positively present picks: july 3, 2015

Freedom

 

Quote-of-the-week

"I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.
I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."

Abraham Lincoln

 

Links-I-Love

The Magic of Emotional Clearing : get rid of all that emotional clutter

23 Emotions People Feel But Can't Explain : loved learning these words

When You're Feeling Low : this 7-year-old's song is uplifting and good

Anxiety / Self-Care Temporary Tattoos : I absolutely love these

Love the Necessary Hard Work : I love the gratitude behind this

10 Ways to Lift Yourself Up : whenever you feel you've fallen...

You Are a Grown Up : that means you can do what you want!

The Native Society : check out my interview with The Native Society

Say "I'm Proud of You" : you'll absolutely make someone's day

Inspiring Desktop Backgrounds : love these freebies via That Noise Gal

10 Affirmations to Recover from Disappointment : lift yourself up

PURPOSE Jewelry : this jewelry line gives back big time. love that!

When You Feel Like Giving Up : 15 reminders to get you back on track

Grown-Up Coloring Books : so good for reducing stress!

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
 

"American Girl" — Tom Petty
"Warm Blood" — FLOR
"American Girls" — Counting Crows
"Rearview" — Andra Day
"Irrational" — Fjord
"American Oxygen" — Rihanna
"Wildfire" — Scavenger Hunt
"Firework" (Cover) — Jenny Lane
"July Flame" (Remix) — Laura Veirs
"Free" —Ryn Weaver

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

You Can Think Differently
Caterina Rando

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

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

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

 


how to find sunshine when you're under the weather

Be-Ok

 

 

For the past month, I've been struggling with a not-so-fun health issue. I've never in my life had any issues with my health (other than the average cold) so it's been an eye-opening experience to wake up day after day not feeling like myself and dealing with constant pain. And, to be completely honest, it's been very difficult to stay positive. Not feeling good sucks, and when it starts impacting your whole life — where you can go, what you can do, how much work you can accomplish in a day — it goes from unpleasant to frustrating to depressing real fast. 

The best way to handle this unpleasantness would be to do my best to stay positive and present. The more I focus on how lucky I am (the issue I have, in the grand scheme of life, is relatively minor), the easier it becomes to cope with the situation. And the more I strive to stay in the moment (rather than dwelling on how long I've felt this way or wondering how much longer until I'm well again), the easier it becomes to avoid the downward spiral of self-pity. 

Of course this is much easier said than done.

For the first couple of weeks, I was optimistic. "I can get through this!" I thought. "This really isn't that bad," I told myself. But as the days multiplied, it grew more and more difficult to be cheerful. Every day I woke with hope and every day I still wasn't better. I was frustrated, upset, and physically in pain. Online I read about others who recovered quickly and I envied them. "Why wasn't I better?" I wondered. "Why was it taking so long for me to feel well again?"

I got my answer last week when, at the doctor's office, it was discovered that my issue was actually something more serious. Minor surgery would be needed as soon as possible with a real surgery needed soon after. I scheduled the first surgery for the following morning. On one hand, I was relived that my pain had been validated. I wasn't being a complainer or a baby — this pain was legit. But, on the other hand, I was terrified. Even though the procedure was routine and, in the eyes of the medical world, probably nothing to even blink an eye at, I'd never before had any sort of medical procedure. 

As I left the doctor's office blinking back tears and telling myself to be brave, I reminded myself that this was the perfect opportunity to practice what I preach. Here I was, coping with a difficult situation and faced with an upcoming procedure that made me feel downright terrified. If there were a time to be positively present, it was right now. 

And so I sat down at my computer and asked myself, "What would I tell someone else in this situation? What advice would I offer to someone who has been struggling for awhile and now has to confront a scary situation? How would I suggest finding the sunshine when you're under the weather?" What I came up with was this...

 

1. PUT YOUR HEALTH FIRST. 

When you're not used to worrying about your health, it can be difficult to make it a priority. For the weeks I was sick, I had to spend a lot of time taking care of myself and it was tough. I felt like my whole day revolved around doing all the things the doctor advised me to do, and that left little time for working — let alone socializing! But as the days passed, I quickly learned how important it is to put your health first. Whatever the doctor says, do it. And listening to your body is key, too. When I first started feeling bad, I tried to ignore it, pushing my body passed its limits. I don't know if this made things worse or not, but I do know that I felt a lot better on the days I put my health first. Yes, it was hard to cancel appointments and postpone deadlines (two things I try never to do at work), but I kept reminding myself, "This is the only body you have. You have to take care of it. It has to come first." 

2. GIVE YOURSELF A LITTLE TREAT. 

When you're feeling crappy (emotionally or physically or both), a little treat can go a long way. On the days I was feeling particularly bad, I tried to indulge a little in things that made me happy. Some of the things I treated myself to: I picked up my favorite dessert at the market. I spent a few hours watching a beloved Disney film. I happily obliged when my mom offered to treat me to some new books. I slept in on a weekday. I ordered in pizza instead of making it. I bought a fun new photo editing app to play with. Each of these acts was small, but they gave my mood a little boost when I was feeling low. Of course a lasting sense of happiness has to come from within, but when you're struggling to feel well, a little external mood-booster never hurts. 

3. FIND A GOOD DISTRACTION. 

When it comes to dealing with difficulty, I'm not a fan of sweeping things under the rug, but when you're having a tough time physically and you've done all you can to try to make yourself feel well but you still feel terrible, it can be helpful to find a good distraction. It could be anything — a new book, a favorite funny film, a friend stopping by — so long as it takes you away from your pain for a little bit and gives you a positive feeling. One of the best distractions I had when I wasn't feeling well was a friend coming over and listening to podcasts with me. It sounds like such a simple thing, but it made me forget about being in pain for awhile and inspired me to think and talk about things other than how bad I was feeling. 

4. KEEP THINKING OPTIMISTICALLY. 

Our thoughts are so powerful. As tempting as it was for me to think, "I'm never going to get better," every time I had a thought like this, I reminded myself just how powerful my thoughts were. Instead I told myself, "I will get better. Maybe not today, but soon I will be back to my old self." I'm not going to lie — at times it was frustrating to repeat this mantra and continually wake up feeling bad, but I do think there's something to be said about optimistic thinking when it comes to health. In fact, studies have shown that positive thinking can improve recovery times post-surgery, and some people even claim that thinking positively helped cure serious illnesses. Whether or not positive thinking actually does make you well or not, it certainly doesn't hurt and, at the very least, it improves your mental state!

5. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. 

Yes, I felt terrible at times and my mental state was far from ideal, but when I started thinking about all of the other health conditions in the world (and all of the other places in the world where good medical treatment isn't available), I started to feel incredibly lucky. Here was, suffering from something relatively minor and with the means to have it taken care of by an award-winning doctor in one of the best surgery centers in the world. All things considered, I was pretty darn lucky. Focusing on this made it much easier to cope when I was feeling extra bad. Every time I was in pain or feeling frustrated by my situation, I reminded myself how lucky I was and my mood instantly brightened. 

6. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO. 

My condition made what I could do very limited, which was frustrating. I love being productive and laying on the couch all day (fun as that sounds!) gets really old, no matter how much you love reading or the Internet. I found myself wanting to cry sometimes in frustration because I didn't feel as if I could do much of anything for weeks and weeks and weeks. But at some point I realized I had to snap out of that mindset. Yes, I was limited in what I could do, but there were still things I could manage and it was time to take advantage of them. I could do lots of reading. I could still think of ideas and do some writing. I could research things on my phone while I was laying down. I could watch films I'd been wanting to catch up on. I couldn't do all the things I wanted to do, but focusing on what I could do make it easier to feel as if I was making progress (even while resting!). 

7. SPEND TIME WITH OTHER PEOPLE. 

When you're not feeling well, it's tempting to hole yourself up at home and stay there until you feel better. When you have a common cold, this works well (also, it's kind of necessary so you don't spread germs to others!), but when you're unwell for weeks at a time, this plan doesn't work so well. It only makes you feel more frustrated, lonely, and unhappy with your current state. If possible, get out of the house. (I forced myself to do this even when it was physically tough to do so.) If that's not an option, invite people over or chat with friends on the phone. As an introvert, social interaction isn't my go-to cure, but it really does help to spend time with others. It gets you out of your own head and provides a welcome distraction from focusing on physical pain.

 

After this experience, I've learned just how important health is, and I've also begun to feel a much deeper sense of compassion for people in general. Now that I've been out and about in the world while feeling miserable, I've become more aware of the fact that you just never know what someone else is going through. Now when I encounter people who are rude or in a rush, I have to wonder if they're in some sort of pain. You can't always see the pain others are experiencing and, now knowing what it's like to have to carry on day after day while not feeling well, my eyes are opened to the possibility that others might be struggling too. 


positively present picks : june 26, 2015

Positive vibes

Positive vibes print via A Beautiful Mess
 

 

Quote-of-the-week

"To handle yourself, use your head.
To handle others, use your heart."

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Links-I-Love

Tumblr Lovin' : been spending a lot of time over on Tumblr lately

Summertime Desktop + Phone Backgrounds : love these Free People freebies

You'll Do It When You're Ready : love this (via Danielle LaPorte)

50 Ways to Be Happy Right Now : honored to be featured in this! 

Enjoy the Process : I'm loving this temporary tattoo by Tattly

Three Words You Should Stop Saying Right Now : they really serve no point

5 Things that Happen When You Embrace Being Alone : love that solo time!

Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People : 'cause you can't always avoid 'em

How to Stop Being a Slave to Your Emotions : don't let them control you

20 Small Ways to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone : go on, try something new

Steve Jobs on Focus + Saying No : wow. these are powerful words. 

10 Ways to Stay Positive in the Face of Negativity : #1 is so important

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem : now's the time to love who you are!

31 Ways to Appreciate the Present Moment : so many mindful ideas here

Love Brigade : a wonderful and inspiring subscription box

4 Types of Productivity Styles : figure out yours to get more done

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
 

"Bad Blood / Never Getting Back Together" — Taylor Swift
"Earned It" (Cover) — Madilyn Bailey
"Distance" — The Violet feat. Van Ward
"Tom's Diner" — Giorgio Moroder feat. Britney Spears
"Midas" — Malibu State feat. Holly Walker
"We're Gonna Be Alright" — The Runaway Club
"Hollow Home Road" — Brolly
"I Want to Feel Alive" — Lighthouse + the Whaler
"Master Pretender" — First Aid Kit
"Goodbye, Goodbye" — Tegan and Sara

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

All the Bright Places
Jennifer Niven

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

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

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

 


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