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positively present picks: march 29, 2013




"It's always our own self that we find at the end of the journey.
The sooner we face that self, the better."

 Ella Maillart





Make Someone Happy : rainbow pancakes? yes, please!

Collection / Moon : I've always been fascinated by the moon so this is great

30 Ways You Should Always Be : #15 is so hard but also so important

Pick the Brain Community : a blog where anyone can contribute? sounds fun!

5 Tips to Overcome Daily Distractions : because who isn't distracted?

Dog Birthday Photo Shoot : Pretty Fluffy is my favorite find of the week :)

Real Tough Guys : all they need is a positive, can-do attitude! ha!

Hendrick Boards : every single purchase helps save dogs so shop ASAP

42 Random Acts of Kindness : so many wonderful ideas here

Success : not the first time I've seen this, but I love it so much

3 Communication Tips : these will improve any relationship for sure 

What I Learned About Love from Ellen : such a great Wild Sister read

Panda Cuteness Overload : these two put a huge smile on my face




Check out this week's Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"All These Things" – MMoths
"Ungirthed" – Purity Ring
"Someone Like Me" – Röyksopp
"We Are the People" – Empire of the Sun
"Step" – Vampire Weekend
"Counting Stars" – OneRepublic
"Into the Wild" – Lewis Watson
"Mother I'm Alive" – Hot As Sun
"Berlin Lovers" – Still Corners 
"Fred Astaire" – San Cisco
"Handshake" – Tristan Prettyman
"Greatest Prize" – Nat and Alex Wolff 

Seriously...I'm Kidding
Ellen Degeneres

The Puppy Primer
Patricia B. McConnell


what would the kid you think of you now?



I've been working on a personal project that involves digging through my old notebooks and cracking open cabinets and boxes at my parents' house that I haven't looked into in years. In all those old journals and boxes, I'm finding bits and pieces of my childhood self—a self I, quite frankly, haven't thought too much about in years. It's hard to think back to the years of my childhood and not have tainted memories. Memories are always so subjective. I do, however, have the journals I kept back then and, paging through them, I found some interest tidbits to give me insight into what I was like back then. Take this entry for example: 


July 21, 1996

“I guess it was always my dream, even back [when I was five and wrote my first story], to be a writer. But who knows? I don’t like to dwell on the future too much. I prefer the past— and, of course, the present.” 


Clearly, some of my twelve-year-old interests (writing! the present!) aren't so far from what I focus on these days (and, truth be told, I'm still focusing more than I should on the past, something I'm constantly working on). Back when I was a kid, I don't think I would have been too surprised to hear I would grow up to be a writer. After all, it's the only thing I ever really wanted to be. The writer thing might not have surprised the kid me, but my younger self may have been surprised to see how much my 1996 New Year's Resolutions were mirrored by my 29 Things To Do Before I Turn 30 list (the bold text is from the list I made in August 2012): 


January 1, 1996

Here are some of my resolutions to create a new me this year:

  1. Spend at least 1 hour with [my dog, Pooky] a week.
    Enjoy my time with [my dog] Bella. 
  2. Write to each of my pen pals at least once a month.
    Send more snail mail. 
  3. Be more organized.
    Scan + file my old photos.
    Rid my life of useless items.
  4. Spend more time writing (maybe take a writing class).
    Publish + sell my books.


Reading those resolutions all these years later (and seeing how similar my current goals are) got me thinking: What would the kid version of me think of me now? Am I measuring up to what I thought I would become? 

Looking back, I'm surprised at how much I'm like the person I was back then. Looking around me, I'm startled to see so many remnants of my childhood self—a magnetic board beside my desk with clippings and photos that matter to me is so similar to the bulletin board I had as a kid; the bookshelves lined with Sweet Valley High and Mary Downing Hahn books could have been transported from the early '90s; the white Wii console encases the vintage Mario video games I still find myself indulging in from time to time; orange, a color that's always held my heart, can be found splashed about the room, most notably on the pumpkin-hued couch; and the Halloween-themed blanket I received in 1996 is draped across my bed, a constant reminder of the holiday I've loved for as long as I can recall. 

All around me, bits of my childhood have been sprinkled on my adult life. I wonder if my kid self would have expected this, or perhaps she would have expected a somewhat more grown-up existence by the time I was nearly thirty. It seems my generation is inexplicably drawn backward toward childhood. '80s and '90s clothing and memorabilia has had a resurgence in popularity in recent years. What's old is new again—and though that always seems to happen, it seems so powerful in this generation. It feels less like nostalgia and more like a desire to get back there to that carefree time of childhood. 

And it's no wonder that people want to go back to (what seemed like) a simpler time. But reading my old journals, I realize childhood wasn't quite as carefree as adults romanticize it to be. There was stress and strife. Yes, it was a different type of discomfort, but in the moment (and isn't that what matters most?), those childhood worries seem as monumental as the concerns weighing heavy on an adult mind. For me, being an adult is actually much easier than being a child. I craved autonomy and independence; I loved spending time within the confines of my own mind, something that's much more acceptable in the adult world. 

Being an adult might be easier for me, but my childhood clearly is still a big part of who I am—and I'm pretty sure it always will be. The books and activities and thoughts that shaped me into the person I am today cannot be let go of, even if I wanted to set them free. When I reflect more on the question What would the kid you think of you now? I like to think she'd be pleased. As an adult, I now spend my days doing what I love, surrounded by things that make me smile—a loving boyfriend, lovely canine pals, a few close and wonderful friends, rows and rows of books. My kid self might be surprised by some things—I don't live in a house as "grown ups" often do; I still read some of the same childhood books over and over again; I got rid of my LipSmackers collection, ha!—but overall I think she would be pleased by the person I've become. Adult life is far from perfect, but I think it's surprisingly close to what my kid self would have wanted. 

By now, I'm sure you've pondered the question yourself—What would my kid self think of me now?—and perhaps it seems silly to spend so much time reflecting on a question that can never be answered, a question that doesn't seem to serve a real purpose. But the more I ponder it, the more I realize there's value in comparing our childhood selves to who we have become as adults. When we think back on what we loved then—and notice how much of it we still love now—we have a better understanding of what really inspires us, what makes us feel excited about life. 

When we think back on who we once were—and the ways we are still the same—we reconnect with our childhood selves. We reclaim a bit of our muchness. And when we do that, we bring a fresh perspective to the present moment. As kids, we're so lucky to have a lifetime of plans and dreams ahead of us. Anything could happen. We could be anything, do anything. We still can, of course, but as a kid the possibilities seem endless. When we reflect on what we once were, and on what we thought we would be, we reconnect with the part of ourselves that is endlessly hopeful, the part that believes we can create the life we want to live. Connecting with that part of yourself, however briefly, serves as a reminder that you are, in fact, in control of your destiny. Pondering what the younger you would think of you serves as a way to reconnect to the essense of who you truly are, to consider if the present is as positive as you once thought it would be. 

positively present picks: march 22, 2013




"Sometimes your only
available transportation
is a leap of faith."

 Margaret Shepard





The Yellow Dog Project : such a great idea – everyone should know about this!

Ampergram : create cool typographic creations with Instagram pics

Alice in Wonderland Pinterest Board : I'm getting back into this board big time!

Kate Spade Saturday : best new site I've seen in a long time. I'm in love. 

6 Habits of Remarkably Likeable People : a very interesting Inc. article

True Shining Self : so excited that I came across this site this week!

TeuxDeux : this great productivity tool just got an update

Start the Year You Want : no need to wait till January 1 to start a new year!

Alice + Halloween : this could be the best magazine cover ever

Leave Me Alone Tee : perfect for an antisocial dog lover. ha!

23 Ways to Reduce Stress Now : yay! #20 features Positively Present

Paper Jam Press : loving these posters (especially this!)





Check out this week's Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"If So" – Atlas Genius
"Little White Doves" – Dirty Vegas
"Diane Young" – Vampire Weekend
"Wasted Daylight" – Stars
"Day Dreams" – Midi Matilda
"I Wanna Go" – Summer Heart
"Still" – Daughter
"These Great Things" – Lily & Madeline
"Bright Stars Burning" – Hey Marseilles
"I've Got What It Takes" – Alex Day
"# thatPOWER" – feat. Justin Bieber


American Wife: A Novel
Curtis Sittenfield 

The Jellyfish Season
Mary Downing Hahn

The Puppy Primer
Patricia B. McConnell


distraction: a positive or a negative?




When I was a kid, sitting nervously in the doctor's office awaiting a shot, a strep test, or some other dreaded procedure, my mom would always try to direct my attention away from worry by telling me a silly story or flipping through the tattered pages of a waiting room magazine. At the time, it drove me nuts. Can't she see I'm focused on being scared? I'd think to myself. I don't care about some story or magazine! What once seemed like an irritating trait of my ever-cheerful mom now makes a lot more sense now. She wasn't trying to annoy me; she was trying to distract me. And, quite often, despite my determined resistance, it often worked. 

As I got older (and, yes, still brought my mom with me to doctor's appointments), I was no longer annoyed by my mom's attempts at distraction. In fact, I can recall actually requesting a story on more than one occasion, urging her to take my mind off of whatever was going to happen with the nurse came to the waiting room door and called my name. Distraction, I'd discovered, worked. It made me feel less worried; it took me away from the future (what was waiting in that examination room) and into the moment (what was being said to me right then in the waiting room).

I have mixed feelings about distraction. On one hand, it's a great way to steer your mind toward a more positive place when it's veering toward negative territory. On the other hand, I'm well aware that avoiding negative emotions completely is usually a bad thing (they often crop back up in unexpected, often misdirected places). I'm realizing that distraction doesn't have to fall into a "positive" or a "negative" category. Distraction, in itself, isn't a bad thing (though I do believe avoidance is). And sometimes it can be vital for getting through a tough time. It certainly helped me from passing out from nervousness in the waiting room on more than one occasion! 

Lately, I've become the Queen of Distraction. After losing my beloved Bella, I knew I had two options: (1) wallow in my sadness, allowing myself to slip into a dark place in which life without her seemed pointless or (2) distraction the hell out of myself. I chose the latter. 

For the past three weeks, I've been spending time with friends, watching hours and hours of comedy shows and movies, racing through new books, and hunting for a new puppy. I've been sad, of course. At times, devastated. But I've been distracted. And it's helped quite a bit. Rather than wallowing in loss, I've been doing my best to keep living my life. I've recognized an all important truth: distraction doesn't mean dodging heartache. It means finding ways to ease the pain, to stay in the moment.  

A great deal has been written lately about how distracted we have all become -- always checking our email and thinking about what's next -- and I do believe that kind of distraction can be a bad thing, taking us away from the moment instead of pushing us into it. But when it comes to heartache, worry, and stress, distraction can be a godsend. Here are some of the benefits of distraction: 


1. It keeps the moment in focus. Choosing to direct your attention to positive distractions (positive being the key word here!) helps to keep your mind away from negative thinking and centers your attention on what's happening in the moment. Particularly if distraction is an activity (such as spending time with friends), it serves as such as great reminder to stay in the now. 


2. It eases worry and strife. When faced with difficult emotions (especially those associated with something beyond your control, like death), distraction is a great way to ease worry and strife. Instead of focusing on what will happen in the future or what could happen in the past, distraction allows you to have an outlet for the moment, taking away the worry that comes with focusing on what could be (or what was). 

3. It provides comfort. If you choose the right distractions, you'll find yourself comforted in spite of any negative emotions you might be experiencing. For example, spending time with friends is an extremely comforting distraction, as is indulging in a favorite movie or beloved book. In times of great sadness, finding comfort is essential for making it through a difficult time and sometimes distractions can provide the most comfort. 

4. It rejuvenates the body + mind. Wallowing in pain provides a stagnant environment in which it's hard to move forward. Distraction, on the other hand, provides new outlets (especially if distraction includes new activities) for creativity and rejuvenation. Doing something that distractions you from pain and heartbreak gives your mind and body a rest, freeing you (even for a brief period) from discomfort and sadness.  


Distracting yourself doesn't mean you don't feel pain, sadness, or worry. It means giving yourself a break from the pain; it means finding a way to explore life outside of your sadness. Since I lost my dog, I've been distracted, but that doesn't mean I haven't been mourning. I've spent the past three weeks pained by the thought of never seeing Bella again. I've spent nights crying myself to sleep and mornings waking with disbelief when I realized she wasn't curled up beside me in bed. But distraction has helped me a lot. It's given me a chance to take a terrible situation and make the most of it -- something that's necessary for living positively in the present. 

positively present picks: march 15, 2013





"Stuff that thrilled you when you were thirteen years old
should never leave your soul."

 Christopher Kugler





The Benefits of Optimism : such a great article in The Atlantic

Doghouse Diaries : always cracks me up, but I'm really loving this + this

9 Creativity-Sparking Tips : highlights some really great ideas

22 : Taylor Swift's new video makes me smile!

How to Find Your Purpose : #2 has always fascinated me 

Spoonflower : print your own designs on fabric – can't wait to try it

5 Ways to Be Nicer to Yourself : #2 is absolutely crucial

Kate Spade Spring New York : getting me excited for springtime!

How to Stick to a Habit : advice staying on track even when things fall apart 




Check out this week's Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"Repair" – Last Dinosaurs
"At Home" – Crystal Fighters
"Where the Kids Are" – Blondfire
"Beside Still Waters" – Gideon Grove
"When We First Met" – Hellogoodbye
"We Got It All" – Right the Stars
"What Was Golden" – New Navy
"Strings" – Young the Giant
"Harbour Lights" – A Silent Film
"Waste" – Foster the People
"22" – Taylor Swift
"Statues" – Nina Nesbitt
"Panic Cord" – Gabrielle Aplin
"Simple As It Should Be" – Tristan Prettyman


American Wife: A Novel
Curtis Sittenfield 

Tallahassee Higgins
Mary Downing Hahn

The Jellyfish Season
Mary Downing Hahn