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January 2014

the best of 2013 + a free printable!


2013 was an insane year for me. It started out really rough—my beloved pup, Bella, was dying and I knew it would only bet a matter of time before I had to let her go—and it got tougher when it finally came time to put her to sleep. The very same day I lost her was the very day I received word from a publisher interested in working with me on a book (a lifelong dream come true!). Though I don't think anything could dull the ache of losing one of my best friends, the possibility signing a book deal definitely gave me hope for the year ahead. And then there was Barkley. She arrived in my life in early March, a bundle of puppy joy, and even though she drives me c-r-a-z-y sometimes, she lights up my world it with her (never-ending!) energy and enthusiasm. All that and 2013 was just beginning. The year started off rocky, but it turned out to be one of my best years yet. (Which is good to keep in mind if your year doesn't start off so well. Believe me, it can turn itself around in an instant!)

Around this time of the year, lots of us are looking forward to the year ahead, thinking of the resolutions we'll make or wondering how we can make the next year our best year yet. While I'm all for preping for the future (so long as it doesn't steal too much from the present), I do think it's worthwhile to stop and think about all of the things that have happened this year, to reflect on all you've accomplished over the past twelve months and give yourself a bit of a pat on the back for making it through this year. 

Which is why I'm suggesting you compile a Best of 2013 list. Just like all those other "Best of..." lists popping up this time of year (Best Books of 2013, Best Films of 2013, Best Blog Posts of 2013, etc.), your Best of 2013 list should highlight the best parts of the year. While I don't often advise looking backward (it really gets in the way of staying present!), I've found it really helpful to remind myself of all the wonderful things that happened over the past year. Not only does it bring a smile to my face and remind me to be thankful for all I've been through, but it also gets me excited for the year ahead. If all of this happened in 2013, what could happen in 2014?!

Below is my personal Best of 2013 list—and below that is a link to download a printable Best of 2013 list for yourself. Print it out, fill it out, and post it up somewhere to remind you of last year's high points—and to inspire you to dream big in the year ahead.




On January 1, 2013, I would never have imagined this year would turn out the way it did. It's pretty amazing how much can change in just 12 little months, isn't it? When you create your own Best of 2013 list, I bet you'll be surprised how much you've done and/or experienced over the past year. Click here to download your free printable Best of 2013 list, fill it out, and celebrate all that was wonderful about 2013! 




positively present picks: december 27, 2013

New YearSource


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"Not that she didn’t enjoy the holidays: but she always felt—and it was, perhaps, the measure of her peculiar happiness—a little relieved when they were over. Her normal life pleased her so well that she was half afraid to step out of its frame in case one day she should find herself unable to get back."

Jan Struther


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30 Ideas for Your 2014 Bucket List : everyone should try #12

9 Top New Year's Resolutions : and advice on making them happen

Triangle Wall : I love this so much and wish I could do it! 

Letting Go of the Past : a great way to start fresh year off right

2014 : some wonderful words of wisdom for the New Year

Puppy Surfing! : this is just way too cute for words

Confetti Wand : perfect for New Year's Eve (or just any day!)

This Is Your Year : pick up some inspiration on Society 6

Spoils of Babylon : so excited for a 2014 dose of Kristen Wiig

10 Signs You Might Be a Hoarder : good way to remind yourself less is more

Winter Scents that Can Boost Wellness : at the very least it'll smell good

New Year Theme : it might work better than a resolution


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

"Colorblind" — Lewis Watson
"The Sound" — Ariela Jacobs
"White Winter Hymnal" — Fleet Foxes
"We Can't Stop" — Boyce Avenue
"Oats in the Water" — Ben Howard
"All Shook Up" — Avila
"All the Little Lights" — Passenger
"Money Tree" — Caroline Glaser
"Birds and Stars" — Elephant Revival
"Overwhelmed" — Tim McMorris
"This Year's Love" — David Gray
"January" — Mason Jennings

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Kim Edwards

how to keep the spirit of christmas all year long


After the presents have been opened, the carols have been sung, and the festivities of Christmas day are over, most of us tuck our Christmas spirit—you know, that cheerful, nice-to-everyone-cause-it's-Christmas vibe—away until next year. After all, we've been jubilant and jolly (or at least a little bit nicer...) for close to a month now and keeping up that upbeat, Christmas-y attitude can be hard work. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize how much better things might be if we all kept that Christmastime cheer with us all the time.

Of course, part of the reason it's not so difficult to be a bit kinder, a tad more cheery at Christmas is because it is a limited thing. It's easy to think, "I'll be nicer to my cranky coworker because it's Christmas" or "I'll smile at the person who stole my parking space because it's Christmas." Knowing that Christmas cheer is a limited time only offer makes it easier to embrace it. But what if we didn't limited it? What if we kept that spirit all year long? 

Staying in a Christmas state of mind for twelve months of the year is probably unrealistic. Let's be honest: we can't be carol-singing, gift-giving little elves all year long. But there are a few elements of the holiday season that we can keep with us throughout the year, giving every day a chance to have just a bit of the magic that comes along with Christmas Day. Here are some of the best ways to keep the spirit alive every day of the year: 


Focus on what you have. The holiday season often reminds of all that we have to be thankful for: our friends, family, and the collective joy many of us experience at this time of year. If we keep that feeling of appreciation with us all year long, we'll prolong the wonder of Christmas on a daily basis. The trick is to focus on what you have, not what you want. Through the year, whenever you find yourself thinking, “I wish I had…” replace that with, “I’m so thankful I have…”


Know what really matters. At Christmas—at least on Christmas Day!—most of us prioritize matters most: spending time with those we love and celebrating a season that means something to us. During the rest of the year, it can be hard to keep our priorities straight with all of the various aspects of life vying for our attention, but when you bring yourself back to what matters most, you make the most of every day. 


Treat strangers with kindness. At Christmastime, people are often a bit kinder, merely based on the fact that it's Christmas. Treating others with kindness—especially those you don’t know, and especially those who don't necessarily treat you with kindness—is a wonderful way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive every single day of the year. When someone bothers you, imagine how you would treat him or her if it were Christmas Day. 


Look for the good. Christmas is a time for taking note of things we love—the people we care about, the gifts wrapped just for us—and it's also a time for noticing special things—the little traditions, the pretty, glittery decorations. The season brings out a sense of childlike wonder. Trying to embrace that wonderment all year long, by looking for good bits in every day, is another great way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive.  


Sometimes it's hard to keep the spirit of Christmas alive at Christmas, let alone all year long, but when you find yourself in an unpleasant situation or dealing with a difficult person, I've found that it really does help to think to yourself, "How would I react if today were Christmas Day?" It sounds silly, but it's surprising how much kindness and cheer you can conjure up when you call up the spirit of Christmas. 


For those of you celebrating Christmas this week, I hope you have a very, merry Christmas, and thank you for reading Positively Present. Readers like you are some of the best Christmas presents I could ask for!