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my bella pup


To watch the video on YouTube, click here


Today I face one my greatest challenges: staying positive and present when I've lost my best friend, my loyal pup, my sweet little Bella. Though I cannot imagine life without her -- and I how I will cope with this overwhelming feeling of grief -- I know life will go on. I know every day will get a little bit easier. But for now, I'll take comfort in the memories I have of Bella (some of which you can see in the video above) and in the words of Ellen Bass, who reminds us that, even in the midst of the darkest grief, we can choose to love life... 


“To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.” 

Ellen Bass


I have much to say on the topic of Bella and losing a loved one, today I have to embrace the silence that comes with the pain of loss. Though it's incredibly difficult to stay present when I am so filled with sadness, I am, in a way, grateful for such a deep and profound pain. The pain is a reminder of the love, of the true and lasting way that little furry pup impacted my life. She is -- and always will be -- one of the great loves of my life, and I will be forever changed for the better because I knew and loved her.  

5 ways to stop a bad day from bringing you down


No matter how much you strive to be positive and present, you're bound to have a bad day every now and then. A bad day is unpleasant enough, but when you start allowing a bad day to influence the way you feel about yourself, it turns into a much more serious matter. Unfortunately, some days are so rotten that it's hard not to let them impact your self-worth. If you make a terrible mistake or have a massive error in judgment, it can be nearly impossible not to start thinking of yourself as a bad person. But you can't let a bad day (or week or month...) get in the way of loving who you are. 

Preventing a bad day from spiraling out of control in your mind can be difficult. When things are bad, everything starts to seem bad. But here are five ways you can stop a bad day from impacting the love you have for yourself.


1. Remember your good qualities. 

When you're battling a bad day, it can be hard to remember all the things you're really good at and all of the wonderful qualities you possess. When things are going bad, take a time out from whatever you're doing and list out the things you're good at. Remind yourself of all the ways you're completely and utterly awesome. 


2. Talk it out with someone you trust.

 An outside perspective is always helpful on a bad day. When you talk with someone you trust (and preferably someone who knows just how awesome you are), you'll see the day in a new light. Just talking about what's troubling you can help you feel better -- and you never know what kinds of insights someone else might have. 


3. Keep it in perspective.

 Easier said than done when you're in the midst of a terrible day, but it's important to keep the bad day in perspective. One bad day (or even a lot of bad days!) doesn't mean everything is bad -- or will continue to be bad. Things will get better and it's important not to lose sight of that very essential truth. 


4. Make a (or review your) gratitude list.

 If you have a gratitude list, pull it out on a bad day and review all of the things you have to be grateful for. If you don't have a list, make one. Write down everything you're thankful for. Once you do this, you'll start to realize that, even though some things are bad, there are a lot of things to be grateful for. 


5. Ask others to help you out.

 Sometimes we're so overwhelmed by what's going wrong that we forget we can ask for help. When you're having a tough time, ask for help. Doing so doesn't mean you're any less strong or capable. It means you're smart. You're smart enough to know you can't do it all. Just asking someone else to lend a hand can be a great act of self-love.  


Bad days are unavoidable. They happen to us all, and they're bound to make us feel not-so-great. It's okay to get down when you have a bad day, but it's not okay to let that one day impact how you feel about yourself. No matter how bad the day gets, keep your head up -- and keep these five tips in mind. And if you need an additional self-love boost, download the free self-love reminder below. You can print it out and put it up wherever you need an reminder to love yourself!


Click Here to Download

Self-Love Printable

who do you think you're not?


Valentine's Day might be over, but there's no shortage of love here at Positively Present. Self-love, that is! Self-Love Month is going strong and I couldn't be happier with the positive responses I've received to both the self-love posts and The ABC's of Self-Love book. It's so wonderful to see how many people really believe in the importance of self-love. 

The more I ponder the concept of self-love, the more I realize how labels really impact how we feel about ourselves. I've written about this topic before in the post "I Am: Two Little Words, One Big Impact," but now I'm looking at it from a different angle. How we feel about who we are is not only based on the ways we choose to define ourselves, but also by the ways we deny ourselves to be defined. 

Most of our limitations exist in our minds, fueled by the notion that we are boxed into specific categories and cannot get out of them. This all sounds a little abstract, so I'll give you a personal example.

If someone were to ask me what I was, I would say, "I'm a writer." Most of the time, I consider that a positive thing (after all, it is what I'm most passionate about), but there are times when I feel like that definition of who I am holds me back. Lately, I've been really investing a lot of time and energy into graphic design classes and I've fallen head over heels in love with playing around in Illustrator and InDesign. I'll ponder the idea of incorporating my love of graphic design into my career in someway, and this little voice in the back of my head will say, You're a writer, not a graphic designer.

And it's those last four words that hold me back more than the first three. "You are..." contains some element of positivity and self-love, even when used in a limiting context, whereas "you are not..." is almost always negative (unless, of course, the phrase that follows it is negative, as in "You are not a serial killer."). We all, in some ways, limit ourselves in the way we define who we are. The "I am..." phrases, no matter how positive, can hold us back at times. But it's the "I am not..." phrases that can be particularly worrisome when it comes to self-love. 

Take, for example, my situation. Yes, I am a writer. And, no, I am not a graphic designer. But does that mean that I cannot incorporate my love of graphic design into my writing in some way? Do I have to be one or the other? Do I have to limit myself (as so many of us often do) to one thing that I'm passionate about? The answer to all of these questions is NO. I don't have to limit myself. I don't have to choose to be one thing or another. 

Most of us are pretty complex beings. We're not so easily pushed into boxes with neat and tidy labels. The trouble is, it's often easier for our minds to understand others (and ourselves) if we have organized labels for everything. In some ways it makes sense, but it many others, it holds us back from being whatever we want to be. It holds us back from possibility

Today take a moment to consider who you think you're not. Listen to yourself when you speak the words, "I'm not..." and ask yourself if that's really true. Sometimes it is. For example, when I say, "I'm not an outdoorsy kinda girl," that statement is true. I will never be rock-climbing, trail-hiking outdoorswoman. I will be a great many things, but never that. But when I hear myself say things like "I'm not a graphic designer" or "I'm not an artist" or a great many other "I'm not..." phrases, I have to pause and ask myself, Am I really not that? 

Maybe I won't be everything I could be (there's only so much time in a life!), but I won't be making the most of who I am if I limit my definitions of myself. Self-love means loving all of who you are -- even the parts that might not fit so easily into categories, even the parts that don't always make sense. While accepting your limitations is a part of loving who you are, so too is knowing which limitations are real and which are self-inflicted.