What I Wish I'd Known 20 Years Ago


Childhood Dream


Lately, I've been reading my old journals — particularly from middle school — and it's been so interesting to reflect on how I viewed the world then vs. how I view it now. In some ways, I'm very much the same, but I've also learned so much in the past 20 or so years, and it's gotten me thinking a lot about what I wish I'd known then. I don't want to dwell on the past, of course, but sometimes considering what you would tell your younger self is actually an interesting way to reflect on the present. While reading through the pages in my own journals, here are some of the things I wanted to tell my younger self...



As a kid, I wrote about things like wanting to be thinner, prettier, nicer, etc. In the way I wrote it (and what I know about myself), it seems as if I was writing about these things not because I necessarily believed them, but because I thought those were the things I was supposed to be unsettled by. I was also unsettled by my lack of belief in God, horrific happenings in the world, etc., but it was the lack of self-love (or feigned lack of it) that struck me the most. I believed, as so many children (and adults!) do, that things would be better if I could just be [fill in the blank]. While I haven't entirely rid my mind of those thoughts, I know now that they're not facts. The way you feel about yourself will not change if external circumstances. I know now, with decades of experience in my back pocket, that if I'm thinner, more loved, more popular, more successful, I'm not necessarily happier. Self-love isn't a natural state of being. It's a job — one that we have to work at our entire lives. Like most jobs, the more you do it, the easier it gets, but there are still hard days. It's an on-going, lifelong journey taking place entirely in your own mind. 



When you're a child (an even sometimes when you're a grownup), everything (good or bad) feels intense and eternal. Every state we enter into — joyful, sad, anxious, excited — seems as if it will last forever. This can be wonderful in the good times, but devastating in the bad times. The older I get, the more I realize that nothing — absolutely nothing — lasts forever. This might sound disheartening, but it's an absolute truth about life. And it's actually a fantastic concept to embrace. It makes the bad times easier to get through (they'll end soon!), and it makes us more appreciative of the good times. When you're in the midst of a low time, it's hard to remember this, but when you practice doing it, it gets easier, and makes whatever you're going through much easier to cope with. 



Kid-me loved technology. I can remember going to the computer store (CompUSA?) with my dad to pick out my first laptop, and I honestly feel like it was one of the greatest days of my life. Having a tool in my bedroom where I could write and create (with the limited clip art I had, haha), was life-changing. I also remember seeing a teeny tiny laptop that day and really wanting that one, but it wasn't able to handle programs like Word (which was pretty much the only thing I needed the computer for). Now, we have those teeny laptops right in our pockets at all times. We have incredible access to so much information all of the time, and it's amazing. Technology was always something I loved, but when I was a kid I had no idea how much it would transform my life. My kid-self would be so thrilled with the tech world right now, and I'm grinning right along with her. 



The cool thing about having old journals is being able to reflect on who you were and compare it to who you are now. (Narcissistic? Perhaps. But also fascinating!) So many things that plagued my young mind — not having a boyfriend, feeling frustrated by the limitations of childhood, stressing about tests — changed a great deal. The anxious mind of my childhood isn't gone, but it's shifted and, while anxiety is still a struggle, I know how to cope with it better now. Many things have changed, but what's just as interesting is some of the things that have stayed the same. My childhood self would be thrilled with what I do for a living, the design of my apartment, all of the time I get to spend with words, drawing and writing and creating, with a super cute pup curled at my feet. Even if you don't have a childhood journal, I'd highly recommend reflecting on what you were like then (and what you liked then) to see how you've changed or stayed the same. 



When you're young (or, at least, when was young), you often feel powerless. You cannot make big life decisions. You can't drive. You can't choose where you go most of the time. If you're independent and crave autonomy, this lack of control can feel stifling and frustrating. But, the older I get, the more I realize that control is less about changing your circumstances and more about changing your attitude. Yes, as a grown-up, you have a lot more say in what you do with your life, but you also have different stressors and unavoidable aspects of life that you have to deal with. The sooner you realize that your power lies not in what you can control externally, but in what you can do with your mindset and attitude, the more in control of your life you become — no matter what comes your way. 



About a week ago, I came across the quote I illustrated above, and it made me pause and think about how lucky I am to be doing what my childhood self would have wanted to do. For some, this might be ridiculous (either they didn't have a childhood dream or they had one that they didn't really want), but I always wanted to be a writer — really, that's all I envisioned myself doing, in some form or another — and now I'm doing it. I've always been grateful for this opportunity, but that quote made me realize what a true privilege it is to be able to do what I always wanted to do. If I could tell my childhood self about what I do for a living now, I know she would have been happy — and isn't that kind of an amazing thing? Now, this dream job certainly isn't some magical, perfect career path. It's hard and gets harder all the time, but still. To be able to tell my childhood self that, yes, you can (and will!) be a writer, is kind of an amazing idea. Also, if you know any kids out there, tell them about this. Also, tell them this: one of the reasons I think I actually became a writer is because I never, for one moment, thought I wasn't one. Even when I was working in Marketing, I was writing on the sly. I was always, always writing, even when my business card didn't say "writer," and I always will be, even if my career path changes. (Now walk down memory lane with this oldie-but-goodie and imagine me singing it about my writing career, haha!)


Now, I want to know... Do you have old journals? Do you read them? What would you tell your younger self if you could? Share in the comments below! 



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Positively Present Picks: March 24, 2017



“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”

Rosa Parks



Creative Market Shop : just opened this shop for design resources! check it out! 

She Reaches Podcast : I love this podcast + was so honored to be interviewed

Is Ignorance the Problem? : a very quick, interesting read from Seth Godin

How to Live More Wisely Around Our Phones : if you have nomophobia, read this

Hi Hi Hi Hi Hi : this little tweet is silly, but it made me smile big time

This Good World : a site to help you find socially responsible businesses

Behind the Adult Coloring Trend : tapping into your inner kid is good for you

Feeling Stressed? : here are 105 ways to keep calm and carry on

4 Step Guide to Letting Go of the Past : it's tough, but these are great tips

Little Piggy : here's another tweet that's also silly, but really made my day :) 

Can a World Filled with Unhappiness Change Its Course? : so thought-provoking

Uplifting News : need some positive news? check out this round-up

You Can Make Excuses or You Can Make Progress : which do you wanna make?

15 Free Desktop Wallpapers for Dog Lovers : I want to download them all :)



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!

"Dive In" — KYKO
"Bridge and Wall" — Elohim
"Next Escape" — Viceroy
"Galway Girl" — Ed Sheeran
"Weekends" — Amy Shark
"Bad Things"— Milky Chance
"When It Comes to Us" — Frances
"Want" — Adam Counts
"Feel It Still" — Portugal. The Man
"Seeing Stars" — Borns



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life
in a Crowded World
Michael Harris

Neon Soul : Poetry and Prose
Alexandra Elle

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present


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Sky or Screen? : The Power of Perspective


Sky or Screen


You're probably well aware that your perspective -- or point of view -- matters a great deal. Whether you're positive or negative, happy or sad, focused on the details or eyeing the big picture, looking up or looking down -- everything around you is impacting what you see and think and do. But, as aware of this as you might be, most of us forget about this. We're in whatever place or attitude or frame of mind that we're in and we forget that, oftentimes, our perspective is something that we've chosen. 


This concept was brought sharply into focus (quite literally!) the other day while I was looking out the window at some pretty, fluffy clouds. One second I was looking at the sky and, a second later, my eyes shifted their focus and I was looking at the little black grid of the window's screen, with the sky blurry in the background. (See my attempt at a recreating this moment in the image above.)


If you can, go to a window with a screen right now and try it. Focus on the screen, and the sky'll go blurry. Focus on the sky, and the blurred screen can almost be ignored. 


You do this with your eyes all the time, giving attention to something close or far away and blurring the opposite perspective. And guess what? You do this with your mind, too. All the time. And, just like the screen / sky example, you probably don't think about it much. If something's on your screen (say, a butterfly landed there), it'll grab your attention. If the sky's a startling blue or a worrisome gray, your eyes'll be drawn to that. You look at what's most noteworthy to you at the moment and ignore the rest. 


This isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you were to see everything all at once, your brain would be overstimulated, and you'd probably go a bit crazy. But, when it comes to more abstract things -- say, a positive mindset vs. negative mindset -- it's important to be aware of not only what you're looking at, but also what you're not looking at. And, even more importantly, to think about whether you're looking at is the right thing or if it's actually helpful. 


For example, if you're trying to figure out what the weather's like, looking at the screen isn't particularly useful. Likewise, if you want to know if the screen could use a good cleaning, looking at the sky won't give you the info you need. This week, I want to think about what the sky / screen is in your life right now. 

  • What are you focusing intently on? What is your current screen? Your sky?

  • Is what you're focusing on the right thing to look at right now?
    (Key words: right now. This doesn't have to be forever.)

  • What would you see if you shifted your focus? Would this view be more or less useful?


There're no right or wrong answers to these questions. They're just a few prompts to inspire you to pay attention to what you're looking at in order to contemplate whether what you're paying attention to is actually what you should be paying attention to. Your perspective is often up to you, and you often (almost always!) have the power to shift it if you want to. But you can only shift it if you're aware of it. Awareness is the first step, so, this week, pay attention. Look out your window. Notice your screen. Notice your sky.  


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Positively Present Picks: March 17, 2017

Make Your Own Luck


"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time: a day to begin
transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic."

Adrienne Cook



Make Your Own Luck : check out this video to see how I drew the image above

Best Day Ever App : a great little app for tracking your daily moods

Shop Shiny Things! : did you see all of the cool things I've listed? treat yo' self! :)

Friday Night Vibes : this dog (and its snack situation) made me laugh

The Desire Map : have you read it? I keep coming back to it again + again

Saturn's Moon : these new pics of this are so cool. I love space! 

How to Stop Checking Your Phone : excellent, much-needed tips here

Why We Suffer When We Judge Others' Choices : judging = bad news

Mystical Girl, Material World : really want to pick up a copy of this book!

The Most Dangerous Energy of Joy : wonderful, wise words from Hesse

Always Giving to Others? : here's how to beat the generosity burnout

Peace Is Power : it really is + I need this candle in my life to help me chill



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!

"Liability" — Lorde
"Say You Will" — Shy Girls
"Wasted My Love" — Axel Mansoor
"Castle on the Hill" (Live) — Ed Sheeran
"Feels" — Kiiara
"Tessalate"— Alt-J
"Feel Good" — Gryffin + Illenium
"History" — Olivia Holt
"Oceans Away" — A R I Z O N A
"Third of May" — Fleet Foxes



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Present Over Perfect:
Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler,
More Soulful Way of Living
Shauna Niequist

Handwriting Analysis
Andrea McNichol 

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present


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Springtime Simplifying, Sorting, + Selling!


Spark Joy


Last week at a baby shower I saw some women I hadn't seen in nearly a decade. While talking about organizing the baby's new clothes, someone brought up my organization skills. One girl exclaimed, "I only went to your house once, but I still think about your closet all the time! All your clothes arranged by color!" and another chimed in, "Oh my god! Yes! I remember you opening your make-up drawer and seeing all of your eyeshadows organized in perfect rows!" I beamed with pride, picturing my still-organized closet, my current make-up drawer with shadows still in a row.

I've been an organized person for as long as I can remember. As a young girl, I was always sorting and re-organizing and decluttering in my room (perhaps as a result of the excessive amount of stuff I continuously accumulated!), and to this day I'm still one of the most organized people I know. Everything has a proper place, and everything is put in that place.

But, despite everything having a proper place, I still don't feel quite right about my possessions. While recently revisiting Marie Kondō's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it occurred to me why this is. I might have a proper place for everything, but everything's proper place isn't necessarily with me. So many of the things I own have served me well, and so I keep them. I'm starting to realize, though, that organized possessions are not the same as purposeful possessions. As Kondō's wrote: 

“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure. To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

It's that, right there, that I'm finally realizing. There are a great many things in my organized little apartment that no longer serve a purpose for me. And, silly as this sounds, I have a sense of guilt that comes from hanging on to them, and it leaves me feeling uneasy and unsettled. Unlike most people, who feel guilty about giving things of value away, I'm the opposite: I feel guilty for hanging onto things (especially beautiful, valuable things) that I no longer use.  

Because some of my things have brought me such joy or beauty in the past, I keep them. But, aside from a few extra special things, I know I would feel better if I set these things free, giving someone else to enjoy and experience them. I've thought about this many times, but followed those thoughts with excuses ("ugh, it'll take so much time to sort through!" or "I don't even know how I would sell these things!"). This time, I'm listening to what my heart is telling me -- let these things go -- and taking action. 

This is definitely a work in progress, but here's what I've done over the past week or so to simplify, sort, and sell! 




Tiffany Heart Links
Heartfelt Tiffany Heart Links

First, I decided I needed to simplify this process. If I were to just look at my whole apartment and try to sort and sell it all, I would be so overwhelmed that I would give up. I decided to try a bit of an odd approach: I sat down on the couch and thought, "Where should I begin?" The first thought that came to my mind was the one I would tackle. It happened to be jewelry. I have a lot of beautiful, meaningful jewelry. But here's the thing: I rarely wear jewelry. I'm not quite sure why, but that's the way it is. So it makes sense to start there, to simplify the overwhelming task of reflecting and sorting all of my possessions by homing in on the one thing that has a lot of value, just not to me.

No one who doesn't wear jewelry should have a drawer full of it. Just thinking about the pieces I have loved, the meaningful moments behind them, and imagining someone else getting a similar kind of joy makes it easy to let these beauties go. In this first stage, the simplifying part, I spent a lot of time thinking about Kondō's well-known question, "Does it spark joy?" but also adding, "Will this spark joy in someone else?" 

Simplifying your life isn't just about getting rid of the things that no longer have a purpose for you; it's also about considering how these things might be useful to someone else. 




Juicy Charm Bracelet
Fun Juicy Couture Charm Bracelet

After choosing the area on which to focus first -- jewelry -- I moved onto the sorting part. I pulled it all out, Kondō-style, and went through, piece by piece. When it comes to jewelry, I could probably let it all go and be just fine, but I decided to hang on to a few pieces that were especially meaningful to me, or that I do, on rare occasions, actually wear. Those went into the KEEP pile. The next pile -- DONATE -- I filled with pieces that were either too well-loved to sell or that had little to no value (I'm looking at you, Forever 21 necklaces!). And, finally, the most beloved and beautiful pieces that were no longer serving a purpose with me went into the SELL pile. Everything in this pile was something I'd still love and wear, if I were the kind of person that wore jewelry. Everything in this pile was something I could look at and answer "yes!" to the question, "Would this spark joy in someone else's life?" 

(I'm not going to lie: this sorting business wasn't easy, particularly when determining what to KEEP and what to SELL. All of the pieces I decided to sell are valuable, not only in a monetary sense, but also in an emotional sense. But I determined that, if something had once brought me such joy, it would be a wonderful thing to put that joy back out into the world and allow someone else to experience it, rather than trapping it in a drawer for years. With that thought it mind, it made me actually feel good to list these items for sale.)




Tiffany Happy
Happy Little Tiffany Charm

In her book, Kondō writes: “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest." After going through all of my jewelry and the sorting process, I was left not only with a few meaningful items that spoke to my heart (however cheesy that sounds...), but also a whole bunch of pieces I really believe will speak to someone else's heart. I don't believe that items can actually take on emotions -- joy, pain, etc. -- but I do feel like there's something interesting about purchasing an item that you know brought someone else joy. 

To me, it's the added bonus that comes with buying a used thing. It was discarded by someone else because it had fulfilled its purpose with that person, but it arrived where you are so it could be purposeful for you. You get the tangible thing, of course, but also the knowledge that someone else loved this thing, too. It's a bit out there, maybe, but I think there's something to it. It's why we love antiques, why we consider something a relative owned to be of more value than it really is, etc. There's a meaning, a history, behind a used item that you just don't get with something brand new from a store. 

So, last week, I photographed, researched, and posted the joy-sparking jewelry on my Etsy shop. Every time I sell a piece, I feel a bit of excitement for the person who is about to receive it. Packing it up and shipping it off to a new home is an oddly comforting act, a kind of gift-giving feeling. It feels good for me, and I'm hoping it feels just as good for those opening their new-to-them items. If you want to see what's still for sale, check it out here


This whole process has been an eye-opening and revitalizing experience. Many of these items I thought I would never part with, but knowing that they are going to a new home, to a place where they will hopefully be loved and worn, rather than sitting idly in a drawer, sparks a joy in me that is much different (and better!) from the joy I get from the items I possess. If you're thinking of doing some spring cleaning or organizing, I highly recommend it! 


PS - I'm also still running a MAJOR sale in my Etsy shop to make way for some new things. Pins, stickers, and e-books are up to 50% off! Check it out here




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