Review & Giveaway: Things We Forget

I’m not sure how or when I discovered the charming post-it reminders of the blog Things We Forget, but I’m so glad I did! Sometimes it feels like the artist, known only as J.J. Penn, is eavesdropping on my internal monologue. He (she?) seems to share just the right reminder at just the right time.

Now many of these sweet notes are collected in a book — and I’m giving away copies to four lucky winners. Let’s face it: while this is can truly be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be among the most stressful, busy, crazy-making times of the year. And the kicker is that we can create our own stress and disharmony while we’re pursuing love, happiness, and joy.

To get you into the spirit, here’s a brief Q&A with J.J. Penn. I hope the quotes and illustrations on this notes remind you to slow down, enjoy, laugh, and love — others and yourself.


What inspired you to start Things We Forget?
‘Things We Forget’ started as a personal project to inspire my friends and colleagues and equally importantly, myself, during the days of gloom and doom of the economic recession of 2008. There was so much negativity and pessimism in the air that I felt compelled to do something.

I started drawing an inspirational reminder on sticky notes and leaving them to their fate in public places. Around the same time I also set up a blog to catalogue the sticky notes; a Facebook page soon followed.

To my surprise the blog and the Facebook page soon became popular and readers from all over the world started reposting and sharing my work. Today the site gets about 60,000 unique visitors a month and the Facebook page has over 49,000 fans. But more importantly, I get an average of seven emails each day from readers telling me that the notes have helped them in some way or the other. Groups of people are also replicating the project in places as far flung as Amsterdam, Cairo and India.

Two years into the project, a lady emailed me saying that one of my notes actually stopped herself from committing suicide. I feel really blessed to have chanced upon something that touches people’s lives. I continue to do a Things We Forget note each day and intend to do so for as long as I can.

Where do you find the quotes you use in your art?

I usually draw the notes at the end of each day. I look back upon the day and see if there was anything that I learned. Sometimes that becomes the quote. Sometimes, it might be something I read somewhere and stuck with me. I also tweet at least three or four times a day, so I usually pick the tweet that resonates most with me and make the note with that quote.

Are you sneaky when you stick your post-its in public?

Yes, I admit I’d feel a bit awkward if I were caught in the act of sticking the note up. Once or twice I have left a sticky note at a particular place and then stepped away to watch how people react to them. Most people read it and then move on but every once in a while somebody will pluck the note off and walk away with it.

What’s your favorite post-it that you’ve done?

My favorite has to be this one. I truly believe that the most important thing in life is relationships and people, be it at work or at home. In the end, what will stay with us is how much and how many people we helped.


Anything else you want people to know?
I sell Things We Forget posters, tee shirts and now the book via my online store. Part of the profits go to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital because I think they’re doing admirable work in not just treating but preventing diseases in really young children. I’m hoping more people would share of their good fortune with them.


Win a Copy of Things We Forget

Four (4) lucky random winners will receive their own copy of the book Things We Forget: Little Reminders of What Matters Most.

To Enter: Leave a comment on this blog post with your favorite quote or reminder about how to live the good life. Open to all readers, all over the world.

Deadline: Deadline to enter is midnight (Central) on Thursday, December 5. I’ll choose a winner on December 6 and announce it here.


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  • Lisa says:

    Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people.

  • Meredith says:

    “One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.”

    For me this quote boils down to: give yourself a break! As long as you are trying to live a good, kind life as a good version of yourself, let yourself “mess up” because that might be a tool on the way to living well! For too long I was totally consumed by guilt. Now I try to focus on the good things, and let myself off the hook if I occasionally feel guilty or overwhelmed or pissed off or anxious or whatever. I just let the feeling take over, acknowledge it, and let it pass. Sometimes easier said than done but this quote is a great reminder.

  • Jennifer Pruitt says:

    My favorite quote/idea is “One step at a time.” Not too long ago I put that idea into practice while starting to run for the first time in decades. I was stuck getting past 1/2 mile. I pushed ahead and kept thinking, “one more step, just one more step.” Next thing I know I rewarded my body by walking after running just over a mile. I doubled my run distance, and went on to run almost as far after a walk break. Little accomplishments can have a great impact.

  • Sarah Morford says:

    I always say “play to win”…. it’s simple, but it works for everything. Never go into anything thinking that the outcome will be suboptimal. Play to win.

    Great little book. Hope I win!

  • Susan says:

    Wake up, Do you best. Sleep. Repeat.

  • Kim says:

    “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift. That’s why it’s called the Present.”

  • kathleen says:

    “go over, under, around or through but get there.”
    reminds me to take less trodden paths and to not lose focus!

  • Emily Ufkes says:

    Far away there in the sunshine
    are my highest aspirations.
    I may not reach them, but I can
    look up and see their beauty,
    believe in them and try to
    follow where they lead.
    -Louisa May Alcott

  • Jeni C says:

    Great people talk about IDEAS. Average people talk about THINGS. Small people talk about OTHER PEOPLE.

    I like it because it helps me to remember rise above petty irritations each day.

  • Chrissa says:

    “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  • Paige says:

    Any place with a shortcut is not worth going to

  • Laura B. says:

    The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the best out of everything that comes their way

  • Trish Obringer says:

    Treat everyone nicely, including yourself.

    So many of us need to remember that, especially the last part.

  • Sue says:

    Nothing worth having comes easy….this is in the chalkboard in my kitchen to remind me AND my kids everyday…I think of it often, especially during my Crossfit wods!!

  • Renae says:

    The Golden Rule is what comes to mind 🙂

  • Karen Ashton says:

    “Treat everyone nicely, including yourself”.
    In the past 18 months, I’ve lost 100lbs. It took me a long time to realize I had to “be nice” to myself so that I may, in turn, be nice to others, give to others and inspire others.

  • Kirsten Dillard says:

    No act of kindness, however small, is wasted.

  • Spence becker says:

    “There is no reward in this world for settling for something you don’t want.”

  • Remember to tell you loved ones you appreciate them every day!

  • Ellen says:

    Repeat every morning: May all beings be well, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free from suffering. I’m paraphrasing, but the sentiment is there, regardless! Wish the whole world well, including yourself!

  • Megan says:

    I wake up everyday trying my best and never giving up! No matter what, if you do this everyday you can never go home upset that you didn’t try!

  • Melissa says:

    When you arise in the morning, think what a privilege it is to be alive…to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. – Marcus Aurelius

    People are finite. -my wise sister, D

  • Elizabeth says:

    For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Jen says:

    “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

    ― Mark Twain

  • Julie says:

    Be the change you want to see in the world.

  • Lori says:

    I have a hard time with perfection paralysis, so I tell myself this almost every day: Nobody ever climbed a mountain by reading all the mountaineering blogs and books and collecting equipment. It takes practice and putting one foot in front of the other.

  • lucia says:

    Currently, the “simplify life” reminder resonates! Thanks for the give-away!

  • Christy Rogers says:

    What a positive book! I would love a copy of it!

  • Leasa says:

    “a little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men” willy wonka

  • Emily T. says:

    Be the change you want to see in the world.

  • Sarah says:

    “What you see before you is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”
    -Katharine Hepburn

    To me this is a reminder to embrace the sensual pleasures in everyday moments…and never deny yourself a small bite of dark chocolate!

  • Kim says:

    Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.

  • Lauren S. says:

    I have had 2 favorite quotes for years now:
    1. Life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea. (It reminds me that anything can happen, so I shouldn’t be afraid to commit to things I care about and to be open to change).
    2. No mud, no lotus. (pretty self explanatory!)

  • Belinda Thomson says:

    ‘What I deserve, I earn’. I just think this sums life up perfectly.

  • Colleen says:

    For parents: Parent the child you have not the one you wish you had.

  • Andrea says:

    “Thoughts become things – pick the good ones!”

  • Christina LB says:

    “Believing I had supernatural powers I slammed into a brick wall.” – Paul Simon

    Sometimes we just take on too much and, sometimes literally, need to take a step back before we hurt ourselves. Which leads me to a favorite of my mom’s:

    “Do you best and leave the rest” because really, how much better than your absolute best can you do?

  • Ellen Puetz says:

    He drew a circle that shut me out —
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But Love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in.
    “Outwitted”. by Edwin Markham

    Good thing I looked this up. I had the quote right but had remembered the author incorrectly.

  • Alicia says:

    Until you are happy with who you are, you will never be happy with what you have ~Zig Ziglar

  • Cathy says:

    “Good enough is great.” Good reminder for this time of year when “perfectionism” can take the joy right out of the holidays. Enjoy what’s important, and let go of “things” that really aren’t.

  • Jaclyn Reynolds says:

    So many good and inspiring quotes to remember. I love the Walt Disney quote about always moving forward!

  • AustinGirl says:

    “Never let the trials of life overcome the joys of living”

    “Better to loose count naming your blessings, than to loose your blessings naming your troubles”

    Both help me stop and reset my mind, when I start to worry too much about things that I can’t control and might never happen in the first place!

  • Amy MacDonald says:

    Chin up, buttercup. (a la “this too shall pass”)

  • Sonya says:

    Don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary problem.

  • Diane says:

    “While enormous strides have been made in communications in recent years, there’s still a lot to be said for the smile.” — Franklin P. Jones

    I included this in my work email signature long ago, and every once in a while I’ll get a nice comment from someone about it.

  • jennie says:

    Give away a smile!!

  • sue says:

    Psalms 139:14″…for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

    My body and mind work and they are marvelous.

  • christina says:

    Beginnings are scary.
    Endings are sad.
    It is the part in the middle that matters the most.
    R. Fulghum

  • Jen says:

    Be the change you wish to see in the world.

    (I’ve read that it has been falsely attributed, so I will just let the quotation stand on its own.)

  • Millie says:

    ” Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure” – Jane Austen

    Because nostalgia can be slow death sometimes.

  • Elysia says:

    “Don’t panic” – from the best fortune cookie ever!

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds” – Albert Einstein

  • Debra Lee says:

    What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. They are but trifles to be sure but the good they do is inconceivable. – Addison

  • Christy says:

    “This too shall pass” definitely helps me put things in perspective both good and bad. It helps me remember that even good times end, so enjoy every second!

  • Shannon says:

    “One ship sails East,
    And another West,
    By the self-same winds that blow,
    ‘Tis the set of the sails
    And not the gales,
    That tells the way we go.

    Like the winds of the sea
    Are the waves of time,
    As we journey along through life,
    ‘Tis the set of the soul,
    That determines the goal,
    And not the calm or the strife.”

  • Naomi Serna says:

    Being present. The greatest gift we can give our loved ones is our full attention.

  • dydy says:

    “Don’t worry, be happy” ~ Meher Baba

  • Ruby says:

    “There’s a fundamental truth to our nature: man must explore.”
    -Dave Scott

  • Pam says:

    Let Go and Let God.

  • Megan says:

    The present moment. Accept it, embrace it, be it.

  • Sonya says:

    Everyone is trying the best they can.

  • Jenn j says:

    Only you are responsible for your own happiness

  • Wan Jing says:

    “When it’s dark, look for the stars.”

    This quote reminds me of how simple life can be, just like when we were young.

  • Heather S says:

    Do small things with great love.

  • Carla says:

    Live, laugh, love

  • Tristan A says:

    “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” ~Buddha

  • Angela says:

    ‘The Darkest Hour is before the Dawn.’

    Hope, so ordinary yet unique. Without it, I don’t know how I can pull myself through every day. When I saw the quote, it helped me keep holding on.

  • VALENTINA says:


    !!! 🙂

  • Julie Ann says:

    “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost

  • Debbie says:

    “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
    Mae West

  • Stephanie Lee says:

    “If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you’ll end up pissing on today.”

    I try to enjoy today as much as possible without worrying about the past or fretting about the future.

  • Shaari :) says:

    Here’s one from me
    Don’t be a human garbage disposal

    …meaning don’t take crap from other folks and internalize it
    As well as
    …meaning don’t eat the kids’ left over food or that last bite of whatever.
    Fuel yourself with what you need to thrive

  • Diane says:

    On The Otherside Of Fear Lies Freedom.

  • Pick yourself back up and learn to live.

  • Shauna says:

    “Guilt is Useless” – reminds me not to beat myself up over past mistakes. Mistakes merely provide information on how to make better decisions today; they are not meant to provide fodder for mental self-abuse.

  • Barb says:

    “Be lavish with praise and sparing with criticism” is one of my favorites. It is very useful to me in how I raise my children.

  • Emily says:

    “The myth that women should not lift heavy weights is only perpetuated by women who are afraid of hard work and men who are afraid of women that work hard”

    Lift heavy, my friends! Strong is the new skinny!

  • boulderbird says:

    A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.

  • Linda Sand says:

    Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

  • Shannon says:

    “I may not be there yet, but I am one step closer than I was yesterday.”

  • Spencer says:

    “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

  • David says:

    Could’ve, should’ve, would have. You can’t live in the subjunctive.

  • Julie Kaltenbach says:

    No one is in charge of your happiness except yourself. Love these post it notes. Thanks for sharing! I also love your blog.

  • Naouel Baili says:

    “No matter how you feel today, get up, dress up & show up”
    ― Paulo Coelho

  • Catz Sy says:

    “So many times I wish I could’ve lived my life without making mistakes. In reality, a path like that doesn’t exist. We fall. We get lost. We make mistakes. We get up and LIVE!” — Unknown

  • Claire C says:

    Love like there is no tomorrow ! Reminds you that life changes in an instant so love as much as you can while you can !

  • Jessie says:

    The anticipation is always worse than the thing itself.

  • Adilah says:

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    (Hope this isn’t too late. It’s not midnight yet on my side of the world!)

  • Rebekah says:

    Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

  • Curtis N. says:

    “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, each brilliantly disguised as an impossible situation.”
    – Unknown

  • Sonya says:

    “Remember that everyone is doing the best that they can.”

    “When we know better we do better.” – Maya Angelou

  • Deborah says:

    I love ….wake up, do you best. sleep. repeat.

  • ashley y says:

    “Life is 1/4 of what happens to you and 3/4 of how you react to it”

  • Alysia says:

    Already been mentioned but, “this too shall pass.”

  • Patrick says:

    “you only run out of chances when you stop taking them”

  • Aimee says:

    “No one is in charge of your happiness except you.”

  • Venus says:

    “See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.”

    These pearls of wisdom mean a lot to me. Through a tough period of criticism and pain, I’ve learnt to hold my head high and never let others get me down, to never resort to stooping to their level. And I believe that everyone has good in them, whether or not we choose to see them.

    I hope to win this book as a daily reminder of what is good in this world, and how I can continue to make a difference even in my own, small ways.

    Thanks for this giveaway!

  • Vaidehi says:

    “Do at least one thing that takes you closer to your goals today.”

    I love this quote so much, it’s been my desktop wallpaper for the past year! The wallpaper I made can be downloaded from here:

  • valentina says:

    sorry, who won?