The Great 8 Challenge + 8 Years of Blogging!

 

See Something
 

February 14 marks eight years since I wrote my first blog post on Positively Present! It's been an amazing ride so far, and I can't wait to see where things go from here. In celebration, I'm going to be sharing eight great things that have happened since that day I wrote my first post. But first, I wanted to challenge you to do something this week. Don't worry -- it's easy, and it'll actually feel really great! 

 

THE GREAT 8 CHALLENGE

As I was writing this post in celebration of the past eight years and reflecting on how grateful I am to have this experience, I was reminded of my ultimate goal (as a writer and as a human): to somehow make the world a little bit better. I know I'm not alone in this. Most of us want to make the world better, but sometimes that task can feel daunting.

If I've learned one thing over the past eight years, it's that little things can make a big difference. This week, I encourage you to give the Great 8 Challenge a try. It's simple: all you have to do is give eight compliments. Yep, that's it! If you see someone wearing something you like, tell him/her. If you read something that inspires you, email the author. If you you spot a post on Instagram you love, write a comment. 

It might seem small, especially in a world where we need grand gestures of kindness and compassion, but a positive word has a ripple effect. After all, think about the last compliment you received. Didn't it just feel so great to hear someone say something nice to you? And think about the last time you gave a compliment. That felt pretty great too, didn't it? Those great feelings can multiply. A compliment might feel like a small thing, but it ultimately can have a great big impact. 

This week, if you see something beautiful / inspiring / amazing / cool, say something. Aim for eight compliments, but go for more if you can! 

 

POSITIVELY PRESENT'S GREAT 8

And, now, on to eight great things about Positively Present!

Now, this might seem like I'm tooting my own horn, writing about eight great things about my own blog, but here's the thing: a blog is bigger than the person that writes it. As much as I use this platform as a tool to share my words and art, it's been greatly influenced by the readers. When I'm writing, I'm thinking about you. In fact, when I'm living, I'm often thinking about you, imagining how I can turn my life into something more positive, more present, more self-loving to share with you. So, yes, there's an element of horn-tooting here, but none of these things would have happened without your engagement, interest, and input. 

Here are eight great things that've happened (and I've learned from) since February 14, 2009. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being with me and helping making these things happen. I hope that reading about them will inspire you, too! 

 

  1. PP GOT ME OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. 

    If you've been following since the beginning, you might recall how shy I was at first. It took me two months to even mention my first name! I'm not a shy person in real life (though I am incredibly introverted!), but online it took a lot of courage for me to come out of my little comfort zone and open about who I was. Since then, I've come a long way -- sharing more personal information, opening up about tough topics, and connecting with readers in real life. I still struggle with venturing out of my comfort zone at times, but Positively Present continues to inspire me to try new things. 


  2. PP PROVED ALL THE HATERS WRONG. 

    I don't have a lot of haters, but there are some people in my life (and even a little voice in my own head) who didn't think I could do what I'd always wanted to do -- be an independent writer not answering to a boss or going into an office every day. Through the power of the internet, I've been able to make my ideal work scenario a reality. I used to spend nights crying about going into the office, and I remember one guy in particular saying something along the lines of, "That's life. Get used to it." Because of this site, I didn't have to get used to living a life I hated. 


  3. PP MADE MY LIFE-LONG DREAM COME TRUE. 

    Not only did Positively Present give me the opportunity to live a work life outside of the box, but it also provided a platform on which I was able to make my life-long dream come true: publishing a book! Not only did I write and publish a book, but so far I've written six of them! If you want to check them out, here they are: Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, The Positively Present Guide to Life, Living in the Moment, Gratitude, Compassion, and Forgiveness. Plus, I'm working on a new one right now and I'm SO excited to share it soon! 


  4. PP TAUGHT ME TO FAIL + BE OKAY WITH IT. 

    As with any career path, I've had some major highs and lows. Because this isn't a traditional job, it's been a lot of trial and error (and it's still a work-in-progress!). I've spent hours and hours on e-books that no one bought. I've poured my heart and soul into blog posts that few people read. I've spent money on ideas and products that never quite gave me a return on my investment. Working for myself is hard. There are lots of failures that, thinking about now, make me cringe a bit. But I've learned to bounce back, to be resilient, and to learn from the failures. 


  5. PP INSPIRED ME TO LEARN NEW THINGS. 

    And, speaking of learning, one of the absolute greatest things that's happened as a result of this blog is the opportunity and desire I had to explore graphic design. It was something that had always interested me, but I never thought I could do it since I hadn't studied it in school. Because of Positively Present, I sought out online classes, spent countless hours learning, and now have my own little design business! If you want to work with me, check out DaniDiPirro.com for more info and my portfolio. 


  6. PP CONNECTED ME WITH AMAZING PEOPLE. 

    One thing almost every blogger can agree on is that blogging is an amazing opportunity to connect with people around the world. Whether it's someone from across the globe emailing me about a blog post I wrote or connecting in real life with people in my blogging industry, one of the most amazing things that's happened as a result of Positively Present is that I've created meaningful connections with so many wonderful, creative, soulful, inspiring people. I will be forever grateful for everyone I've met as a result of this site. 


  7. PP HELPED ME BECOME MORE ME. 

    One of the most thrilling aspects of running a site that is 100% my own is that it's an on-going act of self-love and self-exploration. In sharing my words and work with you, I'm learning more about myself every day. Through Positively Present, I've been given a unique opportunity to help others improve their lives while also greatly improving my own. With every blog post, I learn something new. With every Instagram post, I discover a new kind of creativity. Every lesson learned is a gift I'll be forever thankful for. 


  8. PP CHANGE HOW I SEE THE WORLD. 

    Of course, most importantly, Positively Present has changed how I see every single aspect of my life. While, admittedly, I'm not positive and present every moment of every day, I strive for it constantly and I'm always asking myself, "What would I tell my readers?" This question is simple, but it's had a profound impact on my life. It's helped me enjoy and embrace life's highs, and it's helped me survive life's lows. The work I do impacts my mind (and life!) every single day, and that's certainly not something I expected when I started it eight years ago! 


This site has changed me for the better in so many ways, and I'm thankful for it every single day. More than that, though, I'm thankful for YOU. Thank you for reading, for engaging, for being with me today and in the past. I know how many options there are when it comes to reading online content, and every moment you spend on this site is kind of a miracle. Thank you for being here, for reading this, and for taking the time to make your life a more positive, present place. 

Now, get out there and spread that positivity with those eight great compliments! :) 

 

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Inspired Unfollowing : A Week of Conscious Content Choice

 

Inspired Unfollowing

 

Most of us spend a great deal of time online, in our in-boxes, and on apps. While I'm a huge fan of technology and the connectivity that comes with it (after all, I wouldn't be able to do what I do for a living if it weren't for the amazing power of blogging and social media!), sometimes it takes away from being positive and present. And, quite frequently, it takes away from the concept of self-love, my primary for focus for 2017 (and probably the rest of my life as well!).  

I've read countless articles about taking a social media break or limiting it to a certain amount of hours each day, but I believe those ideas are just putting a bandaid on the problem. If you need constant breaks from something or have to limit it because it's unhealthy for you, it's important to look at why you need to break/limit yourself. What is it that you feel when you're online or on apps? Are those feelings positive or negative? Do you want to keep feeling them? 

As I move through this year of self-love, I'm striving to get more in touch with how things make me feel. I tend to be very logic-oriented, and sometimes I forget that feelings are just as important as logic (even if they're not always as easy to identify!). When you have awareness of the feelings that come with certain experiences, people, things, etc., you can then make choices that help you to create a more positive, mindful, and self-loving life. Awareness is the first step toward change. 

This year, I'm striving to create more of that kind of awareness in my life (and make changes accordingly), and this week I'm turning my attention to social media, apps, and the places I spend time online. Specifically, I'm turning my attention to getting rid of those that don't create feelings of love, positivity, and inspiration.

 

WHAT IS INSPIRED UNFOLLOWING? 

What we surround ourselves with -- both in real life and online -- has a great impact on how we feel and live every single day. It's all too easy to fall into patterns, to do something you've always done simply because you've always done it, but I think it's a big mistake to be passive when it come to online consumption. There are a great many things we cannot control in this life, but one that we can is what we look at on our computers or phones. 

To create more self-love and positivity in our lives, we have to consume consciously (I know, that sounds like something Gwyneth Paltrow would say, but hear me out!), especially what we consume visually and electronically. Because I've come to realize how important this is, I came up with the idea of Inspired Unfollowing, a week of reflecting on what I've been consuming online so I can actively choose whether I want to continue doing so. I hope you'll join me this week in taking control of what you consume. 

As you do this, it's important to think critically. There are some things that fall obviously in the "unfollow" category -- the websites that drive you crazy with too many emails; the acquaintance on Facebook constantly ranting; the brand who posts negative memes on Instagram -- but there are many other, less obvious, reasons you might want to unfollow. Here are just a few example of less obvious aspects you might want to look out for: 

  • Unfollow unrealistic representations of beauty making you feel bad about your body
  • Unfollow memes or jokes that might be amusing but focus mostly on putting others down
  • Unfollow images of a "perfect" lives that cause you to feel overly envious or jealous
  • Unfollow brands promoting items you cannot afford that make you feel unsuccessful
  • Unfollow companies that don't support your personal beliefs (do your research!)
  • Unfollow people / brands that no longer interest or inspire you (we change and that's ok!)
  • Unfollow celebrities that don't inspire, uplift, or empower you in some way
  • Unfollow accounts you started following years and years ago but no longer enjoy

It all comes down to how something or someone makes you feel. The more you surround yourself with sites, apps, people, and accounts that uplift and inspire and inform, the more uplifted and inspired and informed you'll feel. And we only have so many hours in a day to look at social media, and there's soooo much out there, so it's up to you to choose consciously what you want to see. 

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Surrounding yourself with positive, inspiring social media does not mean avoiding things that might evoke negative emotions (i.e., upsetting but important news stories) or people whose beliefs differ from yours. One of the worst things any of us could do at a time like this would be to avoid people who are different from us. In fact, I encourage you to find some accounts and websites that don't hold your views and visit them periodically to open your mind to a new perspective.  The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows, nor is it filled with people who believe exactly what you do, and avoiding all negativity is not good practice. There's a big difference between things that add value -- such as news, even if it's not positive news, or people who share opposing views, but who do so in a kind, thoughtful way -- and things that make you feel terrible without providing useful information.

Okay, now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let's jump into the plan for the week!  

 

THE WEEKLY PLAN

The plan is basically to go through the various accounts, sites, apps, etc. and decide which ones you benefit from and which ones you could do without. As you're working through each one, ask yourself: Does this account -- directly or indirectly -- make me feel worthy of love? That might sound a bit cheesy, but, really our lives come down to two very basic feelings: love and hate. Everything you encounter directly or indirectly promotes one of those two states of being. (If something feels neutral to you, dig deeper. One of those feelings is there!)

 

Monday / Email Subscriptions

First up, our in-boxes! How many emails do you get each day? How many of those are email subscriptions you signed up for but no longer want? (Or were signed up for but never wanted in the first place?) Even if you don't end up reading these emails, you have to spend time and energy deleting them each day. Set aside time today to go through your email and unsubscribe from those emails you no longer want to receive. If you don't want to do it manually, there's an awesome site call Unroll.Me that'll do it for you! 

 

Tuesday / Facebook

Facebook can be a tricky one because, for a lot of us, we're follow (aka, "friend") people we know. We might worry that it would be offensive to unfriend someone on Facebook (even if that person is just an acquaintance). The great thing about Facebook is that you can unfollow someone without unfriending him/her. (Read this article for specifics.) You can (and should!) choose what you see on Facebook without causing offense to friends, family, or acquaintances. 

 

Wednesday / Instagram

Instagram is often more of a mix of family/friends and brands/celebrities. Unlike Facebook, you can't unfollow someone politely without unfriending him/her, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't curate an Instagram feed that brings more positivity and self-love into your life. While sorting through your "following" list, ask yourself, "Does this person / brand make me feel less worthy, unhappy, or negative when I see their posts?" If the answer is yes, click that "Following" button so you no longer see those posts. 

 

Thursday / Twitter

Twitter is my go-to spot for staying up on the latest news. If you want to know what's happening right now, Twitter is the place to go. But, over the past few months, I've realized that it drains me and drags my emotional state down -- and that has a lot to do with the people I follow. I love comedy and follow a lot of comedians, but, unfortunately, a lot of comedy can be negative. This week I'm clearing out the negativity! 

 

Friday / Pinterest

Pinterest is one of my favorite online spots and, for the most part, I love the people I follow and feel inspired and uplifted when I spend time on Pinterest. But, I've been on Pinterest for a long time and there are some people I followed years ago that are no longer adding value to my life. They might not be especially negative, but they're not inspiring either. Because there's so much wonderful content out there, you've got to make room for the great by getting rid of the "eh." 

 

Weekend / Websites + Apps

What websites or apps do you open on a daily basis? And, more importantly, why do you open them? Sometimes we have great reasons for opening these, but often we do it just because we've always done it. It's habit; not choice. Over time, I've cut down on certain websites I visit (especially brands that made me long for items I hadn't even known existed before I'd opened the sites or YouTubers who made me feel I needed the latest lipstick shade), but I'm now also cutting down on the apps I keep on my phone as well.

Remember: just because you have a Twitter / Facebook / etc. account, doesn't mean you need instant access to it at all times. Taking an app off your phone can be a great way to be more conscious about your content consumption. It's often much more difficult to log-in to an account on your phone or to go to your computer than it is to click an app open, making it more likely that you'll think before doing it, rather than just absentmindedly clicking while bored! 

 

I've already started on Inspired Unfollowing, a little bit at a time, but I'm excited to see how I feel at the end of this week! If you're going to join in on this, but you're a bit unsure about unfollowing certain accounts, I recommend writing them down somewhere and then unfollowing. If you keep thinking about them or miss them, you can always go back to your list and re-follow. (But, believe me, I bet if there's any doubt in your mind whether or not you should be following an account, you probably don't really need it in your life.) As a bonus, you can take note of the accounts you're consciously choosing to follow and seek out more accounts like those! We have a certain amount of time for social media, and that time should be filled with consciously chosen content! 

  

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5 Tactics for Coping with a Meltdown

  Okay

 

Did anyone else have an existential crisis, freak-the-hell-out meltdown last week or was it just me? 

It was sure a rough week for me, personally and professionally, and, though I wanted to curl up on the couch and escape the world with a book (really loving The Animators right now!), I knew this was a perfect time to put the words I write each week into practice. I knew I had the tools to figure out a way to make the most of things, even though I was feeling pretty helpless, so decided to give them a shot. Here's what I did to cope this week. Hopefully these tips will help you if you're feeling meltdown-y, too. 

 

CRY IT OUT

Like most adults, I'm not a big crier. Crying is generally reserved for heartbreak or loss (or seeing roadkill on the side of the road -- if there's any sort of animal death/pain, I will cry), but this week I had a good ol' cry. I'm talking about the shoulder-shaking, sobbing-like-your-pet-just-died kind of cry, the snotty, ugly cry that necessitates more than one nose-blowing after you're done. It wasn't pretty, but it actually felt good.

Most of the problems I'm currently facing aren't new; I've just been avoiding them for so long that it felt good to acknowledge to myself (in the form of tears) that things aren't going well. It's unpleasant, but acknowledgment is the first a step on the path to making things better. I'm certainly not going to cry every time something goes wrong, but this week I really took note of how good to feels to physically feel your pain and release it in a way that, even though it hurts, ultimately feels good. 

 

TALK IT OUT

After I allowed myself that cry (and, yes, it was an allowance -- so many times I want to cry, but I don't because it tell myself it's a waste of time or insist to myself that I should strong), I decided to open up a bit and talk it out. Usually when things aren't going well -- especially professionally -- I tend not to talk about it with anyone else. One of the downsides of running your own business is that it's somewhat an extension of you in a way that doesn't happen with other jobs. If my business is failing, it feels like I'm failing as a person.

I'm sure others feel this way about their work, too, but there's something about running the show (and being the sole performer in the show!) that makes the professional deeply personal. So I generally keep it to myself when there's trouble, and do my best to find a way to work it out. But this week I decided to open up a bit more, sharing my struggles with friends (and now with you, in a way!). None of the talking resulted in immediate solutions or major a-ha moments, but it felt good to open up, to get feedback, and to not keep everything in my own head. 

 

DANCE IT OUT

Okay, this one might be a personal preference, but when I'm feeling low, one of my go-to moves is to put on a great, upbeat song and have a little dance party by myself in my apartment. (Putting that in writing, I'm now wondering if that's an odd thing to do, but I'm pretty sure I can't be the only one who does that, right? Also, by "dancing," I mean "awkward flailing that usually scares my pup, ha!) If you don't like dancing or listening to uplifting music, I bet there's something that instantly puts you in a positive mood, no matter how low you're feeling. 

Post-cry-session, I decided I was going to flip the mood by turning on the songs I'm loving and getting moving. (Exercising probably does the same thing, getting those endorphins going!) Of course, this doesn't solve any of my problems, but it certainly improves my mood, putting me in a more level-headed state where I can make more positive decisions. I decided to make a little playlist for you, if you're feeling like you need to dance it out. Find Dani's Dance Party here on YouTube

 

LAUGH IT OUT

Laughter, for me, really is the best medicine. Watching something hilarious has always been one my best strategies for coping with pain, and this week it served me really well. I spent a lot of time seeking out things that made me laugh -- silly YouTube videos, comedy specials on Netflix, funny friends. Like dancing, laughing doesn't really fix anything, but it does shift your mindset from pain to pleasure, and in that more positive state, I feel like my thinking is clearer. 

Apparently, laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and triggers the release of endorphins, which promote an overall sense of well-being and even temporarily relieve pain. So, even though laughing might seem frivolous, it has some major physical and psychological benefits, all of which can help a great deal when it comes to having a mental meltdown. 

 

WORK IT OUT

Once I got through some of the emotional stages of my meltdown, it was time to get to work. If things aren't going well and they're within your control (unlike, say, the loss of a loved one -- though any sort of emotional reaction to that is more about the pain of loss than it is about meltdown), it's up to you to take action to make things better. Having a meltdown is cathartic and all, but if you don't use that emotional freakout as a catalyst for change, it won't be long before you find yourself again in Meltdown Town. 

So I got out my laptop and I got to work on planning how I'm going to fix the multiple messes I've found myself in. These aren't the kinds of things that'll be fixed over night, but they'll never be fixed if I don't start trying to repair them. It felt good to admit to the problems, to feel them, and to start taking positive steps to rectifying them. There's still pain and I know it goes deep because I'm currently shaking off a horrific nightmare that was so obviously, perfectly symbolic that I woke both scared of and impressed by my own mind. But I'm ready to make progress now. And, really, isn't that what a meltdown is for, to shake us up, to get us to pay attention to what's not working so we can transform it to something that is? 

 

As I was finalizing this post, I heard Shonda Rhimes' voice coming from my TV screen. She said, "The idea that there's suddenly no plan is breathtaking in its terror." That sentence so adequately describes how I'm feeling right now. It's a terrifying place to be, but terror is freeing in a way. When nothing is determined, anything can happen. It's tempting, when plan-less, to imagine the worst, but if anything can happen, then that means amazing things can happen, too. 

  

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