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Lettering Life Lessons : Being Open-Minded

Positively Present Open Mind


As often as I can, I spend time drawing and lettering on my iPad, thinking all the while about what the words mean and how I might effectively share them with you. This week I decided to share a little bit of that process and, if you like it, I'll keep it up as a new segment called Lettering + Lessons! 

The Lettering Life Lessons concept is simple: I'll pick a quote, then I'll chat about it in more detail while drawing and hand-lettering it. This is the first time I've tried this so I have to admit: it isn't perfect. For one, I forgot to record the audio for a big huge chunk of it (scroll to the last couple minutes of the video if you want to see the audio-free drawing process). For another, I'm still getting the hang of working and talking so, at times, it's a little all over the place. And it's definitely too long, but I kind of like the stream-of-consciousness vibe so I decided to forgo the editing and just see what you guys think! 

Here's the video, where you'll see the process behind the drawing above, accompanied by a (slightly rambling) analysis of the quote and a discussion about what being open-minded means to me (and how we can all benefit from it!).  


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


I'd love to hear what you think about this Lettering Life Lessons concept! If you like it, give the video a thumbs up on YouTube or let me know in the comments section below. And if you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see in the future — more specifics on the lettering? more insights on the quote and less detail about the lettering process? quotes or phrases you'd like me to letter? — I'd love the feedback! :)



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Stressful Day? 20 Things to Add to Your To-Do List

Stressful Day - Positively Present


Having a stressful day? You’re not alone! Must of us have quite a lot on our plates, and I bet most people have at least one stressful day a week. (No science to back that up —  just some personal experience!) I figure, if stressful days are going to be part of our lives, why not do what we can to make the most of them?

After going through a pretty stressful day myself recently, I spent some time reflecting on what could have made (or, in some cases, did make!) the day better. Here are the top 20 items I’d recommend adding to your to-do list if you’re having a stressful day (… or week… or year…).

  1. Call or text a friend

    One of the best things you can do when you’re having a tough day is reach out to someone who uplifts, inspires, and encourages you. It’s not always easy to open up when you’re having a tough time, but it’s worth reaching out to those who love and care about you. Even a small bit of encouragement can make your day a bit easier to cope with.


  1. Tell someone “I love you”

    Obviously, I recommend only doing this to someone you know and love, but saying “I love you” can have a really positive impact on how you feel. Focusing on someone else — and not on your own stress — is a great way to take a step back and shift your mind to a more positive place, and putting love out into the world —  even if it’s just in the form of three little words —  cuts down on stress.

  2. Write about how you feel

    Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, it can be useful to jot down your feelings when you’re overwhelmed. Just getting them out of your head and onto the page or screen can give you a bit of perspective and make whatever burden you’re carrying a little bit easier to manage. (Bonus: Google your specific situation online and use someone else’s writing to remind you you’re not alone!)

  3. Celebrate what’s working

    When we’re stressed, it’s tempting to focus on what’s not going right or how much you have to get done, but a simple shift in perspective can really make a big difference. Instead of paying attention to what’s not easy, take a moment to pause and celebrate what is Focusing on the things that are going your way will make it easier to tackle the things that aren’t.

  4. Eat something healthy

    I know, I know — healthy eating is often one of the first things to fly out the window when it comes to stressful days, but making the effort to eat healthy, balanced meals and drink lots of water will help your mental and physical state tremendously. It’s often when we need energy the most that we eat the foods least likely to give us energy!

  5. Find a dog (or other animal)

    My go-to stress buster is my dog, Barkley. Spending even just a few minutes with her can transform my mood ¾ and my day! If you don’t have access to a pet, there are plenty of them online that you can look at. (And I’m pretty sure it’s even been proven that looking at cute animals can decrease stress.) If you need a quick fix, here’s a second-a-day of Barkley during her first year.

  6. Take a time out

    Stressful days often equal rushing around like crazy, and it might feel counterproductive to take a break, but sometimes a time out can be just what you need to recharge your mental batteries and get back to dealing with whatever situation you’re in. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, remember to pause and give your mind a little break.

  7. Go outside for a walk

    This tip is a bit of a two-for-one because it involves two stress-fighters: exercise and nature. If at all possible, schedule some time to go for a walk (however brief!). It’s a great way to cut down on stress and you can even count it as #7 (a time out) from your day. Being outside and getting exercise have both been shown to reduce stress so combining them into one stress-fighting activity should be a no-brainer.

  8. Wear something comfortable

    Depending on your situation, this might not be an option, but if it’s possible, go for a comfortable outfit (or at least make your underthings comfy!). Nothing makes a stressful day more stressful than being physically uncomfortable, so set yourself up for at least a bit less stress by wearing something that feels good. (Bonus if you can find something that’s comfortable and makes you feel like you look good too!)

  9. Remember how far you’ve come

    When we’re stressed, we’re often focusing on what’s overwhelming us right in the moment, but it’s worth taking a moment to remember how far you’ve come in your life. Even if you don’t feel like you’re where you want to be, you’ve probably made a lot more progress in your life that you realize and, like most of us, you might take it for granted. Remind yourself of it today for a little self-love.

  10. Drink warm tea

    This might be a personal one, but I think I’ve read somewhere that warm things have de-stressing benefits. And I know that certain types of teas (lavender, chamomile) can help you keep calm. So it makes sense that a nice cup of tea (maybe iced if it’s summer!) can provide you with some good relaxation benefits. Pour yourself a cup when you need a little chill!

  11. Trash negative thoughts

    One of the craziest things about stressful days is how we often make them more stressful within our own heads! It’s tempting to look for the negative — especially if you’re trying to avoid things going wrong — but getting rid of negative thoughts (or at least challenging them with positive ones) can cut down an amazing amount on the stress you’re experiencing.

  12. Look at pretty art

    It might sound superficial, but what you look at when you’re stressed matters. If you’re having a particularly stressful day (and your situation allows it), turn off the news for a bit and spend a moment or two looking at something beautiful. Either spend a bit of time in front of your favorite piece in your house or do a search online for something you know brings you feelings of calm.

  13. Don’t overbook yourself

    A major cause of stress is having way too much to do at one time. We all only have 24 hours in a day (and most of us use quite a few of them for sleeping) so don’t crowd your schedule with things that aren’t essential on a stressful day. If you know a stressful day is coming, make it clear to those around you that you’re going to be focused on something specific and other tasks will have to wait to another day.

  14. Slow down

    I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed, my whole world speeds up. I walk faster, I drive faster, I type faster, and I talk faster. It seems like this would make things more productive but, from experience, I know it doesn’t. It not only makes it more likely that I’ll make mistakes or say the wrong thing, but it just makes me feel more stressed! Slowing down when you’re busy is so hard, but give it a try and you’ll find that it’s actually more helpful than harmful.

  15. Listen to happy tunes

    Music can have a huge impact on your mood, so a stressful day is a great time to choose tunes that make you feel uplifted and inspired. (But make sure they’re not too fast-paced because that can make you feel more anxious than happy.) If you need some ideas, check out my weekly YouTube playlists and my Positive Vibes Spotify playlist.

  16. Compliment yourself

    When you’re stressed, self-love is essential. A little compliment can go a long way, and there’s no reason why you can’t give one of those little mood-boosters to yourself. Even if it’s something small — you got out of bed, you got dressed, etc.— give yourself a bit of praise for getting something done.

  17. Remember: you’re small

    Stress can make us feel like everything around us is a huge, big deal. And, while sometimes that’s true, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all very, very tiny creatures on a giant planet in a huge universe. This isn’t meant to diminish your value, but it’s important to keep in mind because it helps you keep things in perspective. And perspective is everything when you’re stressed!

  18. Consider how you’re lucky

    You might not feel lucky when you’re in the midst of a stressful day, but, if you’re reading this, you’re probably pretty lucky ¾ you’ve got eyes to see, hands to click buttons, and an internet connection, just to name a few things. Considering how you’re lucky will make you feel incredibly grateful, and gratitude is a great stress-challenger. The more grateful you feel, the more your stress goes down.

  19. Be your own cheerleader

    In the midst of stress, you might not feel particularly cheery, but being your own cheerleader is a great way to combat feelings of stress. Periodically throughout your stressful day, pause and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can where you are. Try your hardest to speak positively to yourself with encouragement and love. After all, the voice in your head is usually the loudest one you’ll hear all day, so why not make it an encouraging one?

I’m not going to lie— stressful days are never fun, and no matter how hard you try to stay positive and present, they’re bound to be rough. But if you give some of the tips above a try, you’re likely to cut down on some of the stress and, ultimately, that’ll make you more productive. So if you’re struggling to rationalize why you’d need any of these tips — “Who has the time!” you might think— remember: the calmer you are, the more productive you can be. Now, go get ‘em!



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How to Distance Yourself from Negativity

  No Negativity - Positively Present

If you're reading this, you're probably striving to live a positive, present life — and you probably know just how hard that can be at times. Life is filled with negative situations, people, and internal battles, which makes staying positive a tad challenging sometimes (and by "sometimes" I mean "most of the time").

As I posted last week (here on Instagram — didn't write it, but I 100% support it), "The first step to getting what you want is having the courage to walk away from what you don't." And that most certainly applies to creating more positivity in your life. If you want more positivity, you've got to make room for it — and that means getting rid of the negative. It's no easy task, but here are some of the best tips and tricks for getting rid of the negative so you can make room for the positive. (And, I know well from experience, the more space you make for positive things, the more positive things will find their way to you!)



    This sounds so obvious, but really, how often do you really ask yourself, "Is this person a positive or a negative influence?" Most of us kind of just go with the flow when it comes to who we surround ourselves with, but, in many cases, we have a choice about who we interact with, and we don't always avoid the negative. Pay attention to how people make you feel, and if you determine someone is a negative influence (you'll know because you feel drained, down, or just icky after hanging out with them), stop hanging out with him/her or, if that's not an option, do what you can to limit the amount of interactions. 


    You might have seen the memo Steve Harvey wrote to his staff circulating (and being mocked), but it's a pretty amazing example of someone setting boundaries and making them very clear to those around them. We're all different and have different ideas of what our boundaries should be, but one of the best ways to avoid negative interactions is to know what your boundaries are (especially with other people!), communicate those boundaries clearly, and maintain those boundaries ruthlessly. This is hard (even if you're good at it), but it's one the best ways to limit negativity (and practice self-love, too!).


    We all have problems — that's just life. But what most of us don't do is redirect our attention from the problems to the potential solutions. As humans, we're often on the lookout for what could go wrong (it's our instinct, trying to help us avoid bad situations), but if you want to cut back on negativity, try shifting your focus from what's going wrong to how you might be able to make it right. Yes, it's easier to complain, but when did whining ever get you anywhere? The more you treat problems like challenges you have the opportunity to solve, the more likely you'll be to actually find solutions (and limit negativity!). 


    So, so many issues in relationships (and maybe in the world?) could be avoided if people strived not to take things personally. It's difficult not to do this (after all, we're with ourselves all the time and, even if you don't realize it, your world really does revolve around you and what you're doing, feeling and thinking), but you can cut down on negativity by not taking what others say and do personally. More often than not, another person's attitude, words, and actions have way more to do with him or her than they do with you, and realizing that will make it easier not to be offended, thus cutting down on negative emotions!


    This probably comes as no surprise, but you can't control what other people do and feel (much as you might want to!). Realizing this (and keeping it in mind all the time!) will greatly reduce the amount of frustration you feel. So much angst comes from trying to make others different than they are, and acceptance is critical for positive relationships (and for cutting down on your own stress!). This doesn't apply only to people, either. There are many things we cannot control in life, and accepting what is is the best way to create more inner calm. 


    Self-love has been a huge focus for me this year, and, as a result of prioritizing it, I've noticed a number of positive changes in my life. Self-love is about respecting, caring for, and taking care of yourself. When you make this a priority, you're going to be able to more easily make choices that are best for you. Whenever you face a new decision, ask yourself, "What would be the most self-loving choice?" then choose that! The more you do this, the less time you'll have to waste on anything (or any person!) that brings you down. 


    To us, our lives seem so big and important, but remember: you're just a tiny little creature on a little rock in a gigantic galaxy in a stunningly huge universe. This isn't meant to make you feel insignificant (you aren't!), but it's meant to remind you that, in the grand scheme of things (even within your own life!), most situations are pretty small. Keeping perspective (and focusing on how lucky you are to have at least some things going right in your life) is a great way to manage stress, and less stress = less negativity. 


    How much of what you say is negative? How much is positive? We often get in patterns and are so used to doing (or saying!) something a certain way that we just keep doing it that way. But, in order to cut back on negative thinking and speaking, you've got to realize you're doing it! Pay attention to how you're describing things, and consider if you might be able to change that. For example, saying, "Ugh, Mondays!" isn't helping you make the most of your Monday. Sure, it might not be your favorite day of the week, but framing it from a negative perspective is going to keep it negative. 


    Where you spend your time is going to have a big impact on your thinking. How much of what you consume on TV, via social media, in films and online is actually positive? How much of it is making you more optimistic and engaged with your life? How much of it makes you feel sad or stressed or overwhelmed? This isn't to say you should never watch or read anything upsetting, but if you want to have a more positive life, you need balance, and you need to keep in mind that you have a choice. Take note of how certain shows / sites / etc. make you feel and actively choose whether or not you want to spend time engaging with them. 


    Many of us get quite set in our ways (especially as we get older!), and it's all too easy to say, "I can't..." Sure, there might be things you actually cannot do, but it's way more likely that "I can't" is actually "I don't want to" or "I don't yet know how to." Saying you can't do something not only limits you (if you think you can't, you probably won't even try), but it's also a pretty negative mindset to put yourself in (regardless of whether or not you actually do the thing). So, instead of saying "can't" consider what the truth is: that you don't want to, don't yet know how, don't feel up to it, etc. Doing so will help cultivate more internal positivity. 


    There's a lot of negativity out there, but there's also a lot of positivity, too. If you want to cut back on negativity in your life, fill up your time with positive inspiration. Seek out people, activities, websites, etc. that add positivity to your life and inspire you. We all struggle with negative feelings and thoughts, and it can make a big difference if you have some go-to resources to check out when you're having a down day. (Or a go-to friend you can call for a positive pick-me-up!) Try to incorporate something inspiring into every day, and you'll be giving yourself a daily boost of positivity! 

These tips are the best place to get started when it comes to distancing yourself from negativity, but it's important to remember that choosing positivity isn't easy (especially if, like me, it doesn't come naturally to you!). If you find yourself struggling to stay positive, know that you're not alone and remind yourself that it takes practice. And the more negativity you remove from your life, the more room you'll have for practicing that positivity! 



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