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June 2017
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August 2017

A Reminder : Your Happy Ending's Up to You



Last week Kesha's Learn to Let Go video debuted, and I've had it on repeat for days. The song deals with a topic I used to write about a lot, but haven't touched on lately: learning to let go. We all have things in our pasts that we wish weren't part of our stories. There are things we've done; there are things that've been done to us. When we experience things, especially negative things, it's difficult to let them go. It's human nature to hang on to and remember the bad times — an act of self-preservation to avoid the repetition of such experiences — but when we dwell on these experiences, when they take away from the present moment, hanging on to the past stops serving us and starts hurting us. Like Kesha sings in her song, 


Been a prisoner of the past
Had a bitterness when I looked back
Was telling everyone it's not that bad
'Til all my shit hit the fan


I, too, have been in the position of being imprisoned by the past. I've told myself stories for years about who I was, who the people around me were, and, as you might know, memory is a funny thing. It's not always as accurate as we'd like it to be, and, accuracy aside, it's not always as useful as it might seem. In fact, often it's our own memories and rumination of the past that hold us prisoner more than than the actual experiences do. We dwell and dwell and, angered by the time and emotional energy we waste, we add even more negative fuel to the fire of our experience. 

All of this makes it difficult to make the most of the present moment. When you're experiencing bitterness and anger, you're becoming a victim in the present for something that happened in the past. I talk a big talk about staying in the present, but lately I've found myself allowing resentment to seep into my heart. As the song goes,  

I know I'm always like
Telling everybody you don't gotta be a victim
Life ain't always fair, but hell is living in resentment
Choose redemption, your happy ending's up to you


It's interesting, writing about my personal experiences, trying to help others be more mindful, positive, and self-loving, when these are all things I struggle with myself. I started Positively Present as a way to learn how to help myself and share what I'm learning with others, but it puts me (and anyone else who does what I do) in a unique position. I'm not an expert, a trained psychologist or scholar, but, in sharing my experiences, I'm giving advice. The trouble is, I'm not always taking my own advice, which is why these words hit hard for me: 


I think it's time to practice what I preach
Exorcise the demons inside me
Whoa, gotta learn to let it go
The past can't haunt me if I don't let it
Live and learn and never forget it
Whoa, gotta learn to let it go 


The past might influence who we are, but it doesn't have to define us indefinitely. And, when caught up in ruminating about the past, it can be hard to remember that the future's past is happening right now. The choices we're making now — including the choices about how we think about and react to the past — are soon going to be the past that's influencing us. Which is why it's so essential to pay attention to what's going on in and around you. While I think Kesha might be referring to a certain someone in this part of the song, 

Had a boogieman under my bed
Putting crazy thoughts inside my head
Always whispering, "It's all your fault"
He was telling me "No, you're not that strong"


we all have a boogieman not under our beds, but in our heads. We all have a voice that whispers (or shouts...) negative things to us. It's those ideas — that we're completely to blame for the past or that we're not strong enough to overcome it — that often hold us back from moving forward more than the actual experience itself. We don't have to continue living as victims of the past. We might not be able to control what parts of our stories have been written already, but we have the power to create a happy ending. Of course, doing so is rarely easy. It starts, I believe, with actively deciding to move forward, to say to ourselves: 


I'm done reliving my bad decisions
I see now maybe there's a reason
Why, I been through hell and back
Honestly, it's what made me who I am
Holding on to wasted time
Gotta learn to let go in life

When you've spent a lot of time dwelling on what's happened, it can be difficult to choose to stop reliving it. Particularly if it's something that's had a major impact on your life, it's challenging to even choose to let it go because it's often become a part of who you think you are. But who you are is completely up to you right now. Yes, the past has impacted and influenced you, but it isn't you. As Kesha wrote here, "Your past only has as much effect on your future as you want it to." It's tempting to brush these words off, to consider them an overly simplistic take on letting go, but there's a deep truth in them. 

So much of letting go of the past comes down to actually choosing to do it, which, by itself, is a very simple act. The hard part is getting to the point where you're ready to make that choice. Letting the past go leads to liberation, to the release of a part how you've come to identify yourself. Even if you know it would be best for your mental and emotional health to move forward, actively making choices that help you do that is hard, especially true if the past plays a large role in your self-identity. 

Your happy ending's up to you, and you have to decide if you want it. You know, deep down, what you'd be better off without. You know what you should let go of. You know. Knowledge is power, but action is what matters. It's not easy; there's no doubt about that. But in every moment, every thought, you have the chance to choose redemption. You cannot change the past, but you learn to let go, giving yourself a chance for live the life you deserve now. Because, really, it's never too late to have a happy ending. 


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Moving?: 5 Steps to Save Your Sanity



While moving can be exciting, it's often pretty stressful. For the past few weeks, I've been helping parents pack for an upcoming move, which included my own mini-move because a lot of things they've been holding on to for me had to find their way into my (tiny!) apartment. Because moving is such a mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing experience (and something most people have to go through at some point!), it seemed like a good time to reflect a little on how to make the most of it. Even if you're not in the midst of moving, check out these tips so you can better prepare for a future move! 



While it's incredibly tempting to throw all your stuff in boxes and worry about it later, the first essential step of moving is decluttering what you have and donating as much of it as you can. Most of us have lots of extra stuff that we don't want, need, or use, and, while it's time-consuming (and sometimes emotionally draining) to get rid of stuff, it's such a great time to do it because then, when you arrive at your new place, you'll only have what you truly need and want. Admittedly, I didn't do the best job of this when I was bringing stuff from my parents' house to my place, and now I'm regretting it because I have a lot of stuff to sort through. Avoid this by asking these questions while packing: Do I really want this? When was the last time I actually looked at / used this? Packing up all the things you no longer need and donating them to a local charity is such a great feeling and eases some of the stress of letting things go. 


STEP 2: 

Unless you're a frequent mover, it might have been awhile since you last moved, and it can be easy to forget all of the packing supplies you might need. If you have a store that specializes in moving (like U-Haul), check out their supplies and ask their employees for advice on how to pack efficiently. They're the experts and they'll likely have all of the supplies you need to make the move as easy as possible. And make sure to get extra supplies if you can. It's incredibly frustrating to be in a packing groove and realize you've run out of the small boxes you need. Most moving supply stores allow returns so it's better to get more and return them rather than run out mid-pack. 



There's a lot to consider when it comes to moving. Everything from all of the addresses you'll need to change to how to pack oddly-shaped items will come up while you're in moving mode, and there's almost no better resource for finding answers to moving questions than Pinterest. Not only are there tons of tips and tricks on there, but there are so many amazing checklists to help you plan out your move and advice you might never have considered that will help your move go even more smoothly (like this tip: take a photo of how all the cords are plugged into your TV so you know how to put it back together the same way!). Pinterest is my go-to for a lot of info and inspiration, but I've found it especially helpful for move-related tips. 



It's a fact: moving is stressful. And whenever you know you're going to encounter a more-stressful-than-normal experience, it's a good idea to give yourself a little extra love, care, and attention. If possible, amp up whatever self-love practices you have in your life and mark time on your schedule to do the activities that make you feel the most relaxed. During a busy time, like a move, dedicating extra time for self-love activities might not feel super productive, but, trust me, the hour or two you give yourself will help you feel less stressed and make whatever difficulties you encounter easier to conquer. And if you do encounter challenges, try a relaxing breathing technique — breathe in four seconds, hold it for seven, breathe out for eight — to help combat the emotions that arise during a stressful situation. 



Moving day is such a stress-filled day, but one of the best things you can do for your emotional state is to do something that makes the new place feel like home. Whether it's hanging up a favorite photo, making up your bed, or arranging your favorite items on a shelf, try to do at least one little thing on your first day to make the place feel like yours. Living in a new spot is always a little unsettling at first, especially when boxes are stacked all around you, so doing even one small thing to make it feel like home can make a big difference in your mindset. It can also serve as a reminder that home isn't about a specific place, but about how you feel when you're in that place. 


If you're going through a move, I hope these tips inspire you to feel a little less stressed. It's never an easy thing to do, particularly if you've been settled in one place for awhile and, like me, don't love change, but the more you strive to keep calm, stay centered, and aim to be positive, the easier even the most challenging move will be. 


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