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positively present picks: may 30, 2014

Stay curiousSource


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"The two most important days in your life are
the day you were born and the day you find out why."

Mark Twain


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Epic Blend : these premium lip balms are amazing

Devotion to Self : check out Wild Sister's new self-love e-course

Oh Joy Summer Collection : now at Target! hooray!

Popsicle Necklace : so absolutely perfect for summer

Dog Raised By Cats : might be the cutest thing ever

Dealing with Anxiety : this is for kids, but it's great adult advice too

5 Ways to Supercharge At-Home Productivity : love number one!

LOVE : loving this new app from

Cherish Your Self : a nurturing e-course from The Calm Space

7 Things Grateful People Have : lovin' #3 and #6

Blogcademy Homeschool : if you're a blogger, check this out!


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Check out this week's
   Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"Buzzcut Season" — Lorde
"Dare (La La La)" — Shakira
"How Long" — New City Kings
"River" — Sofie Winterson
"Love Someone" — Jazon Mraz
"Shot at the Night" — The Killers
"Let's Go" — Matt and Kim
"Don't Lose Yourself" — Laura Veirs
"March Into the Sun" — Echosmith
"We're Coming Up" — For the Foxes
"In the Waves" — Bess Rogers
"Love Love Love" — Tristan Prettyman

The Bonesetter's Daughter
Amy Tan

This Year I Will...:
How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution,
or Make a Dream Come True
M.J. Ryan

4 tips for embracing positive change


For my upcoming book, The Positively Present Guide to Life: How to Make the Most of Every Moment, I've been writing a lot about how to cope with unexpected change. As I've been crafting and editing my thoughts on how to make the most of what craziness life throws at you, I've been contemplating unexpected change from a negative point of view because often it's the negative unexpected changes that make it difficult to stay positive and present. 

When I think of the phrase "unexpected change," I almost always think of it in negative terms, with circumstances like illness, job loss, or death coming to mind. I almost always identify "unexpected" it with something bad (perhaps because I'm such a creature of habit and unexpected things often impact me negatively). But recently something unexpectedly good happened to me—and exciting career opportunity I'll share more about later—and I was surprised by how positive unexpected change impacted me. 

If you imagine something good happening to you completely out of the blue, you probably envision it being a completely positive, worry-free experience, right? That's what I would have thought too. But unexpected changes—even the really great ones—can still shake up your world, causing you to question (in a good way) and making you reassess some aspects of your life. 

As much as I shy away from change, I really do enjoy when positive change sneaks up on me, reminding me that life is filled with surprises, and just when you think things are going to stay the same for a good long while, something amazing and new can happen. Even when change is a good thing, sometimes it's hard to stay positive and present in the face of it. Here are some ways to cope with positive change: 



Even when change is awesome, it can throw you for a loop. Don't resist that fearfulness. Instead, embrace it, allowing yourself to feel a bit out of sorts and shaken up. That's one of the best things about positive change—it changes things. Even when change is good, it's tempting to resist it, but try to go with it, let it shake you up, and see how it feels to push out of your comfort zone. It's okay to be afraid of change— most people are—and sometimes that fear is actually a sign that you're moving in the right direction. 



One of the reasons change—no matter how positive—is challenging is because it often causes us to remove ourselves from the present moment. Instead of going about our day-to-day lives, not giving too much thought to what's next because we've grown comfortable with our routines, big changes urge us to think (perhaps too much) about the future, filling the mind with worries and concerns, like Should I take this opportunity? What will come next? What if it doesn't go as planned? Don't allow these questions to override the joy of the opportunity appearing before you right now. 



If you must think to the future (and, we all must, from time to time), try not to focus on what could go wrong, but instead what could go right. Push yourself in a positive direction by envisioning how this positive change can be a good thing. Spend time daydreaming about all of the ways things could work out well—and don't be afraid to dream big. You never know what one big change can do, and if you allow yourself to explore the future from a positive perspective, the possibilities are endless. 



When something good happens to you, it's sometimes tempting to hedge the good news with phrases like, "But I'm not sure if it will work out..." or "I still don't know how it's going to work, but..." or "I'm not sure I deserve this, but..." Chuck those phrases out the window and speak confidently about the positive opportunity you've been given. It might be true that you're uncertain or feel undeserving (even if you shouldn't!), but everything we do is uncertain. You don't know what's going to happen (none of us do with 100% certainty!) so you might as well focus on the potential of a positive change.  


LHEAN Cover Image copyWant to discover how to make the most of the moment? Check out Live Happily Ever After Now, a guide and workbook for living in the moment. It's a practical, thought-provoking resource for anyone looking to live a more positive, more present life (available in paperback or PDF). Get your copy while you can because on June 30, 2014 Live Happily Ever After Now is coming off the Positively Present bookshelf for good! 

positively present picks: may 23, 2014



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"Everything good proceeds from enthusiasm."

Brian Eno


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Cute Aggression : totally suffer from this!

80s / 90s Kid : a new Pinterest board filled with childhood memories

3 Paths to Squash Your Negative Attitude : take one of them today

Lessons from the Mental Hospital : such a brilliant, inspiring video
(Thanks, Katie, for sharing it with me!)

72 Lines to Jump-Start Your Brain : some interesting proverbs

Sitting at Work is the New Smoking : I need a standing desk ASAP!

Flat Venacular Wallpaper : made entirely of stickers. amazing.

How to Exercise with a Dog : this cartoon made me laugh. so true.

Custom Nail Decals : yes, I do have my dog's face on my nails

Give Yourself a Mid-Year Review : some really helpful worksheets here

How to Redefine Yourself By Letting Go of the Past

Chasers of the Light : cannot wait for this book to come out

Live Happily Ever After Now : only on sale until the end of June!


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Check out this week's
   Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"Under the Pressure" — War on Drugs
"1979" — RAC (feat. Liz Anjos)
"No One Ever Loved" — Lykke Li
"Busy Earnin'" — Jungle
"Seasons" — Future Islands
"Kick" — Colour Coding
"Record Collector" — Lissie
"Upside Down" — Paloma Faith
"Broken Promise Land" — Claire
"The Lion's Roar" — First Aid Kit
"Ghost" — Ella Henderson
"Kids Again" — Example

Sisterland: A Novel
Curtis Sittenfeld

This Year I Will...:
How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution,
or Make a Dream Come True
M.J. Ryan

defining your own kind of success

SuccessImage Source


Last week, I stumbled across the article "No I Won't Lean In, Thanks" by Zosia Mamet in Glamour Magazine and was kind of thrilled by it. In the article, Zosia discusses what it means to be successful on your own terms—not basing success on what others think it should be, but on what you think it should be. As Zosia so astutely notes, "We are so obsessed with 'making it' these days we've lost sight of what it means to be successful on our own terms."


I couldn't agree more. 


These days, so much attention is placed on being successful, with books like Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and #GIRLBOSS getting lots and lots of attention. (Full disclosure: I still want to read both of those books, despite the critical slant I'm putting on them here.) Particularly when it comes to women, the notion of achieving greatness in the form of power, wealth, and leadership is being pushed more and more. An increased interest in and adoration of uber-successful women (see this mug, this notepad, and this print) may make you feel as if you're not doing all you can because you don't have a high-powered job, you aren't internet famous, and even though, yes, you do have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé, you can't manage to (or don't want to) be a business-owning, multitasking, super mom. 

As Zosia writes in the Glamour article, "The Merriam-Webster dictionary says success is 'the correct or desired result of an attempt.' But you get to decide what you attempt. If you get off running a global hair care empire, more power to you, but if working as a hairdresser somewhere within that empire brings you joy, then that should be just as admirable."

Success should be whatever you think it is. Just as some people see dandelions as weeds and others view them as flowers or wish-makers, what one person views as a sign of success might be entirely different from what someone else sees as an accomplishment. Success is one of those words that shouldn't be used so generally; it should be a word that has a definition that's unique to each and every person that uses it. What you desire, what you attempt to create successfully in your life, should be entirely up to you. 

The trouble with this is that, even if you tell yourself over and over again that doing what you love—even if doesn't lead to an overflowing bank account and well-known status—is what you want, it's hard not to hear the ever-present media whispering in your ear, Lean in. Be a boss. Lead the team. Be like Beyoncé. (Full disclosure: I love Beyoncé and think she's amazing, which is probably one of the reasons I struggle so much with this topic. Even though I know that success should be on my own terms, I can't help but admire the go-getter traits of super successful women.)

"The solution, I think, is to ask ourselves what we actually want—each of us personally—and stop putting so much pressure on one another. Success isn't about winning everything; it's about achieving your dream, be that teaching middle school or flying jets," writes Zosia.

While I think this is an excellent point, I don't think it's as easy as just asking yourself what you want. Because even if you decide that what you want is to spend your days quietly at home, running a not-hugely-successful business, or to raise your children without an answer to the common, "Are you going to go back to work when they're in school?" question, it's really, really hard not to compare your current situation to the success of others and wonder if you should be doing more. 

Redefining what success means to you in the face of all the stereotypical ideas of success isn't as simple as just knowing what success means to you. It's about knowing what success means to you and why. When you know why—you want to dedicate your time to being creative and free so you live as an artist instead of accepting the corporate design job—you can combat the pressure of traditional success with the various reasons your unique version of success is ideal for you. 

Another important aspect of embracing your own idea of success is being flexible with your definition. What success means to you when you're 20 isn't necessarily what it will mean to you when you're 30 or 40 or 50. Your personal notion of success may change (and probably will!) and that's something you should embrace, rather than fear. While it's hard to imagine that what you define as success will change, it's likely to, and the more adaptable you are, the more likely you'll be able to make the most of success, whatever it may entail. 

Making your own kind of success isn't easy—that's why so many people struggle with it—but it's vital for living a positive, present life. When you live by the principles that matter to you (even if they might not make sense to others or in comparison with superstars like Bey), you create an environment in which you can enjoy your moments and have little difficulty staying present in them. Choosing what success means to you means looking closely at what you've always valued to see if (a) those are really your values and (b) if they're still your values. It also means knowing what, deep down, will make feel good on a day-to-day basis because success isn't just some big picture, someday scenario. Success is what you do on a daily basis to create a life you love living. 




Defining your own success can start with defining yourself, uncovering the essence of who you are. You can discover more about yourself and what matters to you by downloading a copy of Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.

positively present picks: may 16, 2014

SunshineHooray Today Print


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"There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for
a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."

Nelson Mandela


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How to Diffuse Conflict : great advice from Alexandra Franzen

Mini Modern Shelf : I just love how cute + simple this DIY is 

Urbanic : just discovered this lovely little online paper shop

12 Rituals Happy People Practice Every Day : #4 is essential

Fall TV Show Line Up : I know it's only May, but these sound fabulous

My Little Pony Blouse : wow, this brings me back to the '80s!

21 Inspirational Quotes to Help You Crush Your Fear

Radical Self-Love Manifesto : Gala Darling's words are brilliant

How to Be Crazy Productive without Burning Out


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Check out this week's
   Positively Present playlist on YouTube  

"You've Got the Love" — Florence + the Machine
"Good Mistake" — Mr Little Jeans
"Young Hearts" — Strange Talk
"Summer" — Katie Herzig
"Hollywood" — RAC feat. Penguin Prison
"Chasing the Sun" — Sara Bareilles
"The Thread of the Thing" — Fay Wolf
"I Will Live on Islands" — Josh Rouse
"The Wild Life" — Vacationer
"It's Not My Fault I'm Happy" — Passion Pit
"Awake My Soul" — Mumford & Sons
"Moving On" — James

The Abstinence Teacher
Tom Perrotta