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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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Jun 28, 2016

solo girl chronicles: my baby, my guilt


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 about making female friends as an adult, please see my new submissions page here.



I love my son...

But we got off to a rocky start, we did.

MY BABY IN UTERO


The minute I found out I was pregnant, I loved him more than life itself. But just that quickly, the light started to dim. My fire went out. And soon I was encompassed with crippling, overwhelming anxiety, racing thoughts, ugly, very ugly feelings toward my husband. Resentment.

I cried myself to sleep every night, literally. The despair that I felt was intense, irrational, but real. I was a failure. I would lock myself in the bathroom and sob uncontrollably because the pain in my heart was just too much to bear.

I frequently drove around the block to a deserted area, parked, and bawled, hugging my swollen belly, and pleading with my higher power to take the pain away. How could I bring a child into this awful world?

I was depressed, severely depressed. There was no reason that I could pinpoint. Nothing in my life had changed, except I was now with child.

There was nothing anyone could do to help me, because I was hiding my pain. I cried behind closed doors. My husband couldn't help. I didn't want to take medication for fear that it would harm my developing baby. If only I knew then what I know now.


THE PERFECT FIRST-TIME MOM


The pressure on a first-time mom to be perfect is insane. I can't tell you how many groups, sites, blogs I read that just fueled and perpetuated the image of the perfect parent that I surely could not live up to.

And all the unsolicited advice from family and strangers alike just reverberated around in my head like too much booze.

It all came to a head when I "failed" at breast feeding my son. What kind of a mother was I, was I going to be, that I couldn't do something as natural as breast feed my baby? Epic fail.
At this point, my depression, anxiety, despair was at an all time high. I was terrified to leave my son with his dad or anyone else, even if it meant just a short nap for me. I was afraid the car seat wasn't right. I was afraid the co sleeper wasn't right. I was afraid that the baby would stop breathing if I stopped looking at him. Did I mention I was irrational?

I was depressed, and now I can say I was acting a bit crazy. The impact on my marriage was devastating too, almost ending in divorce.

THE LIGHT


And the right medication cocktail made all the difference.

Now, six weeks postpartum, since I was NOT breastfeeding, I was given medication to help my mood.

Thank God. Really.

I was now able to enjoy my son. I was able to sleep. I was able to think straight and to be present and with my family. I was able to live.


MY SPIRITED CHILD


My son is awesome. He is funny, and witty, and bright. He is exceptional in many ways. He excels academically and loves his sport. He is my life and I couldn't love him more.
But.

He is also very argumentative, overly emotional, and super sensitive. He has boundary issues and impulsive issues. He struggles with relationships. He laughs too loud. He cries a lot for his age. I see him struggle and I wonder if it's my fault.

Did I do this to him? Did I screw with his development while in utero and during the formative weeks after his birth? Did I make him this way?

Hence my guilt.

I spend every waking moment trying to make up for not being a better parent before he was born. I can honestly tell you that I see how irrational I was. My reality was not reality at all. I had this distorted, twisted, dark perception of everything.

Depression is real. It is a beast. And I believe it harmed me and my child.

Could I do it over? No. Did I try? Yes!


THE SECOND TIME AROUND


I did it differently. I did it... right. I chose to take medication while pregnant. (Gasp!) It was the right choice for me. And my pregnancy and the time postpartum were beautiful. I was able to enjoy being pregnant. I was able to be present with my family and to experience the moments in full.

This time I was NOT depressed, anxious, crazy, and OCD. I was happy and excited about the new addition.

Please, please, please don't judge other moms. We ALL have guilt for one reason or another. We do the best we can with what we've got, and we make mistakes.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression while pregnant or postpartum, please seek help. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. There is happiness. It can and will get better with the right treatment. Explore counseling, medication, natural therapies. Do whatever it takes to be healthy for you and your baby. He deserves the best from you, and you deserve to be the best mother you can be.




Darci Lopez wants to live in a world where her closets are organized, she is on time everywhere she goes, and yoga pants are perfectly acceptable attire.  As a mommy blogger who writes about parenting, lifestyle, and inspiration, she's been honored with the Liebster Award.  When she's not running around chasing her kids or writing, you can find her behind her sewing machine creating beautiful pieces of clothing, household items, and accessories.  Her first ebook, How to be Less of a Hot Mess- Inspiration for Stay-at-Home-Moms, launched June 2016!  Share ideas, lifestyle tips, and inspiration about parenting, organization, and personal development at Life Unplanned.
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Jun 15, 2016

how to master to art of networking as an introvert or ambivert



We live in a world which makes opportunities harder for women. News flash alert, amirgiht! Now just imagine how hard it is for my fellow ladypreneurs who want to network like a boss while being an introvert or ambivert. Whilst the presumption is often that female entrepreneurs need only wiggle their hips and bat their eyelashes to secure a deal, this is simply not the case; nor would the vast majority of women want it to be. I mean, we do live in a feminist world now, after all.

What I find to be curious is that this presumption does is make it seem like us girl bosses are getting an easier ride, even though we know its not true, which leads to a prevention of women in business having the opportunity to use their genuine skills to impress on the corporate playing field. In other words, it can be a ‘lose-lose’ situation for girls who lack the confidence or extroverted nature to stand out from the crowd and crush the stereotypes with wit, charm, and smarts.

The reality is that the business world can be tough for women. Yet, when we do succeed, we often do so in such inimitable style and magnificence that it is difficult to imagine any other outcome. From Anna Wintour to Oprah Winfrey, Karen Brady, Victoria Beckham, Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and more – we continue to prove that, with the right networking savvy, we can beat the boys club ten times over.

These networking tips and tricks will help you learn how to dazzle at any business event, no matter the size or who might be in attendance.
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Jun 10, 2016

hey lady friend, this is what a crumbling marriage really looks like for a girlboss

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.








I recently read an article from Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, Contributing Editor of INC.com and wife of Stonyfield Yogurt CEO, that included this small, yet profoundly powerful statement: 

...There is no tension a business can't make worse.

With statistics claiming over 90% of all startups fail, you better believe tension, overworked hours, and extreme stress levels of business development can play a HUGE ROLE in home life.

So then why do women even try to start a business? I believe that most aspiring girl bosses seriously think their idea, brand, concept, et al, will be a seamless overnight success; one that will be easy to generate the revenue needed for their family to roam about living life as they so choose. I also believe most female founders generally see the opportunity to do something good for the world and fill a gap - a need and that their passion, or solution, will be well received among all who hear of their brand. But alas, this is often not the case! To add fuel to the fire, the general public never really sees the true story and crazy hard work that goes into building a startup brand, so that whole glorified title of ‘creative entrepreneur’ or ‘start-up founder’ these days is a complete fallacy with a BS cherry on top.
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Jun 1, 2016

girl crush of the day: joanna wilson phillips of menucation



Working girl or #Femmeboss: Femmeboss!


Name of your company:


Menucation Kitchen

Your position within the company: 


Founder and Culinary Nutrition Expert

Tell us a bit about yourself: 


I am a survivor of change. At my heaviest I weighed more than 400lbs, but in 2012 my husband and I decided to make health a priority - we switched to a whole foods diet, incorporated significant exercise into our daily routine, and adopted a rescue dog named Lola. I have personally lost more than 200lbs, my husband over 100lbs, and together we changed our lives for the better. I am excited to share my knowledge with the world and to create a healthier, happier reality for those who seek delicious food and healthy nutrition.
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fake your way to female friends as an ambivert girl boss


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 about making female friends as an adult, please see my new submissions page here.






I’m going to tell you a little secret: I lie all the time.

There. I said it. Usually, when people ask me about working from home, they ask “Isn’t it hard being by yourself?” And this is where the lying starts to creep in like a silent serpent. I usually end up saying something like, “Well, I’m an ambivert, so it’s really the best of both worlds, because I get to be by myself when I’m creating and then be around people at shows.” Lies. Rose-tinted lies.

I love people. Except when I don’t. I’m the kind of person that needs a friend to physically show up at my house, drag my complaining ass to an event while I'm kicking and screaming; even though once I’m there I have a great time. I have no problem giving an off-the-cuff speech to a crowd of 500, but the thought of “networking” finds me dry heaving in a corner. According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I’m a straight 50/50 on the extrovert/introvert spectrum.

Yes, I’m an ambivert...and it sucks.

Here’s the truth:


Working in a home studio is tough. There’s the constant distraction of my house - with two elementary school kids and several pets, there’s always something to clean - and the siren song of my bed (wherein I’d be a professional napper if I could). Nearly every time I sit down to work creatively, I get to play this game with myself that I call “Awesome or Awful?” Is this a breakthrough idea? Or does it suck? The line is thin.

Working at home is like being in a huge echo chamber - I have no one to bounce ideas off of; no one who will look over my shoulder and offer helpful criticism. As a result, I’ve had a few ideas crash and burn pretty hard, pretty freakin fast. It’s also challenging because when I’m working in my home office, I crave human interaction. A lot. I try to justify the time I spend on social media as “working on my business,” but the truth is, even though I enjoy the solitude to an extent, I really just want to talk to someone. Like now.
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May 29, 2016

WHY I GAVE UP EVERYTHING TO LAUNCH APP TO FIND FRIENDS


This new weekly blog series is about becoming the future version of myself through developing this business, from the start to present time. It will focus on what I have learned, what and who inspires me, my goals, and visions. As grand and idealistic as it may be. Don’t be shy. I would love to hear about what you’re doing, what inspires you and what you’ve learned in your own journey, so comment below anytime!

***

Ummm, I went to school for fashion and journalism. What the hell!

This is always the first defensive statement that my alter ego dishes up whilst fighting with myself whenever I dare jump down yet another rabbit hole of serial entrepreneur madness.

There was the time I had an international newsstand magazine that sold like hot cakes. See, now that makes sense. Professor J over at CUNY in the English + Lit department would be quite proud. Then I did that thing where I was at the beck and call of every privileged upper east side hedonist who decided to experiment with eco-friendly living, which as absurd and niche as it sounds, was what landed my chocolate ass on the prestigious front page of New York Times’ business section. Now that’s some prime NYC real estate. But of course that wasn’t enough because, well ya know, myself - like every other New Yorker - was majorly obsessed with....wait for it...this is before botox....wait for it....before barre, and green juice, and collegiate hookups....obsessed with food. Duh! So I decided to be the grand madame of luxury food tours which turned into a luxury food gift company, which turned into a whole foods organic meal planning company. Which, bet you didn’t see this coming, turned into a eco-living women’s magazine. Full circle. My madness has its strategy, trust me. And because the world of print publishing is just oh so backstabbing (I see you B) that was put on the shelf so I could finally use my hard earned imaginary design degree and launch my eponymous design label which was genuinely a decade in the making. I vomited the story of that excitement back over here in this post.

So why the hell did a writer cum designer cum writer think it was smart to...oh I don’t know, become the next Mark Zuckerberg. (But like a really well dressed version, amiright!)
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