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November 2012
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January 2013

out with the old + in with the new year


 The sun is out, 
I rush to the window
Suddenly I just want to let go
Of the past and start all over again

So I say come on, 
Open your eyes,
And see what's outside, 
there's nothing to fear,
It's a new year

Snow is falling
Beautiful and white, 
Nothing but 
Blue skies and green lights, 
Doors are open
But nothing's in the way

Let's make a list
Of things we wanna do, 
No breaks allowed
Don't look down
Just jump, 
let's fly away

And we sing,
Come on, 
Open your eyes and 
See what's outside 
There's nothing to fear, 
It's a new year
 It's a new year 

Kate York
"New Year


Out with the Old . . . 

Oh, 2012, what a year you've been! 

2012 started out bursting with amazing possibilities -- I'll be leaving my job to work on Positively Present full time! I'll finally be living the dream of being a writer! -- and, like most dream-come-true scenarios, it wasn't exactly what I'd pictured. In some ways it's been absolute bliss working from home, spending time dedicating myself to what I'm most passionate about, publishing my first book(!!!); in other ways, it's been hard keeping everything on track and doing the business-y things that I don't at all feel passionate about (I'm lookin' at you, taxes). Like most jobs, it has good days and bad days, but overall I'm so thankful to have been given the opportunity to focus on what I love. 

On a more personal note, in May my whole world shifted when my sidekick Bella was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I love her like a member of my family so when she got sick, everything changed. She was always my world, but she suddenly became the entire universe. 2012 was spent doing things I'd never even contemplated before -- finding creative ways to give her seven pills a day, dealing with the emotional stress of watching her grow thinner and thinner, dragging a shaking pup to (now every-other-day) vet visits, and struggling to find creative ways to get food into the mouth of dog who isn't very hungry. My new work-from-home lifestyle was suddenly dominated by a sick-dog checklist. It's been a lot -- a lot of stress, a lot of work, a lot of heartache -- but I wouldn't change any moment I've had with her. Though I wish with all my heart she wasn't sick, I'm so thankful I've gotten as much time with her as I have. And I'm hoping 2013 brings me many, many more months with her. 

2012 was filled with incredible highs and devastating lows. But, in all it's ups and downs, one thing it's been for sure is life-affirming. It reminded me how valuable and fleeting every moment is, and how important it is not to let the good moments slip away. As tempting as it is for me to look back on the year and think, "Ugh. 2012. The year Bella got sick," this year has been so much more than that. There have been so many amazing, dazzling moments that don't deserve to be shadowed by one heartbreaking diagnosis. 2012 might have been tough, but that old cliche "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" certainly proved to be true. 

That being said, I'm definitely ready for some 2013 action...


. . . in with the New! 

New Year's Eve is always a time to look back and remember the highlights of the year. The trouble is, when you've had some low points, it's hard not to let them take priority in your mind. (Just look at all the news recaps of 2012; they're dominated by the negative things that happened this year.) Right now, as I look back on 2012, I'm trying to focus on all the positive things that happened this year -- and I want to make sure I do the same in 2013 too. 

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend's mom sent me a link to this post on Facebook: A Year Full of Blessings Remembered, which states: "Start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. On New Year's Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year." I wish I had a jar to open tonight, filled with all the wonderful moments of 2012. But since I don't, I'm going to work 2013on creating one for 2013. This year, every time something wonderful (or even just good) happens, I'm going to write it down, fold it up, put it in a jar, and a year from today I'll open it up and recap a year of happy memories. 

Usually I'm not a big fan of looking back (after all, this is Positively Present), but I tend to make an exception when it comes to NYE. There's something magical about recalling the (positive) things that happened in a year. Taking a moment to celebrate those happy moments reinforces the idea that, no matter tough the year was, every year has something good in it. I'm really looking forward to starting my 2013 jar -- and to making the most of 2013 -- I hope you'll be doing the same. Wishing you a very positive, very present 2013! 


my wish for you this christmas . . .



It's been a weird pre-Christmas week. The health of my little pup, Bella (who's been hanging in there like a trooper!), started going downhill about a week and a half ago. Since then, I've been going to the vet every other day so she can have an IV treatment of fluids and electrolytes. Every day she gets the treatment, she seems to feel a bit better and manages to eat a little bit of food. Every day she doesn't get the treatment, she seems to be in rough shape. Needless to say, the Christmas cheer around here has been in constant flux. One day it seems like a Christmas miracle ("She's getting better!"); the next feels like it's all coming to an end ("This is it..."). I don't know how long she will continue to receive the IV treatments. There's still hope that she will get a bit better, but chances are very slim. 

As sad as it's been for me, I've been trying really, really hard to make good use of all the tips and tricks I write about here on Positively Present. I've been trying to focus on the positive and appreciate every day -- every moment -- I still have with her. It's a constant struggle not to allow my mind to wander to the future and how heartbroken I will be when she's no longer with me, but I'm trying my absolute hardest to make this most positive, most present Christmas yet. 

You see, Bella loves Christmas. More specifically, she loves presents and Christmas tends to be a present-filled season. As sick as she's been, once she hears the sound of tissue paper wrinkling or wrapping paper tearing, she's on her feet and alert. This video provides a small glimpse into her gift obsession...


Bella Loves Christmas on YouTube (click link if you can't see the video)


None of those gifts have anything dog-related in them, but she's still incessent about getting her paws on them. Ever since she was a puppy, she's been that way. Which is why I'm determined to make this Christmas one of the best she's ever had. And that brings me (in a very round about way!) to the point of this post: my wish for you this Christmas.

This Christmas, I wish you a day filled with appreciation. Appreciate the people and animals in your life. Hug your dog. Kiss your cat. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Life is short and our Christmases are limited. Don't let this one pass you by without appreciating it -- and all those you spend it with. I wish you love. I wish you happiness. I wish you a Christmas filled with memories and gratitude. Merry Christmas! 



10 life lessons from festive holiday films



I love holiday movies. Name a Hallmark or Lifetime holiday film and I bet I've seen it (and probably more than once). And don't even get me started on the classics! I'm a sucker for Frosty, Rudolph, and, of course, my favorite: Buddy the Elf. (See the post 10 Life Lessons from the Movie Elf for more on him.) This year, as I added the holiday flicks to my DVR and pulled the ones I owned from the shelves, I started thinking, What is it about holiday movies that I love so much? Why do I feel compelled to watch them year after year? 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it comes down to one of the things that matters most to me: positive thinking. As cheesy as they often (or is it always?) are, I can't help but admit that I really love the positive messages found in almost every holiday movie. Though they are decked out in holiday decor, the underlying messages in most of them are that good things can and will happen. Positive themes are threaded through holiday movies, reminding us of some very important life lessons. Here are some of my favorite life lessons from holiday films...


1. Celebrate the differences in others. (Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

We all know that people are often more than what they seem, but the character of Rudolph represents one of the best ugly duckling stories out there. He's bullied by all the other reindeer, mocked for having that bright red nose that's so different from what's typical in the reindeer world. But in the end (spoiler alert!), it's his glowing nose that saves Christmas. Rudolph might have seemed odd to other reindeer, but what made him different was what made him shine brighter than the rest. A valuable lesson in celebrating the differences in others. 


2. Make the most of the time you have. (Frosty the Snowman)

Frosty is brought to life by some children and a magic hat, but, being made of snow, his life is destined to be short. Instead of worrying about when and how he might melt (as so many of us human characters would do), he frolics about in the streets, leading the children who created him on adventures. Most importantly, Frosty puts his friends first, entering the warm greenhouse to prevent little Karen from freezing to death. In his short life, Frosty focuses on fun and friendship -- two things we too should prioritize.   


3. You have more of an impact than you realize. (It's a Wonderful Life)

Like it or not, you've probably seen (or at least heard of) the story of George Bailey, a down in the dumps businessman who is shown what life would be like if he'd never existed. As he travels through an imagined world in which he had never been born, George realizes that he did a lot of wonderful things and had more of a positive influence on the world than he had thought. Like George Bailey, we all have more of an impact on the world than we often realize. We all matter


4. Find the good wherever you find yourself. (Elf)

Buddy the Elf had it rough. He grew up the odd man out in a world of elves and was an full-grown adult before he was even aware that there was a reason he was different: he was a human. He then has to travel all the way from Santa's workshop (through the seven levels of the candy cane forest!) to the very intimidating NYC in search of his biological father, a man who isn't all too thrilled at his new and naive son. Despite all of these challenges, however, Buddy makes the most of every situation he finds himself in, spreading Christmas cheer and positivity wherever he goes.


5. Never stop going after what you really want. (A Christmas Story

Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun -- and, unfortunately for him, no one else wants him to have it. He's faced with the incessant refrain of "you'll shoot your eye out" from everyone including his parents, teachers, and even Santa. While I'm not in favor of children having guns (BB or otherwise), I am a fan of Ralphie's perseverance. It would have been much easier for him to give up on that gun and settle for some other toy, but he's determined to go after what he really wants at all costs. And in the end, his perseverance that pays off -- and teaches us all a valuable lesson. 


6. Christmas isn't about giving or getting. (A Garfield Christmas Special)

Every year, my sister and I watch this movie together, and every year I can't help but feel a little burst of happiness when Garfield says, "It's not the giving. It's not the getting. It's the loving." Hearing those words coming out of such a grumpy and selfish cat reminds me that Christmas really is more than the giving and the getting. It's wonderful to get and give gifts, but that's not what the holiday season is really about. It's about spending time with those you love most, a concept that all too often gets lost amidst the chaos of trying to find the perfect gift. Remember: Christmas is about the loving


7. Friends can really turn things around. (A Charlie Brown Christmas)

You've probably seen the iconic image of Charlie Brown's pathetic little Christmas tree, bent over with one little red bulb hanging from a branch. That image has become such an icon that people often forget about what happened after Charlie put that one bulb on and walked away discouraged. After he'd left his little tree, his friends swooped in, swiped some decorations from Snoopy's house, and transformed it into a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Charlie had given up hope on his little tree, but his friends stepped in and fixed it up. When times are tough, friends are miracle workers, turning scrawny branches into a beautiful sights.  


8. There's life outside your comfort zone. (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing year after year for Halloween. Halloween is all he's ever known, so he's more than thrilled when he comes across a small forest of trees, each one with a door leading to a different holiday world. Jack gravitates immediately to the Christmas tree shaped door and discovers an entirely new holiday world. Jack attempts to become Santa and, though he doesn't quite succeed, his adventures remind me that there is more to life than what we're used to. There's so much we don't know -- and so much to explore. 


9. There are no naughty kids. (Fred Claus)

Fred Claus, Santa's brother, travels to the North Pole to help his brother for the holidays. While working on labeling "nice" and "naughty" files, he realizes that a kid he knows from his hometown has been labeled naughty. Fred knows the reasons why this kid has been acting out -- he's had some really tough times -- and it makes Fred realize that there are no naughty kids. This film reminds me that "bad" kids aren't naughty; they're just going through something tough that makes them act not-so-nice. And, come to think of it, that goes for adults too. Fred's realization reminds me that "naughty" often has a back story. 


10. Your attitude can influence others. (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)

We all know that the Grinch's had a change of heart in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but rarely do we think about why he had a change of heart. What changed the Grinch's mind about Christmas was seeing how the people of Whoville embraced the Christmas spirit even without all of their material things. The positive attitude of the Whos is what transformed the Grinch's cold heart, and that's one of the most important lessons any of us can learn: we can't control how other people act, but sometimes our own attitude can impact them. 


Whether you're a big fan of Christmas films like me (or a hater like quite a few people I know...), you can't deny that they do tend to focus on the positive and most of them have some pretty great life lessons buried beneath all that tinsel and holly. I'd love to hear what you've learned from holiday films... 


Did I miss any of your holiday favorites?
What lessons have you learned from holiday films?