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Positively Present Picks : July 29, 2016

July Favorites! Check out the video above (or click here if you can't see it).



“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit."



Emotional Inheritance : wow, this was a fascinating read! 

Make Your Own Rules : I'm not a rule-follower so I loved this

Humpback Whale Spraying a Rainbow : so beautiful + majestic

Eevee Beanie* : if you play Pokemon go, you know Eevee is the cutest ;)

7 Body-Positive Phrases You Should Get Comfortable With : yes!  

Quotes that Show Life from a Difference Perspective : switch your viewpoint

Stuck in Your Comfort Zone? : here are some ways to break free

Alice Art Print* : I absolutely love this Alice print. need it!!

8 Reasons to Start Self-Care Now : self-love = the best love

Broke, Single, + Happier Than Ever : and how you can be happier too

StickerApp : use code (DIPIRRO20) for 20% off custom stickers! yas!

Desire : a beautifully written article on figuring out what you want

The Difference Between Happiness + Joy : very thought-provoking stuff

Pinterest Board Updates : I refreshed my Pinterest page + I love it :)

Being Nice : this free printable is so adorable + inspiring



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Cold Water" — Major Lazer
"Leave" — Sea Offs
"Unstoppable" — The Score
"The Forests of Time" — H1987
"Dreamstate" — Stonefox
"Wild"— Troye Sivan ft. Alessia Cara
"BWU" — Tegan & Sara
"Too Good" — Jasmine Thompson
"Bleeding Heart" — Regina Spektor
"You Don't Get Me High Anymore" — Phantogram



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Addiction Is the Symptom*
Rosemary Ellsworth Brown

Ten Timid Ghosts*
Jennifer O'Connell

Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix*
J.K. Rowling


I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*
Dani DiPirro 


Links marked with asterisks are affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page. 

Why You Need Lower Expectations




Now that I've started making my own YouTube videos, I've been spending even more time than normal watching online videos, and last week I stumbled across Jenna Marbles' "Why Low Expectations Are Good." At first I thought it sounded a tad negative -- after all, shouldn't we set high expectations? But as I watched, I realized she made some pretty amazing and thought-provoking points about expectations.

"Having no or low expectations is one of the most powerful things you can do -- if you can use it to your advantage," Jenna says, and, as I watched the video and listened to her talk about goals, expectations, and relationships, I realized just how right she is. Having low expectations might sound like a bad thing, as if you're settling for less than you deserve or willing to put up with others' (or your own) bad behavior, but it's actually one of the very best ways to stay positively present. 



In the video, Jenna says, "There's a difference between goals, standards, and expectations. You can set any amount of goals you want, as high as you want, and you can work hard to achieve those goals. Your expectation of that outcome of that work and whatever you're working towards needs to be low or none whatsoever. Working hard toward your goals while having no expectation of what the outcome of that might be allows you to live your life completely without fear of failure." 

When you set a goal or start a project, it's actually a good idea to have low expectations. This doesn't mean that you don't want it to work out or you won't work hard toward your goal. It simply means you won't be focusing excessively on the outcome. Not focusing so much on the future will give you the freedom to be completely in the present moment. When you're in the present, you're less fearful and you're willing to take the (calculated) risks that often lead to great success. 

"As long as you're working hard and applying yourself the best you can," Jenna says, "you have no control over what happens in the end. The only thing you have control over is what you have control over." When it comes to work, you have to just do the best you can and let go of what you think the outcome should be, and the only way you can do it that is by releasing all expectations. 



It might seem like low expectations are exactly what you don't want when it comes to relationships, but, as Jenna notes (and I've also personally found to be true and wrote about in this article), expectations often get in the way of our relationships. We should, of course, have standards. We should know what we'd like in a partner or friend, and we should never tolerate mistreatment or abuse. But standards -- the required levels of quality we want in our relationships -- are different from expectations -- the beliefs that something will (or should) happen in the future. 

Again, this goes back to staying present. When we don't focus on expectations, we are in the moment. We can focus on what's happening now and determine if our current relationship is what we want. On the flip side, if we're spending tons of time expecting things from others (or feeling let down when they don't meet our expectations), we're not living in the moment. We're focused on the future or the past, and that can really hold us back from enjoying, and mindfully interacting with, others.

This can be especially important when it comes to meeting new people. I really love Jenna's magpie analogy for new relationships:    

Meeting new people and starting new relationships is a lot like being a magpie, the bird that likes shiny things. You're flying around, looking for some shiny things. Ooh, shiny thing! So you go down there. Oh. It's a bottle cap. Okay, that's cool. I'm gonna just keep flying around, looking for shiny things. Oh! What did I find? Kim Kardashian's engagement ring. It's beautiful. It's a diamond. I really like it. Sometimes I find I find crap... but does that mean I can't find a diamond? No! I'm a magpie! I'm gonna look for more shiny things.

The people that you meet in your life are shiny things. Treat them all like shiny things. Then use your little bird claws and bird beak and bird brain to figure out if they're a diamond or a bottle cap. Then you can decide which ones you want to take into your nest.

You don't need to be disappointed by people if you have no expectations of them. When you meet someone, you don't even know them. They could be a bottle cap. They could be the foil that wrapped up a hotdog. Or, they could be a really cool diamond. You don't know until you use your little bird mouth and figure out what it is. 

Of course it's difficult not to have expectations of people when you first meet them. You've got a lifetime of experiences with other people tucked in your mind and, as humans, we try to figure people out quickly using whatever knowledge we have so we can assess whether they're friend or foe. But going into every new relationship you have with no expectations is one of the best ways to create new, positive relationships -- and to not be disappointed by the ones that don't work out. 



When when it comes to big events -- weddings, birthdays, holidays, etc. -- expectations often take the wheel and drive us directly to Disappointmentville. Have you ever reflected back on a special day (your birthday or a holiday, maybe) and felt let down when the day was over, even if it was a perfectly great day? There's a difference between feeling sad that the big day is over and feeling disappointed because, even if all went according to plan, it didn't quite live up to your expectations. 

Guess what? No day, no matter how wonderful, will ever live up to the picture-perfect moments in your mind. Reality is never as wonderful as imagination. (Yes, that sounds negative, but it's true!). When you experience disappointment after a perfect-on-paper day, those feelings are a side effect of expectations literally stealing your joy. 

When you go into something with super high expectations, it will never live up to what you imagined, no matter how great it is. That's why it's a great idea to take this advice from Jenna:

Every birthday that you have, assume that you're going to lay on your couch and watch Netflix. Everything that you do that's better than that is really exciting and great. And you're grateful and you're happy and everything's wonderful. 

If you want to have an amazing experience, set your expectation level to zero. That way, whatever happens will be absolutely amazing and wonderful. And anything that doesn't go perfectly according to plan will be no big deal because you had no expectation that it would go any other way than the way it's going. Low expectations = absolute acceptance = more opportunities for joy. 



Having low expectations for yourself  is actually an important act of self-love. It opens you up to new experiences, new ways of thinking, and the opportunity to truly and honestly love who you are -- no matter what. Jenna explains the limits of expectations perfectly when she says,

When you have certain expectations for yourself, you limit your choices. And you limit what you can do in your life by what you've already set as what you want. People get stuck in their thinking and they refuse to see all of the options beside them because they're stuck in their expectations of their life. If I do X, I'll get Y, when, in reality, if you do X, you could get any other letter in the alphabet -- including X again!

Life is crazy. It's filled with ups and downs, and tons of surprises. When it comes to how you think about yourself and the expectations you have, you need to have high standards, aim for positive goals, but let the expectations go. Expectations are limitations. When you're open to being someone other than what you think you're supposed to be (either because you believe it or because someone else / society told you to believe it), your the possibilities for your life -- and who you are -- become endless. As Jenna says, "Be open and don't have this concrete path in your life because you'll miss all the opportunities to be a different, better you."


If you want to watch the full video, you'll find it below. Or you can click here to watch it on YouTube. 





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Positively Present Picks : July 22, 2016




“There is no magical version of you waiting in the future.
You are here. Use the magic you have now."

Heather Havrilesky


Get Happier : the key is to focus on what makes you miserable

Lemonade Background : get inspired by this desktop background

The Only Expert on Your Dreams is You : so incredibly true

Warhol Prints* : how cool would a wall filled with these be?!

Your Personality Isn't Fixed : yes, you can change (if you want to!)

11 Inspirational Blogs That'll Change Your Life : so honored to be featured :)

Anxiety Magazine Covers : these cracked me up. so relatable. 

Where There's Stress, There's a Story : so what's your story? 

Mini Bags! : this trend makes me happy. tiny things are so cute.

CAUSEBOX : love this box filled with socially conscious products

Positively Orange Dress* : so perfect for the new brand look!

Finding the Courage to Quit : sometimes it's time to let it go

Make Travel Delays More Enjoyable : waiting? try these ideas

EmojiCap : I don't wear hats, but I would wear one of these

What Matters Is Saying Yes : wow. this quote is really powerful.

10 Virtues for the Modern Age : all of these are so, so important!

Choosing Curiosity Over Fear : Elizabeth Gilbert's wise words

Rainbow Heart Pin : what a cute, colorful little rainbow pin 

Anxiously Searching for Life's Purpose? : then you should read this



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Here with Me" — The Killers
"Wildwood" — Fleurie
"Who We Are" — Plasi
"Rise" — Katy Perry
"Must Be Good" — I Said Yes
"Make Me"— Britney Spears
"No Complaints" — FatherDude
"Sensations" — Elohim
"Lion" — Kacy Hill
"Keep Breathing" — Ingrid Michaelson



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Addiction Is the Symptom*
Rosemary Ellsworth Brown

Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix*
J.K. Rowling


I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*
Dani DiPirro 


Links marked with asterisks are affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page. 

The New + Improved Positively Present!


As some of you may have noticed, Positively Present got a little an makeover this weekend!

One of my work goals this year was to make the brand more personal with hand-lettering, a meaningful logo, and some tweaks to the colors. It's taken me seven months, but it's finally ready and I couldn't be more excited about how it turned out! :)

I know it can be unsettling when a brand you've been following changes its look (just think back to how people reacted when Instagram changed its logo!), so I wanted to dedicate a post to explaining the new look. Plus, I spent a ton of time thinking about and working on this update (and I know some of you love the behind-the-scenes bits!) so I thought it would be fun to share the process. 


Positively Present's Brand Board

A lot of what you're used to will be the same -- this isn't a crazy overall of the site -- but there are some new things die-hard Positively Present fans will pick up on. Most of the website tweaks are a result of suggestions you made in the recent Positively Present Reader Survey (thank you so much for your feedback!) so I have a feeling you're going to like them! The ultimate goal is to have an inspiring, easy-to-use site that allows you to have quick access to inspiration. 



While talking to a friend a few weeks ago about my work-in-progress refresh, he asked, "Why do you need to change the branding? Don't you like what you have?" It was a great question because it really made me stop and think -- and explain to him -- exactly why I'm making changes to the brand. 

Because I work on other people's brands over at Twenty3, it's hard for me not to constantly think about changing Positively Present. I'm always researching and coming up with creative ideas for client logos, and it's a constant internal struggle for me not to change Positively Present regularly. But I know how important consistency is so, over the past few years, I've tried to make minimal changes. Even as I've brightened the colors or tweaked the icon, I've tried to keep the brand relatively the same for consistency's sake. 

Continuing to work as a graphic designer has expanded my knowledge and skill set and, while looking at the logo over the past year or so,  I realized it  just didn't feel like something I designed. The icon, while I've grown to love it, doesn't have clear meaning for my audience and, as someone who does a lot of hand-lettering for a living, it somehow feels wrong not to have a personally hand-lettered logo. So, from a design perspective, I felt like it was time to step up my game and bring more personal touches to the branding. 

Also, from an emotional point of view, it felt like I achieved some sort of milestone when Positively Present turned seven in February. I've always been fascinated by the concept of the seven year cycle. Apparently every cell in our bodies is changed over a period of seven years, and research has also shown that we change mentally and emotionally every seven years as well. With February 2016 marking the seven year anniversary of the site's launch, it seemed like a fitting time to revamp the brand. Over the past seven years, a lot has changed for me -- and for Positively Present -- and it feels right to update the brand to reflect that. 

That being said, I didn't want to make drastic changes to Positively Present. I love what I've created and I know how much people get attached to brands (I always have a mini-freak out when a brand I love changes its look!). I knew I wanted to make changes -- make it more personal and more me -- without isolating loyal fans or taking away from the essence of the brand. 



  • LOGO : One of the first things you probably noticed is that the logo is different. It's a bit darker and bolder and, rather than using traditional fonts, it features hand-lettering done by yours truly. ;) I spend a lot of time working on hand-lettering and illustration in my design studio, Twenty3, so I knew I wanted to include those two elements in the updated look. I ultimately ended up with something similar in feel to the old logo, just a bit more personal.

  • ICON : The icon might look like a mashup of simple shapes, but this aspect of the rebrand is extremely important to me. When I was a kid, I created a logo (see below) and I told myself, "Someday when I have my own business, this is going to be my logo." I actually still love that little sun/moon logo, but it wasn't quite the right fit for Positively Present. I did, however, use it as inspiration to create the new icon.

    Explanation of the new icon! Click to enlarge.

  • TAGLINE : You might have noticed that Positively Present has a new tagline! The old tagline -- "Inspiration, advice, & tips for making the most out of life" -- was created mostly as a way to convey the site's content to new readers. I thought long and hard about what I wanted the new tagline to be, and I ended up with three words that sum up the essence of Positively Present -- "Positivity. Awareness. Self-love." Self-love is such a huge part of the brand and I really wanted to incorporate it somehow. The tagline was the perfect place to do that! 

  • COLORS : Though I was initially contemplating the incorporation of black into the new look, I ended up going with a much darker gray and more saturated hues of orange, yellow, and teal. To me, everything looks more vibrant and colorful, but still stays true to the brand colors that I've been using for years. 



  • BANNER : The updated banner, now centered, features the new logo and icon and gives it a lot more breathing room with lots of clean white space. You'll also notice that there's a beautiful teal-colored bar above the banner with easy-access to links you might need to find more info or do a little shopping! 

  • FONT : After many years of requests, I've finally made the font larger so hopefully it'll be much easier to read. I've also changed it to match the new Positively Present tagline's font so there's consistency throughout the brand and the actual website. 

  • SIDEBAR : The sidebar got a bit of a makeover, which includes lots more white space and new images. Hopefully the less-cluttered look will make it super easy to find what you're looking for. And, speaking of finding what you're looking for, I moved the Search bar up, as many of you suggested in the survey. Now it's extra-easy to find blog posts on any topic. I've also added Categories and Archive sections in the sidebar so you can check out all of the articles related to a specific topic or time period. 

  • SHOP : I'm still in the process of updating the shop so that'll be easier to find and purchase Positively Present products. Stay tuned for a refreshed shopping experience soon, but in the meantime you can still check out books, ebooks, and products here

  • HOMEPAGE : I'm also in the process of considering a static homepage for Positively Present, making it look more like a traditional website and less like a blog, but that's still a work-in-progress (and I'm still not certain I want to do that...), but it's possible that might be coming in the future. 


I really hope you guys like the new look! I've been working hard on it and, though it might not be drastically different, I'm really proud of the changes I've made and the time I took to carefully identify why I was making changes. If you have any questions about the branding process or want to know more about my design work, feel free to leave comments, email me, or check out my design studio, Twenty3.



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positively present picks : july 15, 2016




“Progress is impossible without change, and those
who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."

George Bernard Shaw



NEW YouTube Video : ICYMI -- 6 lessons from 6 years sober!

8 Gratitude Habits That'll Transform Your Life : gratitude is everything

On Being Yourself : a great video from the hilarious Jenna Marbles

Star and Crescent Necklace* : obsessed with this pretty pendant!

Feeling Guilty : it's going to happen sometimes + it's okay if it does

5 Inspiring Reads to Boost Your Creativity : really appreciate this round-up

Less Hate, More Love : we need more love right now. a lot more. 

Plated* : sent me delish food + you can get a discount with your first order here!

12 Ways to Make Your Work Meaningful : even if you don't love it

Uncover the Gems of Waiting While Dream Chasing : patience is key

I Am / You Are* : loving this cute little inspirational book

When Your Project Doesn't Take Off : absolutely loved this article

Concrete Ways to Be an Ally : if you're white, you should read this

25 Ways to Kill the Toxic Ego : we all have an ego + we need to manage it

How to Do Anything : amazing round-up of how-to articles



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Touch" — Shura
"Endless Grace" — Royaume
"Now Is the Start" — A Fine Frenzy
"Close" (Cover) — Sonna Rele
"Once in a While" — Timeflies
"Backyard"— Of Monsters & Men
"I Never Told Her" — Ryan O'Reilly
"Six Feet Under" — Billie Eilish
"Angels" — French 79
"You Want the Sun" — Niki & the Dove



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix*
J.K. Rowling

I Am / You Are*
Rosemary Gallagher


I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*
Dani DiPirro 


Links marked with asterisks are affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page.