on summer + 6 ways to celebrate its arrival

SummerQuote

 

As of yesterday, summer has officially arrived where I live! Summer's grand entrance in the suburbs of Washington, DC means: too-hot days trapped inside rooms made too-cold by overcompensating air-conditioning, humidity so thick you can practically grab hold of it when you walk outside, an invasion of insects in search of human-flavored meals, and a pretty good chance of getting drenched in an afternoon thunderstorm. 

Rereading that sentence, I realize just how negative I sound. (This is a perfect example of when someone I know in real life would look at me and say, "Are you being Positively Present...?) I used to like summer -- I really did -- but the older I get, the more I start to understand why I liked summer. As a kid, I loved the warmth and the freedom and the fireflies. (My greedy, present-loving self also loved knowing my birthday was arriving at the end of August.) As a teenager, I loved the long break from school and the lazy days spent flirting with boys by the pool. In my youth, summer always symbolized freedom.

But now -- as a thirty-something adult (how did that happen?!) -- summer doesn't spell out freedom the way it once did. There is certainly something freeing in the lengthy days (so many more hours of daylight!), and it does often seem that work slows a bit in the warmest months (not so this year, when my planner is jam-packed with tasks!). And, of course, there are the pleasures of sun-kissed skin and melting popsicles and fireflies winking in the grass at dusk, the brightly-colored flowers and the green, green, green of everything. Summer has some nice traits, it does, but it doesn't symbolize what it once did.

Instead, I now see summer as a stepping stone to autumn, the time of year when I feel most in love with the world outside my window. But as the founder of this little positive and mindful corner of the internet, it's my duty to (try to!) appreciate all seasons, to embrace the goodness in every day (regardless of the humidity or the heat index!). After all, that's really what Positively Present is all about -- finding the a way to embrace every situation, especially the ones that aren't our favorites.

[Though, I must note, a little thing like not loving summer is, in no way, a difficult situation that must be overcome. I might be whining a bit here -- perhaps as a reminder to myself that I'm human and not some positivity-promoting machine who is unaffected by life's little annoyances -- but I know with absolute certainty how shockingly lucky I am to experience summer in the way I do, to live in a place where I generally feel content and safe, to be free to do as please (for the most part!), and to continue existing season after season after season.]

Though I know it's silly, I find myself growing less and less attracted to summer with each passing year. Like an old love that keeps coming back, with each return I find myself more and more irritated with summer's presence. But, despite my disgruntled state, I certainly don't want the coming months to be filled with me griping about the weather or shutting myself indoors to avoid the sticky sweat and bug bites. (As you can clearly see, I've found myself heading down this path!) Like it or not, summer is here to stay for awhile, and I plan to do what I can make the best of it. Here's how I plan to embrace the season I once loved (but can only kind of now tolerate).... 

 

  1. GET OUTSIDE IN THE FRESH AIR. 

    It's hard for me to tear myself away from my computer, my TV, my indoor comforts, and go outside. In general, I'm an indoor kind of girl. But summer is a great time to go outside and take part in outdoor activities (even if by "activity" I mean laying by the pool and reading...). While it's tempting to rationalize (as I did last weekend) that it was perfectly fine to spend a beautiful Saturdays indoors because I had "things to do," this is not a good way to embrace summer. 

  2. PAY ATTENTION TO NATURE.

    Already I've seen a few yellowed leaves fall from trees and they reminded me that summer will be over before I know it. Though it's not my favorite time of year, it's worth taking note of all the beauty it has to offer. I need to take note of the bright blue summer sky. I need to take note of the brilliant sun (that I'll surely be missing in winter!). I need to take note of the flowers still in bloom and the trees bursting with greenness. Summer has some great things to offer, nature-wise, and a great way to celebrate the season is to pay attention to it.

  3. ENJOY THE SUMMERTIME FARE.

    Summer offers some delicious options (and a great opportunity to stay present with some of the five senses!) in the food department, and there are certain things I eat in summer that I rarely have any other time of the year -- watermelon, corn on the cob, popsicles,  ice cream cones, to name a few. To celebrate the season, I plan to indulge in some of these summertime favorites on a regular basis, while they're still in season.  It could be another year before I'm likely to eat them again so now's the time to take advantage of them and enjoy them in all of their summertime glory!

  4. WELCOME THE WARM (LIGHTER!) NIGHTS. 

    Now that the nights are warm and it gets dark so much later, I'm out late, wearing flip-flops and shorts to walk the dog. Already I've grown accustom to summer's warmth and it's easy for me to forget about all the nights in winter where I had to bundle up in a big puffy jacket and boots just to take a quick, freezing stroll around the block. The joy of summer is that all I need to do is slip on my flip-flops, grab the leash (and dog!), and go. Celebrating the summer means remembering how freeing it is to leave the house without a jacket, to know I won't have to brace myself in preparation for a cold blast of air when I open the door. While they're here, I'm going to do what I can to appreciate the warm summer nights. 

  5. TAKE A LITTLE STAYCATION.

    I work for myself so it might seem like I could easily take a day off to enjoy a beautiful day, but it's much harder to vacate from my "office" when time off isn't paid. (No vacation days for a writer and creator!) Even so, life's too short not to take some time off to enjoy the season of summer. This year, I'm looking to the Regina Brett's quote for inspiration: "Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds." I might not be able to take a true vacation, but that doesn't mean I can't embrace a bit of summertime laziness!

  6. MAKE USE OF THE LONG DAYS. 

    Often when I finish work in the winter, it's dark. And darkness, to me, signals time to sleep, making it really hard to get motivated for post-work activities. But in the summer things are different! It's light so late and one of the best ways to celebrate summer is to make use of all those wonderful extra hours of daylight. This year I'm determined to make good use of the long afternoons, planning some outdoor activities, dining al fresco (in daylight!), and taking my pup on nice long walks in the evening. The long days are one of the best ways aspects of summer and they're certainly worth celebrating!  


If you made it all the way down to the end of this post (and through my ugh-it's-summer rant!), hopefully you'll have a better understanding of my default-negative-but-striving-to-be-positive brain works. It would be much easier for me to just complain about summer, stay indoors as much as possible, and pine away for autumn, but I'm trying my best to focus on making the most of summer, celebrating it and seeking the positive as much as I possibly can! 


positively present picks: june 19, 2015

Routine 
 

 

Quote-of-the-week

"My father gave me the greatest gift
anyone could give another person:
he believed in me."

Jim Valvano

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

 

Links-I-Love

Radical Self-Love Bible School : just signed up + I'm pumped!

Find Power in Silence : quiet is a magical thing

20 Things We Should Say to Ourselves More Often : yes, #8!

Beating the Odds : such an inspiring survivor story

Crumple + Toss : loving this adorable online shop

Gala Darling Interview : on inspiration + entrepreneurship

100 Days of Vulnerability : what a wonderful concept

Your Predisposition Is Not Your Future : wow. so true. 

Stop Saying "I Could Never..." : also, never say never!

Color Yourself Happy : I'm doing this (using this)

This Quote : it's so, so true. read it + believe it. 

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
 

"Ask Me How I Am" — Snow Patrol
"Lights On" — XY & O
"Fed All My Days" — Mani Orrason
"Swim" — Cape Cub
"California" — Sons of the East
"The Fool" — Ryn Weaver
"How Hard I Try" — Filous
"The Original High" — Adam Lambert
"Body Talk" — Foxes
"Dreams" — Beck

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

The Folded Clock: A Diary
Heidi Julavits

Radical Self Love: A Guide to Loving Yourself and Living Your Dream
Gala Darling

The Gratitude Power Workbook
Nina Lesowitz

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

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

 


10 ways to handle your heartbreak

Love-Miss
 

 

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from Catherine,* a young woman suffering from the heart-wrenching pain of losing her first love. In the email, she told me how her boyfriend had recently broken up with her. Even though the relationship was not a positive one (he broke her trust, flirted with others, gave less than he took, etc.), she was crushed by the relationship's end. She knew she was better off without the him, but that knowledge didn't make the loss easier to bear. She wrote,* "Being with him was like a high. It wasn't a healthy situation and ultimately he didn't make me happier, but I am still sick after losing him." 

Immediately upon reading her email, I was transported back to a time in my life when I was young and desperately in love for the first time. That first love is a wild thing, so consuming and intoxicating, and the end of it was like the worst kind of withdraw — a physical and emotional ache that felt endless. Heartbreak is always hard, but the first time is the worst because you haven't yet survived it, and it feels like you'll never get past the pain. 

Reading Catherine's email, I could remember just how it felt to be in her shoes. Even though I'd been the one to end the relationship back then, the pain had been raw and real and it had felt as if nothing would ever ease the ache. Straightaway I wrote her back, hoping I could used what I learned from my first heartbreak (and many subsequent heartbreaks!) to help her cope with the loss. The most important thing to remember, I wrote to her, is this: one day you will feel better. It might take a long time (it's different for every situation), but it will happen. You will also find love again. It might not feel like it's possible in the midst of losing that first love, but it will happen.

Of course, most of us have heard these things before. I know how meaningless these words can sound when your heart is breaking, so I offered up some practical advice to help her manage the heartache: 

 

  1. TAKE A SOCIAL MEDIA TIME-OUT. 

    First and foremost, social media is a gateway to checking up on your ex — something that's never healthy or productive. If at all possible, delete him or her from your accounts so you aren't tempted to look at (or accidentally come across) updates. It might sound extreme or petty, but if it helps you get through it, who cares what your ex thinks? Also, avoiding social media in general for a little while can be helpful; it's really hard not to compare where you are to where others are. Seeing pictures of happy, smiling couples will only reinforce any loneliness you're feeling. 

  2. FIND A NEW SOCIAL OUTLET. 

    When you're newly single, you have a lot of extra time on your hands. All the time you used to spend with or talking to your ex is now free time. This can trigger loneliness and sadness, which is why it's important to find new ways to spend all of that down time. Some ideas: make more plans with friends; join a local group or club; check out meet-ups in your area; join a recreational sport team; sign up for classes at your local college; take creative classes (art, dance, etc.). Whatever you do, it's important to find positive ways to spend your time. This can be tough if you're more introverted, but at least give one or two things a try. 

  3. SPEND TIME WITH HAPPY PEOPLE. 

    It might sound counterintuitive to surround yourself with joy when you're feeling sad, but the more time you spend with happy, positive people, the more their happiness will rub off on you. It's been proven that happiness is contagious and, from personal experience, I know this to be true. When you're hurting, it's very tempting to spend time alone or maybe even with other people who are in a negative state of mind (it might feel like they "get" you), but you'll benefit the most from surrounding yourself with uplifting people. 

  4. DON'T FORCE FRIENDSHIP (RIGHT AWAY). 

    One of the questions Catherine posed in her email was whether or not she would be able to be friends with her ex. When you're losing someone who has become a big part of your life, it's hard to envision not having them (even in some form) as part of your social circle. However, unless the break-up is 100% mutual, it's not the best idea to focus on creating a friendship right away. In the future, a friendship might come to be, but post-break-up, this shouldn't be something you worry about. This is the time to focus on you, not your ex. 

  5. AVOID "NEVER AGAIN" THOUGHTS. 

    After a break-up, it's hard not to have thoughts like "I'll never see him again" or "I'll never kiss him again," but these are not help for two reasons: (1) you never know what will happen — I've reconnected with many an ex, which is generally not a good idea, but it does happen — and (2) those kind of thoughts only stir up more despair. These thoughts make up "all-or-nothing" thinking, and they make you feel as if there is no other option other than "never again." Try to avoid these thoughts at all costs; they will only bring you down. 

  6. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU WANT.

    After a particularly tough break-up, I once wrote down everything I wanted in the next guy I was going to date. And guess what? The next guy I met had almost every single trait! It sounds a bit unbelievable, but it worked for me and I know it's worked for others too. Instead of focusing on what you've lost, you're redirecting your attention to what you want — which makes it much more likely you'll get it. Plus, if you're struggling with staying present (as one does during heartbreak), focusing on the (positive!) future is much better than dwelling on the past. 

  7. DO NOT CONTACT HIM / HER.

    This can be incredibly difficult (especially if you were in a relationship in which you were in constant contact with one another), but don't do it. Delete the number; remove the email from your contacts; block social media accounts if necessary. Have a break-up buddy — a friend you can call/text when you want to reach out to your ex and use that buddy often. Also, don't give in to any excuses. You don't need to tell your ex about a funny article you saw or a video of his favorite celebrity. You don't need to ask her, "Hey, what was the name of that place where we...?" or wish him a happy random-holiday-that-no-one-cares about. No contact. No excuses. 

  8. START DATING AGAIN.

    Even if you don't feel ready, it feels nice meet new people and go on dates and it gives you something to do other than sit around at home and wallow in your new single status. Dating isn't always fun and it's a lot of work sometimes, but getting out there will be good for you — and you never know, you might just meet the love of your life! Important reminder: when on dates, do not talk about your ex. First of all, this is just rude. And, secondly, this new guy or girl doesn't (yet) care about your pain. Save your sob story for your friends and try your best to have a positive attitude with new people. 

  9. COMBAT YOUR ANXIETY.

    You might be feeling more anxious than usual, post break-up. Your life has been turned upside down in some ways and this can be hard to cope with. When you're feeling anxious, try focusing on your five senses. When your anxiety is bad and you feel panicky, it helps to pay attention to things happening right this moment (what you can see, smell, taste, feel, and hear). It won't completely take away the pain, but it'll bring you out of that endless cycle of panic that can come with the heartache. Try your hardest not to focus on the past (it's over) or the future (it hasn't happened yet), and you'll feel a lot less anxious. 

  10. HAVE A HOPEFUL HEART.

    Remind yourself (over and over again) that it will get better and you will find love again. It's hard to believe this in the midst of heartache and pain, but it's true and telling yourself this (even if you don't 100% believe it) will help you have hope. And when you have a hopeful heart, any pain is a lot easier to deal with. Hope can also help you take it one day at a time. Use a hopeful attitude to remind yourself, "I can get through today," or, when it really sucks, "I can get through the next hour. Or ten minutes. Or one second." Hope is really powerful!
 
If you're coping with a broken heart (or a loss of any kind), I hope these tips will help you. It can be hard to follow through on all of them (believe me, I know — I struggle to take my own advice a lot!), but don't give up. Keep trying to get through it and one day you will be on the other side of the pain, looking back on it and probably feeling thankful that you didn't end up with that person.
 
Also, never forget: you are enough. It might feel like you couldn't make a relationship work or the other person didn't want you, but know that some people aren't meant to be together (no matter how much you might want it) and the end of one thing can be the beginning of something else. It'll be scary to love again and risk being hurt, but don't let a broken heart deter you from loving again in the future because loving people is the very best thing you can do.  
 
For more inspiration on surviving loss and a broken heart, check out: 
 
 
30 Lessons I Learned from Love (for hope that you will find love again!)
 
 
 
 
*The name and details of the email have been changed or paraphrased to protect her privacy. Should you ever want to email me with a situation in which you're struggling to stay positive, you're more than welcome to reach out to me. However, it's important to keep in mind that I'm not a mental health professional or a therapist so any advice I give is based purely on my own experiences or research. 
 
  

 

Finding-Self-Cover

A break-up can be a fresh start and a great opportunity to reconnect with yourself. Start some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own soul-searching copy here.


positively present picks: june 12, 2015

Summer
 

 

Quote-of-the-week

"Instead of wondering when our next vacation is,
we should set up a life we don't need to escape from." 

Seth Godin

 

Links-I-Love

Book Signing! : meet me here in Arlington,VA (Sunday 6/14 2pm)

The Power of No : missed my Whole Food Love talk? listen here (till 6/15!)

5 Tricks to Overcome Anxiety and Fears : some very good ideas here

The Power of I Am : I absolutely love this article. read it ASAP. 

Small Ways to Make This the Least Stressful Summer of Your Life

7 Ways of Thinking that Make Us More Anxious : don't do these

It's Okay to Have a Small, Happy Life : great NY Times article

5 Lessons from a Dog on Overcoming Life's Challenges : dogs are smart

Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People : excellent Zen Habits tips here

6 Superhero Secrets to Boost Productivity at Work :  I love secret #1

You Can Make Friends as an Adult : listen close to this great advice

Narwhal Stickers : these made me so, so happy. wish-listed!

28 Modern Ways to Be More Spiritual : no om-ing required

Radical Self Love : this arrived in the mail this week + I'm obsessed!

6 Ways Gratitude Is Useful : check out my Vickerey article 

 

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
 

"Different Colors" — Walk the Moon
"Wash" — Bon Iver
"Count Your Blessings" — George Ogilvie
"Kill for Love" — Chromatics
"Hard to Live in the City" — Albert Hammond Jr.
"Painted" — MS MR
"Back of the Car" — RAC (ft. Nate Henricks)
"Fire Under My Feet" — Leona Lewis
"Clean" (Cover) — Kina Grannis
"Not Dont Loving You" — Lewis Fieldhouse

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

Off the Page
Jodi Picoult

Too Nice for Your Own Good
Duke Robinson

The Gratitude Power Workbook
Nina Lesowitz

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

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

 


living happy at work : an interview

Work-Happy

 

No matter how much you love what you do, staying happy and motivated at work can be a challenge. (And if you don't love what you do it can be a huge challenge!) It's something we all struggle with and, though I've written about it in my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life, I'm always looking for new resources and insights for how to keep the workplace positive.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Deborah Heisz, COO and co-founder of Live Happy magazine, about her advice for making the most of work. Keep reading for inspiration for making the most of your workday! (And if you don't work, don't worry — there are still tons great insights in the interview that you can apply to life at home or at school.)

 

  1. Staying positive at work can be difficult. What advice do you have for someone who struggles to stay positive at work? 

    Even though you may love what you do, in any job there will be moments when the printer breaks, your call is not returned or a key partnership falls apart. If you are handling a stressful situation or have been solving problem after problem all day, it’s helpful to just stop and take a breath. Sharon Salzberg, meditation expert and author of Real Happiness at Work: Meditation for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace, suggests using mindfulness, compassion and other forms of meditation to improve work life. She says that beginning a daily meditation practice that is as short as five minutes can be life changing. Sharon and other experts share tips in our latest issue of Live Happy to help everyone on the path to a more positive workplace.

    Another important point is to focus on what aspects of your job are the most meaningful to you. If you interact with the public or clients, what can you do to feel you are making a difference in their lives or helping to make their day just a little bit better? Bringing a smile to someone else’s face can have a positive effect on your outlook as well. 

  1. How you start the day can have a big impact on the rest of the day. What things can someone do to start his or her day off on a positive note? 

    Find a reason to be happy and positive when you wake up to start the day off on the right note. I like to think of something funny my children did or said the day before that makes me laugh. Exercise, even just 10 minutes’ worth, will get the blood flowing and set you on a course of making healthy decisions all day. Setting your priorities for each day the night before can also allow you to be present so your first couple hours of the day aren’t lost in chaos.

    I enjoyed Amy Robach’s comment about this in our story on Good Morning America. She says that giving and receiving cheery greetings with co-workers each morning — even though the entire staff and crew starts their days very early — is exactly what she needs to feel positive from the minute she arrives at work. “The place is humming and alive,” she says, “and you just can’t help but be glad to be here.” 

  1. You recently interviewed the Good Morning America team. What did you learn from them about making the most of a work day?

    GMA is one of the most joyful and supportive workplaces I have ever seen. It’s clear that the staff loves what they do and that this contributes to a positive environment, as well as to their great sense of teamwork. Spending time with the GMA anchors made me realize that it is not just the light-hearted moments that convey positivity, but also the respect for every contribution made that builds trust and camaraderie.

  1. Not everyone loves what they do for a living. How would you recommend making the most of a not-so-great workplace? 

    It’s hard to believe that only 30 percent of all Americans are truly engaged and like their jobs. But for the other 70 percent, there’s a lot they can do to feel more satisfied and fulfilled at work and to create a better work environment. One of the easiest ways is to recognize that you can be a catalyst for change. Negative talk and gossip can impact your day to day experience, instead avoid those conversations and thank people, say good morning, share positive news.

    Happiness, like negativity, can be contagious.  You can be the person who brings everyone else in the office up instead of down. Shane Lopez, Ph.D., and Gallup senior scientist, says engagement at work is about more than happiness. It’s about being content with the work you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. He urges us to “take some control where you have it” and organize your day to make the most of it. Change your shift to work with people you enjoy and be curious about what other co-workers are doing who have a more positive outlook.

    Ask a colleague about what he or she is working on that they are excited about. Thank someone for going above and beyond on an assignment or acknowledge a job well done to set a more positive workplace tone for everyone. And if you decide that you do really need a change, just starting to explore new options or signing up for a class to learn cutting-edge skills can help you feel less trapped and capable of moving beyond your current challenging situation.

  1. Sometimes coworkers can be tough to cope with. What advice do you have for staying positive around negative colleagues? 

    Practice mindfulness. Walk away from the negative unproductive gripe session.  Shake off outbursts or tense exchanges by stepping away for a moment for perspective. Focus on your breath or take a walk away from pinging email and desk clutter. 

    Kerry Hannon, author of Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness, offers some great common sense tips we describe in-depth in our latest issue of Live Happy. One of the easiest and most useful tips from Kerry is to write down one thing you did well or that went right every day in a work journal. It’s easy to focus on that brusque comment or dismissal of your idea during a meeting or the printer that broke on deadline, but if you start focusing on the good, you’ll begin to notice that it’s been there all along.

 

Keeping a positive attitude isn't always the easiest thing to do during your work day, but if you take Deborah's insights on how to make each work day a bit happier and put them into practice, you'll find it easier to keep a smile on your face at the office. For more great insights on staying happy at work, check out LiveHappy.com/Work

 

 

Finding-Self-Cover

Absolutely hate your job and can't imagine finding happiness there? Do some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook and discover more about yourself and what would make you happier (in life and in your career!). Download a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery to find inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you. Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what you value most. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own soul-searching copy here.