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October 2018

7 Things I Hope Autumn Will Bring



HOORAY! It's officially the best time of year -- AUTUMN! Per usual, I'm pretty pumped at the arrival of my favorite season. Typically the season brings to mind one of two things: (1) the concept of letting go (à la, the leaves) or (2) the notion of fresh starts (that new-school-year vibe). This week I'm going to focus on the latter, specifically on the hope that comes with a new (school or calendar) year.

With a fresh start of any kind (a new season, job, location, etc.), we're often motivated to think about what we'd like the newness to bring. This kind of resolution-style thinking is frequently reserved for the start of a new year, but I see no reason why we can't do a little reflecting at the start of each season. (In fact, it's probably a good idea to do it every few months rather than wait for January 1 to roll around!) 

While I drew this illustration last year, the desires in it remain the same. I'm not sure if that's a good thing -- look how persistent I am! -- or a bad one -- look how much I didn't achieve in a year! -- but, regardless, these are still things I'd like more of this autumn...



Ah, self-love. It's something I'm on an endless quest for, and something I don't know if I'll ever fully possess. After all, we're all living in a world that's pretty much designed to make us question and doubt ourselves (typically so we'll buy things or buy into ideas) so it's a constant battle to remain self-loving. But, in my opinion, autumn is a great time for doing some self-reflection to increase self-awareness (which is, after all, the beginning of self-love). If you're looking to do some soul-searching this season, check out Finding Yourself and Loving Yourself



New season, new possibilities, I always say! Okay, I've never said that, but that doesn't mean it isn't true! Every season can be a fresh start with all sorts of untapped possibilities within it. The trick is knowing how to spot them and making an effort to take advantage of them when you do notice them. Opportunities don't always come out of nowhere. You have to go out and get them! This season, I'm going to do my best to follow my own advice (see: Hide and Seek: How to Find Opportunities) and actively seek out the possibilities I want to see brought to life in my own world. 



Hope has always been a bit of a tricky word for me. It can seem so passive and future-focused that my positively present mind tends to struggle with it. But, after having had quite a few months (or is it years...) of feeling a bit hopeless, I'm making hope a priority this season. The key, I think, is going to be about finding a balance between having hope and living in the now. Too much focus on the future can be dangerous, but believing things will improve is worth the risk. 



Calm is one of those feelings that's always been a bit elusive for me. Excited, anxious -- those two come easily. Calm? Not so much. However, I do find the autumn a relaxing, introspective time of year (in a way, the calm before the end-of-year storm) and it's my hope that, channeling the vibes of the season, I can learn to chill out a bit. For someone like me, calm takes effort, but I'm pretty sure it's worth the work. (Perhaps I'll download the Calm app to get started!)



As you probably read over the summer in the series of posts I did about my phone addiction, putting my phone down is something I struggle with a lot. I've gotten better at coping with it, but I'm still a long way off from being "normal" when it comes to phone usage, which is why I'm hoping that I can continue to work on this throughout the rest of the year. I'm guessing it's going to be an ongoing struggle for me, but I'm hopeful that the insights now available via iOS 12 will help me increase my awareness (and decrease the amount) of phone time. 



Ideas are something I rarely struggle with (in fact, having too many of them might be one of my downfalls!), but good ideas, well, that's a different story. As the year comes to a close, I'm going to do my best to really pay attention to the value of my ideas and assess them thoughtfully before excitedly pursuing them. Typically it goes like this: idea → excited pursuit → overwhelm→ abandonment. Instead of following that path, I'm going to work on thoughtfulness, patience, and careful assessment before rushing after my own thoughts. 



And, finally, I hope that autumn -- and all seasons -- bring lots of cute dogs into my life. While I'm dedicated to my little pup, Barkley, I really love dogs (anyone who knows me in real life can attest to my borderline-unhealthy obsession with them!) and I'm always hoping to see them. Whether it's online or in-person, I'm hopeful that my life will be filled with pup-fueled cuteness and joy because, honestly, almost every situation (and season!) is made better if dogs are involved. 


The start of a new season is a great time to reflect on what you'd like more of in your life. Whether it's the start of autumn or spring where you life, take a moment to think about what you hope the next few months will bring. If you'd like, let me know what you're hoping for in the comments below!  

5 Lessons Learned from Starting Over

Positively Present - Start Over

Okay, so I'll say right up front that the "starting over" I had to cope with last past week is related to the loss of an app, not a person or a situation. It might sound dramatic, but it was just a tad traumatic for me to lose access to the place where I spend a ton of time these days: my Procreate drawing app.

When it started crashing repeatedly and the Procreate team (despite their best efforts!) wasn't able to fix it, I knew it was inevitable: I would have to delete and reinstall. Now, I know this sounds silly — Who cares?! You had to delete an app! — but it was, much as I hate to admit even to myself, kind of a big deal. Yes, I had backed up most of my work (PSA: ALWAYS BACK UP EVERYTHING!), but deleting the app meant losing all of my settings and favorite brushes, and facing the daunting task of reinstalling over two years' worth of work. 

The app crashed every time I tried to open a file and my first response was, Why now? Why me? I see artists doing way more complex art on the app and I don't see much of anything in the message boards about having to delete and reinstall! This, of course, is a pretty typical reaction to a loss. First I was desperately hoping it could be fixed (denial) and then, when I realized it couldn't, I was upset. It was a very strange feeling. I knew it was just an app, and the situation could be way worse (I had, after all, backed up most of my work), but there's something deeply unsettling about having something you use every single day taken away from you without warning. 

Equally as unsettling: realizing how much of my life had become intertwined with an app. The first night without it, I was restless. To unwind, I usually spend time drawing and, while I was waiting to see if Procreate could be fixed, I tried playing around with other drawing apps. It just wasn't the same. They didn't work like Procreate did. They didn't have my brushes and my settings, all of my colors and sketched-out ideas. I was unnerved. But I decided that, if this wasn't a time to try being positively present, what was?

After that first night, I decided to pay attention, to see if I could learn anything from this situation. Obviously, I couldn't get the app back in its original state, but that didn't mean I couldn't learn from the experience. So here's what I took away from this experience: 



As someone who is decidedly "Type A," control is something I love to pretend I possess. All of the organization, backing-up, and planning in the world can't prevent life from happening, though. Situations like this one — however silly it might seem — are great reminders for those who enjoy control. They show us that, no matter what we do, things are sometimes going to fall apart or go wrong. That's part of life and the quicker you learn to take it in stride, the quicker you'll be able to bounce back. Over the years, I've gotten better at letting go of control, but it's always good for me to be reminded that there are a lot of things in life that I can't have authority over. 

When things are going wrong — particularly when they have a big impact on your day-to-day life — it can be tricky to stay positive, but if there's one thing that this experience has taught me, it's that positivity does make things better. Staying optimistic obviously didn't fix the situation (I still had to deal with the app-less days and the reinstallation craziness), but by staying positive and knowing that, no matter how the situation ended up, I'd be able to make do, made it a lot easier to cope with. This particular situation also reminded me how far I've come in terms of trying to be more positive and present. Positivity takes practice, but it works.

Though I can't deny that I love Procreate (and nothing reminds you of how much you love something like losing it!), another lesson learned from this experience was that relying only on one program is dangerous. If something were to happen to Procreate, or I wasn't able to use it for whatever reason, I'd be really upset. Losing Procreate for a few days was a good reminder not to put all of my eggs in one basket. Sure, it's fine to have a favorite thing / person / etc., but it's dangerous to rely only on one thing. Diversity — in apps and in life — is important. Don't wait till you've lost your one thing to realize that. Losing Procreate for a few days prompted me to explore other drawing apps. None of them can replace my beloved Procreate, but now I've at least dabbled a bit in other options. 
This was a very unexpected (but important!) lesson: I realized that it's okay to feel how you feel, even if seems a little ridiculous. When this first happened, my first reaction was to be upset and my second was to say to myself, Don't be ridiculous. It's just an app. You don't have any right to be upset about something so trivial when there are so many important things going on in the world! While those are rational thoughts, comparison isn't very helpful, especially because emotions aren't a finite resource. I can be upset about losing an app and recognize the millions of ways I'm fortunate and feel empathetic for those who are suffering from real problems. Just because a problem is trivial doesn't mean you're not allowed to feel something. 
One of the best things I discovered over the past week is that, even if you don't necessarily like it, a fresh start can be a good thing sometimes. For weeks I'd be wanting to better organize my files. I'd thought about getting rid of some old brushes I never use. I'd worried if maybe I wasn't backing up my work frequently enough. Well, when the app crashed, I was given a chance to revisit my organization and back-up and got to start fresh with my brushes and color palettes. I even think the new brush I'm using is better than my old favorite! Yes, there are a ton of little annoyances, but there've been some really productive aspects of this fresh start, which is a great reminder that you never know what good things a bad situation can bring! 
As silly as it might sound, the loss (and reinstallation) of Procreate was a bit of a shake-up in my world. But, as frustrating as it was, it was ultimately a positive thing, especially because I learned a lot about the app (and myself!). If you're in the midst of starting over in any aspect of your life, try to focus on these lessons and it'll be much easier to cope with the changes (chosen or unexpected!). Even frustrating times can bring about some wisdom! 
If you do any digital drawing, I highly recommend checking out the Procreate app. I've been using it for years and this is the first time I've ever had any trouble with it (and the Procreate team did everything possible to help me sort it out). Other than this one fluke breakdown, it's an AMAZING program for digital art (on iPad or iPhone). If you already use it, check out my Procreate brushes here

Embracing Introversion: Advice for Extroverts


Positively Present - Introvert


When you hear the question, "Are you an introvert or extrovert?" you likely have one of three reactions: "I'm such an introvert!" or "Extrovert is so me!" or "Hmm... I'm not sure which one I am..." Each one of those answers is valid and valuable. The problem is, society tends to be dominated by and structured for extroverts, which makes it really difficult for the rest of us -- everyone from the 100% introvert to the ambivert (it's a spectrum, after all!) -- to function in a ways that are comfortable and enjoyable. If you're not sure exactly what the differences between the two are, here's a very general idea, based on some reading I've done. These don't apply to every introvert/extrovert and they can vary by degrees, especially for those who find themselves in the ambivert camp. 


  • Introverts recharge with alone time. Extroverts are energized by other people. 
  • Introverts focus on inner thoughts and feelings. Extroverts seek out people and experiences. 
  • Introverts prefer reflection. Extroverts tend toward action. 
  • Introverts are more likely to avoid conflict. Extroverts are often at ease with confrontation. 
  • Introverts would rather observe. Extroverts prefer to participate. 
  • Introverts enjoy being introverts. Extroverts enjoy being extroverts. 
  • Introverts are excited by ideas (internal). Extroverts are enlivened by the world (external). 


I personally tend to identify pretty strongly with the introvert tendencies listed above but, as I said, these are set in stone and can vary from person to person. The important thing to remember is that both introverts and extroverts have value, but one category (the extroverts) is given a lot more attention and acceptance in today's culture. See, introverts and extroverts are kind of like the night and the day. We need them both. They both add value to the human existence. But one -- the day -- is given a lot more attention and convenience. Society is set up for daytime living. If you were to try living only during the night, you'd have a lot of hurdles to overcome. That's kind of what it's like to life as an introvert (in a metaphorical way -- not an introverts-are-vampires way). 

I've been an introvert my entire life, but it was only when I got into my late-twenties that I finally started recognizing (and trying to work with) my introvertedness. Before that, I'd either been very moody and mercurial (my childhood) or I'd used substances to cope with my introvertedness (high school and college socialization was conducted under the extrovert-inducing veil of alcohol or drugs). Getting older (and sober) taught me that, like it or not, I fall heavily on the introverted side of the spectrum. I've learned to accept and cope with this the best I can, but lately I've come against quite a few people who just don't get it and, as a result, try to push me into extroverted activities that I just don't enjoy. 

One of the biggest challenges introverts face, or at least that this particular introvert faces, is people not understanding introversion and, worse still, trying to change it. The problem lies, I think, in one of the greatest misconceptions about introverts: that, deep down, we're all longing to be extroverts if only we could be a little braver / louder / more social. This idea stems from the false belief that all introverts are shy. Shyness is possible in introverts, but it's not part of what it means to be introverted at all. (It's like saying that all extroverts are attention-seekers. Yes, some are, but that's not what being an extrovert is all about.) Shyness is a painful experience, and those who are shy might, in fact, long to be more extroverted. Introverts, on the other hand, are perfectly happy being introverted -- typically only bothered by it when it's frowned upon or misunderstood by others.

This, I think, is at the root of my personal struggles as an introvert. I'm not shy. I'm not quiet. If I'm in a group of people, I have no problem being the center of attention, and, in fact, I quite enjoy it. These attributes can be confusing to extroverts. They see similarities -- a willingness to speak up, a boisterous laugh, a friendly smile -- and assume that I am like them, that I'm feeding off of the energy of others in a positive way. But, in reality, time spent with people -- even those I love and enjoy -- is draining my energy, minute by minute. For an extrovert, who receives energy from being around others, it can be nearly impossible to comprehend how social stimulation could literally (and mentally) exhaust an introvert, particularly if the introvert isn't quite, withdrawn, or reserved. Many introverts, myself included, have learned how to adapt to the extrovert-focused culture. I know that it's socially unacceptable to sit down at a party and just watch people. (Just try it and see how quickly you get the, "What's wrong? Are you alright?" questions.) 

When I'm with people, particularly people I don't know well, I'm often putting on a show. I'm doing what I can do fit into the culture: engaging, laughing, asking, smiling, sharing, talking. I learned to do this as a child, I'm guessing, and I can be quite good at it when I want to be. But, the thing is, the older I get, the less time I want to spend pretending. (I think that's true for all of us. The older we get, the less time we want to waste on what's not positive for us.) For people who have known me for decades, this is likely to be a little confusing. I used to be more sociable, or so it seemed. But, in reality, it was only that I was better at pretending (or perhaps just more willing to pretend) back then. Also, alcohol used to help a great deal with this. When I drank, I became much more social and extroverted, as many people do. Now that I no longer drink, I am more myself, but that self isn't always aligned with what extroverts want me to be. 

While I, of course, have lots of wonderful and positive experiences with other people, I almost always feel exhausted by being in new or overstimulating environments (even with people I love in places I love). When I need time alone to recharge, it isn't necessarily because I need to get away from people. It's often because I need to get away from overstimulation. This can be confusing (and frustrating) to extroverts who are having a good time, feeding off of the energy of others. I totally understand this frustration because I, on the flip side, feel frustrated by extroverts' need to constantly be around people. 

It's difficult for introverts and extroverts (particularly those at the far sides of either end of the spectrum) to understand each other and find common, enjoyable ground. And, because society tends to be set up for extroverts, introverts often have to either grin-and-bear extroverted experiences or stay away from them. Over the years, I've seen more and more attention brought to the struggle of introverts in an external world. Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking and the Quiet Revolution have had big impacts, as have books like Introvert DoodlesText, Don't Call: A Guide to the Introverted LifeQuiet Girl in a Noisy World, and The Secret Lives of Introverts, but I have to wonder how many extroverts are actually reading these things. Books like these are amazingly helpful for introverts to feel less alone and more accepted internally, but they aren't changing the fact that most extroverts don't get introverts. And, to be honest, that's not really even the issue. 

Sure, it would be nice if the world were a bit more introvert-friendly (the internet does help a lot with that, though!), but, at least for this introvert, that's not really the problem. I've learned to deal with the extrovert-focused world as best I can and, after thirty-five years, I've gotten used to it. I hope for changes, but I'm able to cope with how it is. What I do struggle to cope with is extroverts who try to change introverts. Extroverts don't have to be introverted. (No one is saying you need to stay home -- though most of you could benefit from a little quiet time!) Extroverts don't even have to understand introversion. (Though it'd be nice if they'd at least try.) Extroverts need only to accept introverts for who they are. 

Here are just a few ways extroverts can be supportive of introverts: 


  • Invite introverts, but don't be offended if they say no. 
  • Don't pressure an introvert (or anyone) who has said "no." 
  • Realize that introversion isn't a flaw. It's how we're born.
  • Respect the personal space of introverts (and all people!). 
  • Don't call if there's a way to text (or, if a call is needed, text first!).
  • Try not to take introverts' need for alone time personally. 
  • Consider the level of stimulation before inviting an introvert. 
  • Aim for deep conversations over banal small talk. 
  • Don't make introverts do too much work in groups.  
  • Give introverts plenty of down time after socializing. 
  • Ask introverts what would make them most comfortable. 


This isn't meant to put all of the pressure on extroverts to accommodate introverts but, in an extrovert-focused world, it's helpful for extroverts to pay attention to the introverts who are generally just doing their best to make the most of a society that wasn't designed with them in mind. Introverts and extroverts both have so much to offer but we just have different ways of presenting our gifts to the world. As Susan Cain said, "Everyone shines, given the right lighting." If you're an introvert, know that you, too, can shine. If you're an extrovert, consider how you might allow the introverts in your life to find their own kind of lighting. 


I'd love to hear your thoughts on what it's like to be an introvert or extrovert. Do you identify as one or the other? What are some experiences (good or bad) that you've had with someone who is different than you are? Let me know in the comments below!  Also, let me know if you want me to write more about this topic. I feel like I could write all day about this!