Unapologetically Me

I am not perfect nor do I try to be. But I do like the way I am. I’d do anything for my friends and family and I put my heart and soul into my friendships and relationships. A ‘fault’ of mine is that I care a lot about my friends’ well-being and would do anything for them. I’ll keep your secrets and listen to your problems. A silver lining can be found in nearly every situation; I’ll be your voice of reason and devil’s advocate. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader and I’ll encourage you to pursue your dreams.  I may not always remember names or specific details in stories, but I’ll listen and be present in the moment for you. I’ll be there to support you, and give a shoulder to cry on or a couch to sleep on. I’ll offer my advice and give hugs because well, I’m a hugger. I’ll try to make you happy. When I can’t fix something or make things better, I feel like I’ve failed you as a friend. When a close friend hurts, I hurt. I want to save the world, personally and professionally; I want to make the world a better place. I want to make a difference and impact lives. I want to make your world a better place. I’m an honest person and yes, my directness often gets me in trouble, but I think lies are cowardly. I treat everyone with respect, friend or foe. Life is short and precious and I do my best not to hold on to anger or grudges nor do I like going to bed angry; you never know what tomorrow will bring. I take people at their word which also means I’m gullible sometimes. I am cautious and selective about who I trust, but then I still trust too easily. I always see the best in people even after they prove me wrong and I give more chances than most deserve. I have a lot of self-control, determination, and a deep awareness of my true Self. I love unabashedly and unconditionally with everything in my being. I like nature and camping, sports and going on adventures, but I also like luxury hotels, being pampered, and getting dressed up all fancy. I love spontaneity, but I also like to plan. Hell, I still keep a paper planner. I make friends in elevators and in supermarket lines because I talk to everyone and strike up conversations with strangers, but I can still be shy in certain social situations. I can be gregarious and outgoing but can also be socially awkward. I’m not a good runner, but I run. I’m a firm believer in marriage equality and equal rights, yet am traditional with my relationships and believe in chivalry. I’m an open book and will talk about pretty much anything but still private about some things. I am a big dork about many things and when I’m comfortable, I’m super goofy and weird. I realize I also take things too seriously sometimes. I’ve shared many other random things about myself here and there. I believe in expressing gratitude daily and I always try to focus on the positive. I own the fact that being lactose intolerant, health-conscious, and mostly vegetarian makes me a picky eater and finding restaurants to eat at with me is often difficult. At the end of the day, I know I’ve grown a lot in the last couple years and I am proud of the woman I have become. Maybe some would consider it a fault to be so honest, bold, confident and independent; to care so much about my friends, to take things too seriously yet be goofy, but I’m okay with all of this because this is who I am. I am me. I’m unapologetically me.

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The Bittersweet One Year Anniversary {Parallel Universes}

Today would have been my one year wedding anniversary.

I’m struggling with this. It is a very surreal and strange thing to process. How has it already been a year? It is crazy to think how fast time has flown by and all that has happened in the past year. Had I gotten married, NOT ONE event of this past year would have happened. Not.a.single.one. Think about that for a minute. Crazy, eh? It is stop-in-your-tracks and mind-numbing to think what could have been. It is even more wild to think that all the memories I have now from this past year would not exist. That’s such a strange to think about. Where would I be today?

Today is also the day I celebrate my one year anniversary of starting my assent up Mount Kilimanjaro.  I am so proud of myself for accomplishing that feat; a feat that I am still in disbelief that I DID; a feat that I have to look at photos to believe sometimes. And that would not have happened had I been celebrating the wedding anniversary.

So instead of cutting into and eating the top-tier of my wedding cake and exchanging paper gifts, I am alone looking through photos from when I climbed Kilimanjaro. It was ironic, it was coincidental, no it was Kismet, that it fell on the same day. I couldn’t have planned that better if I tried.

It is this parallel universe of celebrating two anniversaries; like looking down a kaleidoscope and seeing an alternate life. It’s like Sliding Doors; seeing what your life might have been if one decision was different. I’m proud of all that I’ve done, accomplished and am experiencing; of how I’ve grown and what I’ve learned about myself. But I miss him and wonder what our life would be like.

I know where I live now, who I’ve met, and the things I’ve done – none of it would have happened. My outlook on life would be different. I know I am much more positive and grateful for the little things; I would not be who I am today, that’s for sure. So much would be different. I’d be a Mrs.

There are those things we look forward to all year; we set goals, we hit milestones, we meet new people, we plan vacations, we advance in or change jobs. We have experiences that we expected and others that we never could have predicted. We grow another year older, wiser.  Yet the one thing that is consistent in all of it, is that time doesn’t stop. With that, every decision we make leads us on down a new path, and we must learn from our experiences. I guess having both anniversaries on the same day, makes today easier to swallow; it puts life and the choices we make into perspective.

Today is, and always will be a bittersweet day. Two anniversaries in one; today I celebrate both what I accomplished and what could have been.

Last year today, in my travel journal, I wrote, “To new challenges, to new beginnings and going over the hill to leave the past behind.” And that is just what I am celebrating today.

Happy Bittersweet One Year Anniversary, to me.

Lessons Learned: The Magic that is #BiSC in Vegas (2.0)

I had been blogging for just over a month when I signed up for Bloggers in Sin City last year. What possessed me to think that I, an unknown virgin blogger, should fly to Vegas for a weekend to meet 50+ strangers from the Internet is still beyond me. But I did and it was literally life changing. So when it came to registering for BiSC ’12, there was absolutely no question in my mind that I would return.

I learned a lot last year about myself and life. I really thought the second year was going to be different – if I already gained so much previously, what more could I possibly learn this time? I already knew what to expect, what to pack, (fast flats and more casual dresses), I actually knew people this time, so I didn’t have to worry about being an outcast, and I was acutely aware of how my life had drastically changed already. I expected to treat this more as a reunion with old friends and an opportunity to meet new. I really thought there would be less personal growth this time. But was I wrong.

When you try to explain to friends that you’re heading to Vegas for a bloggers event, they just smile and silently assume you are an Internet dweeb going for the Hangover experience. But BiSC is so much more than that. Being as this is the un-conference with no lectures or panels, and just 59(!) Internet rock stars being awesome together in the city of sins, you wouldn’t think that there would be any actual eye-opening life-changing epiphanies that realign your entire view of the world. This concept of meeting long-lost friends that you never knew you were missing, having more fun than you thought was possible, and reconnecting and confirming who you are at your core, all in four days – mind you, seems impossible to the common person. But something happens from when you enter the registration suite Thursday to when you say goodbye at brunch on Sunday that just transforms you. Your perspective on who you are, your purpose, your job, your friendships, your outlook on life and what you want to do with it, shifts. No, I am not being dramatic. It is true.

BiSC is magical.

It is more than just four days in Vegas with blogger friends. It is the weekend I look forward to most out of the entire year because not only do I get to spend a few days having the time of my life with some of my favorite people on the planet, who happen to be the most hilarious, genuine, lovely, caring, quirky, inspiring, supportive, magnetic people in all of the Internets, but I also wind up walking away learning a lot, too.

28 things I learned this year (not all life changing):

1. Last year was not a fluke: BiSC really is amazeballs. Upon returning, I quickly pre-registered to go again next year because the thought of not going is just unbearable. I admit, last January, I was worried that the group dynamic would change and that it would not be as fun this year with different people. Well, you all rock my world. Nicole knows how to plan an epic weekend (thank you!) and everyone better sign up again. What up, BiSC 2013!

2. There are two cities: Vegas and BiSC’s Vegas. Vegas is not my favorite city. There I said it. I can’t spend more than 2-3 days at a time without itching to leave. While the shows are great, Vegas makes me feel dirty, the crowds shove, sadness and smoke fills the air, girls flash everything that can be flashed, there are sketchy creepos at every turn, you have to wait in line for everything and you come home broke. But when you are in BiSC’s Vegas you are surrounded by 60 instant-best friends in this magical land of VIP status, eternal happiness, epic experiences and shenanigans, tackle hugs, and an endless supply of smiles, love and support. All you need to flash is your BiSC badge and just like that you skip all the lines and have access to private parties because you are actually VIP. You have eye-opening revelations that confirm who you are and that you should follow your dreams. 4 days in BiSC’s Vegas is simply not enough. And with that, Vegas becomes the best and happiest place on earth. I enjoy Vegas every few years, but I can’t get back to BiSC’s Vegas fast enough. 

Our Twitter love handles

3. It resets intentions: It is easy to get wrapped up in the stress of day-to-day life, the work, the drama, your partner’s needs, etc. and forget what makes you happy and well, YOU. But BiSC manages to strip all that away and reminds you who you are at your heart’s center. It resets your intentions and puts you on an optimistic path of possibilities. It serves as an annual refresh button that gets you to refocus on your purpose, priorities and goals. BiSC somehow manages to serve as a reminder that you should pursue whatever it is that makes your heart sing. This year, I realized that I have some big changes ahead of me, but despite not knowing exactly what the future holds for me, I do know that I have a support system to help guide me in the right direction.

4. It boosts your confidence: Usually, dancing makes me self-conscious so when I was complimented on my skills, I nearly melted. While I doubt he even knows how much his words meant to me, it’s the little words of encouragement that boost your confidence. It’s the supportive words or the random comments, thoughtful texts or tweets that remind you that there are people who actually care about you. I left Vegas with a renewed sense of self-confidence and hope, and not just about the dancing, but in general. I felt on top of the world, as if I could do or be anything, talk to anyone, and as though I was meant for something bigger.

5. The Internet is one attractive bunch. The Internet is really ridiculously good-looking. Even by the pool with no makeup and wet hair, we are a good-looking bunch. But man, BiSCuits clean up well. Our theme party this year was Mad Men and I was really impressed with everyone’s creativity and style. We looked so good that even oblivious tourists on the strip noticed us and knew the theme of this hot group of well dressed Joans, Peggys and Dons. When strangers can tell your group theme, you’re doing something right.

6. Apparently Miss America contestants eat at buffets. They all looked really fake with their caked on makeup and perfect posture while eating at the Planet Hollywood dinner buffet. But to be fair, their plates were filled mostly with salad, shocking, I know.

7. Hey I just met you, and this is crazy. Here’s my life story, so call me maybe. If I’m being completely honest here, until BiSC last year, I never felt like I belonged. I wondered if I was ever going to have friends who I felt truly comfortable confiding it, who wanted to actually include me, and who would appreciate me for who I am. But BiSC changed that. I feel like I finally found my people. There is this magical instant connection that immediately makes BiSCuits feel like family. Within minutes of meeting, you feel this spark and bam! you find yourself comfortable enough to share personal secrets and stories. You don’t feel like you have to impress anyone because it feels like they already see the real you. You are so comfortable around each other that you don’t care if you are seen without makeup, if your hair is so frizzy it looks like you got stuck in an electric fence, or if you have to ask people you haven’t known for very long to wait for you to make a pit stop at CVS for deodorant before you go dancing because you don’t feel fresh enough. No? Just me, okay, moving on. Point is, we are more than just blogger friends, we are a family who loves each other as is, weird quirks and all. BiSC has brought so many amazing, tackle-huggable people into my life and has completely opened my eyes to true friendship. It is the most wonderful community of friends that I am proud to call my people.

8. BiSCuits bring out the most authentic version of me: In my everyday life, I am usually that serious friend you go to for advice, not the funny, wacky friend you go to for laughs. I can be the quiet, filtered, reserved, and introverted type who hides her quirky self from the world. But something happens when I enter that registration room and find myself surrounded by BiSCuits. This time, I instantly felt giddy. I felt a release of all the stress that had eaten me up over the past year and just let it all go. I was told that I was being “overly goofy and energetic and had let out all the crazy”; that it was a side of me that hadn’t been exposed before. While this temporarily lowered my spirits, I didn’t let it stop me from being me. Another person told me “sober Caryn is fun but drunk Caryn is fantastic.” I’ll let you in on a little secret- I never got wasted. Sure, I drank a lot. But was never drunkdrunk. It was just me being me, releasing my inhibitions, saying to-hell-with-the-bullshit, letting my authentic self shine through and enjoying the weekend for all that I could. Maybe it was all in my head and this was a false sense of security or maybe it was all the excitement of the weekend, but whatever it was, I wasn’t afraid of what people thought. I felt liberated and embraced my quirky self. I felt free to be the truest, most authentic version of myself.

9. BiSCuits give the best hugs: Saying goodbye on Sunday is the worst but that’s where you will find the best hugs. They are real, sincere hugs, the ones that have entire conversations without any words. The ones that say I care about you. You are special to me and I wish you would always be close by. This isn’t good-bye; this is until we meet again.

10. Friends should make you feel alive and happy.  They should inspire you to be the best version of yourself and make your day brighter. Friends should make you feel loved and wanted. I learned this last year, but being with people again who make you feel this way, really reminds you just how important it is. You know when you are driving in your car with the windows down, sun shining in, singing at the top of your lungs to the song on the radio and you feel as though you couldn’t possibly feel more alive than at this very moment and are completely as ease with yourself? You feel ALL THE HAPPINESS as people watch you rock out but you don’t care because you are totally content. BiSC is kind of like that, except you have a whole slew of people singing along with you.

11. The weekend is what you make it: If you want to have life changing epiphanies you have to be willing to let your guard down. If you want to make sure you meet everyone, make that effort to insert yourself into conversations. If you don’t want to partake in an activity because it isn’t for you that is OKAY, you don’t have to do everything just because it is on the itinerary. If you expected to hang out with someone 24/7 but that winds up not happening, don’t let it ruin your weekend. There are 58 other people all just as awesome who want to be with you, too. It is up to you to make the most of the weekend. You will get out of it what you put into it.

12. What happens in Vegas, DOES NOT stay in Vegas: After all, we are bloggers. We tweet, we blog, we instagram, we post on Facebook – if you don’t want your grandma or followers to know what you did in Vegas, don’t do it around this group.

13. IRL vs. Internet (where IRL wins): We often say IRL as if we feel a need to defend or justify this distinction between our online and offline lives. Somewhere that line has blurred for me, and the Internet has become my real life, my home, where my friends most accept me for who I am.

In order to put yourself in a situation like BiSC, you have to be some kind of awesome to begin with, so perhaps that is why we are such a special group. Yet, it still amazes me that of all the bloggers on the Internet, the select 60 that show up are the most cohesive, rad (and attractive!) bunch IRL. Nicole’s web of awesome really pulls in awesome people. We are all various ages and come from different walks of life, but when put together, none of that matters and it’s as if we had always been friends. I feel blessed that BiSC is happening at a time when I can actually be a part of it all. IRL FTW.

14. IRL vs. Internet (where Internet wins) I realized I have some friends who feel more comfortable opening up and sharing personal bits about their life when hiding behind a screen. While I wouldn’t trade those friendships for anything, it can be disheartening to learn that sometimes the relationship isn’t the same in both realities and that it is stronger online than it is IRL. On the contrary, some friendships need the Internet in order to develop those tight bonds. Regardless of if you met online first or met in person and then continued to build your friendship online –it is because of the Internet that these friendships have blossomed and that we even have BiSC at all.  Internet FTW.

15. I love pool time: The Flamingo has a beautiful pool and spending the day hanging out gives the group a chance to bond. Whether we are relaxing on day beds (yes, we are VIP), playing Never Have I Ever to win vibrators, cheering on Mikael in the booty-shaking contest, getting squirted in the eye the mouth with rum from a midget holding a super-soaker or just sitting and drinking on the pool’s edge soaking in the sun and the company, it is always one of the highlights of the weekend for me.

16. My new favorite drink is the Blueberry Bombshell: I asked our poolside waitress for a recommendation and she said she had the perfect drink for me. Since I don’t know the official name, I have renamed it the Blueberry Bombshell. It is Blueberry Stoli, 7 up, soda water and lime. It is a perfect summer drink that is deliciously refreshing. I’m a loser but I loved that I actually started a trend! Try it. You’ll thank me, too.

17. Dancing is actually fun even though I suck. If you know me even a little bit, then you know I DO NOT dance. Or sing. Ever. If you ask me to, I’ll probably say something like I need to drink a lot more before I can do that or just politely decline. But not in BiSC’s Vegas. Amber and I made up a fantastically fun dance where we looked like frogs on crack. We’re Frogger Bloggers! Even on Friday when I was ready to call it a night, Brad invited me to join the dance party at Diablos, and I couldn’t turn the dancing down. Me? Couldn’t turn down a dance party?  That’s a first! I danced in the middle of groups, I danced with people, I danced alone, and I even danced on the tabletops at Chateau. I didn’t care if you thought I looked stupid. I owned that I can’t dance and had blast looking like a fool.

18. Zumanity is hotter than any strip club. I actually did both this trip and I cannot even begin to explain the hotness that is Zumanity. Despite taking a limo to the strip club, and sneaking in for free, ($33? No, thanks!) I was left totally unimpressed by this one and managed to fall asleep on Kelly’s chest. Vegas clubs, being the Mecca of all strip clubs, should be all sorts of hot, girls should be climbing poles up to the ceiling, and the guys should be getting lap dances. Instead, this one was the actual worst and I walked out highly disappointed, carrying a half-full bottle of vodka in my blazer and I was ready for bed. But Zumanity? Not only was it a funny, sexually charged, erotic cirque show, (except for bendy contortionist man. I had to look away) it was everything that the strip club wished it was. I walked out wishing I had a man that night. Ooh, is it getting hot in here? Excuse me…

Stripper Vodka

On that note, I also learned that if you let the actors at Zumanity take your phone, be ready for them to take photos of their junk and lick your phone before returning it.

19. BiSCuits really like to talk about bird sex, like annually. Last year a group of us were curious about this and Googled it to discover the bird’s cloacae. This year it came up again but this time we got a demonstration at In-N-Out with the hats. I don’t think I’ll look at those hats the same way again.

20. Don’t expect the same experience each year. Last year, being the new kid on the block, I pushed myself to meet everyone and felt free to be my real self because I was starting on a clean slate. Everything was shiny and new and I had no expectations. I think my first time was all-the-exclamation-points-amazing because of this. However, this year I had expectations. It felt more like a reunion and having these friendships already, changed the dynamic of my experience. Since I didn’t have a clean slate this time, I found myself worrying that those who knew me before May 16, might not like me anymore once we arrived. I questioned if the friendships I made were viewed as strong on the other end, as it was on mine. I realized it is okay that this year wasn’t quite on the same level of ecstatic excitement as last, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t any less fun.

21. Asian snacks are delicious: Suki brought enough Asian snacks to feed an army and most of it wound up in my stomach. I don’t feel guilty a ton of seaweed.

22. BiSCuits are the some of the most supportive people I know: Between the encouraging “you can do it!” or caringI saw your tweet and was worried” – they are some of the most thoughtful, loving and supportive people I know. When we’re all in the same room, you can feel the love and warmth exploding from everyone. When I went through hell and back earlier this year, I could not have gotten through those dark days without the outpouring of love and support from my fellow BiSCuits.

23. We breathe ‘special air’: I mentioned the first day that there is ‘special air’ in the casinos that keeps you awake, but it goes beyond the casinos. When we are together, everything seems grandiose. The special air gives you such a high that everything all weekend is filled with ALL THE SMILES AND LAUGHS AND ALL THE AMAZING and none of the sads. You might swear you even saw unicorns covered in glitter with sunshine and rainbows. While I did continue the friendships throughout the last year, I thought the instant connections were so special because we met at BiSC in Vegas. I thought maybe it was the energy or adrenaline of the weekend. But the crazy thing, I realized this special air is not limited to just Vegas. Prior to BiSC, I went to DC and had the great fortune of meeting Brad and Berto beforehand. From the very millisecond we met, we greeted with bear hugs and they instantly felt like family. The magical BiSCuit instant connection isn’t because of the special air in Vegas. It is the love and energy that radiates from everyone who attends no matter where in the country they are.

24. At 27, I apparently can be 21 again, but only in BiSC’s Vegas. I pretty much drank all day and night and for four nights I stayed up chatting and dancing till about 330am and woke up really early every morning, hangover free and wide awake ready to take on the day. Yet, when I returned home, I went to bed at a reasonable hour and woke up around 8am wanting to DIE. Additionally, it wasn’t until I returned home that I began to sound like I ate a dog’s squeaky toy. I blame the special air.

25. Returning to real life blows. It is challenging and brings on all the sads. Saying goodbye on Sunday brings all the emotions. You’re still on a high from the amazingness of the weekend, but you know the inevitable goodbye is just around the corner. I wish there was a pause button on life to freeze frame this moment instead of watching my best friends head to the airport. I’ll admit, I had a really hard time writing this post because I kept going back and forth between the YAY! I LOVED IT; IT WAS AMAZING! Tackle hugs for everyone!! To the – I’m SAD AND LONELY and wondering what if all the close friendships, the lack of judging, the comfort I felt was just in my head? I just got done writing about all the ways BiSC is life changing and how the people are one of a kind, which is all true, but now that we’re home and back to reality, my mind has begun to wonder what if it was all just my imagination? Being so removed from everyone and everything. I sometimes feel out-of-sight-out-of-mind but then I’ll get a texts or tweet from BiSCuits and my day is made. I feel helpless that I am so far away and can’t be there to every time a friend is hurting. It is really hard to go back to your everyday routine and feel so unmotivated. I miss waking up and checking twitter to see what everyone is doing (and being able to join them). I know this is crazy talk but to go from the constant stimulus and being with so many people all the time, to being alone in your apartment, it just brings on all the questions and sad feelings. Please come visit! The special BiSC air makes you forget all your stress and troubles. It isn’t until you say goodbye and return home that you are reminded that reality really sucks.

26. You will not be BFF with all 60 people. Even though BiSC attracts amazing people, you are not going to be besties and bond with ALL OF THEM. Accept that.

27. Adding a day before and after is the only way to go. Not only are the flights cheaper, those extra nights make the trip seem that much more complete. Even though I desperately was ready to go home Sunday after brunch, I was finally able to relax and unwind by the pool both Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. A group of us got to enjoy the Bellagio Fountain show together and get in more bonding time. It is hard to spend time with everyone, so I was really happy that I finally got to spend quality one-on-one time with Almie as we waiting for our flights Monday afternoon.

28. Lastly, I learned that it is really hard to be brief and summarize everything I’ve learned. No matter how much you try, you can never really explain BiSC to someone who hasn’t lived it for themselves.

I am going to write a recap on the events of the weekend, but hopefully that won’t be as lengthy or take me as long to post. If you made it through and are still reading thank you.

How To: The DOs & DON’Ts of how to help a friend get through a breakup

We’ve all been there before.  It doesn’t matter the details of the breakup, whether they were dating 5 weeks or 5 years, if they weren’t serious or if they were engaged. What does matter is that she is hurting and heartbroken and she needs you, her friend.  But we all handle things in different ways.  Not every tactic works for everyone and not everyone wants to be supported or cared for in the same way. Know your friend – but Here are several suggestions on the DO’s and DON’Ts for helping your friend through her breakup through her breakup:

DO be there for her, be supportive and listen: One of the most important things you can do for her is to listen. Let her know that you understand and that you are there for her. She may be a broken record in your eyes, but she needs to talk it out. Be there to just listen.  Be there emotionally, physically and mentally. Tell her she has people in her corner who love and support her and that she is not alone.  When she is lonely, keep her company. Even if you sit in silence or watch TV, she’ll appreciate your mere presence.

DO offer positive & healthy distractions to keep her busy: Encourage her to get out of the house. Help her get involved in fun activities – Take a day trip together, go for a walk, window shop, volunteer for a cause, go to a movie or a concert, go out for dinner, play games, see a comedian, get her a massage. Invite her out to things, have a girl’s night out (or in), or watch an episode of Glee together.  Make sure she is not always alone and get her out of the apartment.

DO reach out just to say hi and that you’re thinking of her via calls, texts, emails, e-cards or even snail mail: Remind her that she is not alone and that someone (you!) care. Be genuine, not nosey. Ask how she is doing or if she prefers space. If she prefers space, that might be just that day. Tomorrow she may want your presence again. If she does want space, she will tell you to stop but still appreciate that at least you cared enough about her to try.  However, most people need to feel loved and thought of and will need their friends to check in on them.

DO NOT set and forget or one and done.  Just because the breakup is not at the forefront of your mind, does not mean that she has moved on, too: One text or call is not enough. Even a few weeks or months later she still needs to know that you care, that you are still thinking about her, and that she is not alone. You may think you are a great friend because you went to dinner with her once or texted twice, but a real true friend continues to reach out consistently, not only in the beginning.

DO encourage her to rediscover herself:  Is there something she has always wanted to do but never done? Anything she never tried like knitting, taking dancing lessons or baking peanut butter cookies because he was allergic? Has she always dreamt of traveling but he was afraid of flying? Encourage her to explore new things, to find new hobbies and passions.

DO NOT make the breakup about you: Let her have this moment. Don’t compare her breakup to your past breakups. She is the one grieving now, so let her work it out. After some time has passed and her wounds are not as fresh and she is doing better and moving on, then you can swap battle stories.

DO have comments & feedback but keep it positive:  It is okay to say, You did the right thing, or I can’t believe he did that to you. BUT…

DO NOT Bash and trash the ex: This is not the time to let all your real feelings out of the bag. Don’t release all the personal complaints you’ve held against him. Avoid criticisms of his personality, looks and habits. She chose at one point to be with that person good or bad so don’t say you never liked him anyway or how ugly he was. What happens on the off-chance they patch things up and get back together? She won’t forget what you said and your comments will likely come back to haunt you. You might think bashing is helpful but it is not supportive behavior. She will go back and forth on hate – be supportive and positive. Don’t hate.

DO make her laugh and have fun together: The breakup shouldn’t end the fun in your friendship.  She will have good days and bad days, but let her know it is okay to laugh and have fun even if she is sad and missing him. Help take her mind of things. Try to make her laugh even when she thinks she doesn’t have it in her to smile.

DO NOT expect her to “get over it” after x amount of time: She doesn’t know how long it will take but she needs to be able to grieve. Time heals so let her have her time. Be patient and understanding. Breakups can be like a death when you lose someone from your life. It is a loss. Let her mourn the relationship. Don’t rush the healing and grieving process.
DO reach out proactively: Don’t wait for her to tell you she is struggling. Check in with her before  she reaches out to you. Knowing that someone is thinking about her (without her bringing it up first) will help her heal faster.
DO NOT forget to say 4 little words: “I’m here for you”: She is venting and heartbroken but she is also probably worried about if she is annoying you, too. Be present, listen, and her confidant. Be encouraging and supportive. She has so much on her plate and is worried about so much. Don’t be another cause of worry for her.

DO respond to her emails or text messages with a little thought of something that shows you care: Even if you do not know what to say, try to say something that makes her feel like you care. Replying only “I’m sorry” to her plea for help is not supportive and screams that you do not care. Instead try, “I’m sorry, is there anything I can? Let’s grab a dinner or coffee soon.”

DO NOT tell her that dating sucks and that there is no one out there. Remind her that this pain won’t last forever: Remind her that she will be happy again and that it gets better.

Do be her personal cheerleader: Breakups can be are a blow to the self-esteem and she may have a lot of self-doubt. She may feel she is not pretty enough, not love-able enough, not fun enough, that she is never going to find another man – etc.  Tell her how wonderful she is, remind her of her great qualities, and how much your friendship means to you.

DO NOT make her cry about her ex in a bar (or anywhere for that matter): She will cry about it anyway. Do not instigate it. Do not try to get the gossip out of her about the details of her breakup. If she wants to talk to you she will. Do not bring up The Ex after she has been drinking. Again, if she wants to talk  about it she will.

DO be a confidant and trust worthy: She is talking to you because she trusts you and needs a friend. Do not be a blabber mouth. Don’t go sharing her stories with others. Show her you care by keeping her trust and stories confidential.

DO NOT get upset with her if she asks you to do her a favor regarding The Ex: If she tells you, “I’m still getting his mail” or “can you please give him his pants that he left at my place” just be a doll and offer to pass along the pants & the mail. It is hard to have The Ex’s stuff still lying around. Help her move on by removing the memories.  She isn’t asking you for this favor to start anything or make you feel uncomfortable. You are her friend and she is looking to you for help. Odds are they are not on speaking terms or it is too painful. ** Note: Once or twice is ok, but you cannot be the monkey in the middle.

DO set boundaries but be polite and subtle: The breakup is hard on both of you. You want to listen and be there for her but it can be stressful for you too. Help yourself and help her at the same time. Be upfront and agree to talk about the situation for 15, 30 minutes, an hour, whatever seems appropriate for you both, with the intention to change subjects after the time has passed. (note: Don’t interrupt her and say TIME’S UP though!) It is good for your mental health as well as hers. This allows you to continue to listen but stops the breakup from taking over her life, too, allowing her to think about and move on to something else.

DO NOT tell her juicy gossip you her about The Ex: Be considerate of her feelings. If you are still friends with The Ex, do not tell her that he slept with Susie Slutface. This will not make her feel better.

MOST IMPORTANT- DO BE A FRIEND!!: Maybe she actually is your first friend to go through a breakup. Maybe you don’t know what encouraging words to say or what to do. Don’t worry about that. You don’t have to talk about the breakup.  Whether she is your first friend to experience a breakup or not, being a friend shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here- JUST BE HER FRIEND. All she needs is you to be there for her. 

Life after breakups can be very emotional and challenging. She will learn a lot about herself and who her real friends are during this process. Be the friend that you would want to have if you went through this. Being a friend shouldn’t be a foreign language to you, but here are few of my personal favorite things my closest friends are doing to help me: 

  • Coming home to an empty apartment after he moved out was heart wrenching. My ex neighbor turned friend came over and helped me rearrange the couch, do laundry, hang pictures on the newly barren walls, make my bed with said clean sheets. It was the littlest thing but it made such a difference to me.
  • Offer to bring dinner over. If she is anything like me, I have trouble making myself dinner when I’m blue. Bringing her dinner (and eating with her) is one of the most helpful things you can do.
  • Have a girls night & sleep over.  Sounds silly to have sleep overs as an adult but it will mean the world to her, especially if she used to live with The Ex.
  • Fly across country to physically be with me, to hug me and to help cheer me up.
  • I got Snail Mail letters filled with encouragement, support and love from fellow bloggers. Emails are good but getting an actual physical envelope to open really shows her that you care.

*this is all from ‘her’ perspective for consistency but same advice applies to guys.


What do you say to or do for friends when they are going through a breakup? What has helped you move on from your own breakups?  Are you, like me, going through a really tough breakup right now?  Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. You are not alone!


Shootin’ & Drinkin’ and making dreams come true

This date post just doesn’t seem as cool anymore, not after the surprise weekend getaway but I have been so busy between the new job, holiday season stuff and wedding planning, I haven’t had a chance to post it yet. Better late than never, right? I am trying to keep up, I promise! Just because I haven’t been posting as frequently, doesn’t mean I don’t love you, readers! I DO! Without further ado, here is the post that keeps getting delayed…

I didn’t grow up in the heart of the south where people had shotguns on their front porch, or in a dangerous neighborhood. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and am very lucky to have the upbringing that I did.  I am also lucky that my only exposure to guns was on TV, in the movies or video games and at summer over night camp.  You are probably thinking, guns at summer camp? what camp did your parents send you to?!  It’s nothing like that, I promise. Camp offered a riflery class where you got to shoot real rifles at targets. My parents and I have a long-standing joke that even though I claimed to get a bullseye, that I made it up because I always managed to forget to put the targets in my letters I sent home. Anyways, that has been the extent of my gun exposure. Since dating Mr. Fiancé, I have learned to play the killing video games, which I admit are a lot of fun. He frequently talked about how cool it would be to shoot an AK47.  He grew up in Texas where guns were more prominent, but he still never shot anything more than a BB gun.

So when I saw Living Social Adventures had an offer called Shootin’ & Drinkin’ where you got to actually shoot an AK47 & a pistol followed by lunch and drinks, I was very intrigued and jumped on it immediately. And yes the drinking came after the shooting. If I didn’t act on this, I would regret it forever. I wanted to make his dream come true but I also knew it had to be a surprise.

Back in early November, on our pairing food and wine date, I told Mr. Fiancé that he had to keep Sunday the 19th open for another date that I had planned. Keeping this secret from him, was nothing short of nearly impossible. On top of being extremely excited, I also have a very hard time lying to him, so when he’d ask questions, it took everything in me not to spill. But I did it! Until the day before that is.  I needed him to sign a waiver, which he claimed he wouldn’t sign unless he knew what he was signing away his life for. I can’t say I blame him. Guessing it is different than being told so I played the hot or cold game with him until he got it right.  He was so excited, I thought he was going to fly away.

We had bets going about who was going to be on the tour.  Mr. Fiancé thought I was going to be one of the only women but I thought most would be couples where the girl had bought it for her man.  I won. When we arrived, they split us into two groups – one to shoot first and the other to eat.  We had delicious pork sandwiches and met a lovely couple who only proved my theory more.

We were given bullets, goggles and ear protectors. Thank goodness for the ear muffs. The noise was shockingly loud, even with them on.  There were bullet shell casings scattered everywhere, which lead me to think, how do people fire off rounds in public without getting caught? The shells have to leave a trail everywhere!

He shot first with the pistol and got 3 in the center. I didn’t do as well as I did when I was at camp and I blame it on the fact that my arms started shaking after a while. That, and even though I was aiming in the middle, I consistently shot towards the bottom right. Holding your arms straight up with a heavy object is not easy and neither is loading the damn gun! The guy had to help me load my rounds because it was a hell of a lot harder than it looked.  Shooting the AK47 was not at all like I expected. I know they say you are supposed to put it in the crook of your shoulder, look through the hole and aim, but if I did that, it would recoil into my face. Umm no thank you. So I just shot towards the target. Mr Fiancé’s recoiled so hard that his ear muffs blew off.

Me shooting a pistol

 

Me holding the AK47

We had a blast (see what I did there?) and it was definitely something we will remember forever. While it was kind of a rush, addicting to try to see if I could hit the bullseye and definitely a stress reliever, it was also very terrifying.  Here we are, at the shooting range, relatively safe and having a good time.  But to think that the very object that I had in my hands is used as a weapon to kill people, well that kind of freaked me out. What if someone crazy was on our trip learning and planning?

Does it get any more stereotypically American than this?

After the range, the bus tour went to a winery for the drinkin’ portion of the adventure.  It was my first Michigan winery but if they are all like that, it will be my last. They brewed beer & wine and I was not impressed with anything they had to sell.  Pick one to specialize in, not both!

They did have a sign on the wall that made me feel really old. Kids born in 1990 are turning 21! WTF!? Um, what? Wow I feel old now!

When did 1990 become the legal drinking age? I feel so old!

Even though it was terrifying to think about the power of the gun in my hand, I still felt like such a rock star that day, like I deserved the girlfriend of the year award.  In all fairness, the partner of the year award winner is now up for debate as I don’t know which is better: a gun shooting date vs. surprise weekend trip.

I love that I defy the typical suburban Chicagoan stereotype. I love that people are surprised when I tell them I wanted to do this with him not only to make his day but because I thought it would be fun too. I love that I can do fun awesome non-girlie stuff like this with my best friend.

Part of being in a relationship is being there to support your partner and that includes doing what you can to make them happy and help make their dreams come true.  It means the world to me that I was able make that happen for him.