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Become the Friend Your Friends Confide In

Become the Friend Your Friends Confide In

Get advice. Give advice. And be an awesome friend in a few easy steps. 

What do you do when a vina comes to you for advice? You probably try to help them make the best decision when they’re in the midst of any sort of predicament, right? 

It is always best to remain objective, no matter the situation. What’s best for you may not always be best for your friend. But what’s the best way to put aside your personal opinions and think about what will make them the happiest?

Here’s how to create a judgement free zone that allows your friend to open up, talk through life with you, and makes you the number one choice she goes to about important life decisions.

DON’T MAKE IT ABOUT YOU

When your vina is trying to make a decision, avoid saying “if it were me” or “well, I would do ‘x’ if I were you.” That doesn’t usually help (unless, of course, she’s specifically asks what you would do in that situation). Think about your friend’s wants and needs; what is truly best for her? If you know her well you probably have an idea of how she feels in most situations.

Ask her questions about what she’s going through?

Examples:
How would you feel if ____ turned out to lead to ____?
What do you hope this will result in?
What other options could exist that you haven’t thought of yet?
Why do you feel like ____?
What does your gut say?

Which leads into the next tip… 

DON’T GIVE UNSOLICITED ADVICE

If they want advice, they’ll ask for it. Just be a good listener until then. Your advice will likely be catered toward what you would do in the situation.

You can also help your pal make the best decision (for her) by asking “what if” questions about the situation. What if she decides to go with option A instead of options B or C? What are the pros and cons, potential outcomes, or consequences of making a choice one way or another? Make it a discussion.

DON’T PUSH FOR AN IMMEDIATE DECISION

Unless the problem is super time-sensitive, let your friend take their time to weigh the potential outcomes. By that time, they may have asked for your advice or  had you weigh in a little, so you’ve given them all the fuel they need to make the best decision themselves. It’s ok to check in and see how she’s doing.

BE SUPPORTIVE, ALWAYS

Once they have come to their own conclusion, support it. Even if it’s something you wouldn’t do, the best life you can life is the one that you feel aligns authentically with you. You can still be there and understand that they have made a choice that is good for them. The bottom line: everyone is different. What’s good for you isn’t always best for another person. Keeping that in mind, you can be empathetic and understand where they’re coming from. Knowing that you are helping them make the best decision for them, and knowing that they will do the same for you when the time comes.

Why I Journal

Why I Journal

Keeping a journal has been an essential piece of my writing process, since the moment I became a writer all those years ago. Putting the pen on the page and letting my thoughts spill out before me is not just comforting, but helpful – even if I am just doodling or writing about how much I dig the pen I’m using.

Journaling been so many things to me, but the three things below are what I find most important about my journaling journey.

BRAINSTORMING

When I am working on a project (personally or professionally), I often start with brainstorming. I will literally just start writing down topics, key words, random thoughts, or any tangent of an idea that I’m having at that moment that is connected with the task at hand. When I take to my journal to hash out potential ideas for a blog, poem, or for a process at work, I let my pen narrate my thoughts. It helps me to visual the ideas I have, either in front of me on the page or displayed on a white board. And because I love lists, it helps me organize my thoughts and formulate a plan to move forward.

LOGGING LIFE, EXPERIENCES, AND PROJECT PROGRESS

I have more notebooks than I need, so I usually use them for separate things. I have a journal for personal thoughts, a small journal I keep in my purse for musings on the fly, legal pads for outlining, etc. I also write down big things that happen during every day life, so I can look back and see how I changed, for better or worse. When I got married this past spring, I recorded our weekend and the epic road trip that followed, so my husband and I could read it later and remember exactly how our marriage began.

A few years ago, I decided to dive head-first into fiction and began writing a novel (and I won’t lie, it’s taking forever because, you know, life). I started a journal for that project mainly to chronicle my thoughts, shortcomings, and victories while working on the piece. How wonderful it will be to look back on that journal when I finally finish the book, to see how I grew as a writer. And who knows, maybe I’ll find gems years later that prompt the next endeavor!

THERAPY

Ah. Therapy! Perhaps the most important reason why I keep a journal. Since I was a pre-teen, I have written down my thoughts to sort through them. Those angsty teen (and let’s face it, early twenty-something) feelings I had were always worked out between the pages of my private journal. The things I went through as a kid, teenager, and young adult – I was able to sort through the weird thoughts and feelings by writing down how I felt in the moment. I don’t know where I would be, emotionally and mentally, if it weren’t for my journals.

One of the most therapeutic exercises I’ve done is not even keeping some of those pages inside the journal. To work through the tough stuff I write down exactly how I’m feeling. Maybe it’s directed at a person, or just how I’m feeling in general. When I’m finished, I make a deal with myself: once I destroy this paper, I will let it all go. That’s when I rip it to shreds. I flush it down the toilet or I burn it. It’s a strange relief, I must say. It honestly helps me move forward.

What are your reasons and how does journaling help you? Even if you aren’t a writer, give it a shot. You might be surprised with where journaling will take you!

This post was originally published on the VINAzine <3

The Best Summer I’ve Ever Had

The Best Summer I’ve Ever Had

I’ve had what feels like a million great summers over the course of my life. But twist my arm to pick just one and I will always land on the summer of 2006 … 

I’ve had what feels like a million great summers over the course of my life. But twist my arm to pick just one and I will always land on the summer of 2006 — even though it seems like a lifetime ago. Especially when I consider friendship and how it helped me forge the path to where I am in life today.

I was fresh-faced at 22 and the world was my oyster. Well, the Midwest was, anyway. It was the summer I decided to go back to college, the summer I spent day after day with my vinas at the pool, the summer I worked my ass off for a job I loved. I even fell back in love with writing that summer. 

My core friend group consisted of people I worked with at a restaurant. Night after night, we would sling steaks and clean up copious amounts of peanut shells, followed by cocktails into the wee hours of the morning. We’d wake up around 10, go to the pool for the day, shower (or not), and do it all over again. We worked hard, played harder and it was FUN. I wrote about the moments using prose and poetry in journals that are now sitting at the bottom of a box in storage.

Not only did we create memories that will forever be frozen in time, we forged bonds that will never be broken. We loved each other, some in more ways than one. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant understands the close-knit nature of the staff — we date each other, break each other’s hearts, or maybe we found our soulmate (romantic or not). 

In fact, that summer taught me what I deserved when it came to love and friendship after I fell for my closest guy bud. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, but we were able to maintain a friendship. I became a stronger woman because of it and knew I couldn’t settle for less when that chapter closed.

That summer also helped me realize I wanted more for my life. My friends pushed me to write more, and when I decided to go back to school, they supported me. The ones I worked with covered my shifts when I needed to finish a paper. The ones I knew from school would study with me. My best friend and I would study for hours together with Law & Order SVU playing in the background. We’d help each other prep for tests and stay focused, even if we were ready to give up. My first semester back would not have been a success without their help.

That summer, I took my Dave Matthews Band obsession to the next level. I saw my first show in Cleveland with another bestie of mine and we spent the eleven years following them from city to city around the Midwest, meeting up with friends we made through Twitter. You might remember me mentioning it in my article about how it’s totally normal to make friends online nowadays. If it wasn’t for the summer of 2006 (or the creation of Twitter, let’s give credit where it’s due), I would have never met some of the ladies who have become some of my closest friends today. 

The summer of 2006 taught me so much about life, love, and friendship and for that I will be forever grateful. Each year, when Memorial Day rolls around, I often I wish I could go back in time and spend my days lazy by the pool, laughing about what so-and-so did the night before. Or how I could just take off on a random Wednesday and drive six hours away to see DMB play without planning ahead. I wouldn’t trade what I have now though, but it’s nice to reminisce on what I consider to be one of the most important summers of my adult life.

Take Control of Your Interview

Take Control of Your Interview

Interviewing is no walk in the park for most of us. Between the nerves and the need to impress the person on the other side of the table (or on the other end of the phone), it can be hard to stay in control of the situation — but it’s important that you do!

You have to remember you are interviewing the person and company just as much as they are interviewing you. By doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll be able to start off with the upper hand. Some things you can do ahead of time:

  • Look into the company culture and check out reviews on Glassdoor (a fantastic resource that not only gives you salary and job information, but reviews from employees and how the interview process went for candidates who applied previously).
  • Have a number in mind when it comes to salary. Know your worth, vina!
  • Be ready to ask them questions about their culture and future as a company, and how they see you fitting into the mix.

So, now you’ve done your homework and it’s time for the phone or in-person interview. How do you stay in control?

For starters, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer why they were interested in speaking with you about the position. Say something like, “What about my resume interested you?” or “What about my background caught your eye?”  This will help set you up as a power player for the interview.

It will also prompt the interviewer to answer with specific skills that are likely needed, which in turn prompts you to respond with a confirmation statement, acknowledging they have a solid understanding of your background/skills.

Asking those questions in the beginning leads straight into the thing no one wants to talk about, but it’s important to discuss immediately: salary. I’m going to be frank — it’s important to get this out of the way as quickly as possible because no one wants their time wasted — not you, and most certainly not your interviewer. It’s not a fun dance, but a necessary one. You can start by saying simply, “What salary do you have budgeted for this role? I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page.”

If they come back with a range, awesome. If it’s in your desired range, that’s even better! But don’t be surprised if they try to dodge the question or tell you they cannot disclose that information yet. If they turn it back around on you by asking you what you currently make, you don’t have to tell them (in fact, it’s a law in several states that employers can’t ask prospective employees their current salary). Be polite and firm. You can say “my previous employers have always considered that to be confidential information…” and add one of the following to the end of that statement:

  • “…but I’m open to your thoughts on this because I believe you will be consistent with the current market.”
  • “…but I’m open and somewhat flexible as I appreciate the opportunity to add value. Can you share how you value this position and what the budget is for the role?”

The idea here is to be polite, firm, and show your genuine interest in the opportunity. After all, you’re interviewing each other for a reason!

Another way to stay in control is to remind them that they called you. Ask them questions that reflect on your skills. “Can you tell me what a typical week looks like in this position?” or “what kind of projects will I be working on for your company?”

Last but certainly not least, be transparent about the fact you’re interviewing with other companies. It’s not something that should hinder your chances for landing the job, but rather help give you an advantage. You can simply tell the interviewer that you are speaking with other companies and you’d love to continue the conversation, but make sure you ask when you’ll hear back from them. If they don’t give you a definite time frame, don’t be afraid to request one. You don’t want to hang out forever waiting to hear back, especially if other opportunities arise in the meantime.

This post was originally published on the VINAzine. <3

Your Uterus Kindly Requests You Read This Today

Your Uterus Kindly Requests You Read This Today

You and your cells need to have a chat… 

You may have heard the term endometriosis before, but maybe you are unfamiliar with what it actually is or what it feels like. I recently read Lena Dunham’s account of having her uterus removed due to terrible pain from endometriosis, it was intense and scary, and now she has a limp! GAH. 

Endometriosis is a disorder where the cells that normally line the interior of the uterus grow outside the uterus. Those cells then try to do their usual menstruation thing, and will then bleed and try to shed, but they’re not in the right place to do their thing. So, suddenly when it’s time for your period, your cells are trying to menstruate but they’re not in a uterus, maybe they’re on your skin, maybe they’re other places, so then it can form cysts, making your already painful periods much worse

Sounds horrible, right? It is. And guess what? This disorder affects over 170 million women globally – some haven’t even been diagnosed or treated for it, either. Weirdly a lot of doctors write female pain off and it can be hard to get them to pay attention. Shocking, right?

Endometriosis fast facts:

  • Most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic tissue
  • Can cause pain before/during/after menstruation
  • Can cause fertility issues

What are the symptoms?

There are various symptoms that go along with endometriosis. The most common though, is  pelvic pain. It’s usually around the time of menstruation, but can occur at any time during the monthly cycle. For some women, it can completely wipe them out, prohibiting from taking on daily activities as normal. If you have pain during the following, you may want to start the conversation with your doctor sooner than later:

  • Pain before, during, or after your period
  • During sexual intercourse, ovulation, or when urinating
  • Lower back pain

Another big symptom: infertility. As many as 30-40% of women with endometriosis can have issues with fertility. 

Other symptoms that come along with endometriosis are a little more common, like bloating, constipation, and fatigue. You know your cycle best – if something feels off, get an appointment with your doctor right away!

How do you treat it?

Treatment for endometriosis can vary, but is most commonly done by either pain medication, hormonal treatment, or surgical methods. Birth controls such as pills, patches, and rings can help control the tissue buildup by giving you lighter and shorter periods each month. Surgery to remove the tissue may also help, but that doesn’t prevent it from returning. Having a total hysterectomy could also help (removing the entire uterus and cervix, and both of your ovaries), but is always considered a last resort (but viable) option. 

Vina, know you aren’t alone. 

In recent years, women have become more vocal about this disorder. In fact, you might recognize some of these names bringing attention to endometriosis:

Lena Dunham: “Endometriosis is not life-threatening… it doesn’t manifest externally very often; the symptoms just look like a pair of sweatpants and a Charlize Theron–in–Monster–level grimace. I know I’m lucky in the grand health scheme, but I also know that I am one of many women who grasp for a sense of consistent well-being, fight against the betrayals of their bodies, and who are often met with skepticism by doctors trained to view painful periods as the lot of women who should learn to grin and bear it.”

Padma Lakshmi: “I think, yes, endometriosis was definitely a major reason that my marriage failed. I don’t think either of us understood it at the time — for as smart and intelligent as [my ex husband] is. I think that’s also because I hid it to a certain degree. Not intentionally, but it’s weird to talk about your period all the time. It’s the least sexy thing in the world to do.”

Bethenny Frankel: “I suffer from endometriosis and had laparoscopic surgery in my early thirties to alleviate unbearable cramps and excessive bleeding…find a doctor you trust and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Halsey: “With doctors essentially telling me I was being a big baby about my period, or misdiagnosing PCOS, etc etc. Finding out that I have endo was the most bittersweet moment because it meant I wasn’t crazy! I wasn’t a ‘baby’! I had every right to be feeling like the world was caving in.”

Bottom line – stay ahead of the game when it comes to your health. You know the specifics of your cycle – talk to your physician immediately if you feel any abnormal pain. Don’t under report the pain you’re feeling and definitely don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to another doctor if you feel you aren’t being treated adequately. 

Do you suffer from endometriosis, vina? If you’re comfortable sharing your experience with us, start a conversation in the comments so we can collectively become more informed on this disorder.