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December 2010

5 steps for creating a december to remember

december to remember()

WARNING: I have launched full-force into the holiday spirit, and I will be spending a lot of time writing about the Christmas holiday over the next month. For those of you not at all interested in Christmas, I hope you'll stick around until the New Year when my sparkle-dusted, green-and-red holiday-themed posts subside. And for those of you
interested in diving headfirst in to the holiday spirit with me, get ready for some glitter-coated, snow-covered Christmas posts certain to inspire you!  

For me, and for many others, December is a very festive time of year. It's the time of year when the season is changing from fall to winter, when many holidays are being celebrated, and when the air is filled with the promise and excitement of people coming together in celebration. If you celebrate a December holiday, you most likely want to have a memorable holiday season, and have every intention of making it the "best one ever." But, if you're anything like me, with the hustle and bustle of everything, too often I look back on the holidays and it all seems like a blur of red and green and sparkle and something vaguely resembling magic. 

I always want to be present for the month of December, but between the holiday preparation, the parties, and the To Do lists, I often feel like I rush and rush and suddenly find myself in January, scratching my head and wondering where the holiday season went. Being present when there's so much to do can be very difficult, which is why I've taken a step back from the busy-ness of the holidays to think about how to make it a season that I will remember. (Yes, much as I cringe to admit it, the idea for this post came to me while watching a commercial for the Lexus "December to Remember" event...)

As much as I want to be present and remember the month of December, it's a lot easier to say, "Be present!" than it is to actually do it. This year I've decided to come up with a (hopefully) foolproof plan to make the most of the month. Though some of the plan does apply to the Christmas season specifically, most of it can be applied to anyone's December -- or any month for that matter -- that you want to remember. 

Create a December to Remember

Step 1: Live each moment in the present. During the holiday season, there are so many different things going on. There are events to attend, gifts to purchase, and and array of over-stimulating holiday decorations pretty much everywhere. As a result of all this commotion, it can be very easy to get distracted from what is supposed to be the true meaning of the holiday season -- giving to others and spending time with those you love. When you find yourself overwhelmed by the chaos of the holiday season, take a deep breath and remind yourself to pay attention. Even the smallest things -- like a holiday display in a store window, or smile from a festive stranger -- can symbolize the holiday season. If you take a moment to pay attention to what's going on around you, you'll be much more likely to remember it after the season has passed you by.  

Step 2: Embrace your favorite traditions. While you're doing all of this paying attention to what's going on around you, you might as well take a good look at your holiday traditions. Are there things you love to do every year? What traditions did you have in your family while you were growing up? What can you do today to keep those traditions alive. Sticking to the traditions to love is one way to make sure your holiday season will be more memorable. For example, I used to love opening an advent calendar every year during the month of December and this year my mom bought me a new one so I could keep up the childhood tradition I loved so much. Another tradition I try always to keep is reading The Magic Christmas. No matter how many times I've read it, it really puts me in the holiday spirit. Embracing traditions you know and love really can help to make your holiday more memorable. 

Step 3: Be open to new experiences. As much as I love adhering to old traditions, a surefire way to make this December one to remember is to do something you've never done before. Don't know where to get new ideas? Ask your friends and acquaintances what their holiday traditions are. Some might sound strange to you, but you're bound to hear about something that sounds new and exciting. Trying something new -- regardless of what you're celebrating -- is a great way to make a moment memorable. When we do the same thing over and over again, we're a lot less likely to remember it. So if you really want to spice up your holiday season and make this December one you'll always remember, open your mind to new ideas and don't be afraid to break away from the things you've always done. You never know -- you might just create a brand new tradition for yourself!

Step 4: Capture your moments on film. Sure, we all have every intention of photographing life's most important moments, but how often do we really get the camera out and start capturing moments? It's easy to look through the lens at the obvious moments -- like Christmas morning or when the family is sitting around the table -- but what about the not-so-obvious moments? Think about the photographs you take and really pay attention to the moments you want to remember. These moments don't have to be the typical stringing-the-tree-lights or sitting-on-Santa's-lap situations. The moments that matter most are the moments that are special for you. They might be completely odd or startling typical, but they are your special moments. Really think about what you want to remember this December and be sure to have your camera close by. You never know when a truly memory-worthy moment will strike so be prepared. 

Step 5: Take time to write it down. Whether you're a writer like me or not, you should take the time this December to write about the moments that matter most to you. You don't have to be Plath or Woolf to put the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and make a record of what inspires you this holiday season. All you need is an open mind and a little dedication. When rushing from one thing to another this December, it will be hard to pause and write down the memories you're experiencing, but, believe me, you'll be happy if you take the time to do it. Even if you don't have a ton of free time (and who does!), set aside a few minutes at the end of every day this month and write about what you've experienced. Write about the things that mean the most to you and strive to focus on the positive things about the holiday season. If you take a few minutes to put the moments into writing now, you'll look back next year and smile at the memories. 


Like you probably do, I struggle with being present during the holiday season. I really, really want to embrace the moments I'm experiencing and live completely in the now, but often the stress of the holidays dominates my thoughts and I'm always looking to the future, pondering all of the things yet to be crossed off on the To Do list. However, unlike holidays I've experienced before, I'm really going to try to live in the moments this December and, hopefully, it will be a December I never forget. 

How will you make this December unforgettable? 
Any tips for making the most of this month? 

online gratitude: 33 thankworthy finds


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, of course I'm thinking about all of the great things I'm thankful for in my life. My gratitude list is endless, but one thing I'm particularly thankful for this year is the plethora of online resources, sites, and inspiration I've come across. I spend so much time online, but I rarely stop and think about how awesome it is that we all have such great access to the world and to so many other people doing awesome, inspiring things. Though I could probably write hundreds of blog posts about sites I'm thankful for, I've narrowed my list down to 33 things I'm really grateful to have discovered online. Some are 2010 finds and others have been in my online repertoire for years, but whether I've been constantly clicking the links or just discovered them, they've all impacted me positively. So, as a gesture of thanks for reading Positively Present (thank you! thank you! thank you!), I've decided to share them with you...


  1. Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr! Oh, how I heart you! You are my 2010 favorite. 

  2. Jessica's Daily Affirmation. I want to wake up and be just like her every morning. 

  3. Our arms, like leaves... A brilliant quote from Miranda July on You Are Remarkable

  4. Joie Magazine. Indie Fixx's magazine all about the joyful art of living. 

  5. Positively Present on Twitter. It's a great way to connect with readers. Thanks for the tweets! 

  6. Scoutie Girl's Creating Action Mini Course. Utterly heartfelt inspiration delivered right to your in-box. 

  7. Perideau Designs. Modern stationary for the young -- and young at heart. I just love her style! 

  8. White Hot Truth. Because self-realization really does rock and site founder Danielle LaPorte knows it.  

  9. Life After College (the book!). It's coming in 2011 and gonna flat-out awesome. Pre-order now

  10. Brave Girls Club's How to Be Amazing. No matter what, just be amazing anyway. Excellent advice.

  11. Free downloads on How About Orange, including a Make-Your-Own Owl Calendar

  12. Be Yourself. A poem we could all use to remind ourselves that what we are is all we need to be. 

  13. Color Me Katie's banner. The website's pretty great too, but I just love that banner!

  14. Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design. An excellent resource for learning more about yourself. 

  15. Daydream Lily. Some of the most beautiful, inspiring images I've seen. 

  16. Here's the truth... A Kind Over Matter blog post that picked me up just when I needed it. 

  17. Winnie the Pooh's Guide to a Happier Life. He does seem pretty darn happy, doesn't he? 

  18. Pizzazzerie. Want to entertain in style? This is the go-to site for entertaining fabulousness.

  19. Being featured as a Kind Kindred. Yay! It made me happy to be spotlighted on Kind Over Matter. 

  20. Tiny Buddha. Tiny Buddha offers up fantastic wisdom on various topics. Follow on Twitter too. 

  21. Life Through the Lens. Beautiful photographs you can buy on Etsy. Love them. 

  22. Art Pixie. So much more than just design & inspiration...Photos. Fashion. Downloads. And more!

  23. Pugly Pixel's E-course and Tutorials. I particularly enjoyed the preview e-course on Design

  24. Art by Kelly O'Connor. Her Disney-inspired pieces inspired me to create collage-like art of my own.

  25. Living in Moment Makes You Happier article. Science proves it! Hooray for living in the present!

  26. GoodReads. I love being able to track (and share!) what I'm reading. If you love books, sign up. 

  27. Wordle. Create cool "word clouds" online using their software. Oddly fun to play around with. 

  28. My post featured on Think Simple Now -- site that inspired me to start Positively Present! 

  29. Life...Your Way Printables. These are super helpful if you want to get (or stay) organized. 

  30. Gifted. A holiday magazine and gift guide that, whether you're shopping or not, is beautiful to look at. 

  31. AOL Muchness article. So excited my blog was mentioned (and called amazing!). 

  32. Amazon. Helped me to find childhood favorites (like Alpha-Bakery and Ed Emerley drawing books). 

  33. GalaDarling. One of my favorite sites, hands down. Fashion. Advice. Sass. All in one great spot! 


As I'm sure you can imagine, there are more than 33 links I love, but these are some of my favorites and I hope you have a chance to check some of them out. If you're looking for inspiration, they're certainly some of the best places I'd recommend visiting. I'm grateful to have found them and even more grateful that I have a place here on Positively Present where I can share them with you. I hope they, in some small way, help you to be more positive and more present!


What online goodies are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Which sites do you return to again and again for inspiration?  

a picture's worth a present moment

"Photography takes an instant out of time, 
altering life by holding it still."

Dorothea Lange


All my life I've loved two things fiercely: words and photographs. The words have always been at the forefront of my life, taking precedence over nearly everything else, but the photographs have always been there in the background, inspiring me more than I realized. Looking back on my childhood, I see all of the hours I spent snapping pictures with friends, carefully storing photos in albums, and spending afternoons locked up in my room with a stack of magazines, cutting out image after image. 

It's only over the past year or so that I've realized just how much photos impact my life. I spend a great deal of time searching for the perfect photo for a post -- and it's one of my favorite things to spend time doing. As a result, I spend an abnormal amount of time on Tumblr (Check it out here: searching through photo after photo after photo. And I love every moment of it. Just as I loved flipping through magazines as a child, eagerly looking for a beautiful image or inspiring words to cut out and add to my collection, on Tumblr I find myself searching for those beautiful, moving things that, for just a moment, can take me into that moment that someone else experienced. 

What I find most thrilling about photographs -- both those I take and those I observe -- is that they focus only on a moment, a single precious moment. Living in the present moment is difficult, something I struggle with nearly every moment. My mind is often flooded with images from the past and doused by worries about the future so finding those moments when I can be completely and utterly present is always amazing. 

Photography is one of the best tools I've found for staying in the moment. When I grab one of my cameras (especially my new Fiji Instax Mini, which I'm in love with!) and head out to take some photos, I know without a doubt that I'll be staying present. And when I find myself on Tumblr searching for photos, I know I'll be in the moment whenever I spot an image that truly moves me. Here are some of the ways you can use photography in your own life to stay in the moment.

Using Photography To Stay Present 

1. Grab your camera and go outside. Seems obvious enough, but how often do you really reach for your camera when it's not a special occasion? Most of us feel the need for a reason to take out the camera, but that's just not necessary. No matter where you live, what you're in the middle of doing, there's always something you can capture a picture of. And, really, you don't even have to go outside! Look around you... I bet there's something right near by that would make a great photo. 

2. Visit a photography exhibit near you. This week it's FotoWeek in Washington, DC, where I live. Sadly I've missed out on the festivities, but the coming of FotoWeek has reminded me that there are so many great photography exhibits and museums near me that I should take advantage of. And if you don't live in an exhibit-filled city like DC, don't despair! There are often exhibits at local community centers, schools, and libraries that are sure to be filled with inspiring images. 

3. Search for great pics online. Alright, alright, I know this seems like it's just another plug for my beloved Tumblr -- but honestly there are some amazing things to be found on there. Of course, you have to find inspiring people to follow, but once you do that, you'll find that it's one of the best resources for finding beautiful, impassioned photos. I've also provided a list of great sites at the end of the post and I'd highlight recommend checking those out as well. 

4. Flip through some magazines or books. I know with the onset of online magazines and ebooks, we have fewer things to flip through with our hands, but there are still so many great photographs in magazines and books and they are always a great place to fall into the moment of a single image. Often holding something in your hands gives it even more realness and it's that sense of reality that will allow you to be even more present in that moment. 

5. Take daily pictures of one item in your life. I've always wanted to do this, but haven't yet tried it. I've heard of people taking a picture a day of one specific thing -- what they ate for breakfast, what they wore, their pets -- and keeping all of the images to see what they ate/wore/saw over the course of time. Most people wouldn't want to take on this project since it sounds time-consuming, but how long does it really take to snap a photo? If you're looking for an inspiring photo-based project, this idea is a great one. 


In my opinion, cameras are pretty amazing tools for keeping us in the moment. Even when you are reflecting back on old images, you'll find yourself lost in a specific moment. And even when you're looking at others images, you can find yourself in someone else's moment. If, like me, you struggle to stay present from time to time, take a closer look at your camera and see if you might be able to find some inspiration there. And For some truly inspiring photographs, check out these sites: 

Art Pixie

Color Me Katie 

Constantly Evolving

Daydream Lily

Here Comes the Sun

Happily Ever After Now

Pugly Pixel