Getting a L.E.G. Up (+ Limited Edition Prints!)

 

2019 Mothers Day Prints - Positively Present

 

On Friday, my mom celebrated her birthday, and it never feels like I'm able to express how grateful I am for her presence in my life in the form of tangible gifts. You see, my mom is the absolute best mom. I know lots of people think their mom is the best, but I truly did get the best one. And this time of year, with her birthday and Mother's Day, always reminds me of how fortunate I am to call her mine.  

As someone who is incredibly fortunate to have an amazing mom, I sometimes feel guilty talking about the topic of how great my mother is. I know, for a lot of people, mothers — and motherhood — is complex. Whether you are a mother, want to be a mother, don't want to be mother, don't have a relationship with your mother, or have a difficult relationship with your mother, there are many reasons why this time of the year might be challenging. The whole country seems to shout "MOM!" in honor of Mother's Day, and if you're not a in a positive place with that word, it must be incredibly difficult. Knowing this, when I came up with the notion to create these exclusive Mother's Day prints (details below!), I hesitated. I didn't want to make things more difficult for those who are motherless (or mother-troubled). But I also knew that many of you have wonderful, loving, and inspiring mothers that, like mine, have likely influenced your life in a way that's almost impossible to put into words. 

So, I thought a great deal about these prints, and I did my best to create illustrations and words that could apply not only to those who have wonderful mothers, but also to those mother-like figures that many have in their lives. Whether it's a mentor, a family member, a friend, or a teacher, there are so many amazing women that give those in their lives a L.E.G. up with Love, Encouragement, and Guidance. And this time of year is as good as any to celebrate them and the valuable support they've given us. Read on to see my thoughts about the L.E.G. up I've been given by my incredible mom (and check out the prints, too!). 

 

Mothers Day - Sky and Back
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LOVE

One of the most amazing things about mothers (or mother-like figures — I'll just be using the word "mothers" from here on out to make it easier, but know that these words apply not only to biological mothers, but to all kinds of wise and influential women who make the lives around them better) is their unconditional love. Over the years, I've done a lot of stupid things. I've said a lot of things that probably should have been kept to myself. I've been a brat and I've been a bitch. I've been cranky and I've been quarrelsome. (I've also done some cool and kind things, too, but those are so much easier to love!) Through it all — my highs and lows, my good times and my bad — I've never once questioned my mother's love for me. That's the great thing about great moms: they love you unconditionally, without hesitation, and regardless of the nonsensical choices you make in life. They're there for you in good times and in bad, and that's a pretty amazing thing when you think about it!

Mothers Day - Bloom
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ENCOURAGEMENT

Not only is a mother's love unconditional, but it comes with a big heaping side of encouragement. No matter what I've been doing in my life, I felt my mom encouraging me to go for it, to take a leap, to try what I wanted to try. Even when things weren't working out as planned, I've always knew that my mom had my back and believed in me. It sounds silly — of course my mom believed in me; that's what moms do! — but it's not something that should be taken for granted. Not everyone is lucky to have a mother and, of those that do, not everyone is lucky to have one that is so encouraging and supportive. It can be easy to laugh off a mom's encouragement if it's something you've had all of your life, but it's a wondrous and magical thing. Without the support of my mom, her warm glow of belief-in-me, I might have not have tried all of the things I was brave enough to try. I might not be anything like the person I am today. 

 

Mothers Day - Showing the Way
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GUIDANCE

One of the benefits of having the best mom in the world is that she's offered me just the right amount of guidance over the years. She's given me advice and is always happy to listen (without judgment, I might add!) to whatever quandary I'm facing. Through her words and her actions, she's taught me how to be a good friend, how to negotiate without fear, how to use attitude to improve circumstances (the very foundation of this site, in fact!). While I'll never be as wonderful as she is, I like to think I've learned a thing or two from her about what it means to be a good human being. She's given me advice and inspiration, but she's never pushed me to do what she wants. She shows me the way without forcing me down a path, which I know isn't the case for all mothers. I'm incredibly lucky to have been given support and guidance without any pressure or expectations, and I'm forever grateful for that perfect balance. 

 

I hope you, too, are lucky to have a wonderful mom (or mother-like figure) in your life to give you a L.E.G up in life! If you want to show her (or anyone else in your life) a little love with a special, limited-edition print, check out the shop here. These prints are available only until Sunday, April 28, 2019. Once they're gone, they're gone, so grab them while you can! (And use code "mom" for 20% off!)


8 Ways to Play Kind Games, Not Mind Games


Positively Present - Kind Games
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If you follow me on Instagram, you might've seen this recent post, where autocorrect changed my caption from "mind games" to "kind games." Not surprisingly, this led me to think about what "kind games" might consist of since, even if you're not intentionally playing mind games with those around you, most of us do some game-playing. Anytime you're not clearly and effectively communicating with others — intentionally or unintentionally — it's a kind of game (at the very least, a guessing game!).

No matter how much you might aim for healthy, communicative relationships, it's hard to always get it right. No matter how well you know someone, it's challenging to convey yourself accurately (particularly if you don't even fully understand how you feel which, let's face it, happens sometimes!), and it can be a daunting task to comprehend others, even when they do their best to share how they feel. 

Communication is a kind of kindness. The better you are at expressing yourself (and understanding other others express themselves), the better your relationships will be. But if you're anything like me, knowing that isn't the same as doing it. I know how valuable good communication is — in work, in socialization, in romantic relationships — and still I struggle greatly with it because it requires bravery, vulnerability, and a self-awareness that sometimes I just don't possess.

Effective communication has been an issue for me in almost every relationship I've been in, and, much as I hate to admit it, I've been guilty of playing a mind game or two. Often it's not calculated or mean-spirited, but, regardless of the intention, mind games are unkind (and very unproductive!). Here are some of the ideas that came to mind when I started thinking about how I could turn mind games into kind games...

 

COMMUNICATE HOW YOU FEEL

Telling someone else how you feel is one of the kindest acts. It's also one of the hardest sometimes. But if you want to be kind, you've gotta be brave and just do it. (Bonus: it's also one of the best ways to be kind to yourself as well, helping you cut down on a lot of unnecessary drama!)

 

ASK ABOUT HOW OTHERS FEEL

If you don't know how someone else feels (if you're not 100%, absolutely sure!), ask. I know it can be awkward sometimes, but just think of how many conflicts you could have already avoided if you'd just asked instead of assuming. Assumptions seem like they save time, but they often make things way more complicated, which isn't kind for anyone. 

 

APOLOGIZE WHEN YOU'RE WRONG

If you mess up, say you're sorry. Actually say it. Don't offer an explanation and leave it at that, assuming the other person knows you're sorry. Apologize out loud (or in writing if that's not an option) and mean it. (Advanced version of this game: apologize to, and forgive, yourself, too.)

 

EXPRESS WHEN YOU'RE HURT

When someone's hurt you, let them know. You can be honest without being dramatic or hurtful. (It's not easy, but practice helps!) You can set your ego aside and express how you feel without shame or fury. It's a tough game to play sometimes, I know, but remember: communication is a kind of kindness. 

 

SAY YES / NO WHEN YOU WANT TO

If you want to say yes, say yes. If you want to say no, say no. You don't need an excuse. You don't need a reason. The more often you practice saying yes/no to what you do/don't want, the better your life gets. (And the more everyone else will get you, which is a winning strategy for making the most of all your relationships!)

 

RECOGNIZE SIGNS OF CONTROL

Pay attention to how you feel, and if you feel like you're trying to gain control of someone or something, take some time to figure out why you're seeking control (hint: usually it's about you and not them), and knock it off. Most of us don't want to control or manipulate others, but do so without realizing it. Recognize it, then stop. 

 

DON'T JUDGE SO HARSHLY

Don't judge yourself or others so harshly. Everything — everything — is so much more complex, so much more entangled, than we realize. One thread tugged and everything is shifting ever so slightly. It's happening all the time in a million different ways so don't be so hard on yourself or anyone else. We're all doing what we can with what we're given. 

 

TAKE A TIME OUT WHEN UPSET

How many negative interactions might you have avoided just by pausing before reacting? It only takes a little bit of time but if you wait before reacting to someone else when you're upset, you'll be doing both of you a great kindness. A deep breath, a walk around the block, a day alone. Take time to chill out. 

 

There are so many ways to practice kindness, of course, but one of the most important (albeit most difficult) is communicating in a loving, open-minded, and thoughtful way. What else would you add to this list? What kind of kind games would you like to play? What kind are you already playing? 

 

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F.A.C.E. Your Feelings: How to Cope with Mixed Emotions


Mixed_Feelings_
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On the last day of the year, I've found myself reflecting on the past twelve months and, in particular, the ebb and flow my relationships. While reflecting, I realized I was trying to fit my relationships (and people!) into neat little boxes, labeled "GOOD" or "BAD," and it just wasn't working out. Because, as I'm sure you know, relationships are complex. They don't always fit clearly into boxes. They can't always be labeled clearly.

My feelings about most people, even those I love dearly, are mixed. For someone like me, who really likes to identify and label things in order to better analyze and understand them, this can be tricky. So, I decided to do what I always do when confronted with trickiness: write about it! I sat down this morning to write about the idea of mixed feelings and realized, ultimately, that it doesn't have to be a negative thing. Sure, it would be great if we could identify every person in our lives as "good" or "bad" so that we'd know who to surround ourselves with, but life -- and people! -- don't work like that. 

Like it or not, mixed feelings are a part of relationships, so we might as well learn to deal with them the best we can! I came up with a little method I like to call F.A.C.E. that can help you (and me!) cope with the complicated mess of mixed feelings. This is especially useful for people you love and interact with often (as those are the people we often have the most complex relationships with!), but I bet it can work pretty well for new relationships as well as a way to figure out how you really feel about a person you're just getting to know! 

 

FIGURE OUT THE FEELINGS

First and foremost, you have to figure out what you're feeling! This may sound obvious, but when you spend a lot of time with someone or have known them for a long time, sometimes we don't even pay attention to how we feel about them. Figuring out precisely what you feel is essential for coping with the mixed emotions. There are many different ways to feel about others, but here's a list of some emotions you might consider while figuring out your feelings (note: lots of these words aren't technically considered emotions in the psychological sense, but I find these words helpful when trying to figure out feelings):

  • Admiration
  • Affection
  • Amusement
  • Anger
  • Awe
  • Bitterness
  • Bliss
  • Boredom
  • Calm
  • Comfort
  • Contentment
  • Desire
  • Disgust
  • Distain
  • Distrust
  • Envy
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Gratitude
  • Happiness
  • Hate
  • Hope
  • Hurt
  • Interest
  • Irritation
  • Jealousy
  • Joy
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Lust
  • Peace
  • Pity
  • Pride
  • Rage
  • Relaxed
  • Resentment
  • Sadness
  • Safe
  • Secure
  • Serenity
  • Shame
  • Surprise
  • Tenderness
  • Trust
  • Unsafe
  • Wonder

 

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EMOTIONS

Next, it's important to pay attention to what's happening when you're actually interacting with that person. It's one thing to sit down alone and consider how a person makes you feel, but it's quite another to tune into it in the moment. Here are three questions to consider when contemplating mixed emotions: 

  1. How do I feel when I think about spending time with them? 
  2. How do I feel while I'm spending time with them? 
  3. How do I feel after I've just spend time with them?

There is likely more than one answer to these questions depending on the day and circumstances, but paying attention to these three questions frequently will give you a better sense of how this person makes you feel overall and can clue you into nuances about the relationship that you might not have otherwise realized. 

 

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS

After you've given consideration to how you feel about the person generally and how you feel in specific situations, before, after, and during interactions with this person, now it's time to go a little further and consider the big question: So what? You've now got a pretty good idea of what you feel about this person, but now you have to consider what this means. Understanding the mixed feelings you have usually will lead to one of three conclusions: 

  1. This person is no good for me and I should spend less time with them. 
  2. This person is good for me and I should spend more time with them. 
  3. This person is both good and bad for me and I should be mindful of the time spent with them. 

Those are pretty much the options you have when dealing with a relationship, which leads us to the last step...

 

EMBRACE CHANGE OR ACCEPTANCE

Recognizing your options (see 1-3 above) doesn't mean that you're actually going to take action, which is where this next step comes in. You have two choices: embrace change (if necessary) or accept things as they are, for better or worse. Sometimes, after going through these steps, you might come to the conclusion that someone is no good for you but you still might want to spend lots of time with them. That's up to you, but if you choose that path, you must accept the consequences of it. On the flip side, if you find that change (spending more or less time with someone) is necessary, it's up to you to embrace -- and perhaps initiate -- that change. Whatever the situation, it generally comes down to one of two options: change or accept. 

 

Most of us probably run through the F.A.C.E. method in our subconscious without even realizing it, but taking the time to really deal with mixed emotions and actively choose an outcome is empowering, even if we don't always choose the thing that's best for us. There's something powerful about making a choice -- even the wrong one -- rather than just floating along and waiting for something to happen. Yes, there are two people in every relationship, but the only one you can control is yourself, so you might as well take charge of your feelings and actively make some choices, especially as we're heading into a new year! 

 

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