HOW TO JUMPSTART YOUR CONVERSATIONS ON HEY! VINA

You got a match!! And now you’re feeling shy. How do you start a conversation with someone you hope will be your new bestie?

A good intro expresses enthusiasm for the person you’re talking to (it’s flattering to be noticed!) and offers her an easy entrance into the conversation. Simple, straightforward questions combined with a friendly welcome will make your vina want to respond- think of it as digital hospitality. Feeling stuck? Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1. LEAN ON VINA

“Hi Anna, I’m excited to meet you! What do you think of the VINA app so far?”

What’s one thing you have in common? You’re both on the app! Start with your common experience and move from there.

2. FIND COMMON GROUND

“Hey Stephanie, how’s it going? I am stoked to see that you like art museums…I’m such a fan. What’s your favorite around here?”

Open the conversation, point out something you have in common based on your VINA profiles, and ask an easy, relevant question. Whether it’s The Bachelor, whiskey, DIY…everyone love vinas who share their passions.

3. TELL HER SOMETHING THAT’S NOT ON YOUR PROFILE

“Hi Jasmyn, I’m so happy we matched! Are you enjoying the winter thaw? I’ve been dusting off my running shoes – it feels so good to get outside!”

Again, give her a clear way to start her response – “Yeah, the weather’s great! I took a super long walk yesterday and was barely even cold…” Then, don’t be afraid to guide the conversation toward meeting up or finding more things you have in common.

4. ASK ABOUT HER

“Hi Amanda! It’s nice to meet you 🙂 I noticed you work in marketing – can I ask where? I’m doing some design work for an advertising agency right now!”

This might be a good tactic if you’re interested in networking, or if you’re just not sure how to establish a strong connection with your vina right away. Be careful not to answer your own question, though – leave space for her to ask you the same thing back and keep the conversation flowing.

5. CUT TO THE CHASE

“Hi Robin, can’t wait to meet you! Would you be up for coffee sometime next week?”

If you’re confident about this, and especially if your match seems like a planner, ask to meet straight up! We all know that’s why we’re on the app – and we don’t always have time for chitchat.

Once you get past the initial “Hey!”, don’t be afraid to take initiative and invite your vina out! I usually try to suggest a date within the first three or four messages – not only does it prevent the conversation from fizzling, but it keeps the enthusiasm and adrenaline going. Don’t have the app? Download it in the app store to get started finding vinas near you. Good luck!

VINA SUCCESS! HOW I FOUND A MATCH (AND A NEW CLOSE FRIEND)

The Setup

August, 2016. I’m sitting in a pub in St. Paul, Minnesota, glancing past my laptop screen and a pint of Guinness at my husband’s jovial expression. He’s very jovial after a few beers; he thinks he’s funny (which is usually true), and since I’ve told him I’m in no mood for distractions, he’s resorted to texting our friend in Tennessee.

Tennessee is about the closest any of our friends lived anymore. My husband and I studied abroad in our senior year of college, made friends, and when the term ended everyone scattered across the US and the globe. We’d kept up through Facebook, Snapchat, and occasional video calls, but it’d been almost a year since we graduated and we had few people to share our beers or our jollity with in person besides ourselves. A few other friends from college were around, but busy with new jobs and relationships. Social media must have some answers for us, I thought, so I went on a mission that night to find them. And I ran across Hey! VINA.

I’m not one to jump on every social media hype – I’m even a little slow when it comes to grooming my online presence. When I added Hey! VINA to my phone, I didn’t know how useful it would be. I was skeptical that my profile on the app would be enough to make other women want to meet me; but I appreciated the personality quiz, the emoji section, the chance to link my Instagram (my favorite social media outlet), and the way that the app let me represent so many different aspects of myself. Swiping right on another person freaked me out at first – but only I realized how excited I was to meet some of these women!

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First Date

One of my first Hey! VINA matches was a woman named Joanne. Joanne worked in university administration like me, and her first Instagram photo showed a long aisle lined with books. I figured we could get along. Since she had newly arrived in my city, I thought I could have fun showing her my favorite places. Further, Joanne said she liked to bake, and I am always interested in the potential for cookies. So I said hello.

Every once in a while, you do something a little scary and a little spontaneous, and you wrap up a bunch of nerves and hope and self-doubt and optimism into it, and you realize later that you made a huge win. Saying hey to Joanne was a win. She wrote back; she’d be happy to meet me; she wondered where we could go. Cake? Yes. Cafe Latte, Grand Avenue. Thursday – or wait, that doesn’t work. Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday. Cafe Latte. See you then!

So we had cake for dinner on our first date. I could make several puns here about cake, sweetness, friendship, etc, but I’ll save you. An hour and a half of animated conversation later, Joanne and I exchanged phone numbers and determined we would meet again in a few weeks for a “Drunk Spelling Bee” at a local pub – because who doesn’t want to drink beer while showing off mad spelling skills?! And, we decided, we would drag along our significant others to make it a double date.

double date

The Rest is History

As promised, a few weeks later we all met to embarrass ourselves in front of a crowd. (At least, most of us would embarrass ourselves – my husband handily won the night’s spelling bee, winning us more beer than we could drink. Wanting to remember the night, though, we gave much of it away!) We chatted for hours, we enjoyed the night, we thought of many more things to do together. As it turned out, Joanne’s boyfriend and my husband both majored in history in college, so they had plenty to talk about. And we talked, that night and many other nights, and days on long walks in the cold of a Minnesota autumn, around lakes, along rows of houses, in our homes, and over coffee and chocolate croissants. And yes, as of last weekend, I did get some cookies out of the deal.

I could not have guessed, six months ago, that a couple I’d never met before would become good friends with my husband and I by year’s end. I, for one, can’t wait to see what lies in 2017 for our friendship, and I think all of us are deeply grateful for meeting each other and for the other friends we’ve now made through Hey! Vina. What made it work? For one thing, our personalities fit well – and that’s a big deal. But there are some other elements to this relationship as well that others might find helpful in their own Hey! VINA ventures.

FRINEDS

Why it Worked

Joanne and I get along: I find it easy to talk to her, we have no trouble thinking of things to do together, and we’re interested in similar pursuits. We had to get to this point somehow, though, so how did we do it? I think one of the most important answers is that we both took initiative. I messaged Joanne soon after we matched, introducing myself and clearly stating my desire to meet her in person rather than dragging out a long conversation on our phones. At the end of our first date, Joanne identified our next date and two possible times for it, then texted me to remind me that I should talk to my husband about which time worked. That’s partly our personalities, but I know I wouldn’t have taken this kind of initiative even a couple years ago, and that initiative (from both me and her) is what kept us meeting up with each other and providing us space to connect.

Another reason Hey! VINA worked for us is because we both kept an open mind in our conversations, in our understanding of each other, and in our plans to see each other. Because we both had the attitude that anything can be fun with friends, we were (or at least, I was) more creative about what activities we could do together, and those activities provided an environment in which we could grow our friendship. We’ve also mixed things up, hanging out one-on-one, on double dates with our significant others, and with larger groups of friends. That variety has allowed us to keep getting to know each other in new ways and has kept our friendships from falling into an early rut.

Of course, August wasn’t so long ago, so I’m excited to continue getting to know Joanne and her boyfriend, and I’m sure we’ll continue to appreciate Hey! Vina’s role in getting us started. Meanwhile, we’re also busy swiping, matching, and starting conversations on the app!

VINA DATE IDEAS: MINNEAPOLIS + ST. PAUL

If you’re having trouble thinking beyond Starbucks and Caribou for your Minneapolis/St. Paul vina dates, it’s time to branch out! The Cities have a wealth of options for every vina, and I have far more beloved date sites than I could possible include here. Be inspired, and remember this is far from an exhaustive list.

GET YOUR ART ON

Minneapolis boasts a number of fantastic art museums to please your eye and stretch your mind with your vina. Of course the big ones are Mia and the Walker, but don’t forget the Weisman Museum at the University of MN or the Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) in south Minneapolis. Mia and Weisman have the benefit of being free, but I love the Russian museum’s atmosphere (it’s in a renovated church), and the Walker’s sculpture garden will be hard to beat come summer. If museums seem stuffy to you, plan a date around Minneapolis’s Art-A-Whirl or the St. Paul Art Crawl.

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CHEERS, TAYLA! 💍🥂😍

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DRINKS FOR EVERYONE

Whether you like local brews, cocktails, or whiskey, MSP offers plenty of options. For a classy atmosphere, check out the Library Bar on Hennepin. Feeling UK? Brit’s Pub, Merlin’s Rest, and Emmett’s are just a few of many British or Irish pubs around (and the fare is excellent too). Craft beer abounds at stops like Indeed, Dangerous ManThe Happy Gnome, Surly, and The Freehouse – or if you like something stronger, check out Du Nord Craft Spirits in Uptown, a small batch, artisan distillery noted for its coffee liqueur that actually tastes like coffee.

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t👏g👏i👏f👏 #fbf

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GET SOME SUN

Minnesotans don’t waste time when the sun is shining. Explore your botanical interests at Chanhassen’s Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, walk along the river at Fort Snelling State Park or Minnehaha Falls, ogle at the the mansions on Summit Avenue, or catch some spray from St. Anthony Falls at the Stone Arch Bridge (not to mention great views of Minneapolis). And in the winter, there is really no better cure for the cold than the tropical forest room at Como Park Conservatory.

CLASSIC COFFEE

Beer is not the only quality beverage brewed in town. On the St. Paul side, Kopplin’s, Quixotic, and Nina’s Coffee Cafe are sure to please, while Urban Bean and Five Watt grace Minneapolis (Five Watt is especially interesting for its “coffee cocktails” using bitters and fancy simple syrups). Any of the four Spyhouse locations are an excellent choice. And, if you prefer tea to its stronger sister or are simply in the mood for something different, relax with chai or a pot of the best loose-leaf at Teasource.

EXPLORE THE MAGIC OF GRAND

With great food, fun shopping, quaint houses, and a variety of unexpected treasures, Grand Avenue is my go-to for vina dates. Take a walk along any portion of Grand (especially east of Snelling) and stop in whatever place catches your eye. Cheese lovers absolutely must visit The St. Paul Cheese Shop (free samples!), or if you want something sweeter, I’ve never had better than Just Truffles. Of course, Cafe Latte is a classic for lunch and cake, and it’s right across from Paper Source and a number of other cute shops. For knitters and crocheters, The Yarnery is a rare and valuable find, or maybe you and your vina want to reminisce over your favorite childhood books at Red Balloon Bookshop (for adult literature, try Common Good Books farther west). The cook in your life will love Cooks of Crocus Hill. Hungry after all that walking? Everest on Grand, Punch Pizza, and Shish are just a few of the many excellent ways to fill up.

Did I miss your favorite vina date? Are you inspired to visit MSP? Leave a comment!

(Feature image via Brandy Melville)

HOW TO INTEGRATE YOUR NEW FRIEND INTO YOUR EXISTING SQUAD

You met a girl, and now it’s time to bring her home to meet the fam. That’s what it can feel like when you’re starting to connect with a vina and you want her to join the friend group you’ve already built. Rather than worry about it, use these guidelines to help you navigate. You’ll find that an integrated group is not as far off as it seems!

KEEP IT CHILL

No one is at their best when they’re in a stressful or high-stakes situation, and you want your vinas to see each other when they’re the most comfortable. Organize a casual outing, like bar trivia or a movie, that everyone can enjoy and that takes the attention off the new friend-old friends dynamic. Or, you could plan a party that includes both your existing friend group, your new vina, and other friends and acquaintances so that everyone can meet in a relaxed environment with minimal pressure.

DEFER TO HER

Remember, your new vina doesn’t know your other friends, and you are her only connection to this group. Plan an activity for the group that you know your new vina will enjoy, and during conversation, be sensitive to your new vina’s participation and comfort level with what’s going on. If she’s quiet, try to find ways to bring up topics she cares about, or a relevant story she told you on a previous date and ask if she could share it again. If your friends share an inside joke, clue her in. At the same time, make sure your friend group doesn’t think you’re becoming a different person or not paying attention to them. It’s a delicate balance, but careful listening and staying sensitive to subtle group dynamics will help you offset tension and nurture positive connections.

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(Photo via IMVU)

FIND CONNECTIONS

Speaking of connections, it’s your job to find as many as you can between your new vina and your existing friend group. You don’t necessarily have to call attention to all the similarities you notice, but if you can get your new vina talking to one of your previous friends about an activity they both love, you’ll be starting a friendship between the two of them that’s separate from your relationship with either.

BE UP FRONT

Honesty is always the most solid relationship strategy. It’s best to introduce your new vina to your friend group before they actually meet her. Let them know that you’ve been enjoying your time with her and you want to invite her to a group get-together. Likewise, let your new vina know that you have some other friends you think she’d like and that it’d be fun for you all to go out together sometime. Give her a feel for how close-knit your group is so she isn’t surprised if she feels a little out of place. Always stay positive, but if things don’t seem to be working out well, be honest about that too, and make sure all your vinas know how much you care for them.

Good luck! If you have other good strategies to integrate new vinas into a friend group, please share in the comments!

(Featured Image via @Thewhitepepper

SPRING BREAK STAYCATIONS

Let me guess, it’s spring break but you’re spring broke- or are you just stuck with no place to go? Hey, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while saving lots on travel and lodging! So find a vina and use these tips to craft a stellar staycation!

TREAT YOURSELF

Personally “staycation” to me is a license to spoil and enjoy myself! Use your break to get that massage you’ve been dreaming of! You can also invest in some fresh nail color for spring, or spend an extra long morning at your favorite brunch spot. Bring a vina along for double the fun!

Happy Early Birthday Hallie , Thanks Hallie! #treatyoself #nails #glitter #slay #earlybirthdaygift

via @halliecardinal

GET OUTSIDE

Chances are, you spend most of your time at work or school indoors, so getting some sun exposure is a sure way to break from your usual rhythm. Plan a day trip whether it’s a bonfire at the beach, a picnic in the park, a bike ride through the city, or even a long hike through the woods! Finding a destination nearby will make you see your home in a whole new way.

BE A TOURIST AT HOME

Speaking of seeing home in a new way- if you can’t visit someplace new, you can at least pretend to be a newbie in your own town. What’s that place every visitor talks about but you always avoid? What is your city or region most known for- the best chicken and waffles at the local diner or that charming art installation you should probably know more about? Whatever it is, grab a camera, don a touristy ensemble, and enlist a vina to help you on a photo scavenger hunt for your hometown’s attractions.

 

"La felicidad no brota de la razón, sino de la imaginación" 💡 | Podéis leer sobre mi experiencia en la habitación 26 05 del @bcnprincess. LINK IN BIO! #touristathome #Barcelona

via @claudiamarpi

CONQUER YOUR READING LIST

Spring break is a great time to tackle that book you’ve been wanting to read – or the home project you’ve been thinking about forever, the cooking class you’ve been salivating over, the craft you’ve been hesitant to start because you might get hooked. Whatever it is you’ve been putting off for lack of free time, do it! 

SO MANY VINA DATES

Finally, what’s a better way to spend your week off than with your vinas? Pour wine, splurge on fancy cheese, reconnect with old friends, and meet some new!

How will you enjoy spring break at home? Tell us in the comments!

Feature image via Instagram @rooftoplounge

 

INVENTING NICKNAMES THAT ACTUALLY STICK

You’re not really friends with your vina until you’ve given her a new name. But don’t panic if you haven’t yet- you can use some of these strategies to dub your vina with a nickname only you could create.

TACTIC 1: ASSOCIATE

Did you ever play that game where someone started by saying “orange” and then you had to say the first thing that popped into your head until you were back at orange? Start with someone naming your vina, and associate until you’re all completely confused about how you got to where you did.

TACTIC 2: LITERARI

What book character is your vina like? Who’s her favorite? Who does she talk about all the time or rave about whenever possible? Start calling her that character’s name; then, come up with a nickname for that name.

TACTIC 3: FOODIE

If your vina was a type of food, what would she be? Does her name rhyme with any food? Does she look like a type of food? Is she obsessed with a certain type of food? I’ve been called “Bekup” because it rhymed with “Ketchup,” and I knew a Nate who became “Potato” (from Nato-Potato, I guess, and he shaved his head, so there was arguably some resemblance). Be kind, but do stretch your imagination.

BONUS: You can do a similar exercise with animals. Or alcohol. Or really any category.

TACTIC 4: USE THE INTERNET

BUT FOLLOW THESE RULES. Rule 1: If you use the internet for help, you must do it in the company of at least your vina and preferably a larger group of close vinas! Rule 2: Search name generators (Spy name generator, Pirate name generator, Mafia name generator, etc.). Rule 3: find nicknames for everyone in the group, but only keep using the best one. Rule 4: Wine definitely helps.

TACTIC 5: BE LAZY

What’s the shortest, easiest-to-say sound that still resembles your vina’s name? What a shorter, easier-to-say sound than that? And then what’s one that’s kind of like that, but also makes you laugh a tiny bit, or even fits your vina’s personality? And then say it over and over again. And again. Until it’s easy and funny and couldn’t be anyone but your vina.

FINALLY: LAYER IT

Layers aren’t only good in fashion. The best nicknames evolve through stages and have many layers of meaning. Start with one of the above, use it for a while, combine it with another, throw in something random, and get other people on board. A nickname that stops growing won’t stick.

Have any other advice for making good nicknames? Let us know in the comments! 

(Feature image via Brandy Melville)

VINAS WE LOVE: BADASS FIRST LADIES

At times in this political season, I have felt full of hope; at others, full of discouragement. Always, I have felt how important it is, in this historical moment, for women to continue striving toward great achievement, visionary leadership, and strong community with each other.

Since at least Abby Adams’s “Remember the ladies,” America’s First Ladies have often led the charge on women’s rights, education, and influence in society. This year, I’m inspired by the many ways women have conquered challenges and championed each other’s cause from the White House.

Edith Wilson practically ran the country as she vetted issues of state and gaged their suitability for her husband’s limited strength; Dolly Madison effectively established the First Ladyship, taking an active role in her husband’s work and founding an orphanage for young girls. Florence Harding was the first First Lady to vote, offering her political opinions freely, and Betty Ford shocked and helped millions with her open, honest discussion of breast cancer, addiction, and women’s health. She believed that “the search for human freedom can never be complete without freedom for women” (International Women’s Year meeting, 1975). We women have much to be proud of in the first ladies of our past.

As a toast to our vinas and a rallying cry for 2017, here’s what three of my very favorite First Ladies have had to say about friendship and life.

MICHELLE OBAMA

“We should always have three friends in our lives – one who walks ahead, who we look up to and we follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journeys; and then, one who we reach back for and we bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”
–National Mentoring Summit, 2011

“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”
–Remarks by the First Lady at an Event with Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Students, 2011 (click to read the whole speech!)

HILLARY CLINTON

“I have always believed that women are not victims, we are agents of change, we are drivers of progress, we are makers of peace — all we need is a fighting chance.”
–Women in the World Summit, 2013

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.”
–U.N. World Conference in Beijing, 1995

“Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.”
–Campaign suspension speech, 2008

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
–Unknown

“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
–As quoted in The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women, 1992

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”
–You Learn By Living, 1960

“There is no human being from whom we cannot learn something if we are interested enough to dig deep.”
–You Learn By Living, 1960

What first ladies do you admire? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to download Hey! VINA for more inspiring women in your life. 

(Feature image via @michelleobama)

LEARNING TO BE A FRIEND TO SOMEONE WITH A DISABILITY OR CHRONIC ILLNESS

On a September morning two and a half years ago, I stumbled into a room marked “23,” yanked my suitcase across the lip of the doorframe, and said, “Hi, are you Maddie?” Yes, she was Maddie. She was to be my roommate for a semester in Oxford, England, and we were fast friends within 24 hours, friends for life within the month.

Maddie had been diagnosed with Lyme Disease weeks before we met. As our friendship began, she was starting her treatment and learning how to integrate her new knowledge of her illness into her self-understanding. I had the amazing opportunity to know her through this process, to see her strength and resilience as she learned about her illness, and to begin learning myself. Having not experienced chronic illness or disability in my own body, I had a lot to learn about living alongside illness and loving a friend whose experience I could not completely share.

Chronic illness affects at least half of adults, and autoimmune diseases are disproportionately more common among women than men. But our society doesn’t talk a lot about chronic illness or disability, which means many women feel isolated, fighting not only their own body but other people’s criticism and assumptions. As I’ve grown with Maddie, and as I’ve watched her interact with other friends in both positive and frustrating ways, I’ve seen some themes in the kinds of approaches that make a successful friendship when illness and/or disability are in the mix. I hope my experiences will help you as you interact with the amazing vinas in your life for whom every day brings extra challenges.

ACCEPT THAT YOU CAN’T FULLY RELATE

No matter how many times you read about an illness, no matter how many times you ask your vina what she’s feeling today, you can never safely assume you know what’s going on in her body. Chronic illnesses and disability affect everyone differently, and no two days are the same. Symptoms come and go for what seems like no reason at all. One day, she might be doing really well, and the next day could be awful. Don’t be surprised by sudden changes in her pain or energy level; she might not always be able to do what she planned, or what you hoped for, or what it seems like she should be able to do. Be patient, be supportive, and give your vina the benefit of the doubt. Let her set your expectations. Better yet, let go of expectations altogether, because chronic illness and disability are in the business of defying them.

STRETCH YOURSELF

You’re probably not an expert in your friend’s condition. Even if you known others with the same illness, or if you’ve fought it yourself, your vina may have a very different experience than what you’ve been used to. Either way, if you’re going to be part of her life, you’ve got to start learning what she’s going through. Chronic illness and disability leave no room for staying in your comfort zone. Be honest, ask questions, research. Learn the medical side and the day-to-day feeling-like-crap side. Show your support by taking action, even if it’s not something you normally do (5k/walk? Special photo shoot? T-shirt? donation to an organization that researches the illness?). The entire internet is yours to explore: learn more about how chronic illness and disability affect women at womenshealth.org, and read how the UN is supporting women with disabilities. Find blogs by women who have your vina’s illness or disability. Ask your vina if she’s found helpful online communities, and check them out yourself – that’s how I learned about More Than Lyme and The Gallery of Us. Ask her what resources she likes that could help you learn more.

Expend some effort here – your vina puts energy toward this every day. Know your limits, and respect hers. But do get out there.

CELEBRATE HER!

When getting clean and dressed claims most of her energy, or when she has to say “no” to activities she truly loves, it can be really hard for a vina to fend off feelings of deep discouragement, and you might start to see that soon into your friendship. Encourage her! Celebrate her existence, because she is beautiful and valuable and she’s doing everything she can. Surprise her with breakfast, or write a note to remind her how much she means to you. Stay up on her involvements, take part in her victory dances, and affirm the value of her accomplishments in whatever way you can. Most importantly, learn what makes your vina feel genuinely loved and encouraged. (But be sensitive when she needs her space.)

REMEMBER THIS IS HARDEST ON HER

As you deepen your friendship with a vina who lives with chronic illness or disability, you’ll learn and grow and appreciate her in new ways. There may be times when you feel frustrated watching her struggle, or when you’ll feel like giving up trying to make things better. Illness and disability isn’t easy for anyone. But no matter how much you might want to take out your frustrations, no matter how badly you want to lay blame somewhere, no matter how angry or hurt or disappointed you feel, remember: she feels all this too, and more. It’s painful to watch her illness or disability pull her down, but more difficult than watching is what she feels as she watches hopes and expectations crack, senses her body’s war, and sinks beneath the weight of society’s misunderstanding and scrutiny. You do need to pay attention to your energy, and to find space for yourself if you need it; as you do so, be mindful of the fact that your feelings reflect her struggle. Let your own emotions about the illness and disability lead you to greater empathy with her. Be patient. Persist. Love. You’re friends with a woman, not a disease or disability.

And that’s just it – on the other side of the illness, the other side of your vina’s disability, is a woman like you. You’ll make amazing memories with her, you’ll laugh, you’ll have fun, you’ll argue, you’ll cry together and reminisce and walk through life side by side.

(Featured image via @globerollers_)

FOR ALL YOU WORKAHOLICS: LEARNING TO TAKE A BREAK

Ironically, I’m writing this post late at night after an 50+ hours of work this week split between two jobs, a full social calendar, and major adjustments in medication that mean my brain wants to operate three times slower than usual even while I’m doing twice as much. It has not been a week of rest – but that’s exactly why I need to write this, because I know all you vinas out there are living (and #killingit) through similar whirlwinds of crazy.

It’s easy to get to a point where you’re so used to going, and going, and going, that the thought of rest induces a squeak of panic deep inside, as if in taking a break you might find out how tired you are, or how hurting, or how afraid of the future. So how do you give yourself the space you need, without completely crashing? How do you take a break without breaking your routine or your sanity beyond repair? How do you – take a deep breath – rest?

Rather than hand you a set of rules to rest by or give you scheduling instructions for how to make this break the most effective, efficient time-off of your life, I’d like to suggest a few questions to help you figure out what taking time off looks like for you. Everyone’s break will look different, but goodness knows we all need one. So I challenge you: pause for a minute, look inside, and ask yourself the following.

HOW MUCH OF A BREAK DO I NEED?

Maybe you’re in a pretty good place. You’re happy with your job, your relationships, your living situation. Sure, you’re always on the go, but that’s what you love. You know you need a breather, but if you’re out of your routine for too long you’ll miss it like nobody’s business.

First thought: you still deserve a break. Second: maybe it doesn’t have to be huge. An afternoon spent with your vinas sipping coffee by the pool, a few hours writing in your journal, or a slow walk through the park might be just enough to help you reflect and re-energize for what’s next.

Or maybe you’re not doing so well. Maybe you’ve been filling your schedule to help yourself forget a relationship that ended badly, a career that’s not what you thought it would be, an upcoming decision that you’re dreading and avoiding thinking about. Maybe you’re barely hanging on to feeling “normal,” feeling like you have a place to be and a reason to be there. Maybe the thought of a break is actually, truly freaking you out.

If you’re closer to this second scenario, you might be in need of something bigger than a few-hour hiatus from the usual routine. You might need to pull yourself away for a weekend or longer so you can reconnect more deeply with the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Maybe you need a friend’s help – it’s not easy to feel this way alone!

Even if you don’t have time for the rest you really need, identifying how much of a break you crave will help you set expectations and priorities for the time you do have and will help you avoid feeling guilty when you don’t feel fully refreshed after a partial getaway.

WHAT DOES A “BREAK” MEAN FOR ME?

The other big question you need to answer is what a break looks like in your life. Are you an extrovert but spend all day alone in an office? Maybe a break means going somewhere you can interact with people. Are you introverted and working with excitable, social kids all day? Peace, quiet, and maybe some QT with one vina might be the most important things to prioritize.

The point of taking a break is to treat yourself! If you’ve been holding off on a foot massage or eyeing that pastry shop down the street, maybe it’s time to give it a go. If you’ve been craving a solo road trip, dreaming of your favorite spot in town, or reaching for the same book on your shelf whenever you almost have time to read, give yourself permission to enjoy what you want and love. I’ll say it again: everyone’s break will be different. The important part is that it feels like a break to you.

If you’re like me, a big part of taking time off is simply to process what’s happening in your life. How often do we reflect deeply on our goals, revisit our best memories from the last few months, or dream up our next life scheme? Or if you’re facing a big decision, maybe you need time to rediscover your values and priorities as you try to make the right choice. Whatever your purpose – whether to just have fun or to revisit your contemplative side – put in some mental effort to make sure you’re giving yourself what you need.

WHERE IN MY LIFE CAN I CREATE SPACE FOR FREE TIME?

One of the most useful ideas I encountered in college was the concept of building “architecture in time.” Think about your time like you think you about your house – you can arrange it, shape it, organize, structure, remodel, separate it into rooms. Think about taking a break as building a beautiful private room in the house of your hours. What will you put in that room?  What will its color scheme be, how much furniture will you put there, what kind of music will you play? Will it have windows? Or maybe it’s a porch. How about technology? A TV? Who will be allowed to come in?

Then, you have to figure out where in your house this room will go. Is there space for it already? Maybe you can section off a corner of the living room, or maybe you’ll need to build an addition of sorts. You can’t add time to your life, but you can start to evaluate the many ways you use your time now. Pay attention to the hours you spend working, commuting, socializing, watching Netflix, working out, eating, making food, sleeping, etc. Maybe you’ll see a place where you can cut back on your social commitments for a week to make way for a really lovely block of time Friday evening. Or, if you’re at a place in life where you need a really serious getaway, maybe you need to request a few days off of work.

Whatever your eventual solution, I’ll give you a hint about your time off: it’s there somewhere. Be observant about your time, and think about it like you’d think about your bedroom or your kitchen cabinets. You can find room for yourself.

COMMIT. RELAX. CONNECT.

Once  you’ve figured out how much and what kind of break you need, and you’ve cleared a precious swath of time and space for yourself, DO IT! Commit an act of self-love and survival by following through. Don’t sweat over making this a perfect, all-rejuvenating rest, but let yourself sink into a different pace, a different routine (temporarily) from your usual. Rediscover what makes you happy. Stubbornly guard your date with yourself, but if it ends up not being what you expected, that’s ok too. This, dear vina, is for you, and you deserve it.

And when you’ve rested, share your #takeabreak #ladybrag in the comments!

(Feature image via @dailydoseofstuf)

3 STEPS TO TAKE SOMEONE FROM ACQUAINTANCE TO FRIEND

Hey! VINA does one of the hardest parts of friend-finding for you: it finds people. With the app, you’re suddenly connected to a number of awesome women outside your regular network.

So you meet up with a new vina. She’s great, you have a blast, and you want this to last. What’s next? How do you grow and maintain a deeper friendship?

There are countless “How to make friends” guides out there, but in my experience they’re all woefully long and complex. When it comes down to actually meeting someone you like and wanting to deepen a relationship, the most essential ingredient for success is to be yourself. If you can’t be yourself around someone, you’ll have a hard time reaching the deep honesty and trust of true friendship. But even the best ingredients don’t make a cake by themselves, so here’s a simple recipe you’ll need to bring that vina from “someone great I met” to “my good friend.”

LISTEN

Listening is the first sign of respect in any relationship. With your vinas, it’s especially important. Everyone needs to be able to talk and feel heard and cared for, and you can jumpstart a healthy friendship by offering your vina the opportunity to do just that. It won’t take her long to figure out that she can trust you and that she needs more of you in her life.

What makes you a good listener? You care. You want to hear your friend out. You want to get to know her. Relax; smile; look at your friend’s eyes and face and notice what she’s feeling. Ask questions about her life, how she felt about what happened, what she likes, what she hopes for. If you can follow up from conversations you’ve had in the past, you’re a pro – “How did your big presentation go?” “How are you and your mom doing after that fight?” – Or if she said she’s not feeling well, send a text a few days later to check in. No one wants to be friends with someone who doesn’t care, but everyone needs friends who do.

CHAT IT UP

On the flip side of listening, you have an important responsibility in your friendships to talk about yourself, too. Talking is how your vina will get to know you on a deeper level, how she’ll start to feel connected to you and feel invested in your life. In true friendship, both vinas care deeply about the other, so give her a chance to care for you. Be honest. Take risks. After all, you also need to feel safe and supported in this relationship. And if you’re worried about exposing a part of yourself that will make your soon-to-be-friend think poorly of you, remember that only honesty leads to trust.

There’s a healthy balance between listening and being listened to, and eventually (hopefully soon), you’ll reach a point where you feel like you’re doing both at once because the exchange is so natural. That’s when you know you’ve found gold – and when you know your friendship is going places!

GET OUT THERE

All this listening and talking can build strong emotional and/or intellectual ties between you and your new vina, so now it’s time to share life in action. Especially if you’re an adventurer, activity is a vital part of your friendships, and even if you’re not usually one for much beyond long, candle-lit chats, you’ll get to know your friend in a whole different way on the road.

I’m not saying you necessarily need to take long trips together right away – although that can be a blast! But you should build variety into your budding friendship, keep things interesting, and perhaps most importantly, show your initiative and creativity by suggesting new ways to enjoy each other’s company. A lot of us want to be better planners, but life can be crazy, so help you and your vina along by getting something on the calendar soon (and take a look at some ideas for making scheduling even easier). Be confident. You got this. And you’re about to make a really fantastic friend.

What are your tips for going from acquaintance to friend with a vina? Let us know in the comments!