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September 2017
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November 2017

Hooray! It's Gratitude Challenge Season!



It's the SEVENTH year of this Gratitude Challenge, and I couldn't be more excited to tune my attention to what I'm thankful for throughout the month of November. It's been a bit of a rough year for me, but one thing that has helped me stay positive and present all year long is keeping a gratitude journal (I used my Every Day Matters diary as a way to track gratitude this year, and it worked so well!). Whether things are good or bad, focusing on what you're thankful for makes them even better, and I'll hope you'll join me in the Gratitude Challenge this year and get some of that gratitude goodness in your life. 

This year is going to be a little different for me. As you might have noticed if you follow me on Instagram, I've been doing a lot more illustrating since I got my iPad for Christmas last year. It's been a game-changer for me, and I haven't posted photos on Instagram since the spring. So, while I encourage you to share whatever you want in your personal Gratitude Challenge, I'll be focusing on sharing my gratitude through illustrations. 



  • “Challenge” is just a word.

    The goal of the Challenge is to take and/or share something (a photo, illustration, quote, etc.) every day using the prompts to help you feel more appreciative. Feel free to get creative, make up your own prompts, etc. And don’t feel pressured to attain perfection, either. Thankfulness is what it’s all about; no need to be a professional photographer or artist!
  • Join in at any time.

    The point of the Challenge is to focus on staying thankful for thirty days. You can start the challenge on November 1 and do it for the whole month (as I am doing), or you can start the challenge any day that works for you and follow along at your own pace. I see people discovering and partaking in the Challenge all year 'round so don't feel limited to November!

  • Use the hashtag #Gratitude30.

    Sharing your pics on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.? If you tag them with #Gratitude30, others can see them and you’ll be able to see all of the other cool things that other people are sharing. It's one of my favorite things ever to look through all of the posts and see the various ways people interpret the prompts. 

  • Save or print out a reminder.

    Keep up with the prompts by downloading the photo above (save it to your phone, perhaps!) or, if you’re more of a IRL type, print out a version to post wherever you'd find a reminder helpful so you can stay on top of the prompts. Of course, you don't have to do them all in a row, but there is something special about spending 30 days focusing on what you're thankful for. 



Day 1: Beauty

If you pay close attention, you can find beauty almost anywhere. Today, make seeking beauty your goal. Strive to find something beautiful in every situation, and share as much beauty as you can with others.

Day 2: Happiness

What brings you happiness in your day-to-day life? We all find happiness in unique places! Consider, today, what brings you joy and why you find it so enjoyable. 

Day 3: Nature

Nature is one of life’s great gifts. Pay attention to the nature around you today and how it makes you feel. Is there an aspect of nature you feel particularly grateful to experience?

Day 4: Inspiration

Tune into the world around you, and you'll have a pretty hard time not being inspired by someone or something. What inspires you the most right now?

Day 5: Amusement

Laughter is the best medicine, they say, and it's often true. Today, focus on what you find entertaining, amusing, or comical and, if possible, share some of that with someone else!

Day 6: Kindness

When have you experienced (or shared!) kindness this year? In addition to sharing this experience with #Gratitude30, consider adding a kind act to today's to-do list.

Day 7: Comfort

Today, focus on your favorite form of comfort. Do you love the physical comfort of a hug or a blanket, or is emotional comfort (a good listener, wise advice) your go-to? 

Day 8: Self-Love

No matter what you're experiencing in any given moment, the one thing you can always count on is yourself. Spend the day reflecting on your positive traits and embracing the amazingness that is YOU.

Day 9: Feeling

Feelings can evoke positive or negative vibes, but try, today, to embrace all of the feelings you're experiencing, and celebrate both the good and the bad. What's your favorite feeling?  

Day 10: Nourishment

What nourishes your mind, body, or spirit? Today, tune into what provides you with energy, enjoyment, or excitement, and be grateful for the ways they add positive value to your life.

Day 11: Music

As Nietzsche said, "Without music, life would be a mistake." What music are you most thankful for right now? What sounds have shaped your life this year? 

Day 12: Freedom

What are some of the freedoms you're thankful to have in your life? Pay attention today to the activities in your life that make you feel the most free. 

Day 13: Optimism

Attitude is everything, and even if you're not always optimistic, you're likely to have experienced a positive perspective at some point. Today, be thankful for all the times you've found the good. 

Day 14: Challenges

Struggles always make us stronger. Be thankful today for the challenges you’ve encountered, and, if you’re in the midst of a difficult period, be thankful for the lessons you’re learning now.

Day 15: Health

This is one almost always makes gratitude lists, and for good reason! Reflect on (and be thankful for!) all of the ways in which your mind and/or body is working well today.

Day 16: Creativity

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a creative person, you've created your life up to this point so far! Today be grateful for your own abilities or those of someone you admire. 

Day 17: Memories

Staying present is usually ideal, but that doesn't mean you can't be grateful for good moments in your past. Focus on one of your favorite memories and be thankful for the opportunity to have experienced it.

Day 18: Home

What comes to mind when you see the word "home"? Home can be so many things — a place, a person, a feeling. Whatever the word means to you, take time to embrace the comforts of home today.

Day 19: Friendship

Friendship is priceless, and today’s the perfect day to be grateful for the loving, supportive relationships in your life. (And to say "thank you!" to your friends!)

Day 20: Innovation

The world is filled with amazing innovations (especially in the realm of technology!) that make our lives better. What innovation are you most thankful for in your life right now? 

Day 21: Love

Love comes in so many shapes and forms, but regardless of how it arrives, it brings with it a bit of magic. Today, be grateful for every bit of love you've given and received (and share more today if you can!)

Day 22: Awareness

Staying in the moment is tough a lot of time, but try carving out some time today to be fully engaged in something — your work, a conversation, a moment in nature — and appreciate how it feels to do so.

Day 23: Family

Regardless of whether, for you, "family" means blood relatives, a partner, your friends, or all of the above, it’s a wonderful thing to have. Be thankful for your family-filled moments today. 

Day 24: Solitude

Not everyone loves alone time, but it's often during time spent alone that we grow closer to understanding ourselves. If possible, spend some time alone today and be grateful for the solitude.

Day 25: Generosity

What was the last thing you gave or received? The generosity of others is something to be thankful for (and you can pay it forward by being generous to someone else today!).

Day 26: Wonder

Out of all possible scenarios, here you are, in this life, being you. Spend time today pondering the wonder-filled things in your life, and be thankful for all that's wonderful.

Day 27: Meaning

We choose what we give meaning to, but meaning itself is something we should all be grateful for. Without it, life would be pretty hard to get through! What means the most to you? 

Day 28: Peace

In today's crazy world, peace isn't always easily attained, but reflect, today, on the last time you felt truly at peace. What made you feel peaceful? Could you recreate that feeling today?

Day 29: Knowledge

If you're truly living, you're probably always learning. Use today to reflect on what you’ve learned (maybe focusing on the past year) and share some of knowledge with #Gratitude30.

Day 30: Growth

Consider all of the ways you've grown in the past year. What growth have you experienced recently? What growth was most important? Be thankful for your ability to keep flourishing!


I'm so thrilled to be doing this challenge for the seventh year, and I can't wait to see all of your photos and creations this year! As you might know from social media / previous posts, I'm currently recovering from surgery (ugh!) so I might not be as on top of it this year as I've been before, but I'll be doing my best — and I'll definitely be checking on the #Gratitude30 hashtag for inspiring and uplifting content as I recover! 



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Brain Dump: Random Thoughts with Dani!


Since I'll be undergoing surgery again this week (ugh!) and I've been rushing around trying to get as much work done as possible this so I can focus on my recovery, I decided that, instead of doing my regular blog post this week, I'm going to try something a little different! 

Almost every day, I find myself jotting down notes and ideas on my phone or iPad — miscellaneous ideas, potential blog post prompts, random thoughts — and I've always thought to myself, What if I just shared these and let people think about them instead of writing a full blog post with my thoughts on them? So that's what we're going to do this week! 

Here are some of the random thoughts and ideas I've had over the past year or so. If you like this style of  post (it's quite a bit easier to read than my longer posts!) or you have any commentary on these random thoughts, let me know in the comments below! 


Can you be addicted to acquiring knowledge? Or is there no limit to how ardently you can seek it? 

It's such a cliche — "be yourself" — but, honestly, how much better does it feel when you're 100% being who you really are? Almost every industry in this culture is designed to discourage you from loving who you are, to encourage you to become the best version of yourself. But maybe we should try just being ourselves and not worry so much about the "best" part.

Anything I hold onto too tightly or make too special, I end up abandoning or neglecting. 

There are some things I'm really not good at doing, and that's okay. 

Maybe it's not even possible to be 100% yourself 100% of the time, but isn't it odd that most people aren't even actively striving for it? 

It's okay if you're still trying to figure out what's good for you. It's okay if you still don't have a plan. 

How many times a day do you work yourself up to be more irritated or upset vs. how many times a day you strive to calm yourself down, to be more mindful, loving, or peaceful? 

Doesn't it always feel like you're chasing a better feeling than what you're experiencing right now? (That pretty much sounds like the opposite of being positively present!)

There are times in your life when you have clear direction, and there are times when you have no idea what's going to happen next. Those times are the hardest, but they don't last forever. Just be patient. Directions are coming. 

Solitude is a state of possibility. 

When you let go of the "I should be doing something else" mentality, you can just be in the moment. If you're going to be doing it anyway, why feel guilty about it? Just enjoy it. 

It's okay to be anxious when experiencing new things. Newness and anxiety are likely to overlap, but they are separate things. The anxiety might go away, and then you can give that new thing a real shot. It's normal to be anxious in the beginning, and I suppose that's where it gets tricky: figuring out when the beginning ends. 

Even when you know what's best for you, you won't always make the right choices. That's okay. (And probably very normal.)

I don't think we listen to ourselves as much as we did before we had so many distractions. There's so much to look at that sometimes I forget to listen. 

What would it be like to have no attachments, to feel completely and utterly free? How does one even begin to cultivate that state of mind, to not cling so tightly? 

Does everything with a dark side have to have a light one, or is that just something we tell ourselves to feel more sane in the chaos of an uncertain existence? 

It's not always easy for me to be alive. For some people it's effortless, but for a lot of us it's not. Some of us have to swim harder to keep our heads above water. 

Music can make your life feel like a movie. What kind of film do you want to be starring in? What do you want the background to sound like? 

Yes, some of your biggest fears will happen, but they will teach you that you can survive. 

Some view self-love as egotistical, but that's an unfair judgment, an assumption that loving yourself means loving yourself more than loving others. But love is limitless. We know this because we can love our parents, partners, pets, friends, and not run out of love. Adding yourself to that list will not diminish the love you have for others. 

Don't outsource love for yourself. 

How strange that there's a voice in your head talking to you at all times! Is that voice you, or is it something separate from the self? 

We experience everything alone. Every emotion, experience, person, we feel and partake in only in our own unique way. For example, we all feel sad, but it's never the exact same sad. If every moment is truly experienced alone, why then are so many people frightened of being on their own?

Did you know that it's possible to simply refuse to live like everyone else? 

Whenever I'm doing anything that doesn't involve thinking, learning, or creating, it feels like I'm wasting moments of my life. I feel resentful of everything — people, experiences, even my own mortal body — that steals my time. 

If discomfort is what creates new and amazing things, why are we all so afraid of being uncomfortable? 

It's so hard to understand the self and what it truly means, but we have to try. Do you really want to go your whole life not knowing who you are? 

Pain makes you intensely present. When you're in true, acute pain, you are so profoundly here. Learn from that. (Also: the fear of the pain is almost always worse than the pain itself.)

Figuring out who you are is a nice idea in theory, but "who you are" isn't a constant thing. It's always changing, which means that to truly figure yourself out, you have to constantly be paying attention. 

Will I always have more questions than answers?

I hope you enjoyed getting an insight into my strange (and sometimes dark) little brain. If you have any random thoughts of your own, leave them in the comments below! 



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The Power of Flowers + Random Acts of Kindness



This past week has been a really challenging one for me, but one thing these tough times have made me acutely aware of is just how much a small, random act of kindness can mean to someone who is in pain (and, let's be real, most of us are in some kind of pain). Over the past week, I've been shown so many little kindnesses — from friends, colleagues, random people I don't even know — and it's really made me appreciate the truth behind the old saying: "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." 

Random acts of kindness are not only wonderful to receive, but they're also amazing to give as well. This week, I highly recommend you giving one of the ideas below a try. Not only will it feel great for you, but you'll be spreading kindness in the world, and we all could use a lot more of that! 



Did you know that simply seeing or smelling flowers can be a mood booster? Maybe that's why the concept of giving flowers for all sorts of special occasions has been around for so long! Last week, the Society of American Florists did something really amazing: they had florists in 467 cities across the US and Canada hit the streets to surprise people with two bouquets of flowers — one to keep and one to give to a friend (or complete stranger!). Through these random acts of (floral!) kindness, called Petal It Forward, tens of thousands of flowers were sent out into the world to reaffirm the science behind flowers’ ability to improve moods and bring people together. Research has shown that receiving flowers makes us happy, and giving flowers makes us even happier. Go out this week and buy some flowers for someone you love (or someone you don't even know!). It's a small act that can have a big impact. 



How many times have you had a kind thought about someone else but kept it to yourself? This week, make a point to speak all of your compliments aloud. Tell that stranger that her outfit is awesome. Share with your coworker how much his dedication means to you. Call up your parents and tell them how much you love their good qualities. The trick to making this random act work well is paying attention to your own thoughts. We often have tons of positive thoughts about other people all the time, but we don't share them, sometimes because we're simply not paying close attention to them. Do your best this week to take close notice of what you're thinking and share it! It can sometimes feel awkward to compliment people, but if you feel a little weird about it, just remember how you felt the last time someone gave you a compliment. It's such a lovely feeling, and remembering that experience will make it easier to open up with others. 



One of the best random acts of kindness is giving back. This is obviously super broad, but it's meant to be because there are so many ways of giving back. You can give your time to a friend, colleague, or organization you want to support. You can donate to a cause that matters to you. You can give back to those who have helped you in the past by reaching out to them to see how you might be able to help them in some way now. You can even give something back to the earth by planting a tree or growing a garden! (Bonus points for a garden since the flowers will make you and others happier!) There are countless ways to give back, but the important thing is that you take action. 


We all recognize the many benefits of random acts of kindness, but most of us don't make doing them a priority. This week, I encourage you do something — anything! — kind for someone. Don't feel like kindness has to be some huge, grand gesture. (Personally, I think that's why so many of us fail to do kind things: we think they're too small and won't really make a difference.) Kindness is incredibly valuable, no matter what form it comes in, so pick one (or all!) of the random acts above and do something wonderful this week. 


Petal It Forward 3Thanks to the Society of American Florists (SAF) for kindly sponsoring today's post! Whether it’s paying for a fellow commuter’s toll, or leaving a generous restaurant tip, “paying it forward” and “random acts of kindness” give people hope and inspire kindness towards others. SAF and the whole floral industry is taking part in this movement. It started with a small idea, that grew into everyone wanting to take part. Floral industry members know the power of flowers — they see it every day in their work. Whether to give or receive, flowers make people happy. For more information on the scientifically proven benefits of flowers, visit and You can also check out this fun video that illustrates the Petal It Forward concept!