Online Dating Safety for the Single Woman

Oh, the internet. It connects you with people from all over the world, and it allows you to meet men in the comfort of your own home, in your jammies.

Never has it been easier to find a date for this weekend, and it’s also never been easier to research a blind date before you even meet him. Still, there are some spooky people out there, and in the excitement of wanting to meet someone, common sense can go out the door.

This week I want to talk about some practical tips for dating safely online, mostly through my own personal experience. I will frame this by saying probably 97% of guys out there aren’t creepers (depending where you meet them). Unfortunately, a single girl can never be too careful. So take a look at the list below – divided into the different stages of online dating – to see if there is something you have been missing.

Chatting Online

  • There is no reason to divulge your last name, exactly where you work, or any other personal information until you meet this person face-to-face.
  • Only give your phone number (or accept his) if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Resist any pressure to give your number or reveal personal information if you’re not ready.
  • Unless you met on a fetish site, any dick pics or anything yucky like that is more than enough reason to block and report them. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • If your gut is telling you something is wrong, that’s probably for a very good reason. Do not ignore that intuition. The same goes for all the stages of a first date.

Texting/Talking on the Phone

  • This is the stage you can start to snoop. If you know his name or number, it’s not a bad idea to look him up on social media. Does everything he says check out? Or does something feel “off” about the situation? If something is weird, it is completely OK to ghost at this phase.
  • I still think this is not the time to give out personal information if you’re not ready, especially where you work.
  • Only suggest going out/accept his invite if you feel comfortable doing so.

Before the Date

  • First dates are best in public settings with lots of people and lights around. Coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants are all good ideas. Lightly attended movies and evening strolls through the park are not.
  • Give a trusted friend or family member your date’s picture and contact information, as well as when and where you are meeting up. Make this person your “date buddy.”
  • There is no good reason to let him pick you up. That is what your car, public transportation, or Uber is for.

During the Date

  • Make sure you text your buddy (from the restroom, obvi) to tell them you are fine.
  • You can also have your buddy call you during the date at a predetermined time to check on you.
  • First dates are usually best if kept on the shorter side. It’s best to set an end time beforehand with an excuse (early morning, a fictitious meeting, etc.) ready to go. That gives you a graceful exit out if the date is a bomb. Feel free to ignore this if the date is going well.
  • Enjoy yourself, but be aware of your surroundings. Do you know where the exits are? Has you purse been with you the whole time? Is there someone in the bar/restaurant/coffeehouse giving you the heebie-jeebies?

After the Date

  • Unless you are sure you want to end the date in the morning, don’t let him come to your house or vice versa.
  • Text your buddy to let them know you made it home OK.

These are just a few tips to ensure your own safety and give you peace of mind when meeting men online.

Is there anything I left off this list you think should be added? Comment below!

How to Be a Daily Feminist

The news this week has just left me in a stupor.

Every time I open my laptop, get on Facebook or Twitter, turn on NPR, or watch TV, my blood starts to boil or I feel a little nauseous. As much as I try to filter the media I consume, it’s just everywhere.

But there is hope. There is so much hope.

As hundreds of thousands of people marched last weekend in cities all around the country in support of women and women’s rights, what’s the next step? The pussy beanies have been put away, the media attention is dying down. So now what?

I’ll tell you what. If you believe in feminism, it’s time to start thinking about practicing #DailyFeminism. It’s time to be stronger, louder, but more loving than ever before. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Donate or volunteer to causes you care about. Whether it’s the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a political party, or any organization that serves women, put your money or your time where your heart is. Don’t think you make a difference? Think about helping one person. Then think about what your time or financial support means to one person. It’s a game-changer for them, and it makes a world of difference to them. You can’t save the entire planet, but you have influence in your town, in your neighborhood, and in your own family. Use it. Wield your power to do good!
  1. Get political. Write. Email. Tweet. No matter what your political affiliation is, if you don’t act or speak, nothing will ever change. A local politician here in Nebraska was caught retweeting a disgusting, misogynistic caption of women marching last weekend. I was sick of it. I called his office to (civilly) voice my disgust and called on him to step down. I then called my state senator to encourage her opposition. He resigned the next day. Not because of my two phone calls, but I hold my head high knowing hundreds of women in my state called for this politician to resign, and he did. There is power in numbers.
  1. Be respectful of other women. There are memes floating around Facebook “In a world of Kardashians, be an Audrey Hepburn/Lucille Ball/insert name of old-timey actress.” While I am certainly not a Kim’s fan, I don’t see the need to tear other women down based on their persona, brand, or how they choose to live their lives. It doesn’t move the feminist dialogue any further. And when our friends and relatives see us trashing other women – even really famous ones – they will think that woman-bashing is OK. But it’s not.
  1. Read books by feminist authors. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Erica Jong, there are hundreds of excellent writers to choose from. I will be the first to admit this is not my strong suit. But I do love Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and Kate Chopin. Find one book – even a short one (there are many free ones in the public domain you can download). Read it. Ask yourself what it means to you as a woman. Is there a lesson you can carry into your everyday life? Then celebrate. Because you just expanded your horizons, and no one can take that from you!
  1. Speak up. You have an opinion that matters. Don’t be afraid to share it, and don’t apologize for it. If your friends or family are unfairly criticizing a woman, speak up in her defense. If your co-workers are having a political discussion in the lunchroom, respectfully say what’s on your mind. If you want to attend a march, make a sign and go! The only thing I ask is to remember people have feelings, so getting up in someone’s face or belligerently arguing will not advance the dialogue.
  1. Consider the source. “Alternative facts” is now a thing. It’s up to us to question everything. Check the sources of your news, and consumer it wisely. I know the bias out in the conservative and liberal media, and I take all of it with a huge grain of salt. Don’t assume that article you read online is true or that interview you saw was unbiased. Be smart, but do be informed. An informed woman is a powerful woman.
  1. Call it out. When you see someone doing something good for other women – giving a seat up on a bus, defending a woman from verbal harassment, participating in a march – give some love. Post a thoughtful comment. Say a quiet “thank you.” Acknowledge the action that you just witnessed. Put some positivity out in the world – we need so much more of it!
  1. Love yourself. I really should have put this first. Because your ability to love, empower, and support other women stems from how you love, empower, and support yourself. I know it’s so much easier said than done, but be gentle with yourself. Do what makes you happy: a bubble bath, a walk, a manicure, a piece of cheesecake. Don’t spend all your time dwelling on the news if it makes you anxious (it makes me pretty queasy!). Read something that will make you happy. Whatever makes you the strongest and most content…do that, and be that.

Is there anything I left off the list? What do you do to practice daily feminism?

Quick and Easy Meditation for Beginners

Cell phones. Car alarms. Noisy neighbors. TVs and radios blaring. Dogs barking. Kids screaming. Fire alarms when all you want to do is boil water.

No matter what your kryptonite is, I think all of us suffer from a world of excess noise and distraction. If you’re anything like me, you probably bombarded with cacophony from the minute you wake up till the moment your head hits the pillow.

Is it possible to hit the restart button and refocus your thoughts? How do you find your calm in the middle of a busy, loud day? Is it even worth taking a couple minutes to shut your brain up?

In a word…yes.

Now, I’m not going to lie: I came to hate the words meditation and silence when I was in training to be a nun. I had to go through several silent 48-hour retreats. We weren’t permitted to say a single word and were supposed to be in prayer and silence. I’ll be the first to admit I failed miserably. All I did was sleep a ton and sneak in books in order to have something to do. Because in my 20-something-year-old mind, I demanded stimulation and I didn’t want to take time away to pray.

And honestly, structured prayer isn’t my jam. But as I’ve gotten older, I see the wisdom and power of meditating. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve concentration, as well as increase happiness and self-awareness.

So how can you snatch a few minutes to calm your brain down and re-center yourself? I have to admit, as single women, we actually get more silence built into our day than wives and mothers. So why don’t we take advantage of it?

Below are a few quick ideas you can try today. Try doing any one of these for two or three minutes every day. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment. All you need is the intention of wanting to meditate.

In the Morning

  • Hold a hot cup of coffee or tea in your hands. Savoring the aroma, breathe deeply and focus on what you are grateful for in the day to come.
  • Practice three yoga sun salutations. There are many YouTube videos to get your started.
  • Sit comfortably in a chair. Concentrate on your breath. Each time you inhale, focus on a mantra or an intention you have for yourself. Suggestions for a mantra could be love, peace, joy, serenity, or a similar notion.

In the Middle of the Day

This will require you to disappear for a few minutes. If you can’t shut people out in your office or cubicle, go to your car, bathroom, break room, or even a storage closet if you won’t come across as a total weirdo.

  • Sit comfortably and focus on one good thing that has happened so far today. Replay it in your mind and thank the universe for it.
  • Close your eyes. Concentrate on your heartbeat and your breath. Be really present in the moment and think about how strong your body is, how alive you are, and how amazing it is to simply be today.

At Night

  • Lie down in corpse pose (arms away from body, hands up, feet shoulder-width apart). Breathing slowly, focus on your one-word mantra. Reflect on how it played a role in your life today.
  • Look up a quote on a site like dailyzen.com or http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/buddhism/daily-buddhist-quote.aspx. Sit in your favorite chair. Soak in that quote and let it flow over you.

What do you do to hit the “restart” button in your mind during a busy day? Comment below!

Blood Be Gone: Why I LOVE Mirena

Let’s talk periods for a blog entry. And no, I’m not talking punctuation marks.

What I am talking about is Aunt Flo. The Curse. Your monthly.

Whatever you call it, periods are something all women from teens to well into their 50s have to endure, and I’m no exception. We shell out hundreds of dollars a year on tampons, pads, cups, pantyliners, and other things to stop us from being the vampire victim every 28 days or so.

CSI: Constantly Soiled Items

Speaking for myself, my periods have always been a horrid curse. I was diagnosed with menorrhagia (abnormally heavy periods) in my early 30s. As early as my late teens, I could sleep with a tampon, two pads, and be on a towel, and I would still wake up on a bed that looked like a crime scene. I ruined countless items of clothing and bed linens. “Ultra heavy” pads and tampons were utterly laughable. As a teacher with one 20-minute break in a nine-hour day, I had to wear yoga pants so I could drag through the day. And it was gross. Just gross.

Sick and tired of the blood and anemia, I drew a line in the sand at the age of 31. I went to my OB/GYN, begging for something, anything, to relieve my symptoms.

That was when the miracle of Mirena was introduced into my life.

What Is Mirena?

Mirena is one of four hormonal IUDs available in the United States (the others being Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena). It is a small, plastic, T-shaped device about 1.25” long and just as wide. Prescribed and inserted by a medical practitioner into your uterus, it shells out a low dose of the hormone levonorgestrel. There are strings that are trimmed after insertion you can still feel, but it shouldn’t interfere with your normal activities.

Advantages of Mirena

  • Up to 20% of women reported periods stopped altogether after their first year
  • Has a five-year success rate of 99.3% in preventing pregnancies
  • Effective for five years (although some women get a new one after 3 years)
  • Thanks to the ACA (Obamacare), many health plans cover Mirena
  • On the market in the US since 2001 with an extensive body of literature supporting its effectiveness
  • Nothing needs to be done prior to sex – it really is a “set it and forget it” form of birth control
  • If you change your mind and want to start a family, 90% of users who wish to become pregnant do so within 2 years of removal

Disadvantages of Mirena

  • Mild to moderate discomfort when it is inserted (from my own experience, I won’t lie – it hurts like a bitch)
  • Irregular periods and spotting after insertion
  • Side effects include: lowered sex drive, nausea, acne, weight change, change in glucose tolerance, lower back/abdominal pain, and mood swings

Of course, check with your physician to see if you are a candidate for Mirena. But in my personal experience, I saved my pennies to get it and gave my OB/GYN the green light to insert it. And the day I got my Mirena was the last day I had to worry about periods. Other than a couple days of light spotting, I haven’t had a single problem with my periods.

And it has been liberating. I can travel without worrying about my period. I can swim whenever I want. Stained clothing is but a distant memory, and I can even wear white pants without fear. My quality of life has gone up dramatically since Mirena came into my life. And yes, I do suffer from some side effects, but that is nothing in comparison to the joy and freedom to live my life on my terms without suffering from menorrhagia and anemia every month.

So what do you have to lose? Discuss Mirena or another hormonal IUD the next time you go to your GYN. You may just change your life, and for the better.

What has been your experience with birth control? Has it enhanced your quality of life? Comment below!

Easy Breakfast for Dinner Recipes for One

What’s not to love about having breakfast for dinner? You get to eat the foods you love when it’s dark outside, you can wear your jammies, and binge-watch the latest season of BoJack Horseman while you eat, so you got the cartoon aspect covered, too!

There are lots of good casserole recipes, or you can make pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, or even just cold cereal. But I have two quick egg recipes that require about six ingredients apiece and are perfectly portioned for one person!

  1. Savory Egg Bake (modified from a Weight Watchers recipe)

Ingredients:

  • No-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon marinara or pizza sauce
  • 1 tablespoon feta (or similarly crumbly cheese)
  • 1 large egg
  • Spices of your choice (the original recipe called for fresh thyme; I used garlic powder, herbes de Provence, and crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 2 pieces bread for toast

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spray ramekin with the cooking spray (be sure your ramekin can resist temperatures of 400!)
  • Add all the ingredients into the ramekin (I like to poke my egg so it comes out runny)
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees

After it cools just a bit, enjoy with toast and fruit. Plenty of protein, filling, and super easy!

 

  1. Easiest Quiche EVER (modified from a Food.com recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 premade frozen pie crust
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups filling – cheese, leftover veggies, meat, or any combination (for this one I use ½ cup cheese and 1½ cups from a bag of frozen onions, celery, and peppers, which I thawed and drained)
  • Season to taste (I like crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the filling and milk, then mix all together
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pie shell
  • PLACE THE PIE ON A COOKIE SHEET (I have had more than one quiche drip onto my entire oven)
  • Bake for about 50 minutes, until the top is browned, and a knife inserted in center comes out clean

This is so easy and so good. Enjoy with a green or fruit salad, and maybe a piece of toast. It refrigerates very easily for breakfast or lunch the next day.

There are so many ways to make this: Tex-Mex with peppers and steak, Italian with garlic, onions and spicy sausage, or the classic quiche Lorraine with bacon and Swiss cheese. 

I am definitely not a huge egg fan, but these recipes are so simple that I can have them whipped up in very little time with minimal effort. And let the brenner party begin!

What is your favorite breakfast food to eat for dinner? Comment below and try one of these recipes this week!

Yoga and the Plus-Size Woman

“Ohm…shanti…ohm…shanti…”

You probably think those of use who practice yoga sitting around in our yoga pants, watch incense waft heavenward, and pray to weird Eastern deities.

Yeah, no. That’s not how yoga works. (Although, as a sad/funny side note, my local ultra right-wing Catholic bishop tried to tell women practicing yoga was a grave sin.)

I took my first yoga class in my twenties, and I was hooked right away. I loved being able to shut my loud brain off for 75 minutes at a time. I was amazed I could actually do some of the poses as well as or better than my classmates, like the bridge pose and sitting in a butterfly pose with my knees flat on the floor. And when I could do things I had never done before, such as a handstand, I knew yoga would always be a part of my life.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro, an intermediate yogi like me, or a total newbie, I hope you will consider doing yoga. Even though we are curvier women, yoga offers so many benefits, they simply cannot be denied:

  1. Improved respiration. A lot of yoga centers on breathing. You focus on different parts of your body receiving oxygen. The deeper you breathe and the more you focus on it, the more it improves your overall breathing.
  1. Increased flexibility. I am amazed at how much more flexible I was after a few months of yoga class. Postures I had to skip in the first few classes were ones I could actually do! And it was fun to try to recreate those movements at home.
  1. Perfects your posture. While Pilates are better for core work, yoga also focuses a lot on your core and tucking your belly button into your spine. Yoga stretches make you longer, leaner, and your posture will naturally follow suit.
  1. Increases blood flow. Believe me, when your head is below your heart – like in downward dog – the blood flows to your head. And you start to feel arteries, veins, and capillaries you don’t even know you had!
  1. Inspires a healthy lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but I am less likely to grab fast food on the way home from yoga class. Somehow my body craves better food, and I make better choices. I drink more water, less alcohol, and I actually want to eat stuff that’s good for me.
  1. Fights depression. Not only does yoga center you and help you focus on your breathing, but your endorphins kick in. I seem to feel particularly happier after a round of hot yoga.
  1. Improves your balance. Yeah, I wobble and fall when I’m trying to balance on one leg. So what? Over the weeks, my balance improves. So not only can I stand on one leg, but I can stand on one bent leg!
  1. Fosters deeper sleep. It is connected to the focus on breathing and being centered, but I always slept like a rock after yoga practice. The calming breathing and soothing feeling of well-being lend themselves so well to a good night’s sleep!
  1. Yoga is a sport you definitely see improvement in. As I mentioned, literally everyone improves after a few weeks in yoga class. I dare you to try it out for a month. Tell me you don’t see marked improvement.
  1. Centers you. After a long, tiring session, it feels so good to lay there in corpse pose, breathing, and connecting with the universe. That is a sense of peace and tranquility I have never found in any church. Ever.

So if you want to practice yoga for increased flexibility, as a way to ease symptoms of depression, or you are looking to take up a new sport, yoga is simply amazing. Give it a try at your local adult education classes or see if a local yoga studio offers free introductory classes. You might get hooked!

Have you ever done yoga? What were the results?

Why You Should Care About Politics

“God damn it! We just got through the ugliest election in this country’s history! I never, ever want to hear about politics again!”

As of this writing (late October), the elections are, sadly, not over with yet. Nearly everyone I know is weary of this election, and I know more than one person who swears they will never vote again.

Never. Vote. Again.

Um, no. Not voting is not an option.

I used to work in an election office, so I’ve heard a lot of arguments why people don’t care about politics. If you hate politics or ignore them altogether, read below. I want you tell you why your lack of interest in what’s going on around you could hurt you in the end.

Excuse #1: My vote doesn’t matter.

I’m so tired of hearing this. First of all, if you knew the history of how different groups in our country had to struggle to get the vote, you might think a little differently. American women only got the vote in 1920, and that was after a lot of hard work. My grandmothers were born without any voting rights, and they only could when they turned 21, not 18.

And if you think your vote doesn’t matter, you are so wrong. More than a few local elections are decided by a single vote. In national elections, sometimes the presidential vote is decided by only a few hundred people. 2000, anybody? So your vote does matter. And if you sit at home on Election Day, you officially surrender your right to ever complain about politics ever again. And you’re dismissing the sacrifices of your great-grandmothers and all the other women in your family who worked to ensure you get the vote.

Excuse #2: There’s nothing on the ballot that affects me.

Not true, either. Many ballots have tax initiatives on them for levies, school bonds, sales taxes, etc., that hit you in the wallet. You could wind up paying more or less taxes. Your vote can affect how children in your city are educated, or which building projects get funded. In my state this year, we are voting on whether or not to abolish the death penalty. My vote is literally a vote of life and death.

I always supported Obamacare, but I never thought I would be on the receiving end of it. Welp, I am on it right now and I make sure my vote ensures politicians who support it stay in Washington. I want my voice heard, because what is on the ballot indeed affects my daily life.

Excuse #3: All politicians suck. Why should I even bother?

I actually don’t disagree with this argument. A lot of politicians do kind of suck because they are in perpetual campaign mode. They lose their empathy and connection with the very constituents who voted them into office.

That is why I think term limits are a good thing. And in the meantime, I am voting straight across the board to bring in new blood. I am weary of the establishment, so it’s time to shake it up. And even if the same old clowns get elected, at least I can hold my head high knowing I did my best to make a change.

Excuse #4: I don’t have time.

LAME. It take seconds to fill out an absentee request form. Vote at home in your jammies, then mail the puppy back in.

You don’t have to vote for every issue on the ballot, but you are doing yourself a huge favor to stay informed. Read editorials in your local paper. Visit the websites of the major parties in your state. Watch a debate or two. Ask questions of a friend or coworker who is well informed. Again, you don’t have to know everything, but educate yourself!

I hope I’ve refuted at least one argument on why you don’t care about politics. You aren’t only helping yourself, but you’re making a meaningful contribution to your community. It takes little time to educate yourself, and you are honoring the work of everyone who fights to ensure you have access to a ballot at every election.

YES OR NO: Did you vote last month? Why?

How to Handle a Family Argument

Picture it…your family gathered around the Christmas dinner table. There’s a fire roaring in the fireplace, turkey is on the table, presents are under the tree, Christmas carols are cheerfully on in the background…

And a heated family argument erupts at the table, hotter than anything in the fireplace.

This scene will probably play itself out in, sadly, countless American homes this holiday season. If it’s about politics, money, or someone’s significant other, it takes very little to send some people over the edge.

This blog post is to give you some advice if you find yourself trapped in one of these unfortunate scenarios, what you can do to bring things down a notch, or, at the very least, preserve your sanity.

  1. Set some boundaries. If at all humanly possible, try to head any arguments off at the pass. When you extend or accept invitations, make it very clear you will only do so if people are on their best behavior and will not fight during the festivities.
  1. Not your monkeys, not your circus. One way of preserving your sanity is to just completely stay out of it. If the argument doesn’t involve you in the least, staying silent can be a wise option.
  1. Do no harm. It is extremely important to remember that you can only control yourself, not other people. You can control what you say, but not how other people will react. If you have something valuable to add, by all means do so. But jump in only if you think it is wise to do so. If you are arguing just to argue, you are throwing gasoline on a pile of oily rags
  1. Be the diffuser. OK, so maybe you’re not a trained hostage negotiator, but what can you do to improve the situation? Can you sneakily change the subject? Can you get one of the fighting parties out of the room to help you with dessert or outside for a bit of air? Anything you can do to restore some modicum of peace will be appreciated by nearly everyone present.
  1. Stay on topic. If you are bold enough to join the fracas, that is your choice. But in any argument, you aren’t doing anyone any favors by bringing up things that happened five or ten years ago. If you are questioning your sister’s taste in boyfriends, talking about her junior high crush is really not going to be much help to you.
  1. Shut people down, right then and there. Especially if you are the hostess (or even if you’re not), you are entitled to enjoy a drama-free holiday. There is nothing wrong with reminding people it is Christmas, and FFS, can you all act like grown-ass adults for a change?!
  1. Just leave. Assuming you came on your own power, when all else fails, just leave. Out of the room or out of the house. Sometimes distancing yourself from the drama is the best thing you can do for your sanity. Allow yourself to cool down.
  1. Be gracious afterwards. If you said something to hurt someone’s feelings, apologize. Even if you know you were right, try to make up with your family. The holidays only come once a year, and you are so much stronger and better than a petty little argument.

I wish you the very happiest holiday season and hope you don’t need to use any of these. The best offense is always a good defense, so try to set some boundaries before you go anywhere for Christmas Eve/Christmas dinner.

What is the stupidest thing your family has ever argued about? Comment below!

The Joys Of Having a Best Friend

Who was your best friend growing up?

It’s probably not hard to think of your first childhood friend. Chances are she was someone in the neighborhood or who you met at school.

If your friends were anything like mine, you probably spent hours outside playing, riding bikes, swapping Barbies, having sleepovers, and dancing to your favorite cassettes. (Yes, I am old.)

You may have changed best friends in middle school, high school, and college. And that’s normal, because that’s a time in your life where hundreds of people drift in and out. And not everyone is going to be your bestie – that “kindred spirit” Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables spoke so highly of.

But chances are you had that one friend you could cry on the phone to at 1:00 in the morning after a break-up, who was your ride after your first car accident, or who got you your first job at the restaurant they worked at.

Yeah, having a BFF is great, but do you have one now? I want to talk about the importance of having a best friend in your life and how your life can be enriched by having one.

  1. She is willing to go to bat for you. She has seen you through job losses and bad break-ups. She is willing to slash someone’s tires or leave a negative review on someone’s LinkedIn profile because they said something cruel to you. OK, maybe she won’t shiv the tires or really leave a negative review. But she can provide ice cream and wine and help you rag on your enemies.
  1. She is a sister you never had. How many sisters do you have? One? None? I am lucky enough to have two great sisters. But even though we live in the same town, I rarely see them. My best friend knows me better than they do. We explore new restaurants, go out for happy hour, and even just Netflix and chill. Blood is definitely not thicker than water.
  1. She brings out the best in you. My best friend listens to all my wacky schemes, from my desire to write a book, supports my writing career, and quietly cheers me on in the background. In turn, I support her in her studies, I am there for her when she has a bad day, and will even be a nurse if she’s sick. But at the same time, she will call me out if I’m being a jerk or hurt her feelings. She makes me want to be a better person, and there are very few people I can say that about.
  1. She nurtures your inner goofball. I am always respectful when I’m invited to others’ houses. But when I get to her house, it’s ok if I walk right in, snuggle her cats, and command her to get wine with me. After which we laugh at awful reality TV shows and swear at bad movies. Yes, my BFF will let me be my weirdest, which is something I can’t even do all the time with my family.
  1. She pushes me to try new things. Whether it’s sampling hipster cocktails, cooking new recipes, going to an antique store I’ve never been to, or watching a new local band, my best friend will push me a little outside my comfort zone to enjoy all that our town has to offer. In turn, I drag her to vintage jewelry stores, make her watch foreign movies, and she is my willing henchwoman on day trips outside the state.

I can only hope your best friend brings out some of the best qualities in you as mine does. If you don’t have a best friend, who could you consider allowing into your life right now to share it with?

Tell me about your best friend! How does she make your life better? Comment below!

How to Enjoy Your Own Company as a Single Woman

new-yorknew-york-2Radio. Podcasts. Facebook. Twitter. Emails. Snapchat. Phone calls. Instagram. YouTube. Pinterest. Texts. Netflix.

Even if we are single women, are we ever truly alone?

When I think about the ways I can distract myself, it’s small wonder I’m usually uncomfortable with silence. How many of us take the time to proactively shut out the world and just enjoy ourselves for a few hours?

When was the last time you can honestly say you enjoyed your own company – really and truly? Here are five ways to tune the world out, reconnect with yourself, and remind yourself why you are an amazing woman in the first place:

  1. Plan for a day to yourself. Take a sick day from work. Or a legitimate vacation day. Heck, even part of a weekend is fine! Plan on doing things you love to do: a manicure, a bubble bath, a good book, binge-watching Netflix, or downloading an app you wanted to try. Ignore the phone and disconnect from your email. Schedule several uninterrupted hours of goofing off time to charge your batteries and love the company.
  1. Take yourself on a road trip. Whether it is to an art gallery across town or the Klown Doll museum four hours away (hand to heart, that is my next solo road trip. Yes, I am weird.), pick a destination you’ve always wanted to go to and just go Don’t wait for a friend or a date to take you. You are in control of yourself, your car, and the music on the radio. And make sure you have fun when you get there. Take some silly selfies or buy some postcards!
  1. Take yourself out to lunch. I’ve found that dining alone can be intimidating for the uninitiated. (Personally, I don’t mind eating alone when I’m out of town, but it somehow feels weird in my hometown.) So lunch is a great compromise: It’s cheaper, less of a time commitment, and you can try out a new restaurant without splurging on the dinner menu. Of course, if budgets and time are limited, sit-down fast food is good, too. Discretely people-watch, savor your food, and order whatever the hell you want!
  1. Enjoy yourself outside. Go for a bike ride, sit out on the patio, take a walk to the park, or go for a jog. It doesn’t matter if you’re listening to music, a podcast, or just the sounds of nature. There is something primal and soothing about being outside in fresh air. The frustrations of the day don’t seem quite as bad, you get some exercise, and you can allow yourself to simply be for a while.
  1. Allow yourself to think. I don’t know about you, but being alone with just my thoughts can be rather scary. Suffering from depression, I can do to some dark places pretty quick. And frankly, sometimes I don’t want to know what I am thinking. But once in a while, I schedule a brain dump for myself. I get comfy on the couch and spend 5-10 minutes furiously writing on a steno pad. I allow the stream on consciousness flow from my brain to my hand and I write till time is up or my hand cramps up. Read what you wrote the next day. Did something bother you before that seems petty now? Or is something weighing on your heart? What insight have you gained about yourself?

Try one or try all five. By scheduling a little time to rediscover the magic of yourself. You gain a greater sense of self, and I think you gain a little more wisdom in knowing who you are, what you are about, and that you know how to be gentle with yourself. We are all our own harshest critics, but when we learn to love ourselves for who we are, we can start tapping on the brakes of life and learn to just be.

What was the last thing you learned about yourself that surprised you? Comment below!

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