a christmas carol starring... you!

Christmas

 

One of my favorite Christmas tales is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's such a thought-provoking story, filled with concepts like forgiveness and compassion and taking control of the present that we should try to apply to our lives all year long. (If you haven't read the story before, I highly recommend it. You can read the full text here for free. Or watch this version that I used to watch as a kid!) For those of you who haven't read it / watched a film version / don't remember it, here's the gist: 

A mean, miserly, lonely old man called Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve -- the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Each ghost shows him what his life was / is / will be. The Past ghost reminds him of how he's changed (and not necessarily for the better). The Present ghost shows Scrooge how the current Christmas Day will play out, particularly for those who has treated poorly. And the Yet to Come ghost shows Scrooge mysterious scenes leading up to a man's death -- a man that Scrooge soon releases is him. After the third ghost's visit, Scrooge begs for a chance to go back to the present and right his wrongs, to embrace Christmas in his heart. Scrooge suddenly wakes in his bed and is thrilled with the chance to transform Christmas Present. He shares his newfound Christmas spirit with those he's treated badly and continues to act with kindness and generosity for the rest of his life. 

I've always felt I could relate with A Christmas Carol, probably because it's a tale of transformation, a story of how someone who is "bad" can become "good." We all can probably relate in some way to being flawed, to finding flaws we want to (or do!) change. As someone who often defaults to negative thinking and who must strive again and again to master the arts of staying positive and present, I relate, in some ways, to the character of Scrooge. I know what it's like to not always have been the most positive person, to have a wake-up call (though mine wasn't in the form of three ghosts!), and to want to make the present as positive as possible because I've envisioned what the future would be like if I didn't choose to walk down a positive path. 

Whether or not you've ever had some sort of Scrooge-like, a-ha moment in which your flaws were made clear, I don't think we have to wait for some big moment to think about how we're living our lives. We don't need three ghosts to come to us (or to have some sort of mind-shattering breakthrough or breakdown). In fact, I think we could learn a lot from simply pausing to ponder the question: 

What if YOU were starring in A Christmas Carol

This question popped into my head the other day and I couldn't shake it. It's one of those great questions that prompts you to ask more questions, like:  

What would the Ghost of Christmas Past show me if I were to be visited by such a spirit? What would I see if I were led around by the Ghost of Christmas Present? And what would I see if I were to travel with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come into the future? 

Plus, it's always kind of fun to imagine yourself starring in a familiar story! Of course, I'm sure this was the whole point of Dickens' book -- to inspire people to think about the past / present / future and consider how the past and the present will impact the future. I'm sure Dickens would love it if every reader put him or herself in Scrooge's shoes. But most people just read the book or watch the film, view Scrooge objectively, and feel happy when he learns his lesson. But what about our own lessons? 

This time of year is often a time of reflection. As the year draws to a close, we recall what's happened over the past twelve months and think about what we want to happen in the year ahead. But I suggest taking it a little bit further and ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. What would the Ghost of Christmas Past show you? 
  2. Who would the main characters in your past be? 
  3. What are the important moments / transitions in your past? 
  4. How did the past (good and bad) impact today? 
  5. What would the Ghost of Christmas Present show you? 
  6. Who would the main characters in your life be now? 
  7. How would you interact with these characters? 
  8. What's happening in the present that might change the future? 
  9. What would the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come show you? 
  10. Who from your present will be in your future? 
  11. What will your future self be doing / feeling / thinking?
  12. How did the past / present influence future Christmases?
  13. What might you want to change to create a future you want? 

I don't know about you, but reflecting on these really made me think! These question made me question what I'm doing now, recall what I've done before (what's worked / what hasn't), and think hard about what I want in the future. I hope these questions encouraged you to think about how the past, present, and future are all connected. What we do today impacts our lives tomorrow. What we've done before is influencing what's happening now. Sometimes, with striving to live in the moment, I forget how much the present impacts the future. What you do now matters, not only to your present self, but also to the future you.

And, now, for some additional inspiration from Dickens, I've rounded-up some of my favorite quotes from the book. Hopefully they'll positively influence you now -- and keep you feeling inspired in the future too. 

"No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused."

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!"

"I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come round...as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humor."

"Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him."

 

 

Loving-Your-Self

Self-love is an important aspect of self-discovery. 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: december 11, 2015

You Can Do It

 

Quote-of-the-week

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life
less difficult for each other?"

George Eliot

 

Links-I-Love

15 Easy Things to Do When You're Feeling Down : great tips!

Procrastinate Poster : love this so much. it's so incredibly true. 

Christmas Essentials Free Art Print : so cute + love the video too 

19 Christmas Stories + Poems : perfect to get you in the spirit

Floral Backgrounds : pretty inspiration for your desktop

How to Stay Calm in a Culture of Stress : yes, it's possible! 

A Punk Rock Take on the Four Agreements : love this so much

23 Reasons to Work for Yourself : it's hard but awesome too

Desktop Wallpaper : for those who wanna hibernate with a dog ;)

Girls on the Run : such an empowering organization for young girls

12 Things You Don't Owe Anyone : #2 is so very, very important

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable : life is weird. get used to it. 

The Joy of Letting Go of Stress : you're so much better without it

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Tell Me What to Say" — The Electric Sons
"Painting Grays" — Babbit
"My Favorite Things" — Kelly Clarkson
"Different Kind of Love" — Kid Runner
"Song #4" — Little Children
"Stay for the Night"— luhx
"Alone on Christmas Day" —Phoenix
"Wavelength" — Lastlings
"The Good News" — Bloc Party
"Hands to Myself" — Selena Gomez

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

Let It Snow: 
Three Holiday Romances
John Green

Big Magic: 
Creative Living Beyond Fear
Elizabeth Gilbert

  

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

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro


the most wonderful gifts (+ giveaway) of the year!

Holiday-Giveaway


If you're like me and you love shopping for, wrapping, and giving gifts, it's pretty much the most wonderful time of the year! If you're not so into the whole gift-giving process (and you're certainly not alone in that!), it's probably not the most ideal time for you right now. There are so many gifts to think about giving this time of year — from close loved ones to coworkers to complete strangers (like, say, the person who delivers your mail) — and finding the right gift can be a bit of a challenge sometimes.

I've created a round-up of great, positive gifts for those you love (and those you don't know all that well), and I hope it'll help you cross of some of the names still on your list. (Full disclosure: most of these gifts are things I've created to help bring some more positivity and mindfulness into the world.) In addition to this round-up of gifts, I have an amazing giveaway for you at the end of this post — perfect for giving or for treating yourself to a little something special this time of year! 

Positive-Gifts-2015
1. Forest Dream Pillow: Perfect for snuggling up on the cold winter nights (and bringing a pop of color into a drab season!); more pillows available here

2. Stay Positive Book: With 365 days of inspiration, this is the perfect gift for someone who needs to focus on the positive in 2016. Also available as a PDF here

3. The Positively Present Guide to Life Book: My latest book is filled with insights and motivated to live more positively in the present. It makes a great gift for almost anyone on your list! 

4. The Desire Map Book: I didn't write this one ;) but I absolutely love it. Danielle LaPorte's work is brilliant and this is a perfect gift for anyone who feels a little uncertain or lost right now. 

5. Finding Yourself PDF Workbook: A workbook designed to help the reader find out what matters most to him or her, this workbook is a great gift idea. You can print it or just forward the link to the receiver!

6. Christmas Alphabet Print: The perfect gift for a baby (or a new parent!), this little Christmas alphabet can be brought out year after year. Check out more prints here

7. Every Day Matters Diary: This 2016 planner is (available in two sizes!) is perfect for someone who could use a little organization in their life this year. Plus it's filled with lots of inspiration too! 

8. Love Love Necklace: Another great product by Danielle LaPorte, these necklaces (which come in a variety of other styles too) make beautiful little stocking stuffers for a lady on your list. 

9. Loving Your Self PDF Workbook: Know someone who could use a little self-love? This is the gift for him or her! And, since you can download instantly, it's a great last-minute item too. 

10. Present Wall Clock: There's always that one person who really struggles to stay present. This is the gift for that guy or gal, reminding them that there's no time like the present. 

11. Yay for Today Phone Case: Give the gift of celebration every day with this cheerful phone case. Every time they use it, they'll smile. More phone case styles available here

 

I hope you've enjoyed the round-up of gifts! I know these will make someone on your list smile, and my hope is that they've given you some ideas to help make the gift-buying season a little bit easier. And, to make it even easier, I'm hosting a giveaway to make it even easier to get a (free!) gift or to treat yourself.

Holiday-Giveaway

I'm offering TWO lucky people a chance to win a copy of The Positively Present Guide to Life AND a copy of Every Day Matters 2016 Diary (in your choice of desk or pocket size). The book is your go-to guide to living positively in the present and the diary is an essential planner for keeping track of your daily activities (and positive memories!) in the year ahead. 

 

HOW TO ENTER

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

    * Friend PositivelyPresent on Facebook
    * Follow PositivePresent on Twitter
    * Follow PositivelyPresent on Instagram
    * Follow PositivelyPresent on Pinterest
    * Share this link on ANY social media outlet

2. Leave a comment below, including:

    * Where + how you entered (every follow / like / tweet / etc. counts!)
    * What the best gift you've ever received is
    * Your email address (in the email address box) 


IMPORTANT DETAILS

  * Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
  * Enter as many times as you'd like + increase your chances
  * US residents only (sorry, my international friends!)  
  * Winners will be chosen notified via email: December 13, 2015 


positively present picks: december 4, 2015

Lights
Source

 

Quote-of-the-week

"Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, 
we lose the excitement of possibilities. 
Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

Gloria Steinem

 

Links-I-Love

Zoella Vlogmas : I'm obsessed with her daily December videos :)

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Feel Stuck : love these!

This Owl Thinks You're Great : Marc Johns makes me smile

30 Inspiring Quotes on Stress : perfect for this time of year

The Happy List : what a great idea for a poster

Everybody Needs Time Off : yes, this means you too! 

How to Be Generous : great tips from Danielle LaPorte

4 Ways to Find Beauty in Every Day : it's always there...

Need an Idea?: click these cards and instant inspiration

Enjoy Winter: the Norwegian secret to making it bearable

Mindfulness is the Opposite of Neediness : so incredibly true

7 Small Changes to Increase Your Happiness : instant inspiration

A Letter Can Change a Life : plus a free booklet of templates

Tattoo Ornamentslove these (so easy + creative!)

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Sorry" — MacKenzie Johnson
"The Electric" — YNGCULT
"Ruby" — Foster the People
"Pull Me Up" — KYKO
"Something About U" — Astronomyy
"Christmas Lights"— Coldplay
"Not Gonna Let You Walk Away" —LOLO
"Playing with Fire" — Armon Jay
"All I Want for Christmas" — Mariah Carey
"Sirens" — Fleurie

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

A Christmas Memory
Truman Capote

Big Magic: 
Creative Living Beyond Fear
Elizabeth Gilbert

  

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

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro


how to stay calm during the holidays

Findyourcalm
Source

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- or not, depending on how you view the holiday season. If you're like most people, you probably have mixed feelings. On one hand, it's a magical time of year -- so festive and fun and filled with sparkly things! -- but, on the other hand, it comes with a lot of extra stress and craziness that can be downright annoying. The trick to making the most of the holiday season -- of the good and the bad -- is keeping your cool. The calmer you can stay, the better everything becomes. The difficult situations are easier to cope with and the good times are much more enjoyable. But, of course, staying calm during the holidays isn't always easy. Here are some of the best tactics for having a merrily calm holiday season: 

 

DECIDE TO CHOOSE CALM 

Too often, we go into the holiday season with a groan, envisioning the crowds, the traffic, the obligations. Doing this only enhances whatever negative experiences we might have and quickly dims the bright light of the positive side of the holidays. Instead of focusing on the stress, make it a goal to be calm this holiday season. Choosing this as a goal won't automatically make every situation a piece of cake, but it will help you shift your focus when you find yourself feeling negative. Try treating calmness as a serious goal -- just like baking five dozen cookies or wrapping all of your gifts before Christmas Eve -- and you'll be more likely to make it happen. (Bonus: tell other people it's your goal and they'll be happy to remind you of it when you start to appear less than peaceful!)

 

SAY NO TO NON-ESSENTIALS

This isn't new advice, but it's so vital that I cannot fail to add it to this list: learn to say no. It can be challenging during the holiday season to do this (after all, your cousin only has a holiday party once a year!), but the sooner you're able to draw the line between what you absolutely have to do and what you can skip out on, the sooner you'll be able to find a calm state of mind. One of the biggest stressors during the holidays is feeling like you have to do so many things (attend events, give gifts, bake cookies, trim the tree, attend religious services), but how many do you really have to do? Cut down on the to-do list and create more calm! 

 

FOCUS ON THANKFULNESS

Gratitude usually gets a big spotlight in November with Thanksgiving, but its light is sometimes dimmed during the December holidays when stress and hecticness take over. Don't let this be the case in your life. Choose to keep gratitude in the limelight all season long and it'll be a lot easier to stay calm. For one thing, gratitude is good for your health, and the healthier you feel, the easier it is to keep your cool. And, in addition to physical benefits, gratitude does amazing things for your mind too. It helps you focus on what you have instead of what you don't, which can cut way down on your stress levels. If you can, start each day in December by thinking of something you're really grateful for. (Need ideas? Check out the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge.)

 

FIND WHAT'S REALLY THE ISSUE

The holidays often become super-stressful or unpleasant because they bring up issues that've been plaguing you all year long. If, for example, you're having a tough time being single, the holidays will amplify feelings of loneliness. Or, if you've put way too many obligations on your calendar, the holidays will increase feelings of overwhelm. Sometimes it's hard to even know what's out of balance (this quiz can help to find out) so pay close attention to what's really bothering you when you lash at out a loved one or feel exasperated with all of the holiday shoppers at the mall. The sooner you can identify (and address!) the real issue, the quicker you'll be able to create more calm in your life. 

 

MAKE POST-HOLIDAY PLANS

Let's face it, sometimes, no matter how hard you try to minimize your obligations or soul-search your way out of a holiday funk, the holiday season will have stressful moments. Some years will be more lighthearted than others and some you'll have to slog your way through (sad as that sounds!). If you're having a particularly stressful holiday season, make some relaxing holiday plans so you'll have something to look forward to. Sign up for a class, book a retreat, or have a little spa day planned for the beginning of the year. While you should do your best to enjoy the holidays (and stay present), sometimes it can be nice to have a little bit of relaxation to look forward when the holidays start feel a bit too chaotic. 

 

Whatever holidays you celebrate and however you celebrate them, do your best to stay positive and to stay present. Doing so will not only make the season more enjoyable for you on a day-to-day basis, but it will also help you create a lasting sense of calm that you can come back to when things are getting particularly stressful. As the holiday season kicks off, I hope yours is filled with calm, peace, and love. 

 


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