growing through it: reflections on my new book


GTI_Preorder_Launch

 

It's hard to believe it's been months since I've written a post! This year, for all of us, has been such a strange one. For some, it's been heartbreaking. For others, merely unusual. But, regardless of what's happened in your life, 2020 has been a year of change. Like it or not, 2020's smacked us all over the head with one of life's universal truths: things change and, as a result, we change. 

Change isn't my favorite thing. I love a good routine, a safe space, the comfort of the known. It's that love of sameness that prompted me to write my soon-to-be-released book, Grow Through It: Inspiration for Weathering Life's Seasons. When, like me, you're not a fan of change, you realize just how often it occurs, and that's what prompted me to pen these pages. Rather than resist life's inevitable changes, I wanted to learn to accept (and even embrace!) them. And that's just what I did while creating this book.

Traveling from Spring to Summer, through Autumn and Winter, Grow Through It explores the metaphorical highs and lows of each season. The book is arriving at what I believe is the perfect time for me -- and for all of us. It's been a year of tremendous transformation (even if, like me, your daily life hasn't changed all that much!), and Grow Through It looks at the many ways we can learn and grow through life's changes. 

This year has been... a lot. But if there's one good thing to come from it, it's this book. I've written many books, but this one is just different. It's the most me in book form that I've ever created and I'm incredibly proud of it. Grow Through It is something special. Maybe it will only be special to me (feel free to pre-order a copy to see what you think!), but even if that's the case, I'm fine with that. To hold something in my hands that I worked so hard on and to feel like it really represents how I felt when creating it, how it felt to be moving through all four seasons as I drew and wrote and edited, is nothing short of magic. 

It's my hope that you, too, will feel the magic in this book, that this little tome of transformation will help you cope in some way with the chaos of 2020. The book is so different from what I've done before, which feels fitting in this different-than-ever-before year. It's different, yet it's somehow the most me

So, you know that feeling when you put on an outfit you know looks good but something feels off so then you put on another outfit that's just so "you" and you suddenly feel more relaxed and confident? That's how Grow Through It makes me feel. And it's how I hope you feel when you read it. I hope it reminds you that, amidst all of this change, you are still you. You will survive whatever you go through, and you will continue to grow and change even when it feels like growth is impossible.

This year has been a year of change, which means a year of growth. (Yes, I know the year's not over, but, as it's my birthday,  the end of August always feels like a new year and a fresh start!) Growth is hard. Growth is often messy and uncomfortable and challenging. But's it's always where the magic happens. And I hope that's what I've harnessed in Grow Through It -- the messiness and the magic of growth. 

2020's not over yet, and I know there's a lot of change to come, but it's up to us to make the most of whatever the coming seasons bring. I know I'll be flipping through the pages of Grow Through It for the next few months to remind myself of all the ways change is possible. I hate to toot my own horn, but this book really is something special. I hope you'll love it as much as I do, and I hope it'll help you in some small way as we make our way through the rest of the year. 

Learn more about Grow Through It: Inspiration for Weathering Life's Seasons here (with links to all of the booksellers you can order from, as well as details on how to get your exclusive 2021 Coloring Calendar!).

 


The 2019 Gratitude Challenge!


Positively Present 2019 Gratitude Challenge

 

HOORAY! The NINTH year of the Positively Present Gratitude Challenge is about to begin on November 1!

Though I keep a daily gratitude journal, there's always something special about celebrating gratitude during the month of November each year. Having a specific topic to focus on each day really makes me pay even more attention to the things I'm thankful for, and I hope these annual prompts help you too! 

As in previous years, I'll be sharing illustrations on Instagram daily (follow me on Instagram if you're not already!), but feel free to use these prompts for art, photos, collages, or whatever else feels like the best creative outlet for you. If you're new to this Challenge, below are some details (as well as info on each prompt!): 

THE CHALLENGE DETAILS

  • “Challenge” is just a word.

    The goal of the Challenge is to focus on (and share if you want!) 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, or to even keep up every single day!

  • 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'm 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 the month of 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 if you click on the hashtag you’ll be able to see the cool things others are sharing, too! It really is so awesome to look through the hashtag and see how others interpret and share the prompts every day. Not only is the creativity amazing, but it often shows me new ways to be appreciative. 


  • Save or print out a reminder.

    Keep up with the prompts by downloading the photo above (or 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. Of course, you don't have to do them all in a row (or even do them all), but there is something special about spending 30 consecutive days focusing on gratitude. 

 

THE 2019 PROMPTS...

 

DAY 1: GROWTH

Whether you realize it or not, every day, every moment, you're growing and changing. Most of us focus on growth as something that happens when we're young, but we never stop growing. How have you grown over the past year? Or how have you seen someone or something else grow? 

 

DAY 2: KNOWLEDGE

You've learned so much since the day you were born, which is pretty amazing. What's the thing you're most thankful to have learned? Is there knowledge you've gathered this year that you're particularly grateful for? Also, today is a great day to be thankful for the resources and people who have taught you. 

 

DAY 3: LOVE

There are so many kinds of love (romantic, platonic, etc.) and type is deserving of your gratitude. How do you share love in your life? How do you accept it? How does it make you feel when you think of the word "love"? Celebrate the love you experience for (and from!) others today. 

 

DAY 4: MUSIC

If you've checked out my playlists on Spotify, you know music is something I'm immensely passionate about. There are songs for every occasion and mood, and hearing the right one at the right time can be life-changing. What kind of music do you enjoy? What song are you most thankful for right now?

 

DAY 5: NATURE

No matter where you live, there's likely to be some nature around you. What is inspiring or beautiful about nature you come into contact with often? What elements of nature do you most connect with? What element of the natural world are you most grateful to experience?

 

DAY 6: CREATIVITY

Even if you don't consider yourself "creative," every day you create something. You create connections, experiences, conversations. You might create art and music and magic. Consider what you have created recently. How did it feel? What would you like to create more of?  

 

DAY 7: MEMORY

Memory is a tricky thing because it's not always very accurate. However, it does feel accurate and it's worth being thankful for. Consider your favorite moment or item from the past. What was wonderful about it? How do you feel when you think of that time / thing / person? 

 

DAY 8: WORK

Work-related gratitude might be a challenge if you don't love what you do, but consider how work makes your life better. It provides income, and it can challenge, inspire, and excite you. Today, reflect on how you're fortunate to have a job (or a school) to go to each day. How does this experience improve your life, or at least help you in some way?  

 

DAY 9: CHANGE

Change can be a negative or positive experience, but it's an inevitable part of life. What's changed in life over the past year? What's changed in the last decade? Do you have new friends, new experiences, new mindsets? If you're struggling with this prompt, change the way you do something today and see how it feels.  

 

DAY 10: PEACE

Peace has become one of my favorite words in 2019, mostly because I so rarely experience it. When do you most feel at peace? When you do feel relaxed, calm, and most like yourself? Those moments are the ones you should celebrate today (and maybe even consider how you want to incorporate more of them in your life!). 

 

DAY 11: FREEDOM

Another word that has a lot of meaning for me is freedom. It's something I value incredibly highly (maybe too much?), and am extremely thankful to have in my life. In what ways do you feel free? What people, places, or experiences allow you to feel independent and untethered? 

 

DAY 12: BEAUTY

There is always something beautiful around you if you make an effort to look for it. What beauty are you grateful to see or experience today, right now? What things make your home, office, neighborhood, etc. more beautiful? Who around you embodies the essence of beauty? What do you find beautiful about yourself? 

 

DAY 13: COLOR

There are few things I love more than color! Every single day I'm thankful for all the colors that surround me and all the hues and tones I get to use in my work. How do you feel about color? Which ones are your favorites? What colors inspire feelings of happiness? Share those today!

 

DAY 14: TIME

Because we're only given so much time (an amount we can't even be certain about!), it's important that we pause and be thankful for the time we've been given. It's important, too, to take note of how we spend that time. How do you like to spend your time? What would you do if you had more time? What does the word "time" mean to you? 

 

DAY 15: FRIENDSHIP

Without friendship, life would be quite dull. Today's the day to focus your attention on the friends who brighten your world. Who has been by your side no matter what? Who can you call, day or night, for a chat? Who puts a smile on your face when you think of them? 

 

DAY 16: MAGIC

Regardless of whether or not you believe in magic, it exists all around you. There is magic when you connect with words written on a page. Magic in the moment that you fall in love. Magic in the way we're able to bond so closely with animals of other species. Magic is mixed in with our lives. What magic are you most thankful for today? 

 

DAY 17: SEASONS

With my new season-focused book, Grow Through It, coming out in 2020, I couldn't not have this prompt! The seasons, for me, are incredibly important. They shape my life in so many ways, and I'm so thankful for the changes they bring. Which season is your favorite? Do you enjoy the changes that come with each season? 

 

DAY 18: BOOKS

It's been months since I shot past my goal of reading 100 books this year. I just can't seem to stop turning the pages! What books do you love most? What's the best book you've read this year, or in recent years? What have you learned from books that you might not have otherwise known? 

 

DAY 19: KINDNESS 

Kindness is such a simple thing, but it's not always as abundant as it could be. Today's a good day to do something especially kind for someone else. It's also the day to celebrate kindness -- kindness you've committed, you've experienced, or you've witnessed. When you think of the word "kindness," what's the first thing you think of? 

  

DAY 20: HEALTH

If you don't have health issues, it can be very easy to take good health for granted, but it's one of the most important and amazing things to have. If you're feeling healthy, celebrate how lucky you are today. If you're struggling with health issues, try to focus on the things that are functioning well (or look forward to days when you will feel a bit better). 

 

DAY 21: INSPIRATION

Inspiration is all around you -- if only you make an effort to look for it. Today, consider what inspires you to get out of the bed in the morning. What inspires you to keep working, loving, living? Use today as an opportunity to share your favorite source of inspiration with others. 

 

DAY 22: HOME

What does the word "home" mean to you? Is it where you rest your head each night? Is it where you grew up? Or is home more of a state of mind? Or perhaps a person? Home doesn't need to be a physical thing so feel free to explore creatively with this prompt. Whatever home means to you, reflect on it and share a photo of it today.

 

DAY 23: ANIMALS

Even if you don't have a pet, it's likely that you take joy in seeing animals (or, if you're not an animal-lover, you can at least attempt to understand where that joy might come from). Do you have a favorite animal? If you have a pet, how does that animal make you feel? What animals would you like to know more about?

 

DAY 24: HUMOR

Humor is one of life's greatest gifts. It can transform a mood, lighten a tough time, or touch on tough topics with levity. Today, reflect on what makes you laugh and the things you find humorous. Is it a movie? A book? A joke? A memory? A friend? Whatever evokes that giddy sense of joy within you, be thankful for it. 

 

DAY 25: SNACKS

I know I should be better at preparing meals and eating like a normal grown-up adult, but I'm a sucker for snacks. I love anything you can eat on the go, and I'm thankful to live in a time when such things exist. What is your favorite snack? What flavors (sweet, salty, etc.) are you most drawn to? Celebrate (and eat!) your favorite snack today. 

 

DAY 26: EARTH

We're so lucky to be on this crazy marble of a planet, spinning around in space. We, as humans, don't treat the earth as well as we should, but still we get so much from it. Today, let's try to do something nice for the planet if we can. What do you love most about this place? What do you think of when you see a pic of earth from space? 

 

DAY 27: MERRIMENT

How often to you make time for merriment? For just being silly? For having fun? Today's a good day to reflect on how it feels to have fun, to be silly, and to make merry. "Merry" is a word we hear mostly in connection with the holiday season, but why? Why not aim for merriment more often? What do you feel is the most merry activity to do? 

 

DAY 28: FAMILY

Family — no matter what shape or size it comes in  — is something we're all lucky to have in our lives. Take note of your family today (and "family" can include friends or anyone you've chosen as your family, too!). What do you love about the family you surround yourself with? What do you often take for granted and could be extra appreciative of today?

 

DAY 29: DREAMS

Today's prompt has a double meaning: it can be either the dreams you have a night (which I always find so fascinating!) or it can be the dreams you have during the day (the goals of what you want to achieve in the future). Regardless of which kind of dream you're focusing on today, ask yourself, "What's so special about my dreams? What do I want to celebrate about them?"

 

DAY 30: SELF

No matter what, the one thing you will always have in your life is YOU. On the final day of the challenge, I like to turn our attention inward. Consider, today, all the ways you are amazing, and appreciate the good (and not so good!) parts of yourself. What do you love most about you? What aspects do you feel deserve more love and attention? 

 

 

As a reminder, these are just suggested prompts to get you started. Feel free to make up your own or mix these up. The point is to focus on being grateful all month long -- not to stick to the rules of a challenge. If you do join in, don't forget to use the hashtag #Gratitude30 so I can see your posts! I'll be posting mine starting on November 1 so keep a look out for them. I can't wait to see what you share, and to spend the month of November focusing on all the things we're thankful to have in our lives! 

 

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Thought-Tinters: 8 Things That Impact Your Thinking

Your Toughts Colored By

Get the print here

 

Whenever I do interviews, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is, "If you could give out one piece of advice, what would it be?" It's a tough one to answer, but my instinct is almost always to say, "Pay attention to your thoughts." It sounds like simple (or perhaps even strange) advice -- after all, aren't we always paying attention to our thoughts if we're thinking them? But, if you think about it (ha!), we actually don't pay attention to our thoughts very often.

Maybe when we're infants or children we pay closer attention because many of them are so new, but as adults, we've often grown so used to the voice inside our own head that we don't give it much thought, particularly when it comes to thoughts we have frequently. And paying attention to our thoughts can actually be challenging if we're not used to it. I learned best how to do this by reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. That kind of grandiose subtitle is often a stretch but, in this case, it happened to be true. Reading that book, and learning how to pay attention to my thoughts, really did change my life.

If you've been wondering about how to change your own thoughts (or just curious about what it would be like to better understand your own mind), I'd highly recommend reading that book. But if you're short on time, here are a few things that might influence your thoughts. Taking note of them (and perhaps changing them if you don't find them to be positive and beneficial to you) can really help you understand more about how you see the way you think. These are just a few of the various aspects of life that can influence you (some others include your culture, time period, what you eat, who you surround yourself with, whether or not you use mind-altering substances, etc.), but these are, in my opinion, some of the most important to reflect upon in order to better understand yourself. 

 

LOVE

What you love -- or don't love -- impacts the way you see the world. There's a reason that the phrases "rose-colored glasses" and "blinded by love" exist. What we care about (or don't) influences how we see the things and people around us. Just think about a few things you really love (right now I'm envisioning dogs, rainbows, and a big stack of books from the library). You probably feel really positive and joyful thoughts about them, don't you? Whenever you encounter those things in the world, you'll be predisposed to enjoy them because you already have positive experiences with them. This isn't to say this is a bad or a good thing. It's just something worth noticing as you go about your day-to-day life. 

 

SEE

Likewise, what you see is going to have a big influence on your thoughts. If you witness something horrific (or watch it on the news), you're going to be impacted by that image. If you see something outrageously wondrous, that image is likely to stay with you for awhile. You cannot control everything you see, but you do have the ability to make choices when it comes to a lot of what you look at (and surround yourself with). Pay attention to what you spend most of your time looking at and consider how it makes you feel. Do you feel uplifted? Informed? Interested? Bored? Overwhelmed? Knowing that what you look at influences your mental state can be the push you need to pay attention and look at what is positive and productive for you. 

 

DO

If you've never done something, it's going to be pretty difficult to understand what it's truly like. For example, I've never had a baby, and though I ask my friends and family members for all of the details, I'll never fully understand what that experience is like (no matter how vivid the thoughts in my mind!) unless I do it for myself. Understanding this notion -- that you cannot 100% understand until you do it -- can be really helpful not only in interacting with those who have had experiences different from our own, but also when trying to share our experiences with others. Our thinking can, for better or worse, be limited. Sometimes this can be a good thing, but recognizing it can help to improve our interactions with others and help us assess what kinds of actions we want to experience first hand. What you do shapes you, so choose wisely. 

 

READ

Reading ties closely with seeing, but it's worthy of its own category because it influences me so deeply. I read a lot of books. I always have and I hopefully always will! What I've read -- whether it's nonfiction, fiction, a newspaper, magazine article, back of a cereal box, etc. -- has had a humungous impact on who I am as a person. Reading makes me more empathetic and open-minded. While I cannot fully understand the experiences of others (even if I've had them myself, since we are all so incredibly different), reading allows me to have a better understand of things I will never live through myself. Reading is, in my opinion, a gateway to open-mindedness. The more you read, the more you know, I believe Dr. Seuss once said. Personally, I avoid reading things that scare or upset me, but that's my preference. Whatever you choose to read, it's helping you to think differently and in new ways. (Did this just become a PSA for reading? Yes, yes it did. Go to the library!)

 

HEAR

Just as what you read and see contributes to how you think, so, too, does what you hear. Whether it's news, YouTube videos, podcasts, music, the voice of a loved one -- it doesn't matter. It's changing how you think about the world and about yourself. Which means it's very important to select what you listen to with care. You don't have to limit yourself (after all, the world is a really big place and there's probably all kinds of cool things to listen to that we don't even know about!), but pay attention. Every single word that you here influences you in some way. Some more than others, yes, but all of it matters. Take notice of what you listen to most and, most importantly, what you're thinking about when you listen to it. 

 

FEEL

Feelings and thoughts are so closely intertwined that sometimes it's hard to know the difference. A thought is typically complex, while a feeling can be narrowed down to one word. A thought: "I have so much work to do that I'll never get it done." A feeling: "Overwhelmed." They're certainly linked and one can impact the other, but often the gut instincts, those feelings that arrive without us even realizing it, influence our thoughts. For example, you often feel overwhelmed -- a tenseness in the shoulders, a clenched jaw, a snippy attitude -- before you can form the thought, "I am feeling overwhelmed right now." Pay attention to the ways feelings and thoughts work together and look for the truth and root cause (Katie's book referenced above can really help with this.) Feelings aren't facts, but sometimes they can appear that way to our thinking minds, so it's vital to recognize the role feelings play in your thoughts. 

 

KNOW 

The more you know, the easier it becomes to understand the world (and the notion that so little of it can be fully explained!). The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a song lyrics that goes, "The more I see, the less I know," and it's honestly one of my favorite lines ever because it's oddly true. What you know matters (just consider how much more you understand as an adult compared to your childhood self) and that shapes who you are. What you don't know also shapes who you are. So many of the worlds biases and prejudices are based on what's not known. Knowledge is power, sure, but the most powerful knowledge you can have is recognizing how little you know and how your small amount of knowledge transforms the way you think. 

 

WANT

And, finally, what you want (and value) has an incredible power over how you think. If money and success is important to you, those things will be the focus of your thoughts. If you family is your focus, your thoughts will prioritize them. If desperately want a relationship, finding a partner will always be on your mind. If you desire to make a positive change in the world, your thoughts will home in on how you can do that. What you want guides the choices you make. No one thing is better than the other to want (no judgments here!), but taking note of what you want (or think you want) can be an essential element of understanding your thinking and how it shapes the way you're living. 

 

 

As you can see, there are so many factors that go into every single thought in your head. It's hard to imagine fully understanding all of it, no matter how much soul-searching we do, but it is worth paying attention to how (and why!) we think what we do. Our thinking shapes our actions, choices, feelings, relationships, and so much more. The better we know ourselves, the more we can shape our lives to live the way we'd like to. If you're struggling with self-awareness or self-love, shift your thinking with one of my workbooks, available for purchase here (or by clicking one of the images below!). 

 

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