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what do you want more of next year?


It's that time of year when people start talking about New Year's resolutions — what resolutions to make, how to keep them, and whether or not they're even worth making. While I don't have a strong opinion about New Year's resolutions — some years I make them, most years I don't — I do feel like the end of the year is a good time to take a step back from day-to-day life and think about what you want in the year ahead. 

About a week ago, I came across this image via Pinterest and instantly connected with its message of contemplating what I would like more of in the year to come. It reminded me that, while the end of the year can be a good time to think about what we don't want in the coming year — the habits we'd like to break, the changes we'd like to make — it's also a great time to focus attention on what we do want. 

Recently I read a quote that really resonated with me by Dr. Wayne Dyer. He said, "Keep reminding yourself: I get what I think about, whether I want it or not." In my own life, I've found that statement to be true. And, if that's the way it goes, it's beneficial to focus attention on what we want instead of calling to mind what we don't want. The more consideration we give to the things we want, the more likely we'll be to do engage in behaviors, interact with people, and cultivate thoughts that bring us closer to what we're seeking. 

As you embark on a new year, I'll leave you with this one question: What do you want more of in 2015? Whatever your answer to this question, I hope it's yours in the months to come, and I hope your year is filled with positivity and love. 




Not sure what you really want more of in your life? The start of a new year is a great time to discover more about yourself and what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.

dear santa : writing a grown-up christmas list



The other day I was watching one of my favorite cheesy holiday films in which a kid wrote Santa asking for a new wife for her dad, and I thought to myself, I wish I could write a letter to Santa asking for what I want... A bit silly, I know, the idea of writing to Santa, but then it struck me: I could write to Santa. Sure, I couldn't expect him to deliver the goods on Christmas morning, and I couldn't rely on a Hallmark-movie ending, but it might actually do me some good to take a moment to think about what I really want and put it in writing.

While I don't believe everything I've read about the Law of Attraction — I don't think you can't just think something and hope it will happen; you have to take positive action — I do believe there's something to be said for putting into words the things you want in your life. We often think we know what we want, but when you sit down and actually write down what you want, it can be an eye-opening experience. Your priorities are made clear; your desires are put into words. 

So, ridiculous as it sounds, I'm writing a letter to Santa for the first time in decades. I'm sitting down and thinking about what I really want this year (aside from all of these material things). I thought about writing about what I want in the year ahead, but that seemed like a big job — more New-Year's-resolution than letter-to-Santa — so instead of focusing on what I want in general, I'm focusing on what I want for the holidays. Here's what I'm asking for...




As you can see from the list, a lot of those things are within my control — patience, mindfulness, etc. — but writing them down is a great reminder to me about how I want to act and feel during the holiday season. (And I'm sure it'll be a lovely reminder for my family members too — they can pull up this list when I start hurrying through meals or cleaning up wrapping paper before the presents have been opened.) Writing a letter to Santa as an adult sounds silly, but I actually found it to be a great way to really think about how I want to make the holidays as positive and present as possible. 

It's probably been a long time since you wrote a letter to Santa, but why not give it a try? (Or, if the whole Santa thing is too silly for you, why not write a letter to yourself or the Universe or whatever entity seems like it might be interested in hearing about your desires?) Click below to download a full-size (8.5x11in) blank letter to Santa that you can fill in with your desires.  

Wishing you a very merry Christmas, filled with all the things you ask Santa for! 


Click here to download the Dear Santa letter 




Having trouble thinking about what you really want to ask Santa for? You might want to discover more about yourself and what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.

how to be single during the holidays

Christmas-Aloneimage source : girl / snow 


I love this time of year — the lights, the giving, the celebrations, the sparkles! — but for the first time in a long time, I'm single for the holidays. When you're coupled up, you hardly take notice of how many aspects of the holidays are tied to having someone to share them with romantically, but when you're single, it seems like the whole world is a big, neon, green-and-red sign blinking: YOU'RE ALONE. YOU'RE ALONE. 

I'm not technically alone for the holidays. I'll still spend Christmas with my family. I'll be with friends on New Year's Eve. But there's something about this time of year that makes you feel as though, if you're not in a romantic relationship, you're completely on your own. After my break-up earlier this year, I had hope for the holidays; I was certain I wouldn't be single when Christmas rolled around. I had grand (romantic...) plans for what would happen, but things haven't worked out quite as I'd hoped. (Though there is still time till Christmas... who knows what could happen!)

I was tempted to blow off the holidays this year. I contemplated leaving the decorations in their boxes, cancelling the DVR recordings of the holiday movies I love so much, sleeping through New Year's Eve — just skipping the whole season. But then I realized: that was pretty much the opposite of what I'd recommend to a Positively Present reader. Though it might sound counter-intuitive, facing the negative emotions like sadness and loneliness (and trying to make the best of things) is the best way to stay positive and present. Avoiding the season would only make things worse. 

Facing the holiday season single for the first time in a long time hasn't been easy, and I'm well aware that being alone on the actual holidays won't be easy (I'm sure there will be moments when I look quite similar to the image above...), but I've taken steps to make the most of where I am right now. It might not be the most wonderful time of year this time around, but it needn't be the most miserable either. Here's my advice for making the most of the holiday season when you're single (and, to honest, most of these tips work for those coupled up too!).



When you have a change in relationship status, some of the holiday traditions you had previously won't necessarily continue. This can be tough (especially if you love traditions, like I do!). When I found myself feeling down about terminated traditions this year, I decided to do two things: (1) keep up some of the traditions on my own (like downloading a fun advent calendar app instead of feeling sad about not receiving a candy-filled advent calendar from my boyfriend) and (2) focus on traditions I had before I was in a relationship (like decorating my tree with ornaments I've had since childhood). Keeping up with traditions, particularly those I had long before I was living with someone else, reminds me that I've had many wonderful Christmases in the past and the holiday joy I experience isn't tied to being part of a couple. 



It's hard when you have to give up some old traditions, but one great thing about being single is you can do whatever you want — including starting your own, new traditions. There are so many great ideas for festive holiday traditions (just check out Pinterest!) and starting one on your own can be kind of exciting. I've added a couple new traditions to my holiday season this year, and even though I still miss some of the old ones, it's been refreshing to do things a little bit differently this year. Another tradition-creating idea: recruite friends or family to be involved in a new tradition. Just because you're single doesn't mean you have to do things all alone, and it can be fun to initiate traditions with those you love. 



And speaking of loved ones... Connecting with those who love and care about you is essential for single people during the holidays. (If you're not single, but know someone who is, reach out to him or her!) There are so many things pushing the romantic elements of the season — couples cozying up in commercials, sentimental holiday tunes — and sometimes it's hard to remember you don't have to have a partner to experience love during the holidays. This year I've been doing my best to connect with friends and family, to enjoy the holiday experiences I have with them. When you're feeling lonely, it can be hard to reach out to other people and connect, but it's so helpful to spend time with others and celebrate the season with those who bring positivity into your life. 



Do you know how many Christmas songs are about romantic love? A lot. Maybe I'm just more aware of them this year, but there are a lot of love-based holiday tunes out there, and a lot of them are quite sad. I have mixed feelings about these songs. Sometimes I want to avoid them, listening instead to cheery, non-romantic holiday tunes. But sometimes I want to crank them up and belt them out, reminding myself that I'm the only one who feels lonely at Christmastime. The great thing about holiday tunes is that there are options. If you're feeling really down, upbeat tunes might help you feel more festive. If you're feeling like you want to embrace the loneliness, you'll want to put this Single at Christmas playlist on repeat. Either way, use the seasonal songs to your (emotional) advantage! 



The most important lesson I've learned this holiday season is to keep the loneliness in perspective. Yes, I had to decorate the tree by myself. Yes, I will have to attend parties without a partner. And, yes, I will feel lonely sometimes. But, even though I'm single this holiday season, I still have so much to be thankful for. And that's something I keep reminding myself every day. It's not easy being single during the holidays (especially if it's the first time in a long time), but it's important to focus on what you do have, not on what you don't. The more I focus on how lucky I am — to have friends who make me laugh, to have family to share traditions with, to have the basic necessities in life that so many are without — the less important being single becomes, and the more I'm able to realize that, even without romance, my life (and my holiday season!) is still filled with love. 





One way I'm trying to stay positive this holiday season is by taking my own advice, advice you can find in my new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. As a bonus, the book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)