Four Tips On Making Meaningful Friendships As An Adult

blogger meetup

I’ve been blogging and running my own business for so long but haven’t reached out to women in my city yet. It was a problem because while the internet has made it so easy for you to connect to anybody, anywhere, proximity counts. I didn’t have that community of women in my own backyard that I could call upon for immediate support, instead having to always rely on “virtual hugs” and supportive Facebook messages.

So this past weekend I organized a meetup for women bloggers in my local area. We had a great time over brunch at Granite City, sharing our projects and figuring out ways we could support each other. (My favorite part of the brunch was discovering how many of them were cupcake connoisseurs as well!) It felt amazing to be around so much positive energy. I was wondering why I hadn’t done this sooner, as it could have made a world of difference over the past few years, as I was struggling for support with my events or in my personal life.

The lesson? If your support network is small or weaker than you would like, don’t just accept it. Put in the work to grow your team. Good friends/confidantes don’t just fall out of the sky. They’re cultivated and nurtured, just like any other relationship.

My tips for you: 

  • Double-check to see who you are overlooking. Sometimes we feel like there’s no one in our corner, but perhaps we’re not looking in the right places. Do you have friends that you used to be close to, but time and distance have weakened your bonds? There’s nothing stopping you from rekindling an old friendship, particularly if there was no nasty falling out.
  • Organize some type of dinner party/get together. You need face time with your support circle. It is so easy to just stay at home and text your friends or trade “LOLs” on Twitter, but over time, that kind of connection weakens.
  • Join a shared interest organization/group. Is there a young professionals group in your city that you could connect with? Are there student organizations on campus that fit your interests? Sometimes the easiest way to make new connections is to go where folks are already looking to make new connections.
  • Use your kids. Over the past few years, I have made a few “mom friends” by befriending the parents of my kids’ friends. It has helped me tremendously as I get to know them and their family and it also helps my kids feel like they have a bigger community as well.

If you found these tips helpful, care to share it on Twitter? 

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[In The Kitchen] Easy Shrimp Wontons With Scallions And Cilantro

Wontons have to be my new favorite food. I hadn’t made any in years and now in 2015, I’ve made them at least 10 times already. The best part about them? Let me count the ways:

  1. They’re cheap.At $2.50-$3.50 for 100 wonton wrappers? You can’t beat that.
  2. They’re fast. They cook up in minutes and if you get your kids to help you fill them, you can have dinner DONE in five minutes.
  3. They’re versatile. You can fill them with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, scallops, etc. Whatever’s on sale—use it in your wonton.
  4. They’re different. It’s easy to get into a rut. Your weekly dinner looks like this: spaghetti, tacos, baked chicken, burgers, spaghetti, tacos, baked chicken….Wontons give you the chance to change it up a bit.

Plus, they can be prepared savory OR sweet. Yes, I figured out how to make a 2-minute sweet potato pie using wonton wrappers and I couldn’t be happier. Let’s get into the recipes, shall we?

First, the savory:

Tara’s Shrimp Wontons With Scallions And Cilantro

This is more of a guideline than a recipe, as you can increase or decrease the quantities depending on what your taste buds prefer 

Ingredients:

1/2 pound shrimp (either raw or cooked, tails off)

1 medium sized red or yellow bell pepper (about the size of your fist)

1-2 stalks green onion

1 bunch of cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon Asian-style sauce (you can use teriyaki, sweet and sour sauce, etc. Just be sure to use something you would eat on its own.)

1/2 cup shredded cabbage (optional)

Salt and pepper

10-12 wonton wrappers

Directions: 

Dice and mix together all ingredients other than the wonton wrappers. Using a small spoon, place about 1.5 teaspoons in the center of a wonton wrapper. Use your finger to moisten the outer edges of the wrapper and fold it over, pressing the edges together. Use a fork to crimp the edges and ensure they stay closed. (If your wonton wrapper tears at this point, it’s okay. Just press it together.

shrimp wonton recipe

Fry the wontons in a skillet with over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes per side, or until it’s golden brown. Your veggies, depending on how small your dice is, might still have a little crunch. That’s okay. It’s delicious! The finished product:

shrimp wonton

Other recipes include some type of ground meat (chicken or pork) to help bind the filling together. The first time I made shrimp wontons, I didn’t have any ground meat, so I skipped it. It’s a looser filling, but it’s not any worse than Sloppy Joes. I like to serve it with a sweet and sour sauce (Aldi’s has a orange ginger dipping sauce that is delicious!). As a side dish, something green always feels right to me. I like sauteed snow peas or even just some steamed broccoli or green beans.

YML Live: “Nine Things Happy Moms Do Differently”

nine things happy moms do differently

With so much on our plates at any given time, we have to be diligent in finding the space to be happy. That’s why my first episode of YML Live was dedicated to happy moms everywhere and those who want to join our ranks. After years of feeling less than, of feeling stressed all the time, feeling like no one appreciated me, I finally occupy a space where my days are lighter and I feel like I am in the driver’s seat.

In this episode, I discuss “Nine Things Happy Moms Do Differently,” giving you nine happiness habits to make us all stronger, happier and more fulfilled. Check it out and let me know what you think:

You Need To Choose Yourself Before You Can Truly Be Happy

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This is the kind of post that really needs no intro:

“Most of my life has been spent trying to shrink myself.

Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less me. Because I didn’t want to be a burden.

I didn’t want to be too much or push people away. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be cared for and valued. I wanted to be wanted. So for years, I sacrificed myself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, I suffered. But I’m tired of suffering, and I’m done shrinking. It’s not my job to change who I am in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being. I am worthwhile. Not because other people think I am, but because I exist, and therefore I matter. My thoughts matter. My feelings matter. My voice matters.

And with or without anyone’s permission or approval, I will continue to be who I am and speak my truth. Even if it makes people angry. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave. I refuse to shrink. I choose to take up space. I choose to honour my feelings. I choose to give myself permission to get my needs met. I choose to make self-care a priority.

I choose me.” 

from Daniell Koepke, founder of the Internal Acceptance Movement

Review + Giveaway: Loving Hands Soap Shop Body Butter

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My friend Morality (who was featured in my new book, The Good Life: Pep Talks for Solopreneurs) just launched her new business, Loving Hands Soap Shop. She was gracious enough to send me three items:

All three exceeded my expectations. I knew my girl was talented but sheesh! I hadn’t even gotten the box open good before I was texting her with a thousand exclamation points.

I’ve been using them for a couple days now and I’m still just as excited as I was when I first received them. The body butter melted into my skin and left behind a sweet, grown-up scent. Like Morality suggested, I used it right after my shower and my legs were like silk! The soap is wonderful and made me wonder why I stopped using bar soap. It’s long-lasting and the scent is heavenly. Most soaps (like Ivory, unfortunately) dry my skin out, but her soap didn’t, which is a miracle in and of itself. The candle filled my room with the tropical scent.

I must say that I have been blessed with some amazingly talented friends. They make jewelry, bake delicious cakes, and now they make skincare products! I’m so happy to support them and their endeavors and I know they are happy to do the same for me.

Because I love her products so much, I am giving away one tub of body butter (you pick the scent) to a lucky reader! Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

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Here’s The Problem With Waiting Until You Are “Ready”

1932330_10152621648818835_1940494734_nOver the weekend, I just finished reading “Playing Big” by Tara Mohr, a new book about taking bigger leaps in our lives and not allowing fear to derail us from pursuing who we want to be. In the book, she has an entire chapter on “hiding,” which is what we do when we’re scared of our own possibilities. We hide, we run, we delay—in short, we do everything we can to make sure we don’t have to take any leaps.

We all do it.

Heck, this blog was started because my unplanned pregnancy thrust me into motherhood before I was ready. And while I was convinced that my “surprise baby” was the worst thing that could have happened, I now know that I am stronger, more capable and more understanding than I would have been, had those two lines not showed up on the pregnancy test.

Conquer a small challenge, build confidence, tackle a bigger challenge, repeat. That’s all life is. Just a series of challenges that can either make you or break you. Once you have the confidence in yourself, you can move mountains. But you only get the confidence when you pursue something that’s a bit out of your comfort zone. See how that works?

Check yourself: What have you put off because you were scared you weren’t ready? What do you want to achieve that you are nervous about? What would you do if you weren’t scared of failing?

As an extra accountability measure, let’s identify one small step you can take to move on a goal that has scared you for too long. (If you’re feeling brave, you can tweet it, using the box below!)

 

Four Habits of Successful Student Mamas

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by Amber Styles

Being a mom and being a college student are two of the most intensive efforts you may ever undertake. If you happen to be doing both at the same time, I promise you it *is* possible to feel some balance. The tips I’m sharing today were learned through my  own mistakes and missteps—hopefully reading them now will simplify your own path to graduation!

Research and reflect on your options.

If you are not currently enrolled in a school, take the time to learn about the tuition rates, financial aid
programs, and the atmosphere of different institutions near you (CollegeBoard search and President Obama’s College Scorecard are two great places to start).

You may prefer being on a campus with more non-traditional students where professors and peers relate more strongly with your day-to-day experiences. If you are thinking of studying online instead, make sure the school you enroll in is regionally accredited, and look into the distance learning options offered by your state’s public universities.

Be honest about your needs.

Your professors are educators because they care about helping students! Don’t be afraid to let them know when you are
facing personal circumstances that might prevent you from turning in work on time.

In my experience, most professors have generously granted extensions if a project coincided with an anticipated event (childbirth) or the unexpected (death in the family, sick baby, work conflict, etc.). Be sure to communicate the issue as early as possible so that you and your professor can agree on a solution before it is due.

Get organized.

Carry a planner or religiously record everything in a tool like Google Calendar. I found it helpful to sit down at the beginning of the semester and copy down every assigned reading, project, and exam listed on the syllabus. Doing so ensured that I wouldn’t lose track of homework amongst other work and family obligations. You will also be able to visualize the time remaining for large assignments and plan accordingly.

Take it easy.

You are not only providing for your child, you are showing them early in life that their goals are worth working hard for! Whenever you have a day off (or an evening, or just an hour), relax and remember why your education is important to you and your family.

I would wish you my best of luck, but you don’t need it. You are one badass, determined, multitasking mama!

Amber Styles was a student mama who worked full-time while completing her bachelor’s degree. She has been professionally involved in efforts to engage adult learners, K-12 students, and higher education professionals in
online learning platforms. Please feel free to reach out to her on Twitter (@ambertronnn) for any tips or support
related to this article!

Learning To Fall In Love With My Selfie

A friend of mine recently told me I had lips like Kerry Washington, which I immediately dismissed as insane because hello, Kerry Washington’s lips are full and beautiful and everything I’ve ever hoped for when applying lipstick.

But I realized that somewhere along the way, avoiding mirrors became a hidden skill of mine. I so rarely spend time looking at myself that it’s not uncommon for someone to tap me on the shoulder at 5 p.m. and point out a sticker that my kids stuck to my forehead before school. (This is a real life story.)

When I get up in the morning, my focus tends to be on my kids, their breakfast, backpacks being packed, and making it to their school on time. I don’t think about my clothes or what statement I’m trying to make. I just get up, throw on some decent, clean clothes and go about my day.

Whenever a photo needs to be taken, I’m more likely the one to offer to take the photo, rather than stick my arm out for a group selfie.

When I look at photos I have of my twenties, I’m only in a few. As I stare down the last few months of my 20s, I’ve decided that must change.

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Uploaded this to Instagram last night *deep breath* Baby steps!

Recently I’ve given myself a challenge to be in at least 33% of the photos I upload to Instagram. For most people, it’s not so much a challenge as it is “how you’re supposed to use Instagram.”

But forcing myself to be IN the picture accomplishes two things. One, I have to give a damn about how I look. Putting a little more effort into my daily appearance can’t be a bad thing. And two, I have some record that I was here and here’s what I looked like and this is what I did. I want my kids to be able to look at my photos and see a woman who is at the beginning of finding herself, of understanding her purpose in life, of trusting herself and her gifts, of learning to love and be loved in return. I want that photo proof.

So if you see me on Instagram and it’s been a week or more since I’ve uploaded a selfie, give me a nudge and say, “You said you would.”

Counting on you to hold me to it!

 

My New Book, “The Good Life,” Is Now Available!

Over the past four years, I have had the privilege of being my own boss—blogging, writing, editing and speaking for a living.

What’s more is that I’ve had the honor of hearing from women that they too have been inspired to take the leap and build their own business.

I’ve shared tips in posts here and there on the site, but I felt compelled to give more.

Which is why I’ve published my new book, “The Good Life: Pep Talks for Stressed Solopreneurs,” now available on Amazon! PURCHASE LINK: http://amzn.to/1KYPLGj

the good life kindle cover

If you have a side hustle you hope to make your main hustle, this book is for you.

If you have already launched your business but are struggling daily with self-doubt and fear, this book is for you.

If you need tips on managing your thriving business life with your thriving personal life, this book is for you.

All next week I’ll be sharing tips on entrepreneurship here and on Instagram, using the hashtag #thegoodlifebook! Join me for a conversation on long-lasting success!

GIVEAWAY: Handcrafted Jewelry From Authentically Made Jewelry

What I love most about this community is that I get to hear women tell me their personal success stories. Latonya Moore reached out to me a few weeks ago and told me about her business, Alexandria’s Authentically Made Jewelry.

We all need something that can serve as a source of strength for us and her pieces definitely hit the mark. She allowed me to choose one of her bracelets (which can be customized with any word you choose) and I chose “strength” as a quiet reminder of what I’m made of on the days when I don’t feel so strong.

And she has been so gracious as to host a giveaway! Check out her brief interview below and then scroll to the Rafflecopter below to win one of her pewter and leather cuffs, a $26 value!

Alexandria Authentically Made

YML: Have you always been into jewelry/accessories? What’s your favorite piece in the Authentically Made store?

LATONYA: Actually, I  was not a jewelry person as far as wearing it myself.  I am a more laidback, no fuss girl.  With that being said,  I do have a few favorite pieces that I wear almost daily.  My favorite earrings are the Believe copper ones and I rotate between the Whatever 4:8 and Diligence bracelets.

YML: What was the inspiration behind Authentically Made? How long have you been doing it?

LATONYA: Although I wasn’t into jewelry, my oldest daughter is very much.  The first earrings I made were for her in 2012.  My daughters are the inspiration for Alexandria’s Authentically Made Jewelry.  I know the name is long, but Alexandria is the middle name of both of my daughters.  I wouldn’t be creating jewelry if it was not for their inspiration.

YML: What are your goals for Authentically Made in the future?

LATONYA: My goals for my business is to continue glorifying God in my work.  This is extremely important to me.  I would also like for my pieces to be on as many ears, wrists, and necks as possible :) I am working to make the online site to be more visible on the web.  Over the next year or so, my goal is to be a part of some of the juried events in my area.

YML: Do you have any advice for women who’d like to start their own business?

LATONYA: This isn’t my first business so with that being said, I would tell women to keep pushing ahead to she finds the thing that truly fits her.  Creative entrepreneurs should always have at least one person in their circle that gets them.  It can get lonely, but building a network really does help.  I have found it useful to be in contact with other entrepreneurs whether they are artists, writers, etc.

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