Saturday, June 28, 2014

To Emelie, Thank You for Everything.

Yesterday, I lost one of my best friends. A part of our family for the past 11 years. Someone who had been fighting cancer for almost two years, and boy was she a fighter. I’m talking about Emelie, my first cat. For many of you, you may not understand or ridicule those who refer to their pets as parts of their families, or best friends, or use words that refer to them as people. But some of you may understand how I feel right now. Emelie was so much more to me than a pet. She represented so many things in my life. I had to say goodbye yesterday, one last time, and although we had so much time to prepare for that final goodbye, it didn’t make it any easier.

In September 2012 I had noticed that Emelie had some type of lump growing on her forehead, and it worried me. We took her to the vet to get her checked out, and the vet immediately told us she had six weeks to live. Devastated is an understatement. We were told we could try and bring her to a specialist, but there would be no guarantee, plus we did not have that much money to spend on vet bills. So we took her home. We waited. We gave her extra love (although this baby had all the love in the world already) and made sure she got her favorite foods (which was kind of just about everything.) But the six weeks went by and she continued. The tumor kept growing, and I dreaded the worst. I worried she wouldn’t make it to Christmas. But she did. She made it for that Christmas, and the next one, too. Emelie lived for almost 2 years after that vet visit. Not a mere six weeks.

At times, we thought it would be the end. Sometimes she got worse and we feared this was it. I cried for Emelie many times throughout the past two years. I said goodbye so many times. But she kept bouncing back. She never stopped eating or asking for human food (her favorite meal was probably homemade meatballs with pasta sauce, but she sure loved cheese, too.) She got cuddlier than ever, and would sleep on the pillow next to mine many, many times. She was even strong enough to attack my cousin’s dog one thanksgiving, because as sweet as a cat she was, she was very territorial of her home. She was the queen of the castle. 

One of my favorite things about Emelie was that she was a very loud purring cat. Her purr radiated love and joy and warmth. Most of the time all I had to do was touch her fur and she’d start purring for me. She loved me, and I love her. She was with me since I was 12 years old. Almost half my life time. She was there for it all, especially all the hard times I faced as a teenager. We even had a song. Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” I’d pick her up and sing it to her. I’m sure she hated it. But she still endured my cheesiness.

For the past month or so, we noticed Emelie had started getting skinnier. She kept eating more than our other two cats and she still acted normal. But then these past couple of days we noticed how bad it had gotten. It got to the point where she just laid out on the cold hard floor because she probably had a fever. She still tried to eat (a foodie till the very end) but at some point she just couldn’t anymore. She started purring all the time, which I knew meant she was in pain. Finally, she meowed at me. A meow I knew meant it was over, it was time. Although we had hoped she would go on her own, peacefully and naturally, I couldn’t bare to watch my love be in that condition any longer. I made one of the toughest decisions of my life, and with the help of my dad who drove us to the vet, I took her on her last car ride.

I was about to put her in the pet carrier, but I didn’t want that for her. Instead, I wrapped her up in a soft towel and held her in my arms like a baby. That’s the way I held her the entire time until we got there. I stayed by her side for it all. I stayed until the end. Even after she was gone, I stayed. I had to say my last goodbye. And that image will stay with me forever.

As hard as it is right now, and as broken as my heart is, I am so grateful I got to experience the unconditional love that only an animal can bring us. I also finally realized something my last day with her. When she first got sick, I had made a type of deal with her/God, that I’m not going to get into it because it’s private and really kind of silly now that I look back on it, but today I told her the deal was off. She could go now. Because I realized, Emelie, that the love I had been looking for for so long was right in front of me this entire time. Not just from you, but from everyone around me. My parents. My friends. My pets. I am surrounded by love. Just because it is not the type of love you necessarily desire, doesn’t mean you do not have love. And that is something Emelie taught me. I don’t need that certain type of love. I may want it, sure, but I don’t need it. I don’t need it because I have every other ounce of love in the world, overflowing and ensuring me that I will never be alone, even if I feel like I am at times. Now more than ever, I know that I am never alone. 

You gave me more strength today, Emelie. You also showed me the answers I had been searching for. I miss you so much. But I know. I know that you are with me now, and always will be. I carry your heart in mine.

I have your favorite pink mouse toy right here next to me, and I promise I’ll take good care of it. You touched my heart and soul, and I will never forget you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It doesn't get easier, but that doesn't mean you give up.

I’m writing this because I was told by a special friend that I need to write. I need to be able to express myself and let out all of the negative feelings that have been clouding my mind. If only it were as simple as that, right? Just by writing down what we feel, doesn’t necessarily mean those awful feelings are going to magically disappear. But I guess in a way it does help, even if it’s the teeniest bit.

I usually post inspirational things on here and I like to send positive vibes to people, to help others focus on the good in their life and work towards achieving their dreams and true potential. But I know. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds. You can hear it from a million people, in a million different ways, but that rarely ever helps change how you are feeling. Truth is, only you have the power to really change your attitude, and that is one of the toughest things we must face day in and day out.

I have been having a rough couple of days, which I rather not get into. All I know is these events in my life have turned me from being a positive person with a positive outlook on the future, to back into that hole of despair I love so much (sarcasm, obviously.) It’s hard to get out of it. I’m not going to say it gets easier, because frankly, sometimes it gets even harder. Not all of us are given a lucky hand at life. Some of us get the bigger straw, some of us are stuck with the straw no body wants. It is what it is. You just have to make the best of it.

The power that words hold is a funny thing. Sometimes you can pour your heart out to someone, and it doesn’t make a bit of a different. Other times you can utter a few words, and it changes everything. Maybe the words I’m writing now can help someone out and then maybe it could also just be a bunch of babbling bullshit to you. Words are everything, and nothing at the same time. 

While this post is certainly being labeled as a rant, what I do want to get across to people is that despite what may happen to you in life, don’t let yourself get stuck in those negative feelings. Don’t let it consume you. You are worth so much more than that. No matter what has happened, no matter what obstacles have been thrown your way. You have to overcome it, and you can. These may just be words to you now, but I hope one day when you need them the most, you’ll remember them. 

I may not be in the best state of mind right now, but I know that eventually I can pick up the pieces and get back on track. I’ve done it before many times, and I will continue to do so. I’m not going to lie and say it gets easier, because it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean you just give up. Never give up.

And next time you run into a stranger or have some sort of interaction with them, smile at them. Give them a compliment. Tell them you hope they have a great day. You never know how much that one kind gesture may mean to someone. We never know what people are going through just by looking at them. 

P.S. I promise eventually my posts will be more positive and focused on certain topics. I’m just working on myself right now, so please bare with me for the time being.

Sending positive vibes to each and every one of you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Punch fear in the face.

I don't like it, but sometimes fear consumes me and prevents me from living my life how I would truly like to. Fear is an ugly thing and I wish none of us ever had to go through it because it really affects so many parts of our lives, and sometimes it prevents great things from happening. For this Inspiration Monday, I want you to take a look at the fears that you are holding on to (because let's be fair, we all have some) and try to find a way to just let them go. It's not easy, believe me, I know. But it is necessary. It is necessary if you want to grow as a person, make changes in your life, and most importantly, if you want to be truly happy. Let go of the fears.

"The key to change is to let go of fear."
-Rosanne Cash

"I let go of the fear and the peace came quickly."
-Lea Michele

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear."
-Jack Canfield

and because I know so many of us are constantly asking the universe for this, here it is:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Guest Post: Advice to My College Self

Hi! I'm Pam and I blog over at Hodge Podge Moments. I'd love for you to stop by and say hi sometime, but until then, I've got a guest post for you to enjoy. With all of the graduations going on this time of year, I've been doing some thinking about what I wish I'd known when I graduated college. While the list could go on and on, I've narrowed it down to a top 5 list. You ready to see what made the list?

1. Enjoy college while you can. It's the last four years before you truly face the "real world."

2. You probably won't get your dream job right out of college. That's O-K. You'll learn a lot about yourself and life in your less-than-perfect jobs.

3. People never really change. Remember that drama that you thought would end in high school and it didn't? Well, don't expect it to end in the real world either.

4. Learn to say "no." If you don't, you're eventually going to overbook yourself and create more stress than you really need.

5. Life isn't easy. Stay focused on the happy moments and don't let the bad ones weigh you down. Don't worry so much - everything eventually works out!

What would you say to your college self?


Thursday, June 12, 2014

How To Be a Great Etsy Shop Owner + a GIVEAWAY!

Etsy is a great place to find handcrafted jewelry, crafts, accessories and so much more. Its increase in popularity the past couple of years is not surprising considering it's the perfect place to find unique items you may not be able to find in a regular store. There are tons and tons of different types of Etsy shops, all run by different types of individuals. In order to be a successful Etsy shop owner, there are many things you can (and should) do. I've written this brief guideline to help you guys out. Keep in mind, this is written from the perspective of a buyer, not a seller. I do not own an Etsy shop. I have, however, had experiences with a few and I like to think I know a thing or two about what keeps people happy and willing to come back for more.

1. Outreach - Just like you would with a blog, you need to put your Etsy shop out there. Create a Facebook fan page for it, an Instagram to advertise your selection, a Twitter to tweet about new products or upcoming sales, etc. There are lots of ways to let people know about your shop. Collaborating with blogs is also a good way to get your products introduced to more people!

2. Offering incentives - You definitely want customers who purchased your items to review them, especially if you're a shop that's just starting off (how else will people know if you're worth spending on?) so one way to do this is by offering customers incentives. If they leave you reviews, offer them some type of "reward" such as a 10% discount or free shipping on their next purchase. This leaves your customer happy and also means you could possibly have a returning customer. Also, if you noticed a customer that has purchased a few things from your shop already, offer them discounts for their loyalty. 

3. Fast delivery - I love ordering stuff online and waiting for it to arrive in the mail. You know what I love even more? When something gets to me quickly. Waiting sucks. If you take forever to ship your items, you may not have a returning customer. If an emergency comes up, or you get super swamped with other priorities, it's always a good idea to offer the customer some type of discount or future coupon for the inconvenience.

4. Respond to questions and emails promptly - You want to offer fast service, and part of this service includes answering questions or concerns your customers may have. Always respond in a polite manner. You know that saying "the customer is always right"? Well, even though it is technically your shop and you're not forced to do anything you don't want to, you should still try to keep that in mind. Of course, you don't want to be giving away your stuff for less than it's worth, but ensuring your customer is happy and satisfied with their purchase should always be a priority.

5. Don't overprice - Everyone know it takes a lot of time and effort (maybe even tears and sweat) to make perfect items to sell in your shop. That's why a lot of Etsy items tend to be more expensive than something you'd get a regular store. However, people will know if you are overcharging and they will not be willing to splurge on your item. Of course, you want to be making a profit, but try to be as fair as possible. Charge for the quality of the item along with the work and time you put into it.

Do you have any other suggestions for Etsy shop owners, either as a buyer or seller?

Now comes the fun part!!!
Etsy Giveaway with total prizes valued over $100!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to these Etsy shops for contributing to this giveaway:

Make sure to check out their shops to take a look at what you can possibly win if you enter the giveaway! 
Good luck!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June Sponsor Spotlight!

I'd like to introduce my fabulous sponsors from this month! I came up with some questions for these ladies to answer in order for my readers to get a little more insight on their blogs, as well as what makes them awesome :) If you enjoy reading my blog, you're sure to find something to love on each of these blogs as well, so make sure to check them out!

1. What does your blog mostly focus on? My blog is a lifestyle blog but I focus on choosing to be positive, giving back and empowering girls and women to be strong, independent and, most importantly, themselves.
2. Why did you essentially start blogging? I used to have a daily journal blog in high school, but this particular blog began as a way of gathering readership for a magazine I'd love to start someday. My magazine would be the counterpart to Seventeen - focusing on being strong, independent women who embrace our likes (even if they are different than everyone else). I have loved meeting other amazing women and sharing their stories.
3. What do you hope your readers get out of your blog? I hope my readers feel inspired to be the best version of themselves and to remember to choose happiness!
4. Do you think blogging has changed you, or has the potential to in the future? I definitely think blogging has changed me, especially in the past year. I have been blogging for a long time, but this past year I really started to get into the blogging world. It has given me so much happiness and made me more focused on my dream.
5. What are your general thoughts on the blogging world? I think the blogging world is amazing! As a part of it, I love having the support system. Some of the friends I talk to the most live in different states and I have never met them, but we have a connection and I may never have found them without blogging. I also think that blogging helps others who don't write blogs. For example, my cousin is pregnant with her first child and has really gained a lot of insight from blogs. It helps her feel like she isn't going through this alone. Blogging is like an online support group.

6. What’s your favorite social media app and why? I am obsessed with Instagram. I love looking at pictures and seeing glimpses into others' lives.
7. If you could move anywhere in the world and live there for a year, where would you go? This may sound bad, but I don't think I would be able to do it. I would love to live somewhere else for 3-6 months, but a year is too long for me. I went away for college and realized that I can't leave California for too long or I get too sad. My family is very important to me and the weather spoils me!
8. Up until now, what has been your favorite age to be (or the best year of your life?)Oddly enough, I really have liked my landmark years - 18 and 21. Coincidentally, both of those years I felt very confident and inspired.
9. Let’s pretend you are a terrific singer/performer and you’re out for karaoke night with your friends: which song would you pick first? Karaoke is my favorite! I would definitely pick Cherry Bomb by the Runaways. It's my best song.
10. What is the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars? Pay off my debts!! #studentloanssuck

1. What does your blog mostly focus on? I try to focus my blog mostly on health and lifestyle, but a little fashion creeps in here and there. Since I like living a healthy lifestyle, I like to write about it.
2. Why did you essentially start blogging? I don't really know why. I wanted it as a supplement for my YouTube, but my blog started taking off more than my youtube has, actually. No complaints here!
3. What do you hope your readers get out of your blog? I hope they remember that they're all beautiful no matter what step of the journey they're on, and that being healthy is easy for everyone.
4. Do you think blogging has changed you, or has the potential to in the future? I think it has definitely strengthened my writing and social media skills. It also has made me more responsible I believe.
5. What are your general thoughts on the blogging world? I think it's one of the most powerful tools out there. A blog can fix anything. You can use to to advertise, vent, create a business, or just kill time. It's not just a fun option, it's necessary.

6. What’s your favorite social media app and why? Ahh, instagram. I love pictures.
7. If you could move anywhere in the world and live there for a year, where would you go? GREECE! Because it's the homeland. (I'm 25% Greek).
8. Up until now, what has been your favorite age to be (or the best year of your life?)Right now! I'm 18, the world is at my fingertips.
9. Let’s pretend you are a terrific singer/performer and you’re out for karaoke night with your friends: which song would you pick first? Any song by Ke$ha.
10. What is the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars? First, I would give enough to my Dad so he could retire now. Then, I'd put some away to move out soon. Then, I would take a trip to every state and country that my online friends live in to meet them! And I would definitely have a killer shopping spree.

1. What does your blog mostly focus on? When I started my blog, I went into it with the focus of recipes, crafts, and other odds and ends. As it's grown, I've started to focus on lots of different things, hence the name Hodge Podge Moments. It wasn't until I'd been blogging for a couple of months that I figured out there was a name for this kind of blogging - lifestyle blogging.
2. Why did you essentially start blogging? I started blogging because I love to write and I needed something to fill my time. My boyfriend had just moved to California and started a deployment on a boat. I needed something to focus on and blogging seemed like a great thing. I had tried to blog before but had never stuck with it because of time. Now that my blog is almost a year old (June 1st), I'm making time for it because I've come to enjoy it as a hobby.
3. What do you hope your readers get out of your blog? I hope my readers get inspiration. That inspiration may come in the form of life changes or a craft, but ultimately, I hope I inspire someone to do something!
4. Do you think blogging has changed you, or has the potential to in the future? I think it has given me a way to network with others. I have made so many new online friends through blogging that I wouldn't have met otherwise. It has also allowed me to tap into my creative side once again.
5. What are your general thoughts on the blogging world? I think the blogging world is a great way for us to share our ideas with others. I have tried many recipes and crafts as a result of great blogs out there.

6. What’s your favorite social media app and why? My favorite social media app is Instagram because I'm a photographer at heart.
7. If you could move anywhere in the world and live there for a year, where would you go? I've always wanted to visit California. (Oddly enough, I'll be moving there later this year.) I also think it would be cool to live in New York City for a year. I loved it there when I visited with my sister a few years ago.
8. Up until now, what has been your favorite age to be (or the best year of your life?) 25 - I learned a lot about myself at that age and met my boyfriend.
9. Let’s pretend you are a terrific singer/performer and you’re out for karaoke night with your friends: which song would you pick first? "Human" by the Killers. This is the one I always do best on when I play karaoke on the Wii with my best friend.
10. What is the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars? The first thing I would do is give some of it to my family.

Ashliegh @ The Darling Daily

1. What does your blog mostly focus on? Fashion, Beauty, Twenty-Something/Post-Grad Lifestyle
2. Why did you essentially start blogging? Originally, my blog was started as a personal fashion blog as a new years resolution. With the rise of Pinterest, many of my friends challenged me to post my outfits, too! Now my blog covers an array of topics and has grown so much!
3. What do you hope your readers get out of your blog? I hope that my readers leave feeling inspired and refreshed. I also want to build a community where readers can find and ask for advice and have fun!
4. Do you think blogging has changed you, or has the potential to in the future? Well, I believe blogging has definitely encouraged me to to expand my range of creativity! From learning HTML, graphic design, photography, and content writing, there are many creative outlets that come with blogging. It's definitely exciting to learn all of these new (and marketable) skills!
5. What are your general thoughts on the blogging world? I love that companies are seeking bloggers to help with their marketing (especially if those bloggers are being paid, as they should be). This definitely allows for more word-of-mouth marketing and allows people to hear and see the experiences someone has with a product outside of a TV commercial. It gives that element of storytelling that allows us to see how a product would be useful in our everyday "real" lives.

6. What’s your favorite social media app and why? Instagram! I love taking photos and viewing others photos. It allows me to see into another blogger's life outside of their blog and other social media!
7. If you could move anywhere in the world and live there for a year, where would you go? Oh this is such a tough questions! I have a serious case of wanderlust. I studied abroad in Costa Rica in college so I would love to return to such a beautiful and hospitable country. I'm also currently considering volunteer options in Peru. I would really go anywhere with a beautiful view and opportunities for adventure!
8. Up until now, what has been your favorite age to be (or the best year of your life?) 19. It was the year I went to college, rushed a sorority, and really enjoyed being away from home for the first time. I grew a lot as a person that year and had so many opportunities to grow as a woman and as a leader.
9. Let’s pretend you are a terrific singer/performer and you’re out for karaoke night with your friends: which song would you pick first? Well, I like to believe I am a terrific singer/performer. My go-to karaoke song is "Wanna Be" by The Spice Girls. Always a classic!
10. What is the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars? Cry tears of joy as I pay off my student loans!


DIY for the lazy: Jewelry Display Frame

I like to think this is a space where I can be honest, so if I'm sticking to that pattern I'm going to have to admit to all of you: I am lazy. Not in a bad way (I swear!) I've worked on my lazy tendencies a lot through the years and I'd like to think that I have heavily improved. However, there are still areas in my life in which I tend to half-ass stuff. I can be a perfectionist (almost to that annoying point) for many things, but when it comes to DIY projects or anything related, I just simply cannot. The ironic part is that I'm frequently scrolling through cool looking Pinterest projects and crafts, telling myself "one day" I'll do it. If I'm being honest here, you all might as well be, too. Admit it. You have never completed a single craft you have pinned (for whatever reason it may be, I am not one to judge in this case.)

This leads me to what this post is about. I want to share a sort of "DIY" crafty thing I recently did that I thought was super easy, cute and most importantly - useful!

You might have seen something similar floating around Pinterest, as I have many times. Every time I pin it I keep reminding myself I have to go to the craft store to buy the necessary items needed. I already had the picture frame floating around my new room, so all I really needed was to buy... well pretty much everything else. But, remember, I'm lazy. I also don't have time to take a spontaneous 20 minute trip to the craft store.

So there I am one afternoon, trying to finish setting up my new bedroom and organizing the billions of things I have scattered about. I eye the picture frame sitting in the corner when suddenly my genius idea strikes. I might just be able to come up with something for all my jewelry that's sitting in a drawer!

This DIY project was so simple and fast I didn't even take pictures of the project (also, I'm lazy and wanted to get it done asap.) You don't need pictures to help you figure it out, though, I promise.

All you need is:
Frame you like
Push pins

1. Take out the glass part of your picture frame. You won't be needing this, so you can choose to save it somewhere or just recycle it. 
2. Place a cork board tile (you will probably only need one) inside the frame like you would do with a picture, and measure approximately where you need to cut it so it will fit the frame.
3. As you can tell, I only had to cut off a strip off one of the sides to have it fit my frame. However, I was still left with a big empty chunk at the bottom, so I used the leftover strip to fill in that gap. Wallah!
4. Secure the back part back into the frame so your cork board stays in place as much as possible. It's okay if it's moving around a bit (mine still does but it hasn't fallen apart yet, so no worries.)
5. Now place the push pins wherever you'd like your jewelry to go! For my bracelets, I had to use a few pins for each one and place them strategically so they wouldn't fall off. 

Now go ahead and hang up your wonderful jewelry display frame. Warning: this is really only meant for light to medium weight jewelry. Heavy stuff will probably fall because the pins with the cork board aren't totally secure. Just be careful when removing and placing jewelry. Honestly though, if I have managed to keep this thing together for this long (a notorious clumsy girl) then I'm positive you will have no problems with it. 

It may not be your typical fancy Pinterest project, but it's easy and cheap and comes in handy. I really love it so far, so I'm hoping this works for other people, too! Good luck ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Guest Post: A Year of Self-Discovery

Hello! My name is Raewyn and I blog over at Be a Warrior Queen! You may have seen me hanging out over here this past case you missed me, here's a little about me! 

I'm one of those people that can be loud and in your face, but in the most loveable way ever. I try my best to always be happy and find the positive. My blog is one part being positive and another part starting a movement. I want to start a magazine to empower young women and girls to be themselves unashamedly.  I have a pick up truck named Chuck the Truck; my favorite clothes are 1950s inspired and I drink tea like it's going out of business. I just married my best friend of ten years and couldn't be happier! I would love if you'd stop by my blog and we could become the best of friends!

About a month or two ago, one of my guy friends tried to send me on a covert mission to find out if the girl he is dating wants to be serious. Being the person that I am, I obliged, but with a few questions and reservations for him because she is 21.

I don't have anything against anyone being 21 and in a relationship - I've had friends who got married while they were 21. From my experience, 21 is best served single and full of discovery. Before you get in a tizzy, I'm not saying anyone should break up, I'm just referencing my amazing year of self-discovery, so hear me out.

The month following my 21st birthday, I moved across the street from my ex-boyfriend. We went from a long distance relationship that we couldn't last in, to neighbors who were broken up. I'm not going to lie to you, I snuck in his window a lot and I made a lot of bad decisions when it came to him that year.

I wouldn't change a thing.

You see, I needed to make mistakes and get black out drunk. I was always more of a good girl, and I needed to embrace my wild side to find out where I'm most comfortable. If you're more of a wild child, perhaps you need to take a year of celibacy and reflection. Of course, we're all different. Regardless, self-discovery is best served alone. 

Alone with your thoughts and actions. You should make decisions for yourself, alone. Be a little bit reckless.

When I was 21, I learned a whole lot about myself. I dated a bunch of guys (oh lawd do I have some stories), and kissed a bunch of guys. I went on girl dates and girl trips. I went to way too many concerts - that's a lie, there is no such thing as too many concerts - and flirted with quite a few bands.

photo credit: Daniel Meron

I paid my rent from the tips I made as a food runner. I drove a pick up truck that liked to die on me. I took classes and didn't read the books (well, I still got straight A's somehow).

Write letters to the people who negatively impact you, and thank you cards to those that help you find yourself. Start a blog. Write in a journal. Travel for an extended amount of time.

What I'm trying to say is I took a year for me. It doesn't matter if that year is when you're 18, 21, 30, 52...just take a year to truly discover who you are. Those who love you will understand, because they've needed that year, too.

 photo name.jpg

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Year of Transformation: What I've Learned Since Graduating

Do you ever look back at where you were a year ago and realize just how much has changed? I do that all the time. I love looking back. It used to be that I'd look back and get upset because sure, things changed, but never in the way I wanted them to. In the past I tended to have a much more negative outlook on life. I was the definition of "Negative Nancy," constantly being told by friends to be more of a "Positive Polly." I just couldn't, though. There were times in my life in which I refused to accept that there was anything positive in my life and that everyone else had the things in life that I wanted, that I believed I "needed" in order to be truly happy.

I have come a long way from being Ms. Neg Nanc. It's taken a couple of years and a lot of struggle (riding a roller coaster of ups and downs) but I feel I can finally say I am where I need to be in life. Things aren't perfect, because they never are (and the sooner you realize that and accept it, the sooner happiness will come to you.) I look back at where I was one year ago (if we're using exact dates, it was around the time of my graduation party) and feel my outlook on life has gone through a complete transformation. A good one. A positive one.

It wasn't easy. There were months of struggle. Months of let downs. Plenty of times I wondered if things would ever look up. My life sure was changing, but in the worst possible ways. Suddenly, I started to realize the most important lesson I might ever learn:
Your attitude determines the direction your life will go in.  

My one year of being a college graduate has certainly been an intense one, simply because of the inner battles I faced with myself every day. It's a really difficult transition for so many of us and it's so easy to get trapped in the "Negative Nancy" mindset. But it's important to realize that you're the one who determines your future as well as your happiness. The first step? Be more positive. Even an ounce of positivity a day can lead to better things. The attitude you adopt will always have an impact on your life.

Look at life as an adventure rather than a battle. No, things will not always be rainbows and sunshine, and yes, you will have some awful heart wrenching moments to get through, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

I still have those moments in which panic strikes and I start to worry about my future or worry that things will suddenly take a turn for the worse and I'll be spun into a spiral of despair (being a tad dramatic here) but when that happens I just do my best to hold on and keep reminding myself to stay positive. We're only human, so we can't be Positive Polly's 24/7. But that's okay! What counts is that you keep trying.

 I hope each and every one of you has the power to keep a positive outlook on life, despite whatever hardships and setbacks you may be facing. I know it's tough, but you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot. Every single day!