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positively present picks: august 29, 2014

First time


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"At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty,
your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling."




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80 Reasons to Exercise : no reason not to be motivated!

Habits for Better Sleep : a good night = a more positive day

Buzzfeed's Love Yourself Challenge : 12 days of loving yourself 

12 Ways to Live the Green Life Like Shailene Woodley

Deck the Walls : so many good wall decor ideas in this article

10 Toxic Habits that Drain Your Energy : stop doing these!

Le Dessein : fashion for a cause. so inspiring.

Out of Your Control : we can't control everything, but it's ok

What I Learned from Loss : an inspiring post found on Free People

Yoga Hacks : how to undo that desk-job damage

Kind Campaign : just discovered this great organization for girls

How to Feel Better When You're Alone : the first point is key!


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Check out this week's
Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"Stand Still" — Flight Facilities
"Over the Love" — Florence + the Machine
"Titanium" (Cover) — Colly McLoughlin
"I See Fire" — Ed Sheeran
"Smother" (Remix) — Daughter
"Hold Me Down" — Masionair
"Animals" — Maroon 5
"Call It Off" — Tegan and Sara
"Sleep Alone" — Two Door Cinema Club
"Locket" — Kilo Kish
"Stronger Than That" — Bahamas
"Wild Heart" — Bleachers


The Magician's Land
Lev Grossman

The Happiness of Pursuit
Chris Guillebeau

positively healthy: how i'm embracing change


Before a few weeks ago, I was one of the unhealthiest people I knew. I dined primarily on pizza and mac-and-cheese (with a side of cookies) and my idea of exercise was briefly walking my pup around the block. I'd dabbled in healthy eating and exercising a little bit in the past, but rarely made it past a day or two without falling back into old (bad) habits. And I was okay with that. I had been repeating phrases like, "I eat whatever I want," and "I don't workout," and "I hate exercise," for so long that I'd let them become part of my identity. I told myself that eating healthy and exercising was all about looking good, and I looked okay so that was all that mattered, right? Wrong

A few months ago I started really contemplating what it would be like to start living a healthier life. You know, actually getting my heart rate up and eating something that's main ingredient wasn't bread or cheese. It was hard to even think about. No more pizza for dinner every single night? (Not an exaggeration.) No more chocolately breakfast bars I could quickly scarf down at my desk? No more Reeses peanut butter cup binges? Eating healthy didn't sound very appealing. Nor did exercising. Actually getting off the couch? Ugh. Stepping away from my phone for dozens of minutes at a time? No thanks. And then there was the RedBull. If I were to really live a healthier live, I'd have to give up my daily dose of RedBull. The thought of doing that instantly gave me a headache. 

But more and more (in spite of the RedBull), I found my energy waning. I'd start off the day great but by the late afternoon, I was cranky and tired. I might have looked okay, but I didn't feel okay. For years I'd been dealing with tiredness (and the mood swings that come along with it), but not really paying attention to why I was tired or what I might do about it. A few months ago, for some reason, I really started to become more in tune with what was happening — and I knew I needed to make a change. 

I'd certainly made changes before — adopting a more positive attitude, quitting smoking, giving up drinking — but this one would be especially hard. I didn't have to drink or smoke to survive (though sometimes it felt like it!), but I did have to eat, which meant I'd have to make healthy choices multiple times a day for days and days and days. Yikes. And if I were eating better, I'd need to actually get up off the couch and step away from my desk and move

A lot of you might be thinking that this doesn't sound like that big of a deal. After all, plenty of people eat healthy and exercise every single day without any trouble, right? But those people aren't me, and anyone who knows me in real life would sooner associate my name with pizza and couch-surfing than with veggies and workouts. But I wanted to give it a try. After all, people have been raving about healthy eating and exercising forever so there must be something to it, right? 



After talking with my friend Danielle, who is studying nutrition, and reading In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, I decided that the best thing for me to do when it came to eating healthy food would be to try clean eating. This would mean getting rid of processed foods (aka, most of my diet) and focusing on things like fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, etc. At first, it was very, very difficult. After all, almost every single thing I had been eating came from a box or a bag. I had to find health replacements for almost everything I was eating, which wasn't easy to do. However, I did notice a change in my mood and my energy level once I started cutting back on processed foods and instead eating more fruits and vegetables. I'm still not quite there yet in terms of a healthy diet — I'm eating most of the same snacks and meals all the time and not giving myself a lot of variety, but I'm doing so much better than I was. 

Though it's been hard to change my eating habits (it's still very much a work-in-progress), I've absolutely noticed that eating better makes me feel better. And it's not only physically, but mentally as well. When I over-indulge on a plate of carrots and hummus, I feel completely different than I did when I used to woof down a plate of cookies. Unfortunately, there's a lot of guilt that comes with overeating the things that aren't good for us and even though I think most of that stems from society's pressure for us all to be thin, I think there might also be something biologically useful about that shameful feeling. It's a sign that whatever you're eating wasn't what your body really needed and, if we listen to that voice telling us to stop or eat something more healthy, we can benefit a great deal both physically and mentally. 



Another major change I've had to make in order to live a healthier life is giving up the daily dose of Redbull I've been drinking for years. While the rest of the world sips on coffee every morning, I'd been cracking open a can of (very expensive!) Redbull to start off my day. At one point, I was drinking at least three of them a day, but had cut back to one a day over the past year or so. 

Giving up the Redbull wasn't easy, not only because it gave me an excellent burst of energy when I was in need of it, but also because it had become such a habit for me. Whenever I felt a little tired (or when I was just waking up...), I'd reach for a can and sip my way to a more energized state. Because I drank it so often, I didn't get a wild, crazy rush from it, but I got a nice little boost. 

In order to break the habit once and for all (something I'd tried many times but never succeeded at doing), I had to replace the negative habit with something more positive. I wasn't quite ready to give up caffeine so I've opted for a healthier energy fix in the form of green tea. Preparing a pitcher to keep in the fridge takes a little bit more time than just grabbing a can of Redbull, but I find that I get just as much energy from it and I don't have the same cranky crash that always came along with Redbull. Plus, it's way less expensive, which is a lovely little bonus for my wallet. 



In addition to changing my eating and drinking habits, I knew I needed to work a little exercise into the mix. Now, I am not an exercise person. Just the word "exercise" makes my brain say, "nope!" But I knew I had to keep an open mind if I wanted to make my life healthier. I invited my friend Danielle (a certified yoga instructor) over to teach me some of her power yoga moves with the hope that I might like yoga better than other exercise I'd tried in the past. 

Turns out, I liked it! It was so much harder than I thought it would be, which threw me off at first. (I was thinking it would be a lot more laying down and breathing...) But I've been doing it every single weekday for almost two months. For those of you non-exercisers out there, you know just how long that kind of a streak is. For me, it's monumental. I've never exercised this consistently in my life. Ever. And you know what? It feels great. I can feel myself getting (a little bit) stronger and more flexible. I can feel myself actually playing more attention to my body, something I never did before. I actually want to do it, which is kind of a miracle because I've never before wanted to exercise. I feel good when I'm doing it and, maybe even more importantly, I feel good about having done it. Yoga isn't the end all, be all for exercise, but it's working for me and that's only because I opened up my mind and gave it a try. 


I debated whether or not to write this post. I thought, who really cares about my food and exercise routines? But then I realized that I, a person who doesn't like change at all, have made some pretty big changes over the past few months, and all of them have made me feel more positive and present. I knew I had to share what I'd been doing just in case there's someone out there who is just like me — who doesn't really think much about eating healthy or exercising or who doesn't think s/he can change his/her ways. I had to share my experience because I truly feel better, both physically and emotionally, and that's most certainly made my life more positive and more present. Of course, I'm still a newbie at this whole healthy living thing, so I'd love to know... 


What healthy habits do you embrace on a daily basis?
What do you to keep your body (and mind!) feeling good?

positively present picks: august 22, 2014



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"How old would you be if
you didn't know how old you are?"

Satchel Paige



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No Time to Think : do we have time to think anymore?

Be the One Who Says Yes : a simple word that can mean a lot

50 Simple Ways to Enjoy Life : 'cause it's too short not to celebrate it

Why Doing Less Actually Makes You More Successful : less is more

25 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough : so helpful this week

Hidden Message Necklace : this little bit of jewelry is so clever

Disney Characters as College Students : this put a smile on my face

21-Juicing Challenge : I'm thinking of giving this challenge a try!

Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" : in case you haven't already seen it

Good Job at Being Alive : not gonna lie...I kinda want this medal

5 Ways to Live in the Moment : #1 is so, so important


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Check out this week's
Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"Shake It Off" — Taylor Swift
"Birthday" — Katy Perry
"Let It Go" — James Bay
"I Lived" — One Republic
"Summer End" — Vacationer
"Jubel" — Kingande
"Classic" — The Knocks feat. Powers
"My Silver Lining" — First Aid Kit
"Gold" (Remix) — Sir Sly
"From the Night" — Stars
"Budapest" — George Ezra
"Make This Leap" — The Hunts


The Magician's Land
Lev Grossman

The Power of Breath
Swami Saradananda

the magic of music + an awesome giveaway

MusicImage Source


If you haven't noticed from my weekly playlists, I love music. I can't go a day without it. It inspires me, motivates me, and so amazingly reflects whatever I'm going through in my life. No matter where I am in my life, no matter what my mood, there is a song that speaks to me, a beat that finds its way right to the essence of how I feel. Music is such an important part of my life, and it helps me stay positive and present on a daily basis. 

In addition to just being flat-out awesome, music has some amazing positive benefits too. I did a little research and I found tons of surprising ways that music can be a positive force in our lives. (For those interested in the science-y stuff, the links throughout the text will take you to the research.) Music has so many wonderful benefits, but here are some some of the most positive ways music makes life better. Music can . . . 



I'd always had an inkling that listening to music had positive health benefits, but I had no idea how many positive benefits can be gained from putting some earbuds in your ears! Music been shown to ease pain, help people eat less, enhance blood vessel function, relieve depression, improve stroke recovery, improve sleep quality, increase workout performance, aid in post-surgery recovery, improve the cardiovascular system, and boost the immune system. Wow. That's a ton of benefits for doing something that's already really enjoyable. Makes me want to constantly have my headphones on! 



Not only can music improve physical health, but it has the magical power to increase motivation and performance. And background music can improve your ability to complete cognitive tasks. You've probably experienced this first hand if you've ever listening to music while working out or even while working. Right now I'm listening to some upbeat tunes and I can feel myself typing faster as the beat picks up. No matter what I'm doing — working, cleaning, driving, etc. — the beat of a great song makes me want to keep going and inspires me to continue moving forward. 



Music has been proven to reduce stress and relieve anxiety (particularly in those living with cancer), and I think this is one of the best benefits it offers us. Reducing stress and anxiety is essential for living a positive and present life. Did you know music can also induce a meditative state, and has been shown to have similar effects to that of a relaxing massage? Pretty cool. And apparently isn't been shown to help people perform better in high-pressure situations, which is sure to help reduce stress. 



As you probably have experienced, what you listen to can greatly impact your mood. Music been proven to elevate mood, and I've experienced that first hand. Whenever I'm in a low mood and I put on an upbeat, inspiring song, I'm instantly uplifted. (The hard part is making sure to pick a song that'll change my mood and not match it...) Music's ability to improve your emotional state is pretty amazing, isn't it? There's even been a study that showed how listening to music while driving could improve your mood. As I'm sure you've experienced, music really does make you happier


Clearly music is the best. I listen to it everywhere, and my essential listening tools include: YouTube, my purple iPod, and my Jabra ROX Wireless headset. With these, I can listen almost anywhere: at home, in the car, and whenever I'm running errands. The wireless headset is a new addition to my music-listening gear. It's awesome, and you can get one of your own for free! Keep reading for giveaway details!  





I'm offering one lucky guy or gal a chance to win my favorite method for listening to great music: the Jabra ROX Wireless Headset (value of $129.95!). This lightweight set of earbuds is my go-to for high-quality sound on the go. They're durable, they fit perfectly in my ears, and 'cause they're wireless, they allow me to give up the wires without giving up awesome sound quality. Also, I can control them right from the little box on the wire (so no fumbling for your phone to change a track or switch the volume!), which is crucial. Check out more product details on Jabra's website, and keep reading to find out how you can win an awesome headset of your own!


1. Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry.   

    * Friend PositivelyPresent on Facebook
    * Follow PositivePresent on Twitter
    * Follow PositivelyPresent on Instagram
    * Follow PositivelyPresent on Pinterest
    * Link to this post on any social mediat outlet

2. Leave a comment below, including:

    * Where / how you entered (every follow / like / tweet / etc. counts!)
    * Your email address so I can contact you when you win  


* Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
* Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances! 
* Winner will be chosen + notified via email on August 25, 2014  

positively present picks: august 15, 2014



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"I have been a seeker and I still am,
but I stopped asking the books and the stars.
I started listening to the teachings of my soul."




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Inhabit the Moment : a wonderful article on staying present

Society6 : stop by my shop and check out the latest additions!

6 Alternations to Make to Become More Present : great ideas

I Woke Up Like This : a must-read article from Gala Darling

The Rule of 52 and 17 : a (random!) productivity booster 

Moonshot Thinking : a reminder to dream (and act!) big

Niice : a cool (and easy) way to create mood boards

5 Secrets to Success : via Emma from A Beautiful Mess

 Beth Hoeckelobsessed with her collage art right now

34 Ways to Encourage Positive Thinking

First Grade Proverbs : these had me cracking up!


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Check out this week's
Positively Present playlist on YouTube

"Pushing On" — Oliver $ + Jimi Jules
"Prayer in C" — Lily Wood + the Prick
"Silhouettes" — Colony House
"Tokyo Sunrise" — LP
"Summer Home" — Typhoon
"Out of My Head (Remix)" — Brett Dennen
"Best Day of Your Life" — Katie Herzig
"Lanterns" — Birds of Paradise
"Crystal" — Stevie Nicks
"Mess Is Mine" — Vance Joy
"Let's Be Still" — The Head + the Heart
"Weekend" — Priority

The Aviator's Wife: A Novel
Melanie Benjamin

Mr. Fox
Helen Oyeyemi

The Power of Breath
Swami Saradananda