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Positively Present Picks : December 30, 2016



"The new year stands before us,
like a chapter in a book,
waiting to be written."

Melody Beattie


New Year, Same Me : an old post I seem to re-read every new year

21 Innovations that Improved the World in 2016 : hooray for innovators!

End-of-Year Prompts : listen to this podcast for great inspiration

3 Quick Questions for a Happier 2017 : simple, but powerful queries

Forgiveness Is a Great Act of Kindness : more on forgiveness in my book

10 Signs Your Soul Wants You to Unplug : I have way too many of these. yikes.

Purpose is the New Medicine : what if we focused more on purpose? 

5 Key Lifestyle Changes for Staying Sober : lifestyle changes are vital for sobriety

New Year, No Procrastination : some tips for ending procrastination for good

Yoga for Everyone : want to try, but feel unsure? read this NYT article

Mindfully Free of Wanting People to Be a Certain Way : wow, this is powerful

10 Questions to Ask Yourself to End 2016 Feeling Powerful + Positive

Continual Letting Go When You're Overwhelmed : stop romanticizing busy

What Are You Telling Yourself? : pay close attention to the stories you tell

5 Questions for a Deeper Year-in-Review : dig deeper, learn more

Self-Control Is Just Empathy for Your Future Self : wow. that's so true.

Journaling Your Way to Success : journaling is more powerful than you think



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!

"I Was Born a Dreamer" — SHEL
"A Long December" — Counting Crows
"Friends" — Majik
"Green Trees Red Hearts" — Nat Jay
"The New Year" — Death Cab for Cutie
"New Year's Eve"— The Head & the Heart
"Luxuries" — Folded Like Fabric
"I Don't Wanna Live Forever" — Sonna Rele
"Frames" — Luke Thompson
"We Will Run" — Jens Kuross



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Life Word: Discovering Your One
Word to Leave a Legacy
Jon Gordon

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
Ben Clanton

The 50 States: Explore the USA
Gabrielle Balkan

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness*

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*

Some links may be 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. 

Bye, 2016! : A Look Back at the Year

  Bye 2016


2016 was... intense, to say the least. Like most years, there were highs and lows, but something about this year was quite unique. I've seen lots of people online talking about all of the negative aspects of the year (of which, yes, there were many), but it doesn't feel great to join on that bandwagon and reflect on this year's struggles. This year was far from ideal, but a lot of great things did happen. I've spent a bit of time reflecting on the year and, rather than bemoaning the things that didn't work out the way I'd hoped, I've decided to focus on the things that did work out. 

Here are some of the highlights of my year. Hopefully reading through them will inspire you to think about the positive things that happened to you this year. Even if it was a rough one (and I know it was for so many of us), there is always something good to be found if you make a point to look for it. Here's some of the goodness I found in my life...  


For years I've been selling books and e-books, but this year I launched two products for the first time ever: stickers and pins! Launching physical products that I actually had to have made and shipped was a bit of a daunting task for me, but I'm so glad I explored that aspect of business. It's been so wonderful to see people around the world using my stickers to inspire more self-love and wearing my pins to promote more love and less hate. If you want to learn more about the products, check out my Etsy store, Twenty3. (And keep an eye out for new goodies coming in 2017!)




Earlier this year, I launched my YouTube channel! I'd had one for years, but only used it for creating my weekly music playlists. This year, I took the leap and actually started making my own videos. This was not only a new aspect of my business that I had to learn, but it was also a huge step outside of my comfort zone. I'm very comfortable writing about personal things, but talking about them -- putting myself out there in a more physical way -- was scary. As nerve-wracking as it was, I'm so glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone! Watch the videos here




In 2016, I celebrated six years of sobriety. Even though it's been six years, I'm still amazed that I've gotten (and stayed!) sober. The old me would never, in a million years, have believed that was possible. Drinking was such a big part of my identity for so long and realizing that I needed to let go of that aspect of myself (and actually letting it go) was life-changing for me. It's still a challenge, but, cliche as it sounds, it does get easier, but every year I'm able to celebrate sober is a huge accomplishment for me. (Also, I hope it's an inspiration for you. If there's something you should let go of, you can do it!)



  New Site Look

Positively Present turned seven this year, and, in celebration, I gave the brand and the website a little makeover. I spent an incredible amount of time researching, sketching, and brainstorming exactly what I wanted the new brand to represent, and, after countless revisions, I finally launched the new look. I'm so thrilled with how it ended up turning out, and I'm so proud of what the new look represents: Positively Present's goal of promoting positively, awareness, and self-love. If you want to read more about the site's revamp (and the meaning behind it), check this out



2017 Every Day Matters

For the third year in a row, the Every Day Matters: A Year of Inspiration for the Mind, Body, and Spirit diary launched. Working on this planner is one of my absolute favorite projects because it combines a few things I love doing the most: writing and illustrating and reading lots and lots of quotes. Every year, with the help of my amazing publishing team, the diary gets better and better, and I'm so proud of all the hard work that goes into it. If you haven't picked up your copy, it's not too late to kick off the year with inspiration that'll help you make every day matter. Here's where you can get it in pocket or desk size. 



Effortless Inspiration 

One of the best things that happened in 2016 was the launch of my Effortless Inspiration series. The goal of these little books was to provide bite-sized inspiration and on-the-go insights on four topics absolutely essential for living a positively present life: Living in the Moment, Gratitude, Compassion, and Forgiveness. Working on these books was so inspiring, and hearing such positive feedback from people around the world (and seeing the books in different languages!) was straight up amazing. You can read more about the series here




For the sixth year in a row, I hosted the Gratitude Photo Challenge, and it was nothing short of inspiring. Dedicating time and attention to focusing on the things I'm grateful for each November is always such a positive experience, but this year I was blown away by the participation and completely thrilled by the opportunity to see people across the globe sharing the things they were thankful for. This year I also collaborated with the amazing Caroline from Made Vibrant, which made this year's challenge even more special! 



This Uncommon Life


This year's most popular post was, by far, How to Share Your Beliefs (Even With People Who Don't Agree). It was the first time I'd really opened up about politics (a topic I generally try to stay away from, since, quite honestly, it's not often very positive). I was nervous to share the post (along with a new Instagram account, This Uncommon Life), but the post was so well-received, and I received so many messages telling me how my words had helped people cope with the touchy subject of politics. Since positively impacting people's lives really is all I want, the positive feedback I received on this post made my whole year!


It's exciting to look forward to the year ahead, but it's also important to reflect on the good things happened over the past twelve months. I hope you enjoyed reflecting on the Positively Present year with me, and I hope it inspired you to think about the things you've accomplished this year. And here's hoping 2017 is the best year yet! 



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Positively Present Picks : December 23, 2016

Dear Santa Love Dani
From a 2014 post. Make your own list using the template here


"So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list."

Amy Grant + Linda Thompson


5 Hang-in-There Holiday Tips : if you're struggling this week, read this.

Give Yourself Time to Just Be : we all can use a little "be" time

Every Day Matters : don't forget to get your planner in time for the New Year

52 Week Photo Challenge : if you're feeling creative, try this in 2017!

Toodles Noodles : just discovered this shop + I'm a bit obsessed with it

5 Ways to Make Mercury Retrograde Work for You : it can be a good thing

Not Everyone Will Get It : not everyone will get you. and that's perfectly ok. 

How to Keep the Spirit of Christmas All Year Long : old post, but still relevant

Why Is Denmark the Happiest in the World? : hint -- it has to do with this

7 Small Habits to Help You Cope in the Digital World : 'cause it's stressful

Google Year in Search : such a fascinating video reflecting on 2016

We Were Made for These Times : reading this left me feeling so inspired

Two Kinds of Winning : very simple, but powerful words from Seth Godin

9 Ways to Silence Self-Criticism : less hate, more love -- for yourself

Holding Out : I've never thought about it before, but it's highly underrated

Staying Sober During the Holidays : it can be really tough. you're not alone. 

Work with Me! : 2017 can be a fresh start for you and/or your brand

Thanks to Casper for making this super cute graphic for me! :) Check them out here



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!

"In My Mind" — Maty Noyes
"What Up Where You Are" — State of Sound
"All We Know" — The Chainsmokers
"Be As You Are" — Mike Posner
"I Believe" — Brandon Jenner
"Same Drugs"— Chance the Rapper
"Christmas with You" — Richard Readey
"Light the Sky" — Grace VanderWaal
"Don't Wanna Know" — Sonna Rele
"Silent Night" — Demi Lovato



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Magic Christmas (Sweet Valley)
Francine Pascal

Pick Me Up
Adam J. Kurtz

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness*

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*

Some links may be 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. 

5 Hang-in-There Holiday Tips


You Are Not Alone

I love the holiday season (if you couldn't tell, from all of my holiday-themed posts!), but with all of the joy, glitter, and fairy lights also comes a level of stress and pressure that's unprecedented during the rest of the year. Even if you're in a great place emotionally, financially, and mentally, the holiday season is bound to present some challenges that aren't present during the rest of the year. And, if we're honest, most of us aren't in that perfect emotional / financial / mental place so, around the holidays, whatever troubles we're currently facing are compounded by a number of factors:


  1. memories of past holidays (both good and bad),
  2. recollections of those no longer in our lives and a kind of re-mourning for them,
  3. increased financial expectations in the form of gifts and holiday-related obligations,
  4. stress related to trying to give (and hoping to receive) the perfect gifts, and
  5. societal pressure to suddenly have the most merry, festive, Instagrammable life ever.


Top all of that off with the end-of-the-year thoughts about what we did (or didn't...) do over the past year and the looming expectations to make the coming year the "best year yet!," and it's no wonder most of us have trouble staying positive during the holidays! Even for the most positively present person, these additional stressors can cause a lot of emotional challenges, and they can be even harder to cope with when it seems as if everyone around us is embracing the holiday spirit. 

The holidays can be -- and often are -- a really wonderful time of the year, but it's important to recognize the level of additional stress and pressure they bring to our lives, and make sure we're addressing it (rather than convincing ourselves that we should be enjoying every single moment). Here are some of the best ways to do just that. 


  1. Take note of what's working out. When it comes to the holidays, it's tempting to think everything has to be just perfect. For some, there are annual traditions to adhere to. For others, holiday parties to look picture perfect for. And, as you're probably well aware, life doesn't always go according to plan. With so many expectations around the holiday season -- buy the perfect gift! wear the most festive outfit! kiss your partner in the snow! wake up to a Lexus in your driveway! -- some of them are bound to be unmet. And that's okay. Instead of focusing on what didn't go as planned, direct your attention to what is working. Maybe you weren't able to afford a new, sparkly dress for a party, but you were able to get your nephew that hard-to-find gift he really wanted. During the holidays (and in general!), it helps to keep expectations low and to celebrate the things that are going right. 

  2. Know you're not alone in how you feel. The holidays -- through advertising, celebrity culture, and social media -- make us feel like we should be happy 24/7 all throughout the month of December, but it's important to remember that what you see online (and even in real life) isn't the whole story. All of us go through bouts of stress or loneliness or sadness or discontent at some point during the holiday season, and that is completely normal. We're being sold picturesque images of the perfect holiday everywhere we look, and it's no wonder that we sometimes feel disappointed that our lives don't look like the ones we see online. Remember: not everyone is falling in love, unwrapping the most fabulous gift, surrounding themselves with laughing, happy friends, or joyfully riding in a horse-drawn sleigh. 

  3. Make the holiday what you want it to be. Think, for a moment, about what a "perfect" holiday would look like. What you're picturing is probably an amalgamation of images you've seen online, watched in films, or read in books sprinkled with a bit of your own unique holiday experiences. It's important to remember that your holiday is yours. It doesn't have to look like what you see everyone else doing. Most of us (myself included!) do what we're expected to do around the holiday season because it's what's socially expected. But don't forget that you don't have to do what everyone else is doing. If you're into the traditions, the events, the decking-of-the-halls, go for it. But don't feel like you have to do all of the expected holiday things just because everyone else is doing them. 

  4. Shift your focus away from consumerism. Gift-giving is one of my favorite things to do, and always has been. There are few things that thrill me more than finding the perfect gift for someone I love. But, in case you missed it, the holidays are extremely consumeristic. From the gifts to decorations to sparkly attire to hostess gifts to festive fare and more, there are so many things to purchase around this time of year, and, even if you're super into it all, it can be a lot. One of the best ways to combat the consumerism is to make time to give back. Whether it's a donation to a charity, time spent at a soup kitchen, or simply helping a neighbor hang lights, there are countless ways you can give back. Doing so will help remind you what the holiday season is supposed to be about: love, giving, kindness, and joy. 

  5. Pay attention to what's real. With the holiday season comes a great deal of fantasy -- images of reindeer flying overhead, two people falling in love beneath the mistletoe, unwrapping an amazing gift, having the most fabulous time at a party are a few that come to mind -- but it's important to remember that, as magical as the season feels sometimes, we're still living in real life. People are going to be imperfect; situations are going to be flawed. The more we focus on the fantasy, the harder it becomes to appreciate the little joys in reality. If you're focusing on what things should be, you're missing out on what they are, and that's almost certain to cause discontentment. (Read more about this in Why You Need Lower Expectations.) When it comes to the holidays, expect less and you'll enjoy so much more. 


As wonderful and festive as this time of year is, it can also be such a challenge because most of us expect so much. We want every holiday to be the best ever, which is a lovely goal to have, but that goal can also cause a lot of distress (especially if it's literally impossible, such as when you're facing the first holiday after the loss of a loved one or if you're going through a very difficult time emotionally). If you're struggling, remember that you're not alone. There are many, many people who are going through difficult situations and, while you cannot necessarily remove yourself from pain, here are some things I've written in the past that might help: 



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Positively Present Picks : December 16, 2016

Effortless Inspiration Books
Some of the best things you can give. Buy the books here


"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime."

Laura Ingalls Wilder


10 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion : my latest Tiny Buddha article is up!

How to Manage Worry : we all have it, and these are great tips for us all

Staying Sober During the Holidays : check out my new YouTube video

5 Ways to Navigate Stressful Situations During the Holiday Season

Your Brain Is a Muscle : here's how you can strengthen it daily

Over 25,000 Paper Flowers : wow. this looks like an amazing experience. 

How I Changed My Life By Staying Home : great read for introverts

Today : this inspiring, simple calendar will brighten any desk

Stocking Stuffers Your Girlfriend Wants : my diary is a girlfriend-pleaser ;)

Don't Try to Let Go of Your Fear : instead, try going through it

Christmas Tunes : use this to find the absolutely perfect song

3 Powerful Rituals for Building Healthy Relationships : #1 is vital

Women Who Draw : absolutely loving this site of female artists

Gifts for a Blogger : so happy to see my Every Day Matters diary in here

Let the Poets Lead the Way : a great self-love piece from Free People

Conquering Distractions : love this article + the quote that inspired it 

Anami Blog Interview : it was so fun to answer these great questions!



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!

"We Need a Little Christmas" — Glee Cast
"Looking" — Saro
"Where Are You Christmas?" — Faith Hill
"Parade" — Birthday
"Calling" — Retro Culture
"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"— Michael Buble
"Sober Heart" — Lucian ft. Olivera
"Dying to Know" — Tegan and Sara
"Last Christmas" — Taylor Swift
"Grown Up Christmas List" — Amy Grant



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Jon Frederickson

A Christmas Without Elizabeth
Francine Pascal

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness*

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*

Some links may be 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.