4 Reasons to Love Halloween

  Halloween

 

In just a week, it'll be time for my favorite day of the year -- Halloween! :) If you've been following Positively Present for awhile, you're probably well-aware of my love for the holiday. I've never been quite able to pinpoint what it is I love about it (especially because I don't like anything remotely scary...), but this year I decided to chat a bit about why I think I love the holiday so much in my latest YouTube video! 

And, because I've received quite a few requests to see Halloween costumes I've worn in the past, you'll also find quite a few snapshots of Halloweens past throughout the video! 

 

Halloween-ThumbnailClick the image above to check out the video!  

 

If you're not into videos, but you're curious about what I discovered when I gave some thought to what I love about Halloween, here are the highlights... 

 

COMMUNITY

In my opinion, one of the greatest things about Halloween is that almost everyone can participate in it (unlike more religious holiday, such as Christmas). There's an exciting sense of community that comes with dressing up in silly / sexy / scary costumes and coming together for trick-or-treating or a party. The fact that stores pop up each year solely for the purpose of selling Halloween costumes is pretty awesome, and really says something about the feeling of community that happens each season. The search for a costume itself is something that brings people -- parents and kids, friends, partners, etc. -- together. Consider the last time you saw so many people of all kinds of backgrounds celebrating something together. It's a rare occurrence, and it's one of the reasons I think I love the holiday so much! 
 

GENEROSITY

Another reason I think Halloween tops my list in terms of holidays is the fact that inspires generosity in a way that doesn't seem to be as present during the rest of the year. Can you imagine knocking on a random neighbors door and asking for some candy in mid-June? You (or your kids) would be seen as a bit crazy. But on Halloween, that's completely acceptable and even expected. The fact that so many people open their doors and generously share treats with kids is such a wonderful aspect of the holiday, and such a great reminder of how simple and beautiful a kind act can be. Not only does Halloween bring people together with a sense of community, but it also encourages generosity as well. 

 

TRANSFORMATION

Probably the reason I most love Halloween is that it's the one time of year that, as an adult who doesn't have costume-based job, we get to dress up and transform into anything we'd like to be. For kids this is awesome, but I think for adults it can be even more fun, since wearing a costume is pretty much frowned upon unless you're an actor. Every year I get so excited at the possibility of dressing up as something new (check out the video to see lots of my costumes!), and I'm grateful for the opportunity to play around with transforming myself at least once a year. It's a great way to not only try on different hats (literally!), but also to play around with your creativity and inner desires. 

 

CELEBRATION

Halloween has always been a time of great celebration and festivity for me, which is probably one of the reasons I love it so much. For me, it's the great kick-off for the rest of the year of fun festivities (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve...), and it's symbolic of finding merriment and joy in something completely silly, like eating candy or dressing up in costume. The celebratory aspect has less to do with the actual Halloween traditions than it does with serving as a reminder that it's important to appreciate (and celebrate!) the little things in life. 

 

To be honest, I think these are four things we could really use more of in our country right now. We've become very divided as of late and, while I'm certainly not suggesting that Halloween will bring us together in a political sense, it's certainly a great little holiday to help us join together for the common good of candy and costumes! ;)

 

... if you're wondering why this post isn't going live next week, it's because next week is going to be all about the 2016 Gratitude Photo Challenge! :) It's the sixth year, and it's going to be the best one yet. Check it out next Monday! 

  

PPGTL-Footer Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer Stickers-Footer


 

 


The Magic + Mindfulness of October

 

October

 

There's something magical about October, the month when everything begins to change. I've experienced the month many times before, but the magic of this pause between the liveliness summer and the harshness of winter never seems to stop fascinating me. Every year I fall in love with this month, this pause between the extremes, all over again.

 

Lately I've been thinking that maybe it's because it's a pause in extremes that I love it so much. Generally I tend to be a pretty extreme person (either obsessed or completely disinterested), which is possibly why October -- a month symbolic of in-betweens, of pausing and savoring what's left of warmth between winter sneaks in -- is so appealing to me. 

 

A few years ago I came across Robert Frost's "October," written in 1913, for the first time. Not surprisingly, fell in love with his words (how wonderful it is that they can be so relevant and wise 100+ years later!), and this year I've come back to them again. 

 

O hushed October morning mild, 

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; 

Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all. 

The crows above the forest call; 

Tomorrow they may form and go. 

O hushed October morning mild, 

Begin the hours of this day slow. 

Make the day seem to us less brief. 

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know. 

Release one leaf at break of day; 

At noon release another leaf; 

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist; 

Enchant the land with amethyst. 

Slow, slow! 

For the grapes' sake, if they were all, 

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, 

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost -- 

For the grapes' sake along the wall.

 

The poem is, on an obvious level, a metaphor for life and death. October (and autumn in general) is symbolic of the waning years of life, when you come to realize how little time might be left and you long for time to slow. But we need not be in the final months of life's year to take these words of wisdom to heart. At any age, we can read Frost's words and notice how autumn, and October in particular, is a reminder to take each day slowly, rather than rushing quickly to the next.

 

Just as the leaves do in October, the leaves on our trees will surely change from green to yellow to orange and brown; they will someday let go and fall to the ground. Our winters will one day arrive. But this isn't meant to be disheartening. Rather, the awareness of death, of the time when our leaves will rest on the ground beneath the bare skeletons of our branches, should inspire us to live more slowly, with more meaning. 

 

October serves not only as a reminder of our own morality, that uncomfortable truth that the brightness of our lives will someday fade, but it also brings to mind the ever-present concept of change. Like the world outside our windows in October, we, too, are changing, aging, shifting from one color to the next. We are, like it or not, fading, our outer colors dulling a bit with each passing year. This annual reminder of mortality shouldn't be depressing, but instead should inspire each of us to live with more purpose. 

 

Frost's poetic musings remind us that, yes, death is inevitable, but his positive twist on this timeless sentiment prompts a life-affirming belief that we have the power to make the most of every day. Though our branches will ultimately be left bare, right now we can strive to enjoy the leaves still remaining, to take in the brilliance of their colors (many of which are more beautiful than they were in spring or summer!) and enjoy them.

 

October's changes also remind us that, though we cannot control everything -- our trees may face damaging gusts of wind, leaf-soaking rain, and white-hot, sun-soaked days, and we were unable to choose the location in which our tree initially grew -- we can control how we view the leaves still clinging to our limbs. Whether you're a still-full tree, leaves tinged with yellow, or almost completely bare, that last leaf clinging bravely to a branch, we can appreciate what beauty (and time) still remains. 

 

We cannot change the length of our days (imagine, though, if we could slow some of them down or speed them up!), we often have the chance to choose what we do with the hours we're given. If we fill our days with purpose and meaning, each day will feel longer and more full. Frost notes that humans are not opposed to the idea of being fooled and, perhaps, should allow themselves to be fooled into living days that seem longer than they really are. Of course, the best way to fool yourself into living longer days is to live them slowly, with purpose, filling them with activities, people, and experiences that allow you to rest your head on the pillow at night knowing that you did, in fact, make the most of the day. 

 

If we want to live more slowly, with more purpose, we must become find mist that Frost writes of, the mist that will slow the sunset, beautify the sky and, if even for a short time, slow the coming of the night's frost. This mist is all of the things that make life worth living: the laughs shared, the hugs given, the work joyfully completed, the stimulating conversations, the kind acts, and loving moments. These things won't slow time, of course, but, just like the mist, they will make it seem as if time is moving more slowly. They will take away some of the harshness of knowing that, inevitability, winter is coming. 

 

Of course, finding this mist and choosing to live more slowly is no easy task. It requires effort and attention. It also requires practice. That's what I plan to do this month: practice more mindfulness. You might think I'm always "positively present," but even after all of these years of working on it and writing about it, I still struggle a great deal with staying present. I'm almost always in a rush, scrambling to cross things off my list as quickly as possible, and maybe you, too, feel as if you're not living as mindfully as you should.

 

Living more slowly won't be easy for someone like me, but I'm determined to let every October-related change I see around me -- the changing leaves, the bright blue skies, the chilly nights, the delicious scent of freshly fallen leaves -- serve as a reminder to me that life is not endless and, while I have no way of knowing when exactly my tree will shed its leaves, I can take comfort in knowing that, in each moment, I have the choice to be present, to notice and appreciate the colors still surrounding me. 

 

 

PPGTL-Footer Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer Stickers-Footer


 

 


The Ultimate Book Gift Guide

 

Books-Are-Magic

 

If there's one thing I love, it's books (as you might have seen my recent YouTube video: 10 Books That Changed My Life!) I believe books are, as Stephen King put it, "uniquely portable magic." I meant to simply post a list of books I would recommend, but as I was scanning my bookshelves and my GoodReads page, I couldn't help but think about all of the book beliefs I hold. Here are just a few of them...

 

I believe books can transform the way you think about the world -- and yourself. They shape your values. They provide guidance and inspiration and a safe, healthy form of escape. 

I believe a little part of every book I've ever read stays with me forever, even if I don't always remember the exact words I've read. The meanings we find in words stay etched on our souls. 

I believe a space without books is lacking not only in knowledge, but in beauty as well. Some of my favorite sights are the straight, colorful spines of books. 

I believe the best books can (and should!) be read over and over again. Every time you read a book you love, you can learn something new about who you are.

I believe the best books for you won't always be the ones topping the best-seller list. I believe there're little bits of word magic found on garage sale tables and in the nooks of used book stores.

I believe we are all book-lovers at heart, even those of us who claim not to adore them. Each of us is a story-teller, and each of us loves a story well told. 

I believe you can fall in love with characters and authors and fictional places you've never been; I believe this kind of love is just as real as the heart-pounding, palm-sweating kind. 

I believe every book we read is unique to us; the reader, as much as the writer, crafts the story or explores the knowledge with her imagination and insight.

I believe there can be nuggets of goodness even in a bad book, but I don't believe in continuing to turn the pages just to reach an end. If you hate it, put it down. 

I believe a great book can make you feel less alone;  in the words on a page, you can find compassion, love, and forgiveness. A great book can be a mirror both for who you are and who you want to be. 

I believe you shouldn't believe every word you read; just because it's in print doesn't mean it's true. Books can lead to truth, but not all of them are filled with it.

I believe reading can help you to remember, and it can also help you to forget. It's up to you to choose which mindset you happen to be in the mood for. 

I believe books are a pathway to freedom. With one in your hand, you can become and learn and see absolutely anything; there are no rules inside of a book. 

I believe the best books never actually come to an end. The words continue to be read and re-read in all the words you think and speak and feel. 

I believe there will never be an end to the list of books I want to read, but I will keep doggedly plowing through my to-read list for the rest of my life. 

(Like these words? Download I Believe Books!)

 

And, most importantly, I believe everyone -- even the "I don't really get into reading" types -- can benefit from reading a great book. So here's a list of some of my favorites, along with some thoughts on who these books might be perfect for (they might speak to you or they might make perfect gifts for that holiday season that's just around the corner!)  

I've tried to sort them in to some sort of order, but truly I recommend looking through the whole list because you never know what might spark your interest (or sound perfect for someone you know!)

  

FOR ADULT FAMILY MEMBERS

For literally anyone related to you or who has a family... 
It Didn't Start with You / Mark Wolynn

For your uber-opinionated and vocal grandfather...
The Joy of Argument / Albert Navarra

For your too tough-and-cool for self-help uncle...
10% Happier / Dan Harris

For your memory-hoarding mother... 
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up / Marie Kondo

For your self-involved (but secretly sweet) teenager... 
Tiny Buddha's 365 Love Challenges / Lori Deschene

For your not-quite-on-the-same-page spouse...
The Five Love Languages / Gary Chapman

For your romance-novel-reading mother-in-law...
Other People's Love Letters / Bill Shapiro

For your hilarious (and a bit odd) aunt...
Furiously Happy / Jenny Lawson

For your sibling with a kid who's struggling in school...
Thinking Organized / Rhonna Gordon

For the dad who thinks feminism is for women only...
Feminism Is for Everybody / bell hooks

For your aunt and uncle who're constantly bickering...
Blamestorming / Rob Kendall

For your health-conscious, foodie brother-in-law...
In Defense of Food / Michael Pollan 

For the mother who puts everyone else first... 
Too Nice for Your Own Good / Duke Robinson

For your brother who needs a bit of inspiration...
This is How / Augusten Burroughs

For your father-in-law who loves a good mystery...
Knights in White Satin / Philip DiPirro

For your sister who's against ever marrying...
Spinster / Kate Bolick

For your aunt who's self-identifies as a dog mom...
Inside of a Dog / Alexandra Horowitz

For the cousin still working on that novel...
On Writing / Stephen King

For the niece struggling through her 20s...
It's a Wonderful Lie / Emily Franklin

For the aunt who loves daily bits of insight... 
Stay Positive / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your spouse (read it together!)...
Love 2.0 / Barbara L. Frederickson

For the sibling you've not-so-subtly resented for years... 
Forgiveness / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your parent who's curious about self-improvement...
The Positively Present Guide to Life / Dani DiPirro (me!)

 

FOR KIDS AND TEENAGERS

For your slightly neurotic niece or nephew...
Owl at Home / Arnold Lobel

For a teenager at odds with her mother...
The Runaway Bunny / Margaret Wise Brown

For the child who's not like his/her siblings...
The Trumpet of the Swan / E.B. White

For the teen who doesn't like standing out... 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky

For the little toddler who's always a bit grumpy...
Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? / Carol McCloud

For the little one who's always daydreaming...
Once Upon a Cloud / Claire Keane

For the middle-schooler adjusting to a new place... 
I Capture the Castle / Dodie Smith

For the teen with a potentially self-destructive friend...
Looking for Alaska / John Green

For the teenage girl who love the broody boys...
The Wind Blows Backward / Mary Downing Hahn

For the girl who needs some modern advice...
Girl Talk / Christie Young

For the little girl who wants a place of her own...
Mandy / Julie Andrews Edwards

For the creative teenager who needs a pick-me-up...
Pick Me Up / Adam J. Kurtz 

For the deep-thinking, graphic-book-loving teen...
Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi

For the teenager always snapping Insta pics...
A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book / Elsie Larson

For the super creative (and a little spooky) kid...
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick / Chris Van Allsburg

For the kid who loves animals more than people...
Guardians of Being / Eckhart Tolle

 

FOR YOUR FRIENDS

For the friend who's a (not so) secret badass...
Bad Girls Throughout History / Ann Shen

For the friend going through a really tough time...
Loving What Is / Byron Katie

For the always-judging-others friend...
Compassion / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the friend sighing, "I should try meditating..."
You Can Master Meditation / David Fontana

For the friend who needs to dump him/her ASAP...
The No-Contact Rule / Natalie Lue

For the friend who cancels plans to read instead...
Quiet: The Power of Introverts / Susan Cain

For the friend struggling to get pregnant...
The Fairy Rebel / Lynn Reid Banks

For the friend who's scared of (but needs to) change...
Start Where You Are / Meera Lee Patel

For your super creative, artistic, cool friend...
In Progress / Jessica Hische

For the friend who constantly seeks external approval...
I Need Your Love: Is That True? / Byron Katie

For the friend who recently said goodbye to a pup...
Dog Heaven / Cynthia Rylant

For the buddy who's constantly worrying...
The Power of Now / Eckhart Tolle 

For the friend with a rocky mother/daughter relationship... 
Boundaries / Anne Katherine

For your sassy friend who needs a happiness boost...
How to Be Happy, Dammit! / Karen Salmansohn

For your whimsical friend who loves a bit of magic...
The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern

For a friend who seems like she's really lost...
Wild / Cheryl Strayed

For the friend that still keeps a diary...
The Folded Clock / Heidi Julavits

For the pal that needs to figure out what she wants...
The Desire Map / Danielle LaPorte

For the guy who's always crying over his ex...
The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald

For your feminist friend who feels all the feels...
I Am an Emotional Creature / Eve Ensler

For your buddy who's always searching the next rush...
Hector and the Search for Happiness / François Lelord

 

FOR YOUR COLLEAGUES

For the creative-but-frazzled coworker...
Calm / Michael Acton Smith

For the coworker who needs to follow her passion...
The Crossroads of Should and Must / Elle Luna

For the too-creative-for-this place coworker...
Big Magic / Elizabeth Gilbert

For the coworker who's always super stressed...
Living in the Moment / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the colleague always around adults...
The Little Prince / Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For someone who needs a bit of motivation...
It's Not How Good You Are... / Paul Arden

For the coworker who's always complaining...
Gratitude / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the a stylish guy/gal who loves soul-searching...
Style Statement / Danielle LaPorte

For the coworker getting his kids a puppy...
The Puppy Primer / Patricia B. McConnell

For the guy always yelling in his office...
Emotional Agility / Susan David, PhD

For that colleague always looking for gossip...
PostSecret / Frank Warren

For that guy always looking for a project...
The Happiness of Pursuit / Chris Guillebeau

For the colleague always finding the bad stuff...
You Can Be an Optimist / Lucy MacDonald

For the coworker who should run her own business...
#GirlBoss / Sophia Amoruso

For the HR guy who loves analyzing people... 
The Social Animal / David Brooks 

For your colleague who can't choose a lunch spot...
The Paradox of Choice / Barry Schwartz

For the boss who's perpetually stressed out...
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work / Richard Carlson

For the trivia-loving data dude in IT...
The Visual Miscellaneum / David McCandless

For the admin who needs to pursue her dreams...
Now Is The Time To Do What You Love / Nancy Whitney-Reiter

 

Phew! That's quite a list, huh? I'd love to keep adding to it -- it is the Ultimate Book Gift Guide, after all -- so feel free to leave me a comment below or send me a message on social media about the books you'd include on this list. I'm always looking to add to that never-ending pile of to-read books! :)

If you liked the words above and would like a FREE PDF to download and print, click here or click the image below to download a PNG file, perfect for saving to Pinterest or keeping on your computer! :)

I-Believe-Books