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positively present picks: august 30, 2013


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"A person who never made a mistake
never tried anything new."

Albert Einstein


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A Boy + His Dog : these pics make me so happy

7 Tips to Overcome Procrastination : time to get to work! 

14 Apps for Getting Organized : great list of little helpers

Vintage Dog Photos : kinda want to start collecting these now...

Happy Chap Clothing : fun + happy clothing designs

Swing Bed : I need this in my life. ASAP.

DIY Giant Jenga : how awesome and fun is this?!

Your Birthday Personality : very interesting. mine was almost all true.

Autumn Obsession : who is ready for autumn? I sure am!

Printable Planners : these are both functional and adorable

Geometric Postcards : I'm always down for a free + stylish printable

The Meaning of Life : 30 personal development bloggers weigh in


Check out this week's Positively Present playlist on YouTube.  

"Games" — Claire
"Understanding" — Some Minor Noise
"Applause" — Lady Gaga
"Devil We Know" — Lily & Madeline
"There Goes Our Love Again" — White Lies
"Don't Dream It's Over" — Sarah Blasko
"Land of Gathering" — Ceremonies
"All You Never Say" — Birdy
"Changing of the Seasons" — Two Door Cinema Club
"Wait for Me" — Kings of Leon
"Young" — The Paper Kites
"Twenty Miles" — Deer Tick
"Forever" — HAIM
"Clarity" — Zedd ft. Foxes
"Trying to Be Cool" — Phoenix ft. R.Kelly
"Summer Dust" — The Love Language
"No Stranger" — Small Black
"Fireflies" — Still Corners
"Mountains" — Lucy Spraggan

The Lace Reader
Brunonia Barry

Eating My Feelings   
Mark Rosenberg

The Hidden Life of Wolves
Jaime Dutcher


what's your road to freedom?



Tell me which road are you travelling,
which road are you travelling on?
Tell me who will you turn to
when the light has gone?
I hear somebody calling
I hear somebody calling to me
With so many roads to travel,
there's just one can set you free

There's just one road
one road to freedom
There's just one road
one road to freedom
Just one

In my life I have been blessed
In my life I have been cursed
I have lived the best of times
I have suffered the worst
Do you know which road you're travelling?
Do you know where you want to be?
With so many roads to travel,
there's just one can set you free

Ben Harper
"One Road to Freedom" 


When I first heard Ben Harper's "One Road to Freedom," it got me thinking about what my road to freedom is. What is it that sets me free? What makes me feel as if I can cope with all the ups and downs of life? The more I contemplated the lyrics, the more I realized that what sets me free is what I'm passionate about. What sets me free is putting the pen to the paper or the words to the screen and writing. What sets each of us free is the one thing that motivates you to keep going, that thing you've been passionate about forever and don't ever see yourself getting tired of. 

You can be passionate about things, actions, people. You can be passionate about feelings and abstract concepts. You can be passionate about just about anything. And when those passions are pursued, freedom is achieved. Pursuing what you love sets you free—free from worry, free from regret, free from feeling as if life is without purpose. 

Passions aren't always easy. We may feel strongly about something, love it with all of our might, but that doesn't mean it's going to come easily to us. Some of the very best things in life take a lot of hard work and dedication. Some of the very best things in life requiring being brave and pushing ourselves beyond boundaries. For me, my passion is writing. It's the one thing I've always loved and the one thing I probably will always continue to do throughout my life. But as much as I love it, it's not always easy to do and it's definitely not always easy to share it with others.

Even when it's difficult to get in touch with your passion (or make it part of your daily life), it's worth the effort to identify and cultivate that passion. In doing so, I truly believe you set yourself down a path to freedom, a path we all deserve to be walking down. For each of us, that passion is unique, but for all of us, there are ways to access that passion and get closer to a feeling of liberation. Here are my suggestions for connecting with your passion and putting yourself on your own person road to freedom:


  1. Narrow your vision. If you're anything like me, you can get excited about something and want to take every little bit of it in. I want to write a book, want to write poems, want to write blogs and articles and journal entries. I want to do it all. It's a great feeling to be to really want to dive into something, but one of the best ways to cultivate your passion is to narrow your focus. It's tempting to try to do it all, but if you spread yourself too thin, you'll find yourself overwhelmed and probably not doing much of anything. Start small. Figure out what you're most interested in and zero in on that. In the future, you can always expand your vision, but start off narrow. If you feel completely overwhelmed and don't know where to start, make a list of the things you love about whatever you're passionate about and rank the items. You'll quickly discover what matters most to you and that's where you can direct your narrow focus. 

  2. Integrate it into your life. Passionate about something? Don't hide it from the world. I used to say I was a writer because I was sitting at home in my apartment typing away on my computer. Yes, I was a writer, but I was a writer in hiding. I used to write only for myself and never share it with anyone (other than the occasional English teacher), but back when I started Positively Present, I realized that I was missing out by not sharing my passion with others. I soon learned that there were like-minded people out there in the world with whom I could converse about what I was writing, and I also found that there were many people who benefited from what I had written. It can be hard work (and, at times, pretty intimidating) to share what you're passionate about with others, but the more you share and put yourself out there, the more opportunities you'll have to make your passion a major part of your life. 

  3. Work as hard as you can. Just as nothing great was ever accomplished without passion, nothing great was ever accomplished without hard work. If you love something, you have to work at it. You have to do it as frequently as you can. For example, I make it a point to write every day (even if I don't post it here) because it's what I love to do. Hard work can be daunting, but if you really feel passionate about something, the work you put in will be worth it. Often we don't think of freedom when it comes to working hard, but I've found that the more work I put into my passion, the more freeing my life feels. When you are true to your own path—your personal road to freedom—the hard work becomes a form of liberation. 

  4. Make it tons of fun. Sometimes when people are passionate about something, they become so focused that they lose sight of the fun. To make sure you don't miss out on the fun, take a step back from engaging in your passion and figure out how you can make it enjoyable. If you become too focused, you may forget what it was that really inspired you in the first place. No matter what you feel passionate about, there is a way to make it fun. You may have to be a little creative in some cases, but don't let yourself miss out on the fun just because it's tricky to identify. One way to make it fun is to include others in your passion. Whatever you love, there are probably others out there who love it too. Find them and start a group or club. If you don't have people around you who love what you love, find a way to share it with others in a way they can enjoy. 

  5. Be innovative and creative. As you're spending time on your passion, remember two things: innovation and creation. You already have the drive and desire to talk about, think about, and work on your passion. Now you need to take it to the next level. You need to be creative and innovative. You need to think about how you can push yourself out of you comfort zone and try new things. Find some way to do things differently—and that may mean differently for you. For example, I've always been interested in writing. I've done it every day for as long as I can remember. But one day I decided I was going to share it. It wasn't the most mind-blowing discovery and it probably didn't mean all that much to the few early readers of my blog, but to me it was huge. It was life-changing. It caused me to break out of my routines and to push myself way out of my comfort zone. It's made me better at what I love to do and, importantly, it's held me accountable for what I do. You too can find ways to break out of your own mold. It doesn't have to be some crazy never-done-before thing. All you need is a challenge that helps you explore your passion in a new way. 

  6. Share your ideas with others. It's really important to share what you love with others. It may be hard to do (plenty of people have quirky things they're passionate about or, like me, have trust issues that prevent them from wanting to share their work), but sharing one of the best ways you can cultivate your passion and start down a road to freedom. When I first started blogging, I was scared that no one would want to read my blog or, worse, people would read it and hate it. But, in so many ways, this blog has changed my life for the better. If I hadn't taken a leap of faith and put myself out there, I never would have experienced some of the great things I have over the past four and half years. It still scares me to death sometimes when I think about people reading my posts, but I do it anyway. I push myself to be better than I think I can be, even when I'm scared. And you know what? It feels good. It's freeing to break out of my comfort zone and to be rewarded with such inspiring feedback. You may not want to share your passion initially, but it's such a great way to make the most of what you love. 

  7. Give yourself a break. As much as I love to write, one of the best ways I've found to making the most of my passion is to take a break from it. When I first started blogging, I was writing a new post almost daily. I was super excited about it (and had so much to say!), but as the number of readers grew, so did the pressure. I felt like I had to post all of the time and I was overwhelmed. I realized that I needed a break so I created a new schedule so I was posting only 2-3 days a week, leaving me more relaxed and more able to really enjoy writing. Keep this in mind as your exploring your passion. You don't have to be doing it 24/7. You can (and should!) take a break. It's tempting to work nonstop on something you're excited about, but one of the best ways to make your passion a freeing (rather than restrictive) activity is to take a step back every once and awhile. 

Passion is something I believe everyone should strive for in their lives, though I don't think I realized quite why I thought this until I heard Ben Harper's song. The reason passion is so important is because it creates a sense of freedom. It leaves you at liberty to be who you are and to do what you love most. What you're passionate about isn't always obvious, but I believe everyone has something he or she is (or can become) passionate about it. It's just a matter of figuring out what that thing is (which you can do by trying new things and paying close attention to what makes you feel happy and alive). Once you've figured it out (and, yes, this might take some time), use the ideas above to help take your passion to the next level. One step at a time, you can make progress and use your passion to fuel your journey down your own road to freedom.

positively present picks: august 23, 2013!


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I think I'll take a moment, celebrate my age
The ending of an era and the turning of a page
Now it's time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years

Hey my next thirty years I'm gonna have some fun
Try to forget about all the crazy things I've done
Maybe now I've conquered all my adolescent fears
And I'll do it better in my next thirty years

My next thirty years I'm gonna settle all the scores
Cry a little less, laugh a little more
Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear
Figure out just what I'm doing here
In my next thirty years...

Tim McGraw
"My Next Thirty Years" 


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Facebook Fox : who knew Facebook had a fox?! so adorable!

Litographs : products made of words. what could be better?

Abstract City Maps : Jazzyberry Blue is such an awesome Etsy shop

Fill-in-the-Blank Inspiration : meant for bloggers, but works for anyone!

How To ... : this round-up of how-to links is a great resource

Infinitely Wild : a new clothing range from Wild Sister!

Your Ideal Day Worksheet : figure out what you really want to do

Fifty Five Hi's : a little bit obsessed with this shop + the designs

Baggu : I take my Baggu bags everywhere with me

How to Ask for What You Want : never, ever be afraid to ask

Paper Source Foxes : I'm in love with all of these foxy finds 

The Psychology of Color : what an interesting + cool infographic

How Strange : an Alice-themed desktop wallpaper from Breanna Rose

Back to School Canine Style : in love with all of these things!

Bookshelfies : selfies in front of bookshelves! brilliant.

Florence! : my friend's foster pup for a wounded warrior. so brave!

101 Happiness Quotes : because you can never have enough...

Taylor Swift + Tegan & Sara : wow. wish I'd seen this live!


Check out this week's Positively Present playlist on YouTube.  

"Birthday" — Selena Gomez
"30 Somthing" — Jay-Z
"My Next 30 Years" — Tim McGraw
"Birthday" — Kings of Leon
"Step" — Vampire Weekend
"Sight of the Sun" — fun.
"Now is the Start" — A Fine Frenzy
"Candles" — Daughter
"Nolita Fairytale" — Vanessa Carlton
"When I Grow Up" — First Aid Kit
"1983" — Neon Trees
"When You Were Young"  — The Killers
"Winding Road" — Bonnie Sommerville
"In Da Club" — 50 Cent
"32 (Taylor Swift Cover" — Unknown
"Happy Birthday"  — The Ting Tings
"Ageless Beauty"  — Stars
"Innocent"  — Taylor Swift
"Live Like We're Dying"  — Kris Allen
"Change of Time"  — Josh Ritter
"Speeding Cars"  — Imogen Heap
"Dog Days Are Over"  — Florence + the Machine
"Happy Birthday"  — The Beatles
"Youth" — Foxes

The Lace Reader
Brunonia Barry

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book   
Elsie Larson + Emma Chapman

National Geographic Readers: Wolves
Laura Marsh

turning 30 + the word of the year




On Friday, I'll be turning the big 3-0! Even though it's just another birthday, there's always something exciting about launching a new decade. It feels like a clean slate, a fresh start. Like turning to a new chapter in the book of your life. And, as anyone who has turned 30 probably already knows, there's something about this decade that feels different. It's the first "adult" decade (in my opinion); the first time you might grapple with not wanting to be the age that you are; the first time you realize that, wow, this is your adult life.

My twenties were tumultuous and terrific, filled with love and loss, listlessness and life lessons. In my twenties, I graduated college and grad school, moved across America and back again, fell in and out and in love, lost and found friends, got drunk and got (3+ years!) sober, put to rest two of my best friends (Pooky and Bella, whose pawprints still linger on my heart), wrote and read and wrote some more, cried and laughed and danced and tripped over my own two feet. I made a lot of mistakes, but I made a lot of progress too. While there are certainly some things I would undo if I could, I can look back on my twenties with a sense of gratitude. Many of those years were tough, but all of them added up to a pretty damn good decade. 

And the last year of that decade was not too shabby. If you've been reading Positively Present for awhile, you'll probably recall the list I put together last August: 29 Things To Do Before I Turn 30. For the past few years, I've been putting together these lists in hope of making the most of the year to come. And by posting them here, I found myself much more accountable for checking them off than I would have had I simply jotted them down in my notebook. To keep up that accountability, let's take a look at the recap for this year's list... 



1. Publish + sell my books. Yes! Stay Positive came out this year and I just signed my first book deal, a few short days before my 30th birthday! // 2. Go horseback riding. I was a little nervous to get back in the saddle, but I did it! // 3. Throw a bangin' baby shower. It turned out to be quite a success (see photos here on Pinterest). // 4. Travel solo with my BF. We'd never gone on a trip just the two of us, but we made it happen in Disneyland this spring// 5. Learn how to meditate. Totally failed on this one. Maybe in my 30s... // 6. Read at least 50 books. I read 85 books in 2012 and 75 in 2013 so I think I've exceeded my own expectations. Check them out on GoodReads// 7. Make 1 Pinterest craft per month. I didn't quite do 12 crafts, but I got pretty close with 9. // 8. Create a stellar media kit. Indirectly took care of this one as I was prepping for my book deal! // 9. Help my mom sell on eBay.   // 10. Make more moola. Done and done. Now I just need to keep bringing it in... // 11. Express gratitude more often. I've done my best to tell those I love how thankful I am for them. I'm a lucky girl! // 12. Volunteer + help animals.  // 13. Enjoy my time with Bella. It was heartbreaking to lose my beloved Bella this year, but I made the most of every single moment I had with her. And now I'm making the most of my time with this crazy pup// 14. Watch less reality TV. Yeah... I don't know what to say about this one. The shows are just too good// 15. Scan + file old photos. I snagged a ton of family photos from my parents' house and scanned them. So happy to have them safe in the computer! // 16. See a great concert (or many!). I made it to quite a few amazing shows this year, including: Tegan & Sara (twice!), fun., Taylor Swift, The Killers, and Dispatch! // 17. Quit my RedBull habit. I managed to stop drinking them for a few months, but I can't lie: I'm back at it. And I love it. Maybe some habits aren't meant to be broken... // 18. Rid my life of useless items. I've still got quite a few things I could get rid of, but I've donated tons of clothes, books, DVDs, and dog toys and it feels awesome. // 19. Go picking at an antique store. Did this and quite enjoyed it. How could I not when I uncovered two Sweet Valley High hardback books?! // 20. Visit the Smithsonian Museum. It was awesome to check this out. Look at these animals// 21. Create a Project Life album. I had so much fun working on this! Does the fact that I heart scrapbooking mean I'm officially old? // 22. Practice InDesign + Photoshop. With the help of the awesome Nicole's Classes (I took 12 of them!), I've worked on InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator—and I'm more than a little obsessed with all of these Adobe products. // 23. See David Sedaris speak. Funny man David Sedaris can crack me up like no one else and it was amazing to see him give a talk just across the street from where I live! // 24. Celebrate 3 years sober.   // 25. Do one adventurous thing. Adventure isn't really my strongest point, but I  // 26. Send more snail mail. Not only did I start sending more cards and letters, I also started making them myself which has been super fun. // 27. Start wearing my jewelry. I haven't really stepped up my jewelry-wearing game, but I do wear my Bella (and now matching Barkley!) necklace every single day. // 28. See A Christmas Carol. Saw it again for the first time since I was a kid and it was awesome. // 29. Organize my memory boxes. This is always a work-in-progress, but I did get a lot done this year.  


I didn't get everything on my list crossed off, but I'd say I did pretty well. And now it's time not only for a new year, but a new decade! Even though it's just another day on the calendar, August 23, 2013 will be a bit momentous in my life, as it signals the start of this new decade—a decade that's both a little scary and a little exciting. Of course, as the day has grown closer, I've been thinking more and more about what it means to be 30 (if, in fact, it means anything different at all!) and, even more so, I've been thinking about what I want my 30s to be like. 

This year, instead of going for a list of things I want to do, I'm going for a single word I want to embody. And the word is... FUN. 




Yes, my word of the year is fun. It might seem a little silly, even frivolous, but there's a method behind my madness. As silly as having fun sounds, it's actually pretty serious business. And it's essential to living a positively present life. Like most people, I don't really make having fun a priority. I want to be productive, get things done, move on to the next task. I want to work on my relationships and work on myself. But all of that working on things doesn't leave a lot of room for actually enjoying life—which is really what I'm getting at with all this talk of fun. 

Fun is that which provides enjoyment, and I don't think I'm getting enough enjoyment out of life. Sure, I have some fun moments and do some fun things, but I've realized that there's a lot more potential for funness. You know those people who seem to have fun no matter where they are, no matter what they're doing? Yeah, I'm never going to be one of those people—but I'm sure going to try. Here's why I think fun is so important and why I'm making it a priority for me this year. 



When you're having a good time, you're paying attention to the positive aspects of a situation. Likewise, when you're seeking fun, you do so by looking for the ways you can make the most of a moment. The more the focus is on fun, the more positive thoughts will be pushed to the forefront of your mind. 



Eustress is that good stress feeling you get when you finish a project or ride a roller coaster. It's that kind of stress that makes you feel alive and excited—and the more fun you have, the more eustress you have. I'm going for a lot of eustressful situations this year!



Sure, you can build relationships by communicating and such, but having fun is another great way to build better relationships with friends and loved ones. No matter what you're doing, if you're with someone you enjoy, you can make the activity fun. All you need is a little imagination and an open mind. 



Fun can increase your eustress, but it can also decrease your regular, bad stress. Just think about the last time you had fun. You weren't thinking about your worries or your to-do list. You were in the moment, enjoying your time, and, as a result, you were less stressed. And less stress equals better health!



When you're having fun, you're in the moment. You're focused not on what's next, but on what's now. The more fun you're having, the more present you'll be because you're not longing to move on to the next task or event. Making things fun isn't always easy, but having fun makes it easy to stay in the moment. 


Fun has its fair share of benefits (in addition to just being plain awesome), and I'm looking forward to making it a priority this year. Now, this doesn't mean I'm just going to be goofing around, doing only the things I enjoy. It means I'm going to make the most of the moments I have and try my hardest to make them fun. If I focus on finding the fun, I have a feeling that everything (even the things I dread doing!) will be more enjoyable. I might be a little apprehensive about this new decade, but I'm going to do my best to make the most of it and make it fun

If you're on the verge of 30 (or in your 30s), you might enjoy some of these resources I've come across in the past few months... 



You Know You're 30 When...

30 Quotes on Being in Your 30s

Feeling 32 (Feeling 22 Parody)

30 Signs You're Almost 30

Huffington Post's "Turning 30"

Olivia Wilde's Advice for Turning 30

30 Lessons Learned in 30 Years

30 Things Turning 30 This Year

Turning 30 (Glamour)

positively present picks: august 16, 2013


 { Happy early birthday to the love of my life!
You are the Wa to my Da. }

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"Love is that condition in which the happiness
of another person is essential to your own."

Robert A. Heinlein


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Covering Lolita : a collection of covers from one of my favorite books

Dog Cards + Wrapping Paper : so in love with Alam's designs

Responding to Negative Nellies at Work : 4 great steps in this article

House Industries + Uniqlo : obsessed with all of these tees!

Julie Ann Art : her work is great + she's got some new stuff in the shop

Interview with Lisa Frank : I used to (still do...) love here stuff

Design Atelier Article : this shop. these bookends. love!

30 Pearls of Wisdom from Eckhart Tolle : he's always got good advice

Printable Lunch Notes : so cute for kids (or boyfriends who pack a lunch!)

Leave the Paycheck to Launch a Dream : a guest post I did this week

Typographic Dog Posters : two of my favorite things in one!

Mega Summer Reading List : it's not too late for a list currated by TEDsters


Check out this week's Positively Present playlist on YouTube.  

"She Lit a Fire" — Lord Huron
"High School Lover" — Cayucas
"By the Sea" — Summer Fiction
"Hopeless Wanderer" — Mumford & Sons
"Sunny Road" — Emiliana Torrini
"Time Will Tell" — Gregory Alan Isakov
"Love Natural" — Crystal Fighters
"Runaway" — Mr Little Jeans
"Slow Show" — The National
"Roar" — Katy Perry
"With Love" — Christina Grimmie
"Feel It All"  — KT Tunstall
"Cool Like Me" — Fryars
"Wire" — HAIM
"The Struggle" — Grizfolk
"Stay Awake"  — Carousel

Birds of America: Stories
Lorrie Moore

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life   
Martin E. P. Seligman