How to Survive Long Distance Relationships

The heartache, the anticipation, the joyous reunions, the practical benefits of a bit of time and space apart.  Each one of us at IfSheDreams has gone through a bout of long distance with our beaus (current or past) and we’ve all lived to tell the tale, although tales there are many! We decided to chat about it and share our stories, just as we usually do over eggs benny or wine, except this time in words right here on this blog. Read on to hear more about how we got through it.

Rebecca:

My fiancé and I have spent two thirds of our relationship apart. We shared a postal code when we began dating in Spain and then later in Toronto for a bit while I was finishing law school. Apart from those two interludes, our love has stretched from Canada to Spain, Australia to Canada, Canada to England, and now Canada to India. We have lasted up to six months without seeing each other, but usually manage to jump across ponds every couple of months now. Finally, finally, after we get married in March, we will at long last get to put our books on the same shelf (my milestone on what a home with my boo looks like).

Endurance of the heart is absolutely necessary to make it work. But then the reward at the finish line is so great!

The distance has been agonizing at times – most times – but we’ve dealt with it remarkably well, I think. We’re both quite intense when it comes to our endeavours, which is the real reason we’ve spent so much of our relationship at a distance. The time apart has allowed us to give work and study our all when required, whether it was articling in Toronto or a PhD in Punjab. And sometimes when you feel lonely, work is all you can do to fill the gap. So I try to think of long distance relationships now as rather productive ones and keep myself from being idle at all costs!

Long distance is a marathon – you have to stretch your patience over months or weeks, making it last to the final drop until you can replenish. Endurance of the heart is absolutely necessary to make it work. But then the reward at the finish line is so great!

That is the beauty of long distance relationships: the frustrations are many, but the joys are so joyous!

Jean:

LDR = long distance relationships

Ok, full disclosure—I thought LDRs were just endurance flogging. No physical intimacy. No shared adventures. No stealth eating the last of their favorite leftovers. No hand holding. (I love holding hands. It’s right up there with eating your partner’s OFF-LIMITS turkey sandwich over the kitchen sink.) Plus 2-3 hours per day of phone calls, texting, emails, skyping, naked pics… Equals a constant feeling of being whipped, and not the kind anyone likes.

Oh and I’m the WORST candidate for LDRs.

I rarely have my phone on me. And when I do, it’s usually dead. Or, about to die. Or, cracked and malfunctioning. Or, about to be abandoned, lost, or forgotten.

I have an insatiable need for physical affection. No, I’m not talking about sex. I just like to be touched. And held. And to hold others. And did I mention holding hands? Sign. Me. Up.

I’m also a bit…. Random (a nice word for unreliable). I tend to change plans, reorganize my schedule at a whim, and cancel way more than I should. This means that if we’re supposed to talk at 8PM, that may or may not become 10PM, or 11:30PM or 1PM the next day. I have good reasons for my randomness, but excuses are the first stop toward Breakup Ville.

If that isn’t enough, I guard my independence and freedom so savagely, you’d think it was a vintage Louis Vuitton handbag.

Soo.. when I met my fiancee in New York (where I didn’t live and had no intention of moving to), I thought summer fling. But, he has perfect teeth, legendary Italian charm, a list of interests as long as… (I don’t kiss and tell) but it’s LONG 😉

He laughed me out of a comatose state on the same day a friend took his own life, a feat for which he should win a medal. And I never have to ask him to hold my hand, or wrap me in his arms, because he’s always already doing both. How could I not fall in love with him? And how could I ever let him go? Impossible. He’ll be next to me when I’m gray and creaky and my only joy is chucking pebbles at teenagers from a rocking chair.

We’ve been in a LDR for a year and a half now. There are times when I’d gladly take a few lashes to have him next to me. And, now that we are expecting a son, I miss him more than ever. I miss his hands on my belly. I miss him playing guitar to our beautiful baby. I miss him setting a sandwich next to my desk, and squeezing lemon into a glass of water for me. I miss curling my foot over his at night, and our late night talks in the shower.

Just keep the finish line in your sights and bear down for a marathon of the heart.

I only sugarcoat cake so I’m gonna be straight with you. It’s awful. And, it only works for us because it has to work. Being without him isn’t an option. If that’s how you feel about your partner, don’t worry. You’ll make it through. Just keep the finish line in your sights and bear down for a marathon of the heart.

Valerie:

Spicy man and I have been together for almost nine years. We spent a year apart when I was in school. Overnight, our time together transitioned from being together everyday to daily phonecalls. The transition was very difficult but also strengthened us both individually and as a couple. As a couple, we had shared many of the same classes in university and volunteered with the same organizations when we were together. Being away forced me to do things completely on my own and reminded me of what my interests, passions, strengths and opinions were as a individual. This time helped make clear my individual identity and in this way, improved the health of my relationship.

There were difficult times. Arguments were difficult to completely resolve if one person was busy or wanted to hang up. If one of us wanted to share some immediate news we’d have to wait until there was some free time in the other’s schedule. These challenges made us appreciate our time together that much more. There were lovely surprise visits when I could introduce him to new friends, take him out on the town, etc.

My suggestions in helping you survive an LDR would be to schedule regular calls and make sure that nothing comes in the way of that. Your commitment to that time will indicate to the other person that they are still a priority, commitment and fun part of your life.

5 years after our LDR I still have our bracelets and they serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come together and how much stronger we can be.

I also used and recommend ordering a rubber LDR bracelet that I ordered from this site: http://lovingfromadistance.com/ldrbracelets.html – there are three colours: purple, pink and brown. I wanted to publicly brand spicy man as taken while I was away – don’t worry – I didn’t make him wear the pink one. These bracelets were cute and reminded me of him when I’d look down at my wrist. 5 years after our LDR I still have them and they serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come together and how much stronger we can be. We’ll be getting married in June! 

Michela:

It’s more and more likely that at some point you’ll be faced with making the decision about whether or not you can, or more importantly, whether you want to make a long distance relationship work. In my experience long distance relationships aren’t easy to navigate and may require attitudinal shifts, but definitely require communication and persistence. But having been through one that didn’t work –I’m actually not jaded by the ‘long distance’ part of relationships.

Honestly, it’s not the “let’s talk every evening at x time” type of communication I value, but instead it’s the depth and honesty of communication.

Ensuring both you and your partner are on the same page about your goals and intentions for your time apart, and for your relationship, are important. Long distance relationships take work – and it usually becomes apparent if you both aren’t in agreement on how you see each other in your life. How can it work if you both don’t agree on what you want the end goal to look like? Or at the very least, how you’ll develop a strategy to figure out what it looks like.

Having been through one that didn’t work –I’m actually not jaded by the ‘long distance’ part of relationships.

After that, it’s the spontaneous messages and calls that keep the connection going…

Yes, you’d expect that in any relationship, but I think you need it even more so when you don’t see each other regularly. If you’re together it’s likely because if something happens in the day that vexes you, you probably want and appreciate your partner’s opinion on how to deal with it (or not kill someone), or maybe something makes you burst out in laughter, that you want no need to share (even if it’s mad corny).  

Long distance relationships work when 2 people want them to…

Only when no matter how hard it is with travel, time change and separation, it’s just simply harder on the heart to be apart.

When the tables turn, that’s probably the point when it’s time for you both to consider accepting the lessons you’ve learned from each other, and then part ways.

 

Is this Art?

I slayed as an Artist-in-Residence in Cape Town, South Africa—  and here’s how

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Table Mountain and the Woodstock Neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa

Who am I anyway that I can give you advice?

My name is Kieran Elise O’Brien. The thing you should know about me is that I moved from my hometown of Victoria, BC to Montreal, Quebec in 2011 to get back together with my ex-boyfriend, which was exactly as bad an idea as it seems. When we broke up a year later, I ran away to Japan. In Japan, I fell in love (again) and in fairly short order I moved to Da Nang, Vietnam to chase that love (good news: we lived happily ever after). I want you to know that I have made some impulsive travel decisions (why yes, I am a sagittarius) and as much fun as it is to fly blindly into adventures: I propose that an Artist Residency is the best way to travel.  

Why?

  • Break out of your routine: You perceive time differently on vacation. I think there is nothing more inspiring than traveling. If you feel creatively stifled, If you feel bored by your day-to-day routines, then I am talking to you, dude. You don’t need to plan a trip to another continent. You can look for artist residencies in or near your own town. Look for short-term artist residencies. This one in Banff is only eight days long: https://www.banffcentre.ca/programs/winter-writers-retreat/20170213
  • Make time: You have a great idea for a novel. You used to paint and you’ve always meant to pick it up again. Take your creative work off of the backburner! Enter into an exceptional space where you can prioritize your creative work- and perhaps most importantly, where you can set yourself a deadline.    
  • Get access to resources: The architect behind Side Street Studios, Elad Kirshenbaum, was extraordinarily helpful to me. He was my host, tour guide, patron, collaborator and friend during my time in Cape Town. Through him, I had access to resources and connections that I would never have been able to source on my own.
  • Get to know a place: By setting aside a week (or four) to visit just one city, you are allowing yourself to fall in love with that place. Go for the thrill of something new and stay long enough to become a regular at your local cafe, to learn the street names, to notice all the glorious little differences made by a rainy day.

How it all began…

I had it in my head from the very beginning that I wanted to travel and be a graduate student. I am writing about my mother’s immigration to Canada from South Africa, and I study African Literature, so given my research interests, Cape Town became my desired destination early on in my academic career. I might have applied to a conference there, or applied to be a visiting student, both are good options for graduate students. Instead, I applied to be an Artist-in-Residence on the recommendation of my friend Zola (who writes a naturalist newsletter and is an all-round magnificent human being). She sent me a link to the website resartis, a “worldwide network of Artist Residencies” with a database that you can search by country. Unfortunately, there were only three residencies in South Africa listed on their site and none of them was quite the right fit for me. I decided to broaden my search. I googled “Cape Town Artist Residency” and from there I found Side Street Studios. Yes, that’s the big secret to my success: I literally just googled it.

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The Rooftop Residency at Side Street Studios in Cape Town, South Africa

Warning: Plan your trip well in advance to access travel grants

I contacted Side Street Studios by email and I sent them a project proposal. After that, the trip came together quickly- so quickly that I was not able to apply for the travel grants available through my department and through the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. I also missed out on applying for funding through my city, province and country. For example, I might have been eligible for funding through the Ontario Arts Council, which offers a “National and International Residency Projects” grant of up to $10,000. Don’t make the same mistake I did! I suggest you plan your residency a year and a half in advance, keeping funding deadlines in mind, as well as the particulars of your destination. For example, it’s a good idea to plan around weather conditions and national holidays.

Although I was not able to apply for the grants I’ve mentioned above, I did run a successful gofundme campaign. Through my campaign, I was able to raise enough money to cover the residency fee. Some Artist Residencies have fees, some don’t. Even those that don’t will certainly have associated costs like travel to and from the residency. Although some residencies have financial aid or honorariums to help you with your expenses. While you’re considering a particular residency, I recommend making a budget and estimating potential costs before you apply. It will come in handy when you try to access funding.      

40 days in Cape Town

With the help of family and friends, I made it to Cape Town. There in ‘the mother city,’ I met distant family members and I charted out a family tree that goes back six generations. I did as much sight-seeing as I could, and of course, I made art. I published a small zine that included the work of three local writers. I hosted a poetry reading and panel discussion with those same writers- and I designed a neon sign! It was my first foray into visual art. Looking back on my time in Cape Town, I am both proud of the work I did and grateful for the collaborative spirit of the many, many people who encouraged and inspired me to get creative. I hope that I can be one of those people for you. Go and get weird, my friend.

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home is no longer here. 2016. Neon sign. OneK collection. Cape Town.

P.S. Here are a couple of Artist Residencies that have caught my attention:

  • Cafe Tissardmine in Rissani, Morocco: The most important information we need is the reason you feel the desert is the right place for you to be.” 
  • The Kerouac Project in Orlando, Florida: Each residency consists of approximately a three month stay in the cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote his novel Dharma Bums.”

Good Luck,

Kieran

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Kieran Elise O’Brien is a poet and a student at the University of Toronto where she is pursuing an MA in Creative Writing. She loves flowers, ice cream sandwiches and the pond in the courtyard at Massey College. She is currently working on a collection of poems about the adventures of her alter-ego Bad Cowgirl. You can find her on tumblr, twitter and instagram.

 

16 Affordable Ways to Feel Like a Boss

1. Rosé – on a Sunday with sliced strawberries

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2. Develop a signature walk

3. White Sneakers (Sane Moyo’s guest post schooled us first on white sneakers. Read more of her fashion tips here: 5 Outfits to be Fierce, Comfortable, and Professional in the Office ) Next level your boss style by rocking an all-one-colour outfit. Black or white preferred, but for the boldest among you, step out in head-to-toe royal blue.

 

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4. Use Armani in a sentence. Any sentence. Chanel works too.

5. Have tea in the lobby of a five-star hotel. Tip included ($12). Wear the white sneakers.

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Photo Cred: Jeff Musolino

6. Run up a flight of stairs like Rocky. Throw some serious air punches.

7. Rooftops

8. Pay just to use the steam room and/or whirlpool at an expensive spa ($20 – $40).

9. Peel and quarter fruit (mango recommended). Sprinkle sugar and squeeze lemon juice on top. Eat with a little spoon.

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10. Don workout gear and go outside in time for the sunrise. Exercise optional.

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Own the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Come up with an alter ego. Hint: Sasha Fierce.

12. Pinstripes

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13. Vintage handkerchiefs

14. Eat only the icing in a minimum of 3 Oreos. Discard rest of cookie like a boss. 

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15.  Beyoncé – Flawless. Add Beyoncé and/or Rick Ross tracks as needed. Gyrating required.

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16. Create something. Anything.

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P.S… For immediate results use Jay Z – Dirt off Your Shoulder on repeat

Why I Cut My Hair

 

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“Your hair is your beauty.”

 

“Why?”

She asked, fingers in my curls.

“Why would you cut it?”

It had been a decade. Ten years.

“Your hair is your beauty,” my gramma said, seeing my long curls for the first time.

For ten years, I wore my hair well past my shoulders. I dragged many a comb through it, grunting at the knotted sections, and mouthing “fuck,” at the familiar sound of plastic snapping.

For ten years, I stacked the compliments (long hair oooh, long hair aaah) atop one another, proof that any beauty I possessed was root-deep.

For ten years, I gawked at women with short hair—friends, lovers, family, strangers. The perfectly shaped mini ringlets, glazed with oil, burnt gold, or holding true to their rooted colour, spinning forth from the scalp like a preened locus.

Yes, it was more than just hair.

Being biracial with the palest of skin, my big hair was an ode to my mother’s blackness. Being bisexual, my long hair was a wall thick and dense, built to keep out crazed homophobes.

Then, I had an excuse.

A short film.

A spoken word short film.

The short film goes something like this… there are 3 women carrying a legacy of suffering: a housewife, a jazz singer, and a narrator. This woman—in her various forms—loses it. She can’t stand the generational pain latched to her skin like a leech.

The Artist is crippled by the marriage between $$ and Art. The Housewife in her genes, the one that really wanted to run the world (and could have) is bitter as hell. The Narrator has jeweled eyes and she wears her purpose around her neck, in a fearless gold loop.

The purpose is a demand for change, for the kind of Art that lives to inspire not enrich, for the kind of world that beckons the ghouls of slavery to obliterate the hatred that remains.

As these interweaving stories are told in rhyming lines, under an entrancing piano loop, I cut my hair off as a symbol, a gesture, a ridding of displaced ancestral meaning—in favor of the narrator’s meaning, her owned truths.

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…her owned truths

That’s what happens in the short film. That’s why I cut my hair, or so I said.

But what happened to me? Why did I do it really?

I was bare. Cold neck. A chrysalis of insides. My whole face felt different, looked different. And, I wanted shorter still. I wanted the pixie cut, shaved neat and clean, and close to my head.

And, I knew something new.

Something I couldn’t have known, when pulling my head back from brush smacks for  fidgeting, while my mum wrangled my hair into tidy braids and smooth buns.

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Nothing I could see in the mirror would ever be my beauty. 

I knew then, staring at my steady lips and dark eyes that nothing had changed. That my hair was never my beauty. Nothing I could see in the mirror would ever be my beauty.

I was never my hair.

With a bob of swirls coated in coconut oil and a freckled frown, I looked closer still, at the weariness in my eyes, at the wobble in my smile.

I was never my hair.

So why did I feel like I’d lost a finger, a limb, some whole and attached piece of me?

I had lost something, you see. I’d lost a decade of hiding. A decade of questioning. A decade of linking cultural heritage to something transient, impermanent, fallible.

A flash of scissors and the tufts of hair left behind had brought back a lifetime.

I relived the pixie cut my mother gave me as punishment. I relived the dragging of an iron over my hair to flatten my coarse, unresponsive mane. I relived the ooohs and aaahs and the ‘Is that your real hair?’ and ‘Can I touch it?’ I relived the bonding – oh, the bonding, with too many women to count (especially the If She Dreams team), over products that worked and didn’t, over the dreaded humidity, how to bottle the ocean air and how to quench my ever-thirsty curls.

The memories livened my face. My fingers felt the new short ends, just below my ear, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d go shorter yet.

“Why? Why would you cut it?”

“Why not?” I thought to myself.

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I Choose Happiness

 

“What’s it like to be a lawyer?” That’s a question I asked myself and a question I am now asked as a lawyer time and time again. When I was accepted to law school I did what I do with most of the deep questions I have in life – I turned to Google. “Should I go to law school?”

The first result was entitled, “why law school is the worst decision you’ll make” – Ha! I read through it. The negatives included graduating with enormous debt, a lack of job opportunities and intense work hours. And like any bold-faced 23-year-old I thought, “pffffft – I can do anything I put my mind to.” I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve this coveted title. I also wanted to help people at a higher-level than I could as a front-line worker in the non-profit sector. So, I accepted the golden ticket and off I went.

I had some cool experiences in school but for the most part it was a lot of work and stress. That’s not necessarily such a bad thing since work and stress are integral to chasing any worthwhile goal. I had the opportunity to compete in several moots including the Jessup International Law Moot Competition and the International Criminal Court Trial Competition. Travelling to places like New York and the Netherlands to represent my school and country was thrilling to say the least and created memories that I look back on fondly.

After I articled I started my own practice. Starting a practice at a young age has been very challenging and rewarding. It is something many of my peers are interested in and seems to be the route young lawyers are choosing more often. I plan to provide seminars on this and other topics to support law students and new calls (stay tuned!).

So to answer my initial question, being a lawyer is a very subjective experience because it depends on who you are as a person. Some realities remain the same: you graduate with enormous debt, there are fewer job opportunities and hire-backs and the work hours are intense. Google was right. So, for those reasons being a new lawyer is very challenging.

The thing about actually practicing law is that you can help people solve their problems. However, you learn on the job since law school DOES NOT teach you how to practice as a lawyer. This is why senior lawyers say the first few years of practice are the most challenging because you are learning how to deliver services to clients, how to address the court, how to file applications and actions, etc.

When you begin practicing, you are also finishing the licensing process and law school, which leaves you a little more exhausted, knowledgeable, humble and risk-averse. Why? Because you spend three years studying case law with people who seem and may be a lot smarter than you. Case law, in part, is about punishing the poor buggar who wasn’t reasonable enough to prevent the incident that led to the car accident, or the death, or the unfinished contract, etc.

For example, if you produce a bottle of ginger beer and a worm somehow makes its way into the bottle and into your customer’s mouth, you’re probably getting sued. Decision? You’re likely paying damages to the plaintiff. Other ginger beer producers then hear about your punishment and think, “whoa – we are setting up policies that make it near impossible for worms to get into the bottles.” These decisions lead to better standards that punish negligent people/companies and make our society just a bit more harmonious.

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Winning First Runner-Up at the Hague at the International Criminal Court Trial Competition (2013)
So, as a law student, you spend three years studying the worst-case scenario. Your knack to spot trouble before it occurs is so acute that you can’t turn it off. Selling something to a friend? Don’t make any guarantees. Supplying something to a business? Make good on every precise condition and warranty in the contract. Thinking of starting a business? Here is a list of all the things that could go wrong.

While being familiar with risk is useful, it inadvertently makes you a bit more cynical about the world. That was tough for me to deal with when I began practicing. By nature, I’m an optimistic, risk-taking person and I am starting to see that while practicing law is a wonderful opportunity, I am currently not completely fulfilled by my work.

I had a heart-to-heart with a senior lawyer and I told this person, “3 years of law school, the bar exam and articling are exhausting enough – but to realize at the end of it all that you start from the bottom when you begin practicing law and have to overcome yet another learning curve with the added stress of debt and long work hours – that’s a tough pill to swallow.” The lawyer agreed, informing me that it takes about 10 years to build up enough experience to be really good at what you do. In 10 years I’ll be almost 40 and there’s a lot more I want to do with my life before then.

As a result, I am currently going through an internal conflict. My legal/rational brain tells me “Make more money!! You need to buy a house!! You need to have kids!! You need to build your practice!! How could you think of taking a risk on anything other than the stable growth of your practice?!” My heart tells me, “So you’re a lawyer now – but you’re only young once, baby – try acting, singing and dancing, explore comedy, start another cool business with your spicy man. Take more risks!”

This #SummerSixteen I am focused on following my heart through youtube videos, stand-up comedy, acting, and more. While I continue to practice law, I’m going to see where these artsy endeavors take me. Maybe I’ll get it out of my system and continue on the path of being an awesome lawyer or maybe they’ll change my trajectory completely. All I know is that while I am committed to excellent service for my clients, I am also committed to my happiness.

If you’re wondering what it’s like to be a lawyer, know that the path to become one is rocky and take some time to talk to or shadow different lawyers whose shoes you want to be in in a few years. If you really want to pursue this career, you’ll do it no matter what anyone says.

If you’re a lawyer and are not happy with your work or are considering starting again in a new field, do it. Don’t sit at your desk and work the rest of your life away. My friend Jean says, “you owe it to the world to share your talent.” She’s right. Live your best life, even if that means risking it all.

I am grateful to have made it this far and have the ability to help people solve their legal problems. I’ve proven to myself that I have what it takes to be a great lawyer and have worked with people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit, with entrepreneurs starting their own businesses, and other inspiring clients. But I’m young and life is short so I’m going to have some fun.

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5 Slay Tips from a Neurochemist, Writer, Friendship Expert, Executive, and Student

What does it mean to slay?

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I’ll admit—I’m still figuring it out.

But, I know this single mom with three kids, who survived a tsunami of bankruptcy, divorce, and welfare. Eighteen months later, she was an executive of a software company: Sarah Centrella.

I also know this Professor Emerita of neurochemistry at California State University. She rewires the brain for happiness. Dr. Loretta Breuning.

There’s this other boss-woman, she’s a friendship expert and the founder and CEO of GirfriendCircles.com who’ll chime in. Shasta Nelson.

Last, but never least, there’s Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat Pray Love” and “Big Magic.” She knows a thing or two about pretty much everything.

These women live on my bookshelves and I know them inasmuch as I know their labored revelations, that which has been peeled from their minds and souls, and deposited into the pages of their books.

From each of them, I’ve sourced 1 tip that will help you learn how to slay. To these 4 tips, I’ve added 1 of my own, as a woman and student still figuring things out.

Tip 1.The Writer Tip: Make Room for Fear

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“Do you have the courage to bring forth this work?” -Jack Gilbert

A woman who slays is doubtlessly a courageous woman. And, talk of courage always comes back to fear – banishing it, mastering it, overcoming it.

Elizabeth Gilbert takes a different approach to fear in her book, “Big Magic”. She welcomes fear as the “conjoined twin” of creativity. Gilbert believes “Fear and creativity shared a womb,” and their familial lifeline means there’s fear you need, and that you should make space for it, “heaps of space”.

She calls for us to talk back to our fear not with anger, but cordially, because if you “can relax, fear relaxes, too.” Gilbert shows us by talking to her fear directly, and to me, emulating this is step 1 of learning how to Slay.

She says to Fear:

“Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused… You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to vote. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio.”

So we have our first slay lesson from one of the Greats: Invite fear along. Be kind to it. But as Gilbert warns, never ever let fear “drive the car.”

Tip 2.The Executive Tip: Say it & Slay it

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“I believe you can speak things into existence.” -Jay Z

Sarah Centrella charts an 8-step plan to success in her book “Hustle Believe Receive.”

These are the steps: Dream it. Think it. Say it. Write it. See it. Do it. Believe it. Live it.

Of the zillion gems in her book, for lesson 2, I’ve chosen this one for you: Say it. Sarah reminds us that owning your dream begins with verbalizing it.

She says, “Instead of saying If I become X, you say WHEN I become X. It’s really that simple… You talk about it in detail as if it’s a GIVEN. You know it’s coming. Not if, but WHEN.”

For Sarah, hers was a big dream to speak into being. She first vocalized her dreams on a bad date. She told him she was going to be on TV, meet Oprah, write a book, and change the world—all of which she did and is still doing.

To me, that’s a woman that slays.

Follow her footsteps by replacing “IF” with “WHEN” in your own life. Then find someone to share your biggest dream with. Don’t be realistic when you tell them about your dream. Be brave. Say it & Slay it.

Tip 3. The Friendship Expert Tip: It Takes a Village

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“The love in me calls out to the love in others and can never be extinguished.”-Shasta Nelson

It’s easy to let the word slay become a synonym for success. They evoke the same images: pantsuits, award ceremonies, ethereal gowns, finger-snapping.

But, my definition of slay is girded with community and friendship. It is through others, with others, and for others—it takes a village to find happiness and to stand in it, or in other words, to truly slay.

And, that’s why the friendship expert, Shasta Nelson, makes an appearance here. Shasta has written a book entitled, “Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness.” Shasta’s book teaches readers how to be a better friend, and by extension, a better person.

Stay tuned to Part II of this blog, launching Sunday June 26th, for one of Shasta’s core lessons and our third slay tip.

In Blog II: We’ll also learn from Dr. Breuning’s book, “Habits of a Happy Brain”. 

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And, you’ll finally hear my very own slay tip. 🙂

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Turning 30: The QuarterLife Crisis

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Is this it?

At 29,  I looked around at the life I built, at the never-clean condo, the 15-minute lunches, the pencil skirts and dry-clean only shirts, and wondered aloud

“Is this it?”

It was spreading. Dating had a palpable urgency. Newlyweds were taking time apart. Friends were quitting their dream jobs. A chorus of discontent had become the anthem of my late twenties, early thirties peer group. The word dream had become vacation; clubbing was now brunch; and kids these days were no longer us.

It seemed as though for most of our lives, we had our heads down, counting our steps, certain that if we hit every milestone, the worst we’d face is baldness and an age-inappropriate car purchase.

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One by one, we were starting to look up.

One by one, we were starting to look up.

Had we made our high school teachers proud? Was it time to hang up the ballet shoes, the football helmet, the guitar? Had all the emblems of possibility been doused by the number 30?

I wasn’t ready.

I watched as friends and family bound and gagged their teenage dreams. College athletes became personal trainers. The best musicians I knew abandoned their bands, their solo projects, their promise to the rest of us that we’d be able to say, I knew that guy, when they struck it rich.

Shouldn’t I be a millionaire by now? Where the hell is my knight?

Every A+ and glossy degree had helped me earn a life I didn’t want. I was re-reading Eat Pray Love like a map back to the effervescent pre-teen me.

I never saw this coming. That’s the thing about the Quarterlife Crisis. No one ever sees it coming. Lavish buys are chalked up to naiveté; break-ups were inevitable; job changes are just growing pains.

The sitcom Friends iconized the ups & downs of the thirties as the romp life phase, wherein self-actualization can be won over coffee and uneducated waitresses end up working at Ralph Lauren. If we could only make it to 28ish, we’d bask in the Friends years – where soul mates live across the hall and a baby daddy’s major flaw is dinosaur talk.

But, what if there’s something more to turning 30? Something that babies, divorce, or even a Balinese medicine man can’t fix.

“Why God? Why?!,” Joey, from Friends, wails on his thirtieth birthday.

“We had a deal. Why are you doing this to us?”

By 30, most of us have known true loss.

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Ran off with Happily Ever After

The Prince/ss stole the fairy dust, kicked you out of the castle, and ran off with happily ever after.

Maybe there was a funeral. And you had to speak. And you thought back to the days when you were afraid of public speaking, when that was the worst thing imaginable, and how worst, the word worst, well you just didn’t know what that meant. So, you spoke at the funeral, and all along, you didn’t believe that your love was really gone, that this was really happening to you, not knowing that there’d come a time when you’d miss the disbelief, when you’d wish you could doubt that your mother, spouse, or best friend was really and truly gone. Because now there was no mistaking it – their absence, a saw, that cuts at the days, making bloody stumps out of old joys.

Or, maybe you fell out of love. You kept looking at the person that used to be your soulmate. Looking for the things you used to see and seeing ordinary and boring in their place. Of course, that didn’t make it any easier. When she took everything away – the first big purchase you made together, the L-shaped couch neither of you could afford, but could fit 6+ people and so became deeply necessary (even though 6+ people never did sit on the couch).

Or maybe you stopped loving yourself. Not because someone hurt you when you were young. You excavated that hurt in your early twenties. Not because someone didn’t love you right. You watched Oprah and starting dating better, kinder men.

It started with a Shush.

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The Right to Dream

The teenager in you, the one that wanted to become president, own multiple business, dance at Julliard, or travel the world was a bit too loud in your early twenties, when all you wanted to do was go out dancing. So, you shushed the teenager. At 25, you started talking back to the teenager with words like silly, stupid, and childish. So, the teenager bowed their head, and shushed.

You took a job you never wanted. And, 26, 27, and 28 became all about working, saving and earning the right to dream. On the odd day when the Easter Bunny, Cupid, or the American Dream scampered into your 9-5, you’d try to listen, but what grownup listens to Cupid?

What you didn’t count on is that you needed the teenager. You missed the teenager. You loved the teenager. So, shutting her up, calling her names, and leaving her alone for a decade would end up hurting. Because not loving all of yourself, hurts. Hurts a lot.

Here’s what we know:

Life is much harder than you expected it to be. Aging is the surest way to learn this. Age does matter. Statistically, as you age, you’re more likely to suffer from the kinds of challenges that make you wiser. The upside is that life is also much more beautiful, eons more fantastical, and replete with orgasms you never could have imagined.

The sooner the Friends fantasy loses hold – the better. Don’t wait until 50 to shake things up, face your mortality, buy a cool car, or shave your head.

Listen to your older sister. Listen to your older brother. Listen to your parents and your grandparents and your Uber driver and the man who makes the best cup of coffee on your street.

Listen to that shrill, heads-in-the-clouds, scrunchie-wearing, teenager, too.

Whether you like it or not, she’s in it for the long haul.

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