influence, but she uses it to raise people up, not bring them down. She's focused on positive inspiration and, in many ways, her words have positively impacted my life. She might not be someone I know in the real world, but her maternal guidance has far-reaching powers. 


Who do you plan to give cards to this Mother's Day?  Regardless of your relationship with your own mother (I know some aren't as lucky as I've been in the mom lottery of life!), Mother's Day is a wonderful time to reflect on the women in your life who have contributed to making your world a better place. And, more importantly, it's a wonderful time to share those reflections with them. I know sometimes it can feel awkward and cheesy to tell someone how you feel, but you never know just what it might mean to someone to read your words on paper. This Mother's Day, pick up a card, write your own personal message, and send it to a woman who's transformed your life in some way. Putting your heart to paper is a simple act, but it can mean so much. 


HallmarkThis post was sponsored by Hallmark. All content and opinions are entirely my own. To learn more about Hallmark's Put Your Heart To Paper campaign, visit Keep on top of all the Hallmark goodness by checking out Hallmark's Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts. And this Mother's Day, stop by your local Hallmark store, pick up a card for someone you love, and put your heart to paper. 

wonderland wisdom: 8 life lessons from alice

Make-Sense-AliceAll images / GIFs © Disney


For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I fell in love with the animated Disney film as a girl and have since fallen in love with the book and the live action film. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the book's publication, and there's been lots of buzz about the big anniversary. (For example, in some super exciting news for the design nerd in me, one of my favorite designers, Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. is illustrating a version of the book later this year. Seriously a book-dream-come-true!)

The 150th anniversary seems like a perfect time to revisit one of my favorite stories and see what lessons I can uncover. The older I get, and the more times I read the book or watch the film, the more I learn from it. Maybe it's just where I am in my life at the time, but I always seem to find new lessons each time I return to Alice and her adventures. 

Back in 2010, I wrote about Alice in Wonderland's Wisdom: 5 Life Lessons from Alice's Adventure. It's one of my most popular posts, and it indirectly led me to sign a book deal for my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. I'll save that story for another time, but, if Alice didn't already hold a special place in my heart, her story certainly does now!

It's pretty fitting that, five years after I first wrote about Wonderland's wisdom, I revisit it during the book's 150th anniversary and uncover even more wonderful (and somewhat wacky!) lessons from Alice. The first article I wrote focused on the actual book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but this time around, I'm going to look at my favorite version, the one created by the one and only Walt Disney. 

Join me for a little journey down the wisdom-filled rabbit hole as I explore eight new lessons from Alice and her adventures in Wonderland... *Note: this is the first time I've used GIFs in a post. If you scroll over them, you'll see them move! Yay, Internet!*



 Alice: "After this I should think nothing of falling down stairs!"

When Alice goes tumbling down the rabbit hole, one of the first things she says is, "After this I should think nothing of falling down stairs!" It's kind of a crazy thing to say (after all, who wouldn't be panicking while falling down an incredibly long hole in the earth!), but I kind of love it for it's positivity. Rather than complain about how long or unsettling the fall was, Alice thinks about how she can use this unpleasant experience to put smaller troubles in perspective. (Though, to be honest, it's a little odd that "falling down stairs" is something she relates to. How often has she fallen down the stairs?!) Either way, I think we can all learn a thing about taking difficult situations and using them to shed a more positive light on smaller troubles. Having perspective is important, and one way to do this is to recognize, when things are tough, just how great it is when things aren't so bad (like, you know, when you're falling down stairs instead of rabbit holes). 



 Alice: "For if one drinks much from a bottle marked 'poison,'
it's almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later."

When Alice discovers a bottle labeled "Drink me," she pauses before putting it to her lips, thinking aloud: "For if one drinks much from a bottle marked 'poison,' it's almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later." Wise words, Alice, but, unfortunately not all poisons are marked "Poison." We have to be careful about what we consume and know what we put in our bodies. This lesson speaks to me a great personally since I've been sober for almost five years, and, for me, alcohol is a poison that only brings negativity into my life. Of course, that might not be the case for you, but most of us know what things we should or shouldn't put in our bodies to make ourselves feel good. Even if something feels good at the moment, it's important to consider how it will feel later. As Alice says, consuming what's poisonous to us is "almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later."    



Alice: You can learn a lot of things from the flowers.

To be honest, the flowers Alice encounters in Wonderland's garden are actually pretty bitchy. They're kind of like a mean little clique and, when they discover that Alice isn't one of them, they treat her pretty badly. That is definitely not the lesson you can learn from the flowers. What you can take away from these floral-focused scene is that, if you really pay attention to nature -- to the world around you -- you can learn a lot of things not only about the world, but about yourself as well. Where I live right now, it's springtime and everything is blooming and beautiful. When life's busy (and when isn't it?), it's easy to rush by everything and forget to pay attention to the beauty of nature. There's so much we can gain by observing the beauty around us and making a little bit of time to pay attention to nature.  



Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people!  

Throughout her adventures in Wonderland, Alice encounters a lot of crazy characters from the disappearing Cheshire Cat to the bitchy flowers to the March Hare and Mad Hatter to the angry Red Queen. In a world where she's unfamiliar with the customs, Alice tries to go with the flow and, for the most part, she's pretty patient with all the wackiness she encounters, but there are quite a few moments in the film when she puts her foot down, and decides she's not taking any nonsense. Though she's just a little girl, she has some wonderful moments where she stands up for herself and makes it clear that she's not interested in putting up with others' craziness. This is one of the great lessons we can take away from this film: set up your boundaries and don't let other people push past them. You know what you will and won't tolerate and it's important to make the dividing line clear to others. 



March Hare: "If you don't think, then you shouldn't talk!" 

The next bit of Wonderland wisdom comes not from Alice, but from the crazy March Hare. When Alice is accused of starting trouble, she begins to apologize with, "But really, I didn't think...," and the March Hare quickly (and pretty irrationally) interrupts, "If you don't think, you shouldn't talk!" In the context of the film, it's a ridiculous statement, but in the real world, it's a pretty great point. It's so tempting to just say whatever you want whenever it comes to your mind (particularly if you're in a situation where you're competing to be heard, like an argument or an animated discussion), but it really does pay to take a moment to think about what you're going to say before you actually say it. Words are incredibly powerful and, once said, can't be unsaid (even if you retract them or apologize). Thinking before speaking is very good advice. 



Alice: Oh, dear. Everything is so confusing! 

The GIF above pretty much sums up how I'm feeling personally about my life right now. There are a lot of areas in my life that are unclear and the future is quite uncertain so I know just how Alice is feeling when she bemoans, "Oh dear. Everything is so confusing!" Feeling uncertain can be tough sometimes, but it's a part of life. No matter how much you plan or prepare, you're never going to know exactly what the future holds. This can be a challenge to wrap your head around, especially if you're a bit of a Type A, control freak like myself, but it's a very important life lesson. Like it or not, a lot of things in life are out of your control and, unfortunately, not everything that happens makes perfect sense. Hard as it is to do sometimes, it's essential to be okay with not always knowing what's going to happen next. Embrace the mystery! 



Alice: I just wanted to ask which way I ought to go.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you ought to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn't matter, as long as I...
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn't matter which way you go.

One of the most iconic scenes in the Disney film is Alice's interaction with the Cheshire Cat. She wants his advice about which way to go, but she doesn't really know where she wants to go, which makes it pretty hard to ask for directions. A lot of us can probably relate to this. We often want directions before we even know our exact destination. What we can take from Alice's situation is that it's important to know where you want to go before you start making plans to get there. Sometimes figuring out a destination can be tricky, but it's good to at least have some idea of where you're headed. Life is full of surprises so the path you're on might change, but when you're starting out, it's always a good idea to know where you're going. It might sound obvious, but so many of us just head out with no direction in mind. But if you don't know where you want to go, you're probably not going to end up where you want to be. 



Alice: I give myself very good advice. But I very seldom follow it.

Since I was in high school, this scene has been my favorite. It's such a sad scene, featuring the song "Very Good Advice" (click to watch the video), but I don't think I'm the only one who can relate to giving good advice that I don't necessarily follow. Most of the time, we know what the right thing is to do in any given situation. Especially the older you get, the more knowledge you have about how situations typically play our and how certain interactions make you feel. That being said, sometimes it's hard to take your own advice, especially when you're living in the moment and trying not to think about the consequences. However, I find that it's really helpful to ask yourself, "What would I tell a friend in this situation?" and then try to follow that advice. It's hard, believe me, I know, but if you really listen to yourself, you'll find yourself in much more positive situations and feeling much happier about the choices you've made. 


Even if you're not an Alice in Wonderland fan (I know some people find it a bit scary or weird), I hope you enjoyed the lessons I took from the film. I spent a lot of time analyzing Disney films in graduate school so it's kind of a passion of mine, and I think there's a lot to be learned from the films. Though they were created for children, they are filled with lessons that we can apply to our adult lives. We might be all grown up, but we're always learning. We're always in search of wisdom, and, if we pay attention, we can find it even in the most unlikely of places. 





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word of the month : explore




This article is part of the 2015 Word of the Month series, based on the monthly theme featured in the Every Day Matters 2015 Diary I designed for Watkins Publishing. In the planner, each month has a theme highlighted in the weekly illustrations, quotes, and activities. This month's theme is EXPLORE. 


I'll be honest — I'm not much of an explorer. Though I'm well aware of the benefits of getting out of one's comfort zone and exploring new things, I tend to stay where I feel safe and comfortable. But not this month! This month is all about getting out of my comfort zone and exploring, and I encourage you to give exploration a try in your life this month too. 

Typically when I hear the word "explore," I think of scaling mountains or traipsing through a forest, but exploration isn't just about lacing up your hiking boots or going out into the wilderness. Exploring is something that can be done in all kinds of ways, from looking more closely at your own thoughts to indulging in a new kind of cuisine to flying to a new locale on the other side of the globe. 

I won't be making a worldwide trek this month, but I will be going out of my way to explore the world around me and venture outside of my normal thoughts, behaviors, and interactions. It's springtime where I live and that seems like a great time to get out of the same ol', same ol' rut and try new things. Here are some of the best ways to embrace exploration...



Exploration doesn't have to be about observing new cultures (though that is a wonderful way to explore!). Exploring can happen right where you are and can actually be a great way to bring your attention to where you are and what's around you. One of the ways I'm going to practice exploring this month is by paying close attention to the things I see every day. I'm going to strive for a more mindful nature while walking down my usual paths and I'm going to take a deeper interest in the things I have around me. One of the ways I plan to do this is by sitting still at my desk for a few moments each day and really being mindful of the sights and sounds around me. So often we take for granted what we see all the time so mindfulness can actually be a kind of exploration. 



It's certainly not a new idea, but going somewhere new is one of the best ways to explore. While we'd all probably love a chance to fly to a new country or take a vacation to some beautiful location, exploring a new location doesn't necessarily have to involve travel. A new location can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going into a shop you've never checked out before. This month, I plan to check out as many new locations as I can. I won't be able to travel, most likely, but I won't let that stop me from finding exciting new places in nearby towns or even in my own city. If you don't have access to any new locations, try checking out places online. A little online exploration can be a good thing too! 



Introspection is a great form of exploration. Often we're so busy that we don't really stop to think about what we're thinking or how we're feeling. A month focused on exploration provides an excellent opportunity to dig deeper into the mind. This can be done by simply sitting quietly and contemplating how you feel and what's on your mind. Or, if you want a more tangible kind of exploration, you can free write your thoughts and feelings for a set period of time (maybe 15 minutes or so). If you're feeling extra creative, you could even draw how you're feeling and what you're thinking about (and don't be afraid to dabble in some abstract ideas!). We all have so much going on in our minds at any given time so it can be a sort of adventure to really give our attention to our thoughts and emotions. 



A fresh perspective can provide all sorts of exciting insights about the world around us. This month I'm going to try to explore new perspectives in all sorts of ways. Some ideas for discovering new perspectives: take a different route to work or school, sit in a different chair in your kitchen or living room, work outside or at a coffee shop instead of at your desk, stand in a completely random spot in a room you're in often, FaceTime instead of talk on the phone or talk on the phone instead of texting. A new perspective can come in all sorts of ways, some physical, some mental, but even the tiniest tweaks can provide a fresh point of view, a new way to explore the world around you and possibly find new discoveries about the places or activities you might take for granted. 



One of the best ways to explore (from right where you are!) is to investigate a foreign idea or concept. I'm planning to look into some topics I've always been curious about and see if I can learn more about them. If you're looking to explore an unfamiliar topic, consider something you've always wanted to know more about. Or, ask yourself if there's something you feel you should know more about (a religion different from your own, a political party you don't particularly favor) in order to be more educated. We're so fortunate to have the internet (and all its knowledge!) at our fingertips. Online adventures can lead to some really great treasures, especially if you start looking into things you know little or nothing about. Exploring ideas that are unfamiliar not only teaches you more about the world in general, but it can also lead to surprising insights about yourself too. 


Whether you have the opportunity to travel the world or you spend your time adventuring online, exploration is something we can all do and benefit from. It's hard sometimes to break out of your comfort zone (both physically and mentally), but I've found that every time I explore a new place or idea, I learn something worthwhile. This month I plan to make the most of exploration in my life and I hope you venture outside of your usual thoughts and actions and do some exploring of your own too! 



PPGTL-Get-the-BookWant to explore how to have a more positive, present life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)