Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thank You, Thank You, Sam-I-Am

Thanks for all the book recommendations yesterday! Keep them coming all week, and I'll enter you to win a signed copy of The Transformation of Things!

Since we're on the topic of books, younger son's new favorite book is Green Eggs And Ham. Which means I've been reading it over and over and over again to him. Which also means I pretty much have it memorized at this point, so yesterday as I read it, I thought a little bit about the guy Sam-I-Am is trying to get to eat the green eggs and ham. Clearly, he's a pessimist. He's sure he won't like Green Eggs and Ham even before he's tried them; he can't be convinced to eat them until pages and pages and pages later, when then, he only does it to get Sam-I-Am to shut-up. An optimist would try something new, because an optimist would realize that she might potentially like this thing, that trying new things can be a positive experience, right?

But I realized, that sometimes, I'm a little like that guy. I have set ideas about what I like and what I don't, and I'm some times hard-pressed to try something new or do something different. So my goal for today is to do something completely different, to try something new. I'll report back on how that goes tomorrow. But I will promise you this -- it will not be Green Eggs and Ham. I wouldn't eat those here or there or anywhere. Not even in a tree or on a train, in the dark, or in the rain. . .

How easily do you try new things?

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Reading Again!

First, the winner of last week's contest is Lena! Congrats Lena -- send me your address to jill(at)jilliancantor.com and I'll send you out your signed books.

This week, I'm giving away a signed advanced review copy of The Transformation of Things. Check the right sidebar for details on how to enter!

It's Monday again, and since I am committed to thinking of Mondays and new weeks as beginnings from now on, I wanted to share what I'm looking forward to beginning this week, and this week it's something simple: books. As in reading them.

Whenever I work on writing a book, I don't read books at the same time, and for the past four or five months, I've been going back and forth, working on two different projects of my own. I think I've read maybe one or two books in that entire time. As a person who, for the majority of my life, has read several books a week, this almost feels like reading withdrawal. But this week, I've come to a stopping point in my writing. This week, I'm reading again.

For as long as I can remember books have made me happy. I can think of no better feeling than staying up into the late hours of the night, being so engrossed in a book that I can't put down. That is what I'm looking forward to this week.

One book I've been dying to read and have heard nothing but good things about is Juliet by Anne Fortier, so that's what I plan on starting with.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Date Night

Today is Friday, so it's the last day to enter the contest listed on the right sidebar. I'll announce the winner on Monday!

I think part of being positive is looking forward to things you like rather than focusing on or dreading the things you don't. For instance, right now, I'm not dwelling on the fact that I have a mile-long to-do list today or that youngest son probably won't have time to nap and thus will have a tantrum while we're picking older son up from school. Instead, I'm thinking about tomorrow, when my husband and I will have our weekly at-home date night.

The concept is something I stole from my parents. When my sister and I were little, my parents used to put us to bed early on Saturday night and then order Chinese takeout and rent a movie. They did this religiously, every Saturday for years, despite our protests of wanting to join them or stay up late.

For the past few weeks, my husband and I have been doing the same, only instead of takeout we've been cooking something new together, sharing a bottle of red wine, and watching something from Netflix.

We don't leave the house, pay a babysitter, or do anything fancy. But what we do get is quiet time alone together, the chance to eat and talk without a child interrupting or asking for something. We have adult conversations, about adult things. And did I mention the quiet?

So today, that's what I'm looking forward to. What are you looking forward to this weekend? And do you find focusing on these things helps you stay positive?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thinking Like a Cat

Yesterday I watched my cat chase a lifeless toy bug around the house all morning. She was relentless; the more the bug didn't run away, the more she attempted to attack it and make it move. Finally, I hid the bug on the counter, but then I found her a few hours later, having stolen it back and continued on with her chase.

Sure, she's just a crazy-fluffly haired cat who likes to eat my cell phone and steal my glasses when I fall asleep on the couch at night, but as I watched her, I considered that fact that she also is an optimist, as I'm pretty certain that optimists do not give up. That the word "no" is not in an optimist's vocabulary.

I just started reading the book Hard Optimism by Price Pritchett. One of the first questions Pritchett asks is what's more important, thinking positively or not thinking negatively? I paused on that for a moment. Is there a difference? Pritchett says there is -- that the real heart of optimism is learning to avoid and eliminate negative thinking rather than pushing yourself to think positively.

I realized I bug my kids about this one all the time -- that whenever they say they can't do something, I assure them that they can and then promptly make them do whatever it is. But I'm not so good about this myself.

But my cat does not think negatively. She doesn't hear the word no. If she can do it, then certainly, I can. So, today, I'm all about the word "yes," (though, if you should find me chasing toy bugs around the house, then please feel free to tell me that this little optimism experiment has gotten way out of hand! )

How about you? Have your pets taught you anything lately? Do you hear the word "no?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do you Dive Right In?

Yesterday, I took youngest child to swimming lessons for the first time. Though it was only his first lesson and he didn't know what he was doing, he was quite eager to try out the diving board. In fact, at the end of the lesson, when the teacher said it was time, he climbed up the board and walked to the edge, smiling. But then, before it was time to jump, he seemed to realize that the pool was beneath him, that even though the teacher was right there, the pool could be scary. So he sat down at the edge of the board and refused to move.

Usually youngest child has no fear. He's the kid the who dives head first into literally everything, the kid who terrifies me around playground equipment, steps, and anything moving. So his moment up there on the diving board surprised me, and I have to admit, made me a little happy. I was terrified for him to jump off the board not knowing how to swim.

Today I thought about it: was my reluctance for him to jump, and his reluctance, a form of pessimism? Are fear and pessimism related?

I also realized that a lot of things I do in my life are like youngest child's reaction at the edge of that diving board. I stop and wait. I assess the situation. I'm cautious. I have fear. In younger child's case, I found his fear to be smart -- even optimists shouldn't dive right in to everything blindly, right? But in my case, I realized I've been avoiding working on something specific lately because I was worrying that I wouldn't be able to do it. Each day as I've opened up the document to get to work on my revision, I've been specifically ignoring the part that needed the most work. In short, I've been standing at the edge of that diving board for weeks now. Not today, though. Today, I took a deep breath and started with that section first. And you know what, once I started working on it, I actually started to feel better about it.

And eventually, younger child jumped too, when the teacher came up to jump along with him.

What about you? Do do you dive right in or do you stop and think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is Optimism Contagious?

My dad, who informed me the other day that he's been religiously reading this blog (hi, Dad), also informed me that in his world, the business world, he thinks both optimists and pessimists are necessary to balance one another out. No business can be successful, he said, unless there's an optimist to dream big and a pessimist to be the voice of reality.

So that got me thinking about something similar: if any good business partnership needs some kind of negative/positive balance, then is this also true of a personal relationship, a marriage?

I've mentioned before how my husband has been my "optimism" police through this journey, and also, how he himself can be quite guilty of flagrant pessimism, quite often in the form of sarcasm. So what does this mean for our relationship, now that I'm being more optimistic? Can an optimist and a pessimist co-exist together in harmony? How about an optimist and an optimist or a pessimist and a pessimist?

My optimism is still new, but I have to say that being more positive has made me feel happier. And when I feel happier I think I'm a nicer person, and in turn, I think that's made my husband happier and thus also more optimistic. Yesterday morning, he even did something uncharacteristically positive -- He walked out of the house to leave for work, then turned around and came back in, just to tell me to have a good day. It was one tiny moment, a blip in my morning rush of getting the kids ready and out the door, but after he left, I actually felt that I was going to have a good day.

So maybe optimism is contagious and now we're both becoming fledgling optimists. How about you and your significant other? Do you think an optimist and a pessimist can co-exist in harmony?

Monday, August 23, 2010

In Which I Decide to Love Mondays

Today is Monday. And if you're like me -- then you generally hate Mondays. On Monday it's always hard for me to wake up early, get back on schedule -- everyone experiences this, I'm sure, to some degree. But usually my first thought when I wake up on Monday comes with a pit of dread in my stomach -- and that is that the weekend is over, and it's five more days until another one, until a break from work and school and schedule. And I already feel exhausted.

But this morning, I made myself think something else. Not that it's the end of the weekend, but that it's the beginning of a new week. I love beginnings -- who doesn't? Because beginnings are full of promise and possibility. Today I'm thinking of Monday as a beginning. I'm thinking of a long week filled with the potential for good things to happen.

I guess this goes back to the old adage of whether you choose to see the glass half empty or half full. This week, I am choosing half full. How about you?

And the winner for last week's contest, the $10 iTunes gift card, is Stacy! Stacy, e-mail me your address to jill(at)jilliancantor.com and I'll send it right out to you. And be sure to check the right sidebar for this week's contest!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Change of Plans

Yesterday, I woke up with a lot on my to-do list. It began with the intent to exercise first thing in the morning -- I've been making a conscious effort to try to exercise every day, since I read this helps with a positive attitude. So I got up, put on my work-out clothes and sunscreen, but that was about the extent of what I got accomplished. Because shortly after, older child woke up sick.

Instead of doing anything I'd planned yesterday, we spent the entire day at home, watching movies, doing puzzles, and playing blocks. And for the majority of the day, older child wanted to do something he never wants to do anymore: just hang out and cuddle with me on the couch.

Usually, I find myself frustrated when don't get the things done that I set out to for the day. But yesterday, I didn't. Yesterday, I took a break. And though I felt bad that older child was sick, I didn't feel bad about my undone to-do list. Sure I spent the day in my work-out clothes (that I never put to use) and we got take-out for dinner (okay, really, I will use any excuse to get take-out for dinner), but I got to spend the day at home wrapped in those increasingly rare quiet moments with my kids.

Have you ever had a change of plans that turned into something positive?

And don't forget -- today's the last day to leave a comment to be entered to win the iTunes gift card. I'll announce the winner on Monday!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Charlotte or Wilbur?

Since I was already talking spiders this week, it seems appropriate to add that older child and I are now in the midst of reading Charlotte's Web. This is one of the first books I can really, truly remember reading as a child, and one of the first that made me fall in love with reading, and then, writing. And I can tell older son is loving it too, by the way his eyes light up each night as we go to read it.

But being that I am now looking at everything in terms of optimist vs. pessimist, I've also noticed this: Charlotte is an unwavering optimist. She is kind, reassuring, and above all, convinced that things will work out well. Not only this, but also, she takes action to make sure that things do turn out well. Something else I learned from Seligman's book was the fact that learned helplessness is a common trait of the pessimist. Charlotte, though a tiny spider, is certainly not helpless. Wilbur, the pig, on the other hand is about as big a pessimist as they come. I'm actually starting to find his whining about being bored and helpless a bit annoying. And this is not something I remember from reading it as a child -- I remember only a cute little pig!

So I guess my point is this. If I had to choose, I'd much rather go through life as the person who is not helpless to help herself and her friends, the person who takes action and makes good things happen. I'd much rather be a Charlotte than a Wilbur.

How about you? And have you re-read any childhood favorites as an adult and seen them differently?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Well Can I Argue With Myself?

Over the past few days I read the book Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. I learned a few interesting things, but one of the main things I got out of it is that both pessimists and optimists have good and bad things happen to them -- only, optimists handle everything better. Optimists are happier, live longer, healthier, less depressed. Who wouldn't want to be an optimist with that line-up?

I also learned that being an optimist doesn't have to mean never having negative thoughts or just responding to the world with blind and foolish positivity. It seems it's all about the way you react to these thoughts and whether you let them consume you. Seligman's advice was to either distract yourself from negativity or dispute it. In other words, it seems you can argue yourself out of being a pessimist through logic. Well, that seems easy enough, right?

I'll admit that I'm most guilty of pessimism when it comes to my writing. Sometimes I'll sit down to write and think things like Well, this will never work. No one will ever want to read this. This is never going to get published. You get the point. Seligman used an example in the book about a woman who was dieting, ate a little junk food, began obsessing over the idea that she'd ruined her diet and then just gave up and ate a tub of ice cream. Okay, I'll admit that I would do something like this, too.

So today's challenge is this: not to banish all self-doubt or negative thoughts, but to dispute them. Every time I think something negative today, I'm going to make myself take a few seconds to argue myself out of it. Can I do it? Can you?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spiders are Nice?

I wrote a few times last week about oldest child, about his willingness to make friends, and his shiny optimism. But I haven't written yet about youngest child. Youngest child is still a toddler, an expert tantrum-thrower who loves the word "no." Some days I spend the majority of the day negotiating how I'll run simple errands or even pick older child up from school without him breaking something/hurting himself (or me)/throwing an embarrassing screaming fit in public/or just generally refusing to do whatever he's supposed to be doing at the moment.

But yesterday morning I took youngest child to the park. I watched him laugh and smile and climb and yell at another little boy for taking his shoes off. And then, as is often prone to happen, he did something that horrified me. He held something in his closed fist, and then opened his palm and showed it me: "Look, Mommy, a spider."

A spider? I should mention here that I am terrified of spiders, and that my immediate reaction was to automatically assume it was a black widow that youngest child clutched in his hand, and thus, freak out. I yelled at him and told him to put the spider down. Then I grabbed his little hand to see if the spider bit him and told him not to ever pick up spiders again, since they bite.

"The spider didn't bite me," he told me. "It was a nice spider."

"No," I argued with him. "It wasn't a nice spider. Spiders aren't nice."

"Yes," he argued back. "Spiders are nice."

He could not be convinced. Even hours later, when my husband came home, he told him about the nice spider that he'd met at the park. So I did a little Googling and learned that the majority of spiders are, in fact, not harmful to humans, that only a few species of spiders bite humans.

Hmmm. Was youngest son was right? Chances are it was a nice spider. But still, it could've also been a black widow. So I wondered, is this kind of pessimism okay? Or is younger son already a glass half full person, while I am still verging on glass half empty?

How would you react in this situation?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Because Every Journey Needs a Theme Song

Maybe this is just because I'm a writer, but I often imagine my life set to music. I hear certain songs in my head that would fit perfectly with whatever "scene" is taking place in my life at the moment. Or at least I used to, before my pessimism got the best of me.

Music used to be a big part of my life. I played three instruments and sang through middle school and high school. I'm married to a musician. As a teen, I used to love my mixed tapes and then, cds. When I hear certain songs, I automatically picture where I was and what I was doing when I used to listen to them.

But lately, I haven't listened to much music. My iPod has been gathering dust on my night table. In fact, I barely even know how to download new music from iTunes. Mostly, I feel too busy for music, too consumed with other things. Which I don't think is a good thing because I realized this weekend, I miss music.

So I dusted off the iPod and started listening. And I decided that I need a theme song, that this journey towards positivity needs a theme song. A song that inspires me, makes me happy, or that when I hear, years from now, will make me remember how much I wanted to be become an optimist.

The song I chose was Don't Stop Believin' -- the Glee version, of course :-) Which I love as much for Lea Michele's voice as for the fact that it makes me feel, well, happy, and optimistic.

What's your theme song of the moment? Does it inspire you to believe in yourself or stay positive?

PS. Check out this week's giveaway! Leave a comment any day this week for a chance to win an iTunes giftcard!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Power of Positive. . . Envisioning?

First, the winner of this week's follower contest (chosen with the help of random.org) is Steph! Steph, send me an e-mail with your address to jill(at)jilliancantor.com and I'll drop your signed advanced copy of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS in the mail. And check back on Monday for next week's contest!

As I'm nearing the end of my first week of this optimism quest, I've tried to take a step back and look at things. The first thing I realized was that even though this week should have been exhausting and had the potential to be rife with stress (due to the first week of school), I've actually been feeling pretty good. And not just happier, but more energetic, relaxed, and calmer. This is a pleasant side-effect I hadn't expected, and also something that makes me feel downright enthusiastic about continuing this journey!

So maybe it was this calmer, more relaxed state of mind that made me remember something: I wasn't always a complete pessimist. Last night when I was lying in bed, I remembered something about myself from about seven years ago, back before I had kids, had a book published, or even had an agent yet. At the time I'd been trying to get an agent for a year or two, and kept getting rejection after rejection. At the same time, I was also trying to get pregnant, at first, unsuccessfully with a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. I was anxious all the time, worrying about the future, worrying that nothing I really wanted in life was going to be possible. So I had this thing I'd do to make myself feel better. Every night before I fell asleep, I'd envision myself walking into the bookstore, pushing a stroller with my baby, and walking over to the shelf to find my published book. And then after a while, I started to believe that this would actually happen. And then after another while, it actually did.

So last night, I decided I'd start doing this again. And as I lay there in bed, I got a mental picture of something I've been really, really wanting to happen, but that the pessimistic side of me has refused to believe ever would. And then I fell asleep, and I had a dream about it happening. When I woke up this morning, I was convinced, for a second that it had happened. But even after I woke up a little more, I wasn't upset, because I realized I had genuinely begun to believe what I'd imagined was going to come true, eventually.

Maybe this sounds a little crazy. I'm a rational person, and I realize that we can't just imagine good things to make them come true. But I began to wonder, if we make our subconscious envision something like this, if we make ourselves, deep down believe that the things we want to happen will, do we then make a conscious effort to try harder to make them happen? By visualizing good things happening to us, do we somehow make it easier for ourselves to achieve our goals? I think we might. What do you think?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Paying a Stranger a Compliment

Yesterday morning, I did something I don't normally do. I read an article in the newspaper -- the entire thing -- and I actually found myself enjoying it. Usually I skim the paper, or read a paragraph or two of something before I skip to checking out the weather, my horoscope, and the Dear Abby. Sometimes when I'm busy, as I have been lately, the newspaper ends up lining the cats' litterboxes without me even glancing through it. But yesterday morning, as I casually flipped through, a particular article caught my attention.

It was a personal essay really, a story about a food writer who got to judge a show on the Food Network and ended up having to eat her most dreaded food -- eggs. The article was funny, and the writer's voice drew me in right away. (Click here if you want to read it yourself.)

I got to the end of the article, and I noticed that the reporter's e-mail address was there. I had a thought: I could e-mail her to tell her that I enjoyed her article. The old, negative me would've frowned at that idea. Remember I mentioned my hesitation to make new friends? This would also include me e-mailing people I don't know just for the purpose, of, well, being nice. Honestly, last week I would've read the article and not even have considered e-mailing the writer.

But I thought about it. One of my favorite things as a writer is hearing from readers who like my books. Just a simple e-mail from someone telling me how my books affected them, changed them, influenced them, or even just to say they enjoyed it -- is always enough to brighten my day. I think, as writers, we mostly find ourselves in a solitary profession where it's hard to imagine that there are actual readers somewhere on the other end of that. Hearing that there are, and that these people are enjoying my words, is one of the most positive experiences I get to have on a daily basis.

So I decided it might be nice to be on the other end of that for once, to respond positively as a reader, and that maybe, also, part of being positive is to say nice things when they occur to me, even if it is to a stranger. After all, how many strangers had brightened my days with their nice e-mails about my writing? So I sent her an e-mail. A simple e-mail, just saying how much I enjoyed the article and her voice. It took me two minutes. And then I moved on with my day, feeling pretty good about things.

What about you? Have you ever taken a few minutes to say something nice to a stranger? Do you think this makes you feel more positive about yourself?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Can You Be an Optimist and a Realist?

As I mentioned on Monday, my husband is the one keeping me in check on the home front. If the slightest bit of negativity escapes me -- he calls me on it. Seriously, he's turned into the negativity police -- which is funny considering he's the biggest pessimist I know. (I'll get to that another time).

Anyway, the positive point of this, is that it's really, really, making me think about every single thing I'm going to say out loud. And I've begun to check myself before anything really negative escapes my mouth, which in turn is making me feel more positive, relaxed, and happier. Good news, right? However, I now have a new phrase which I've heard myself using repeatedly over the past few days, as I've found myself proceeding anything I'm about to say to my husband that could be perceived as even slightly negative with the words: "I'm not being negative -- I'm just being realistic."

For instance, last night we had a conversation about something I wrote a while back, and I said something to the effect of "Well x and y are never going to happen with this book."

Ding, ding, ding! The negative police called me on that one. I said the word *never,* after all!

Yet, I honestly don't think what I said was negative, but realistic. I knew given the book and being in the publishing industry for a while that things I were saying were just fact, truth. I wasn't being a pessimist, but a realist. My husband disagreed. Firmly.

So that got me to thinking was he right, or can you be an optimist and a realist at the same time?

I think you can. I think just believing blindly that everything will always be perfect, may even be damaging to my optimism. I think there needs to be a balance. I think it's okay to hope for the best, but to understand all the circumstances and facts that surround any situation. Isn't part of being an optimist learning to accept the bad things in life by finding silver-linings and to not let these things get you down?

Or maybe not. Have I fallen off the wagon already?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Friends

So I survived my first day! And not just of thinking positively, but older child's first day of school. I'll admit, I was a little misty-eyed as I dropped him off, and I may have woken up in the middle of the night having an anxiety dream -- that every kid had the same school bag as older child (a school bag I specifically ordered online to be different so he wouldn't confuse his lunch with a peanut butter filled one). But I did not wake up and allow myself to obsess over whether or not that could actually happen. Instead, I told myself that everything would be fine, that older child would find his own lunch, be happy, make friends. And as I got ready to leave him in his classroom for the first day, I stood back and watched him.

He looked a little nervous at first, but then I saw him walk up to another kid, introduce himself, ask the kid what his name is, and shake his hand! Then the two of them sat down and started working on a puzzle together. Just like that.

The second part of the positivity regimen in that article I mentioned yesterday is to see the good in other people. I actually do feel I do that to some degree already, as I'm usually the one willing to give people I know the benefit of the doubt. But sometimes, I am quick to judge people I don't know, and I realized, watching older child make a new friend, that I don't do it to the degree I should, or, to the the degree he does. I must have been different once, when I was older child's age, when I first met my best friend as I wrote about yesterday.

It's not that I don't have friends now, because I am fortunate to have some good ones. But I will also admit that I don't always try hard enough to make new ones. There were some parents I saw last year every single day at older child's preschool and never had an actual conversation with.

So yesterday, I kissed older child goodbye, and then I stood outside the classroom for a few minutes, watching, to make sure he was really okay. Next to me was a woman, a stranger, who I realized was doing the same. If older child could make a new friend, just like that, then could I?

I did something that I normally would not have: I introduced myself, and then we started talking, each pointing out our children to the other, chatting about our feelings about leaving them there for the first day, and what that was going to mean for both of us. I learned that she had done this before, that this was her youngest, not her oldest child, and somehow, that made me feel better. As I walked away, I felt good, not sad. I felt older child would be fine, and I would be just fine.

On the way home I thought about the way I see other people and the way they might see me. And I thought about how older child had taught me something, that connecting with people we don't know is easier than we think it is. That seeing the good in people doesn't only mean giving them the benefit of the doubt, but also opening yourself up to new friendships without hesitation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 1!

To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure where to begin. How does a person realistically go from being a pessimist to an optimist? Though I told myself I wasn't officially starting until today, I attempted to be more positive this weekend. Even so, I might have found myself saying to my husband something the effect that maybe this blog was a mistake, that maybe no one was going to read it anyway. His response was to laugh and point out how negative I was being, and then always ready to jump in with a movie quote he said, "If you write it, they will come." And as Yoda said, "Do or do not. . . there is no try."

Okay, so that was when I realized that I was going to have to do this. Really, seriously have to do this -- and not just in cyber-space once a day, but in my real life. If nothing else, because if/when I slip up, I'll be forced to endure Star Wars quotes!

So I did what any good writer would do and started doing some research. Being a writer has made me a proficient Google-r and library book reserver. I did both over the weekend. The best article I read so far was one from The Christian Science Monitor that told me five steps to becoming a more positive person. So I decided to start there. Step number one is to come up with a positive response to every situation.

Which brings me to today. Today is oldest child's first day of school, a day which I have been silently worrying about and dreading all summer. Oldest child is beyond thrilled about this day -- see, he is still an optimist. But me -- I have been worrying about if the school he's going to is the right one, if he will learn anything, if he will fit in socially, if he will accidentally ingest peanut butter at lunch (He's allergic). Basically, you name it, and I've been worrying about it. And I know I'm not alone in this because I've been getting daily e-mails from my friends whose oldest children are also about to start school this week.

But, now I'm going to take a step back and have a more positive response to this situation. I am. Oldest child is healthy and happy and thrilled to be going off to school. He will get to play and learn, socialize and grow all day long. He will learn to be more independent. He will make new friends. He will begin to have a life of his own -- away from me -- but that's going to be a good thing for him. The first step towards him eventually becoming a healthy, happy, well-adjusted adult.

And then I thought back, tried to remember my first day of school, not from a parent's perspective but from a child's. What I remembered was this: on my first day of school, I met my best friend, a little girl with blonde hair who I asked to sit next to me on the bus because I thought her hair was pretty. We spent most of our childhoods giggling on the phone, writing plays for our Barbies to perform, having sleep-overs, planning out matching outfits to wear to school dances. My friendship with her was a constant, amazing thing in my life. Even today, I think of her as my best and oldest friend.

So maybe oldest child will find this today -- or something like it? And that makes me almost as thrilled about the first day as he is. Will I still cry as I drop him off this morning and then spend the day worrying? Well, maybe (and tune in tomorrow to find out), but I will also be happy for him today.

What's a situation that made you nervous that you could look at differently and have a positive response to?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ready, Set, Think Good Thoughts!

I'm going to start by admitting something, that lately I've been a raging pessimist. I've been thinking about everything that can go wrong, dwelling on it, even, and then, when things do go wrong, I've been focusing only on them. I find myself constantly thinking about the bad things in life, rather than being happy about the good. And I have a lot of good. Why don't I take the time to remember that, to dwell on that?

My best friend always reminds me about the power of positive thinking, that if we put good karma into the universe, it'll come back to help us. I've tried before to be a believer, but I've never been able to stick with it. So this blog is going to be my negativity detox. A checkpoint, of sorts. A gatekeeper to keep me on the positivity wagon, if you will.

I'm going to admit something else: I have a book coming out in a little less than three months. A book which has been a long time in the works, a book which I am fiercely proud of, a book which has the same name as this blog, a book, which is above all, a fictional journey of transformation. I have been tossing around ideas in my head for how to promote this book, for what I could do to help this book get into the hands of readers, and, all the ideas I've come up with have been met with, yep, you guessed it, my inner (quite loud and obnoxious) sense of pessimism.

And so I decided on this. From now until the book comes out I will attempt to transform myself from a pessimist to an optimist. I will attempt to banish negative thoughts from my days and dwell, instead, on the good things. And then I will blog each day about positivity: one thing I'm grateful for, that makes me happy, or enriches my life. In short, I'll spend the next 85 days injecting all the positive karma I can into my life and the cyber-universe, and then seeing what it throws back in return.

I hope you'll join me, follow along, and add some positive karma of your own. Check back on Monday to start following my journey towards positivity!