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book review + giveaway: the fire starter sessions

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Weeks after I'd already pre-ordered my copy of Danielle LaPorte's latest book, The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms, her team contacted me and asked me to review a copy. My answer was a resounding, "Hell ya!" I'd already been planning to share my love of the book, and now I have the good fortune of an extra copy for a giveaway (check the bottom of this post for details on that!).

To say I loved the book would be an understatement. I lovvvvvvved it. Having been following Danielle's site for the past three years, I had a feeling I would be into her book, but I had no idea how inspiring and motivating the book would be. The inside flap of the book jacket says, "The Fire Starter Sessions will ignite you to action by re-framing success + self-help -- and burning some of those limiting illusions to a crisp." Those words rang true for me. The book provided me with a fresh take on self-help -- and how shattering antiquated notions of success could help me reach my true potential. 

Whatever your definition of "success" is, this book as the inspiration, tools, and worksheets to help you achieve it. If you want to succeed on your own terms (and who doesn't?), this book is a must read. It discusses not only the big issues: desire, defining yourself, your vision, fear, failure, etc., but it also tackles the day-to-day stuff that often gets in the way of achieving true greatness: not having enough time, money issues, creating a supportive system.

The words of wisdom are endless -- both do-it-now practical and life-lessons inspiring -- but here are a a few of my favorite takeaways from the book: 

 

Know what your strengths are. 

"[A strength is] not necessarily what you're good at or what you're capable of -- it's what feels amazing when you do it."


We often think of our strengths as the things we're good at, but that's not exactly right. Our strengths, Danielle reminds us, are the things that make us feel alive, excited, inspired. Strengths are the things that light us up, make us want to stay up late and wake up early, and drive us to live the lives we're meant to be living. The topic of strength comes up frequently in the book and it's such an important aspect to consider when discussing success on your own terms. Danielle's interpretation of strength really made me reconsider what I consider my own strengths to be. 

 

Rule your fears.

"When you can see fear as just an emotion that's hanging out with all of your other emotions, you gain some clearer perspective. It's not superior, and it's not even inferior. It's just an emotion that you can choose to focus on or not." 


Fear is something we all struggle with. Whether it's related to yourself, your relationships, your career, or your future, fear is present in some form in all of our lives. Danielle reminds us that it's not the fear that's problematic -- it's how much power we allow that fear to have. Instead of giving it the same weight as other emotions, we tend to give it much more attention, which leads to a lot of hesitation and self-doubt. One of my favorite chapters in Danielle's book talks about how not to do what fear tells us to do. Hard -- but life-changing! 

 

Figure out how you want to feel. 

"Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity you can have... First, get clear on how you want to feel. Then, do the stuff that makes you feel that way."


You might recall this post I wrote (based on a question posted by Danielle) called, "How Do You Want to Feel Today?" There's a section of the book that expands on the concept of knowing how you want to feel and using that knowledge to create a life that makes you feel that way. As I discussed in my article, we don't often spend time thinking about how we want to feel -- which is an aspect of life that's actually very, very important. Danielle shows us why this is important -- and helps us to make it a real-life practice. 

 

Process your past.

"You can't face forward until you've processed your past...If you can assess how yesterday's agony affected you, then you not only defuse its potential grip on your, but you also place it where you want it to be in your psyche. By observing it, you transform it."  


One myth about living a positively present life is that the past should be forgotten. While it's important to move forward from the past, in order to do that, we must first learn from it. Danielle knows this and she devotes a section of her book to helping readers realize how they can improve the present by observing the past. If we want to improve the present, we have to observe the past (and our relationship with it). We cannot change it, but we can change how we think about it, which is in some ways even more important. 

 

Stop doing meaningless things. 

"It's not the imbalances of life that will get you down -- it's doing meaningless things that aren't taking you where you want to go." 


"I'm so busy!" How often do we stay those three little words? Too often. Yes, we're busy, but we're busy because we said yes. Danielle offers insights not on how to balance everything (impossible in her book and I agree), but on how to figure out what needs to be given attention at a particular point in time. Addressing busy-ness isn't about trying to balance everything; it's about knowing what to say yes to (and when to say it). Danielle has a refreshing (and realistic) perspective on time management. 

 

The quotes and concepts discussed above are just a few of the many, many nuggets of wisdom Danielle offers readers in this book. Seriously, it's life-changing. If you're looking for inspiration and motivation to help you take your business, your relationships, your career -- hell, your whole life -- to the next level, this is what you need. Pick up your own copy of Danielle's book here or enter to win a copy below on Positively Present!  

 

Win The Fire Starter Sessions!
 

Want to win a copy of this amazing book? I bet you do! 

Five winners will be randomly selected on Monday, May 7, 2012 and will be notified via email. Below are the details on how you can enter to win. 


COMMENT TO WIN
Leave a comment below answering this question:
"What does success mean to you?" 
Include your email address so we can contact you.

+1 EXTRA ENTRY
Like Positively Present on Facebook. 
Add a comment here to let us know about the Like.

+1 MORE EXTRA ENTRY
Post about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter
Come back + comment with the link.
*please tag it with @positivepresent*

 


positively present picks: week of april 23, 2012

 

 

 

Quote

“Watch your thoughts -- they become words.
Watch your words -- they become actions.
Watch your actions -- they become habits.
Watch your habits -- they become character.
Watch your character -- it becomes your destiny."

Lao Tze

 

 

Linksilove

Book Spine Poetry : a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month

 Really good stuff is coming : something to keep in mind

Ellen reading from Fifty Shades of Grey : hilarious + awkward

Gala Darling's on Radical Self Love : super inspiring TEDTalk

Baby shower fever : can't stop looking for cute ideas!

Creative Dexterity's computer jewelry : so perfectly nerdy

Quotes + Inspiration Galore : courtesy of Renaissance Woman 

Ink361: an awesome site for viewing Instagram photos

From Birth to 12 : pretty cool video of a life

A Favorite Design : a great go-to for unique greeting cards

Optimist mug : in case you need a half-full reminder

DailyFeats + Positively Present challenge : sign up today!

 


Listening reading

 Check out this week's tunes on YouTube here.

"Ho Hey" by The Lumineers
"Sex on the Regular" by Miniature Tigers
"Black White & Blue" by Ladyhawke
"Never Let Me Go" by Florence + the Machine
"Brokenhearted" by Karmin 
"Follow the Sun" by Xavier Rudd 
"Are You Satisfied?" by Marina and the Diamonds
"Alice" by Avril Lavigne
"Apartment" by Young the Giant
"Is Anybody Out There?" by K'NAAN feat. Nelly Furtado
"Simple Song" by The Shins 
"It's Time" by Imagine Dragons 
"When I'm Gone" by Wiz Khalifa 


Fifty Shades Darker
by EL James
(book two of the scandalous series is even better...) 

The Firestarter Sessions
by Danielle LaPorte 

Fairy Rebel
by Lynne Reid Banks
(re-reading a childhood favorite!) 


positive change: dailyfeats + positively present

 

Back in December, I introduced you to DailyFeats, a site helping people achieve their goals by encouraging active participation in what DailyFeats calls "the good economy," an economy fueled by doing positive, healthy actions on a daily basis. The founders of the site realized that ongoing motivation, community support, and celebratory rewards help people create positive habits and meet their goals so they created DailyFeats to motivate and inspire people. Whether its through mindfulness, healthy eating habits, or creating better relationships (just to name a few!), DailyFeats inspires people to do the little things that build up to big change. 

On DailyFeats, participants choose a goal -- such as reducing stress, saving money, etc. -- and each day they complete "feats" -- small steps in the direction of that goal -- to help them move closer to completing that goal. The more feats accomplished, the points earned. Points can then be donated to charity or redeemed for discounts and rewards. Awesome, right? 

Even more awesome is this exciting news: Positively Present and DailyFeats have teamed up to help readers like you live a more positively present life. We've worked together to create "feats" that will help you work toward the goal of making your life more positive for the next 30 days. If, like me, you want to live more positively in the present and would love some motivation, sign up for DailyFeats and get inspired! 

Read on to learn more about how DailyFeats works -- and why you'll want to sign up today. 

Dailyfeats


How Does DailyFeats Work? 


1. Set a goal. 
First you choose a goal (or sign up for the Positively Present goal of living a positively present life). Once your goal's in place, you start making your way toward it by completing feats on a daily basis. 

2. Complete feats. Next you choose your feats (every good thing you do toward your goal). DailyFeats will give you reminders, incentives, and motivation to accomplish your feats every day.

3. Celebrate. As you make progress, you share with friends, gain inspiration from the community, and earn points to redeem for rewards or donations, keeping you inspired and motivated!

 

Why Should You Join DailyFeats? 


1. You get constant (free!) motivation.
 DailyFeats breaks your goal down into a set of manageable featsto do every day. As you achieve your feats, you check them in at DailyFeats, sharing your progress with friends and building inspiration. DailyFeats also provides reminders to keep you motivated (and is available on your iPhone for instant access!)

2. You receive rewards. Every time you check-in a feat, you'll earn points to redeem for savings from national brands or partner donations to nonprofits. Not only will you get on the road to making your goal a reality, but you'll get rewards along the way (or charity donations if you're not the reward-wanting type). 

3. You are participating in something good. DailyFeats' philosophy is this: "We have two beliefs: the first is that change starts with small actions, simple positive choices that people make every day. The second is that to a create a movement for change, we need the involvement of organizations with strong voices. Together, we can create the change our society needs, starting from the smallest actions and working upwards." Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?!

 

No matter what your goal is, staying motivated in a world filled with distractions is difficult. We all need a little help sometimes and DailyFeats is just the place to get it. If you want to join in on the Positively Present-themed goal, check this out. And if you want to start from scratch with your own goal, visit the DailyFeats homepage. It's time to make those goals of yours happen -- and DailyFeats is here to help! 


is the right fit the right answer?:
lessons from crosswording

 

 "Life can be so much like a crossword puzzle.
It's perplexing and tiring and you're never quite sure
if you got the right answer."  

Unknown

 

Lately I've been spending my mornings crouched over the kitchen counter at my parents' house, mesmorized by the daily crossword puzzles in The Washington Post. Never before have I been interested in crossword puzzles, but lately I've found myself sucked into them on an almost daily basis. Clearly, I'm a fan of words (being a writer and all), but what I love most about crosswords is the little tricks -- the clues that seem so clear, but when the right word is finally discovered it's linked to a definition I'd never even considered (or known!). 

With my new-found love for crosswords, not only am I learning new words -- and completely random facts I'll probably never have use for -- but I recently I had a crossword-related revelation: even when I'm 100% sure I know the word, even when it fits perfectly in those little squares, and even when it aligns flawlessly with the clue -- sometimes the answer I pencil in ends up being wrong. Clearly these puzzle-makers do this on purpose to make them tricky, but it can be frustrating. How can something that fits so well be wrong? 

This seems-so-right-but-is-really-wrong concept happens not only in crossword puzzles, but in life as well. There are moments when something (a relationship, a career choice, our words or actions, etc.) seems to fit so perfectly that you're certain it couldn't possibly be wrong. It matches up with all the other letters, it makes perfect sense with the clues you've been given, but later you discover it's completely wrong and there's an even better answer that you never even considered. When other puzzles are solved, when new words are added, you discover that the answer that seemed so right is, in fact, trumped by an even better solution. 

When this idea -- that something that fits perfectly might not necessarily be right -- first dawned on me, I was a little unsettled. I started wondering if the seemingly "right" aspects of my life might somehow be wrong. Just because something is a perfect fit doesn't mean that it's the right answer. 


How do you know if the right fit is really the right answer? 


The truth is: you don't. At least not always. At least not right away. With my crossword answers, I usually discovered an answer was wrong only after I'd completely other parts of the puzzle and concluded that the answer I was once so sure about no longer seemed to fit. In many cases, I remained certain my answer was correct until the following day when my parents and I would look over the answers and realize that seemed right was actually wrong. 

In life there are many situations where there's no way of knowing if the right fit really is the right answer. (On the contrary, there are often many situations where we know it's not the right answer but we desperately try to make it fit in order to have completed the puzzle. Don't do this. A forced fit is never the right fit.) However, just like the crossword puzzle, there are a few things we can do to figure out if what fits is really what's right. 


Get a second opinion. 

Sometimes the only way I realize an answer I'd been certain about is wrong is when my parents discover a better solution to the puzzle. For the most part, I think we know what's "right" for us in our lives, but it doesn't hurt to get a second opinion. I can't tell you how many times someone else has interpreted a crossword puzzle clue in a way I never would have considered. If you're questioning any of the perfectly fitting pieces in your life, don't hesitate to ask someone else for his or her opinion. A fresh perspective could be just what you need to determine if what fits is really what's right. And if a second opinion doesn't offer you a new answer, it has the potential to either confirm that your answer is, in fact, the right one -- or open your mind to thinking about the clues in new ways. 

 

Double-check connected clues.

Most of the elements in our lives are connected in some way. Some examples: your personal relationships can impact your work; your workday can influence the mood at home; your relationship with your parents can affect your relationship with your partner. It's important to look at the elements of your life impacting the seemingly perfect answer to see if those elements might also be the perfect-but-not-right fit. With the crosswords, sometimes by changing another answer  I realize my perfect fit wasn't so perfect after all. When attempting to ascertain if the perfect fit is the right fit, don't isolate your thoughts to one element of your life -- look at the whole puzzle, or at least the connected elements.  

 

Use creative thinking. 

One of the things I love most about the crossword puzzles -- and find immensely frustrating at the same time -- is that the clues are often multidimensional and much more clever than they appear at first glance. To get the right answer sometimes you have to think outside the box and consider alternate definitions and possibilities. Likewise, if you want the right answer for an element of your life, you have to consider alternatives and be open to ideas other than the first and most obvious answer. When an answer seems to fit so perfectly, it can be challenging to see the clues from a different point of view, but putting the effort to think creatively is much better than settling for the first thing that comes along. 


Take a break. 

Whenever I'm stumped on a crossword puzzle answer, I find that taking a break from staring at that newspaper page often helps me to clear my mind and actually come up with the correct answer. Similarly, if you're struggling to determine whether or not the right fit is the right answer, removing yourself from the situation for a bit will help you to clear your mind. When you come back, you'll usually be even more certain about your answer or be able to come up with alternate ideas based on a fresh perspective. When things seem to fit well in our lives we don't often want to step away from them to evaluate, but doing so could prevent a lifetime of living with the wrong answer. 

 


It's quite possible that the perfect fit isn't the right answer -- but it's also quite possible that it is right. It's important to be aware of what's happening in your life and review even the seemingly perfect parts of it, it doesn't do any good to constantly worry and wonder if what seems to fit is actually wrong. What I learned with this crossword puzzle revelation is not to question everything, but instead to be open to the idea that the perfect fit isn't always the right fit. It's not about creating a culture of doubt, but learning to be more aware of what's going on in our lives -- even the parts that seem to fit perfectly. 


positively present picks: my weekly favorites

 

 

 

Quote

“Watch your thoughts -- they become words.
Watch your words -- they become actions.
Watch your actions -- they become habits.
Watch your habits -- they become character.
Watch your character -- it becomes your destiny."

Lao Tze

 

 

Linksilove

Happy Notes Set : someone please feel free to buy these for me ;)

Live Inspired : such great, inspirational gifts for all occasions
especially this journal, this book, and this card

Very cool vintage whale poster : on etsy via swissmiss

Blik wall decals : perfect for apartment dwellers (this, please!)

Misato Suzuki's art : gorgeous  + thought-provoking

Tupac resurrected in a hologram : whoa. crazy cool.

BB - KK Alice in Wonderland print : love, love, love, LOVE this.

Mother's Day gift ideas : RealSimple is on top of it!

Reading Fiction : great quote from Ann Patchett I fully agree with

Webbygram : great way to view Instagrams online

Sunshine + Summertime : so ready for the warm weather

Seen a bear do the Dougie? : you'll wanna have a look

 


Listening reading

 Check out this week's tunes on YouTube here.

"Candles" by Daughter
"Clementine" by Sarah Jaffe 
"Payphone" by Maroon 5
"5678!" by Butterfly Boucher
"Everybody Talks" by Neon Trees
"Moneygrabber" by Fitz and the Tantrums
"Foxes" by Youth
"Lions in Cages" by Wolf Gang
"Innocent" (Live) by Taylor Swift
"Hail Mary" by Tupac 
"Eyes Wide Open" by Gotye
"Mace Spray" by The Jezebels
"Your Bones" by Of Monsters and Men 



The Forgotten Waltz
by Anne Enright

Father of the Rain
by Lily King

The Firestarter Sessions
by Danielle LaPorte