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7 reasons to buy the positively present guide to life


Note: If you're reading this in your email or in a reader, be sure to click over to the site today and check out the new look and feel of I did some design updates over the weekend and I'm pretty excited about the updated look!


It's been about two months since my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life, debuted, and the launch has been a whirlwind of excitement and hard work. It's been such an amazing feeling to see the book on shelves and to sign books for Positively Present readers in person. (Two more signings coming up: Arlington 6/14 and Towson 7/19!) Honestly, cliche as it might sound, it really is a dream come true. My whole life I've dreamed of seeing my book in the bookstore, of being an author, and now it's real!

I'm obviously thrilled to have a dream come true (who wouldn't be?!) and I'm so overjoyed about the book's success so far, but I do have one little problem when it comes to this book launch stuff: I'm not all that great at promoting. Whenever I talk about my book, I feel like I'm bragging or rehashing some lame sales pitch, and I tend to downplay the excitement I feel and the desire I have for people to check out the book. Inside I'm so proud of what I've created, but I hesitate to vocalize it because I don't want to come off as boastful. 

However, too do well in the ever-shrinking book industry, you have to sell, sell, sell. These days, authors aren't just writers; they're marketers and PR agents and designers and social media experts. They write, but they also sell. I see some authors' websites — filled with sales-y jargon and buzzwords meant to get you to make a purchase — and I cringe. I don't want to be like that. I want people to want to buy my book not because I tricked them into it with some proven sales tactic but because they actually want to buy my book

Of course, I want you to buy my book (after all, it's how I make my living!), but I want you to buy it because you're drawn to it and you think it will help you make your life a more positive, present place. As the author, of course I think the book is awesome. I spent years working on it, and I'm still kind of in awe when it hold in my hands. But sometimes I take for granted the fact that I know why it's a worthwhile read, and I forget to actually tell people about why they might think it's worth buying. 

So here we go — my attempt at an honest look at why The Positively Present Guide to Life deserves a spot on your bookshelf — based on both my personal feelings about the book and on some of the wonderful feedback I've received from readers who've already purchased the book. 




Okay, so I'll be honest: there are a lot of self-improvement books on the market and a lot of them are really great. In my line a work, I read tons of them and think most of them have something of value. However, the trouble with some of them is that they don't always show you how to take their ideas and make them work in the real world. The Positively Present Guide to Life does things a bit differently. In the book, I write about thought-provoking topics, but I do my best to bring them to the reader in a practical way. Staying positive and present is lovely in theory, but in practice it's hard. That's why I offer tactics, tricks, and tips that provide accessible advice for you to use in your real life: at home, at work, in relationships, in love, and during times of change.



One of my favorite features of the book is that it's very organized, featuring 30 clearly defined chapters spread across five sections (Home, Work, Relationships, Love, and Change). Though the book flows nicely if you decide to read it in order, the awesome thing about it is that you can read it any way you want. If you feel like you need some inspiration for coping at work, start with the Work section. If you're having trouble staying positive at home, begin with Home. If your relationship could use a little boost, check out the Love section first. Whatever area of your life needs a bit of a pick-me-up, you can just flip to that section and discover insights and inspiration for your current situation. 




In addition to the advice and tips mentioned in #1, the book features 30 unique, inspiring (but easy-to-do) activities that you can do to put the advice into practice. Of course, you don't need to do these to get the full impact of the book, but I'm so glad these were included because they give readers an idea of how to take concepts from the book and actually put them into practice. And the extra-cool thing about these activities is that many of them have accompanying worksheets you can download for free! You can even download the worksheets right now and have a look (though they do work much better when you have the book as a guide). I love these worksheets, and I have a feel you will too! 



So, you're obviously reading and hopefully you think the site is filled with inspiring, interesting, and motivating insights and information. The Positively Present Guide to Life is like a tangible, curated version of the website. If you're looking for information on a specific topic, it's much easier to grab a copy of the book and flip to the Table of Contents then it is to search the archives to find what you're looking for. Let's say you need a little help staying positive at work. You could search the archives for posts that relate to your current situation, or you could purchase the book and have everything you need to know about staying positive at work right at your fingertips, including easy-to-do exercises and illustrated inspiration! 




And speaking of illustrations... one of the absolute best features of the book is that it has pictures! Creating the illustrations was one of the highlights of making this book, and I think the added dose of inspiration really helps to spread the messages from the book. Even if you're not all that into illustrations, you can't deny that there's something useful (and more memorable) about seeing an inspirational image. It's likely to stick with you longer than word-laden paragraphs of text, which hopefully means you'll keep the wisdom tucked somewhere in your mind for a time when you need to access it. The illustrations add another element to the book that you don't see in many self-improvement books these days, and I really think they help make the content more memorable (and prettier too!). 




I can't tell you how many times I get asked, "How did you get into this?" or "How did Positively Present start?" In various interviews, I've talked briefly about how the site began (back in 2009!) and what inspired me to create it, but in The Positively Present Guide to Life you get the full story of why I started thinking about living a more positive, present life, why I decided to create a website, and how it lead to a full-time job (and a book deal!). Even if you're not all that interested in my personal journey, it's always kind of fun to read about the backstory of someone else. It was really interesting for me to reflect on the beginning of Positively Present and share the full tale of how it began, and that part of the book ended up being one of my favorites. 




Yes, you can access inspiration online on your smartphone at anytime, but there's something really great about having a book you can carry around and reference at any given moment. And I absolutely love the size of The Positively Present Guide to Life (5.8 x 7.8 inches). The size wasn't up to me (the publisher decided on that), but as soon as I saw it, I was in love. (Book nerd alert!) It's small enough to tote around with you (as I so often do!), but it's not so small that it's tough to read or lacking in substantial content. Even though real, in-your-hands books are rarer these days, there's something quite wonderful about having a book you can easily keep with you for instant inspiration and motivation — and that's just what this guide is!



Hopefully you can see now why I love the book so much and am so proud of all the hard work that went into creating it. If you want to learn more about the book, watch the book trailer video, or download the free worksheets, check out And if you're feeling inspired to pick up a copy of the book, you can find it at your local bookseller or at these online retailers:  




Already have a copy of the book? I'd love you forever if you left a review on GoodReads or Amazon! And if you want to spread the word about the book, here are some sample messages you could share via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform: 


Check out @positivepresent's inspiring new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life!


I loved reading @positivepresent's inspiring new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life! Get your copy here:
Need some inspiration in your life? Check out @positivepresent's new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life:


Also . . . THANK YOU to anyone who has bought a copy of the book or spread the word about it! If you're unable to make it to one of my DC-area book signings, I have some FREE bookplates I can personalize, sign, and mail to you. (Check them out here.) Just email me your mailing address and who you want me to make it out to and I'll send you one! 

how to cope with a terrible, no good, very bad day



Not too long ago, I found myself in the middle of a terrible, no good, very bad day. Everything seemed to be going wrong and my mind would not stop returning again and again to negative thoughts and envisioning worst-case scenarios. It was one of those days when I felt like, no matter what, I couldn't stop ruminating on what had/could go wrong and I felt far, far away from the present moment.

All I really wanted to do was curl up on the couch and contemplate all the things that weren't going right, but I knew that definitely was not the best way to stay positive or present so I set about trying to come up with the best ways to make the most of my terrible, no good, very bad day. Below are the ten things I did that day to make myself feel better. My problems didn't instantly disappear at the end of the day, but I definitely felt a lot better than I would have if I'd indulged in my own little pity party. 



One of my favorite things to do when I'm in a low mood is to clean my apartment while blasting some of my favorite pop songs and allowing myself to pause from cleaning to break into an impromptu dance party. This might sound ridiculous, but it really helps. It's really, really difficult to stay sad or upset when you're having a dance party. For one, it takes your mind off of whatever you're worrying about. Two, it's actually productive (unlike laying around moping and feeling sorry for yourself). And, three, if you give the dancing part a try, you get those endorphins going and those little buddies can have a very positive impact on your mood. 



After sweatin' it out with my clean/dance party, I (obviously) like to shower. But even if you don't do any physical activity, taking a shower or a bath can be a great way to copy with a terrible day. Kind of like the cleaning thing, it gets you out of your rut, is a productive activity, and all that steam and soap can feel really good. There are also two things you can do in the shower that can really help: (1) think about your problem and possibly come up with a solution (get some aqua notes if this happens to you!) or (2) have a nice long cry (it's sad sometimes but it can feel so good after!). 



If you enjoy painting your nails (I'm a big fan of it because I'm a nail-bitter so when I do have long nails, I absolutely love making them look pretty!), give yourself a manicure and a pedicure. Both of these things require concentration, which can actually be a great way to stay mindful of the moment and not allow your mind to run wild with negativity. Plus, it's another productive activity that you'll feel good about after doing. If mani/pedis aren't your thing, consider some other at-home, spa-like treatment (a facial, a massage, a mud bath? ha!). Treating yourself will make you feel special (and a little bit better!)



Okay, I'm well aware that food should not be considered medicine. (When people use food to feel better about themselves it can lead to a not-so-healthy relationship with what they put in their bodies.) That being said, sometimes you just really need to treat yourself. When I was having my very bad day, I decided I was going to have an ice cream cone (something I would almost never indulge in). I marched myself down to the market a couple blocks away, bought some cones and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, made myself an ice cream cone, and enjoyed it. It was an out-of-the-blue treat and it definitely perked me up!



When I feel down, I generally don't like to share how I feel with the people around me. I try my best to have a positive attitude and I don't like to bring others down by talking about my problems. But when I do reach out to those around me to talk about what's going on, I feel so much better. When I was struggling with my terrible day, I spend a good 45 minutes talking through my troubles on the phone with my mom and after the call I felt a lot better. I didn't have a clear-cut solution, but I'd had a chance to get some feedback and share what I'd been struggling with and it really helped. If you don't have someone to talk it out with (or it's not something you want to share), try writing down how you feel (even if you end up just throwing it away). 



During my no good, very bad day, I tried my best to avoid social media. (This was very hard, but I really tried!) When you look at sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all you see are people having the best time and sharing their best-of photos. When you're not feeling great about yourself (or your life...), this can be like little pinpricks of pain and jealousy to your heart. It can hurt to see people having such a good time when you're feeling so lousy so to avoid adding additional pain to your already aching heart and mind, take a little break from the social sites. You won't miss much and you'll save yourself the unnecessary stress of wishing you were feeling / doing something other than what you are. 



On my terrible day, after pacing around my apartment for awhile, I decided I needed to get out and do something so I took myself to one of my favorite places: the art store. A change of scenery can do wonders for a stressed-out mind or an aching heart, and visiting a place where you feel happy or at peace can be such a nice reprieve. While at the art store, I picked up some supplies for a new project (something to look forward to!) and got to focus on something other than my troubles. If you can't physically go to your happy place, try envisioning what it was like the last time you were there. Doing so can take your mind off of what's troubling you (if only for a little while). 



As my very bad day progressed, I felt more and more like crying. I kept telling myself to suck it up and try to focus on something else, but after hours of this, I had this thought: What if I just let it all out? What if I just shed all the tears I needed to and felt how I needed to feel? So often we try to push away any negative feelings, but sometimes you just gotta let it all out. So cranked up some of my favorite sad songs and just let it happen. I cried and cried and cried until I didn't think I could shed another tear. And you know what? It felt really, really good to just get it out and stop holding it in. I highly recommend allowing yourself a good cry any time you feel like you need one! 



When I'm having a tough time, I have a really difficult time not wallowing in how I'm feeling. While I certainly don't think avoiding feelings is a positive way to handle difficulty, once you've talked it out and cried it out, sometimes you need to take a step away from the emotions and just distract yourself. For me, the best distraction is a really good book or a Netflix binge, but you've got to find something that works for you, something that will really take your mind off of your troubles for a bit. This can be tough sometimes (the mind is so powerful!), but when you find a good distraction, allow yourself to indulge for a little while. 



If your mind is racing with all the things that aren't going right, it can be so hard to escape the (often negative) thoughts in your head. One of the best ways I've found for getting out of my head and into the moment is doing yoga. It's a physical activity that's a challenge for me so I really have to concentrate on what I'm doing, which doesn't allow me to wallow in what's going wrong. Other than yoga, I'm not all that into physical activity, but there are tons of things you can do that will challenge your body and, as a result, help your mind stay more in the moment: lifting weights, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, etc. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can boost your confidence and help you stay present (instead of in the past / future of your mind). 


Not every day is going to be a good day, but some days really are the worst. It can be tough to get through them, but if you try to make the most of the day using these ten tips, I promise you'll feel at least a little bit better (and sometimes "a little bit better" is all you can ask for, right?). 



word of the month : create



This article is part of the 2015 Word of the Month series, based on the monthly theme featured in the Every Day Matters 2015 Diary I designed for Watkins Publishing. In the planner, each month has a theme highlighted in the weekly illustrations, quotes, and activities. This month's theme is CREATE. 


When most people think about the words "create" or "creative," they think of making art -- writing, drawing, illustrating, photographing, etc. -- but creating need not be an artistic endeavor. Creating artistically does have many positive benefits, but art-based creativity isn't for everyone (and, for many people, is somewhat intimidating). Instead of focusing on artistic creation this month, we're going to look at other ways you use creativity to craft a life you love.

According to Merriam-Webster, to create means "to cause something to happen as a result of one's actions," which obviously spans a very wide range of activities. Creating does not have to come from pens and paint palettes, from crayons or cameras. Creativity can take many forms, and the very act of creating can have a very positive impact on your life.

For one, creating is a way to take ownership of the choices you're making and the situations you find yourself in. When you enter into a situation or make a choice, you have the opportunity to create aspects of that choice or situation. And, whether you're creating a tangible object or creating a new mindset, the act of causing something to happen with your actions is a very powerful and inspiring feeling. In addition, creating allows you to push your moments (and your life!) in a direct that feels positive and fulfilling. Each act of creation is an chance to positively transform your world. 

The benefits of creating in the traditional, artistic sense are wonderful, but there are so many things you can create that don't require any artistic talent. You can create joy, love, inspiration, positive vibes, ideas, movements, events, conversations, connections, your own luck, opportunities, change, habits, moments, friendships, lists, excitement, new mindsets... The list goes on! Below, let's take a look at five things you can create in your life right now. 



"It's not the circumstances that create joy. It's you." - Unknown

Regardless of the situation, you always have an opportunity to create joy for yourself and those around you. In every situation you enter, you can create a moment of joy -- even if it's not a joyful occasion. Of course there will be times when creating joy is more difficult than others; for example, at funeral when facing the loss of a loved one. But even then, you can make a moment of joy with a kind word or a loving embrace. One of the most wonderful things you can bring to the world is a moment of joy. It doesn't have to be a big, grand gesture, but even the simplest act: a smile or an acknowledgment, for example, can have a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you. 



"Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters." - Dau Voire

How often do we converse with others without really engaging in the conversation? So many people talk so that they can hear the sound of their own voice, or listen only so that they will then have a chance to speak. If you want to create meaningful relationships, it helps to start with meaningful conversations. By this, I mean conversations that leave you feeling excited and intrigued, conversations that teach you something new about someone else. A great place to start creating meaning is with Danielle LaPorte's app, Conversation Starters. It's my go-to resource for thought-provoking questions to spark insightful conversations. 



"We are what we repeatedly do." - Aristotle

Those are some wise words from ol' Aristotle. The things we do over and over again are what make up the people we are -- which is why it's so important to repeat actions that we feel truly express who we are. Consider, for a moment, the habits you have right now. Are they habits you want to have? Are they habits that really connect you to your true self? If not, it's time to ditch those habits and replace them with a new, more positive habit. Not sure what kind of habit you want to have? Look at those around you for inspiration and contemplate how you wish you could be more like those you admire. Then find a way to put those positive traits into tangible actions. 



"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." - Francis Bacon

If you want amazing opportunities in your life, you have to look for them. Creating your own luck is essential making great things happen, but it's not always effortless. It starts with having an open heart and mind, and being on the lookout for opportunities everywhere. You never know where the next great thing will happen so keep your eyes and hears open. It also helps to know very specifically what you want. For example, don't think "I want a better job." Instead, think "I want a job in X industry doing Y." Getting specific about what you want in your life is a great first step for finding opportunities that will help you create your own good fortune. 



"What you think, you become. What you imagine, you create." - Buddha

Your thoughts create your reality so it's very important to be aware of what you're thinking and do your best to push those thoughts in a positive direction. Creating a positive outlook takes practice and patience (particularly if, like me, it doesn't come naturally to you) but the effort you put into being aware of your thoughts (and striving to make them positive) is well worth it. And the more you aim to create a positive outlook -- at home, at work, in your relationships -- the easier it becomes to stay positive (even when things aren't going so well). Don't be discouraged if creating a positive outlook takes time; it's really difficult for most people. Just keep at it and remember: every day (every moment, even!) is a fresh chance to create the outlook you want.