32 and still growing up: what I know so far



Yesterday, I celebrated my thirty-second birthday, and reflecting on the past 365 days has reminded me what a crazy good/bad year it's been. I faced a big-time break-up last August. I moved to a new apartment in November. I attended my first meditation retreat in January. I learned about loving without expectation. My book was published in March, which was a lifetime dream come true.  I underwent surgery in July. I had some serious disappointments and some majorly uplifting moments. It's been a year of big change, of feeling like a grown-up and also feeling like I don't know when I'm ever going to be an adult. The ups and downs of my thirty-second year tie in quite perfectly with one my favorite songs, Taylor Swift's "Innocent":

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not what you've been
You're still an innocent
It's okay, life is a tough crowd
32 and still growin' up now
Who you are is not what you did
You're still an innocent

Since that song debuted (back in 2010!), I've always felt a connection to those lyrics, wondering where I would be and how I would feel when I turned 32. While those were written about Kanye West and his infamous interruption of Taylor's acceptance speech, I've always felt connected with that notion that, even in my thirties, I wouldn't feel like a grown-up. I would have some regrets, yet I would still be an innocent in many ways. And that's pretty much exactly how I feel. 

Listening to the song on repeat lately as inspired me to think about what I've learned over the past 32 years. So many ups and downs in this crazy thing called life, and the good and the bad have taught me so much about myself and the world. I know I've still got so much to learn, but today I've drafted a list of what I know so far...


1. YOUR DEFINITIONS WILL CHANGE. (Thanks, J, for inspiring this one!) I've learned that what you think of big concept words (like "love" and "career") will change over time, and will constantly keep changing. What the word "love" means to you at 20 isn't what it will mean to you at 30. 

2. GRATITUDE IS EVERYTHING. It might sound cliche, but gratitude is emphasized often for a reason. The more you focus on what you have, the harder it is to waste energy on what you don't have. Every time I've focused on feeling grateful, my attitude (and life) has changed for the better. 

3. SLEEP IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL. I've always been a big believer of sticking to a bedtime (even in college, when the word "bedtime" has lost all meaning for most students), but the less I sleep, the less positive I'm able to stay. I also feel like I learn a lot from my dreams, too, and you can't have those without sleep! 

4. IT'S OKAY TO ACT LIKE A KID. Having a childlike sense of wonder is, sadly, something a lot of adults lose as they get older. I've tried to hang on to mine as much as I can, indulging in as many kid-like activities as I can get away with. Being a kid is fun and it doesn't have to stop when you're a grown-up. 

5. BEING ALONE CAN BE GREAT. As an introvert, I've never had trouble being alone. In fact, alone-time is necessary for me to recharge after spending time with others. I used to feel like time spent alone wasn't quality time when I was younger, but I've learned to embrace the moments of solitude.

6. CLOSE FRIENDS > LOTS OF FRIENDS. I've found that it's more important to have fewer close relationships than to have lots of superficial friendships. This might not be the formula for everyone, but, for me, connecting on a deep level with people is rewarding, and it means focusing attention on the most important relationships. 

7. IF YOU'RE UNSURE, IT'S A NO. Though I'm still working on mastering this one, I have noticed a pattern: when I'm not sure about something (a situation, a relationship, etc.), it's usually because there's something that's not right about it. Doubt is there for a reason and it's important to listen to it. 

8. PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Another one I'm still working on is putting my phone down more often. Whenever I have my phone tucked away, I have more fun, better conversations, and more meaningful interactions. It's hard to step away from technology sometimes, but it's the only way to really embrace the tangible, IRL moments. 

9. IF YOU'RE UNHAPPY, LEAVE. I've been in many relationships and friendships in which I was unhappy and I just stayed where I was because it was more comfortable than changing. This is not a good plan. If you're not happy for a long period of time and for good reasons, leave. Life is too short to waste it in unhappy relationships. 

10. IT'S OKAY TO SAY NO... Never one to shy away from stating how I feel, I generally don't have trouble saying no when I need to, but there have been some situations in my life when I said yes and I should have said no in an attempt to please others. Don't do this. Saying no is saying yes to yourself. 

11. ... BUT SOMETIMES SAY YES. However, on the flip side, I've said no to a lot of invitations because they would've put me out of my comfort zone. I've learned to be more open-minded and to say yes to invitations even when it would be easier to say no. Sometimes you have to push yourself a little. 

12. YOU KNOW THE ANSWER. One of the most important lessons I've learned is to trust myself. Deep down, I always know what's best for me. A lot of the time I ignore that voice that has the answer and do what feels good in the moment and that doesn't always go so well. Trust — and listen to — yourself. 

13. YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU LOVE... I've been so fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. As a writer and designer, I spend my days creating content and (hopefully!) inspiring others, which is what I've always wanted to do. No matter what your dream is, you can do it (if you're willing to put in the work). 

14. ... BUT DREAMS WILL COST YOU. Working for myself is hard. There are challenges I never anticipated. There are highs and lows (like any job), but these are closely tied to my whole life, not just a day at the office. I had to (and continue to) sacrifice a lot to do what I love. It's worth it, but it's work. 

15. TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY. You deserve the same respect and careful consideration that you'd offer to others. This is your one life, I've learned, and it's up to you to take it seriously and make the most of it. This isn't to say you shouldn't have fun, but it's important to take yourself (and your future) seriously. 

16. YOU CAN'T CONTROL IT ALL. No matter how many times life has taught me this lesson, I think I'll always struggle with it. I enjoy being in control, but there's a lot of life that is out of our hands. We cannot control it all. Learning to let go of control is the best way to handle life's unexpected ups and downs.  

17. YOU'RE BRAVER THAN YOU THINK. This year in particular, I've learned that I'm stronger and braver than I thought I was. When faced with difficult situations, you'll be surprised at how brave you're able to be. Courage comes out when you need it, and it can be surprising sometimes. Embrace that bravery.

18. IGNORE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Whenever I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I've either learned something important about myself or had a really wonderful time. It's still hard to do this sometimes (I love my comfort zone!), but the older I get, the more I realize how much I can benefit by stepping out of my routines. 

19. NOTHING IS FOREVER. This might sound depressing, but it's actually inspiring. The good times don't last forever so you better enjoy them. And the bad times don't last forever so you know you'll get through them. Sometimes I want things to stay as they are, but this lesson is one of the greatest things I've tried to learn.

20. FORGIVENESS BRINGS PEACE. If someone has hurt you, it can be so hard to forgive, but I've learned that forgiveness is the key to peace. The sooner you forgive, the more peace you'll have. In a related lesson: forgiveness doesn't equal acceptance. It's about freeing yourself, not others. 

21. EMBRACE WHAT YOU LOVE. Who cares if your favorite day is Halloween or you want to fall asleep to the sounds of 30 Rock each night? Embrace what you love, even if others don't get it. When I like something, I tend to really like it. Some people think this is silly, but I've chosen to embrace my enthusiasm rather than try to stifle it. 

22. AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE. It took me a surprisingly long time to learn this one (perhaps because for so long I was pretty negative myself), but it's so, so important. Avoiding negative people (or limiting the amount of interactions with them) can change your life in the most amazing ways. Life should not be wasted on those that bring you down. 

23. GO OUTSIDE MORE OFTEN. I'm not what you'd call an outdoorsy girl, but I do love nature. Too often, I enjoy nature from the other side of a computer screen, but I've learned that I benefit a lot from going outside (even if it's just for a little bit!). Real life nature cannot be replicated and it's so inspiring.

24. YOU CAN CHANGE. For so long, I was set in my ways. I never thought I could change the things that made me unhappy, and for that I suffered. When I opened up my mind to the possibility that maybe I could change, that was when good things started to happen. Changing is hard, but it's always possible if you believe in yourself. 

25. DOGS ARE LIFE-SAVERS. Dogs have literally saved my life on more than one occasion. I cannot imagine my life without them. Not everyone is a dog-lover, I know, but those who are know just how healing and important they can be in your life. They are so good at staying present, too, which is always so inspiring. 

26. TRY TO STAY IN THE NOW. The desire to stay present is one of the reasons I started Positively Present in the first place, and it's still a challenge for me. I know how important it is, but it's hard to stop my mind from wandering to the past or the future. But the point is: I keep trying. It's hard work, staying present, but I've learned how important it is and I keep at it. 

27. MISTAKES WILL BE MADE. Like all of us, I've made mistakes. Some I still shudder to think about, but that's a part of life, isn't it? We all do things we're not super proud of, but it's important to accept these mistakes, try to learn from them, and do the best we can not to make them again. There are no erasers in life, but we can change what we write in the future. 

28. YOU WILL GET OVER IT. No matter how terrible the loss or heartbreak, you will get over it. Time truly does heal all wounds. Sometimes it takes a long, long time, but one day you look up and the pain isn't so clear anymore. Day by day, it fades a little bit. It's important to remember this when times are tough. 

29. MAGIC IS FOR REAL. There are things that happen in life that are truly magical. You never know when these moments will happen, but when they do, it's pretty amazing. Shooting stars. First kisses. Unexpected rainbows. Little bits of magic happen all the time, and I've learned to keep an eye out for them.

30. BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS. I've learned that what you think about is what your life becomes. Your thoughts make up your world, which is why it's so important to be aware of them. I've learned to pay attention closely — and to choose to redirect my thoughts to a more positive path when necessary. 

31. KEEP AN OPEN MIND. One of my most popular blog posts is this one, and I think it's for good reason. Having an open mind is very beneficial. It changes you — and the way you see the world — for the better. It can be challenging to do at times (especially with long-held beliefs), but I've learned that it's always worth the effort. 

32. FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF. This is perhaps the most important lesson I've learned over the past 32 years: self-love is the foundation for all of your relationships. If you don't love yourself, it's impossible to love someone else. Self-love means respecting and caring for yourself. Doing these things (always!) will improve every aspect of your life. 




Want to spend some time thinking about what you've learned in your life so far? Start your own soul-searching experience with the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

positively present picks: august 21, 2015





"Today is the oldest you've ever been, 
and the youngest you'll ever be again."

Eleanor Roosevelt



Feeling 32 : turning 32 this weekend + this makes me laugh

5 Powerful Ways to Free Yourself from Negativity : get rid of it! 

Radical Self Guide to Surviving a Break-Up : great self-love advice

Unicorn Poop Cookies : because . . . why not? ;)

25 Ways to Bring More Peace Into Your Life : I love #13

Chat with Your Future Self : whoa. this website is cool.

3 Steps to End Self-Sabotage : save yourself from yourself

Myths That Can Kill Even the Strongest Relationship : don't believe these

How to Conquer Self-Criticism : essential advice for self-love

10 Productivity Tips for Working at Home : they work in the office too!

Inspiring Desktop Backgrounds : love these pretty freebies

20 Ways to Relax When You've Only Got 20 Minutes : just chillll



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

Guess who I'm going to see this weekend?! Taylor Swift! In honor of the 1989 Tour, I've rounded up the best covers I could find of songs from the album. Enjoy! 

"Welcome to New York" — Mikey Wax
"Blank Space" — Our Last Night
"Style" — MAX & Nick Dungo
"Out of the Woods" — Haley Klinkhammer
"All You Had to Do Was Stay" — Maddie Wilson
"Shake It Off"— Jesse Will
"I Wish You Would" — Cillan Andersson
"Bad Blood" — San Tsui
"Wildest Dreams" — Madilyn Bailey
"How You Get the Girl" — Ella Scott
"This Love" — Laura Scott
"I Know Places" — Vance Joy
"Clean" — Kina Grannis
"Wonderland" — At Sunset
"You Are in Love" — Travis Atreo
"New Romantics" — Kelsey K



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Accidental Tourist  
Anne Tyler


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro


coloring is the new meditation + free coloring pages!


Image Source


All my life I've been obsessed with coloring. As a toddler, I loved it so much, I even took to drawing under the dining room table (something I'm sure my parents loved). Even as a teenager, when I was way more into boys and parties than being creative, I still loved to color. In fact, I can remember coming home after a night of partying and sitting cross-legged on my bed with my best friend, crayons and blank sheets of paper scattered around us. As an adult, I've found solace in coloring. It's something I return to again and again, especially when I'm struggling to stay in a positive state of mind. 

Coloring has always been a go-to activity for me, but these days I'm not alone. Coloring has become quite the craze for grown-ups, with adult coloring books popping up all over the place. In fact, the number one best-selling book on Amazon right now is this coloring book: Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book. Pretty crazy, huh? Who would have thought an adult coloring book would be the top-seller? 

I'm not entirely surprised, considering the rising attention paid to mindfulness and the ever-increasing stress in adults' lives today. With so much of our time spent online and at work, it's no wonder we're reverting to childlike, mindful activities to ease some of the day-to-day stress.  As noted in this article, the practice of coloring "generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity," which is just what most of us grown-ups need. 

Despite all of the de-stressing benefits, coloring really isn't a substitute for meditation or true mindfulness. (Check out this article for some reasons why.) However, I've received so many positive benefits from spending time with a coloring book, and, whether it fits into the traditional concept of meditation or not, I believe coloring does quiet the mind, reduce stress, and promote creativity — three things that encourage more positively present living. 

Here are some of the reasons I think that, while it will never replace the true mindfulness of meditation, coloring could be a great de-stressing exercise to add to your life: 



Unless you're in a creative field, you probably don't have a ton of opportunities to be creative as an adult (at least not in the same ways you did as a kid). Coloring offers a chance to pick up the pencils, markers, or crayons and explore the more creative side of yourself. And the great thing about coloring (rather than drawing) is that you don't have to consider yourself a creative person to do it. All you need is a coloring book and some tools!

My favorite tools? Crayola Colored Pencils, Le Plume II Double Ended Markers, Sakura Micron Pens, Copic Markers, Prismacolor Pencil Sharpener, Mini Colored Pencils, and some of my favorite coloring books...


Some of my favorite coloring books right now: 
Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book / The Mindfulness Coloring Book / 
The Mindful Mandala Coloring Book / Creative Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book



Coloring has some tangible health benefits too. According to this article, the act of coloring exercises fine motor skills and trains the brain to refocus, two things adults probably don't spend enough time working on. As kids, we do all kinds of things to practice find motor skills while at school, but (depending on your job) as an adult, there aren't many opportunities to hone this important skill. Coloring is great option for cultivating stronger fine motor skills and helping you work on focusing too.



The most important benefit of coloring, I've found, is that it really does quiet the mind. Once you get into the coloring zone, whatever you're stressed or worried about really seems to take a backseat to focusing on colors (and staying in the lines!). When I was awaiting my surgery, I spent a lot of time coloring to distract myself from worrying about the upcoming procedure and it really helped. There's something very soothing about coloring and it feels in some ways like a kind of meditation. 



One of the things I struggle with when it comes to meditation is that I feel like I'm doing nothing, which is really, really hard for me to do. That's why, for me, coloring is a better calming activity. Even though coloring in a page isn't really all that productive, it feels like I'm doing something and that sense of accomplishment (however unwarranted) makes it easier for me to stick with it in a way that I've always struggled to do while attempting meditation. 



Another great benefit of coloring is that encourages personal expression. We have lots of ways we can express ourselves on a daily basis (what we say, do, wear, etc.), but, by they time we're settled into our adult lives, we pretty much know what we like and believe in and stick to those things. Coloring gives you a chance to choose how you see the picture in front of you. The colors you choose and your creative choices with them are a wonderful way to express yourself, which is always a positive thing. 


If you want to try your hand at coloring to see if it benefits you, I've created three coloring pages for you to get started. Just click the image below to download your FREE coloring pages


positively present picks: august 14, 2015

Stay positive
The Arctic Soul hand-lettered this image just for me. Love it!



"Saying yes to happiness means saying no
to the people and things that stress you out."

Author Unknown



7 Ideas to Reboot Your Commute : make that ride to work better!

Pep Talk Generator : visit this when you need a mood boost

Live Happy Now : check out Live Happy's great audio series

How to Allow Yourself to Feel Joy : life's too short not to

28 Productivity Tips : great ideas that aren't so typical

Dress Your Tech : such lovely typographic free backgrounds

13 Ways You Might Accidentally Be Making Yourself Unhappy

Stop Comparing Yourself : three brilliant ways to do this

9 Ways Jupiter in Virgo Will Change Your Life : so interesting...

It's Time to Dropkick Your Excuses : instant inspiration. read it!

40 Questions That Will Quiet Your Mind : thought-provoking stuff

Free Yourself from Social Anxiety : excellent tips (for anyone!) here

What Your Birthdate Says About You : mine (#7) is pretty on point

5 Morning Habits to Help You Seize the Day : yay! seize it!

Loosen Anxiety's Grip : this is a powerful + inspiring article



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Style" (Cover) — Emilie & Ogden
"Gone" — Humble He
"Drag Me Down" (Cover) — Mackenzie Johnson
"Save Me" — Flora Cash
"Friends with Enemies" — Atlas Genius
"Let It All Go" — Birdy + Rhodes
"Midnight Island" — Harrison Brome
"Let It Happen" — Tame Impala
"Origins" — Sutherland
"California" — Mason Jennings



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Season of Second Chances  
Diane Meier

As If!: The Oral History of Clueless
Jen Chaney

I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro


how to make every day matter + a 2016 planner!


As you might recall from last year, I worked with Watkins Publishing to create a 2015 planner/diary, and this year I had the honor of creating another planner, filled with inspiration, ideas, and illustrations to help you make the most of 2016 — the Every Day Matters 2016 Diary: A Year of Inspiration for the Mind, Body, & Spirit. Like last year's planner, it's been designed to inspire you all year long (and it comes in desk and pocket sizes!)

I know it's a bit early to start thinking about a 2016 planner, but I like to get ahead and the pre-orders ship on August 18 so you'll have it ready to go if you order it now. Yay! The great thing about this planner is that it not only keeps you organized, but it also keeps you inspired to make the most of every day. I'm going to tell you a bit about the planner so you know what it's all about, but after that, I'm going to spend a little time exploring how to make the most of every day — tips you can use right now (and when you use your planner in 2016!).



Not only does Every Day Matters have plenty of space for daily planning, but it also offers inspiring advice on how to make every day matter. Designed as a resource for enriching daily life, it will guide you on a year-long journey of awareness and fulfillment as you go about your everyday activities. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed with multiple thoughts each day as our to-do lists grow, so I've focused on one life-enhancing theme per month, making inspiration manageable.

Each monthly theme zeros in on a single word — like "happiness," "beauty," or "simplicity" — and is the basis for a weekly quote and activity chosen to inspire reflection and positive transformation. The monthly themes for this year are: Happiness, Creativity, Truth, Beauty, Simplicity, Kindness, Mindfulness, Curiosity, Wisdom, Courage, Gratitude, and Growth. By focusing on just one theme each month while looking at the theme in a different way each week allows for each inspirational concept to be considered from unique perspectives and encourages positive action to become an integral part of day-to-day life. Check out a sample of the diary in the quick video below. (If you can't see the sample, click here.)  

Video created by Watkins Publishing.

The way you plan your day is probably pretty unique to you, but whatever your current method, I can assure you: having a planner/diary in your life that both keeps you organized and inspires you can be a life-changing experience. I've had the experience of using the Every Day Matters diary for most of 2015 and it's been awesome to reflect on various themes and encounter inspiring activities that I wrote a year ago. Even though I created it, I still find it amazingly inspiring and the layout of the planner keeps every week so organized!


One of the great benefits of this diary over others is that it really helps to reinforce the notion that every matters. Every day won't be great, but there's something great to be found in every day. By focusing on various monthly themes and narrowing in on one inspirational word each month, I've found that using the Every Day Matters planner really does help me stay more in the moment and make the most of my day-to-day life. Here are some of the best ways to make every day matter... today and in the year ahead!



1. Keep yourself organized.

Have you every tried just jotting down things whenever and wherever they come to mind? If you have, you probably know that it doesn't usually work out so well. You forget where you wrote something down or you lose the scrap of paper where you wrote it, causing you to waste time on searching for something instead of enjoying the moment. The more organized things are, the easier it is to stay present and focused on what's happening in the moment.  


2. Frees your mind to focus on gratitude. 

We talk about gratitude a lot in the self-improvement world, but that's because it's so absolutely vital to making the most of every moment. Whenever you focus on gratitude, you turn your attention to what you have (not what you lack) and that is one of the ultimate ways to make the most of the moment. If you want to make the most of your day, start it off by jotting down a list of things for which you're thankful.


3. Take time to make a plan. 

While I'm not a big fan of worrying too much about the future, but planning ahead is actually a great way to make the most of the moment. When you write things down that need to be done in the future or schedule dates with yourself to revisit specific tasks, you free your mind of having to remember those details and allow your attention to be directed back to right now. Writing down what needs to be done later frees your mind to enjoy right now. 


4. Do something you really enjoy doing. 

Ever have those moments when you're like, What in the world should I do now? Even if you have a million things to do, sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. When you have one of those moments, pause and determine what you'd really like to be doing. Even if you only engage in that activity for a short period of time, allowing yourself to do something you love is a fantastic way to make the most of any day. 


5. Cross something off your to-do list.

Few feelings trump the satisfaction that comes with crossing something off a to-do list (especially something you've been putting off for awhile!). It might sound like a small act — drawing a line through a list item — but the feeling of accomplishment that comes with knowing you've done what needed to be done is actually pretty wonderful, and it's a great way to make the day feel like it matters.


6. Reflect on what you've accomplished.

I'm not an advocate of reflecting too much on the past, but sometimes you can benefit from reflecting on what you've accomplished in a day. I've recently started keeping a "Done" list alongside my "To Do" list, and it's really made me see how much I get done in a day. (It's also useful if I'm trying to remember when I did something.) Even if you don't make a list, reflecting on what you've undertaken in a day is a great way to cultivate positive feelings.


7. Locate a source of inspiration.

One of the best ways to make a day matter is to end it feeling inspired and motivated. Sometimes this can be a challenge, but it's important to seek inspiration every day. It'll keep you feeling positive and make it easier to stay in the present. Whether you get your inspiration from a place like the Every Day Matters, from a favorite website, or from spending time with inspiring people, make it a priority to feel inspired in some small way every single day. 


With busy schedules and tons of to-do's, the days can pass by quickly. It's important to take some time to appreciate them as you're experiencing them (even when you're super busy!). The Every Day Matters planner is a great way to do that, and I'm so excited that I've had the opportunity to create this 2016 version, filled with all the inspiration you'll need to make it through the year! If you're ready to get your copy, pre-order by clicking the image below and you'll have your planner ready to go for 2016!


positively present picks: august 7, 2015





“The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”

Natalie Babbitt



New Pinterest Boards! : Narwhals, Journaling, Zodiac, and...

Positive Creatures : so excited about this Instagram project

Studio Stationery : obsessed with this site + its freebies!

5 Things to Remember if You're Overwhelmed by Pain

A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit : kick it to the curb!

20 Byron Katie Quotes : she is an absolute inspiration

Mantras We Should Repeat Daily : use these for motivation

Enjoy This Beautiful Day : love this colorful + positive shirt

5 Ways to Thrive During Venus Retrograde : good tips from Gala

Dogs Waking Up to Their Favorite Treats : this is happiness

Self-Harm Recovery Projects : these could work for anxiety too



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

This playlist was created by Magical Inspiration. She takes the letters in your name and creates a playlist based on songs that begin with those letters. Some of the songs aren't ones I'd usually pick, but I love most of them, and the concept is just fantastic!


D   "Daylight" — 5 Seconds of Summer
A   "Alone Together" — Fall Out Boy
N   "Northern Disco" — Panic! At the Disco
I    "Into Your Arms" — The Maine
E   "Everything Has Changed" — T.Swift + E.Sheeran
L   "Lousy Truth" — nevershoutnever
L   "Like We Used To" — A Rocket to the Moon
E   "Empty Gold" — Halsey



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Rosie Project 
Graeme Simsion

The Freemind Experience:
The Three Pillars of Absolute Happiness

Tom Fortes Mayer

I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro


word of the month : refresh


This article is part of the 2015 Word of the Month series, based on the monthly theme featured in the Every Day Matters 2015 Diary I designed for Watkins Publishing. In the planner, each month has a theme highlighted in the weekly illustrations, quotes, and activities. This month's theme is REFRESH. (Pre-order your 2016 Diary here!) 

We're now more than halfway through the year, making August a great time to slow down a bit and refresh our minds and bodies. Where I live, August is hot and humid; just a short walk outside can be energy-draining. This makes it the perfect time to think about refreshment, about quenching the body and mind's thirst for something invigorating.

Doing things that refresh the mind and body is a great way to counteract the lethargy that sometimes comes with the long, hot summer days. I've certainly been in need of refreshment myself so I've rounded up some of the best ways to refresh the mind and body. 






These are just some of the great ways you can find refreshment this month. (The best thing about them is that they often work for both body and mind!) Do you have more ideas I haven't thought of or mentioned here? Be sure to share them in the comments section below!




A great way to refresh your mind is by uncovering more insights about yourself. Start your own soul-searching experience with the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

positively present picks: july 31, 2015

Slow Down




"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." 

Henry David Thoreau



Positive Prescription : just came across this site + I love it

10 Ways to Work with Venus Retrograde : it's right now (July 25 - Sept 6!)

Zodiac Pins : I'm obsessed with these (via The Good Twin Co.)

How to Cope When Little Things Overwhelm You : good advice!

7 Ways to Embrace Your Anxiety : acceptance is everything

Procrastination Can Be a Form of Intuition : wow. so true.

101 Self Improvement Resources : I love round-ups like this!

The Red String : obsessed with this short fairy tale video

How to Start the Day on a Happy Note : it can make your day

The Ultimate Guide to Healing : a must-read for anyone in pain

4 Ways to Stop Procrastinating : more ways to start the day right

Inside Out Emotions Chart : haven't seen the film yet, but I love this

23 Life-Changing Things You Can Read Right Now : inspiring!

The Upside of Giving Up : what a wonderful take on this topic



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"There's No Love" — We Are Magnetic
"Rough Tide" — Tamper
"Let Us" — Afrakite
"Fire and the Flood" — Vance Joy
"Cool for the Summer" — Demi Lovato
"How Hard I Try" — filous
"We Were Here" — BOY
"Blue Pool" — Vanessa Carlton
"Organs" — Of Monsters and Men
"Eyes Wide" — Meadowlark



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Freemind Experience:
The Three Pillars of Absolute Happiness

Tom Fortes Mayer

The World Below
Sue Miller

I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith

I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro


12 post-surgery life lessons : part II

Relax copy
A few weeks ago, I had surgery for the first time and last week I wrote about some of the life lessons I gained from the unsettling and unpleasant experience of undergoing surgery and facing some of my biggest fears — namely, anything related to doctors or medicine! (Check out PART I here.) It's been a challenge to get back to the point where I'm able to do work and write again, but I'm so happy to be getting better day by day. Keep reading to discover some of the lessons I learned from having surgery and spending weeks recovering from it...

Before surgery, I never would have dreamed of taking a week to respond to an email or asking to push off a deadline for a month. When it comes to work (and even to simple things like text messages), everything always seemed urgent to me. I had to respond as soon as I could. I had to complete a task before it was due. I had to text back right away. But now — after rearranging my workload, getting back to people when I felt up to it — I've realized that there is very little in this world that's urgent. Almost everything can (and does!) wait if you allow it to. That's not to say I will be putting things off (that goes against my Type A nature!), but I'm hoping I'll learn to chill out a bit more now that I've seen first-hand that not everything needs to be taken care of ASAP. 
When I'm faced with an unknown situation, my first instinct is to gather all of the information I can about it. Having a better understanding of a subject makes me feel more secure and prepared. So, of course, when I found out about my condition and the surgery I'd be having, I began Googling like a madwoman, gathering all the data I could so I'd know what my doctor was talking about and, more importantly, I'd know what to expect. This was both good and bad. On the bad side of things, I read some horror stories that made me more anxious than necessary. But on the good side, I got some great post-surgery tips that really helped (and that my doctor failed to mention) and I had some idea of what to expect. For example, I knew that there was a good chance I would have to have more than one surgery so, when I met with my doctor for my post-op checkup, I wasn't surprised (or upset) when he told me another surgery would be necessary. Information is powerful (in a good and bad way) so be mindful of what you read. 
Surgery has taught me that you'll learn things you never thought you would need to learn (like how to pull up your pants when you can't properly bend your legs!). You'll learn how to do very unpleasant pre-op prep. You'll learn how to follow post-op instructions from your doctor. You'll re-learn how to do basic things, like showering and sleeping. And you'll learn to do things you'd never heard of before — and you'll become good at doing these things. One of the great things about humans is how amazingly well we adapt to new circumstances. Things that seemed really difficult right after surgery are now second nature to me. Things I once thought of as gross don't even faze me now. I've learned, in a very short time, how to take care of myself in new ways and it's shown me that, no matter what we're facing, we can and will adapt. 
If you're an avid Positively Present reader, you probably know how much I love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (read my post about it here), and the show taught me a very important life lesson that proved invaluable in the face of pain and fear: take it 10 seconds at a time. In the show, Kimmy gets through difficult situations by telling herself that she can get through the next 10 seconds...and the next 10...and the next 10. This little trick can be a lifesaver when you're in pain (emotionally or physically). When faced with pain that feels as if it will never end, it's so helpful to break it down to 10 second bits of time. You can do anything for 10 seconds, and when you think about it only as surviving through that short period, whatever pain you're facing becomes more bearable. 
Who knew that simply taking a shower could be considered a major accomplishment? After surgery, I quickly learned that it was important to celebrate the little victories — no matter how small. Even the act of getting out of bed was something I could be proud of! Instead of focusing on what you can't do (as I often found myself wanting to do since I felt immobile and unproductive), celebrating the little things you can do is a way to shift the focus away from complaints and toward gratitude. While there was a lot I wasn't able to do, I was still able to do somethings and, as I recovered, I was able to do more and more things. Celebrating this little victories — even if it was just with a "Look at you! Good work!" — helped me feel as if I was making progress. 
The most important lesson I learned while recovering from surgery was this: do what you can while you can. Throughout my recovery, I was very frustrated by the things I couldn't do, but I tried to transform that frustration by finding things I could do. For example, I was able to get a lot of reading done, which I loved. Due to the beauty of my iPhone, I was able to respond to emails while lying in bed and even draft this post! I downloaded some apps for my phone to keep me busy (like Colorfy and Boggle) and allowed myself to do some research for future work projects. I wasn't able to do much, but I did the best I could to fill up my time with what I could do and this served two important purposes: (1) it distracted me from my pain at times and (2) it gave me a feeling of productivity. While I'm not saying we should always be doing something, I was glad to learn that, even when stuck in bed, there are ways to make the most of your time. 
Whether you're going through a situation like mine or just looking for some inspiration, I hope theses lessons have inspired you in some way. I'll leave you with one final thought that helped me get through recovery: try to envision yourself healthy again. As I was stuck in bed, I sometimes found my mind wandering to a negative place, thinking thoughts like, "I'm going to be in this situation forever." or "I'm never going to be well again."
Of course, those kinds of thoughts are immensely unhelpful when it comes to recovery and I knew it. So whenever I started to think this way, I'd remind myself to calm down, focus on the moment, and keep in mind that this was just one chapter of my life. As a greeting card I got from a friend said, "This is but a crappy chapter in your amazing life story." When I focused on that thought — reminding myself that I would get better, eventually — I found it much easier to cope with the pain and frustration.
So if you ever find yourself in a tough spot in life, remember those words: This is but a crappy chapter in your amazing life story. It really does help to remind you that one day you'll be in a another chapter and whatever you're struggling with right now will be nothing but a memory.  


PPGTL-Get-the-BookWant to explore how to have a more positive, present life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)

positively present picks: july 24, 2015




"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong.
The amount of work is the same."
Francesca Reigler



Secrets of Happiness in 60 Seconds : a great, quick little video

Love Yourself! : get inspired with my Pinterest self-love board

17 Coloring Books Every Grown Up Needs : in love with coloring!

What To Do When Life Throws You a Curveball : excellent wisdom here

Perfect Words to Start Using : love these made up (but accurate!) terms

18 Reasons to Be Happy : such a lovely little reminder from Buzzfeed 

Why Busy Isn't the Same as Productive : and what you can do about it!

Choose Happiness and Excitement : this post really inspired me

37 Things You'll Regret When You're Old : so much truth in these

Blinding Radiance : what happens when you get through big pain

The Power of Saying No : always saying yes? read this. 

It's Not Too Late for Summer Reading : check out my books here



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Against the Grain" — Hudson
"Semantics" — The Mynabirds
"Life Underwater" — Flagship
"Julia" — Al Bairre
"Leave a Trace" — Chrvches
"Berlin" — Paper Lights
"Blue" — Marina & the Diamonds
"On the Frame" — Beta Radio
"Fire in My Bones" — Fleurie
"Pages of Gold" — Flo Morrissey



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant
Beatriz Williams

Everything I Never Told You
Celeste Ng

I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro