Thanks for stopping by! Here on BECOMING LOLA I share stories on becoming minimalist, as well as living a pure clean life as a style-obsessed digital nomad with a no BS approach to ethical fashion + travel. Grab a glass of wine and start here: Building A Minimalist Wardrobe.


Aug 31, 2016

Solo Girl Chronicles: the beast that is my bipolar

I looked over at the psychiatrist’s clipboard, tucked mostly under his arm, as he silently walked me to the checkout window, where he said goodbye with a disingenuous smile, and saw his neat penmanship had scrawled those numbers across the top near my name. I didn’t know what they meant at the time, so I recited the numbers over and over again in my head; nodding and smiling at receptionists—296.89—walking through the stark light down the long hallway back to the waiting room—296.89—past the tired looking woman with her young son, waiting half-heartedly—296.89—pushing my way out into the sun of the late afternoon—296.89—unlocking my car—269.89. Reaching for a pen in the cup holder of my console I jotted them down on my palm: 296.89.

When I got home later that afternoon, I looked the numbers up online and saw that they were a diagnosis. A way for psychiatrists and psychologists to communicate with insurance companies mostly. Those are the numbers became an inherent part of my personality, a version of myself I love and hate. Those are the numbers that identify bipolar 2 disorder.

It wasn’t a shock to me that I was bipolar. My behavior had always aired on the dramatic side, but it had moved beyond theatrics to a world I didn’t recognize when I reached my early twenties. It was dark there, hopeless and empty sometimes, with occasional sparks and blazing fires. I was always free falling with no end in sight. It became a constant buzzing in the back of my head, even when I was doing well, I could feel it there—in romantic relationships, in friendships, there in the morning next to me in bed, there when I was trying to read a book, when I was doing laundry, when I wanted to go out but didn’t want to be social simultaneously. On top of bipolar disorder, I have OCD tendencies and anxiety.

That day quietly changed my life though. It lead to multiple, wonderful therapists, multiple mood stabilizing medications, and a way into myself I didn’t have before.

Being bipolar actually gave me a gift: raw vulnerability. I’ve always been very candid about my teetering pile of baggage—even with strangers—but being bipolar gave me a bridge. And I felt everyone deserved to know my realest, truest, rawest self, which lead to them feeling like they could be open with me in return. It was how I had always envisioned my life—being deeply connected to everyone, and I wanted that to translate into my photography. My main goal was to photograph someone’s soul. To capture intimacy and love.

But I quickly discovered being a business owner isn’t always some beautiful, profound thing. It is a lot of time researching online (alone), hours and hours of editing (alone); it is building and rebuilding and adding to your website/blog/facebook page/Instagram account on a constant loop; it is lying in bed, staring out my window, trying to convince myself that I have to get up because my to-do list is taller than I am (and I am not a short gal), but just meeting a wall. It is picking books on business and creativity and technique over outings with friends. It is being endlessly single because, on top of my busy day job, having a business is in every tiny space and hole of my day, and I literally have no time to invest in love. It has showed me the ugly side of people.

296.89—it’s all the terrible and lovely things inside me wrapped up into a nice, neat little number. But I am finding balance. I borrow strength when I need it from the glorious women in my life who are kind and supportive and inspiring. I invest my time in things that make me happy, which is mostly art in some form, and give myself time to heal, even if it means I have to set aside work for bit—work will be there when I get back. I try to chase the things that make me better in any way. I don’t beat myself for getting something wrong or just being utterly human.

Being in business is a struggle. It is. It’s worth what you make it worth. Things will ebb and flow over time in ways that make us happy and in ways that chip at us. But maybe, in the end, it’s all good. It’s all helpful; everything is a stepping stone for great change in one way or another…so go with it! See where it takes you. See what it teaches you. Decide it’s okay to be bipolar or depressed or joyous or anxious or anything! Because it is okay. Inspire and surprise yourself, even if it’s from the deep, dark, unknown places inside you.

Pamela Perez is owner and photographer at P.S. Photography + Design; capturing light and writing down everything keep me the most sane. I studied art in school, mostly focusing on photography and graphic design, but my interests have always been deeply varied. I solidified my love of photography (and being in creative environments) when I started working for Rosetta Stone--the language learning software company's photography department. I don't do many things traditionally, you will always find at least one journal in my purse, and I strongly believe in surrounding yourself with beautiful, inspiring, strong people who challenge you. 

Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page here.


Aug 30, 2016

solo girl chronicles: just be an angry bitch sometimes

Sometimes you’ve gotta let yourself be a crazy angry bitch.

And that’s just the truth.

For so long I denied this inner whisper I had. I just wasn’t feeling heard. I was feeling judged. I was feeling like I had to censor myself to actually have a conversation.

And I was so over it.

However, I was in a business partnership with this person. We had documents, signed and dated, that not only indicated we had a friendship, but that we actually had a brick and mortar business together, along with a few other women.

So I had some really tough moments, some really tough days. I wanted to stick it out. I knew I loved this person on a soul level, I knew in many ways, the judgement I felt from her was a mirror of my own judgement towards myself. I knew that she was a sister, and so I really wanted to be committed to the relationship. I really did.

But after 4 months of denying my intensely loud inner whispers, shit hit the fan, and the deed had to be done. The business had to be walked away from, the friendship needed to be let go of, the conversations needed to be had.

Now, let me tell you, even though I’m a fiery motherfucka on some days, most of the time, I’m actually really sensitive. I love community, I love when people get along and celebrate in love, and I love loyalty in friendships.

So of course, I wrestled. I wanted to keep things “all good”. I wanted to be that spiritual person I thought I needed to be.

I wanted to be calm, and clear, and fair, and in my truth. I didn’t want to pass blame, or get angry, or cause a scene.

But that’s exactly what I did.

Because that’s exactly how I felt.

During the process of walking away from this partnership, I had to let a couple of years worth of feeling denied + being treated as “lower” come up. I had to let go of the desire to only stay in the space of love, and I really had to just let myself go through it.

So the e-mails I sent, at the start, were angry.
The conversations I had were raw.
The tears came, the fire came, the outrage came.

And in those moments, I let it happen, because I knew.

Because I knew that even though I am a spiritual teacher of sorts, I had to let go of what I though that meant. I had to really just honor how I felt, and let myself be human, away from any ideals of how I thought I needed to be.

And so I processed. I raged, I did a lot this alone, I went out to nature, I burnt letters in ritual asking for help in getting over it. I was respectful to myself first and foremost, not to someone else. Loyal to my feelings, not to some ideal.

And within a couple of weeks, the anger turned to apathy. The rage turned to seeds of compassion. The warrior became more introspective, as she had accomplished what she needed to.

And yet, this other person…. Even though I knew she felt some of the anger I did. Even though I knew she really did have judgements about me… Even though I knew she had things on her mind… She did not vocalize them.
She was the ‘spiritual’ one.
She was the “let’s talk about this when we’re calm” one.
She was the ideal.

And months later… She is the one that carries the anger. Not me.
She is the one who has layers of unspoken energy around her. Not me.


Because I let myself be a crazy angry bitch.

And then I processed that shit like a boss.

Sometimes being spiritual means getting real. Sometimes how we want to be, is not how we need to be.

And when we can get over the “shoulds” we can move into the truth.

And truth feels damn good, let me tell you.

Tell me in the comments, when was the last time you just wanted to be an angry bitch and didn't let it out?

Beth Katherine is an intuitive coach who guides young women to start + grow their careers in wellness + healing. She’s passionate about the revival of the divine feminine, and is on a quest to help everyone feel their feelings. To learn more about her, and access free guided meditations, head to

Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page here.

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Aug 29, 2016

solo girl chronicles: the dating game

It’s nighttime. My hands are icy cold, gripping the steering wheel, heat blasting out of my car vents. “This is what it feels like” by Banks is playing too loud on the stereo as my car hits 80mph going up 691 north. My stomach is full of wine and the guacamole I just shared with a wonderful guy who’s not originally from around here. This is why I was dating him. I crave to find people who have just a little piece of weird. a glimmer of unique. A hint of something that shows me that they’ll get it. That they’ve maybe seen, or understand a little bit more of this crazy world we live in. That they can get along with a multi-faceted soul like mine. And I am convinced that I won’t find this man in Connecticut.

I find it hard to bond with people. I live an isolating life by choice, and could argue that I’ve been of this mindset for many years. I’ve always had an inventive mind. An entrepreneurial spirit. I am now 25, and own my own business, MOJALVO. I tell the stories of people, places and things through the medium of video. Every single day, I get to learn,, travel, and interact with incredible people. I love my job. But, as any entrepreneur knows, having an awesome business you love also comes with a lot of heartache. I can argue that my entire social and [more importantly] my love life have been abandoned, left for ruin as these things have truly taken a backseat on my list of priorities.

I was never really one to date— My mindset has always been geared toward becoming successful— to share my perspective with the world, leave my mark. When I met him, I didn't really conceptualize that he would become a person I would want to kiss, squeeze, or laugh so hard to tears with.

I drive due north, Sia plays. My hands are hot from the heater, but my heart is cold. Hollow. I know the man I just shared guacamole with is not the one, but he is so kind, so simple. Maybe I should be settling for a man like this? My friends are all settled—engagement ring photos litter my social media news-feeds. Where will I meet him? Will I ever meet him? Sometimes I am sure that I will be alone forever. But I crave love. I am a hopeless romantic, and a lady-preneur. What a combo.

We met at the worst time—he was finishing West Point, and I was looking for an internship in the city. We were close-by for six months—we’d meet in the city, drinking too much wine in the back of a dive bar, and then cuddle in the corner of Grand Central Station, looking up side-by-side at the constellations on the teal ceiling while we waited for his train. I felt euphoric in his arms, somewhere between not being able to breathe and wanting to cry tears of joy.

Time passed, and somehow, when it came to defining things, neither of us really could. We didn’t commit. He moved to the deep south. I stayed in New York. We kept up daily communications through text, mostly consisting of pining for one another, and sharing frustrations [most times physical, many times mental] of a long distance relationship– or whatever we were. We arranged to visit each other. It was on the second visit that I realized I loved him. A lot. My heart also swelled to know that my videography side-work had also begun to build a small following. We went to Pensacola together, and held hands as the sun set. We laughed in bed, making stupid jokes. I laid on his chest, head heavy on his collarbone, my temple compressing and expanding with his breath.

We ate these moments up. But somehow, the vital conversations to make our relationship more stable were still frail, and the really serious conversations always ended up happening over text, where words could be minced and non-verbal communications were obsolete. Every day we’d tell each other how much we loved, missed and cared about one another.

I never told him how much I wanted to stay there with him. Wherever “there” was.

When we finally saw each other again, I had a strong feeling it would be the last time. Silent tears streamed down my face as I laid in bed next to him. He tried to comfort me, but I could already feel his change of heart. Something had changed, and we had become completely virtual.

I found out a few short weeks later that he was dating. It broke my heart into a million pieces. A new post in Germany and a deployment in Afghanistan were divulged to me soon after. He moved to Europe with my heart. He also took my pleasures—my youthful spirit. I became deeply sad. I didn't know where to put the sadness. So I thrusted myself deeper into my work. I moved home to Connecticut, into my bedroom, and began to build clients, a website, and a legitimate following. Two years later, and my business is still growing.

The truth is that I am heartbroken. On good days, I focus on the butterflies I have in my stomach— my driving factor. I have dreams to revisit Europe, telling the stories of these rich countries through my art. I reach out to travel media companies in hopes that someone will hire me and send me on an adventure. The thrill I get from reaching out to big industry names is similar to the thrill I felt when I was in love.

I look up from my desk and notice I am very alone. It is me and my computer. Me and my cameras. I am alone a lot. My career is amazing, but it is singular. and it hurts. My business has become my lover. When I think of the company I have grown with my own hands, I feel the endless possibilities it has for me. The doors it opens.

I worry about my location. I feel trapped. I wonder what would have happened if I told him I wouldn't take “no” for an answer. That I had to be with him. Move to Germany with him. What would my life look like today? Would my business be here? Probably not. And I’m sure he saw that. No matter how much I resent our fickle choices, or modes of communication, I do know that he didn't want me to sacrifice my entrepreneurial spirit to be with him. That’s what he admired most about me.

I fell in love once. And it left me empty-hearted and with a severe attachment to my phone.

I set up all of the online profile dates one person could possibly manage. I talk to some men. I set up dates and then cancel or reschedule them when work gets in the way. And when it really boils down to things, I’d much rather sit in my sweats, braless, finishing a video piece, than get dolled up to have a mediocre conversation over a burger. I need someone who is already “there”– who will be working on writing his book while I am editing a piece about Jamón Iberico.

You could say I’m a workaholic or a dreamer. I would argue that I am a hard-worker looking to create the life I’ve been dreaming up since I was a young teen. It’s a life where I call my own shots, and have a lover to love. I know this dream will be a reality one day.

Maya is the cinematic-short-films-maker behind MOJALVO, a brand specializing in telling the stories of people, places, and things. When she is not making films [which is not often], she can be found doing yoga, exploring farms, making a paleo meal, or strumming guitar. She enjoys writing about navigating love, as well as receiving and sending tangible letters.

Photo: Victoria Gloria

Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page.

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Aug 26, 2016

solo girl chronicles: this is my tribe

So there I found myself, a full-fledged inspirational blogger and life +business coach. I had decided that I’ve – like many other entrepreneurs would say – have found my calling, my why, my purpose in the work I’ve chosen to pursue. I felt free, getting to make my own schedule, living one day at a time, and doing what makes me feel the most alive every single day.

What wasn’t there to love? I knew that my mission was to motivate and inspire others to see the brilliance in themselves. I could feel that my cup was truly filled when I saw them thrive and chase their dreams. I know how much it is a joy, a treasure, and a true privilege to be able to help others realize their potential. This is my true north.

But, then, there it was; the pink elephant that no entrepreneur likes to fully acknowledge: being an entrepreneur isn’t exactly the golden ticket to eternal happiness.

Often times blogging keeps me up late at night when all I really want to do is watch TV after my son goes to bed. Pushing out messages of positivity on social media is sometimes the opposite of how I’m really feeling that day. Everyday, I’m hustling my little tush off - creating, planning, and thinking about my next move all while grappling with fear that something will fail, I will be judged, or things won’t fall into place exactly like I imagine.

Being a one-woman show isn’t the easiest job, despite all the exotic photos plastered on any girl boss’s Instagram. I used to look at other women running their businesses and think that they’ve got it all figured out. I would be in awe and wonder how I could ever be as brave as they are to show up every single day. I never thought that having my own business would be easy, but I also never thought it’d feel so foreign.

After talking to dozens of entrepreneurs, I came to a realization that none of us really know what we’re doing. What we do know, however, is that we are highly intuitive, determined individuals. We know what feels good, and we are constantly learning how to anchor into our hearts to lead the way. Because, at the end of the day, that’s all we’ve got.

I’ve also realized something else that we all have in common. Nothing keeps an entrepreneur truckin’ better than other entrepreneurs cheering us along. I’ve learned that the biggest asset to building a business is having a great support system.

So who’s in my entrepreneur cabinet?

This is my tribe...

The Coach/Mentor. The number one smartest move I’ve made in business was getting a coach on my side. She helped propel me in the right direction. I was able to see what my blocks were and where in my life and business they were holding me back. Then I learned how to deal with them as they came up. I know having a coach/mentor will always be a necessity in my business. That, I welcome with open arms.

The New Circle of Friends. Being an entrepreneur naturally leads to meeting a multitude of different people. Social media and the Internet has made it possible for me to meet like-minded people with similar businesses. Networking with other entrepreneurs in my area and around the globe, especially, has truly made a world of difference in staying motivated to keep on, keepin’ on. A good handful have become soul sisters, and I wouldn’t even dare to dream as big as I do without their supportive energy.

The Mastermind. Before becoming my own boss, I had no idea what a mastermind was. Even after knowing what it was, I didn’t realize the necessity for it until I joined one. These groups come in different shapes and sizes. There are some massive ones, with hundreds of entrepreneurs and others that are a smaller handful of people. It’s where ideas are bounced around and supportive advice is given. But it’s not always about work. So much of what entrepreneurs do is juggle work and play. There’s no beginning and no end, and the only people that truly understand it are those in the same shoes. Masterminds are that safe space where projects, dreams, and life struggles are all discussed. They’re needed. Oh so needed.

And so on the harder days that feel like an uphill battle, I pause and remember that there are people going through the same thing I am. The best I can do is show up for my clients each and every day, to keep trying new things even though they might (eek!) fail, and to continue connecting with others.

There are moments in life that make us feel extremely lonely, but being a girl boss definitely lends itself to loneliness without people – true, supportive people – to share wins, losses, challenges, and triumphs with.

Whose in your tribe?

Kaye Namba is an inspirational blogger and deeply passionate Life + Business Coach, who specializes in mentoring women entrepreneurs to courageously build their dream life. Using heart-centered coaching and the principles of The Desire Map, she works to help the movers ‘n shakers uncover their purpose and step forward with confidence.
Ready to pull your dreams into your reality? You can find out more at Little Golden Penguin. 

Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page here.

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200 ideas for making female friends as an adult before the last day of summer

I think it comes as no big surprise dear reader, that when I packed up all my shit to travel the world solo and become a minimalist for the sake of...well, a quarter life crisis, finding myself, valuing experiences over materialism, yada yada enter reason here... that once I returned to American status quo, my next big move would be to work on my most prized possessions of all. Drum roll, friendships! Duh.

You thought I was gonna say my Prada right? Riiight.

I'm still pretty much a loner. Making friends as an adult is hard. Am I alone in that? Seriously, even as the founder of Femmeboss, which is the first and only matchmaking app for women to make adult holistic friendships, I still get isolated and focused on ambition (workaholicism) over social circle expansion. What a bummer. Practice what I preach. Yeah I know. So here is my last ditch effort for the year to really go balls to the wall (what does this saying mean again?? hope it applies) on making friends the old fashioned way - EFFORT. Shocker.

So while I work on actually getting out of my home office, please indulge in the most exhaustive list you'll ever find for making female friends before summer is officially up. And for my girls across the pond, dogear this for next year.

  1. Be present: for some of you, this may mean putting down your mobile phone. The first and most important piece of advice we can offer is to be someone who is not only interesting, but someone who is interested in other people. Being present is the best and fastest way to create sincere connection with other people.
  2. Pick up a new hobby or class: what are you intrigued by? Glass blowing, knitting, sourdough bread making… Whatever it is, sign up! Do a google search for classes in your area and enjoy learning for fun. Oh yes, and while you are there, talk to the people around you and per #1, listen to their story. This is sure to unravel other areas of interest and intrigue.
  3. Join a sports team: a fun way to meet people is to share a common goal and to work at it. 
  4. One of the most raw aspects of meeting people through sport is witnessing instinctual elements of their personality as they come through in the competitive nature of sport. The reserved accountant suddenly becomes super fierce on the soccer field or the sculptor also happens to be an incredible team captain If you’re worried about your athletic performance, maybe take the pressure off and join a fun league of a hybrid sport like golf frisbee or a league that competes for a charitable cause (the winner decides the recipient charity of choice). Whatever you choose, just get moving! You’ll be surprised just how much fun you will have.
  5. Open mic anyone? For the poet, singer or musician on the inside, open mic sessions are great ways to visit different venues in your city and bare your soul to a group of strangers. Even if you don’t perform, witnessing the talents of another in an accessible environment provides endless conversation starting ideas, i.e. “Hey, I really enjoyed your cover of <> , did you know the original artist wrote it as a commentary on <>”. 
  6. Volunteer: find a cause that strikes home for you and volunteer regularly. Meeting people serving alongside of you already aligns your values and the folks you serve will have great stories which you will become part of. 
  7. Book club: First rule of book club? Never mention book club! We kid, we kid. First rule is actually read the book. The type of books the group reads will quickly fit you with your tribe and lead to lots of fun, insightful discussions.
  8. Get certified: Whether it is in scuba diving, CPR or a post-graduate certification, this is a fun way to meet people and beef up your resumé. Contacts you meet in such classes often know of other interesting seminars or events that can lead to greater networking opportunities for work or play.
  9. Become a tourist in your own city: don’t wait for friends or relatives to visit, check out a museum or attraction in your current city on your own. You may meet someone who visits your city regularly on business and is looking for a friend to dine with. 
  10. Attend special interest conventions: Bonsai anyone? Develop a touch of knowledge in a foreign area. You won’t even have to think of what to say, just ask one of the vendors brimming with knowledge to tell you a bit about what they do and you will walk away 20 minutes later with a ton of interesting information. This is a fun way to suss out what you may want to pick up as a hobby à la #2. 
  11. Take a cooking class: If you dream of sharpening your knife skills (pun intended)) or learning how to make gluten-free croissants, you’ll learn something about the very thing that has been bringing people together since the beginning of time - food! 
  12. Go on a wine or beer tasting: This is a totally acceptable way to get day-time drunk. You’ll talk to the aficionados, learn lots that you’ll forget, nail your wine slurp and by the end of the event you’ll be making best friends with everyone within a 2 mile radius. 
  13. Meet the neighbors: make some banana bread and take it over to the nice couple down the hall or the widower across the street. Spreading a lil love near where you sleep is always a good idea. 
  14. Start frequenting a local coffee shop to read a book or newspaper: make friends with those who do the same and the people who work there.
  15. Learn a new language: you will make friends in class or with native speakers you meet up with in your own city. As you get better, plan a trip to the country that speaks the language and make new contacts as you practice.
  16. Explore a new culture: Piggyback on the language class and find out more about the culture of the country of origin.
  17. Host a get together with casual acquaintances: it will force you out of your comfort zone of the usual suspects while totally being IN your physical comfort zone. Allowing people to see you - the books you read, the magazines you subscribe to and your impressive shoe closet also allows them to find common points of interaction to engage with you.
  18. Eat dinner at the bar in one of your favorite restaurants: by sitting at the bar, you can have casual conversations with others on their own or waiting for friends. Plus the bartender pretty much has to be your friend, akin to the lunchroom supervisor in middle school. This will come in handy when you bring your new colleagues and friends to said restaurant and you have a good rap with the staff.
  19. Pick up your niece or nephew from school: You’ll finally have lil faces to put with the names of playmates, bullies and budding love interests from all the stories you have heard. Kids also work wonders in the potential mate category. I mean, have you ever seen ‘The Parent Trap’?
  20. Talk to the service people you encounter for business travel: they know lots of other
  21. business travelers and may have recently spoken to someone in your field or know of a conference that is going on that could help connect you. Besides, when you’re away from home, it is nice to have some familiar faces to strike up conversation with.
  22. Attend continuing education classes or join a local guild if you’re an artist: connecting with others who are in places where they are trying to build a specific community takes half the work out of networking for you. The other half still remains - push yourself out of your comfort zone while still getting to be yourself. 
  23. Join a community garden: sink your hands into the soil of your community with your community. This is a cool way to create something meaningful in the place you live. This will open doors for friendships when you run into them at the grocery store or at a different type of community event. 
  24. Go to restaurants with community tables: eating your lunch at a space created to spur conversation with other like minded people is a fun way to chit chat with others.
  25. Tell your mom and her friends you’re willing to be set-up on dates: Let them all know and suddenly your day book will be fun of interesting nephews or sons in your ages range.
  26. Grab a wing woman: even if you aren’t trying to meet someone to date, do any of the above listed things with a good, independent friend on hand and be open to including other people in your conversation. mile, have a positive vibe and flexible approach with people of different walks of life. You can do all the above but without an open heart and mind, your experience will feel mundane and dry. When you are open to possibilities, they will come.

A friend date is one powerful way of improving that special bond. There are many things to do in your city. So without further ado, here are... 

175 friend date ideas for 2016

1. Write a song together. 
2. Write a compelling journal about your personal lives or current events taking place in society. 
3. Read an interesting magazine together. 
4. Volunteer together. 
5. Go to the town’s fair. 
6. Visit a local observatory. 
7. Go to the park and feed the ducks. 
8. Go to the circus 
9. Attend a concert headlined by a popular artist. 
10. Have dinner at an exclusive restaurant. 
11. Prepare a delicious meal. 
12. Attend a sporting event such as football or basketball. 
13. Attend a Yoga class. 
14. Hear a famous public speaker. 
15. Attend a motivational seminar. 
16. Watch a popular television show at a mutual friend’s home. 
17. Go bowling. 
18. Hang out at the flea market, swap meet, or yard sale. 
19. Check out a play. 
20. Go to a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend. 
21. Catch special sales being held by retailers at the shopping mall. 
22. Support a school function. 
23. Burn off a few pounds at a Zumba class. 
24. Visit an art gallery. 
25. Go to the movie theatre. 
26. Build a snowman during a heavy snowfall. 
27. Bake delicious cookies. 
28. Make homemade ice cream. 
29. Go ski. 
30. Jog in an exclusive neighborhood. 
31. Participate in an art class. 
32. Participate in a scavenger hunt. 
33. Complete homework together. 
34. Go river rafting or tubing. 
35. Play badminton 
36. Visit the range for a nice game of golf. 
37. Create a list of goals. 
38. Read a spicy romantic novel. 
39. Take pictures of a popular area in town. 
40. Visit the zoo. 
41. Go to the library. 
42. Ride bikes. 
43. Learn a fun hobby together. 
44. Go roller blading. 
45. Visit a wine gallery for a nice glass of premium wine. 
46. Go on a picnic. 
47. Test drive a new car for fun. 
48. Go to the airport to look at travelers from around the globe. 
49. Go ice skating. 
50. Go bike riding. 
51. Play chess. 
52. Play backgammon. 
53. Ride a bike built for two. 
54. Canoe. 
55. Go horseback riding. 
56. Play miniature golf or pinball at an adult arcade. 
57. Take a trip to the beach 
58. Take a beginner’s or advanced swimming lesson. 
59. Water Ski. 
60. Write a short story or poem. 
61. Play popular board games or card games. 
62. Hiking. 
63. Fly kites. 
64. Play tennis. 
65. Take a racquetball class. 
66. Go for a long walk. 
67. Hit a few baseballs at a batting cage. 
68. Go sailing. 
69. Go fishing. 
70. Ride on a ferry ship. 
71. Attend a spiritual class. 
72. Have a barbecue 
73. Go for a long drive. 
74. Attend a high school reunion. 
75. Ride a motorcycle together. 
76. Brewery tour. 
77. Attend a painting party at a craft store. 
78. Check out the happy hour at a local pub or bar. 
79. Listen to a new album. 
80. Go to a thrift store. 
81. Hang out at a coffee shop. 
82. Bake cupcakes. 
83. Play truth or dare. 
84. Go to the pet store. 
85. Make brunch at home. 
86. Plan a visit to the spa. 
87. Throw a sushi party. 
88. Attend a wine tasting. 
89. Have a junk food night. 
90. Have a luncheon at a café or diner. 
91. Play Twister. This game will challenge you and your friend’s flexibility. 
92. Spend a few hours on Pinterest. 
93. Take a cooking class. 
94. Visit a nail salon for a manicure. 
95. Late night drive by popular nightspots. 
96. Take a square dancing class. 
97. Plan record each each others future (5, 10, or 20 years from now). 
98. Go to a comedy show. 
99. Make a homemade pizza. 
100. Take a foreign language crash course. 
101. Play popular video games. 
102. Watch movies all night (movie marathon). 
103. Restaurant hopping. Visit three restaurants in one night. 
104. Visit a local bakery for sweet treats. 
105. House hunting for fun. 
106. Slumber party. 
107. Share campfire stories. 
108. Check out an estate sale. 
109. Play ping-pong. 
110. Have an indoor picnic. 
111. Hanging out at a classic car show.  
112. Create a new recipe together. 
113. Visit the animal shelter and pet the animals. 
114. Look at the stars (star-gazing). 
115. Take photos of each other. 
116. Ride the bus or train together. 
117. Babysit together. 
118. Browse through you old yearbooks. 
119. Have a book club for two. Check out a book from your library and discuss it. 
120. Paint a room together. 
121. Take a swing dance class. 
122. Do a puzzle. 
123. Draw each other. 
124. Throw the Frisbee. 
125. Bake a cake. 
126. Watch your favorite television shows. 
127. Have a meditation session. 
128. Get a psychic reading. 
129. Climb a tree. 
130. Play a game of basketball. 
131. Pick fruit during spring or summer. 
132. Visit an antique store. 
133. Decorate a pumpkin. 
134. Go on a hot air balloon ride. 
135. Ride go-carts. 
136. Play bingo. 
137. Visit a forest preserve. 
138. Go to an opera. 
139. Hang out at a piano bar. 
140. Visit a nursing home and hand out flowers to the residents. 
141. Check out a haunted house. 
142. Give each other a temporary tattoo. 
143. Attend a smooth poetry reading. 
144. Check out the tourist spots in your city. 
145. Visit a hobby shop. 
146. Indoor rock climbing. 
147. Check out a fireworks show. 
148. Create a unique scrapbook. 
149. Check out the farmer’s market. 
150. Take a musical instrument crash course. 
151. Hanging out at a classic car show. 
152. Make an attempt at breaking a world record listed in Guinness. 
153. Have a sand castle building contest. 
154. Play Scrabble. 
155. Create your own sports fantasy league. 
156. Learn magic tricks together. 
157. Have a crosswords puzzle contest. 
158. Roast marshmallows. 
159. Catch butterflies with a butterfly net. 
160. Pick beautiful flowers. 
161. Take a CPR class. 
162. Look at mutual friends photos on Facebook. 
163. Take goofy or funny pictures together. 
164. Host a cocktail party. 
165. Go window shopping. 
166. Use YouTube to learn a new skill or craft. 
167. Go to a wedding. 
168. Check out amateur comedians. 
169. Play around with coloring books. 
170. Plan a mock vacation. 
171. Watch a mixed-martial arts fight. 
172. Go to a street fair or food festival. 
173. Walk on a natural trail in the forest. 
174. Go to a club hosting Karaoke night. 
175. Play a game of pool. 

Lastly, although these are all wonderful ways to get to know people, lest we not forget they are also incredible ways to get to know different aspects of yourself. Afterall, you will be the only comrade you have for life!

Tell me in the comments, what have been some of your all time fave ways to meet new friends?
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Aug 25, 2016

solo girl chronicles: you can't be an introvert

“YOU can’t be an introvert!!!”
“You are always going out somewhere.”
“You have been a professor teaching in front of hundreds of students at universities.”
“You teach exercise classes in front of large groups of people.”
“You own your own business.”
“YOU being an introvert is Not. Even. Possible!”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say something along those lines to me I would not even need my coaching business!

The fact of the matter is I am an introvert. And, taking it a step further, I used to deal with social anxiety all of the time. Sometimes I still do.

For many years, this caused me problems. I rarely went out. When I did go out, it was only with people I knew REALLY well. Even then a million questions ran through my mind:

“What will they think of me?”
“What if they hate my clothes?”
“What if they don’t ‘get’ me?”
“What if they think I’m stupid?”
“What happens when they realize I would never fit in with them?”

And the list went on.

But, the thoughts always circled around fears – fear of rejection. Of not being good enough. Of not being capable.

Even to this day with all of the strides I have made, I still have a tendency to cancel plans right at the last minute due to my anxiety and introverted tendencies.

The fact of the matter is that throughout my entire life, I have struggled with my confidence. My level of self-esteem was abysmal. I constantly second-guessed myself. I rejected the praise and compliments of others. I talked myself into avoiding anything where I would have to really “put myself out there”.

However, at the same time, the concept of empowerment fascinated me. During college and graduate school, I entrenched myself in women’s and gender studies and became fixated by the confidence and empowerment exuded by leaders and participants of the feminist movement. They lit a spark in me.

I kept reading. I kept learning. I kept writing. Eventually, I met my idol, Gloria Steinem twice. I attended one of the biggest women’s empowerment events in the United States – the Vday Celebration – in New Orleans. The speeches inspired me. I got to Second Line with Eve Ensler.

But, I finished graduate school and I left New Orleans and all of the women who had inspired me. I shut down again. And, all of the voices of rejection and isolation once again took over my mind.

It wasn’t until early 2015 that I realized my lack of confidence in myself was no longer going to be acceptable to me. I had had enough. I saw an advertisement on Facebook for a free webinar on building confidence. I took this as a sign and I registered immediately.

I still remember it clear as day when Chalene Johnson began talking about introversion. Here’s this gorgeous fitness model who is seen everywhere and known all across the globe for her exercise programs and group fitness classes and she is talking about being an introvert.

I sat there listening to her speak, utterly fascinated. She talked about being an “engaged introvert” and learning to be confident in yourself and your abilities. She stated, “Desire cannot be taught. Confidence can.” She explained that by acknowledging and understanding your personality style, you can manage your energy and exude confidence.

Interestingly, the more research and reading I did on the topic, the more names I discovered to add to the list of fascinating people who put themselves out there all of the time, but identify as introverts: J.K. Rowling. Bill Gates. Abraham Lincoln. Christina Aguilera. Eleanor Roosevelt. Candace Bergen. Warren Buffet. And, that’s just to name a few.

As Chalene Johnson so aptly explained, being an introvert does not mean that you’re shy or afraid of people. But, it does mean you are probably very sensitive. And you experience A LOT of emotions. You are passionate about nearly everything you get involved in. You find solace within yourself.

You can still love people, be an engaging individual, and enjoy short periods of time in social settings, and be an introvert. But, introverts tend to need more of a break from society to find clarity and focus.

My life has done a 180* since the time I first participated in Chalene Johnson’s program. I learned how to use my introversion as a blessing – it is no longer a curse to me.
In many ways, so much of this boiled down to my lack of confidence. I began to understand that the way that you view yourself has the power to change your life. I vowed to increase my confidence in myself.

Fast forward to 2016. I run live webinars. I speak in public. I offer workshops. I participate in large local events. I teach group exercise classes. I attend parties. I go out at night with friends.

Sometimes my introversion and my social anxiety are still a struggle for me. Some days I would rather run and hide. Not be seen. I still cancel social commitments at the last minute from time to time. But, those moments are few and far between.

And, that’s all because I chose to value my introversion and learned how to manage my energy effectively as an introvert. I no longer feel confined by introversion. Instead, I confidently establish social boundaries for myself. I choose to perceive my introversion as a gift.

Ali Jencik is a personal success coach and CEO of Radiant Energy Wellness, LLC. As a previous university professor, Ali combines her passion for teaching and her love of research to create pivotal online programs that help empower women to design the lifestyle of their dreams. She is also a mom of five year old twins. In her free time, Ali is a fitness enthusiast who loves to lift weights, train for half marathons, and do yoga on the beach. 

Solo Girl Chronicles is a new series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page here.

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the minimalist guide to free DIY gift ideas for all your friends

Giving gifts is a truly wonderful way to celebrate the gratitude you have for special ladies in your life, and with a little creative thinking, I've come up with great ways to create special experiential gifts that may be a neat way to express how we really feel. There are many ways to be loving and caring with just a little thought and originality. For those amazing friends and family members, here are a few ways to have a lasting memory that will last for years. Without further ado, heere are twenty-five ideas that may build a bridge, grow a relationship or even change a life... that you can give for no other reason than it's Thursday.

25 Minimalist Female Friendship Gift Ideas

1. Make dinner for a friend so they can relax and enjoy their evening.
2. Plant seeds of your friend's favorite flowers and decorate the planter with the type of flower it is.
3. Offer your babysitting services.
4. Offer you medical advocate services. Many of our friends and family members have medical procedures during the year that can be frightening, so offer your time to make sure that they get the care that they need for the appointment.
5. Offer your maid services for those friends who may be tight on time and really need some help in their home.
6. Offer your help with a specific outside chore, like planting a garden, or putting together a swing set for kids.
7. Offer your baking or cooking skills.
8. Create a coupon for "3 emergency calls" for a friend going through a tough time who may have rougher times at night.
9. Offer to go to an event that your friend has an interest in, even if you don't.
10. Create a coupon for "Spa Day at Your House." Offer a foot massage, or a manicure.
11. Share time doing a special project or hobby.
12. Teach someone a new skill. For example, if a friend is not computer savvy and needs help with Excel and you are an expert at it, then you can offer that as a gift.
13. Make a special CD with heart felt songs that your friend can remember and relate to good times and hard times together.
14. Offer your time to help your friend paint or wall paper a room.
15. Create a coupon for your cat-loving friend for "3 Kitty litter changes---meow!"
16. For your church going friend..."3 Sunday Morning Church Times Together."
17. Offer to do the grocery shopping for a friend.
18. Offer to help your friend quit smoking through daily support for 30 days.
19. Teach a friend to swim.
20. Make snow angels.
21. Be a work out buddy for a friend who needs a hand with losing weight and eating better.
22. Offer to do a friend's ironing for a week.
23. Offer to help a friend move or arrange a room in need of love.
24. Offer to teach your younger family member how to drive.
25. Create a coupon for "10 Hugs for No Reason Other Than I Love You."

No matter what you decide to write on your coupons, keep the gift to something that is needed and would be appreciated. There are so many ways that we can be there for each other, and they don't have to cost a lot of money. Let your loved ones know how much you love them with the gift of shared time.

Tell me in the comments, what are some ways you like to "treat" your friends?
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© Beconing Lola • by Maira G.