positively present picks : october 23, 2015



"Change is hard at first,
messy in the middle, and
gorgeous at the end."

Robin Sharma



The Nostalgia Machine : get your childhood jam on! 

Things to Be Happy About : a little drawing I did :)

The Positive Power of Saying No : "no" is so important. say it. 

7 Ways to Get More Done in Less Time : yay for productivity

Outsmart Obsessive Thoughts : how to end rumination

Thug Life Dog-Themed Shirts : these made me laugh. love 'em!

11 Ways to Have More Self-Respect : go on and treat yourself well

Silence the Noise : try to do this once a day, every day

4 Things to Say More Often : these'll bring abundance your way

We Are Not Our Feelings : lessons on anxiety + depression

You Are Brave : what an inspiring article!



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Can't Feel My Face" — Madilyn Bailey
"Say No More" — Fickle Friends
"Operator" — Vanessa Carlton
"Sober" — Selena Gomez
"Into the Dark" — Khai
"Confident"— Demi Lovato
"Perfect" — Kathleen Nguyen
"Used to Love You" — Gwen Stefani
"Bitter Water" — The Oh Hellos
"Haunted" — Stwo



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

Of Bees and Mist
Erick Setiawan


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

mindfulness + the power of self-love



Last week, I was fortunate enough to have a chance to listen in on Tara Brach's talk via The Mindfulness Summit (you can still sign up if you're interested and it's FREE!) and her words of wisdom were, as always, so incredibly eye-opening. They related a lot to the topic of self-love which, as you know if you're a frequent Positively Present reader, is a passion of mine. I listened to Tara's talk twice on the day it aired and tried to jot down as much as I could. I wanted to share some of this inspiration with you (as well as add my own two cents!). Below you'll find her words (paraphrased) in italics and below those words are some of my thoughts on what she said. 



We all have the sense of being flawed in some way and this results in our suffering. We're at war with ourselves, and many of us don't feel at home with who we are. Because we're not living true to ourselves, we have a lingering sense of feeling unworthy, which leads us to constantly feel disappointed. 

We judge ourselves, feeling as if we're not good enough. This constant judgment makes us feel as if we have to be on guard all the time, which hinders intimacy with others, blocks creativity, and stops us from enjoying the present moment. 

We spend so much time feeling as if we're not enough. Believing in this limited self is a veil that covers our true nature, which causes us to suffer. 

We are taught that we are limited, defective, isolated. Realizing that you belong and recognizing the barriers you've put between you and love is important. Ask yourself: how do I keep myself from connecting with others? 

No matter who you are, you probably feel flawed in some way. You probably have some notion that you're not completely living up to your potential, that you're not doing what you "should" be doing, or you're not meeting some sort of arbitrary standard that society has set for you. This constant judgement of yourself blocks you from being who you're really meant to be. Imagine what it would be like if you dropped all your defenses and stopped feeling as if you were flawed in some way? That would be pretty amazing, wouldn't it? 



A feeling of separateness starts when we're very young. We view our inside in comparison with everything that's outside of us. With this separateness comes a need to defend and protect ourselves. And from this, fear arises. 

Many cultures (particularly in the West) encourage separateness. American culture in particular is very individualistic with very emphasis on belonging. We internalize this and it compounds the innate separateness we began feeling when we were young. This makes us feel like something is wrong with us, that we're defective in some way. 

To combat the suffering of separateness, we go after "false refuges," or substitutes to feel a sense of belonging, such as focusing intensely on our careers, putting all of our time and energy into how we look, overindulging in food, overthinking every little thing, judging others, or turning to drugs or alcohol. 

Much of our lives is organized around a feeling of insufficiency. We need to realize and release this feeling in order to get to the true nature of ourselves. 

We often cover over the purity of ourselves in order to cope with difficult situations with family, society, work, etc. And this becomes a problem when we start to identify with that cover as if it is who we really are. We start to think of ourselves as our defenses, our cravings, etc. 

This concept of separateness really resonates with me. As an introvert who strives to follow her own goals and aspirations, I often feel like I'm isolating myself from others, reinforcing the notion that I'm separate or "other" in some way. American culture also seems to really amp up this notion that we all should be different and we should celebrate our uniqueness. Being unique certainly isn't a bad thing, but the heightened emphasis on it definitely takes away from feeling truly connected with others. I've definitely turned to my fair share of "false refuges" in an attempt to ease the suffering of feeling separate and it never seems to work very well. I love the notion of focusing on belonging and connectedness, something I think we could all use a lot more of in our lives. 



We need to offer kindness to our own beings, to learn to love our present lives unconditionally. Imagine: what would it be like to love yourself unconditionally? 

Unconditional self-love can change your life. 

How much of your life is shaped by feeling unworthy? When you encounter self-aversion, you must face it with self-love and compassion.

Develop a compassionate mantra for yourself. [Mine is: "It's okay."]

The more self-compassion you practice, the more your sense of self with shift. That shift is freedom. But you have to practice in order to create new patterns in your brain. It's like dyeing indigo: at first, you dip the fabric, it turns a bright shade of blue, then fades back to almost white. Dip it again, it looks bright blue, then fades back to white with a hint of blue. Again, it turns bright blue and fades to a slightly deeper tint of blue. You have to keep dipping the fabric in over and over again to eventually get the bright, vibrant hue of indigo. Same goes for self-love. You have to keep practicing a compassionate mindset over and over again for it to actually become a pattern in your brain. After many, many repetitions, self-love will hold and it will dye your life a brighter hue. 

The more you trust your own goodness, the more you'll see the goodness in others. You'll have a new perspective filled with compassion. Even when someone does something unpleasant, your heart will understand and it won't shut down. Self-compassion shifts how we relate to the world, and it helps the world as a whole. We learn to see past our own masks, which gives us an opportunity to seek others behind their masks.  

Self-love and self-compassion are absolutely essential to living a positive, present life, but, man, if they aren't hard concepts to master! There's so much in society that tells us we're not good enough or we could be better, so much that urges us to keep striving, keep seeking more than what we are, that it sometimes feels like an endless uphill climb to embrace self-love. Self-love takes a lot (and I mean, A LOT) of practice, but the reward of loving who you are is so absolutely worth all the effort. After listening to Tara's talk, I've been using my self-compassion mantra ("It's okay.") quite often and it really helps me when I'm struggling in the self-love department. 



You can start striving for this kind of self-love by recognizing what's happening and not judging it, practicing complete acceptance. 

There are two parts of awareness: (1) identifying what's happening (both internally and externally) and (2) letting it be and sitting with it (whatever "it" might be).

Whenever you're feeling strong emotions, pause. The space between the stimulus and response is your freedom, as Viktor Frankl says. Try to become the witness and objectively view situations you find yourself in, rather than immediately reacting. 

I loved this part of Tara's talk because I'm always striving to be more mindful (and always struggling at actually being successful at it!). Breaking it into a two-part process made it easier for me to actually understand what it means to be fully aware (side note: every time I go to type "aware," I accidentally type "awesome," which I feel like is the universe reminding me of how awesome it is to be fully aware -- or it's just my brain playing tricks on me!). I tend to feel a lot of strong emotions (both good and bad) and I love that Tara shared Victor Frankl's advice in her talk. We could all benefit a great deal from pausing before reacting to the stimuli in our lives. There truly is a sense of freedom that comes from trying to be objective and observant rather than reactive. 

Listening to Tara's talk was so inspiring, and I highly recommend checking her out online or trying to attend one of her events. (I went to one earlier this year and it was amazing!) It can be hard to take time out of our busy lives to sit still and listen to someone else share their words of wisdom, but I've found that every time I'm able to sit quietly and just listen, I learn something new and valuable -- and I also practice my awareness/awesome skills! 




Want to empower yourself with some serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

positively present picks: october 16, 2015

Crisp fall


"Mistakes are the stepping stones to wisdom."

Leon Brown



Top 10 Ways to Cultivate Self-Respect : so honored to write for Germ
(if you've read All the Bright Places, it's the magazine from the book!)

Want to Feel Less Anxious? : try this simple trick to boost confidence

The Spark Planner : so excited to have helped design this :)

Leaf Paintings : wow. these hand-colored leaves are beautiful!

How to Find a Self-Love Mentor : you don't have to do it on your own

10 Gratitude Truths : gratitude can completely change you life

Are You Settling for Less Than You Deserve? : you deserve the best!

Feeling Stressed Out? : check out this self-care article

Start Prioritizing Your Needs : the key is setting boundaries

The Art of Being Positive : check out this positive podcast

Is Your Inner Motivational Speaker Nice to You? : s/he should be...

Gratitude Attitude Builder : lovin' this inspiring deck of cards



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Willows" — Vanessa Carlton
"Hands of Love" — Miley Cyrus
"Daydreamer" — Young the Giant
"Pilot" — Loveless
"Something in the Way You Move" — Ellie Goulding
"Gone"— Ofelia K
"No Words" — Erik Hassle
"Mine" — Phoebe Ryan
"How I Want Ya" — Hudson Thames
"It's Strange" — Louise the Child



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Marie Kondo

Alive: New and Selected Poems
Elizabeth Willis


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

embracing autumn: 6 ways to enjoy the season


Recently it seems as if it's become oddly trendy to be in love with autumn. Perhaps tons of people the world over have always adored autumn and are just now able to share it with the plethora of social media outlets. Or perhaps people are just jumping on the pumpkin spice / plaid-everything / crunchy-leaf-lovin' bandwagon 'cause fall is suddenly "cool." Either way, I'm totally down for all the seasonal hype because autumn has always been my favorite season and I can't get enough of it! 

This time of year there's a slight chill in the air, but it's not yet so cold that I want to hibernate. The sky is a bright, cerulean blue on clear days and a lovely soggy gray when it's overcast. Whatever the weather, brilliant sparks from red, orange, and yellow leaves always seem to stand out against the sky, and I can't help but feel more cheerful when I look up and see their vibrant colors. 

I don't know why I've always adored autumn (though I think the colors have a lot to do with it!), but every year I seem to fall in love with the season all over again. Every year I swear I'll take advantage of the autumn festivities — I'll pick apples! I'll visit a pumpkin patch! I'll jump into a big pile of leaves! I'll have an outdoor photo shoot with my dog dressed in a cozy plaid sweater! — but the season seems to come and go so quickly that I barely get a chance to enjoy it before it's already gone.

This year I'm not going to let the season get away! Here are some ways I plan to embrace autumn this year (and I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below for how you plan to make the most of this season!) 



Okay, maybe not with literal spice (unless you're into that, which is cool). But creating a festive, fall-y (is that a word? it is now!) vibe always brightens up the home around this time of year. Nothing gets me in the autumnal mood quite like hanging up some fall (and Halloween!) decorations. Though I have a Halloween blanket that I use all year 'round (it's 20 years old this year!), this year I'm spicing things up with a candy corn pillow, some cheerful pumpkin lights, and a smattering of spiderwebs. Nothing puts you in the mood for a season — or for anything, really — like decorating your home with festive decor. Now's the time to break out your favorite fall-themed items and put them on display!



Did you know it's pumpkin spice season? Ha, I know, I know — it's everywhere. It's probably more difficult to find something not pumpkin flavored these days. (See this article.)But you know what? Why not embrace it? Instead of feeling appalled at the over-pumpkinification (yep, another new word for you!) of everything, why not dig in to those fall flavors and enjoy them while they're around? Grab a pumpkin spice latte from your favorite coffee shop. Bake an apple pie. Pick up a bag of candy corn. (I'm already half-way through the one in my pantry!) One of the best ways to enjoy the season is to literally take a bite out of it, so I'm planning to make the most of the fall by sampling some of the seasons best flavors. 



I'm not a fan of the cold so in years past I've let the chill in the autumn air discourage me from heading outdoors — but not this year! This year I'm going to bundle up and step away from my computer to make the most of all the season has to offer in the great outdoors. Where I live,  autumn is one of the best seasons — usually not too hot, but not yet freezing — and I know that getting outdoors and enjoying the fresh air is one of the best ways to get the most out of the fall months. This year I'm going to take advantage of it, even if only to sit on my balcony, drinking tea and reading books. I'd love to commit to a pumpkin patch outing, but I'm setting the bar low this year. Balcony and books seems much more attainable!



Pumpkin carving, apple picking, Instagramming pictures of pumpkin spice lattes — there are so many great activities that go hand-in-hand with the fall season. And a new season is a great opportunity to try on a new tradition. Other than putting up decorations, I don't really have anything that I do every single autumn, but this year I'm going to create a tradition that I'll hopefully do for years to come. I haven't fully decided what exactly that tradition will be yet, but it might involve baking the delicious Taylor Swift Chai Sugar Cookies that I baked with my mom last year. They were delicious and so very autumnal! Even if you do something small (like baking), starting a fall tradition can be a great way to stay excited about the season every year. 



Of course, autumn — with its chilly air and often overcast skies — is the very best time to snuggle up under a nice warm blanket with someone you love! I might be single this season, but just because I'm boy-less doesn't mean I have to miss out on the snuggle sessions. I full intend to do some serious snugglin' with my pup, Barkley (whether she likes it or not — sassy little pup!). And snuggling doesn't even have to involve another person or pet. You can snuggle up all by yourself with some wool socks, a soft sweater, a cozy blanket, and, if you're lucky, a crackling fire. It's hard to deny that autumn is one of the best times for snuggling, and no matter what your situation, you can get all cozied up and embrace the season from the comfort of your couch! 



Autumn happens only once a year, and if you're not paying attention, you just might miss it! I feel like every year it skips by faster and faster, which is why I'm really making and effort to be present for it this year. Luckily, autumn is one of the best seasons for being present. So much is changing — the shades of leaves, the temperature of the air, even the attire of those all around you — which actually makes it easier in some ways to stay present through it all. If you feel yourself struggling to stay in the moment (and who doesn't sometimes!?), taking note of all the changes happening around you can help bring you back into the present. My goal this season is to look for one new (autumn) thing every day!


Clearly, I'm already in the fall spirit and, if you can't tell, I'm fully able to admit that I'm one of those "basic" girls who can't get enough of autumn and isn't afraid to share her love for the season with the world. If you love autumn as much as I do, I'd love to hear about your favorite parts of the season, your autumn traditions, or any additional suggestions you might have for embracing autumn in the comments section below! 




Want to empower yourself with some serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

positively present picks: october 9, 2015



"Normality is a paved road: it's comfortable to walk on, 
but no flowers grow on it."

Vincent Van Gogh



The Two Best Ways to Uncover Your Truth : find out what's true for you

5 Positive Reasons for Saying No : small word. big impact. 

Positively Present Podcast : listen to me chat about positivity here

October + Dogs : this free wallpaper speaks to me on a deep level

My Handwriting Is a Font! : this is my childhood dream come true! :)

Hilarious Tweets that Capture Your Feelings about Animals : haha ;)

Kindness & Co. : totally support this random acts of kindness concept

Letting Go of "All or Nothing" : this kind of thinking is the worst

The Power of Gratitude : five tips for a more thankful life

25 Supportive Things to Tell Yourself Today : show yourself some love

Live Sweet Photography Workshop : sign up + sweeten your photo skills

How to Interrupt : here are the most positive ways to do it

7 Ways to Learn from Your Negative Thoughts : turn 'em into positives

Zen Foxes : these sly creatures are masters of mindfulness

How to Break Up with a Friend : get rid of any toxic relationships



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Do the Right Thing" — Daughter
"All About to Change" — Patrick James
"I Just Want You to Love Me" — Austin Manuel
"Such Great Heights" — Fleurie
"Exiles" — Third Eye Blind
"Chasing Down a Feeling"— Royal Tongues
"Let Myself Try" — Jasmine Thompson
"Would You Be" — Capitale
"Rainbow" — Oh Land
"Where Are U Now" — Florence + the Machine



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton

The Conditions of Love 
Dale M. Kushner

A Night to Remember (Sweet Valley High)
Francine Pascal


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro