Chasing Slow (Online) + a GIVEAWAY!

Thinking Living

 

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Erin Loechner's Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path. I receive a lot of books in the mail, but I only write about them here in special cases -- and this is definitely one of those cases. I'd seen the book around online for weeks, popping up in various Instagram feeds and mentioned in articles and podcasts, but I wasn't sure if it was a book for me. I've loved Erin's work on Design for Mankind for years, but I was nervous that the religious elements of the book wouldn't resonate with me, a childless, agnostic atheist. But as I kept noticing it more and more places -- and kept getting drawn to the title and the book's beautiful, simple aesthetic -- I decided I needed to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. 

Not only is the book beautifully designed, including beautiful photos and little journal prompts throughout, but it's also incredibly inspiring, especially for anyone who spends a lot of time online (like bloggers) or on your phone (like most of us). The book covers a variety of topics -- blogging, success, motherhood, mindfulness, work/life balance, and more -- but one of the topics that resonated most with me is the topic of social media. You might have read my post, Inspired Unfollowing: A Week of Conscious Content Choice, earlier this year, and so you know I'm thinking a lot social media and how it can impact the amount of positivity in your life. 

In the book, Erin writes about how she learned that "thinking about living is not the same as living." Those words -- particularly in relation to social media -- really hit home with me. When we're online -- whether it's reading blog posts, checking email, scrolling through social media, reading news, etc. -- we're, for the most part, thinking and consuming, rather than living and doing. Through the book, Erin brings up the question What am I looking for? and when I read those words, I was stopped in my tracks because one thing I love about my online life is the looking. I love that I can find almost anything I'm looking for at almost any time. I love that, in that looking, I've found newness: new friends, new items, new ideas, etc. I love the hunt. But, as Erin so wisely writes:  

The same hunger that seeks community, togetherness, discovery, and expression also roars with pride — with self-doubt, comparison, envy, loneliness. Online, we fed ourselves both.

For every force, there is an opposing force. Though the online world is amazing and inspiring at times, it's also uncharted and overwhelming at times. It's both wonderful and terrible. We spend so much time looking, and, as Erin writes, "Sometimes, when we're looking for what we want, we find what we need." In reading Erin's book, that's what happened to me. When I picked up the book, I was looking for information on how to take some of the stress out of my life, but I found something else: and important reminder and incredibly insightful wisdom on how I'm using technology in my life. 

Her words on Pinterest -- my most popular social media platform -- were particularly eye-opening for me. (If you're not a Pinterest fan, imagine that this is about a different platform, or whatever aspect of life you turn to to see what "perfect" looks like.)

Pinterest has, in a few short years, become an addicting escape, and impossible standard, an invaluable resource. A synonym for perfect... Who could've seen the downside as we pressed our noses to the screen, eyes widening with wonder, watching as our dreams scrolled by, pin after pin after pin? Who could've known that more isn't what we truly need? You could've known that more would make us feel like less?

Seeking more -- more information, more followers, more inspiration, more perfection -- almost always makes us feel like less because, after all, when you're seeking more, you're essentially saying, Right now is not enough. And, on a more personal level, I am not enough. 

This feeling becomes amplified when you work online. You begin, as Erin writes, "to see yourself as one dimensional, a girl on the screen." For many bloggers and online creators, there's a huge gap between the images on the screen and the real person behind those images (as anyone who knows me in real life knows well!). To keep up with what we do, bloggers need to be online and on social media. But finding balance (particularly for those like me, who have strongly addictive personalities) online and on social media is incredibly challenging. 

When your personal identity is so intricately linked with your online presence, this becomes even more complex. Erin writes, "Identity is a powerful force. We rarely see ourselves as others do, and we often view the world — our own, someone else's — through a distorted lens." We want to believe that who we are is not what we do online, but the more time you spend online, the more the line between our identity and our technology becomes blurred. At one point in the book, Erin is writing about Adam and Eve and she says, "In the pursuit of knowledge, they lost wisdom. In the pursuit of themselves, they lost themselves." To me, this says a lot about who we are now, at this point in society. So many of us are seeking some validation or understanding of ourselves online, and, frustratingly, we still feel misunderstood. Erin writes: 

I do feel misunderstood, but the one doing the misunderstanding is me. The one doing the misunderstanding is the one who wrongly assumed my social media profile and smiling square image must perfectly capture who I am. That my presence online must perfectly match my present off-line. That who I am is what I do, that my outsides match my insides...

...But what do we know of comparing our self to ourselves? What do we know of comparing our richest reality to the one-dimensional screen? What do we know a flattening our identities so they can be cropped, manipulated, forced into one-liners and profile explanations?

This whole online world -- and how it relates to who we are and who we'll become as a society -- is still so new, relative to the whole of humanity. But, with the ever-growing online world, something honest, something true is being lost. When I read these words in the book -- "On a good day, I tell the truth on Instagram.… But on most days, I don't write what I think in that moment. I write what I think others expect me to think in that moment." -- I found myself sighing deeply in recognition. As Erin puts it, "Our culture is prone to concealing what is.… Under-the-rug sweeping is the default." Social media only exaggerates this tendency of ours to push away the imperfect. Social media is often criticized for being an addictive, mindless, time-suck, but, as Erin puts it, that's not the true danger: 

The dangers of social media or far subtler than the distraction, than the addiction, than the habits we form by scrolling through screens multiple times a day... social media has encouraged us to crop out the contradictions in ourselves. It has caused us to airbrush the parts of our lives we don't love about ourselves. It has caused us to sweep our personalities — whether too big or too small — under a Moroccan Pinterest rug in the name of a consistent social media presence. In the name of online optimism.

The most worrisome aspect of social media isn't the time we spend on it or even the sometimes soul-crushing comparisons we make between the screens and our real lives. The most problematic aspect of social media is what it does to our personal identities when it encourages us to crop and summarize and condense who we are into a limited amount of space. Social media can feel spacious -- a variety of platforms from which we can see the world and connect globally -- but it's actually incredibly restrictive. We are not flat, square images. We are not black text on a white screen. We are endless shapes and colors and moods and feelings. We are complex and intricate and mysterious. We are gloriously imperfect shades of gray. Erin writes: 

Excepting that we are gray, that we are flawed, that we are a great many things, is one of the most difficult parts of today's information society. We are taught that knowledge is power, that what we do not yet know can be explained and placed in a box on the shelf, lid sealed until further notice. We spend our time on social networks attempting to condense our personalities into tiny profile boxes, trying to verbalize intricacies within flattened screens.

The intricacies of who we are as people cannot be accurately conveyed through a screen, no matter how many images, words, or videos we share. Our truest selves will always be present only in real life, and only in the ever-shifting day-to-day interactions and thoughts and emotions we have. We can do our best to tick of boxes and define who we are, but no definition will ever be enough to encapsulate the whole of who you truly are. As Erin so wisely puts it: "We are not either/ors. We are both/ands."

All of this online / social media stuff is just one aspect of this amazing book. In reading it, you'll not only gain insights into Erin's story (which, I feel, many people will relate to in some way -- whether it's as a blogger, a parent, a friend, a spouse, or just a person trying to make the most of what she's been given in this life), but you'll also gain tons of unexpected inspiration. I really enjoyed reading it, and I'm so glad I picked it up. (A reminder that, just because something doesn't necessarily tick off all of the boxes you identify with, it doesn't mean it won't teach you amazing things.) I'd highly recommend you read it, and I'm so thankful that Erin's publisher has agreed to give away a copy! 

  Chasing Slow


How to Enter

Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry!   


Giveaway Details

  • Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
  • Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances
  • Winner will be chosen + notified on February 27, 2017
  • Giveaway open to US residents only

 


What Do You Really Want? (+ Worksheet!)

 

What Do You Really Want Positively Present
 

After declaring this the Year of Self-Love, I've been doing a lot of thinking about it -- like, way more than I've ever done about any topic before. When you start looking for something (or, in some cases, the lack of something), you see it everywhere. That's what's been happening to me over the past few weeks. Self-love (or lack of it) is in everywhere, connected to everything. It impacts every single aspect of life in every single person, which is pretty crazy, as far as writing topics go.

At times it can feel overwhelming, the idea of transforming (or trying to transform...) every aspect of the self. But it's also kind of liberating as well. There's a freedom that comes with knowing that, though you don't have control over so many aspects of your life, there are still things you can positively influence. 

That being said, it's still a ton of things to work on, and the only way to take on a huge project, in my opinion, is to break it down into manageable bits. So that's what I'm planning to do -- to pay attention to the parts of self-love that jump out at me each week and share them in some way here (while, of course, bringing positivity and awareness into the mix!). What's been coming to the forefront this week is wanting

The word "want" has two main definitions: (1) have a desire to possess or do something; and (2) lack or be short of something desirable or essential. 

That feeling of desire -- and of lack -- is one of the things that stands in the way of self-love. And the more I started paying attention to the idea of wanting, the more I realized how much I was doing of it all the time. I started keeping a list, writing down all of the things I thought or said I wanted over the course of a few days, and it was kind of astounding how lengthy it got. Here's a sample of some of the things I wrote:

 

  • I want a the newest iPhone.
  • I want to see wolves in the wild.
  • I wish I had this cute sweatshirt.
  • I want to declutter my apartment.
  • I want a German Shepherd.
  • I wish I had better filming equipment.
  • I want the new Ban.do products.
  • I wish I had a new book contract.
  • I want to read the book Chasing Slow
  • I want to make more money. 
  • I wish I had some Tate's cookies.  
  • I want this shirt in my size. 
  • I wish I could afford this class.  
  • I want to create a newsletter.
  • I wish I had these silver sandals.
  • I want to donate more money. 
  • I want all Adam J. Kurtz's stuff. 

 

Most of these desires were "someday" types of things -- "I want a German Shepherd one day" or "I could really use a new phone so I don't keep getting that damn 'Storage Almost Full' message" or "I'm trying to keep only healthy food in the house but I could really go for a cookie right now" -- and some aren't even inherently bad. But, even if it didn't feel as if my life was majorly lacking without those things (i.e., I wasn't really bemoaning the fact that I couldn't get a new dog at that moment), I had to wonder:

 

What is all this wanting doing to how I feel about my life and about myself? Do these thoughts -- even if they don't make me feel as if I'm lacking as a person -- have a negative impact on my sense of self? And, more importantly, would I have wanted these things had I not seen them online, by complete and utter chance? 

 

We all see so many images all day, every day, and many of them make us want something other than what we have -- whether that be a physical product (like this cute notebook!) or an abstract concept (like love, success, etc.). I know not everyone might be exposed at the level I am -- I'm a bit obsessive with social media and follow tons of brands and people who create cool things so I see a lot of stuff and ideas every day -- but I still think most of us have those "I want..." or "I wish I had..." thoughts at least once a day. 

All wanting isn't bad, but the idea that I'm wanting so much, all the time, even in subtle little ways, seems very at odds with the notion of loving one's self. Instead of celebrating all that I have, I find myself looking for new things to desire, and, while the desire itself isn't negative, it's often misdirected (and often does so in a way that negates self-love, positivity, and mindful acceptance). Desiring things absent-mindedly or by default isn't the best way to create a life you love. 

So, what do we do about this? We're obviously going to want things (and by "things" I also mean people, ideas, jobs, achievements, feelings, etc.), and I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all -- so long as we're wanting them for the right reasons and so long as they will, in fact, provide us with what it is that we desire. And that's where the solution comes in. We have to examine what we're wanting and we have to determine if it's real

 

Wanting

Click here to download the free PDF!

 

Actually figuring out what we want (and whether we'll get it from the thing we desire) isn't always the easiest, but it doesn't have to be too tricky. I made the worksheet above to help me sort through my own wants this coming week, and I'm sharing it with you so you, too, can track what you want. 

My challenge to you (and myself!) this week is to do the following, using the worksheet:

  1. Pay attention to every time you find yourself thinking or saying, "I want" (or some version of it, like "I wish I had..."). Write what you want in the first column. (If possible, try to keep the list private so that you feel free to write whatever you've been wanting without any fear of judgment.)

  2. Reflect what you wrote in column 1. What makes you want that thing? What do you think will happen if you get it? If you don't? Is it something that will have a positive impact on your life? 

  3. Dig deeper. Consider whether this is something you do, in fact, really want or if it might be a reflex or habit. (For example, if a beloved brand comes out with a new line of something, do you actually want it or do you just think you do because you always get the newest items.). Also, assess whether the desire yours or if it's based on what you think you should want or what someone else wants. And, of course, consider whether this item is, in fact, a symptom of something bigger that you want. (For example, you want a new lipstick because you want to feel pretty because you want to be confident. Could it be possible to desire -- and pursue -- confidence directly?)

  4. Contemplate whether this item is a solution to a problem. For example, let's say you want a new notebook because you think it'll be a great inspiration for keeping organized this year. The last column is where you can determine if that specific notebook is, in fact, necessary to get the result you want. Do you already have a notebook you could use? Is there a notebook that might fit your needs even better? Is this really about a notebook or is it about motivation or organization or something even deeper? 

 

Reflecting on -- and, in many cases, adjusting -- our wants is an essential aspect of self-love. What we want (even if we don't end up getting it) influences how we feel and think and act. For me, it's often a default setting. I see something cool and my first thought is, I want that! I don't always (or often...) purchase something simply because I want it (as I used to, when I was younger and hitting up the mall on an almost daily basis), but that reflex is still in place, and I honestly don't think it has a very positive impact on me. 

I thought learning to control my spending impulses was a great act of self-love and I feel proud of myself every time I don't spend frivolously. But I think I can -- and should -- take it further, to break not just the habit of mindless spending, but also the habit of mindless wanting. Hopefully this worksheet is a start of a new way of seeing my desires -- and, if you're like me and struggle with the conflict between wanting and self-loving, I hope it'll help you, too! 

  

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


 

 


2017: The Year of Self-Love

 

Positively-Present-Self-Love

 

Happy 2017!

Over the past (almost) eight years of running this site, one thing has become glaringly obvious to me: it's very difficult to stay positive and present if you don't love who you are

This truth has become so vital to who I am and what this brand, Positively Present, stands for, and that's why I'm making it a priority in 2017. Though I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, the start of a new year is a pretty great time to reflect on the past year, re-evaluate where you are now, and redirect your energy to where you'd like go in the next twelve months.

It was as I was doing my personal reflection and re-evaluation toward the end of the year that I realized just how absolutely essential self-love has been to me in 2016 — and how much more I actually need of it in my life. I talk the talk, but I don't always walk the walk. 

And I know I'm not alone in this. Almost every one I know struggles with self-love in some form. We all want to love ourselves, most us claim to, but we all struggle to actually do it fully. Maybe we love our work, but hate our bodies. Or we love the way we look, but hate how we act in relationships. Self-love is hard because it's all-encompassing. To truly experience it, you can't just love parts of yourself; you have to love it all. I believe we all struggle so much with this because we don't think about it enough. Over the past couple of days, I've been putting this "Year of Self-Love" into practice by asking myself this every time I have a thought or take an action: 

 

Is this a loving thing to do for myself? 

 

Sometimes asking this question changes how I act. (For example, maybe eating the entire large bag of M&M's isn't the most self-loving act. I pour a handful and put the bag back.) Sometimes asking it doesn't. (For example, maybe I'd be loving myself a bit more if I limited the amount of negative political commentary I'm reading on Twitter. I still scroll and scroll.) But even when asking that question doesn't change my behavior, it makes me stop and think — and that pause before acting is an important first step for making better, more positive choices. Maybe if I ask myself that enough every time I open Twitter, I'll start to limit the amount of time I spend on there. Or maybe I'll unfollow some of the more negative accounts. (In fact, I'm going to go do that right now!)

The important thing about this question is that it causes you to be more conscious of what you're doing, what you're saying, and how you're thinking and feeling. So many of us (myself included!) spend so much of our time operating on autopilot, doing what we've always done because it's been okay so far. But, I don't know about you, but "okay" isn't really what I'm going for in my life. And I believe self-love is the very best way to avoid the default path, to create a life that is way better than just okay. 

I've got some really exciting things coming up in 2017, and I can't wait to dedicate this year to loving myself more —and help you do the same! To start, let's keep asking ourselves that question — "Is this a loving thing to do for myself?" — as often as we can. It might not change every action we take, but awareness is the first step to making this the best, most loving year yet! 

  

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


 

 


100 Things to Be Thankful For: Part I

Things-Im-Thankful-for-Positively-Present

 

It's going to be a bit of a crazy week here in America, so I thought I'd direct my attention to what helps me most whenever I'm feeling anxious or stressed: gratitude. Seven years ago I wrote a list featuring 100 Things I Am Thankful For and, to this day, it's still one of my most popular posts!

This year I thought I'd revisit and update that list. I did this without looking at the list, and then I went back to see how many of them ended up being the same after all this time, which was kind of awesome. It's kinda cool to write about things you're thankful for and then go back and see how the list has changed over the years -- I highly recommend it!

Here's my round-up for this year. Stayed tuned to next week for Part II! :)

 

  1. BOOKS

    Books are one of the few things I don't know if I could live without. My shelves are filled with novels I adore, non-fiction works that changed the way I see the world, beautiful images, creativity and inspiration so life-changing it leaves me speechless. Dramatic? Yes, perhaps, but I love books. I'm also super thankful that I've had the opportunity to write quite a few

  2. FREEDOM

    Freedom is something I highly value, and I'm so incredibly thankful for the many ways I experience it. Here in America, I have the freedom to do, say, wear, be whatever I want. I'm also grateful for the freedom I currently experience as a childless, unattached woman. I can do what I like (and I do!). 

  3. MUSIC

    Ah, music! It's up there with books in terms of things I cannot imagine life without. I'm particularly thankful for lyrics, the carefully crafted phrases that somehow put into words all of the things I always want to say. The thrill of finding a new song that speaks to your emotional state is truly unparalleled. 

  4. TECHNOLOGY

    On more than one occasion, I've exclaimed, "I love technology!" And I really do. I don't take for granted how fortunate I am to live in this technological age of iPhones and MacBooks and the internet (oh, how I love the internet!!). And that's to say nothing of medical technology, for which we should all be so incredibly appreciative.

  5. CANINES

    Dogs. Wolves. Foxes (not technically canine, but still!). I love them all. Animals in generally tug at my heart in a way that humans don't seem to do (sorry, humans!). There's something so magical about being able to connect with a creature that doesn't speak your language, that is so different from you. I can honest say, as well, that dogs have saved my life, and I will forever be thankful for them. 

  6. METANOIA

    This word (which I just discovered!) is the journey of changing one's mind, heart, self, or way of life. I'm so grateful for the ways I've changed my life -- learning to be more positive and present, giving up on bad habits, choosing to love myself (even when it's so challenging). This journey is on-going, and I'm so lucky to be living it. 

  7. KNOWLEDGE

    Think, for a minute, about all of the things you know. It's pretty amazing, isn't it? We start gaining knowledge as soon as we're born (maybe before that?) and, if we're open to it, we keep learning and growing up until the day we die. There's always something new to know, which is pretty darn amazing. 

  8. EMOTIONS

    As a pretty emotional person, I tend to swing high and low (middle ground isn't somewhere I spend a lot of time). While this can be frustrating at times, I'm still so thankful for these emotional ranges. As much as I hate going low sometimes, it really balances out those highs, and I'm thankful for the array of emotions I experience. 

  9. SOLITUDE

    Alone time is my jam. It might sound odd, but I adore being alone. I love the freedom that comes with it, the moments of insight, the opportunity for me to wind up my yo-yo, and the little adventures I get into on my own that no one (aside from Barkley...) will ever know about. All you introverts out there probably know just how thankful I am for time spent alone. 

  10. FAIRYTALES

    I'll admit that I'm partial to the kinder, Disneyfied versions of fairytales, but I appreciate the originals as well. Not only do I love the stories in and of themselves, but I'm honestly in awe (and appreciative) of the ways writers use characters and plots to explore intangible concepts and morals. Writers of all kinds do this, but there's something especially magical about the way it's done in fairytales.

  11. BEAUTY

    The word "beauty" is so broad, but I'm grateful for its many representations. I love tangible beautiful things. I love the intangible beauty of ideas and others' hearts. I honestly believe in the notion that everything is beautiful in some way, and I'm thankful for the fact that beauty can be found everywhere. 

  12. CREATIVITY

    I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have a career that allows me to explore my creativity through writing, illustrating, and designing. In addition to being thankful for my own creativity, I'm also so appreciative of others' creative work as well. One of life's best moments is seeing someone's work and thinking, wow, that's so creative! 

  13. HEALTH

    As a relatively healthy person, this is something I often take for granted, but there is nothing better than being in good health. Over the past few years, I've had some health struggles (and surgeries!) and they've reminded me how important is to be thankful for good health -- both my own and that of those I know and love. 

  14. EPIPHANIES

    You know those "a-ha!" moments, where you realize something so clearly or think of an idea you've never had before? Those are amazing and rare and I'm thankful that I've experienced a few in my life. I'm sure there will be more as I gain knowledge (and age...), and I can't wait to experience them. 

  15. LOVE

    Love, in its many, many forms, is something I will also be grateful for. I've fallen in love many times and each time has been an amazing whirlwind of emotion and excitement. And, of course, I've been fortunate to have (and give) the constant, unwavering love of friends and family. I am so lucky, and I don't take that for granted. 

  16. SUNLIGHT

    Right now there's a line of sunlight seeping through the blinds and onto the carpet. It's beautiful and it's comforting. Even when days are short and skies are cloudy, I know the sun will always return. It's consistency is something for which I am so thankful; its brilliant, life-giving force is astounding and much appreciated. 

  17. PRODUCTIVITY

    You know those days when you just keep crossing things off of your to-do list and you feel like an absolute boss? Those days are amazing, and I'm so grateful for the productive moments in life. It feels so good to get things done, to feel as if you're moving forward in a positive direction, making progress. 

  18. FAMILY

    I love my family more than words could possibly express. We're different in so many ways, but we are still connected in by the ways we love another. Like all families, we have our imperfections, but I really do feel like I lucked out in the family department, and I try my best not to take that good fortune for granted. 

  19. COLORS

    Color is something I can't seem to get enough of. I'm always drawn to it (especially orange!), and I love the emotional reactions it evokes in me. From my spot on the couch right now I can see almost every color of the rainbow, and I couldn't be more appreciative of the differences and beauty of each individual hue. 

  20. PHOTOGRAPHS

    Not only do photographs capture the really special moments in life so we can look back on them later (a rare way to make yourself happy in the present by referring to the past!), but they are also amazing ways to experience other perspectives, cultures, and places. Just think about all the things you know about from photos alone!  

  21. SLEEP

    Sleep might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but I'm so appreciative of every hour I get to rest and recover from the day before. I'm also fascinated by dreaming, and it's such a cool experience to live through things in your mind that you don't actually experience in real life. 

  22. BRAVERY

    I'm grateful for the moments I've been brave in my own life, and I'm also grateful for all those whose bravery has impacted me in a positive (brave soldiers who fight for America, brave people who stood up for my rights and the rights of those discriminated against, etc.). We're all brave in unique ways, and I'm so thankful for that. 

  23. HYGGE

    I've only recent discovered this word, which has many meanings, but the one I most closely relate to is: "creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people." To me, it's coziness and candle light, feeling snug and warm with those you love. I'm so thankful to experience hygge!

  24. ENTHUSIASM

    Generally I'm a pretty enthusiastic person. When I'm into something, I'm into it! I love being enthusiasm and I'm thankful for that quality in myself. I also really appreciate when other people are enthusiastic about things, and find it so fascinating when that enthusiasm is something I can't personally understand. YAY for enthusiasm! 

  25. FRIENDS

    Whether you have a few close buddies or a whole squad of pals, friendship is something we can all be thankful for. Every moment spent with friends is a gift and, even though I do prefer being alone, I'm filled with gratitude for all of the friends I've had throughout my life, and especially for the few life-long ones I have. 

  26. ORGANIZATION

    Being organized is one of my favorite things. I know it's not everyone's preference, but, for me, organization is essential to a peaceful state of mind (and life!). I love sorting things (especially by color!), and I'm filled with thankfulness when everything is in its rightful place. 

  27. MYSTERY

    While I'm not a fan of scary mysteries, I do love the fact that there is so much we don't really know about life. The unknown elements of the future (and, in some cases, the past) make life exciting. Sometimes, yes, I would love to have all of the answers, but more often than not, I'm grateful for the mysterious nature of what's to come. 

  28. QUOTES

    Did you know I love quotes? Haha, I bet you did! I'm so thankful that I can easily find quotes that speak to me, and that I have the opportunity to share my favorites with you via this site and on Instagram. There are few things I love more than a perfectly worded sentence that makes me think about things in a new way. 

  29. LAUGHTER

    Laughing is honestly one of my favorite things to do, and I've been told I do it a lot. When it comes to experiencing true joy, a long, tear-producing belly laugh is up there on the list. Laughter's been called the best medicine, and I believe that to be true (aside from, ya know, actual medicine). I'm grateful for every single giggle, every single laugh. 

  30. WONDERLAND

    A fictional place might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been my favorite for decades, and writing about it actually led to my first book deal. My love of Wonderland literally changed my life, making it something for which I'll be always grateful. 

  31. NATURE

    I'm pretty far from "outdoorsy," but I actually love nature in a very deep way. I'm fascinated by it, and grateful for the bits of it that I'm able to experience. Whether it's pausing to stare at a perfect spiderweb or looking up at the leaves changing color on the trees, I never find myself not in awe of nature. 

  32. OPTIMISM

    Optimism is tough, and admittedly I'm not always as positive as I'd like to be, but focusing on optimism has changed my life. Choosing positivity over negativity makes things better, no matter what's happening. It took me decades to realize the value of an optimistic outlook, but I'm so happy I finally came around to bright side. 

  33. SOBRIETY

    For six and a half years, I've been sober. It's challenging, it's isolating, and it's hard as hell sometimes, but my sobriety is something I'm so thankful to have experienced. Not only has it improved my life, my mindset, and my relationships, but it's taught me things about the world I never would have known without it. 

  34. BALTER  

    It was only recently that I discovered this word, which means to dance recklessly without grace or skill but with enthusiasm, but it's something I've been doing for as long as I can remember. Rarely does a day go by that I don't have some silly little dance party in my apartment, and I'm grateful for those wild, private moments that always end in me laughing at myself. 

  35. HOLIDAYS

    As a big fan of celebrations (and raised by a very festive mom!), holidays always bring me such happiness. There's something about the return of them, year after year, that's both soothing and exciting. My favorite is Halloween, but Christmas is a close second. I'm thankful for those who help make the world festive each year! 

  36. STARRY SKIES

    There's rarely a night when I don't go outside and turn my eyes to the sky in search of the stars. Even after over three decades of standing on this planet, gazing upward, I'm still in awe of them. Once I read that they are the sky's freckles, and that image has stayed with me. They are magical, glittery reminders of how small we are. 

  37. KINDNESS

    Kindness -- especially the kind that's given with nothing expected in return -- is flat-out amazing. We don't ever have to be kind to one another, and yet we continue to be. Yes, we're also shockingly unkind at times, but so often life's kindnesses are overlooked. My heart swells with gratitude for every kind thing others have done for me, themselves, and others. 

  38. FEMINISM

    I don't talk about this much on Positively Present, but "feminist" is a huge part of my identity. In college, I learned what it really means, and it impacted me so much that I went on to study gender in graduate school. I know the word often has negative connotations, but I'm grateful for it (and for the freedom to embrace it, a freedom not everyone in the world is granted). 

  39. DESIRE

    Longing for things (or people) can be frustrating at times, but it's also kind of lovely, wanting for something you don't already have. Can you imagine what life would be like if you already possessed everything you wanted? How boring and bland it would be! I'm thankful for the excitement desire brings to my life. 

  40. INSPIRATION

    Inspiration is almost everywhere, if you know how to look for it. Since I started this site, I've been constantly on the lookout for inspiration and I'm never let down by how much of it there is. Whether it's a motivating quote, the sight of something beautiful, or a book filled with new ideas, there's no end to how much I can be inspired, and I'm so grateful for that. 

  41. SELF-LOVE

    Self-love is a constant work-in-progress, but the work is always worth it. I don't know when exactly I learned about the notion of self-love, but it's transformed the way I think about myself and, in turn, the world. Gratitude is an act of self-love and self-love is act of gratitude. 

  42. ACCEPTANCE

    This doesn't always come easily -- especially when times are tough or you're unhappy -- but whenever I've been able to cultivate acceptance, I've felt so much more fulfilled and at peace with myself. It's hard to accept things we cannot change about ourselves or the world, but I'm thankful for the moments I've been able to embrace what is. 

  43. WORK

    I'm so incredibly luck to do something I love for a living -- to write and create and share it with you! -- but that hasn't always been the case. Not only am I thankful for the work I have now, but also for the work that brought me to where I am now. And, on a basic level, I'm so grateful to have skills I can use to provide for myself. 

  44. CUTENESS

    An odd thing to be thankful for? Perhaps. But there's nothing quite like seeing something that's adorable. It's cliche, but the sight of something cute makes me want to squeal with excitement. I'm so filled with thanks for every single cute puppy, kitten, illustration, etc. that I've seen. They're small things, but they make my heart happy in a big way. 

  45. MINDFULNESS

    Though I write about this constantly and it's part of my career, mindfulness is still a struggle for me. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it's hard not to focus on the future or worry about the past, but the more I practice staying mindful, the easier it gets. I'm thankful for every moment I've been fully present. 

  46. MUSEUMS

    As a kid, I took access to so many free museums in Washington DC for granted, but, as an adult, I realize how amazing it is to be able to see such beautiful art and history housed in beautiful old buildings. I still don't go to museums as often as I should, but I love every moment I spend in them. 

  47. QUIDDITIES

    A quiddity is someone or something's distinctive or peculiar feature, and it's something I'm hyperaware (and appreciative!) of. Everyone I know has something about him or her that is 100% unique to that person, and that's pretty amazing if you think about it! I probably have a few quiddities myself, and I'm thankful for my own uniqueness. 

  48. FASHION

    I love fashion (it was even my major for a year in college!), and I'm so grateful for the ways we can explore self-expression through what we wear. I loved writing A-Wear-Ness: Mindfulness + What You Wear this year, and it really helped me think even more deeply about how grateful I am for fashion (even if I do spend most of my time in sweatpants!). 

  49. DANDELIONS

    It's for many reasons I love these sweet, strange little weeds: (1) it's my nickname, so I'm a bit partial to them; (2) they transform into such beautiful, wispy things, and (3) they're made for wishing! I love how they provide a moment for us to pause, take a deep breath, and think about the things we long for. 

  50. SEASONS 

    While I'm very much drawn to autumn (and winter!), I'm so thankful to live in a place where I can experience all four seasons. Each one has pros and cons, and it's so wonderful to know that, regardless of what season it is, in a few months it will be different. I love the continual reminder of the power of transformation. 

 

I hope these inspired you to think about things you're thankful for. It's not always the easiest thing to do at a time like this, but it's honestly one of the best ways I've discovered to combat stress and anxiety. Stay positive this week! And stay grateful too! Tune in next week for Part II. :) 

  

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