Oh, Goodness! 8 Great Things You Will LOVE

Oh, Goodness! 8 Great Things You Will LOVE

It’s been a crazy-busy month, but I’ve been thinking lots about you and wanting to share a whole bunch of goodness with you – programs and products and people I’m just swooning over. So it’s time for a stream-of-consciousness braindump. If you like this little Oh, Goodness! list, let me know over on FB or share the list below. Maybe I’ll make this a regular thing around here. 🙂

courageous heARTS (they need your vote!)

Linking Angels is collecting votes this month to award $100,000 to an up-and-coming nonprofit. I’m rooting for Courageous HeARTS  – a small organization with a huge heart for helping kids heal through art. Please vote for them here (it’s free & super easy). 

My Favorite New Movie 

I am over-the-moon excited for my soul sister Lori Portka. Today, a beautiful new short film about her was released via Hailey Bartholomew’s 365 Grateful project. Every time I watch it, I cry. Seven minutes of gorgeous gratitude. You have to see it, friends. It will make you want to deeply thank every person you come across today! Watch it, share it, spread the goodwill. Here it is:

 

Little Love Notes

Speaking of Lori, you’ll also LOVE the brand new Crazy Sexy Love Notes – a deck of inspiring cards by Kris Carr that she masterfully illustrated. Pick a beautiful, encouraging card each morning; such an uplifting way to start the day!

Mermaid Pillows

I’ve been a fan of Kelly Barton’s art for years. Right now, I’m totally swooning over her brand new mermaid throw pillows. Seriously. Could these be cuter??

Flying Lessons

I truly believe every creative entrepreneur needs to experience the magic of Kelly Rae Roberts’ Flying Lessons ecourse. It was a game-changer for me years ago, and today I’m honored to be a contributor to the updated, self-paced version.

The Daily Saint

Do you know about The Daily Saint? It’s kind of like Humans of New York, but every day founder Mikaela features everyday heroes and their random acts of kindness. I find the short stories soooo uplifting and heartwarming; you can follow TDS on Facebook or Instagram so you don’t miss a post.

Empathy For Sale 

In case you haven’t heard, Emily McDowell’s new line of Empathy cards are freaking brilliant. The perfect blend of wit, wisdom and compassion for someone facing a serious illness or life challenge.

How To Inspire

Last but not least, I’m having a blast collaborating with Illuminating Souls’ Laurel Bleadon-Maffei on a brand new program called Inspiring Messengers. It’s a six-week course for those who want to make a living by sharing their light. She is so gifted, so smart. Starting June 3rd, the course includes live mentorship calls, a wide variety of resources and video tutorials – including one about creating inspiring graphics that we’ve made available online for FREE today only. Check it out here. 

Here’s hoping all kinds of goodness greets you on your path today! xoxo

social media got you down? 3 solutions from positively present’s dani dipirro

Positively Present Guide to Life by Dani DiPirro

I absolutely LOVE witnessing someone change their life by changing their mindset (yay, power of thought!). Back in 2009, when I still co-hosted a radio show in Minneapolis, we did a show on positive thinking. We interviewed a young woman named Dani DiPirro who said she’d spent the first 25 years of her life with a negative attitude – until she realized it wasn’t doing her any good. So, she decided to shift her thinking and committed to finding the good in every situation.

Dani’s life changed in all kinds of wonderful ways.

Dani DiPirro - Positively PresentShe was so inspired that she started a web site, PositivelyPresent.com, to share her own insights and experiences with readers yearning to find the good, too. The web site took off, she was able to leave her marketing job, and published her first book in 2012. This week, she’s celebrating the launch of her second book – The Positively Present Guide To Life – and it’s great!

She’s one busy (and happy!) lady these days, so I asked her to answer me three quick questions – including how she stays upbeat on social media. Enjoy!

line with spark

Dani, you’ve built the Positively Present brand online, from your blog to Instagram to Facebook. But spending a great deal of time online can be soul-sucking if you’re not careful. In the book, you advise readers to use technology wisely; can you elaborate on how you do this? 

“Technology can definitely be soul-sucking if we’re not careful with how we use it. There are three important things to consider when thinking about using technology in a positive way.

First and foremost, it’s important to think about how you feel when you’re using certain technology or visiting certain websites. If you feel inspired, motivated, and engaged — that’s great! If not, you might want stop visiting a certain site or, to limit your time on the site, remove its app or bookmark. (And it’s important to remember: just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to.)

Secondly, it can be useful to pay attention to how much time you’re spending on social media. Obviously I spend a great deal of time on certain sites (particularly Instagram and Pinterest), but I try to have certain times of the day when I don’t engage with social media and I give myself a little break.

The third point to keep in mind when striving for a positive, healthy relationship with technology is that there are many apps and websites that can actually help you be more positive and present. Finding apps and websites that encourage mindfulness can be very useful, particularly during the times when it’s difficult to stay in the moment.”

In the section on work life in your new book, you encourage readers to appreciate what’s working and accept praise graciously. I love this, because it’s so easy to forget to CELEBRATE the little things each day. So I’d love to know how you’re savoring and celebrating this moment in your work life as your new book is being born into the world!  

“We’re often so focused on big goals that we forget to stop and rejoice in the little moments. I try to celebrate something every day, even if it’s something as small as crossing a tough task off my to-do list or making some extra time to play with my dog. I’ve been working on this book for two years so it’s a big deal that it’s finally out there in the world, sitting on bookshelves all over the world. Even though it was a big moment when I first saw the book in the bookstore, I’ve been trying to celebrate all of the little victories along the way (such as turning in the first draft, completing the illustrations, etc.), and this has actually made the debut of the book even sweeter. Every little win — no matter how small — deserves to be savored, and throughout the publishing process, I’ve really tried to make time to celebrate (and write about) the little moments.”

What was your favorite chapter to write in the book and why?

“Great question! My favorite chapter of the book to write was the first chapter, which focuses on being positively present at home. I enjoyed this partly because I’m a bit of a homebody and really enjoy being at home, but mostly because I believe it’s so important for people to create a positive living space in which they can feel comfortable, relaxed, and inspired. We spend a lot of time in our homes and with the people we live with so it’s important to make the most of the moments we have at home. And this isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes we’re not living in a place we want to be or we’re living with people who aren’t necessarily positive. Ideal living situations are hard to come by, but I believe everyone can make the most of whatever situation he or she is in and create a home that feels both invigorating and relaxing.”

Thanks & congrats, Dani!

Pssst! Friends, you can find The Positively Present Guide to Life here.

And!? Dani’s also a contributor to my How To Build a Blog You Truly Love ebook here.

the real reason taylor swift is breaking records (light the way, girl)

The real reason Taylor Swift is breaking records - #1989

You guys, I am obsessed with the new Taylor Swift album, 1989. It’s so good! And I’m not the only one who thinks so. After her bold and brilliant move from country to pop, music industry execs say she’s about to become the first artist ever to top one million sales in the first week for three albums. At the ripe old age of 24. Wow.

Yes, she’s a great songwriter. Yes, she’s got a round-the-clock publicity and promotion machine behind her. Yes, she’s a strong role model for young girls (and, heck, 40-year-old moms, too). But I believe the real reason this superstar is on top of the world again is this: Taylor Swift is seriously tuned in to her intuition. 

I could tell as soon as I heard the album: she sounds like a young woman who is crystal-clear about where she’s been, what she’s learned and how to tell her stories in ways that move people – literally and figuratively. She gets the power of keeping it real, singing From the beats to the hooks to her subtle giggle on the mega-hit “Shake It Off,” Taylor didn’t miss a detail – and that’s the sign of intuition at work. It trumps convention, it overshadows the “right” way to do anything, it offers inspiration that feels like rocket fuel, and it empowers us to trust our inner guidance even when everyone else says not to.

Sure enough, when I opened up the insert from Taylor’s CD, her thank-you note to family, friends and fans confirmed it. “For the last few years, I’ve woken up every day not wanting, but needing to write a new style of music,” she writes in her foreword. “I needed to change the way I told my stories and the way they sounded…it was a good thing to follow this gut feeling.”

She reiterated this in an interview with the Montreal Gazette last month: “I had this constant intuition and gut feeling and inspiration coming at me saying: ‘Make this album this way, make this album different from everything you’ve done before.’ So creatively I just followed that intuition and made the album the way I wanted to make it.”

That’s no small feat, completely switching genres when you’re a superstar singer. Management and radio stations and concert promoters freak the freak out when you threaten to rock the boat. Think of the pressure! You have to sense, deep down, that such a bold move will be totally worth the leap of faith. Taylor’s record label worried about offending all the country radio stations who’ve supported her work over the years, and asked her to please include three country songs on 1989. But Taylor’s intuition was unshakeable; she politely declined because she knew that she had to make a clean break.

Shake It Off lyrics by Taylor Swift

Our intuition is like a song playing over and over in our minds, the beat pulsing through our veins, the words pumping us up. So it’s no surprise someone like Taylor Swift can FEEL that music. She’s made all kinds of unconventional decisions for this album release that serve others – from inviting hundreds of fans to secret listening parties at her homes to donating all the proceeds from her latest hit (Welcome to New York) to NYC public schools – and, like a boomerang, these intuitively-guided  choices have not only touched others but bolstered her own success.

Taylor Swift’s on fire not only because she makes cool tunes, but because she’s the poster girl for following your heart. I vote that we all follow in her footsteps…we’ll make the moves up as we go. 

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Speaking of intuition, I’m soooo glad Lori and I listened to ours and said YES to launching Infinite Purpose next week. The response has been awesome, with people around the world signing up, sending sweet notes of celebration and sharing it with others. We are so excited! Join us here.

Letting Goodness Make Way For Greatness

I gave my heart to another this weekend…and learned a valuable lesson. Maybe you can relate?

Here’s the truth: I am cheating on my iPhone. I have adored my 4G since I got it last year; I feel totally naked without it. Sure, it has its drawbacks, but we are so good together. Never thought I’d look at another phone again. 

And then I got an email a few weeks ago from Verizon. They wanted to fly me to Chicago, put me up in a nice hotel, feed me yummy food, send me to the Brands & Bloggers Summit…oh, and give me a new “surprise” device to play with and maybe write about. At first, I turned them down, saying “thank-you-very-much-I-already-have-an-iPhone.” But they were persistent and sweet-talked me into going anyway.

Honestly, I was most excited by the chance to meet more bloggers and attend the conference. And I kinda {okay, really} hoped the surprise device would be something like an iPad or Xyboard. But on Friday, as the Verizon people handed out devices to a dozen-or-so of us, I found myself holding another phone: a Samsung Galaxy S3. Some of the women squealed with delight, clearly aware of its bells and whistles and thrilled to replace their basic phones {apparently, it’s quickly become the bestselling smartphone ever}. I, on the other hand, felt like an idiot. I knew nothing about it {I couldn’t even turn it on!} and I already had a phone I loved. I wanted to crawl under the table and sneak out the door. 

Luckily, a Verizon expert came in to teach us about the phone. I felt like I asked all the questions. But once I got the hang of it, I have to tell you: the thing blew me away. It has a huge screen, cool apps and it’s crazy-smart. I get to keep it for a few months and let you know what I think. That is, if I can pry it away from my family {Brad and the boys are quite enchanted by it!}. Don’t worry – I’m not abandoning my beloved iPhone. But I also can’t ignore all that sparkles on the gorgeous Galaxy. A lucky girl, I am.

This has been a good lesson for me; a reminder that even when things are going well, it’s okay to dream bigger. We usually hold that wishful thinking for our worst moments, when it’s natural to long for something better. But imagining something great when things are already good? We’ve been preconditioned to believe that such daydreaming is downright selfish…or it might even jinx our success. How silly is that?! Why limit our joy and fence-in our worth? I nearly passed up this opportunity with Verizon because I thought what I had was already as good as it gets – or, at the least, good enough. That realization is helping me look at the rest of my life – the really good parts – to make sure I’m dreaming of and embracing all the ways they can get even better. Think you’re ready to do the same? I hope so. Greatness is calling…

I’m part of the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Moms program, which means they gave me a fancy pants phone, six months of service, and the freedom to honestly share my thoughts about the device with you. How fun is that!?

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Happy Summer Action Plan? I’ll Show You Mine…

I swear this happens at the start of every summer: as soon as the flowers bloom and the temperature rises, my life spins out of control.

Maybe it’s a mom thing; having the boys home 24/7 is a big adjustment and requires serious strategic planning to ensure they have a great time AND mama gets her shit done.

Maybe it’s an entrepreneur thing; for whatever reason, new projects and opportunities seem to pop up in abundance this time of year. And 2012 is crazier than ever, filled with blessings that I feel like a total heel for complaining about.

Maybe it’s an expectation thing; every magazine and catalog I see features tan people in flip-flops with fruity drinks, looking care-free and well-rested. That looks like summer. Running from meeting to kid activity to meeting does not.

And yet, that is my summer reality. There’s no magic robot {remember Rosey on The Jetsons!?} to seamlessly coordinate schedules, pick up the cleaning, scrub the floors and hand me a strawberry margarita. But that doesn’t mean I can’t squeeze some pure joy out of this season. So, I give you….

 

My Happy Summer Action Plan {H.S.A.P.}

I’ve decided to create a Happy Summer Action Plan of four simple, doable tasks designed to help me focus on the sweet stuff this summer. Here’s my plan:

 

Work outside when possible.

That picture above of the cherry-in-the-spoon was taken after spending an hour sitting on a bench with my laptop at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. I had an hour in between meetings, so rather than plunk down at a coffee shop, I went there – and it was wonderful. I’ll be on the lookout for these outdoor opportunities throughout the summer.

 

Photograph beauty daily.

That’s how this blog originally started, back in 2006 – with me taking photos and writing my reflections every day for a year. That daily practice was transformative for me, training me to be aware of the beauty in my midst. I love the idea of having a whole collection of beauty shots at the end of the summer – proof I was present each day to the goodness around me {like this darling chipmunk, who was my friendly co-worker at the Sculpture Garden!}.

 

Create a Summer Fun Board

It’s easy to reach the end of summer and wonder where in the world it went…and what in the world we did. So, I have a big piece of cork board for the kids to post tickets, photos and notes about their favorite outings and experiences. By the end of August, I imagine it’ll be loaded up with souvenirs of a fun summer, which will be a great reflection tool for them and will put my mind at ease {look at that! they are having fun!}.

 

Enjoy Guiltless Pleasures

Time to stop sweating more small stuff. I’ve done quite well letting go of some things, but I can think of countless others that still drive me crazy for no good reason. Maybe I’ll take a business trip without worrying about every little detail happening at home. Maybe I’ll choose not freak out about having guests when my house is a mess. Maybe I’ll go to bed earlier – even if it means I don’t get everything done. Joy with underlying guilt isn’t true joy; I must continually remind myself of this.

 

My H.S.A.P. won’t eliminate the chaos in my life, but I think it will ease my stress and help me make the most of summer, even a few minutes at a time. Wanna create one, too? I’d love to know what you think needs to be on yours so we can all know true joy this season!

 

 

 

Flirting With Joy: A Beautiful Love Story {Plant a Kiss Blog Hop}

I adore a good love story. Tales of unlikely reunions, rekindled romances, couples’ triumphs over tragedy – they all make me clutch my heart and feel grateful for real-life evidence that love conquers all.

To my total surprise, I think my favorite new love story is now unfolding right before my eyes. My Nana has spent the last 24 years alone, ever since her beloved life partner – my grandpa, George Munson – died of cancer in 1988. Their love story was a beauty; it was love at first sight and they married in Chicago just before he was deployed overseas in World War II, ensuring they were legally and lovingly bound no matter what happened. Nana took comfort in knowing her sweetheart was surrounded by good guys in the service; his best buddy was a guy from Connecticut he called Hibb. He was funny and kind – just like my grandpa. Their bond was so strong that Hibb still tears up when he recalls their friendship.

Nana met Hibb twice in the 1940s. After the war was over, she would send Christmas cards each year to Hibb and his wife, Shirley. And once, 26 years ago, she and my grandpa met them for dinner in Connecticut during a road trip to see family.

Fast forward to this past Christmas. When Nana didn’t receive a greeting card from Hibb and Shirley, she decided to call and catch up. Hibb answered – and broke the news that Shirley had passed away that spring. Nana and Hibb talked for a while, sharing old stories and common bonds. Soon, they were talking every day…and every night. He sent letters and flowers and a homemade pie. Nana downplayed their relationship with us, her family, but we could tell something sweet and special was developing. And then, Hibb – now 90 years old – decided to get on a plane to visit Nana.

A photo Nana brought to the game - of Hibb {left} and my grandpa {right} in 1944.

Honestly, we weren’t sure what to expect – or how this would go. But a few days into his visit, they each seem so delighted to be in the other’s company. On Sunday, Brad and I took Nana and Hibb to a Twins baseball game, hoping to give them an extra-special experience they could share and reminisce about later. Well, they were as giddy as schoolkids – walking arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand, giggling and reminiscing about their baseball idols {like Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio}, looking like the epitome of young love.

I was shocked when Hibb revealed he hadn’t been to a professional game since about 1947! He was awe-struck by the ballpark and by the company he was with, saying he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had so much fun. Nana couldn’t stop thanking us, overjoyed by the outing. I’m not really sure who felt more joy that day – Nana and Hibb for being there together, or me and Brad for getting to watch them in such a state of bliss.

And the day would not have been complete without a bit of serendipity to knock us off our feet. Midway through the game, a security guy appeared and stood by the rail near us. Though I hadn’t looked at anyone else’s name tag, I was immediately drawn to his – and no wonder:

it said George M! 

Soon after, Nana and Hibb got up for a bathroom break. George M. followed them up the stairs and held the door open for them. He stayed for a few more minutes, then disappeared. It felt like a playful Godwink delivered by my grandpa, seemingly blessing the beauty of this sweet relationship blooming between his wife and best buddy – at ages 88 and 90. As Nana keeps saying, “God works in mysterious ways.”

I’m sharing this story as I participate in the Plant A Kiss blog hop, organized by Sherry of Simply Celebrate to celebrate the launch of Amy Rosenthal’s new book, Plant A Kiss. Sixteen bloggers were asked to do something special on Sunday that would plant joy in our corners of the world – and then blog about it today. As you read our stories of love and joy, you can enter to win fabulous prizes by commenting on each blog you visit. View links to all the blogs here; I hope each story inspires you to cultivate joy in your life and to believe in the power of love – at any age.

 

Make a Joyful Noise: The Cutest Jingle Bells Ever

Need a pick-me-up today? Just click here for a video from my cutie-pie Truman, who has been singing Jingle Bells at the top of his lungs, everywhere we go. He doesn’t care that he can’t pronounce many of the words. He doesn’t care if the tune’s a little off sometimes. He sings it with gusto and joy – and my heart does cartwheels every time.  

 
And when he sings his heart out, his happiness spreads like wildfire. At the grocery store, people peek out  from the aisles, grinning ear-to-ear. One day last week, when Brad took Tru out for lunch, one of the staffers came out to see them at their table. She said the staff had been having a hard day until our little soloist waltzed in and lightened the mood for everyone.

Tru has made such incredible progress over the past year, but especially during these past several months. He’s now in a preschool setting three days a week with special ed liaisons he adores and therapists who work with him on his developmental delays and special needs. We work with him at home, too, mirroring the things he’s learning and experiencing at school. Lately, Brad and I keep looking at each other in amazement over the ways our sweet boy is blossoming – from actually choosing between two items to recognizing emotions like “sad” or “happy” to interacting with his big brother. I get goosebumps on a daily basis.

Oh, how I pray it just keeps on going this way – him blooming and growing and feeling so happy and confident that he just can’t hold his song inside.

Tidings of Comfort & Joy {11.28.11}

I’m heading into this new week feeling grateful for so many little moments that brought me comfort and joy over the long weekend. There were heavy moments, to be sure, as our family ushered in the holidays so keenly aware of my dad’s absence. But I managed to take stock of all the little joy-moments, to “be grateful for all Thy goodness sends,” as our kitchen table prayer cube states. 
I marveled at the way Tru fills my heart with happiness. Just the sight of that little guy in his new Elmo slippers did the trick. 
Equally able to make my heart thump wildly is seeing eight-year-old Ryder caught up in the magic of the season, carefully writing a letter to Santa. Is there a way to ensure that he always believes?
We went to the Farmer’s Market to pick out a Christmas tree – an annual family tradition. The four of us bundled up and quietly walked down the aisles of freshly-cut trees, waiting for the perfect one to call out to us. “Listen for it,” we always tell the boys, encouraging them to not just look but feel the trees’ presence, waiting until we practically hear our tree calling our names. 
I nearly squealed when a special delivery arrived on my doorstep, containing gorgeous 2012 Year of Wishes calendars from Lori Portka and Lisa Sarick! The calendars are so beautiful and inspired. And Lori has been such an angel friend to me, so it was really special to have this package arrive this weekend, overflowing with goodness.
We spent Saturday evening putting up my 87-year-old Nana’s Christmas tree – undoubtedly the oldest artificial tree on the planet. It loses so many plastic “needles” each year, I’m not sure how it has any left! But it has stood the test of time, as have her oh-so-fragile ornaments and her stories of Christmases past. I love, or example, hearing how her Swedish immigrant parents could only afford a $1 tree with one string of lights that shorted out every 10 minutes. It reminds me of all they endured and fills me with gratitude for all that we have today.  
This was another favorite moment of the weekend. My mom was fixing the skirt on Nana’s tree and Tru just piled on top of her. She collapsed in giggles as he nuzzled her neck and refused to let go. So much love, laughter and light in that one precious moment in time. 
Back at home, I decked our halls and dressed up the spruce tops out front {with a concerned supervisor watching my every move}. I love seeing the twinkling lights through our front windows all winter long. 
Then I turned on some Christmas music {I can’t help it – I love it}, hung the stockings with care and we gave our special tree the star treatment. 
This is what joy looks like right here, right now. Raw and real, cultivated bit by bit, captured in small moments and capable of turning sad hearts into glad ones. 
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. 
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” 
– Buddha
* * * * *
P.S. If shopping for good things from good places brings you joy, 
be sure to check out today’s list of unique and handmade offers at
A joy to put together!

Take Time {10.26.11}

Slow down.
Ease up.
Give yourself a moment.
Or the afternoon.
Or the whole damn year.

Hit the snooze button.
Call in sick well.
Let guilt go.

Breathe deep.
Be still.
Feel your miraculous, beating, life-giving pulse.
Honor it.

Invite joy in.
Urge it to stay.
Let time fly
while you grow wings.

.

How To Make This Mama Happy in 15 Minutes or Less {07.12.11}

One of the things I love about my hubby is that he knows and honors one of the easiest ways to make this mama happy: give me a little time alone in a gift shop. When we come across a darling boutique, I have a tendency to swoon; I slow to a saunter, I gaze at the goodies in the window, and I might drool a little. And usually, Brad offers to walk the kids around the block or occupy them in other ways so I can get my boutique fix. So sweet, right?
We recently spent an afternoon in Stillwater, MN – a charming, historic community nestled into the bluffs along the St. Croix River. When we came across mara-mi, the flagship store for one of my favorite stationery lines, I was swooning big-time. We all stepped inside the big and breezy warehouse-like space, filled to the brim with cheerful stationery, ribbon, cards and gifts. 
After surveying the scene and watching Tru climb all over the furniture {see the pics below, ahem}, Brad made a beeline for the riverfront with the boys so I could just browse. Alone. With no one asking for more juice or begging to go or grabbing at displays. Nowadays, even a few quiet minutes in Gift Shop Heaven is a total treat {I can’t decide if this is sweet or pathetic}. 
Loved this creative use of wall space to showcase all of mara-mi’s card stock color combinations. I bought some index cards in a sea breeze blue to cut and use for thank you notes in my Etsy orders. Oh, and some cute washi tape. 
There’s also a full-blown cafe at mara-mi – both modern and darling – with pastries, pizza, ice cream and more. Yummy food, yummy design. 
Before the guys left the store, Tru turned their front window seat into his own playground. He matched the decor, so he felt right at home. And, even though I loved all the goodies there, I think he was the cutest thing in the shop!
Got a quick way to brighten your day? I’d love to know what activity you can count on for a dose of delight!