Friendship 101

It never ceases to amaze me how selfless, giving, and considerate my girlfriends are. These women are incredible; they balance careers, relationships, active social lives, and somehow still find the time to send birthday cards (before the actual day).

Add that to the list of things to work on: send more thoughtful cards.

We each show up for our friends in our own way, and each friendship is beautiful and unique. I have some friends that I talk to every single day, and some that I can go months without seeing or speaking to but when we are reunited it is like no time has passed at all.

Each of my friendships enriches my existence, and I am a better person for having these women in my life.

Here’s a few tips on how to be a good friend, which I have been lucky enough to learn from friendships that have forever changed me for the better.

1. Be There, Even If You Can’t Be There.

My closest girlfriends are spread out all across the country, yet I speak to them constantly. We are always there for each other, lending support, advice, and encouragement during times of happiness or desperation. One of the greatest strengths of these friendships is that, without fail, they are always there for me when I need it. A phone call, a sweet text, a gentle push in the right direction- they are good for it, no matter how far away they are. They don’t let physical distance keep them from showing up for me, and I do my absolute best to return the favor.

2. Respect Each Others’ Time.

You know what qualities my best friends have? Dependability and follow-through. A friendship cannot survive if plans are constantly being broken. I understand that things come up, but my schedule is too busy and my time too precious to let flaky people into my inner circle. I respect my best friends’ time, they respect mine, and that is why our friendships are still flourishing after so long.

photo courtesy of http://www.buzzfeed.com

photo courtesy of http://www.buzzfeed.com

3. Be Positive, Yet Honest.

Best girlfriends are your greatest supporters, but they aren’t afraid to get real with you. They will give it to you straight, challenge your opinions, and offer constructive criticism with grace (and without stomping all over your feelings). If you think you have a bright idea, you check with them first. You respect their opinion, and you know, after years of experience, that you should always listen to them.

4. Make the Effort to Persevere.

Your inner circle tends to have one thing in common: they have been there through everything. Your friendships with them have survived disagreements, fights, and possibly even periods without talking. At the end of the day, they persevere, because you know that a difference of opinion could never destroy all that you have built.

and last, but not least….

5. Show Appreciation

Your best friends really are amazing people, so be sure to tell them so. These are the people who believe in you and love you unconditionally, which is no small feat. They have strengths that you lack (ahem, like sending said birthday cards on time), and they never judge you for your faults. These ladies (or gentlemen) deserve a gold star and endless amounts of admiration for all they have contributed to your life, so be sure to tell them regularly how much they mean to you.

photo via pinterest

photo courtesy of Pinterest

What is your idea of being a good friend? I would love to hear your ideas!

xoxo

Sarah

* This post is dedicated to all of my best girlfriends. You know who you are :). I am so grateful for all that you are, for all that you do, and appreciate you more than words can express. I love you!

On Bouncing Back

We all go through it. The bad days, the crummy moods, the hard times. It’s normal and a part of life. After all, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. However, the fact that it’s normal doesn’t make it any less sucky while you’re going through it!

Confession: I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. And while I am aware this is a normal thing, I don’t like it. Not one bit. The best thing I can do for myself when I notice I am feeling down is to get into action so that I can speed up the bouncing back process. Here are some things that help me when I’m going through it, all of it, and I hope that they help you too.

Plan A Trip

What’s more exciting than the thought of an adventure? Umm…nothing! Planning a trip will give you something to look forward to, which is a natural mood enhancer. I am taking my own advice and am planning a trip for Thanksgiving weekend to visit my best friend, and it has been a great way for me to get out of my own head and think positively. She’s my person, and I cannot wait to be reunited. 🙂

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Request Reinforcement

Speaking of best friends, times like these are the perfect opportunity to let them do what they do best- show up for you. Talk about how you are feeling with them. Allow them to support you. Allow yourself to be cared for. When you are feeling less than stellar, they will be the champions for your cause and reinforce that superstar that you really are. Plus, they are the surest ones to make you laugh when you need it the most.

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Binge Watch Your Favorite Shows

Go ahead, re-watch all nine seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. We’ve all been there. Technically, you don’t even need to be in a slump to do this, because it can just feel so damn good to lay around and be endlessly entertained by your favorite plot lines and characters. That’s what they are there for, to make you feel better.  

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Treat Yo’Self

Go shopping. Get your nails done. Eat a tub of ice cream for dinner. Not that I’ve done that recently or anything. Sleep in. Take a day off. Whatever it is that brings you a little bit of enjoyment and comfort, do it! Be kind to yourself and don’t feel guilty about it, even for a second. A little splurging is well deserved.

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Be Patient

It takes time to bounce back. It is important to remember to be kind to yourself during the process, and to allow yourself room to experience the emotions you are feeling. There is no set amount of time for how long it will take you to get over something, so just be patient and have faith. It will happen.

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Whatever it is that you are experiencing, it is completely and 100% true that this too shall pass. Before you know it, you will be back to your old bouncy self. I promise.

What do you do to brighten your mood when you are feeling down?

xoxo

Sarah

 *All photos are via Pinterest

Since When

Since when did asking for help become a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity to develop a relationship? Since when did asking a question come to represent a lack of knowledge, rather than seizing an opportunity to foster better communication? Since when did reaching out become something you stop and question, rather than embracing the opportunity to learn something new and see another’s perspective?

Everyone has shortcomings. No-one knows everything. Yet, somehow, we are living in a world where we’re embarrassed when we do not have the answers. We are afraid we will look stupid for asking certain questions. We fear we will be judged for lacking the knowledge. We know we will be questioned for not being one hundred percent sure of the answer.

This sounds backwards right? No-one has all the answers and nobody is perfect- not me, not Obama, not even Oprah. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. The problem is that we don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to appear weak or unprepared. I think the biggest mistake we are making in always worrying about messing up, or trying to go it alone, is that we are not letting ourselves be vulnerable. We try to be the problem-solvers, the fixers, and the I-can-do-it-on-my-own-ers, which creates distance from everyone we come into contact with throughout the day.

This past weekend, I did some damage at Home Goods. This is the part where I must confess that I prefer to outsource certain projects. Like hanging things. So, I asked my neighbor to come over and help me. Could I have done everything on my own? Sure. I know how to operate a drill and a hammer (I am woman, hear me roar!). Easily and in under two hours? Heck no. Instead, I chose to ask for a favor and doing so does not make me weak or dependent. In reaching out and asking for help I was inviting friendship in. I was embracing the opportunity to let someone in to my life rather than declaring that I can do everything alone.

Back in April, I wrote about my struggle with vulnerability. The Vulnerability Project was a declaration of my insecurities, my fears, and my desire to change. I made a promise that I would make a wholehearted effort to open myself up to new experiences and to engage fully in life, come hell or high water. I made a promise to dare greatly.

That is since when I started trying to assume less and to listen more. That is since when I started asking for help rather than sitting alone in my struggles. That is since when I started letting people see the softer sides of me, the pieces that are nowhere near polished or perfect but are completely authentic. Engaging in vulnerability is challenging.- asking questions, initiating conversation and getting outside of what is comfortable. Sometimes I seem less knowledgeable that I am. Sometimes people think I am weak. Sometimes people hurt me. What then? Then I feel the feelings, all of them, and that is the gift that I receive. Each experience teaches me a little bit more about myself and I get a little bit better at being vulnerable. And that, my friends, is progress.

How are you at reaching out, letting others in, and being vulnerable?

xoxo

Sarah     

ps. Check out my beautiful new pallet art, a custom piece that was designed just for me and is now hanging proudly in the entrance to my bedroom. My dear friend Nick is the artist, and if you love it he is more than happy to create something special just for you :). He accepts orders via email at ncarlsongolf@yahoo.com.

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*Top photo via Pinterest

Living With Intent: Weekly Wishes

Happy Monday!

This past weekend I took a trip back home to the Bay Area to watch one of my closest college girlfriends get married! It was an absolutely wonderful, and perfect, extended weekend. I was able to spend quality time with my grandmother in Walnut Creek, had a delicious dinner at The Cooperage in Lafayette (if you have a chance to go, you must try the butterscotch bread pudding), and on Thursday I went all the way back to my roots- spending the night in Concord with some of my dearest high school friends. My best friend Jaimee recently bought a condo (she is way better at this whole adult thing than I am), and I was able to go see it, finally. The best part was getting to spend Friday morning with just her, sharing special us time over tea, croissants, and mini coffee cakes.

On Friday, I rendezvoused with Team Bride in order to kick off the wedding festivities. We had a group mani/pedi party before heading into San Francisco for the rest of the weekend. What can I say about the wedding? It was perfect. The venue was gorgeous, and seemed as though it had been taken straight out of a fairytale. The bride was stunning. The ceremony brought us all to tears. We celebrated the couple’s union with love, laughter, and dancing. Lots of dancing. The entire weekend was filled to the brim with friendship, feasting, and amazing experiences.

Today, it is back to work and reality! While catching up on some of my favorite blogs this morning, I stumbled across the idea of making Weekly Wishes on The Nectar Collective. Weekly Wishes is a list of goals or challenges to achieve during the week, with the intention of sharing with other readers and encouraging them to participate in their own goal-setting. I love love love the concept of living with intention, and I believe that setting goals is one of the best ways to get things accomplished. So, here are my goals for this week.

This Week’s Wishes

  1. Orient myself. I’m going back to school! I am taking an online class through Coursera called Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence. This is week one, and I am new to Coursera; thus completely unfamiliar with the format of the class and am unsure of how it all will work. I need to orient myself and dive right in to the coursework!
  2. Dentist appointment. Because seriously, a teeth cleaning needs to happen. Oral hygiene is important y’all!
  3. Set up a schedule for Self Care September. Next month I will be launching a special project: 30 days of self care. I will be focusing on spiritual nurturing, physical wellness, and generally rediscovering my personal zen factor. I will diligently be posting about my progress as the month goes on. I am especially excited to get this started!
  4. Make posting deadlines. In an endeavor to develop my blog, and my writing, I am aiming at increasing my posting frequency from once to at least twice a week. Setting deadlines for myself will encourage me to Get. It. Done.

To learn more, get motivated, become inspired, be involved, and to view other blogger’s participation in Weekly Wishes, you can find it here:

The Nectar Collective

 xoxo

Sarah

The Point of Growth

The point of learning, of growing, of achieving, of self-improvement, is not to puff ourselves up. The point isn’t to inflate our egos or to spout off about the self-actualization we have attained, or to throw it around disguised as self-importance and arrogance. The point is to give it away.

For it is not by breaking down others that we build ourselves up, and it is not by shouting out to the world our need for attention that we gain recognition. Instead, we work tirelessly. We work tirelessly to be a better friend, a better employee, a better shoulder to lean on, a better partner, a better human. Lead by example it is said. This is difficult, because often on your long spiritual journey up the proverbial mountain it is impossible to see your own progress. With your pack weighing you down, your body sagging from exhaustion, and with sweat dripping off of your forehead blocking your view, you can’t see if you are any nearer to the top. Step by step you struggle forward, pressing on with no idea if and when you will ever reach it. If you will ever get there. 

The truth is, there is no THERE.   There is no when or someday either, only now. So how can we make now enough? For when you are in the middle of your climb you cannot see the crowd of supporters at the summit, cheering you on. You have no idea how your progress, and struggle, is inspiring those that are watching you. One foot in front of the other. That is how we do it. That is how we make now into enough.

We make now into enough by realizing that we don’t need the perfect anything to be happy, we just need to be growing. We stimulate growth by challenging ourselves; by getting out of our comfort zone and saying yes to every new opportunity. Thus, the importance does not lie in reaching the top of the mountain. It lies in your path to getting there.

The World will never be in short supply of people who will try to tell you, loudly, how to live your life. What you should do, how you should act, and who you should be. It’s crap. All of it. What you should do, how you should act, and who you should be, is entirely up to you. Write your own script. The only person you need to measure yourself up against is the person you were yesterday.

So keep it up. Keep up the journey, keep up the struggle, keep up the discomfort. Enjoy the good moments the best that you can, for small triumphs lead to large successes. One tiny step forward is much further than no steps at all.

Xoxo
Sarah

Inspiration is Everywhere (and Other Keys to Success)

Inspiration is everywhere. It is in our surroundings, the people we spend our days with and around, the music we listen to, in the very the air we breathe. And inspiration is usually most elusive when we are actively looking for it. Then, when you least expect it, inspiration hits you like a beam of light shining through a dark grey sky. An illuminating burst, engulfing you in brilliant glitter and reaching bright rays out to everything you see. One of those moments is how this blog post came to life. 

The following is a compilation of  Keys to Success. A list of some of the wisdom I have learned while stumbling through my twenty six years here on Earth so far. Things to give you hope, that give me hope, and ways I have learned to better trudge my road to happy destiny.  

Inspiration is everywhere. Embrace it. Look for it. Don’t look for it. Let it guide you. Let it give you hope. Take it in any and every form it comes in. 

Trust your gut. Listen to your intuition. I have found that my gut reaction to things, or people, has rarely failed me. Your gut reactions are based on your instincts, learned from the past for good reason. However, do not let your gut run away with you. Be sure to use your head and know that every initial feeling or perception might not always be the right one.

Stay hydrated. I’m not kidding. Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to keep on top of your game, mentally and physically. 

Expect the unexpected. Always be prepared, and always be prepared to be surprised. The only thing constant in life is change. 

Speak with confidence. Believe in yourself and your voice. Let it ring out clearly and without tremble. Practice makes perfect. 

Know your friends. Developing strong friendships is one of the most important things you will ever do. Know how to be a good friend. Know how to cheer your friends up when they are down, how to make them laugh, how to make them feel appreciated, how to make them feel seen. Our friends are the family of our choosing. They will be at your side at some of the most joyous, and some of the most trying, times of your life. That said…

Know your enemies better. You cannot win any battle without understanding your opponent. Knowledge is power, and you should never fight the unknown blindfolded. Removing the unknown, to the best of your power, makes almost any problem solvable. Or at the very least, workable. 

Take the stairs. Cardio is good for you. Just do it. 

Be kind. Without fail, and even on your worst days. Try. 

Learn to breathe. Deeply. Controlling your breathing, while saving you in the immediate moment from hyperventilating, has long-lasting benefits. It will help you to think clearly under moments of extreme stress, act with grace under pressure, and also help you assimilate your thoughts and emotions during times of relaxation. This is something I’m still working on. 

Don’t take yourself too seriously. You have to be able to laugh at yourself, and see your own flaws, to reach your full potential. 

You have to kiss a few frogs. Don’t be afraid to date someone because you think he isn’t “the one”. Don’t be afraid to break free from a certain set of rules you have outlined for yourself, and color outside of the lines. Because you know what? All of those frogs you kiss, they will ultimately lead you to your prince. Someday. But only worry about today. Have fun.

Pick your battles. Not every argument is worth having, and being “right” isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Happiness does not lie in being right if being right means being left alone in the end with no-one to back you up. 

Set goals. A dream without goals is just a wish. Setting small goals makes a huge task, or dream, seem much more feasible. 

And with that said, I come to perhaps the most important tip on this list

DREAM BIG. Dream big, huge, amazing things for yourself. It sounds cheesy, but you can do anything you set your mind to. Really. This is something I have to remind myself of every single day, but that reminder is crucial. Do your dreams scare you? Good. Think you can’t possibly accomplish them? Perfect. Because life will show you that you can. I’ve been told many times that in the end, it will all have worked out better than we could have possibly hoped for. Always, always, remember that.   

Do you have any tips you would like to add to this list? 

*I would like to give credit, and a special thanks, to my co-worker Becky who served as a source of inspiration for this post. Her positive attitude and sense of humor make even the worst days brighter.