Get Grateful! : The 2018 Gratitude Challenge Is Here


2018_Gratitude_Challenge

 

It's hard to believe, but 2018 is the EIGHTH year of this Gratitude Challenge! 

I'm sharing the prompts a bit early this year so everyone who wants to participate can have a chance to prepare (and get a head start on thinking about gratitude!). I personally like tracking gratitude daily in my Every Day Matters diary, but even though I do it daily, focusing on a single word each day throughout November has served as a wonderful way to move toward the end of the year on a thankful note. 

Like last year, I'll be sharing my illustrations on Instagram daily (follow me on Instagram if you're not already!), but most people choose to to share photographs. Do whatever works best for you. It's all about connecting with what you're grateful for, so the method is less important than the content. If you're new to the Challenge, read on for details! 

 

THE CHALLENGE DETAILS

  • “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. 

 

THE 2018 PROMPTS...

 

DAY 1: HOME

It's said that home is where the heart is, but 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? Whatever home means to you, reflect on it and share a photo of it today.

 

DAY 2: INSPIRATION

We all find unique inspiration in the world around us. On Day 2, 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. 

 

DAY 3: LOVE

Of course, we couldn't do this without mentioning love. There are so many kinds of love (romantic, friendship, etc.) and each one 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"?

 

DAY 4: COLOR

If you can't tell from my colorful site, there are few things I love more than color. It's something I'm incredibly grateful for on a daily basis. How do you feel about color? Which ones are your favorites? What colors inspire feelings of happiness? Share those today!

 

DAY 5: HAPPINESS

For each and every one of us, the word "happiness" might mean something different. Try not to place any judgment on what makes you happy. Just contemplate it today and then find a way share with the world. Don't forget to use #Gratitude30! 

 

DAY 6: WORDS

Someone once asked me what is the one thing I couldn't live without and I immediately answered: words. Words are my passion, but even if you're not passionate about words, I bet they've had a profound influence on your life. Share your favorites -- a single word, a quote, etc. -- today. 

 

DAY 7: MEMORIES

While staying present is very important, reflecting on positive memories can be uplifting. 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: NATURE

Look around for whatever nature you can find. No matter where you live, there's likely to be something natural that can inspire you. What is inspiring or beautiful about what you see? What elements of nature do you most connect with? When are you most in touch with nature? 

 

DAY 9: LAUGHTER

Laughing is one of the best activities in life, and I'm grateful for every moment I spend laughing. Today, reflect on what makes you laugh. 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 10: MUSIC

Music is an aspect of life I'm immensely grateful for. (Check out my playlists on Spotify!) There are songs for every occasion and mood and hearing the right one can change everything. What kind of music do you enjoy? What song is your favorite right now?

 

DAY 11: GIFT

This prompt can go one of two ways: (1) you could share a gift that someone else that has given you that you're thankful to have received, or (2) you can share your gratitude for a gift/talent that you possess. Whatever you choose, focus on being thankful for life's gifts. 

 

DAY 12: WISDOM

Reflect on the wisdom you've received (or gained!) in your life. Who is the wisest person you know? What have you learned from him/her? Or, reflect specifically on a piece of advice or an experience that's made you wiser. 

 

DAY 13: ART

What you consider "art" is unique to you. Even if you don't consider yourself artistic, you know what appeals to you when you see it. Ask yourself: What art do I see on a daily basis? What art have I seen that's positively impacted my life? 

 

DAY 14: ROUTINE

Many of us (especially me!) are creatures of habit. What positive routines do you have in your life? What is it about those routines that keeps you doing them? Do they make your life easier? What elements of them are you thankful for? 

 

DAY 15: CLOTHING

Clothing is a something we often take for granted, but we are fortunate to have it. What attire are you the most thankful for? What item makes you happy every time you wear it? What item has an important meaning for you? 

 

DAY 16: NOVELTY

New things and experiences are exciting! What's been added to your life over the past year? What's changed since last November? Do you have new friends, new experiences, new mindsets? If you're struggling with this prompt, go out and do something new today! 

 

DAY 17: WEATHER

Without the bad weather, we'd never appreciate the good. Weather itself is a reminder to be grateful, which makes it a great thing to focus on today. How do you feel when the sun shines? When the storm clouds gather? What is the weather today and how does it make you feel? 

 

DAY 18: FOOD

For all of us, food is life-giving, which means it's a pretty great thing to be grateful for. What is your favorite food? Why? What tastes (sweet, salty, etc.) are you most drawn to? What flavors entice and excite you? Celebrate (and maybe eat!) your favorites today. 

 

DAY 19: BEAUTY 

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. What beauty are you grateful to see or experience? 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 20: FRIENDSHIP

Today, be grateful for and celebrate the friendships in your life. 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 his/her name? 

 

DAY 21: TECHNOLOGY

I've always loved technology, and I'm so thankful to have it in my life. In what ways does technology change your life for the better? What are you most thankful for when it comes to the technological advances in our world today? 

 

DAY 22: 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, too!). What do you love about them? What do you often take for granted?

 

DAY 23: SCENT

What we smell can be transformative, memory-making, and important. Consider what your favorite smells are and why. How do they make you feel? Why do you like feeling that way? Today, be thankful for the aromas in your life. 

 

DAY 24: KNOWLEDGE

Consider how much you've learned since the day you were born. Pretty amazing, isn't it? I bet in the last year alone, you've learned tons of things you didn't know before. What are you thankful to know? What knowledge resources are you thankful to have? 

 

DAY 25: COMFORT

Comfort is a gift — whether it's in the form of physical comfort (a hug, a blanket) or an emotional outlet (a good listener, wise advice). What things, people, or situations make you feel most comforted? Be thankful for those things in your life today.  

 

DAY 26: TIME

We all have limited amounts of time, which is one reason we should be so grateful for whatever we've been given. 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 27: LUXURY

Most of what we have in our lives (other than food and shelter) is a wonderful luxury. What luxuries do you have in your life that you're thankful for? A car to drive you where you need to go? A bookshelf stuffed with books? Recognize (and appreciate!) your luxuries. 

 

DAY 28: WORK

Being thankful for work might be a challenge, but consider how work makes your life better. It provides income, and it can challenge, inspire, and excite you. Why are you fortunate to have a job? How does this job improve your life, or at least help you in some way?  

 

DAY 29: CREATIVITY

Even if you don't think you're "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 30: SELF-LOVE

The one thing you will always have in your life, no matter what, is yourself. On the final day of the challenge, consider all the ways you are amazing and appreciate the good (and not so good!) parts of yourself. What do you love most about you? 

 

 

Even though this is the eighth year of the challenge, I'm still so excited to see what everyone posts! Being thankful can sound like cliched advice, but it really does make a positive difference. If you've never done the Challenge before, I highly recommend you give it a try. Even if you can't post every day or don't want to do it for 30 days, urging yourself to focus on gratitude as much as possible will help you stress less, allow you to feel more positive, and provide a fresh perspective. I'll be checking the #Gratitude30 hashtag and I'll begin posting my work on November 1. Can't wait to share and see what's being shared! 

 


Announcing... Positively Present on Patreon!


Patreon Screen


For years, I've been working solo on Positively Present, and I absolutely love what I do, but I've been looking for ways to expand on my work and on the Positively Present community. Like many who create primarily online, I've struggled a lot with friction between wanting to create and share and not feeling as if my work is valued (and, in some cases, stolen, even by large companies). 

The world of online creating is still a bit like the wild west. We're all trying to learn the rules, to figure out how we can consume and share and create in thoughtful, productive, and rewarding ways. A lot of online creators choose to run advertisements or work with brands. I've done these (and may continue to do so), but, at times, it feels disingenuous. Even if I love a brand or product, it's turning me into a salesperson when I'm a creator. I want to make things you like and I want to be able to afford to do it, and I don't want to have to sell you random stuff you don't need (even if it's my own stuff!) in order to do so. 

I'm not the only creator who feels this way. Luckily, someone came up with the awesome idea for Patreon.

 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

Patreon is a membership platform that allows patrons (people like you) support creators (people like me) while getting access to exclusive benefits. What I love about it is that it's a direct relationship between the creator and the patron. It's a way to show creators that you value their work and to support those who spend their lives trying to make the world a better place online. 

Creators set up a series of tiers and the more a patron contributes each month, the more rewards s/he receives. You can see the various tiers (starting at just $1/month!) on the right hand side of this page. Basically, it's like this: you pay a set amount each month and you get access to cool things you wouldn't otherwise see. 

  Patreon


WHO IS PATREON FOR? 

Every creator's Patreon platform is unique, but, for Positively Present, Patreon is for... 

  • People who love Positively Present and want to support my work
  • People who want to support writing and art in general 
  • People who don't want ads or sponsorships interfering with content
  • People who want behind-the-scenes looks at what I'm working on
  • People who want access to exclusive digital content
  • People who want to contribute ideas and inspiration for Positively Present
  • People who want to download Positively Present artwork
  • People who long to learn more about creativity and digital art
  • People who get something valuable out of daily (free!) posts

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE? 

If you've never heard of Patreon before, you might be like, Wait. What is this? I still don't get it. Don't worry! You can learn more about it by checking out the Patreon page or my FAQ post. And, of course, you can reach out to me via email if there's anything you want to know more about! 

 Patreon

 

I've been hard at work setting this up, but it's still a work-in-progress, so stay tuned for updates (and even more rewards for each tier!) coming soon. I know the idea of directly supporting a creator might sound odd at first, because it's still relatively new, but the digital landscape is changing and more and more of what we use and consume is going to be online. If you are regularly consuming something you enjoy — whether it be a piece of digital art or a piece of delicious cake — you should want to compensate the person who created it. Yes, it feels like you get content for free, but nothing is really free. There's a give-and-take for everything. If you're consuming something that someone else worked hard on without ever giving something back, that leads to an imbalance that puts a lot of pressure on the creator.

The creator either has sell you a product (which can be great, but isn't ideal in a world where we all have so much stuff or where people have come to love the digital work and don't necessarily want things), sell an ad for another product (leading to the same problem of more consumption and/or the often icky feeling that comes with selling things randomly -- take note of all of the creators pushing Audible or Skillshare...), or sell a service (which isn't always doable or reasonable to expect of someone who already has a job creating content on a daily basis).

The more creators have to balance advertising, sponsorships, brand deals, etc., the less time they have creating content that you really love and find valuable. When you join a creator's Patreon, you'll have access to extra cool rewards and a community of people who love the same stuff you do. Plus, you become a real-life patron of the arts, which, let's be honest, just sounds fun and fancy! 

I've been so excited working on this for the past few weeks and I'm so excited that it's now going live! If you have any questions / comments / etc., let me know in the comments below or via email! 

 


The Art of Instagram Etiquette


  Artists-Positively-Present

 

"I'm so happy I found your account! I see your work all over the place, but I never knew who made it!" 

This was a comment I received on Instagram last week, and it's not the first of its kind. Last week I hit the 100,000 follower mark on Instagram, which, silly as it sounds, was a big deal to me. I know I'm supposed to act like I don't care about followers and these numbers don't matter, but when you're a brand — when you work hard to put up content almost daily and the number of people you reach correlates to your ability to actually afford groceries and rent — these numbers do matter. It was a really exciting milestone for me, but its brought to the surface some really mixed feelings I have about Instagram.

I love Instagram, obviously, and I want the platform to continue to thrive, but there are some major downsides for creators. Creators post on there, driving traffic to the app, but, unlike a platform like YouTube, creators aren't compensated for all of the work they do to bring people to the app. That's a big scale problem, and one that I don't have the capacity to directly address, but there's also the sharing (and, all too often, stealing) issue, which is what I want to talk about here. 

Before I get into it, I have to admit that writing about this is difficult for me, because I feel the following: 

  • Worried that I'll sound ungrateful for my audience
  • Silly for being angry about something like Instagram
  • Embarrassed that my ego is possessive of my work
  • Annoyed that I have to care about "credit" as a creator

But, as uncomfortable as I feel writing this, it's something I've been wanting to talk about for a long time. See, over the past few years, things have changed a lot in terms of Positively Present's content and audience. Part of this has been my personal growth, my desire to create and share art in addition to writing, and part of it is a shift in the way people consume content online. I used to just write (and occasionally create images or illustrations) here on the site. They would get shared, yes, but typically with a link to the site so it was a give-and-take situation: someone would take my work and share it and, in return, I would be given the opportunity to reach new people. But, with Instagram, all of that's different now. It's a lot more take than give. Because Instagram doesn't make it easy to share links (particularly if you don't have a large account) or credit creators, it's up to individuals to give credit, and many people don't know how (or even that they should). 

I've shared guidelines before (the number of times a day I have to write "Check the FAQ story highlights for details on sharing!" is mind-boggling), but I thought I'd write them out again here. Keep reading for more on why these guidelines are so important for creators ('cause it's about way more than wanting more followers!).  

  

PERSONAL ACCOUNT GUIDELINES

Creators love when personal accounts share their work because we're getting a real, positive promotion from someone who genuinely likes our work and wants to share it with family and friends. Unfortunately, because the everyday Instagram user often isn't familiar with Instagram etiquette, they often don't know to credit properly. Here's the deal:  

  • Always mention the creator in the first two lines of the caption.
  • Always tag the creator in the image itself.
  • Never filter, crop, or edit the image (doing so is changing the work without permission).
  • Never share a bunch of one creator's photos in a row (it's just rude. and weird.).
  • Consider purchasing something from a creator, particularly if you share the work frequently.
  • Stop following freebooting accounts (see below) and follow creators instead. 

 

BRAND ACCOUNT GUIDELINES 
 
Ideally, brands should be paying creators to make content for them — particularly the large brands — but since this isn't how things seem to work for the most part, at the very least, brands should do the following: 

  • Always ask permission before sharing. Large brands that have shared my work, magazines like ShapeGlamour, and Teen Vogue, do this. Smaller brands frequently do not, and it's problematic because no creator wants their work connected to a cause / product / celebrity they don't support.
  • Always mention the creator in the first two lines of the caption. This is especially important for brands to do because, if you're getting content for free, the very least you can do is drive some traffic to the creator's account. 
  • Always tag the creator in the image itself.
  • Never filter, crop, or edit the image (doing so is changing the work without a creator's permission).
  • Never share a bunch of one creator's photos in a row (it's just rude. and weird.).
  • Never imply the creator is a partner of or affiliated with the brand (unless a paid partnership is in place). 
  • Never use an image to promote a sale, promotion, event, or other business-related content. 
  • Hire the creators you really like to create custom work for you. It's way cooler than just reposting! 

 

FREEBOOTING ACCOUNT GUIDELINES

Freebooting accounts are Instagram accounts (like this) that do not create any of their own content, but instead share only other people's content to grow their own page. I'm not fully aware of the purpose of this and, in many cases, I don't believe it's malicious, but it's still harmful to creators and particularly unfair when these freebooting accounts grow very large and receive compensation in the form of sponsorships, ads, and other partnerships — all while creating no work of their own. 

  • Never share creators' work unless you're going to create work of your own. 
  • If you want to curate things, hop over to Pinterest. That's what it's for. 
  • Why are you doing this? What are you getting out of it? Likes? Stop it. 
  • Just cut it out.
  • No. 
  • Stop. 
  • Seriously. Why? 

 

So, why these guidelines? Why not just share my work and not worry about the credit? (A creator I love specifically says that anyone can share her work without credit and, as much as I love the idea of that — so selfless! so altruistic! — it plays all too well into the age-old tale of the starving artist, the notion that, in order to be creative, one doesn't actually make a living off one's work.) In reality, credit — as silly as it sounds — is a huge deal for creators.  

As far as I can tell, there's never been a period of time in history where creators' works were just taken and used whenever and wherever. If, back in the day, you owned an art shop, you couldn't just take a painter's work and then sell it as your own without physically stealing the paintings. Now, it's just a few taps on your phone, and you can take creative content and share it. For free. All the sharing is wonderful in that in can, if an image is credited properly, drive traffic to a creator's account. 

But, most of the time, creators' work isn't credited properly (or at all). I personally struggle with this a great deal. On one hand, I want to be open and carefree and think, I'm just generous creator and I'm happy to have my work shared and appreciated, even if I don't receive any appreciation or compensation for it. But another part of me can't seem to shake the notion that this work is mine. It whispers to me, You worked so hard on this. Why shouldn't you receive credit or, god forbid, compensation for what you've done? 

I don't want to feel the "mine-ness" of my work, but I do. Every time I see my work shared without credit, it feels like a sharp sting, a pinprick in my heart. Every time I see my work with the signature removed — someone's deliberate attempt to claim it as their own — it feels like I've been shoved to the ground, wind knocked out of me. 

This feeling of ownership is a strange mix of selfishness (That's mine!, my mind squeals like a toddler when her toy has been snatched away) and selflessness (Hey! When you just share others' work, you're really missing out on the joy of creating it yourself!, my mind also exclaims.) It sounds silly to say, but I almost feel guilty, being part of this culture that encourages people to look and share rather than make and create. Sometimes it feels like I'm spinning around on a giant dance floor — not the best dancer in the world, but having a damn good time — with all of these people standing on the sidelines saying, "Wow! I love your dance moves! That looks fun!" and I want to yell, If you like it, get out here! Try it. Make something! 

It makes me wonder: Why are creators giving so much away for free? (Answer: Because they have to in order to gain followers and be considered "successful" enough to be worthy of brand deals, ads, book contracts, etc.) What kinds of creativity are we losing by staring at screens filled with things other people have made instead of making things ourselves? (Answer: Unknown, but probably a lot of cool stuff!) Maybe we'd be better off if people put down their phones and picked up a pencil or a paintbrush. Perhaps this makes me sound ungrateful and petulant, but I'm constantly conflicted by the desire to make work that is appreciated and the desire to work alone quietly, undetected. And, as strange as it might sound if you're not in the same position, it's actually really stressful to be torn between these two things.

You might be thinking at this point: If you're so bothered by this, why don't you just not share it? Or just post it on your website? There are two main reasons I continue to share my work on Instagram (and other social media platforms): (1) It's one of the best ways to grow an audience and, therefore, make enough money to (barely...) be able to afford food, and (2) I genuinely enjoy it and want to help people. Have you ever heard that old saying, What would you do all day if you didn't have to worry about money? Well, I'm doing it. I love writing and drawing and creating and sharing and helping other people with simple things that speak to them. I really do. I don't really care about getting credit — yes, there's a part of me that thinks "mine!" but most of me really just wants to make things, even if no one sees them — but I do care about making a living and, like it or not, getting credit indirectly leads to getting paid.  

With this post, it’s not my intention to sound whiny or thankless — particularly amidst the joy of reaching a big Instagram milestone! 100k! Hooray!! — but, as much as social media feels like a frivolous time-waster, for a lot of creators — including me! — it’s really not. It matters. It's how we find work, sell products, build brands that will attract publishing houses or product distributors or whoever else can help us to grow our businesses. And, remember: the more a creator succeeds, the more content you'll likely get.

Mostly, I just wanted to get all of this out of my mind and into words. It's a weird and wonderful time to be a creative, and I'm incredibly grateful for all of the appreciation and opportunities that have come my way as a result of Instagram (and social media in general), but I think it's important for people who aren't creators — those who are consuming the content — to think about the other side to all of this free art. Creators are real people, people who work really hard to make things, and if you like what they do, you should support them — at the very least, by crediting their work, but, if you can, by actually paying for their work. 

If you can, buy something from a creator you follow this week. Pick up an art print. Buy a book. Or, if that's not an option, try creating something yourself. Above all, that's what I'd really love to see: more people creating, fewer people consuming. (Stay tuned for more on this soon!) 

I obviously had a lot to say on this subject, but I'd love to hear from you, too! Are you a creator? What is your experience with Instagram / sharing / social media? If you're not a creator, do you think about this? What are your thoughts now? Let me know in the comments section below!