You Are Somebody: Lessons from #MarchForOurLives


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Over the weekend, I (and over 800,000 others!) attended the #MarchForOurLives protest in DC, which is now being called the biggest single-day protest in DC's history. Though I wasn't there long (good ol' anxiety and post-surgery troubles kept me from making it all the way to center of the action), I was present long enough to feel awed and inspired by the sheer magnitude of people, the enthusiasm and determination of those marching, and the fact that all of this was taking place because those who went through a horrific, unimaginable experience decided to take action. 

Whether or not you support the cause, #MarchForOurLives is a powerful movement, a shining example of what can be done when people come together for a common goal. I saw people of all ages, races, genders, and orientations. I saw those with disabilities. I saw little babies and old ladies. I saw people loudly chanting with colorful signs, and people quietly standing on the sidelines in support. There are very few times in life that I've seen so many different kinds of people come together in one place, and that alone is uplifting. But there were a few other important life lessons that I picked up while in the city. Here are just a few of the things was inspired by at the March: 

 

COLLECTIVE CONNECTION

As I wrote above, one of the most inspiring aspects of the event was the astounding number of people, many of which had traveled much further than my 20 minute drive, gathered in one place for one cause. No matter how different these people were, all of them believed enough in one issue to make the effort to attend. And DC was just one of the many cities and towns around the world holding an event. I'm not one for group activities (I generally avoid them all costs), but there truly is something amazing about so many people supporting one single cause. Even I, the most anti-group person I know, was in awe of how it felt to be connected collectively to all of these strangers, both the ones standing around me and those standing up across the globe. 

 

INFORMED INSPIRATION

Of course, it's no surprise that the event was inspiring. The posters alone could keep me motivated for ages! And those speeches...wow. But the coolest part about it, for me, was taking in inspiration in the form of various types of information. From the statistics shown on the big screens to the personal stories bravely shared on stage to the hand-written signs held aloft, every aspect held a bit of information that led me to feel even more passionate and inspired by the cause. More people doesn't always mean more information (and it's important to remember that all information isn't accurate), but something about the way everything came together for the event made me feel not only more inspired, but also more informed as well. 

 

UNITED UNCERTAINTY

One of the most fascinating and aspirational aspects of the March was that, even with all of the voices and all of the people standing side by side, there's no guarantee that change will come. Everyone participating was, and still is, united in the uncertainty of potential change. We don't know if what we did will matter. We don't know what kind of difference it will make. And being united in that uncertainty is oddly life-affirming and powerful. Generally speaking, most of us don't know what will happen for sure in our lives. Part of being human is being uncertain. But to see so many people face an uncertainty head-on, to know they're facing an uphill battle and still choosing to fight, was such a poignant reminder that, when it comes down to it, we're all united in the uncertainty of what's to come. 

 

POSITIVE PARTICIPATION

While I'm sure the event wasn't without some issues, for the most part, it was hundreds of thousands of people coming together to take a positive, proactive action. The words spoken, the signs created, and even the songs played on the loudspeaker provided feelings of hope and optimism. Yes, there was pain and anger, too, but most of what I heard and saw was focused on motivation, inspiration, and a cultivate of ambition and hope. I've never before seen so many people, all in one place, participating in the same activity with the same goal in mind. Positive participation on this level is rare, and seeing it in real life is something I'll forever be inspired by. 

 

There were moments, over the past few weeks, when I thought I wouldn't go to the March. I wondered, as many others probably did, if it was really going to do anything. I wondered, selfishly, if it was worth the time and energy. But I'm so thankful I pushed my selfishness and doubts aside and went. There's something truly unforgettable about being surrounded by thousands of complete strangers who believe in a cause passionately. There's something truly magical about standing among all of those people and knowing that you're not the only one who, despite everything that's happened in the past, believes that change is possible. There is something powerful about being surrounded by people and realizing that, though you're unsure of if and when the change will come, you are somebody and you are standing up for something. 

 

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10 Ways Sobriety Improved My Life

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Having recently received quite a few emails asking for advice on sobriety, I’ve been inspired to think about what advice is particularly useful for someone seeking sobriety. When it comes to living a sober life, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is this: discover what will motivate you to begin ¾ and to keep going. No matter what your situation, the one piece of advice that applies to just about everyone is this: identify how your life will be better sober.

Too often, people contemplating sobriety focus their attention on what they might lose — their daily (often comforting) habits, certain people who will hinder their sobriety, activities that might no longer hold the same appeal, a quick (but highly problematic) escape from reality — when they should be focusing on is all that they will gain from choosing to get sober.

Sobriety, of course, isn’t for everyone, but if you think it might be for you, considering the ways your life might improve can be a powerful motivator when it comes to seeking, and sticking with, sobriety. Below I share a few of the ways my life has improved since I got sober (nearly eight years ago!), with the hope that they might inspire you, too.

 

SOBRIETY HAS HELPED ME...

  1. TAKE CONTROL OVER MY OWN STORY

    Sobriety gave me the incredible opportunity to take control of a story that I thought was out of my hands. Many of the actions, thoughts, and ideas I had while drinking were not aligned with my true self. I was living a life that felt wild and fun and carefree (and also depressing, embarrassing, and exhausting), but I wasn’t living the life I wanted to be living. Addiction takes control of your story, and sobriety puts the pen back in your hand, giving you the freedom to write for yourself.

  2. HEIGHTEN MY COMPASSION SKILLS

    Whenever you address your own personal challenges — whether they are addiction-related or not — you gain a better understanding of the potential challenges others might be going through. Very few people in my life knew what I was struggling with. To them, I seemed like my “normal” self. But getting sober helped me realize that you don’t always see what others are going through, and it opened my eyes to seeing the world through a more compassionate lens.

  3. EXPLORE NEW HOBBIES

    When I was drinking, my attention and time were limited to drinking-related activities. I had to prepare, engage, and recover from all of my alcohol-fueled nights. While I did, of course, still do other things, I didn’t have a ton of extra energy to spend exploring new interests. It was only after I stopped drinking that I started really seeking out new hobbies — like drawing! — and the opportunities these activities have led to has been life-changing.

  4. ENHANCE MY DAILY PRODUCTIVITY

    I wasn’t drinking every day (usually…), but that didn’t mean alcohol didn’t impact me on a day-to-day basis. It was something I spent time doing, sure, but it was also something I spent a great deal of time thinking about. It was an unpleasant distraction on a daily basis, and, much as my productive-loving self hated to admit it, it negatively impacted my ability to get things done. Without alcohol in my life, I experienced much higher levels of productivity, which, as you can imagine, was a huge game-changer.

  5. INCREASE MY SELF-AWARENESS

    Getting sober is an oddly wonderful way to get in touch with yourself. At times, yes, it’s painful (you’ve got to face so much of what you’ve been avoiding in a boozy haze), but it’s incredibly rewarding. Since getting sober, I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’m so much more aware of how the world around me impacts my thoughts and emotions. Not only does this awareness help me continue to stay sober, but it also enhances my understanding of what is and isn’t good for me.

  6. HAVE SO MUCH MORE FREE TIME

    Not only did getting sober give me the opportunities to explore new hobbies and become more productive, but it also gave me the awesome gift of free time. No longer spending my weekends preparing to drink, drinking, or recovering from drinking, I suddenly had a lot more time to do things I actually enjoyed doing. Even the simple act of lying in bed with a good book on Sunday morning is an experience that was once rare to me. Every time I wake up hangover-free, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to enjoy the day.

  7. CREATE CLEAR BOUNDARIES

    Sobriety taught me the importance of the people surrounding me. They can either lift me up or pull me down, and nothing brings that distinction into sharper perspective than seeing everyone you know through a sober lens. Once I began to see people clearly, I was able to work on developing clear boundaries for who I did — and didn’t — want in my life. The creation of these boundaries was certainly not easy, but it’s been one of the most transformative aspects of sobriety for me.

  8. EXPERIENCE PERSONAL GROWTH

    Since childhood, I’ve always been interested in personal development, and began exploring it more seriously about a year or so before I got sober. Understanding myself better allowed me to grow and change, but it wasn’t until I got sober that the real growth began. There’s something about seeing life — and yourself — unfiltered and raw and real that allows for the most honest, eye-opening personal growth to occur.

  9. AMPLIFY MY SELF-LOVE

    Strongly linked to the experience of personal growth is the amplification of self-love. When you make a choice to get sober, you’re making one of the most self-loving decisions you’ll ever make. You’re choosing to respect, celebrate, and appreciate yourself every single time you choose to say no to what’s not serving you. Self-love, like personal growth, is a life-long pursuit, but I know my own self-love really began when I chose to step away from substances and toward the substance of self-love.

  10. DEVELOP STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS

    One of the greatest benefits of sobriety is creating stronger, more meaningful relationships in my life. No longer are my relationships based on a mutual love of something bottled and poisonous. No longer are my relationships fraught with the tensions and challenges that came with the things I said and did while drinking. The relationships I have now ¾ including the one I have with myself ¾ are built on honesty, kindness, and respect.


Whether or not sobriety is something you’re exploring or embracing, it’s my hope that the benefits showcased above will inspire you to consider what you might gain if you let go of something that is not adding value to your life. Making the decision to get sober is not an easy one, but it becomes easier when you shift the focus from what you’re giving up to what you stand to gain.

Thank you to Seasons in Malibu for sponsoring this post! 

 

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Seasons in Malibu is a luxury, world-class addiction treatment center and drug rehab. The experts at this dual-diagnosis, CARF-accredited facility specialize in treating many types of addiction ranging from prescription drug abuse and opiate addiction to alcoholism and cocaine addiction. Known for their 95% satisfaction rate from clients, Seasons in Malibu offers an incredibly high number of one-one-therapy sessions, a multi-dimensional approach to treatment, holistic recovery options, customized aftercare and so much more – all with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean in beautiful, relaxing Malibu, California. If you or someone you know is looking for help, visit SeasonsMalibu.com to learn more about their programs, treatment options, and to get a free insurance check


10 Ways Other People Help with Personal Growth


Ask for Help Positively Present
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Lately I've been thinking a great deal about the topic of change. I'm not a big fan of it, which is probably why I've started out this year in a bit of a rut. I know change is needed in many areas of my life, but I always takes me a long time to go from "I need to change" to "I'm actually take the steps to change." One of the reasons I think change is particularly challenging for me (and for a lot of other people as well) is that I tend to forget this very important truth:  It's okay to ask for help.

Independence (and control...) is important to me, making it difficult for me to ask for help when I need it (or accept help easily when it's offered), but lately I've been trying to be more open to letting others in, giving them insight into some of the things I'm struggling with, and expressing gratitude -- rather than resistance -- when they offer their advice or assistance. Little by little, I'm opening up more, exposing more of who I am to the people who know (and want to know) me. I know that, without the help of so many people in my life, I wouldn't be where I am today, and yet I still sometimes resist help (or very good advice).

One of the best ways I can think of to counter this internal resistance is by reflecting on the many benefits other people have to offer when it comes to creating personal change. When it comes to personal growth, I want to believe that I don't need others, but, as I seem to learn again and again, personal growth doesn't have to be about just one person. Here are some of the ways other people can help you with personal change. 

 

  1. They provide encouragement and support. When I think about all of the support and encouragement I've had over the past few months -- particularly over on Instagram -- I am in awe. Seriously. It's such an amazing thing to have a supportive system, a group of people who encourage you and clearly want the best for you. Not everyone is lucky enough to have this. Not everyone is smart enough to embrace and accept this. For years and years, I pushed people away. The closer they got, the further I wanted to be from them. More and more I'm accepting goodness and support in my life. I'm learning every day that the people who love and support me are the people I need to have around me. 

  2. They offer words of wisdom and insight. Whether it's a comment on one of posts, an eye-opening chat with a new friend, or timeless advice my mom's been offering me for years, everyone from the most distance acquaintance to the closest companion offers me wisdom and insight (whether they know it or not). When I surround myself with the right kinds of people -- those who want me to succeed and do well, those who have faced their own trials and come out stronger, and those who have learned from their own mistakes -- I find the wisdom to be that much greater. When I think of what I know now and how many people have contributed to that knowledge, I'm astounded. It is because of these insights that I've been able to change, to grow, and to work towards becoming the person I want to be.

  3. They are there to catch you when you trip. None of us are perfect and we all fall down from time to time. I've made some not-so-great choices over the past few years, and it's been my friends and family who have helped me to realize that a bad choice doesn't make a bad person. Even when I've made mistakes, I've felt the support and encouragement of those around me,  and I realized that, even though I've fallen down (and likely will many more times in this life if I keep growing and changing!), with the help of others I was able to get back up again, dust myself off, and keep on going. The right people in your life will always be the ones pulling you up, and, yes, in many cases, I could pick myself up, it certainly never hurts to see an outstretched hand. 

  4. They can be excellent sources of inspiration. Almost everything in the world that inspires me comes from other people. Whether it be books or music or simply words, people, their actions, and their creations continuously inspire me. (I also, at times, feel inspired by nature and by animals, but more often than not it's human-related things that really spark the fire of inspiration in me.) During periods of personal change, I tend to seek out inspiration from others without even really realizing I'm doing it. People bring good things -- wonderful, inspiring things -- into this world, and a lot of my positive personal growth has come as a result of being inspired by others' goodness.  

  5. They push you when you need a gentle shove. More often than not, I don't want a push. But, if I'm honest, sometimes I won't change without one. When I'm faced with something I don't want to do -- something that seems so hard that I can't even fathom undertaking such a challenge -- I need someone who will gently encourage me to move in the right direction. For example, when my therapist first told me I had to give up drinking if I wanted a happier life, my instinct was to say, "Forever? Absolutely not." But my therapist pushed. She made me see that I wasn't going to get different results if I kept doing the same self-destructive things. And, you know what? She was right. It's been nearly eight years now, and I can't say for sure if I would be where I am without that nudge in the right direction.

  6. They remind you of your unique awesomeness. Without other people around, would I think I had good qualities? Would I believe in myself? Would I know I was awesome? I would like to think so, but I honestly can't say for certain. All of my life, I've had my parents, my sister, my friends, my teachers supporting me. Without their encouraging words, I'm not sure who I'd be. I'm not sure if I'd have the confidence that I do now. When I was a kid, my parents encouraged me to write and draw and do all of the things I loved to do. Without that, would I be here now? I don't know.  It can be even the tiniest thing, but when someone else supports you and tells you that you're doing a great job, it makes doing positive, productive things even more fulfilling. Sure, I'm working on changing for me, but it feels pretty great to know that other people think I'm doing good things with my life. 

  7. They listen to all of your crazy, kooky ideas. This one goes out to my mom in particular. I'm always calling her with my latest idea. "Mom, I'm going to start a blog!", "Mom, I'm going to write a new book!", "Mom, I'm going to launch a print shop!" -- to name a few. Whether I follow through with the idea or not, my mom (and any of my friends that I share my ideas with) is always supportive. She listens and never says anything like, "Well, you said you were going to write a book six months ago. What happened to that?" Instead, she says, "That's a great idea! I'm going to email Oprah!" and "You should send your blog posts to Real Simple!" and "People will love reading about that!" While I don't always follow through with my "brilliant" ideas, it's so great to have someone in my life who thinks they're wonderful and have potential. Even when people just listen, it means a lot and encourages me to keep going, keep growing, keep changing.  

  8. They believe you will become who you want to be. Even when I don't believe in myself -- when I've felt that all hope was lost and that there was no way I could ever become a productive, positive person -- other people believed in me. Throughout my life, I've been fortunate enough to have encouraging parents, friends, teachers, and bosses. No matter what I believe, other people believe in me. Other people want me to succeed and do well and they believe I can (even when I'm not in that believe-it-can-happen mindset). This is one of the greatest things about having other people in your life as you're working on making a change. They believe. This support makes me work harder, want it more, and, of course, believe in myself. 

  9. They reach out and ask you about your progress. I have some really great friends in my life who are always asking me, in a really honest, serious way, "How are you doing?" They want to know. They want to know how the progress in my life is going. They care. Without these inquiries, would I be motivated to keep going? Maybe, but it certainly helps to know that every so often a friend is going to ask, "Seriously, how's everything going with that whole 'change' thing?" Being asked about how things are going in this whole changing process, is important. It reminds me that people are there, that they care, and that they genuinely want to know what's going on. It also forces me to check in with myself and really think about how things are going. It's great to know people care and their interest also serves as a reminder to care about yourself!

  10. They point you in the right direction when you're lost. No matter what journey you're on in life, you're bound to get lost from time to time (especially if you're anything like me and have absolutely no sense of direction!). Sometimes getting lost can be a good thing. It can lead us in new and exciting directions. But sometimes it can be dangerous, scary, and isolating -- which is why it's great to have others around you who can show you the way. On a small scale, sometimes I veer away from my positively present vibe. That's when a helpful friend or family member will say, "Now, it doesn't sound like you're being very positively present..." Yes, this is obnoxious, but it's also a great reminder that I need to get back on my path. When I'm feeling lost, it's almost always someone not something that brings me back again. 



As someone who doesn't like to admit that she needs other people, thinking about this topic has been an eye-opener for me. It's reminded me of how many times other people have helped me on my personal growth. I love to think I'm independent and self-sufficient, but there is truly something magical about opening up to others and allowing them to help you grow and learn and become a better version of yourself. Without others, I wouldn't be who I am today, and I most likely wouldn't still be on the road to becoming the me I want to be.

 

 

 

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