how to be a better friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on

3babc064ebf514167009dc97fb12b5fc

Whether they’re the mac to your cheese, the Sookie to your Lorelai or the Anne Perkins to your Leslie Knope, true friends are the ones that stick by you in good times and in bad. They love you for everything you are and can be and despite the crazy person you’ve been sometimes in the past and let’s be real, will probably be again at some point in the future. They’re family and they love you no matter what.

I think we all know friendship is a two-way street but sometimes it’s tough to really invest and nurture friendships because well, life. We’re all busy and as my mother would say, we’re burning the candle at both ends. We’re building families and careers and sometimes taking time to connect with our girlfriends seems selfish or self-indulgent but I am here to announce WE NEED FRIENDS. They are vital to our well-being and overall sanity. So if you’ve been out of the loop with friends recently (work overload, got married, had a baby, THE HOLIDAYS) never fear! It’s completely doable to be get back in the game. Here are ways to be a good friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on.

Make plans
This may seem like a “duh” but for let’s be real, between careers and babies, life happens. None of us are immune to the busy day-to-day but something has to give if we want to find true connection with friends. Whether it’s a standing dinner date once a month or a quick coffee date here and there — create dates in your schedule for get-togethers based on everyone’s schedule and stick to them. When you are together be all there – silence that cell and enjoy face time with your people.

Use your phone
If you see something that reminds you of a friend, let them know. Shoot them a text to share a funny story or ask for prayers for something you’re struggling with. Make it a point to call them every once in a while during your commute from work to hear about what’s going on in their world. Use your phone to keep your friendship alive and thriving until the next time you get to be together.

Say thank you
How often do you take the time to tell your bestie how thankful you are for them? Tell your friend exactly how you feel and how much they mean to you – this will make their day and yours, too. Send them a fun card via snail mail to let them know you think they’re pretty awesome and value their friendship. I don’t know about you but some of my most cherished keepsakes are cards from dear friends.

Listen up
Being a great friend reaches far beyond verbal communication — it’s rooted deep in listening. Sometimes all we really need is to talk something through and get it all out there to a close friend just to do simply that, get it out there. We all love to talk (I’m raising my hand high here!) but sometimes the greatest service we can offer a friend is the gift of silence and quiet understanding.

Encourage
Oh man this is so important and something we all need, especially during all the changes life brings in different seasons. Maybe it’s giving a genuine compliment out of the blue or maybe it’s checking in and offering support when they’re training for a half marathon. Don’t make this hard! Some encouraging things to say: I understand. Me too. I’m so proud of you! How can I help? This too shall pass. Let me know how it goes – I’ll be praying. Well done! I’ll bring the chocolate! 

5 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Mood In 2 Minutes (or less)

dfb4d687fe325cff6947f82fa938bc8c

Experts and moms alike preach that we won’t find happiness in a paycheck or stuff in general. Revolutionary, huh? I consider myself a happy, joy-filled woman but I am human so there are times when I find myself feeling overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted and in need of a serious attitude adjustment. So next time you need to turn around a crazy day at work or brighten up a draggy afternoon, try one of these to lift your mood and bring that award-winning smile back to your face.

Let the Light In

To feel happier in seconds open those windows! Have a little more time? Have breakfast/lunch/snack time outside or near a big window. For those of you who don’t work from home and wear yoga pants on the daily, make sure you make time to sneak out of that dim office filled with recycled air and spend some time outside.

Smell Something Amazing

Light your favorite candle, add a few drops of lavender oil behind your ears or do what I do in a pinch – smell your hair. Yes, I’m serious. SMELL YOUR HAIR. Unless it’s very dirty and has lost all of its amazing botanical scent.

Talk A Walk 

Hands down, this is the best one for me. Whether I’m stressed, anxious, ready to throw my Macbook off the back deck or just need to recharge my batteries during the afternoon slump, a walk around the block always brings my engines back to neutral and gives me the strength to keep on keeping on. Plus, what’s better than getting some fresh air and watching the leaves fall this time of year?

Phone A Friend

I am so blessed to have wonderful friends in my life and you better believe we all keep in touch daily, whether it’s a quick call or a never-ending text conversation (that would make an excellent book, btw). Often times I’m flipping out or feeling down about something but after I’ve chatted with my friend I either a) realized I was overreacting or b) completely forgot what I was so worked up about. Find your tribe and keep them close.

Count Your Blessings

God has blessed us all in a major way and nothing can put that smile back on our face quite like reflecting on those blessings. Sometimes it’s as easy as thinking about people and things you’re thankful for and sometimes it’s more effective if you jot down as many as you can write in two minutes. Remembering all that you have sure brings life’s little annoyances back into perspective and boosts your mood like no other. Have a great weekend! xo

Real Talk: No More Single vs. Married (Please)

monica-geller-gallery

We’ve all seen them. The articles that poke fun at married women who are labeled as “sublimely unhappy” and “overcompensating” if posting too many pictures of one’s spouse – The Most Annoying Things Married People Do On Facebook – and even more annoying, those that pit single ladies against the married starting in the very title – What Single Women Hate About Married Women. Sure, it’s all in good fun but is it helping anything?

I was single for a solid 27 years before I was ready to meet the right guy and then later tie the knot. To some that was a long time to be stay single, I am Southern after all,  and believe me, I heard it all from “When are you going to finally settle down? to “Enjoy these single days while you have them!” For a while the majority of my girlfriends were also single and we shared the good and the bad of being on our own and embracing life as free agents. When those same girlfriends got married my relationship with them changed, sure, but never once was I made to feel inferior or “less awesome” because they were in a serious relationship with a man and I wasn’t. Honestly it was pretty great to see my friends happy and so in love, which gave me hope that one day God would bless me with a good man. (Insert: Taylor)

As a very new newlywed I read “Why I Refuse to Join the Smug Married Club” thinking maybe there was a list of behaviors I should note and avoid like the plague. Are married women smug? Is that a thing? Is it inevitable that both groups secretly dislike each other simply because of their relationship status? Does something terrible happen to our manners once we add the Mrs.? I’d like to think not and now eight months into marriage I can proudly say I just don’t get it. I have friends who are happily single and happily married. Oh, and I also have friends that have KIDS. Can you believe it? As women, we are always evolving and changing, whether it be chasing the career of your dreams, marrying your best friend, working on your nursery to welcome in a little one or planning that trip to Vegas now that you’re retired. Who says we can’t all be supportive and happy for each other during every season of life?

Maybe I’ll alone in this, I don’t base my friendships on my girlfriend’s relationship or marital status. The guy they’re with – or not – is not why I cherish their friendship. They are supportive, hilarious, fiercely loyal and overall go-getters. We talk about men and relationships from time to time, but there are plenty of other topics — answered prayers, work, trips, where we ate the night before, whatever’s in People, etc. Being in a relationship hasn’t given me some sort of amnesia about being single, nor has my new role of wife made it impossible for my girlfriends to stomach hearing about what’s new with me.

No matter what box you check off to describe your status: single, married, divorced, widowed, or it’s complicated, that alone does not define you. Sometimes being single is awesome, and sometimes it’s not. I’d say the same is true for marriage! I have never been happier than I am today, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love so much about my single days. We’ve gotta stop with the negative and embrace where we are today, in this moment.

Ladies, let’s pull it together and support each other in every season of life. Enough with the team single and team married business – let’s all make the choice to be happy and live full, extraordinary lives. Let’s stop telling ourselves we can’t relate to that friend anymore because we’re in “different phases.” Enough with the silly articles that cause division and try to put us in categories. I pray you’re in love with your life and everyone in it, and not afraid to show it! Happiness is contagious and love is necessary. xo

Links I’m Loving

tumblr_n5flprd9my1rno41do1_500

1. 5 surprising ways to help your memory. (time.com)

2. Looking for a workout you can do anywhere, at any time of the day, without equipment? Thank you Today and Jenna Wolfe for this. (today.com)

3. This weekend we plan to visit the Pink Cadillac Drive-In Theater for our date night – now I only have to decide what to pack in the picnic basket! (Facebook.com)

4. The opposite of fear is not courage. (andrealucado.com)

5. I plan to take full advantage of VS’s semi-annual sale and buy a pair or two of these fun workout pants. (victoriassecret.com)

6. This clothing item could make you happier, according to science. (hellogiggles.com)

7. Scrumptious desserts perfect for taking to a summer party. (huffingtonpost.com)