Let the Dead Leaves Drop : Lessons from Autumn on Letting Go


Dead leaves drop


This week my favorite season, autumn, officially arrives! I know how basic it sounds, but I seriously love everything about the season. In particular, I love the changing of the leaves. Not only are the vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges my favorite, but I find something comforting in the fact that the trees are at their most beautiful when they are in the midst of letting go.

For most of us, letting go is hard. It's a struggle to release people, things, or emotions we've grown accustomed to having in our lives. Some people are better at letting go than others. I, for example, have a terrifically terrible time letting go of people, but when it comes to letting go of material things, I have absolutely no trouble saying goodbye. Others don't seem to cling to people the way I do, but ask them to get rid of a dress they wore once in high school and they act like you're asking them to sell their soul. We're all different when it comes to letting go, but I bet that no matter who you are, you have a hard time letting go of something.

But you know what? That's okay. It's okay to have a hard time releasing what matters to you. Whether it's things, people, or thoughts, it's difficult to give up something you once thought of (or still think of) as yours. But just because it's hard doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. When you keep things you don't need (and, yes, this includes people), you create emotional (and sometimes physical) mess. Extra things create clutter in your home, and extra people create clutter in your heart. Personally, I'd rather not have any clutter in my life -- and the only way to do that is to learn how to let things go.

It's not always easy to release things, the way the trees always seem to graciously let go of their leaves each autumn, but it's up to you to choose to stop clinging to the things that you no longer need in your life. No one is going to do it for you, but I've got some tips for how to make it happen. Ready? Okay, let's go let go! 

  • Decide what's really important. When you take a step back and think about what's truly important to you, you'll realize that many of the things you're holding on to aren't as essential as you once thought. What's essential is being healthy, positive, mindful, and living your life to the fullest. If you are clinging to things or people, you're not really at peace with yourself or your life. Step back and assess what really matters to you, and letting go will become a lot easier.

  • Assess what benefits you're getting. One of the reasons we hang on to things or people is because we believe they add value to our lives. But is that actually true? Think about it -- and I mean really think about it. Are you benefiting from the clutter (emotional or physical) in your life? Is your life richer because you are surrounded by negative people? Probably not. Take a moment to list the benefits you think you're getting and you'll probably have a short list. Use this to motivate yourself to release what no longer serves you.

  • Recognize that you're overvaluing it. You're the one placing high value on a person or thing you're holding on to unnecessarily. More often than not, you're idealizing that person or thing and telling yourself that, for whatever reason, you need it/him/her. However, that's not true. If there's any part of you saying "let go," that means let go. What you need in your life is you. You also need things that are bringing you up, not down. If something isn't bringing you up, it's bringing you down. Stop overvaluing it and let it go.

  • Be brave enough to release your grip. It really does come down to the old Nike slogan, "Just do it." No matter how hard it is, no matter what obstacles stand in your way, sometimes you have to just suck it up, be brave, and release your grip. I know this is much easier said than done, but, honestly, it really is the only way. You owe it to yourself to be brave; to release the things that you no longer need. A remember: the hardest part is the release; once you're brave enough to take that first step, you'll soon see that you're just fine without it. 

As much as you might think you need something or someone, keep in mind that "need" is a very strong word. What you really "need" in your life is very different from what you "want." Keep in mind that, deep down, you know what's best for you. If there's something telling you to let go, listen to that instinct. Your gut feelings will let you know what's right and what's wrong. You just need to open your mind and listen to them. And then, when you hear that voice telling you that you need to let something go, have the courage to really listen and to take action.

Letting go isn't often easy, but you can make your life so much more positive if you take inspiration from the beautiful trees in autumn and just let the dead leaves drop. And, yes, you might go through a tough time -- a winter, if you will -- but that will pass, and you'll grow stronger and healthier in the process, just like bright green leaves and flowers do each spring. 


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Positively Present Picks : September 16, 2016


Grow Dani DiPirro


“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Anaïs Nin


10 Creative Ways to Express Gratitude : check out my Tiny Buddha post!

Magic Lessons : a must-listen-to podcast (and the book* is amazing)

How to Fall in Love with Yourself : your greatest love story yet ;)

Why Is It So Hard to Live in the Present? : this video explains it so well

7 Tips for Clearing Office Clutter : less mess equals less stress

Secret Room : omg, these bookshelves + secret room are amazing

What Does It Mean to Have a Good Life? : is yours actually good?

Feeling Anxious? : turn down your body's alarm system

5 Pointers for Freedom-Based Creativity : excellent work habits list!

Peace is Power* : love the mantra behind this beautiful candle

HabitZen : this new Zen Habits app sounds (and looks!) amazing

Small Habits That Will Steal Your Happiness : try to break these habits

Practice Self-Gratitude : doing so will actually help others

The Mindfulness of Photo Sharing : for all of you Instagram lovers :) 



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!

"The Greatest" — Sia
"Carry Us" — Afrakite
"Black and White" — Regina Spektor
"Rise Up" — Jasmine Thompson
"Money" — Joe Achi
"Hallucinating"— Elohim
"Making All Things New" — Aaron Espe
"Wildflowers" — Caged Animals
"Golden Fleece" — Amy Shark
"Clementine" — Sarah Jaffe



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change,
and Thrive in Work and Life
Susan David, PhD

Bad Girls Throughout History:
100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World*
Ann Shen

Mating for Life*
Marissa Stapley

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness*

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*

Links marked with asterisks are affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page. 

A-Wear-Ness: Mindfulness + What You Wear



When you think of mindfulness, your wardrobe probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind, but your fashion choices (even if you don't think your attire falls in the "fashion" category) impact your life more than you might realize. Like it or not, what you wear influences how others see you and how you feel about yourself. “Enclothed cognition” is the scientific definition for how your style and clothing choices reflect and affect your mood, health, and confidence. And, of course, those things — mood, health, confidence — greatly influence how you see the world and how you live your life. 

Fashion has always been of interest to me (I even contemplated on majoring in it in college before I transferred to a school that didn't have a fashion program!), but I've avoided talking too much about it because it seemed too materialistic or superficial for Positively Present. A few weeks ago I read an article on The Numinous, "Fashion as Self-Love," about KE7H3R designer Janelle Corpuz Hethcoat, and it made me realize that fashion and mindfulness are, in fact, very much related. 

Fashion — just like all aspects of our lives — can (and should!) be a mindful practice. I've been thinking about the correlation between fashion and mindfulness a lot lately and I've decided to call this mindful practice of buying and wearing clothing a-wear-ness. I even created a little acronym (W.E.A.R.) to help you understand and practice a-wear-ness in your own life. 



In this first aspect of a-wear-ness, it's important to consider your personal style and your lifestyle. (I wear sweatpants 90% of the time, but that certainly wouldn't work if I had a typical corporate job!). This step also involves carefully considering what (and how often!) you're purchasing new things. Yes, buying something new feels great, but that feeling is fleeting. Instead of seeking that brand-new-outfit rush, be thoughtful about what you buy and strive to purchase only the things that truly speak to you.  

"Fashion becomes a self-love practice when you can honestly answer the question: does wearing this make me feel like I can be myself?" said Janelle Corpuz Hethcoat, and I couldn't agree with those words more. What you wear impacts how you feel, which is why it's important to wear things that make you feel good (regardless of whether they're cool or on-trend). First and foremost, pay attention to what styles you like and what's comfortable for you, but also be open to new styles, too. (No one ever feels that great when they're stuck in a fashion rut!)

Personally, I'm all for following fashion trends (these days I almost always have a choker on, I've got a new bomber jacket on the way to me right now, and I'm definitely on board with the fanny pack!), but I don't believe in wearing something just because it's on-trend. If you like it and it happens to be a trend, go for it! But if you want to focus on a-wear-ness, it's essential to wear only the things you love — things that make you smile, feel comfortable, or give you confidence — regardless of how "fashionable" they are. 



Vivienne Westwood once said, "Buy less, choose well, make it last." Those are some very wise words, and they go hand-in-hand with the concept of a-wear-ness. 

Over the past few years, I've been hearing more about the capsule wardrobe, which consists of a owning fixed amount of well-made pieces that can be worn interchangeably rather than a closet filled with items you might only wear once. While I've yet to personally adopt this fashion model, I do edit my closet each season, getting rid of the items I no longer love or wear and donating them to someone who might make use of them.

Choosing a minimalist approach to your style and consciously curating your wardrobe means you're attention is on what you have instead of constantly seeking out new items to buy. This is not only good for your wallet and peace of mind (fewer options = less time stressing about what to wear), but it's also a great way to practice gratitude too because you learn to deeply appreciate the items you already possess rather than seeking new ones. 

If you're not sure how to do this, start by making a list of the clothing you actually wear often and take note of why you wear it. Does it feel comfortable? Does it make you happy? Did it come from a meaningful place or person? Take note of the styles, colors, fabrics, etc. you're drawn to (and the ones you're not, so you know what not to purchase in the future!). 

A great way to put this into practice is to create fashion vision board, like my Closet Cravings board on Pinterest. Doing this serves two important purposes: (1) it gives you great insight into your personal style, and (2) it provides a place for you to save items you like without immediately purchasing them. Pin them to your board and then come back later to see if you do, in fact, feel they are items that will add to your a-wear-ness



Where your clothing comes from is important, and contemplating the creation and manufacturing of the items you purchase is a big part of a-wear-ness. The energy that goes into the clothing you wear can have an impact on you, whether you realize it or not. As Janelle Corpuz Hethcoat put it:

Think about the energy that is put behind creating what you are placing on your body as your expression and reflection of yourself. Everything, even fashion, is a transference of energy. When you choose products that are made ethically, you are showing loving concern for the world, which in turn is an act of self-love — because in saying that the rest of the humans on this planet deserve better you are also saying you deserve better.

While I won't deny that I love a good fast-fashion find, I also realize how important it is to consider where your items come from and do your best to make conscious choices. Cultivate a-wear-ness by researching wear your clothing is made and how it is done. And, if possible, try to buy from local or small businesses.   

Also, it's very important not to buy items that feature designs stolen from small businesses. There's been a huge, unfortunate trend of big brands stealing from smaller designers (see Shop Art Theft), and I'm pretty sure stolen designs aren't going to have the best karma. Putting things on your body that are made ethically (and not stolen from others!) is a great way to cultivate a-wear-ness. 



This last point ties in with the second one. If you choose to have a wardrobe filled with a thoughtfully curated selection of items you love (and actually wear!), you might, at times, get a bit bored with your wardrobe. But a-wear-ness doesn't have to be boring! The trick is to learn how to revamp your wardrobe in little ways so it feels fresh even when you don't go out and buy every new trendy item on the rack. 

First, it's important to make sure you care for the items you own and repair them when you can. It can be really useful to know how to sew and mend so you can revamp your items if they wear down. (If you're not the mending type, identify where you can take items that need to be fixed so you can keep them looking nice instead of purchasing new ones). 

In addition to keeping your items it tiptop shape, you can also revamp your wardrobe in a big way with small accessories. Accessories allow you to change-up your look without buying a brand new set of clothes each season, and they give you a bit of customization that allow you to share a little bit of  personality with the world. Not sure how to customize? First, check to see what you already own and consider how you might wear it with different outfits. If you're in the mood to add a little something to your closet, consider adding a pin (like my Less Hate, More Love one!) to your collar or investing in jewelry that has interchangeable elements (i.e., different watch bands or charms on a necklace).   

Revamping your wardrobe with little things is not only a great way to cut down on clothing costs, but it's a great way to practice a-wear-ness by tapping into your creativity and identifying items that refresh your look. 


Whether or not you give much thought to what you wear, I hope you enjoyed learning about the concept of a-wear-ness. Fashion might sound frivolous, but what you wear does matter, both in the greater ethical, environmental sense, and in the personal, self-love sense. Appearances aren't everything (it's what's inside that really matters!), but fashion is a great way to express your personality, play with your creativity, and increase your confidence. The more a-wear-ness you practice, the more mindful and self-aware you'll become. 



A big THANK YOU to the sponsor of this post, Fanny Factory! Fanny Factory is a fashion company on a mission to bring back the fanny pack! They have taken the classic 90s-era fanny packs and made them cool again with a huge variety of fun patterns – from tropical pineapples, to flamingos, to retro paint splatters and pink florals – there’s something for everyone! Perfect for music festivals, exercising and traveling: the fanny pack is back! Get your new favorite accessory at FannyFactory.com. 


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Positively Present Picks : September 9, 2016




"The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely."

C.G. Jung


The Secret to Staying Motivated : even when you're not seeing results...

Introvert Hangovers : these are so, so real; I get them all the time! 

Making a Fuck That! List : love this concept via Gala Darling

Where Abundance Comes From : Raptitude always has such wise words

Don't Panic! : check out these ideas to reduce anxiety + fear

Things I Didn't Buy : I really need to start keeping a list like this!

The Signs of Internet Burnout : why you might need to take a break

Love + Self-Love : this video explains the link between them so well

Venture Shorts Podcast : so honored to be interviewed on here

Sorry Syndrome : are you apologizing too much? time to stop that!

The Capacity to Be Alone : oooh, this Osho quote is so, so good

Stop Thinking, Start Acting : it's the only way to create real change

The Bright Side of Your Bad Mood : bad moods aren't all bad

Self-Help List : a short list filled with lots and lots of wisdom

Feeling Stuck? : here are 7 must-read tips for getting out of a rut



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!

"Coffee" — Sylvan Esso
"Alone" — Plasi
"Vices" — BOYBOY
"Into the Unknown" — Postcards from Mars
"On My Own" — Bear Mountain
"We Are the Love"— Sutherland
"Slow Down" — The New Coast
"Old Pine" — Ben Howard
"Awake at Night" — Lowes
"Silver and Gold" — WILD



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Bad Girls Throughout History:
100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World*
Ann Shen

Mating for Life*
Marissa Stapley

The Nest*
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

The Vacationers*
Emma Straub


I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness*

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*

Links marked with asterisks are affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page. 

How to Reclaim Your Magic


Reclaim Your Magic


Yours is the light by which my spirit's born:
you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.

e.e. cummings


Last week wasn't the first time I read those words, but it was the first time I thought about them in a different way. After reading them, I thought to myself, What if we talked about ourselves the way we talk about someone we're in love with? What if we wrote poems — and had thoughts — filled with that same admiration and adoration? 


It seems like a far-fetched notion (and perhaps a narcissistic one?), but I couldn't get the concept out of my head, particularly in relation to the e.e. cummings quote. What if, instead of seeking to revolve our lives around someone else (a partner, children, even a job that sometimes stands in for a love affair), we found all of that magic within ourselves? This isn't to say we couldn't — and wouldn't — find magic in other people or experiences, but imagine if that wasn't the focus, but instead the focus was to find that magic — the light we're drawn to in other people — in ourselves...


These ideas inspired me to create the illustration above, and also inspired me to think about what it would be like to reconnect with the magic that is within us. By "magic," I mean not the stuff of wizards and witches (though that's cool too), but the parts of you that are special, wonderful, and unique. By "magic," I mean the true essence of who you were before the world told you who you "should" be. By "magic," I mean the parts of yourself that fill you with such wonder that you feel you could spend ages exploring them. By "magic," I mean the parts of yourself that scare you a little bit because maybe they are "weird" or uncommon or mysterious. 


I've been spending a lot of time thinking about this concept, and it's inspired me in a lot of ways (more to come on that soon!). I thought it might inspire you too so I've come up with a handful of questions you might want to ponder to get in touch with your magic. 



What did you enjoy when you were a kid? Consider what you liked to spend your time doing when you were a kid and you may be surprised that you still enjoy similar things. Often the activities we enjoy during childhood are experiences we continue to take joy from throughout our whole lives. Give some thought to this question, and you may uncover a lot about the essence of who you are. 


What beliefs did you have in childhood? This might be a trickier one to figure out since it can be tougher to recall beliefs than actual activities, but here are some things to consider when trying to recall your beliefs. What made you angry as a child? What made you feel joyful? What's one of your best memories? Your worst? These questions will give you insight into what your values were. 


What is your most favorite thing to do now?  Getting in touch with your childhood self is important for reclaiming magic, but so too is connecting with who you are now. If you could spend a day doing only one thing, what would it be? Why? Does that activity make you feel a certain way? Try to pinpoint how it makes you feel and you'll find clues to your magic. 


What would your ideal day consist of? Looking more big picture, contemplate how you'd like to spend an ideal day. Consider the following: what you would do, who would be there, where you would be, what would you feel, etc. Even take note of little details like weather and what you'd wear. Exploring the idea of an ideal day can provide insight into what you value and love most. 


What would do you feel really good about? Connecting with your magic is all about reclaiming the best parts of yourself. Take a moment to think about what you're really good at, what qualities you consider to be your best traits, and any other positive aspects of yourself. Focusing your attention on your good points can help you see where you thrive (and where secret magic might be hidden!). 



Reclaiming your magic won't happen overnight, but if you start with these questions, you'll inspire yourself to do a little soul-searching, which will hopefully allow you to reconnect with the parts of yourself that are the most important to you. The more connected you feel to yourself and the more you focus on your magical qualities, the better your life becomes. Your relationship with yourself grows stronger and, as a result, your relationships with others will too. 


Want more inspiration for connecting with your most magical self? Check out the links below for books, workbooks, and products that'll inspire you to reclaim that magic! 


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