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December 2009

the magic of giving (& first ever giveaway!)


Vol25_7 Vol25_8
Vol25_2 Vol251
  "You give little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give."

Kahlil Gibran

Right after Thanksgiving, the topic of giving becomes extra prominent in American culture. Commercials are suddenly all about giving gifts. Stores everywhere are posting signs and decorations claiming that they have just the gift you're looking for. While I have to say that the consumerism of the holiday season does overwhelm me at times, I do love the idea of giving gifts. Cliche as it sounds, the thought really does count and it's so wonderful to see someone open a gift you've taken the time to pick out, purchase, and wrap. Giving is one of those things that makes me feel really happy, really positive, and I'm really looking forward to the season of giving this year -- both in a tangible, gift-wrapped sense and in the abstract way we all give to one another without even realize it.

Just think about how much you give on a daily basis -- your time, your love, your attention, your thoughts, your words -- and you'll be amazed. Giving gifts is wonderful, but there's a lot more to giving than just gifts. It's something we all do, all the time, without even realizing it. Just right now I'm giving of myself by writing this post. Right now you're giving of yourself by reading this post. We're all giving (and taking!) without even realizing it, which is one of the reasons giving is so magical. It's something that takes on a life of its own without most of us even realizing what an impact it has on our everyday lives. This year, while I'm sure I'll still be giving lots and lots of gifts, I also want to think about just how magical giving can be and how I can give more of myself to others.

The Magic of Giving 

Gift giving is truly magic. It's something we can all do and it doesn't necessarily require money. The more I've thought about gift giving lately (and who isn't thinking about it a lot at this time of year?!), the more I've realized just how much giving gifts helps me to stay positive and to stay present. For as long as I can remember, giving has been something that has excited me. Yes, at times it's stressed me out too (I can picture myself standing in the middle of the mall frantically thinking, "What in the world am going to get her?!?"), but for the most part, giving really does bring me a lot of happiness. I love spending time thinking about what someone else might like. Because of this, I find that I am more alert when the people close to me are speaking. I'm always listening for clues, wondering if their words could somehow be transformed into the perfect gift. For this reason, gift giving actually helps me to stay present, to stay focused on the moment and what others are saying. 

Gift giving keeps me present -- tuned into what those around me are saying and wanting -- and it also keeps me positive. Giving gifts makes me feel great because it makes other people feel great. Of course it's awesome to make yourself feel good, but there's nothing quite making someone else smile, is there? And that's what gifts are symbolic of -- that sharing of a good feeling. It's pretty awesome, really, that we can pick something out, give that something to someone else, and see how happy it makes that person. It may seem materialistic and unnecessary to some, but the act of giving gifts really means a lot to me. It's something that shows others that you care, that you're thinking of them, and, most importantly, that what they like and care about matters to you.

That being said, I realize that it's not just about gifts, is it? I was sitting here, struggling to think of how I could write about gift giving without it coming out entirely cliche, and a book on my shelf caught my eye. I reached over and brought it to my desk, cracking it open to today's date. Oddly enough, the passage in Courage To Change read: "If I so choose I can regard everything that happens in my life as a gift from which I can learn and grow." Just seeing the word "gift" made me smile because I realized that I didn't need to write a lengthy post on how giving is great and how we should give more of ourselves. All I needed to do was realize that life -- and everything in it -- is a gift. Life really is a gift and all of the things we experience in it are amazing. We have the ability to share our experiences, our gifts, with others as well. We can do this through the actual telling of what we've experience or we can do this through more subtle ways, such as a smile or a hug. We have the ability to share our talents as gifts by doing what we're good at and sharing it with the world. 

Around this time of year the act of giving really becomes a focus, but we all know that material things aren't always the kinds of gifts others need to receive. Giving doesn't all have to do with a pretty bow and a perfect package. There are so many ways we can give to others... countless ways, in fact! The holiday season really brings gift-giving to mind, but today I want to think about it in a different way. I want to think about it as something I can do by just being me. We all can give just by being who we are. Giving is such a wonderful thing and there are so many ways to give. We don't need to shop or wrap or stress (though I'm sure we will do a lot of those things). We just to be. That alone is a gift in and of itself and it really is pure magic. I'd love to hear about how you've  experienced the magic of giving in your own life so tell me... 

What's the best thing you've been given? 
What is the best thing you've given someone else? 

(Answer either of these and follow the rules below and you could have a chance to WIN!) 

The Giveaway

Since today I wrote about giving, I thought it would be a great day to have my very first giveaway on Positively Present. The other day I came across this amazing site -- Vol 25 -- and I'm so pleased that the creator, Jessica, agreed to give away a print to one lucky reader today. Jessica's work is amazing and it's such a honor to be able to highlight her awesome talent on Positively Present. Jessica describes herself as "a completely self-taught artist, constantly inspired by every day moments." She is a mother to a very dramatic five-year-old princess and she also has a seventeen-month-old daughter who she more accurately describes as a monkey. She married her husband and best friend (aww!) six years ago. With each piece of art she creates, it is her hope that it will give at least one person the warm fuzzies. Jessica told me that a heartfelt customer testimonial is just about the greatest payment you can receive.  Want to enter for a chance to win any $20 print from Vol 25? Here are the rules... 

Leave a comment below with the following information: 

    • Tell me what's the best thing you've given or been given
    • Let me know which print you like best (see Vol 25's website for all $20 prints)
    • Include your email address so I can contact you if you win

Leave an extra comment for each of the following things you do: 

    • Subscribe to Positively Present's RSS feed
    • Receive Positively Present via email
    • Follow @positivepresent on Twitter
    • Mention this post on a social media site
    • Email friends/family about this post
    • Stumble this post on StumbleUpon

Remember, the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win, so make sure to leave extra comments if you do any of the things listed below! The winner will be picked at random on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 and will be announced on Friday, December 4, 2009. Don't forget to leave your email in your comments so I can contact the winner! 



words to live by: i will be grateful for this day


Iwillbegratefulforthisday ()


I had girl I knew she grew became a woman
now I think that she teaches
at one of the schools downtown
we used to roll the windows down
and play the music loud
smoking out in her car
Lost in west Omaha,
and we’d get drunk and kiss
our bodies twist like shoe laces.
And we never came untied;
I guess you were just my type.

You know that summer never stopped.
I still pretend I’m there.
Bands in the living room,
neighbors ain’t never cared.
So when I sat behind the drum set.
Your heartbeat’s what I tried to play.
With kick and snares so careless not in time.
So you got ahead of me.
And I guess I’m still dragging behind.
I had a friend who changed his name
but couldn’t change himself.
Never quite figured out
how to do with what life had dealt.
He put a needle in his arm
to calm his handsome hell.
who would have imagined it?
Could’ve worked out so well.
Now he's a shape that moves
like echoes through my empty room.
And there’s a voice that speaks
like someone’s right behind me.
I turned around and found
exactly what you would expect.
Clothes I left on my floor.
The papers piled on my desk.
But where the ink is
where the cause effect
what’s meant by it
the story is incomplete.
The pictures’ left unfinished.
So I am writing my own ending.
I’ll let my pen bleed black or blue.
And I will color in the meaning.
It will be gold and green and true.
And I’ll learn to love
my new discovered proof.
I’ll be grateful for this day.
I will be grateful for each day to come.

"I Will Be Grateful For This Day"
Bright Eyes

Love the lyrics? Listen to the song on YouTube. Love the image? Check out Vol25's website and Vol25's Etsy Shop to purchase and see more items. "Words To Live By" is a segment on Positively Present that features my favorite quote or lyrics from the week. Every Sunday I post a quote or lyrics that have inspired me with the hope that they'll inspire you too. Comments will be closed on these posts, but feel free to tweet the post if you enjoy it or contact me via Twitter.

100 things i am thankful for



"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. 
If you concentrate on what you don't have, 
you will never, ever have enough."


Oprah Winfrey


This week I've been writing a great deal about gratitude and it's no surprise that this has inspired me to think about all of the things I am thankful for. Every once and awhile I pull out my happy list (click the link to read more about it) and I add things to it. Yesterday, as I was thinking about gratitude, I realized that this list is somewhat like a gratitude journal, in that I'm really both happy and grateful for all of these things in my life. (See Wednesday's post to read more about the connection between happiness and gratitude.) All of the things that make me so happy are things that I'm also grateful for. Yesterday I added a bunch of new things, bringing the list up to 600! As tempting as it is to share all of those with you, I'll sum it up with my top 100...


100 Things I Am Thankful For


  1. Life. How cool is that I'm actually here, in this world, living?

  2. Friends. There is no way I could survive without them. Love you guys!

  3. Family. We have our ups and downs, but they really are my foundation.

  4. Love. It's completely magical and amazing, isn't it?

  5. Words. They are literally my life line. I would not be me without them.

  6. Choice. I love that every day I can choose to be happy. Fabulous!

  7. Music. It's one of those things I literally cannot live without.

  8. Color. As you can probably tell from my site, I'm obsessed with it!

  9. Magic. Just read a quote saying magic is in everything. So true!

  10. Art. To quote Ani Difranco, "Art is why I get up in the morning."

  11. Dogs. They are flat out amazing creatures. Love you, Bella! Miss you, Pooky!

  12. Health. I'm a pretty healthy girl and I'm so, so, SO happy about that.

  13. Seasons. Spring, summer, winter, fall -- love 'em all!

  14. Stars. As The Killers sing: "Stars are like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun." How beautiful!

  15. Acceptance. I'm so thankful to those who accept me for who I am.

  16. Rainbows. I've seen more of them this year than in my entire life combined. Amazing!

  17. Blogs. I love writing mine and I love all the blogs I read on a regular basis.

  18. Laughter. There is little better in the world than the laugh-so-hard-you-cry feeling.

  19. Holidays. There's something incredibly exciting about them (especially Halloween!!!!).

  20. Sunshine. I don't see too much of it today, but I love, love, love when the sun's shining.

  21. Books. There's never a time when I'm not thankful for the words of another.

  22. Organization. It might seem boring to some, but I'm really glad I'm organized.

  23. Generosity. One of those things that's just as great to give as it is to get.

  24. Encouragement. So many people have supported me in my life and I'm so lucky to have them.

  25. Accountability. I'm so glad I've finally realized that I'm accountable for myself and my life.

  26. Smiles. I love giving them and getting them. As Buddy the Elf says, "Smiling's my favorite!"

  27. Change. It scares the shit out of me sometimes, but it can be a wonderful thing.

  28. Fun. Who doesn't love a little bit (or a lot!) of fun in their lives?

  29. Housing. This is something I usually take for granted, but I heart my apartment!

  30. Comfort. Comfort food, comfy sweatpants, a comfortable relationship...comfort rocks!

  31. Hope. Sometimes it's hard to find, but it's always there, waiting to lift me up.

  32. Handwriting. It's so cool how we're all so different and this is a great place to see that.

  33. Glitter. C'mon now, you know glitter is just about the awesomest thing ever.

  34. Patience. I don't have very much of it yet, but I'm getting better at it every day!  

  35. Photographs. There is nothing quite like a brilliant image to capture a moment.

  36. Wonderlands. I particularly love Alice in Wonderland, but a winter wonderland is pretty great too.

  37. Honesty. It really is the best policy.

  38. Surprises. As long as they're good, I lovvvvvve them.

  39. August. Best month ever, hands down.

  40. Paw prints. I can't help but smile every time I see them.

  41. Passion. One of the best things: seeing someone passionate about what they do or who they love.

  42. Palm trees. If only they had them on the east coast... I'll be back, Cali!

  43. Dreams. Both the daytime or nighttime variety are pretty cool.

  44. Films. A movie that leaves you feeling moved -- priceless!

  45. Positivity. Look for the good in everything and you will find it.

  46. Knowledge. Gaining and possessing knowledge is one of my favorite things. Ever.

  47. Quality Time. When you get to spend really quality time with someone, it's sooo fantastic.

  48. Animals. How alike and different we are from them! Fascinating!

  49. Kindness. Even the smallest act or word can change a day around...

  50. Sleep. There's nothing like a soft pillow and a warm blanket after a long, hard day.

  51. Dancing. I can't say I'm very good at it, but I love to do it!

  52. Safe Landings. Gotta love those after a turbulence-filled flight!

  53. Food. It's a major part of life, but I often forget to be thankful for it.

  54. Challenges. They may suck at the time, but they always make me a better person.  

  55. Imagination. I don't know where (or who!) I would be without it...

  56. Compliments. Yeah, you know you're thankful for 'em too.

  57. Twitter. It's awesome connecting with people on there and a great resource for new info.

  58. Growing Up. Man, it was tough being in high school... and college... and right-out-of-college...

  59. Freedom. Another thing I often take for granted, but am SO lucky to have.

  60. Plans. I love knowing that fun things are coming up. Putting plans in place is great!

  61. Therapy. Seriously, it has changed my life in so many amazing ways.

  62. Driving. The car, the road, the music... awesome.  

  63. Inspiration. There's nothing quite like coming across something that inspires you.

  64. Peace. I'm not always at peace with myself and the world, but I'm working on it.

  65. Productivity. It feels so great to be getting stuff done.

  66. Emotions. Sometimes it's scary to feel things deeply, but it's also very wonderful.

  67. Creativity. It's such a great feeling to make something and know it came from your heart. 

  68. Good News. We all know there's a lot of bad news out there, so it's great to hear the good stuff.

  69. Clothes. Even though I'm a grown-up, I still love playing dress up. Heart you, Chanel & Marc Jacobs!

  70. Apologies. It feels great to hear them and even better to say them.

  71. Forgiveness. This is also pretty great if you're in the wrong...

  72. Weekends. Ahh, to be work-free for a few days. Love it!

  73. Magazines: Nylon, Bitch, Bust, Real Simple, InStyle... I heart you.

  74. Now. It's awesome to live in the moment. The only time we have is NOW!

  75. Respect. One of the best things we can do is respect others -- and ourselves.

  76. Bathing Suits. Considering I have about 32 of them, I'd say I'm pretty grateful for 'em (and summer days!)

  77. Joy. It's something that is all around us -- we just have to look for it.

  78. New Places. They can be scary sometimes, but the excitement is part of the fun!

  79. Kisses. There are all sorts of kisses, but all of them are so awesome. 

  80. Memories. I don't like to dwell too much on the past, but it's awesome to look back sometimes.

  81. Excitement. I've had a fair amount of it in my life lately and I love it!

  82. Coziness. It feels so good to cuddle up and be cozy with a great book (or person!).

  83. Thoughts. I have a lot of them (a lot, a lot!) and I'm thankful for every single one.

  84. Internet. Oh, what in the world would I do without you, World Wide Web??

  85. Compassion. It feels wonderful to be compassionate to others.

  86. Journals. All of those blank, beautiful pages!! I cannot get enough of them!

  87. Opinions. I love sharing mine and hearing others' as well.

  88. Water. Another one of those things I tend to take for granted, but it's super important.

  89. Energy. I seem to have a lot of it these days! Yippee!

  90. Questions. When I question things and when others question me, I learn. Love that!  

  91. Time. I've already spent a pretty good amount of time being me, and I'm thankful for that.

  92. Hugs. Not normally a touchy-feely girl, but a good hug can brighten any day.

  93. Earth. This place is pretty cool, if you ask me. Thanks for letting me live here, Earth!

  94. Safety. More often than not, I feel very safe and I'm so lucky to have that privilege.

  95. Strength. I'm not that physically strong, but I have a lot of internal strength that I need to be thankful for.

  96. Independence. It's great to be free, but it's also important to be independent.

  97. Gifts. I adore buying gifts for others (and don't mind receiving them myself! ha!).

  98. Enthusiasm. Life's too short to sit around being bored so get into it!  

  99. Gratitude. Without it, I don't think I would be nearly as happy as I am right now.

  100. YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and support this blog. You. Are. Awesome.

Thank you to all of you who wrote in on Wednesday telling me about the things you're thankful for in your own lives. If you have more to add, or if you didn't get a chance on Wednesday, feel free to share with me in the comments section all of the things that you're grateful for today. I'd love to hear about the things that inspire you to have an attitude of gratitude!


Want a high-tech way to encourage that gratitude within you? Check out Gratitude Stream for your iPhone. You can also check out Gratitude Stream on Facebook!