Monthly Archives: January 2014

All Grown Up with Jessica’s Daily Affirmations

I’m a sucker for a life affirming quote because they help me in times when things get so low that I’m not sure if anything good will ever come. Affirmations are all over my home whether in plaque form, a sticky note, or a journal. Oddly enough, while I love affirmations, I’m not big on the self-help section at the bookstore. When I venture that way by accident I high-tail it out of there to any other genre. Why? Because the short and sweet ones work better for me because I can memorize them.

There have been times when I have even made fun of the “daily affirmation” like when now-Senator Al Franken performed his fictional character on Saturday Night Live. Effeminate, sweater-wearing, Stuart Smalley was a man who attended far too many “self help” and 12-step programs and the character, living entirely in his affirmed world, took off so well that his catchphrase became a popular household phrase: I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, doggone it, people like me. 

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But the only time when I bought into the daily affirmation entirely was in 2010 when Jessica of Jessica’s Daily Affirmations went viral. She was a tiny girl who stood in the mirror telling herself what made her happy about herself and her sweet voice and boisterous spirit made sharing video memes the cool part of the day. Jessica would enthusiastically stand in front of the bathroom mirror and tell herself what she liked. What a way to start your morning, right?

Of course, it made me curious to find out what Jessica’s up to these days and, doggone it, I found something! Jessica is now a teenager and, in her words, a pretty normal one. She enjoys hanging with friends and doesn’t look back on her time as an internet sensation as anything special, but says her dad uploaded some videos to share with family and that her Daily Affirmation one had about 1,000 views and then shot off to Internet fame with a viral video shared over and over again. The first time I saw it my thoughts were, “Oh, how cute!” and I smiled. Watching it again, however, I realized that she was on to something and that a little girl who liked herself was actually an anomaly and boy, doesn’t that seem like a backwards thought? Kids are supposed to be like this, bubbly and enthusiastic and full of whimsy. Jessica was wise beyond her years as was her dad for sharing her pep talk with the world.

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In the interview below, you can see Jessica, still growing up and learning some things.

I like how simple Jessica makes things and she doesn’t appear to be anything but a typical teenager who either wants to be an interior designer or a lawyer. She’s a reader, she Skypes with her friends, and enjoys Modern Family on television. In short, Jessica’s learned how to get through life by simply enjoying things.

Jessica’s first Affirmation video was a litany of things she likes. She likes her dad, her school, her hair, and a whole host of other things. Like many people, I can get stuck in a rut of listing off things I don’t like and when I find that I’m complaining too much, a reminder of detailing what things I like is pretty easy medicine to take.

If that’s not the best affirmation, that a young girl who looked herself in the mirror and found what she liked, then I don’t think I’ll ever know what is.

I’m looking for a little more Jessica positivity in my life. How do you get through your day?

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Update, June 2016: We still love this post, and are glad you do, too! For more inspiration on being the best YOU that you can be, check out

BIG plans for graduation!

BIG
Written by Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell

Three friends discover that being BIG isn’ t measured by years, or weight, or inches. It’ s being a friend to others, the Earth, and yourself! Winner of three awards, including the Gelett Burgess Children’ s Book Award, Growing Up.

How to Grow: Empathy vs Sympathy

Not long ago we ran across a fantastic short video on the power of sympathy by Brené Brown. Brown is a research professor, scholar, and academic who is changing the way we think about who we are and what we want to grow toward. Currently, Dr. Brown is appearing on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday series. Studying the topic of vulnerability is Dr. Brown’s specialty as seen in this Lifeclass titled “The Gifts of Imperfection”, but much of what we can learn from her centers on how we respond to people in our lives.

I am, personally speaking, quite the Word Nerd. So when I saw this video titled “The Power of Empathy” I was curious and glad to find that Dr. Brown was discussing the powerful difference between the two words. Take a look:

As human beings, our ability to empathize with another person is paramount to our ability to connect. Isn’t that what most of us want? When we share our pain and suffering with another it’s safe to say we don’t always need sympathy but rather desire what fuels our connection in the use of empathy. 

Dr. Brown describes the work of nursing scholar, Theresa Wiseman, who studied 4 qualities of empathy:

1. Perspective taking and recognizing their perspective as truth.

2. Staying out of judgment.

3. Recognizing emotion in other people.

4. Communicating emotion with people.

So, how do you grow? Part of the answer lies in Brown’s short video above which I implore you to view if you haven’t already. For many people, it’s about discerning the difference between empathy and sympathy and then putting into practice whichever is the appropriate reaction. Sharing our suffering with others requires incredible vulnerability on the part of the sharer, but our response becomes what ultimately defines us in the connecting process.

You can sign up for Brené Brown’s 6-week e-course, The Gifts of Imperfections, here. Her TED Talk on vulnerability can be seen here.

Which will you practice today?

Screenshot courtesy of Sam Moesser.

BIG plans for graduation!

Growing Up BIG

If you haven’t yet had a chance to read Coleen Paratore’s book, BIG, now’s your chance! We’ve even shared some reviews of the book on Amazon today. Little Pickle Press is happy to be growing up BIG. Feel free to check out the Blog Book Tour of BIG, too.

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Here are some reviews of BIG on Amazon:

GMomma wrote:

This is a wonderful book that shares a great message, not just to our kids but for all of us. It reminds us to look a bit differently about the concept of “Big” — our physical footprint may be small, but the difference we can make can each day can be huge. Beautiful illustrations by Clare Fennell add a lot to the message in this story. Another favorite for my daughter!

Holly wrote:

With fun, vividly colorful, collage illustrations by Clare Fennell, Coleen Paratore tells young readers just what it really means to be “big.” Little people can be “big,” too. Getting big takes a lot of little steps. On each page, kids learn that being big is more than being older, richer, and having more “stuff.” Big is about becoming independent, about using resources wisely, about helping others, and about being an involved member of your community. “BIG” is a great introduction to these concepts – bright and fun without being “preachy” or getting bogged down in details. Exactly what it means to be an “active citizen of your city, country, world” means is something that’s still likely to go over the younger reader’s head without additional explanation. It’s something teens still struggle with, and adults do, too, sometimes. But I think it’s the perfect opening for a conversation between parents and children about just what it means to be “big” and why those things matter.

Maryann wrote:

This is a beautiful book with wonderful illustrations that seem to almost jump off the page. I am so impressed with the quality of books that come from Little Pickle Press. The stories all have a message, but the message is couched in delightful words that help the message get received. This one is about building character and is an important message for kids today. Maybe even important for some adults. The illustrations by Clare Fennell are so clever and well done, the book is a visual delight for adults and children.

Check out BIG today for a special price. You can also save 40% on our What Does It Mean…? series of books by entering GOALS2014 at checkout!

 

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How Will Little Pickle Press Grow During 2014?

By Rana DiOrio

Our theme for the month of January is “Where to we grow from here?” We thought you might like to know what you can expect from Little Pickle Press this year.

  • Adding members to our team. We just closed our Series A Preferred Stock Offering and added industry veteran Karen Cross to our Board of Directors. We also added another seasoned and visionary industry professional, Roy M. Carlisle, to our Advisory Board. Further, we engaged Heather Lennon of Locust Point Consulting to advise us on sales and marketing strategies for our books. Today, I hired an Office Administrator, and we are seeking a Vice President of Sales. There is also another amazing person who is about to matriculate, but I’ll wait until she is on board to reveal her identity and role.

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  • Creating content for an older audience. We started our Company 5 years ago creating content for 5 to 8 year olds. Now, our loyal following is 10 to 13 years old. Accordingly, we are developing content for our readers as they grow up. We published our first chapter book, multiple award-winning Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons, written by Jodi Carmichael and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley. This week we soft-launched our first middle grade novel, A Bird On Water Street by Elizabeth O. Dulemba, which is available as an ebook on Amazon and in the iBookstore, and will be available as a printed book in early May 2014. And we are hard at work creating our first young adult work titled Breath to Breath, by Craig Lew.
  • Developing content with new partners. Last fall I met Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk at Peter Brantley’s annual Books In Browsers conference in San Francisco, CA. From our serendipitous seating next to one another for two days, we hatched a plan to develop a book app together. We are also working with Ketchum Labs to develop videos and Adapt Courseware to develop edtech content.
  • Cultivating new distribution channels. This year you can expect that we will be including our content in numerous subscription-based offerings. We will also be working with corporations that want to co-brand books and other media with us to support the nonprofits of their choice. We will also be exploring distribution on the Continent and in Europe.
  • Participating in conferences and book festivals all over the world. We will either be attending, presenting at, or exhibiting at: the IBPA’s Publishing University, the Chief Digital Officer Summit, SXSW EDU, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, BookExpo America, the Decatur Book Festival, the ALA’s Annual Conference, the scbwi’s Annual Conference, the Texas Library Association’s Annual Conference, the Southern Festival of Books, and the Frankfurt Book Fair, among others.

To better represent our maturity as a company and to appeal to the advancing readers in our community, we launched our new website earlier this week. We welcome your thoughts on it or on any of our other growth initiatives.

From all of us at Little Pickle Press, we wish each of you an especially prosperous, happy, and fulfilling 2014 … that is also blessed with growth.

Helping Young Minds Grow

Those who can, teach.

Educators are dedicated to helping young minds grow, and Little Pickle Press is here to help with that challenging but ultimately rewarding task. In addition to our beautiful, award-winning books, we offer engaging lesson plans that are carefully designed to meet Common Core Standards. They’re also fun!

Spaghetti_High_Res_CoverWant to teach your students about celebrating the trials and triumphs of being unique? Download the plans for Jodi Carmichael’s Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food. For younger children, lesson plans for Coleen Paratore’s BIG will prove that being special isn’t linked to size.

If your students are interested in the pursuit of happiness, look no further than the lessons from Ripple’s Effect, by Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson. These plans help children understand that while we can’t always control a situation, we can control our perspective.

Take a walk on the science side with lesson plans for Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain, from Dr. JoAnn Deak. Brain-building will go from abstract to absorbing!

Sofia'sDream_frontFinalLand Wilson brings us Sofia’s Dream, and the corresponding lesson plans will bring your students an improved grasp on the concept of global stewardship.

It’s important to teach your class concepts such as safety, green living, global citizenship, and being present. If you “relish’ the thought, Little Pickle Press has just the lesson plans for you! Based on our flagship series by founder Rana DiOrio, the four plans for “What Does It Mean To Be …?” cover important topics including sustainable practices, cultural respect,  staying focused, and cyber safety.

In addition to these plans, you can find other helpful guides on our resources page. Safety tips, Earth Day activities, and more!

Can’t decide which one you want? I’ll let you in on a little secret: all of our plans and guides are available as FREE downloads. Click the links, collect the plans, and cast off on a learning adventure! Don’t forget to tell your friends …

 

Featured Customer of the Month: Burry Bookstore

By Khadijah Lacina

Photo courtesy of Burry Bookstore
Hartsville, South Carolina, bills itself as “A small town with a big heart.” Our customer of the month, Burry Bookstore, is an important part of what keeps that heart beating strong.

Burry Bookstore was established by Charles E. Burry, Sr. in August, 1972. Emily Burry Phillips took over the family business in 1994 and has continued the tradition of excellence that was built during those early years. It touts itself as “… a high-quality, full-line, family-type bookstore” that is well-known for offering their customers outstanding service. They make a point of making a difference in their community, demonstrating what a vital resource an independent bookstore can be.

One of the unique programs that Burry Bookstore has established is their Super Shopper Club, which offers members various discounts on all of their merchandise. In a time when most people are tightening their budgets, these generous discounts encourage them to buy from a local, family-owned business, thus keeping the money in the community rather than in the pockets of the big box stores. They also offer readings by local authors and sponsor events designed to create a welcome space for the people of Hartsville and beyond to gather and spend some time together. Keeping up with the technological age we live in, they sell Kobo ebooks and readers for those who enjoy reading their books digitally.

Burry Bookstore demonstrates how an indie bookstore can truly become the heart of a community. Perhaps their t-shirts say it best: “We are not a chain. We are a link on our community.”
The next time you’re in Hartsville, stop in and spend some time with the folks at Burry Bookstore!

Our Featured Library of the Month: Norwalk Easter Public Library

By Khadijah Lacina

Logo courtesy of NEPL

In the world of libraries, bigger is not necessarily better, and Norwalk Easter Public Library in Norwalk, Iowa, is a perfect example of this. Their goal is to provide an environment wherein people can meet, find resources, or just relax. Sounds pretty great, right? Read on, it gets better.

From their mission statement: “We believe a public library is a place for people to come together, feel connected, and engage with others. In today’s digital age, Norwalk Easter Public Library is no longer just a place to check out books. We offer a multitude of services to support our growing community. Whether you are looking for recreation, relaxation or information, we can accommodate you with our diverse collection of resources and programs for children as well as adults. Norwalk Easter Public Library supports lifelong learning and enjoyment in an inclusive, welcoming environment that is a primary community destination. The Library provides equal access to quality information services, materials, and resources to all members of our community.”

When I read this, I realized that this is truly what libraries are all about. They should not be static, sterile bubbles into which we enter to check out what we need before scurrying home as quickly as possible. Instead, the library should be a destination, a place to grow and expand our horizons both personally and as a community.

Norwalk Easter has many wonderful programs for all ages. They have monthly book clubs for children from kindergarten to fifth grade, with talks, activities, and snacks. Kids bring a book to share and spend time getting to know not only the other children, but being exposed to books they might not otherwise have found. They also have more traditional weekly storytimes for different age groups that include age-appropriate stories and games. Some past monthly activities for teens and tweens have included a teen lock in, game night, and food decorating fun.

The library offers many programs and events for adults as well, such as the Novel Year Book Club, Adult Night Out Classic Film Series, and a craft night.

At a time when libraries are facing budget cuts and possible closures, Norwalk Easter Public Library is a vital part of its community, providing a place for people to connect, engage, learn, and grow. Stop by the next time you’re in town!

Featured Young Writer of the Month: Zyaun Dent

Zyaun, left, shares some Christmas joy.

Zyaun Dent is a 7th grade middle school student in Springfield, Illinois. She enjoys reading and dancing and playing soccer. Her favorite picture book as a young girl was If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and the best YA book she’s recently read is The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. This is her first published piece for Little Pickle Press.

Recently, while talking to my guidance dean at school, I was surprised to hear her ask me a question. What does it mean to be big? I wasn’t sure how to answer right away, and after thinking about it I decided on this:

When you are big, you don’t let what others say get you down. Being big is not a physical appearance. Big is an emotion that allows you to believe that anything is possible. As long as you put your mind to it and believe that you can succeed in life, you will always achieve your dreams or in other words be big. Being big is all about handling situations the right way.

I have a story about being big and how, for the first time, I felt like it. I was the baby of the family until age seven when my younger sister came along. Her father raised me, but he isn’t my natural birth father. That was about the time when I stopped telling my mother everything. I felt like there was an ocean between us.

At twelve years old I remembered how much I used to tell all of my problems to my mother. I still tried to keep my emotions bottled up inside of me. I could only do that for so long until I would cry myself to sleep. What nobody knew about me was that my father had died, from what cause I never knew. Whenever I asked my mother questions about my father, my mother would simply reply with, “I’ll tell you when you get older.” My mother never understood, then, why I was so disrespectful and unhappy all the time.

This went on for some time until we reached a crucial part of the year for us: the day before my father’s birthday. My mother decided to treat the family to a special dinner at a restaurant that night. As usual, I was being disrespectful to my mother and she was trying to figure out why I was being so bitter towards her.

The next day, my mother woke everyone up and told us to get ready. She didn’t tell us where we were going, but while she drove, my sister figured out where we were going. Our father’s grave.

I have often dreaded the walk from the car to the grave and, like so many times before, I just stared at the gravestone that I’d became so accustomed to. I read my father’s name: Shaun Dent.

It turns out that my grandmother had told our mom to tell her children the truth about where our father was. After all the bitterness and disrespect I had towards my mother she finally decided to tell us about him.

The three of us stood there staring at the headstone of his grave until my mother broke the silence and began to talk. She said, “I have kept you guys hidden way too long, and I can’t do it any more.” As soon as she said that my sisters and I began to cry. We knew what she was going to tell us how our father died. My mother started off by saying, “Your father committed suicide, and no one knows why.”

Just by the look in her eyes you could tell this had to be the hardest thing for her to do. This isn’t something we talked about before. Our mother always told us that we were too young to know.

But in this moment, she was being big. She had pulled her children in as they cried and she looked at me especially when she said, “You treat me so bad all the time and I can’t understand why. When you say it’s not fair that you don’t have a father, it’s not my fault.” And for the first time I actually felt a little bit guilty for my actions while pulling my mother in closer.

“I’m sorry, Mommy. I promise to treat you better.” And from that day I tried to work on the way I have treated others. No matter how horrible I’ve felt I will always remember my mother’s words: “Don’t ever think about self-harming even if you think you can’t deal with the things that are going on around you. There is always someone out there that cares. It doesn’t matter if it is a teacher, a parent, or a grandparent. Someone cares. The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.”

I know now that I wasn’t being very big when I disrespected my mother or failed to tell her how important my feelings were. I know that I wasn’t being very big at all with my bitterness. Disrespecting my mother and failing to tell her how important my feelings were was not very big of me.

I am Zyaun Dent and I am big.

BIG Blog Book Tour

By Kelly Wickham

As Little Pickle Press continues to grow BIG in 2014, we wanted to take a look back at one of our books, BIG, by Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell. Our Blog Book Tour brought in a lot of rave reviews as well as an interview with someone who writes our lesson plans.


Take a look back with us while we’re also looking forward to growing forward!

Blood-Red Pencil interviewed Meredith Moran, Ph.D. about writing and creating lesson plans and highlighted BIG.

Little Pickle Press publishes children’s books that present relevant topics of the times, and help parents and teachers begin conversations with their children about subjects like the environment, ethnicity, entrepreneurship, and other values that children and parents worldwide can embrace. To help adults further guide children through the basic concepts introduced in the picture books, the publisher also offers free expanded lesson plans available for download at their website. These are a great help for busy educators as each offers three exercises to reinforce the book’s concepts, as well as many Internet links to related topics and information!

Marilyn’s Musings was a pre-school teacher who loved BIG and enjoyed the beautiful pictures illustrated by Clare Fennell.

For twelve years I was a pre-school teacher and this is the kind of book I loved to show and read to my classes. Besides being a delightful book, it’s the kind of book that a teacher (or mother) can use as a teaching tool. Each page could be the jumping off place to prompt the children to think and talk about what was learned.



Magic Dog Press gave it 5 out of 5 stars and reached out to Clare, the illustrator, to learn more about her process. 

…I was particularly pleased to run across BIG, a new Little Pickle Press book written by written Coleen Paratoreand illustrated by Clare Fennell. BIG that takes the idea of bigness–something about which I thought I knew just about everything there is to know–and expands it in intriguing, and thought-provoking, ways. I was even more pleased to score Clare Fennell’s email address, and have the chance to chat with her a little bit about her work style.


Carrots Are Orange called BIG “amazing”.

BIG is a new and nothing short of amazing children’s book written by Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell published by the wonderful Little Pickle Press. Every children’s book I discover by Little Pickle Press floors me. The children’s book addresses complex topics but in a way that children can and WILL understand about our relationship with the earth, the community and with ourselves. BIG is another example of that brilliant feat by Little Pickle Press. BIG tells a story about how to think about the word “BIG” in more abstract ways. BIG does not mean size or how much money you have. BIG means a whole lot more than that in our world. It means being KIND, being the BEST YOU you can be and means taking the high road in life. The book conveys strength of character and of will. It conveys perseverance. All these qualities are huge in the development of our children.


Chick Lit Gurrl gave it a 5-Latte review!

This is a book that makes me smile from beginning to end. Geared toward children, it offers them tools to become BIG in their lives. For parents, it offers a tool to begin conversations with their children so that they can nurture their growing, BIG children. For everyone else, it’s a book with a BIG message that can even have the child at heart reflecting on how to add bigness to their own lives.


Spoiled Yoga reminds us that BIG is possible for even the smallest child.

BIG is no ordinary children’s book. It has beautiful illustrations by former greeting card illustrator (how cool is that?) Clare Fennell and an amazing message about what it means to “get big.” As the youngest child in my family, I could certainly relate to feeling small and dreaming about the day I could be big and do all the fun things my older sisters could do. I’m sure every child sometimes feels like this sometimes. BIG shows them that it’s possible for even the littlest child to make a difference in the world–and that’s an empowering message I want my little one to hear over and over again.



Capability : Mom found BIG “charmingly illustrated”. 

This charmingly illustrated, lovingly written book shares the concept of BIG (what is it, how do you get there) in a way that shares the real meaning of BIG (health, citizenship, and imagination and values over valuables) and resonates with people of all sizes. I like my holistic, healthy messages delivered in a non-preachy manner and this book sends the right message in a way that is honest, loving, unaffected, natural and accessible.


Be sure to check out BIG and pick up a copy for the little pickles in your life!

Featured B Corp of the Month: Back to the Roots

By Audrey Lintner

Logo courtesy of BTTR
We’re celebrating growth here at LPP this month, and our Featured B Corp is a great reflection of that theme. Back to the Roots makes the locavore movement truly local by bringing home garden kits right to your mailbox.

More than just packets of seeds, Back to the Roots kits are innovative products that emphasize recycling and organic produce. Have you ever tried growing your own mushrooms? How about using a fish tank to grow herbs? With just a few clicks and a little effort, you can do both!

Founded by college friends Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez, Back to the Roots was inspired by a desire to turn waste materials into fresh food. “Our mission is to make food personal again through the passionate development of tools that educate and inspire, one family at a time.”

When you support B Corp businesses like Back to the Roots, you can “B” the change you want to see in the world. Which direction will your growth take?

First Friday Book Review: BIG

By Dana Bridges

Don’t forget to visit littlepickplepress.com to download our BIG lesson plans!

It’s always exciting to share LPP books with the special people in my life, so you can imagine how tickled I was when my friend Dana, a first grade teacher, agreed to read and review Coleen Paratore’s BIG. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.  Audrey Lintner

My favorite childhood pastimes consisted of flying around the yard in a floral towel cape, playing dump trucks in the sandbox, and teaching my fluffy friends within the four blue walls of my farmhouse bedroom. I outgrew my cape and eventually traded it for a classroom. My super powers have helped me hone my skills of teaching children ages 0-10 for the past 18 years. I am a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters ages twelve and fourteen. I am recharged with hugs, kisses, and a great find for my classroom. BIG has recharged me.

BIG offers a valuable lesson on every page, and each lesson is woven together seamlessly in this precious children’s book. Being BIG is not measured by how tall we are, how old we are, or by how many toys we have. Being BIG is all about being the biggest, best you that you can be as a member of a family, school, neighborhood, and the world. The lessons on global citizenship, being green, and having thankfulness for each precious day mirror the values I constantly try to instill in my students as a teacher and at home as a mom. You will, without a doubt, know you are BIG when you have that warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. The charming use of everyday materials that children can relate to echoes the lesson of being green and creates a visual texture that compels you to reach out and touch the illustrations. 

The audience of my first reading consisted of my daughters and two young friends, ages seven and nine. Their insights are priceless:

“You can learn how to act BIG without being a grownup.” – “Giggles,” age 7

“I like knowing that I am being BIG by taking care of the world.” – “Smiley,” age 9

“This book inspires children to go out and help the world in their own way.” – “Sparky,” age 12

“It’s full of lessons that help kids learn they can make a difference even though they are young.” – “Cutie,” age 14

Every superhero parent and educator must arm themselves and their children with these valuable lessons. Being BIG is for both the young and old, as we all strive to be our very own personal best. 

– Dana Bridges, 1st Grade Teacher

Where Do We Grow From Here?

By Audrey Lintner

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng
Happy New Year! The highs and lows of 2013 are behind us now, and a new calendar hangs on the wall, just waiting to be filled in. With the endless possibilities of 365 fresh starts available to us, we have to stop and think.

Where do we grow from here?

We asked members of the Little Pickle family to answer this question, and we’re pleased to present a few of them here today.


Rana DiOrio, Chief Pickle: “I resolve to: (i) be more patient with myself and others; (ii) forgive myself for all my imperfections; (iii) be more loving and to allow love; (iv) laugh more and to have much more fun; and (v) sleep deeply and peacefully.”

Kelly Wickham, Social Media Director: “Next year’s growth for me has to piggy back off what I learned this year, and it’s pretty much all personal growth. I think I ignored that for too long or didn’t allow myself to think introspectively until I reached my 40’s. So, what does that look like and how do I get there? Well, by taking care of myself through meditation and food. Yes, food. I am done eating Frankenfood and fake stuff, and have committed to working with a personal trainer and chef to get all the goodness from food. From there, I hope to feel better and have more energy. From there, I hope to find clarity and emotional security. From there? Well, let’s just imagine that too much of a good thing could lead me to growing into another pant size, so I’ll be monitoring that closely. In any case, personal growth for the win in 2014!”

Khadijah Lacina, Sales: “I am pretty sure that 2014 is going to be a year of change and growth for my entire family. In a couple of weeks we are making the move to a farm in southern Missouri, where we hope to raise chickens and goats as well as lots and lots of vegetables. No matter where we have lived, we’ve always striven to live as sustainably as possible, and were overjoyed when this opportunity arose. The children and I are poring over seed catalogs and reading up on chicken and goat breeds in preparation for the move. Of course, we aren’t getting any packing done, but one has to have priorities! I suspect that we will be spending a lot of time learning, messing up, learning, messing up, and learning and messing up. Hopefully we will learn more than we mess up!”

As for myself, I hope to grow not into a new pants size, but into gratitude. I will aim to be grateful for the little things in life that add up to the big things that really matter. It ought to be easy; I already have so many things to be grateful for. The way my little boy runs to the door when I get home, giggling and shouting, “Oh! What did Mama brought you? Now we can have a kiss and hug!” The continued improving health of my husband (A few more hospital payments, and he’s all mine!). The yarn store gift certificates that are burning a hole in my pocket.

Lots of things for which to be grateful. Lots of ways to grow.

Where will yougrow from here?