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positively present picks: week of june 25, 2012






We must be free not because we claim freedom,
but because we practice it.

William Faulkner





If You Love Neon... : Positively Present's Neon Brights board featured!

Hello Giggles : both entertaining + smart, with lots of laughs

5 Ways to Be Present This Summer : a how-to for embracing the sunshine 

Happy B-Day America! : the best things about the USA

Life Through the Lens : beautiful + inspiring photos that make me smile

Life, Liberty, + the Pursuit of Happiness : read this if you're chasing happiness

Get Crafty! : some of my favorite crafts + to-do ideas

Kusama's Obliteration Room : stickers + kids = awesomeness

Toy Stories : Aled's images always make me laugh

Jessica's Daily Affirmation : this still makes me smile (gotta start doing this!)

Honest WTF : the best (+ coolest!) D.I.Y. ideas

Rainbow Types : can't say enough how much I love this (+ Marc Johns!)



Listening reading

 Check out this week's Independence Day themed tunes on YouTube.

"Liberty Walk"  –  Miley Cyrus
"American Boy"  –  Estelle + Kanye West
"Firework"  –  Katy Perry
"American Girl"  – Tom Petty + the Heartbreakers
"Sparklers"  –  Rocky Votolato
"Party in the USA"  –  Miley Cyrus
"On the 4th of July"  –  James Taylor
"Love in America"  –  JTX
"American Girls"  –  Counting Crows
"Sam's Town"  –  The Killers
"July Flame"  –  Laura Veirs
"Sparks Fly"  –  Taylor Swift
"4th of July"  –  Kelis
"Born in the USA"  –  Bruce Springsteen

A Visit From the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egen 

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher
Peter Bowerman 

life is a circus: 5 lessons from inside the big top


 Keep the circus going inside you, keep it going,
don't take anything too seriously,
it'll all work out in the end.

David Niven


I've always had a sort of love affair with the circus, and lately I've been a lot more focused on it as I've been planning a circus-themed baby shower. (So focused on it, in fact, that I even watched Charlie Chaplin's The Circus last night -- a silent film, which is usually so not my thing.) Despite the misgivings I have about the circus (the treatment of animals, the creepy clowns, etc.), there's something about being part of a circus that seems magical -- traveling around the country preforming and entertaining people, doing things that seem impossible to others and knowing how they all work. There's something magical about being the force behind the magic.

When I think of the circus, I think of sawdust and swinging trapeze artists. I think of twinkling lights and towering big tops. I think of excitement and experience, the dusty trails of knowledge kicked up by all the traveling performers. I'm sure there's much more to it than what I envision (... all the most magical things are always so much simpler when you're on the outside), but to me the circus seems like a wondrous place.

Beyond the wonder and magic of the circus, there is a lot we can learn from what happens under the big top. The circus, in many ways, is a metaphor for life -- it's crazy, unexpected, filled with a wild range of emotions. Under the big top, you can go from laughing your head off to holding your breath in fear in just a matter of moments. As in life, the circus is filled with some odd characters, many of which have a great deal of knowledge to share if only we look a little closer. Let's pull back the curtain on the big top and see what life lessons we can find amid the sawdust and the sparkles...


Be the ringmaster. It's your life. 

If life is a circus, then you should certainly be the star in your own ring. The ringmaster controls the show. The ringmaster is the most visible performer. The ringmaster is in charge. You can't control everything in life, but there are many things you have the power to direct. Don't let someone else be the ringmaster in your life. Take the reins (or the whip, in this case!) and remind yourself that you have the power to be in charge of this crazy circus we call life. 


You're on a tightrope. Keep your balance.

Just like the walk across the wire is for a tightrope walker, our lives will be most successful if we find balance. Lean too far in one direction and you'll find yourself toppling over. Balance is not always easy to master when juggling relationships and jobs and passions, but it's essential for living a positive and present life. Imagine yourself on a tightrope and ask yourself, "Am I leaning too far in one direction?" Don't let one area of your life -- no matter how important it might seem -- distract you from achieving balance. 


Toss your hat in the ring. Get involved. 

Like a circus coming to town, our lives are brief but wonderful. Don't waste your life sitting on the sidelines. Get involved with activities, hobbies, friends, jobs. Say "yes" more than you say "no." Do the things that scare you. Push your boundaries. Take the challenge of living life to the fullest. Life is a circus that's magical to watch, but even more wonderful to participate in. Don't waste your life being a spectator. Throw down your inhibitions and throw your hat into the ring. 


Set up a sturdy net. You will need back-up.

No matter how balanced you try to be, you'll make mistakes. You'll slip and fall. Nothing could be worse than a fall without a net so make sure you have a strong network of people to help you get back up on your feet. You don't need a lot of people -- a few will do the trick -- but you do need people who will catch you when you fall, who will dust you off, and who will help you get back up on your feet. You won't often need your safety net, but you'll be thankful you have it when you start to lose your balance. 


Clown around. Life's too short to be serious.

Even if you're a bit wary of clowns (there's just something not right about a painted-on smile...), it's hard not to appreciate their ability to make life a comedy. Life is much too short to spend your time being serious. Take a lesson from the circus clowns and make a joke, share a laugh, do something so silly and outrageous that you make yourself crack up. Seriousness has it's time and place, but it's the silliness you'll remember most. So clown around. Laugh


Life is very much like the world under the big top -- filled with the unexpected, the exciting, and the terrifying. It's a lot to take in, but if you look closely, beyond the curtain, beneath the glitter, you'll see the wisdom that lies behind the wonder and the whimsy...


If you love the circus like I do, here are some sites, songs, and sources you might want to check out: 

Circus-Themed Music Videos (includes my fav, Britney Spears' "Circus")

The Night Circus (amazing novel with a new twist on the circus)

Ringling Museum of Art (worth a trip to Sarasota, FL!)

Life is a Circus (my Pinterest board)

Charlie Chaplin's The Circus (part 1 of 8, but you can find all 8 on YouTube)

Circus (a PBS documentary you can watch online)

Win a copy of Live Happily Ever After Now

LHEAN Cover Image 

Want to win a copy of Live Happily Ever After Now? One lucky winner will be randomly selected on Friday, June 29, 2012 and will be notified via email. Below are the various ways you can enter to win. 


Leave a comment below about how you use
(or plan to use) one of the five lessons listed above. 
Include your email address so we can contact you.

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

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


positively present picks: week of june 18, 2012


summer summer summer





Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes,
and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. 
A few of those days and you can become drunk
with the belief that all's right with the world.  

Ada Louise Huxtable





Striking Truths : amazing, amazing, amazing design + inspiration

Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt : a must-read for everyone

The Optimist's Guide to Life : lots of inspiring posts + guest posts

Finding Your Passion Requires Action : the motivation you need to get going

Day to Be You : great, inspiration-filled site (especially this!)

Blog, Inc. is coming out in September : so pumped! pre-order here

The Carry On Concept : a must-read eBook for anyone traveling light

100 Things to Do Instead of Procrastinating on the Internet : yes!! 

Turning Office Supplies into Found Art : so many pretty colors

DIY Goal List : very simple way to manage all your goals



Listening reading

Summer's officially here!
Check out the Positively Present Summertime Soundtrack on YouTube.

"Go Outside"  –  Cults
"This Summer I'll Make It Up to You"  –  Caged Animals
"Warrior"  –  Kimbra + Mark Foster 
"Summertime Sadness"  –  Lana Del Ray
"Let's Go"  –  Madi Diaz
"Zimbabwe"  –  New Navy
"Ana Sun"  –  Walk the Moon
"Sunlight"  –  Bag Raiders
"I Was Made for Sunny Days"  –  The Weepies
"Standing on the Shore"  –  Empire of the Sun
"Perfect Games"  –  The Broken West
"It's Time"  –  Imagine Dragons
"Lions in Cages"  –  Wolf Gang
"Titanium"  –  David Guetta + Sia
"Call Me Maybe"  –  Carly Rae Jepsen (just had to...)
"Uncharted"  –  Sara Bareilles
"Hello"  –  Karmin
"Time to Begin"  –  States
"Come Down"  –  Greg Laswell + Sara Bareilles 
"The Fighter"  –  Gym Class Heroes 


The Carrie Diaries
Candace Bushnell 

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher
Peter Bowerman 

how to manage mixed emotions



Last week, my boyfriend brought me gift from his business trip: a mood ring. I hadn't had one since the '90s and was thrilled. Back then they hadn't worked so well, but apparently they've upped the technology in these rings since my childhood (or perhaps my moods have just gotten stronger...). In any case, the ring seemed to work like magic -- turning to purple (love) when I was fawning over my Bella pup, pink (romance) when I was with my boyfriend, yellow (anxious) when I was about to give Bella the medicine I knew she didn't want to take, and green (mixed emotions) when I was feeling an array of things. It was magic -- and I was mesmerized, checking it every so often to see if it matched up with my current emotions.  

mood ringThough for the most part it stayed normal (blue), it surprisingly morphed to green (mixed emotions) frequently over the course of the few days I was wearing it. Which got to me thinking: how often are we really in one emotional state? I often find myself defining my emotions with a single word -- "happy," "sad," "angry," etc. -- but wearing this ring (as silly as it is) has made me realize that my emotional state is often much more complex than a single word. And this past week was a particularly good illustration of that. 

Last Wednesday (the very same day I received the mood ring!), I launched Live Happily Ever After Now : A Guide + Workbook for Living in the Moment. I was overwhelmed with the wonderful response I received (and am still receiving!) for the workbook. It is the first product I've launched and I had no idea what to expect. The positive feedback (and sales!) had my heart soaring, confirming what I'd been questioning from the very first day I decided to leave my full time job: would people really want to pay for my work? Turns out the answer is YES! and I couldn't have been happier.  

But my stellar mood was dampened by a frustrating and sobering reality: Bella, who had already lost nearly two of her eight pounds, wasn't eating.* This meant Bella wasn't taking the medicine she needed to help regulate her kidney disease. No matter what I tried -- fresh chicken, salmon, treats -- she wouldn't eat. I was devastated, recalling the vet telling me that one of the signs of it being "the end" would be that she would stop eating. As thrilled as I was to be launching Live Happily Ever After Now, staying in the present was increasing difficult. 

My emotions were all over the place -- one moment I was thrilled to see another sale pop up in my inbox, the next I was looking at super-skinny Bella with tears spilling down my cheeks. My mood ring was green and my emotions were most currently mixed. Coping with constant assents and descents was maddening (Should I allow myself to be happy about my workbook's success while Bella lay starving at my feet? Should I direct all my attention to Bella, who seemed so frail and helpless, and ignore those exciting emails flooding my inbox?), and in the midst of it all I realized that this must be common.

At some point, we all encounter days (months? years?) filled with altering moments of happiness and sadness, fear and hope, gratitude and anger. When we face these emotions one after another -- or even at the same time -- managing them can be difficult. What do we focus on? What do we push aside? I've never been an advocate of ignoring emotions (they always creep back in eventually...), but how do we cope with a myriad of emotions at once? 

Managing mixed emotions can be incredibly difficult, especially when in the midst of experiencing them. In a highly emotional state, the last thing you probably want to do is think about how you can manage your emotions -- but, believe me, it's worth putting in a little extra effort to help yourself cope. Below are some of the things I've tried over the past few days, things that have really helped me to cope with the ups and downs...


5 Ways to Manage Mixed Emotions

1. Acknowledge your emotions.
Emotions are not choices and we don't usually contemplate on which one we could like before we experience it. They sneak up on us and suddenly we're feeling happy or sad or angry or elated. The first step in managing your emotions is realizing that they are there. When you find yourself feeling or acting emotional, take a moment to think about how you're feeling. Ask yourself what emotions you are really experiencing. Pay attention to your body. It will give you clues (clenched fists, increased heartbeat, etc.) to alert you of a new emotional state. Once you've identified your emotions, you have a much better chance of managing them. 

2. Accept what you're feeling. Accepting emotions doesn't come always come easily. For example, it was hard for me to accept my feelings of elation when I knew Bella wasn't doing well. Happiness seemed like a contradiction (even though it was unrelated to her illness). Even so, I realized I had to accept my emotions -- whatever they were. We're all entitled to feel how we want to feel (what we do with those feelings is a different story...). When faced with mixed emotions, it's important to both acknowledge and accept them. Even if your emotions don't seem to fit with the situation, even if your emotions seem to contradict one another, accepting them without judgment will help you cope. 

3. Find outlets for your emotions. Emotions don't do well when you keep them all bottled up inside. It helps to let them out -- through talking about them, writing about them, etc. Identify an outlet that works for you (for me, it's writing) and let your emotions flow freely in that arena. For some, it might be hours of chatting with a close friend. For others, it might be taking to the field, gym, or court and expressing those emotions through physical exertion. Whatever works best for you, find it and make good use of it. Letting your emotions out in a healthy way is one of the best ways to manage them, especially when you are dealing with more than one emotion.

4. Indulge in relaxation. In a heightened emotional state -- particularly one with multiple emotions -- relaxation is probably going to be the last thing on your mind. When I found myself overjoyed and overwhelmed last week, the last thing I wanted to do (or even thought I could do!) was relax. But relaxation really helps to put things in perspective. No matter how crazy things are, find a few moments to take a break and relax. Even if it's just a minute or two, taking some time away from whatever is impacting your emotions can work wonders. A deep breath, a brisk walk, a moment alone -- all of these can help you find solace in times of emotional craziness. 

5. Bring yourself back to the now. Especially when dealing with a mixture of negative emotions, staying in the now doesn't seem like the best idea. However, most negative emotions are a result of worrying about what could be or fretting about what could be. Staying in the moment allows us to focus on what's happening right now -- not what could happen or what did happen. Even when it's hard, being present is always more positive than focusing on the past or future. When I was struggling last week, I pulled out my Live Happily Ever After Now workbook and started filling it out. Doing so brought me back to the moment and made my magnitude of emotions much easier to manage. 

More than we'd probably like to admit, we're ruled by our emotions. Good or bad, they often find a way to permeate our lives, our work, our interactions with others. Most people just let their emotions take the reins because it seems like the easiest path in times of extreme emotion. Of course, the easiest path is often an illusion and letting our emotions have control often results in more difficulty than delight. While we'll never be able to control everything we feel (and don't think we'd want to), we can take some responsibility for our emotions.

The small scrap of paper that came with my mood ring reads: Your own energy will cause the mood ring to change color to reveal your inner emotions. Whether or not you're wearing a mood ring, your inner emotions are on display through your words and actions. Your emotional state plays a huge role in what kind of day you will have, how you will interact with others, what types of decisions you'll make, etc. Don't let your life be ruled by your moods -- instead, take control of your emotions, take accountability for your feelings. You have more power over your emotions than you realize.  


* Bella's now eating again and seems a little bit more like her old self. Yay! 

positively present picks: week of june 11, 2012

fathers day




A dad is someone who
wants to catch you before you fall
but instead picks you up,
brushes you off,
and lets you try again. 

A dad is someone who
wants to keep you from making mistakes
but instead lets you find your own way,
even though his heart breaks in silence
when you get hurt. 

A dad is someone who
holds you when you cry,
scolds you when you break the rules,
shines with pride when you succeed,
and has faith in you even when you fail...







Live Happily Ever After Now workbook : so excited about this week's launch! 
(be sure to grab your very own paperback or PDF copy here

Funny Cards for Dad + Rad Dad Cards : The Wantist rounds up the best!

Guide to Writing Better : hilarious + not just for writers (love McSweeney's!)

Adventures in Wonderland intro : rediscovered a Disney show I watched as a kid

How to Be the Most Organized Person in the World : brilliant infographic!

Kikki.K Shop : seriously, I could buy everything in the store

Makekind's Creative Keepsake : love this idea, especially for summer memories

4 Ways to Stay Positively Present : a giveaway on The Bold Life

How Being a Control Freak Can Set You Free : insights on control + freedom

Why Too Many Choices Make Us Miserable : happiness is simple!

Leaving the 9-to-5 Grind : my guest post on Collective Individualism



Listening reading

 Check out this week's Father's Day themed tunes on YouTube here.

"Daughter"  –  Loudon Wainwright
"Dance with my Father"  –  Kellie Coffey
"I Learned from You"  –  Miley Cyrus + Billy Ray Cyrus
"Butterfly Kisses"  –  Bob Carlisle
"Daughters"  –  John Mayer
"Father and Daughter"  –  Paul Simon
"My Father's Eyes"  –  Eric Clapton
"Oh Daddy"  –  Fleetwood Mac 
"Father and Son"  –  Cat Stevens
"Father of Mine"  –  Everclear
"Daddy"  –  Beyonce 
"Just the Two of Us"  –  Will Smith
"Song for Dad"  –  Keith Urban 
"For the Love of a Daughter"  –  Demi Lovato


That Old Cape Magic
Richard Russo 

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher
Peter Bowerman