And now without further ado…

1.

It’s time for a new 30-day challenge, and here’s what I’m doing:

30 days, 30 acts of (expansive, unabashed, downright mushy) gratitude

I know: everyone talks about gratitude. Everyone encourages it, and saying that we should all practice gratitude is like saying we should all breathe. Of course we should.

But I’m not talking about a gratitude journal here, or a jar, or a meditative ritual. Those are great too, but what I’m talking about is more communal. I’m talking about concrete, outward, unmistakable acts of heartfelt appreciation.

It’s writing something nice with the tip you leave in a restaurant. Telling someone’s manager what a great job they did for you. Writing thank you notes and sending ardent, immediate gratitude texts. Emailing a favorite author, blogger, artist, speaker, teacher, activist to say how much you appreciate their work. Calling someone to say, “the world is better with you in it.” Hand making a card. Treating someone to coffee. Giving, without reservation, your conscious, focused, undivided attention because someone you love deserves it.

It’s all of that without expectation of anything in return.

I confess that I’ve already been doing this – an act of gratitude every day so far this year. During and after the experience of  losing Ash, I was broken open by the concern, love and kindness that seemed to come from everywhere, sometimes from people who have never actually met me, even online. It reminded me – in the midst of my personal grief and in the aftermath of a national tragedy – how tender and generous people can be, how much I have to be grateful for.

So I started thanking people, not just the people I know and interact with regularly, but strangers, people who help me, people I admire. It’s okay if they don’t respond (though most have), and it’s okay if I look like a goofball (I am). For the next 30 days, it’s not about my looking graceful or poised or even thankful. It’s not about me at all. It’s about sincere, unselfconscious gratitude and the tangible spreading of love in a world that sorely needs it.

Are you in?

2.

I’m beyond excited to announce… The launch of my Etsy store!

I’m selling doodled postcards!

Here’s how it came to be. I love postcards, and last year, I wanted to buy a box of postcards so I could send them out whenever I was seized by an impulse to connect the old-fashioned way – through the mail. I love real, in-the-mailbox mail. I love getting it and sending it, and it makes me sad that the U.S. post office is in such dire straits.

I looked and looked for postcards and even bought some, but I was looking for whimsy and playfulness and positivity and love, and nothing I found ever quite felt like what I had in mind.

So I decided to make them myself. And then, on a whim that I nurtured into a big, hopeful, fear-shedding leap of faith, I decided to sell my designs. The first six are available now:

 

Three Whimsy and Wisdom cards…

2-word wisdom (2)-MooSize 2-word wisdom (3)-MooSize 2-word wisdom-MooSize

and three Thank You cards (in honor of my 30-day challenge).

Gratitude (3)-MooSize Gratitude (2)-MooSize Gratitude-MooSize

Honestly, I’m as crazy nervous as I am excited, but I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and it’s reminded me how important it is to live my life “in the arena.” I may fail, but I would rather fail daring greatly than fail on the sidelines because I was never brave enough to try.

Inspired by the book, I’m doing something totally new. Rather than launching and then holding my breath, pacing compulsively, stopping only long enough to check (again and again and again) my stats, my comments and my sales for validation, I’m going to turn off my computer and meet my best friend for my first ever  “leap celebration.”

Historically, I’ve tended to value my efforts only when they’ve resulted in tangible, external validation – a pitch gets accepted, a piece gets published, a post gets lots of comments, someone says yes to an interview, I finally manage a tough new yoga position without toppling over. But that approach to my work is really ass-backwards. It’s important to have wins, of course, but the thing I should be celebrating is my willingness to try. (And by MY willingness to try, I mean all of OURS).

So I hope you’ll love the postcards. (Note: I could not be happier with how they came out. I love the thick card stock, the great color, the glossy finish. I look at them and can’t believe they’re mine.) I hope you’ll buy some and send your love out into the world via the bruised and beleaguered post office, but most of all, I hope you’ll join me and start celebrating your leaps like the wins they already are.

Oh! And if you’re going to join me in my 30-Day Gratitude Challenge, tell me in the comments below.

I’ll pick one gratitude hero to win a set of the Thank You postcards.

3.

Congratulations to Pam Carlson who won Alex Franzen‘s ebook 100 Ways To Play With Yourself AND  a donation to The Women’s Earth Alliance in her name!

Also, in case you missed it… I was invited to write a Books By The Bed piece for We Wanted To Be Writers. I love that series and I had fun writing the piece. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything I enjoy writing about more than books.

And finally, I updated my doodle page! (Remember, there’s a community doodle page now too, so feel free to send in your scribblings!)

xo

***UPDATE***

Congratulations, Rita Chand, who won a free set of my thank you postcards!

******

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53 Responses to And now without further ado…

  1. Clare Flourish January 11, 2013 at 4:45 am #

    I want a “like” button. I want to reach out and touch and say, hello there, yes I have read this, yes- where I have nothing to add.

    • j January 11, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      Well, thank you for reading this. I’ll look for a like button widget. :)

    • Estrella Azul January 11, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      I second that, though I’m pretty sure I’ve said it first when you asked our opinions before ;) *blush*

      Congrats on the Etsy store, the cards are so beautiful! You are definitely daring greatly (have to read that book myself), and see what it is I could try and make. I have quite a few ideas, but lack the courage to try given how I have to give up my plaster casting business sometime in the very near future… My wings, not to mention my ego is a bit bruised at the moment…

      • j January 11, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

        What did I ask your opinion on? And thank you for the compliment on the cards!

        I’m sorry about your plaster casting business. But, everyone whose success I admire talks about all the less-than-successful attempts they made along the way. I think it’s a cruel (yet beautiful) truth that we grow far more in failure than we do in success.

        Sending you lots of encouragement and love, my friend.

  2. Andrea Maurer January 11, 2013 at 5:13 am #

    I love your cards, J! Congrats!! XO

    • j January 11, 2013 at 8:38 am #

      Thank you, Andrea! that means a lot to me in this “holy shit, I did it” stage. xo

  3. Cynthia Fassett January 11, 2013 at 5:52 am #

    Yes, yes and yes! To it all, every word, every doodle, all of it! Swing it on out there, baby! I’m so excited for you, I’m damn near vibrating with it!

    • j January 11, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      Aw! Yay! Just what I needed. Had a little falter this morning during my very unsmooth departure from the house. I needed a virtual (vibrating) hug. Thank you!

  4. Carole Jane Treggett (@cjtreggett) January 11, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    I’m so impressed, j ! Your cards are really wonderful! Thank you for sharing so honestly also about letting go of that external validation habit. I’m working on that one too. Congrats!

    • j January 11, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      That external validation thing is a real bitch to let go of. I can’t seem to get to the point where I simply don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m not even sure not caring what anyone thinks is healthy. The goal, I think, is to be more than a little picky about whose opinions we do care about, and celebrate the hell out of our willingness to put ourselves out there. (That’s my theory, anyway. Stay tuned.)

      Thank you for the card compliment. My nervous little external validation seeker is soothed. ;)

  5. June O'Reilly January 11, 2013 at 6:20 am #

    can’t wait to go order some… I totally love getting mail…and with instant communication we forget out the whole tactile thing of filling a page, a card, a note with our love and intentions and having them flow out of the sealed envelope when the recipient opens it.. like a giant hug :~)

    you know in my line of work everyday I’m grateful.. and I always remember please and thankyou but hell yes.. we;ll go one step further..and add that little bit extra gratitude

    • j January 11, 2013 at 8:51 am #

      Yay! And the cool thing is that when you order some cards, I’ll package them myself, write you a little thank you note, and then send them off to your mailbox! Woo-hoo!

      Regarding your line of work… yesterday I wrote a heartfelt thank you card to our vet for being so calm and compassionate as I struggled through my decision with Ash. I truly lost it in the office, sobbing uncontrollably, but the vet and his assistant, with their soft voices and understanding eyes, were this grounding force I could grab onto. I wanted them to know that, and to know how much it meant to me.

      And thank you, June, for all the times I know you’ve been that same reassuring presence for someone like me. xo

  6. mj January 11, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    My big toe is in, it seems daunting, but I’m dipping into the sea of gratitude one bitty day at a time for 30 days.

    • j January 11, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      This made me smile. Thank you for trying with me! Start small. I got a text a couple of days ago that just said, “I’m grateful for you in my life.” Made my day. It’s that easy. xo

  7. Nancy January 11, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    You go, girl! Your willingness to put it out there, and to be vulnerable, is what attracted me to your work in the first place. I love, love, love these cards. Your doodles are delish! Have a wonderful leap celebration. The validation that counts most, I’ve come to think, is the validation we freely share with ourselves. Yes, the outer validation is great, and I too crave it. But I am learning that my own validation is a pretty damn wonderful thing!

    xo

    • j January 11, 2013 at 9:22 am #

      Thank you, Nancy! Taking care of some super minor glitches and then I’m off to the celebration.

      Oh, and I’m learning that too, about my own validation. I just have to master the giving of it more freely. ;)

  8. Robyn Olson January 11, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Heck YEAH! I’ll do 30 days of outrageous gratitude ~~ And. I think you are right. I’ve lived out in the country and alone for so long that now I have my beloved sharing the farm suddenly I really CARE what somebody thinks of me, and that is healthier than when I didn’t give a bright baboon’s butt what anybody thought. I like me better now. BIG HUGS from Robyn & Richard :)

    • j January 11, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      I am so stealing that expression. “Bright baboon’s butt” is the most excellent thing I’ve heard all week… and, I think it needs to be a doodle. (Stay tuned.) <3

      (Hi, Richard!)

  9. jb January 11, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Whoo & hoo! I’m so excited for you! Congratulations on your launch – and your willingness to try! You are an inspiration, as always!

    And yep, I’m in for the 30 days gratitude challenge! I’ve already been doing “gratitude thoughts” every night before I go to bed for years. They’re private, but they help end my day on a good note. But I’m ready to go public with the gratitude and spread some love in this world of ours. Thanks for the reminder and the opportunity to do it with you and your community. I predict amazing things will happen with us all doing it together… <3

    • j January 11, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Me too (predict amazing things)! I do think the gratitude journals and meditations (and almost-like-a-prayer sessions) are helpful because they keep us grounded in what we have, rather than caught up in what we lack. So yay you for “gratitude thoughts”!

      I predict amazing things, too. And thank you for making my first ever leap-celebration enormously successful! xoxo

  10. Marcie January 11, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Love your inspiring doodles!! I’m impressed…YES!!!

    • j January 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Thank you, Marcie! *sits up a little bit taller* <3

  11. Rita January 11, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Not like you even need to ask..but HELL YES i am in!!! I’d follow you around the world and back for all the greatness you have brought into my life. Why stop now? Love!

    • j January 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Aw! Yay, you’re in! My posts this month will be all about gratitude – the art, the science, the way it can be used in place of helium to fill a hot air balloon. (I haven’t Googled that last claim yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.) Hugs!

      • Rita January 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

        Hello. Haven’t you ever heard of the “gratitude balloon”? What do you think they fill them with? ;-) I started this afternoon and have been inspired to have “gratitude” be my word for the year. I see good things. xo

        • j January 12, 2013 at 8:15 am #

          I freakin’ love you, woman. (I said “freakin” just for you.) xo

          • Rita January 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

            HA! you said freakin…love it!

          • Rita January 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

            Oh and ps…I WON I WON! I WON!!! I’m sending my very first card to you! xo

  12. juliafehrenbacher January 11, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    I’m in! I’m in! I’m in!

    Oh, how I love you! My insides are giddily dancing with pride/inspiration/gratitude for YOU, brave J.

    I just ordered my postcards! I can’t wait to hold them and send them out to other people’s hearts.

    I want to thank you for your incredibly giving heart & for continually & tirelessly pointing the way north.

    High fives, big embraces and so much love.

    • j January 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      High praise from someone who is so firmly “in the arena.” Thank YOU, Julia, for being someone I can follow AND lean on!

      I just know you’ll love the cards. I can’t wait for you to hold them. (I’ll be packaging and mailing tomorrow – fun Saturday activity, for real!) xoxo

  13. Chloe Cook January 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    My 6 year old daughter has just got out of bed and come for a cuddle as she’s not feeling well, and I happened to be scrolling through your email at the time. She smiled and said (and I quote) “Those are lovely pictures!” :) I have to agree – they are lovely (and they made me smile too). You’ve also reminded me that my girls need to write their Christmas thankyou letters this weekend, so thank you! xx

    • j January 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      Awww! Your six year old daughter just melted me. Thank you (and her) for that! I couldn’t ask for a better response. xo

      And see? Ready or not, you’ll already be participating in the 30-day challenge!

  14. Amy January 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    I just ordered some! LOVE.

    • j January 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      YAY! (And thank you. I feel like baking you a cake, but it would be oh-so-much-better tasting if you baked it yourself.)

      Now, I’ll have to think of something else to write on your thank you note. :)

  15. Joanne Marie Firthj January 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    I love this post so much. I love the cards equally much. The world needs much more gratitude and appreciation. When someone takes the time to do something nice, even if there is nothing expected in return, gratitude is appreciated. Kindness begets kindness and if that should wrap itself around this entire planet…..how nice would that be?

    • j January 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      What a lovely image. I wonder if I can doodle that – the planet wrapped in kindness. Hmmm…

      Thank you so much, Joanne. This huge smile is starting to hurt my face. #goodpain

  16. Pam January 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Lovely post.

    Hip hip huzzah for the Etsy store! The postcards are delightful.

    Yay, I’m glad I won 100 Ways To Play With Yourself! Thank you!

    • j January 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      Thank you! High praise from a master doodler!

      I’m glad you won Alex’s book too, though you are already one of the best players with yourself I know. (Just don’t think about the grammar on that one. Go with the positive vibe of it.)

  17. Belle Wong January 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Huge congratulations, Judy! This is my year of postcards – well, at least next month will be, as I’m committing to sending out a postcard a day. I just bought some of your beautiful creations, although I might not be able to bring myself to mail them out. And I’ll have to add Daring Greatly to my to-read list. I love the idea of letting go of external validation. It’s something I definitely need to do, too.

    30 Days of Gratitude – oh, that sounds so wonderful! I was shying away from the idea of committing to it – all those thoughts that come to mind, so busy right now, all those deadlines, will I have the time. And you know what? I’m going to do it! I’m in!

    Thanks for such a lovely and inspiring post, Judy.

    • j January 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Thank you, Belle! This is my year of postcards too. ;-) I’ve always loved them. They’re so simple, the absolute easiest way (next to a hug) to act on a sweet impulse.

      I’m going to write more here on Daring Greatly over the next few weeks, and when I’m done reading it, I’ll for sure write something up on Goodreads. Interestingly, I owned the book for a few months before I had time to read it. I feel like now is exactly the right time for me to get the most out of Brene Brown’s message. And isn’t that the way it works sometimes? If you come to a book at the wrong time, you’ll never find your way in. But at the right time, the whole thing feels written for you. (That’s the part the writer can’t control, but it’s magic when writer and reader meet at the perfect time.)

      SO happy you’re going to join me on the 30-day challenge! I love the idea of a whole bunch of us spreading a more tangible sort of love.

      • Belle Wong January 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

        I know exactly what you mean. I’d actually skipped over Brene Brown’s book a few weeks ago when I was browsing online, adding to my to-read lists. I adored her talk on vulnerability, but the book didn’t call to me. And all that’s changed now. I do want to dare greatly. Looking forward to reading about it here!

        • j January 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

          I knew you would totally get my “timing matters” theory of books. ;)

  18. sophylou January 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    OK, I’m going to try the 30-day challenge, and try to make it mail-based, too, since I am also a lover of mail.

    Here’s today’s act: thank you for this website! I very much appreciate the spirit and the look of it. :)

    • j January 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

      Aw! Yay I’m your first! *gloats* (just a tiny bit)

  19. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) January 14, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    I love this challenge, and I *love* your new Etsy store!! You always amaze me.

    • j January 14, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Thank you, Annie! I need to write a post about the value of having different creative outlets. It’s amazing how doodling frees up my writing mind and writing gives me doodling fuel. I have more ideas right now than energy or time to execute. (Invest in Starbucks.) :)

  20. Becky January 16, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    I’m late but I’m in on the 30 day thing (I’m scared if I call it a challenge then I’ll think of it that way).

    I’ve started already. I really think there’s a tectonic shift taking place in our world, or maybe just the people I’m paying attention to.
    During the #26acts thing that Ann Curry initiated, I did that. People were posting online all the nice and kind and generous things they were doing and I did that once and then thought, “wow, it takes a little of the kindness away if I have to tell people how kind I am.” So, yes, the doing this without the thought of anything in return from the person is the actual challenge, although I wish it wasn’t and have tried to move in the direction of kindness for the intrinsic feeling I get. It’s very difficult.

    At the end of each night I calm my brain (for about 20 seconds) and try to think of the things I did that mattered — sending the text to someone who needed it, a note, an email, a card, all that stuff. I wish I didn’t have to take time to make sure I was kind during the day, I wish it really was just the way I was… but maybe, after your 30 day thing, I’ll be closer.

    • j January 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      I just heard Deepak Chopra say today that if we work to form a new habit (like gratitude, though he used an easier example – buttoning your shirt from the bottom up or top down, whichever is not your usual way), you actually create a new neuro path in 30-60 days… and THAT makes you smarter and mentally younger. BONUS!

      I agree. The hard part is not expecting anything in return… and not being resentful when nothing is returned. It gets easier though. I’m finding that I’m starting to forget the specific gestures after I make them. I offer an effusive thank you and then I go on with the rest of my day. I’ll eventually get a “thank you for your thank you” type note and I’ll be all, “Oh yeah. I did that.” :)

      It’s so important to loose the reciprocity expectation because if we don’t, we wind up feeling resentful and like all we do is give-give-give. I hear people talk about how much they give and how little they get and it always makes me wonder about how they’re giving. I can honestly say that I consistently get back a zillion times more than I give. Generosity begets generosity, just like love begets love. I’m convinced.

  21. sophylou January 22, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Wanted to share this, inspired by the challenge, since it looks like trackback/pingback didn’t pick it up in spite of me linking to this challenge (and thanks for the inspiration! apparently I’ve needed to write this for awhile :) ) : http://girlhistorian.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/loren-butler-feffer-1962-2003/

    • j January 23, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      I don’t know what happened with the ping back (grrr!) but thank you for making sure I saw that. What a beautiful tribute. And for reasons too big-picture-inconsequential to explain, it was just the right post for me to read this morning. Big hugs.

    • sophylou January 25, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

      You’re so welcome! I felt shy about writing that publicly, so I’m glad the timing worked out for you. It was probably another spirit-of-Loren thing :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. MORE - January 17, 2013

    […] Judy Clement Wall, a truly inspiring woman who’s doing a wonderful gratitude challenge right now. 30 days, 30 acts of (expansive, unabased, downright mushy) gratitude. Doesn’t that sound so lovely? (And if you’re into postcards, like I am, make sure to check […]

  2. Loren Butler Feffer, 1962-2003 | True Stories Backward - March 3, 2013

    […] written this in partial response to Judy Clement Wall’s 30-day-of-gratitude challenge; partial in the sense that I knew I wanted to write something in honor of Loren, since I’ve […]

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