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June 2011
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words to live by: celebrating cousinship

Love my cousin ()

"Family faces are magic mirrors. 
Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past, present, and future."  

Gail Lumet Buckley


Tomorrow one of my favorite people in the world -- my cousin, whom I call I my sunny Sunflower -- will be celebrating her birthday. In honor of her, I've shared this quote -- one of my favorites about family. It is true that, when I'm with her or talking to her, I see the past, present, and future. She has always been a part of my life and always will be -- a rare thing in a world filled with so many unknowns. I'm so lucky to have her as a cousin and a friend and, today, I am wishing her nothing but the happiest of birthday wishes! 

"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

how to be patient: 5 tips for staying calm now


Patience is a very important characteristics when it comes to living a positive life, but it isn't always easy to come by. For some people, patience comes naturally, and for others it requires quite a bit of work. For whatever reason, I struggle a lot with being patient. I am constantly in a rush, trying to get to the next place in my life, though I know I should slow down and live in the present moment. Here are some tips I’ve been giving myself lately to help me stay present and be more patient.

5 Tips for Being Patient

  1. Take deep breaths. It might seem like a very small step, but it’s a step in the right direction. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel tense and impatient, a few deep breaths will help you focus on the present and may help to push your irritation aside.

  2. Be always open to learning. Almost every person and situation in life has something to teach you. If you’re being impatient and rushing (as I so often do!), there’s a good chance you might miss out on something worth learning. Focusing on the learning experience can help you want to be more patient with others.

  3. Look at the big picture. Whenever you feel impatient, try to think of the big picture. Ask yourself, “What’s really more important right now than being where I am?” It’s tempting to believe that you really must be elsewhere, but everything in life happens for a reason and there’s no reason not to pace yourself.  

  4. Choose the easy path. If you grow more and more impatient with a situation, that doesn’t make the situation go away. It only aggravates you and may even cause problems that can make you even more impatient. Patience, hard as it seems sometimes, is the easy way out.  

  5. Consider others. One of the last things we usually do when we’re impatient is consider how we might be affecting others. If we stop for a moment and do this, we’ll most likely realize that our impatience is not worth upsetting other people. Focus on selflessness, and patience will come more easily.  

Being patient is something I literally struggle with on a daily basis. I tend to move at a pretty quick pace and always feel like I need to be somewhere else, doing something else. Clearly, this has lead to a lot of issues -- particularly not being present in my own life. I always say I'm going to work on being patient -- and I always fully intend to -- but it's something that I just usually don't have the patience for. With this article, I'm going to really start focusing on being patient and slowing down so that I can really appreciate my life fully. 

What tips do you have for being patient? 
What advice can you offer someone struggling with patience? 

best friends forever?: lessons on friendship (part I)

Bff ()

Lately I've been dealing with a difficult situation in one of my friendships. A friend of mine knowingly put me in a situation that had the potential to make me (and other people) very uncomfortable and unhappy. When I discovered that the situation was going to present itself -- and that she had been the catalyst behind it -- I was shocked.  When she casually mentioned the impending situation to me the very night before it was to occur, my heartbeat sped up. My palms grew sweaty. Though no mirror was around, I could feel that all the color had drained from my face. My mind raced: How could she do this to me? Why would she do this? How could she think this would be okay? Though my mind was spinning with questions, I took a deep breath to steady myself and refrained from saying anything to her. 

Though the next day arrived and the what-could-have-been-terrible situation didn't actually end up occurring (despite a day filled with worry and anxiety on my part), I couldn't help but wonder how a friend could do this to another friend. I couldn't help but wonder what a friendship really was. Time and time again, I've been faced with situations where friends have shocked me with their actions. Too often I've turned my frustration and sadness inward, accusing myself of picking the wrong people to be friends with. If that's true, I can't help but wonder why I continue to do that. And if it's not true, I can't help but then ponder: what really is a true friendship? 

Though it might seem like something that might be easy, maintaining a good, true friendship can be very difficult, especially when you are in a phase in your life where a lot of things are changing (hello, twenties!). Over the past few years, I've developed a lot as a person and the changes I experienced in myself didn’t always translate very well when it came to friendships. I've tried to take a more positive route when it comes to my life's path and, oddly enough, that hasn't always impacted my friendships in a positive way. I do have some wonderful friends who have stuck with me, through thick and thin, and who have never done (and I imagine never will do) me any wrong. But then I've had some up-and-down friendships that have caused me just as much heartache and pain as any boy-related breakup. 

One of the hardest things I've learned when it comes to friendships is that people change. You will change and your friends will change. Sometimes friends will change together and will have a life-long friendship. Other times, one or both of you might change and you might grow apart. As sad as that sounds, it’s okay. Some friendships aren’t meant to last forever. But what's really hard to deal with is the friendships you think are meant to last forever that don't. Just like a romantic relationship, sometimes it's hard to let go. Sometimes it's hard to know when it's over. Sometimes it's tempting to cling to a bond that just isn't really there (or, at the very least, isn't positive for one or both of you). 

Because I've dealt with a lot of friendships -- both wonderful and heart-wrenching -- and because I'm currently struggling with understanding what the next step is going to be in this particular friendship that has been causing me pain lately, I've given some thought to three very important elements of friendships: (1) how to maintain them so they stay positive, (2) how to know when it's time to call it quits, and (3) how to recover from a lost friendship. 


5 Ways to Maintain a Friendship

Friendships take work. While generally they are a lot of fun and such a great thing to have in your life, like any relationship, you have to work on them. To maintain a friendship, here are some things you should strive to do:

  1. Be a good listener. When a friend confides in you -- or even just tells you a tidbit about her day -- strive to be really present and really hear what she's saying to you. Our own thoughts and commentary can be a big distraction, but instead of always thinking about what advice or comments you can give her, try to really listen to what she's saying to you. 

  2. Don’t judge your friends harshly. Judging people is normal and it's part of human nature, but it's a good thing to try to keep those judgments to a minimum when it comes to friendships. We're all human; we all make mistakes. When a friend does or says something you don't understand, strive to be open-minded and nonjudgmental. 

  3. Find positive common bonds with each other. Friendships are often based on things we have in common with one another. However, the bonds we make with other people are not always positive. Often people bond over judging or putting down other people. If you want to have a lasting, meaningful friendship, focus on positive things that will bring you two closer together. 

  4. Be open to trying new experiences. As people change and grow, their friendships can often become strained because one person seems different. If you want to maintain a friendship for a long period of time, you must be open to new experiences and perspectives. At her core, your friend is the same person so try to be open-minded when she changes -- and encourage her to do the same for you. 

  5. Establish (and don’t break!) trust. Trust is the most important aspect of any relationship. It takes time to establish trust with people and it's essential that you make establishing trust a priority in your friendship. And, most importantly, once that trust has been established, don't break it. Once trust has been broken, it can be very difficult to get it back. 

Doing these things will help to keep your friendship intact. It’s important to remember that friendship is a two-way street. You should be both getting and giving. If you’re doing all of the giving (or all of the getting!), the friendship may not be genuine; it may be time for you to reevaluate that relationship because a true friendship is always about give and take. In Part II, I will discuss how you know when it's time to end a friendship and Part III will cover how to recover from the loss of a friendship. 


Stay tuned for Parts II and III coming soon! 
Please feel free to share your comments about
maintaining friendships
 in the comments section below.  


words to live by: the show goes on

the show goes on ()


Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder,
when they would see the sun up

Just remember when you come up
The show goes on

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder,
when they would see the sun up

Just remember when you come up
The show goes on

So no matter what you been through
No matter what you into
No matter what you see
when you look outside your window

Brown grass or green grass
Picket fence or barbed wire
Never ever put them down
You just lift your arms higher
Raise em till’ your arms tired
Let em’ know you’re there
That you struggling and survivin’
that you gonna persevere

Yeah, ain’t no body leavin,
no body goin’ home

Even if they turn the lights out
the show is goin’ on

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder,
when they would see the sun up

Just remember when you come up
The show goes on
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder,
when they would see the sun up

Just remember when you come up
The show goes on

"The Show Goes On"
Lupe Fiasco 


"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

book review: living with your heart wide open


 "Making peace within is one of the noblest endeavors you can pursue --
for yourself, for others, and for the world."

Steve Flowers & Bob Stahl 


I'm a big fan of books with a purpose, which is why I read a lot of nonfiction books. I love the idea that a writer set out to make a difference of lives of his or her readers. When I was sent a copy of Living with Your Heart Wide Open: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Unworthiness, Inadequacy, and Shame, I excited to dive in to the work of authors Steve Flowers, MFT, and Bob Stahl, PhD, but I had no idea it would feel like the authors had written this book just for me! As I read, I often underline passages that really speak to me, and I found myself underlining a good portion of this book (wonder what that says about my feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, and shame...) and truly learning a lot about myself as I read. 

The Amazon book description sums up the premise of the book:

"The way we talk to ourselves is often unkind and filled with self-judgments. These overly harsh self-criticisms can make us feel unworthy and incomplete. What if what you really need is not higher standards for yourself, but greater self-compassion? In Living with Your Heart Wide Open, you’ll discover how mindfulness and self-compassion can free you from the thoughts and beliefs that create feelings of inadequacy and learn to open your heart to the loving-kindness within you and in the world around you. Based in Western psychotherapy and Buddhist psychological principles, this book guides you past painful and self-limiting beliefs about yourself and toward a new perspective of nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance of who you are, just as you are. You’ll receive gentle guidance in mindfulness and compassion practices that will lead you away from unproductive, self-critical thoughts and help you live more freely and fearlessly, with your heart wide open."


That might tell you what the book is about, but it doesn't quite get to the heart of how much you can gain from reading the book. Even if you think you're not suffering from unworthiness, inadequacy, or shame (hey, I thought I was fine in the those areas!), the book provides such great insight on how we can talk to ourselves in a more positive way. The more we learn to be mindful and compassionate of ourselves, the more we can love ourselves. I'd recommend that anyone interested in personal growth check out this book. If you need a sneak peek before buying, check out some of my favorite passages from the book below. 

"Perhaps none of us discovers who we really are until we free ourselves from concepts of who we are and who we are not... The sense of self is formed in early childhood and gradually hardens into self-concepts and beliefs, creating a personal identity that can define and restrict you for the rest of your life...If you can experience yourself from the immediacy of here-and-now awareness rather than through the narrowed perceptions of a self created long before this moment, you can find another way of being in the world." 

"When you bring compassionate awareness to [your] wounded heart, you narrative-based self begins to fade, and in time something new will be revealed. As you surrender into what is, you'll discover a wholeness that you couldn't know as long as you were avoiding your feelings and searching to fill the void with something from someone else." 

"We usually don't see that which is before us; we see our interpretations of what is before us. These interpretations transform our perceptions to fit our beliefs and expectations. In essence, we see the world as we think it is." 

"We usually don't use the phrase 'having the time of my life' other than when things are going great, but in truth, each moment is the time of your life. You may judge it as positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant, but the fact is, this moment is all you really have." 

Not only is the book filled with words of wisdom like the ones I've mentioned above, but there are also some very helpful exercises and activities outlined in the book that help you take what you've read and put it into practice. As someone who personally struggles with being mindful (especially when it comes to myself), I found the activities very helpful in turning good ideas into action. If you want to make peace with yourself and find a way to connect with the person you are in this very moment, this book is an excellent tool for making that happen. As Steve and Bob wrote in the book, making peace with yourself is a noble endeavor and it can change not only your life, but the lives of others as well.