TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: RECEIVING CRITIQUE AS A WRITER OR AN ARTIST

It’s finally that time. You’ve finally created something that you’re confident enough to put out into the world. You’ve written the ultimate poem; You’ve drawn the perfect portrait—you are READY to self-publish it for the universe to see. But what happens when it isn’t received the way you hoped it’d be?

I’m studying creative writing as a minor at my university. In my classes, I’ve written dozens of poems, short stories, memoir pieces, and more. It’s taken a lot of courage from me to feel comfortable enough to raise my hand in the middle of class and read what I’ve written to the room.

But I do it despite the butterflies. Why? Because I feel confident in what I’ve written.

In my classes, I’ve received a majority of positive comments about my writings, and I’m thankful for that. I’d like to add that I believe genuine and constructive criticism falls into the category of positive comments because I can tell when my classmate is truly trying to give me advice to make my piece even better.

However, there is a major difference between constructive criticism and blatant rudeness. Please don’t cross that line.

I’ve gotten rejected from multiple publications. I’ve been told that my piece was “stupid.” I’ve had eyes roll as I’ve read my pieces aloud. That doesn’t mean I will stop writing. I won’t let negativity stop me.

I do, though, have friends that have given up on their art because of this type of negativity. Instead of being given advice on how to improve a piece, they’ve been treated with meanness and insensitivity. I’ve made it my mission to have my best friend feel brave enough again to share her work.

If someone finally has built up enough courage to put their piece out there, treat that piece with the utmost respect, even if you don’t necessarily love it.

Just be kind, vinas.

Have some pieces of writing you’re working on and want some feedback? Visit Hey! VINA and join the Bloggers community!!

HORMONE BALANCE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Candace Burch is a hormone health educator and founder of Your Hormone Balance, an at-home hormone testing + consulting practice that helps people of all ages detect and correct hormone imbalances that negatively impact health and longevity.

Her mission as a wellness advocate is to educate, inspire and guide women toward safe, natural approaches to hormone balance and breast cancer prevention. In an exclusive interview with VINAZINE, she answers all your questions on how hormones shift as we age, checking in with yourself, and what it means to balance our your hormones.  Read on below!

NOTE: Vinazine readers will receive $100 off any test kit / consultation package from Your Hormone Balance using code “VINAZINE.”

Q: Thanks for talking to VINAZINE! From the perspective of someone who doesn’t know much about hormone imbalance, how do hormones shift over age? What are issues that women should be on the lookout for during certain decades/phases of life?
A: Pre-Menopause – The PMS Years. During their 20s and 30s, women should experience fairly regular cycles, with balanced estrogen and progesterone production. But increasingly, younger females prone to High Intensity (HIIT) exercise, heightened or prolonged stress, crash dieting and continuous contraceptive use are not ovulating regularly. These anovulatory (lack of ovulation) cycles are associated with hallmark symptoms of hormonal imbalance, including severe PMS and are also common in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Peri-MenopauseThe Rollercoaster Years. In the years approaching menopause, 40-something women begin to experience erratic cycles, as ovaries start to sputter and estrogen and progesterone levels start to fluctuate dramatically dozens of times a day. A whole new world of symptoms, from hot flashes and mood swings to insomnia and low libido, take women on a hormonal rollercoaster ride. Now is the time that the search for symptom relief begins in earnest!

Menopause/Post MenopauseThe End of Periods. As the ovaries take their final bow, ovulation ends and menopause begins. Falling levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone trigger unexpected symptoms that can surprise women. With less hormone to go around, their role in protecting the health of the breasts, bones, skin, brain and heart is greatly diminished. And with fewer hormones to go around, their natural aphrodisiac properties and role in protecting our sexual health dwindle significantly, and it falls to the adrenal glands to pick up the slack in hormone production. Now is the time when learning to balance hormones naturally and, providing your hardworking adrenals with extra care and feeding becomes all important to your best, healthiest, sexy self.

Q: How can you check in with yourself in terms of hormone balancing other than getting them tested—is there something that we can do more frequently?
A: The best way to check in with your hormonal health is to be alert to the signs and symptoms of a hidden imbalance … Don’t assume that missing work or school because of miserable monthly periods is normal. Or that PMS’ing to the point of insanity is your cross to bear. Don’t assume that sore, tender breasts (‘fear of hugging’), belly fat that won’t budge, foggy brain, and pushing through the day because you’re so tired but unable to sleep at night because you’re so wired, is normal. Don’t assume that you can’t lose weight no matter what you do, and that your libido has gone permanently AWOL.  

Don’t allow persistent anxiety, bad moods, stress and/or depression to rule your life.  In short, don’t become your symptoms …become aware of them and take action to rebalance naturally (you can take my hormone imbalance quiz to help here).

 

Candace Burch

Candace Burch, MA. Hormone Health Educator. Courtesy of Your Hormone Balance.

Q: When balancing hormones, what are realistic expectations to have for things like energy levels, mood, and weight loss? 
A: By taking the right steps to rebalance the mother of all imbalances—estrogen dominance—that shows up in a majority of test reports I see (I recommend testing in saliva), women can start to make headway on weight control – first to stop gaining weight and then to start losing  (at last!) Or if, for example, there are adrenal imbalances—lets say, a picture of erratic cortisol levels (high and/or low) are revealed through testing—you should expect your best efforts, using herbs, vitamins, bioidentical hormones (as needed) and specific stress-busting techniques, to pay off in renewed energy that lasts throughout the day, helping you take stress in stride AND better sleep for sure!

Q: Once you start implementing ways to balance hormones, is there any way to tell that your hormones are actually getting balanced besides retesting? Can your body feel a difference? Feel better?

A: Yes! The first big clue that your hormones are actually getting balanced is the RELIEF from symptoms you may have been struggling with for weeks, months, even years.  Once you start to live in a way that leads to hormone balance vs. hormone collapse, you can count on feeling better in mind, body, and spirit. What I hear most often from clients who have started to implement and stick with the changes we suggest to rebalance hormone levels naturally, is that their periods are less painful and miserable, or that their PMS is not turning them into a monster every month. They tell me that their anxiety is lessening, that sleep comes more easily, or that their libido’s finally back; Some have even said “I feel like a different person,” or, best of all, that after years on birth control and absent periods, they have finally been able to get pregnant!

Once you are living life in balance, your hormones fall into line along with your periods (normal vs. heavy and painful); your energy (ready to rock vs. ready to crash); your moods (upbeat vs. upset); your skin (smooth vs. broken out); your sleep (solid vs. sketchy), your libido (alive and kickin’ vs. AWOL); your weight (under control); your state of mind (focused vs. foggy).

In short, when your hormones are in balance, YOU are in balance—feeling and looking your best no matter what your age.

Q: Can you describe the roles of the following hormones in women? Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone.
A: Estrogen. Estrogen has been labeled “the angel of life,” because it makes cells grow, developing the uterus, breasts, pregnancy and the egg within the ovary – and “the angel of death,” because estrogen in excess (estrogen dominance) can become toxic to the body. As they say, too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and too much estrogen can over-stimulate cells to multiply out of control, a known recipe for breast cancer. Knowing and confirming the symptoms of estrogen dominance through hormone testing is a smart move, since an imbalance that goes undetected for too long is not a risk worth taking.

Progesterone. Progesterone is primarily made in the ovaries and produced only upon ovulation. When for a variety of reasons we don’t ovulate, our bodies can’t produce enough progesterone to keep estrogen levels in check, setting us up for estrogen dominance. In a nutshell, progesterone deficiency = estrogen dominance leading to weight gain, water retention, PMS, mood swings, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts and heightened risk of breast cancer.

Testosterone and DHEA (androgens). Testosterone and its precursor, DHEA, generally decrease in women at menopause and may be particularly low after surgical removal of the ovaries. This is when symptoms of “androgen deficiency” start to become apparent. Along with the most noticeable effect of low libido, testosterone and DHEA deficiency can also lead to depression as well as decreases in bone density, lean muscle, stamina, strength and metabolism.

Q: Why is it so important for our hormones to be in balance?
A: The right balance of hormones is vital to a woman’s health. But during peri-menopause, when ovarian production starts to become erratic (generally around the age of 45 but becoming more common in young women living in the 21st century fast lane), hormones start to fluctuate dramatically from high to low and back again, a seesaw effect, where a deficiency of one hormone triggers an excess of another, resulting in roller coaster symptoms.

During menopause, ovarian production wanes further and further until it ceases altogether, leading to a decline in estrogen of 40-60%, while progesterone production can plummet to nearly zero.  This is when lower levels of estrogen cause vaginal secretions to dry up, making intercourse more uncomfortable, even painful…while at the same time, the loss of ovarian progesterone puts women in the estrogen dominant category, gaining weight that is harder to lose (thus impacting body image and desire for sex) and at greater risk for ovarian, uterine and breast cancers. 

Q: What are some of the hallmark hormone imbalances that impact sexual health, desire and frequency?
A: Estrogen Dominance. An excess of estrogen relative to inadequate progesterone levels). Results in: Mood swings (a common cause of not being in the mood for sex), migraines (makes sex out of the question), fat gain in hips and thighs (poor body image affects desire for sex), with knock-on low thyroid symptoms (low libido, feeling cold all the time, sluggish metabolism), caused by excess estrogen acting as a roadblock for conversion of T4 (mostly inactive) to T3 (active thyroid levels)

Low Estrogen / Fluctuations of Estrogen and Progesterone. Hot flashes, night sweats (a big distractor from comfortable sex) palpitations, vaginal dryness and atrophy leading to lack of desire for fear of discomfort and painful intercourse.

Low Progesterone. See estrogen dominance above.

Low Testosterone / DHEA. Causes low libido, decreases in bone and lean muscle mass, metabolic rate, energy, strength, and stamina, which affects sexual drive/desire, and even one’s enthusiasm and zest for living.

Cortisol High (Stressed Adrenals). Insomnia and anxiety negatively impact sexual desire and performance; not to mention the belly fat resulting from elevated cortisol levels that causes women to feel overly self-conscious and embarrassed of their bodies which does nothing to enhance one’s desire to undress and have sex!

Cortisol Low (Adrenal Fatigue). Chronic fatigue, low energy and drive puts the brakes on drive, both competitive and sexual.

Q: My friend had an early menopause in her late 30’s, why does that happen?
A: Acute and/or prolonged stress, for example, can negatively impact ovarian function and can precipitate premature menopause or a prolonged peri-menopause in vulnerable women as early as their mid to late 30s (note: Average age of peri-menopause used to be around 45 years). Menopause can also be surgically induced through oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries catapults women of any age into menopause overnight), and can also be triggered by hysterectomy, radiation, or chemotherapy.

Q: Do you recommend hormone replacement?
A: This is a qualified “Yes” IF we are talking about *BIOIDENTICAL hormone replacement (made from plants) and “Yes” IF hormone test results identify imbalances necessitating hormone therapy – especially in women who have undergone a complete hysterectomy!

Hormone replacement therapy, as we knew it in my mother’s day (unnatural, synthetic and derived from pregnant mares urine), has been shown to be hazardous to our health. An estimated two million women in menopause (or post-hysterectomy) have been seeking more natural *bioidentical treatment solutions after a landmark study (Women’s Health Initiative 2002) found greater risks of heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer among HRT users.

Today, hormone replacement is no longer one-size-fits-all, but must be tailored to individual need (after testing hormone levels and using test results as a basis for recommended therapy or prescriptions).

*Women should insist on bioidentical hormones, those manufactured from plant-based substances (vs. synthetic HRT). These natural hormone versions are identical in structure and function to the body’s own hormones, with fewer side effects or known chronic disease risks compared to synthetic HRT.

Q: Are there natural ways to address changes that happen from a decline in the hormones?
A: There are a number of specific herbs, vitamins and natural bioidentical hormones, that can replenish and rebalance hormone levels naturally. But hormones alone, natural or not, can’t turn around a high-octane lifestyle filled with non-stop stress, compulsive work and workouts, processed foods, toxins (chemicals in the foods, cleaners and personal care products we use) lack of healthy exercise, sleep and work-life balance. Balancing hormones to get your mojo back takes a whole mind-body commitment … it’s not just about sex, but about looking after yourself, with extra tender loving care (TLC ☺).

Note: through my practice, Your Hormone Balance, I offer at-home hormone testing and consulting packages to help individuals get to the root of the symptoms they are experiencing and onto an all-natural plan for hormone rebalancing. (Readers can use code VINAZINE for $100 off any package).

Visit Hey! VINA to discuss your experiences with other women who may be going through hormone imbalances like yourself to discuss best practices, methods, and have a support system.

VINA SUCCESS STORY: HOW HEY! VINA HELPED TWO WOMEN FOLLOW THEIR ARTISTIC PASSIONS

We’re back with another amazing Hey! VINA success story! Lauren and Megan, two creatives who each run their own Etsy shops, connected through their love of art shows, craft fairs, and trying new foods by connecting through our app.

“The friends that I have, I’ve known since I was in kindergarten. But they don’t always like doing things that I’m interested in, or they don’t have time. You know, work, family, newly married life,” said Lauren when asked about what brought her to use the VINA app. “Time can go by so fast before you even notice how long it’s been since you’ve seen your girls. So I was super excited to discover the Hey! VINA app, which changed that for me.”

Megan and Lauren.

As for Megan, she “had just moved to Chicago, and I wanted to find new friends and grow a new support network in my new city!”

Making lasting friendships wasn’t always the easiest endeavor for Lauren before she discovered VINA. “Sometimes I would meet a girl that I liked and seemed cool, and it never ended up going anywhere. The connections were a miss.” This, however, changed once she met Megan!

“It was friendship at first bite. We met up at DMK Burger bar during the summer over a year ago, and Megan had a big, bright smile on her face and gave me a huge hug. It was over an hour, it was such a blast because the food was so good as well as the company, and the conversations we were having,” she recalled. “I remember it was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm and lots of laughs, which I love!”

Megan and Lauren discussed their love of blue cheese, being creatives, as well as being kindred spirits. “We just went back to DMK burger yesterday to celebrate Galentine’s Day and to the movies afterward and it was the best! We had so much fun,” Lauren shares.

Their friendship elevated to another level when they found out they both created their own products for their Etsy shops. Along with “talk[ing] shop, guys and everything and nothing every time [they] meet,” the two provide each other with advice “on customer problems, marketing ideas and even photo shoots of our products!”

Megan’s business is called Iris Atelier Couture. When asked about how Lauren has helped her, she said, “Lauren has such a vast about of knowledge from working in a creative company, that I can ask her anything, and I really value her opinion, she’s been selling a lot longer than me and she has her own goals and aspirations for her business that I admire.  I think having someone that is going through the same struggle of dealing with an online business has been such a huge help! She’s an amazing and supportive friend. I’ve grown so much, creatively, from having Lauren as one of my best friends!”

Conversely, Lauren weighs in on her business and how Megan has helped her.

“Pineapple Sundays Design Studio is all about celebrating and bringing more positive vibes into your everyday through our products and designs. I started this business back in 2017 after closing my old shop and rebranding.”

“Megan was a big help when I started my first line of products, she was so generous enough to lend me her camera so I could take pictures of my products. She also has modeled for me as well, so we are constantly helping each other out like that, and I love that we have that creative bond,” said Lauren.

“The first line are products that anyone can use in their self-care routine. For me, reading is a form of self-care and one of my favorite me time things to do. I created enamel-chained bookmarks and a metal bookmark in the shape of the golden snitch from Harry Potter, one of my fave reads! This year I’m planning on expanding my line more with additional products centered around self-care; all things I find important when navigating through life.”

Since both girls are “total foodies,” they enjoy checking out new places they find on Instagram.

“During the summer, we love to go to outdoor art fairs like the Renegade Craft fair, Jenny’s to get ice cream and the Lakeview Taco Fest. I was not a beer drinker until I met Megan—I drink it all the time now. She basically says I like beer that doesn’t taste like beer, which is so true,” Lauren said.

Sometimes, the girls vent out their frustrations over brunch and ice cream, while reflecting on how they’ve helped each other grow their creativity.

“Megan is actually the main reason why I took a leap of faith and started to develop my first line of products. Last year, she quit her job and decided to do her business full time. I told myself, ‘if Megan can do that, I can develop and produce my products’— and that’s exactly what I did! She inspired me to go after my dreams as well. When I am working on new designs, I always get her opinion, especially when I’m designing Harry Potter designs because she’s a Potter Head like me,” she added.

As for those who may be too nervous to reach out to other girls on VINA, Megan said, “A friend should like you for who you are! So just be yourself, find someone with similar interest or hobbies and start asking questions, and see if you too would be a good match as friends!”

Lauren chimed in to say, “Just go for it! If you’re afraid, just do it anyways. Since being on the Hey! VINA app, it’s given me more confidence when talking with strangers. Megan and I totally made friends with a girl working at Lush; her vibes were amazing, and we were like: ‘We should totally ask her to be our friend.’ We ended up going out to dinner the next week, so that was really cool. It all starts with a hello and a smiley face.”

Go on Instagram and follow both Megan’s business: @iris.atelier &
Lauren’s business: @pineapple.sundays! And while you’re at it, check out
Hey! VINA to find a bestie that will build you up just like Megan and Lauren did for each other.

 

FEARLESS FEMME FRIDAYS: 5 BADASS WOMEN IN THE NEWS

We’re back for another week of empowered women in the news who are inspiring every lady to be the best they can be! Here are our top picks for the week.

LORI ALHADEFF

Courtesy of dearworld.org.

Nobody should know what it’s like to lay their child to rest, but Lori Alhadeff sadly faced that reality last Valentine’s Day when her daughter, Alyssa, fell victim of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, this strong woman has started a non-profit called “Make Our Schools Safe” and created a law in New Jersey named after her daughter. Read her heartfelt letter to Alyssa one year later here.

MARIA JÚLIA COUTINHO

Maria Júlia Coutinho is set to be the first black anchorwoman to report on Brazil’s “Globo Jornal Nacional”! Born on August 10, 1978, Coutinho is smashing the standards of the journalism realm in Brazil.

“A lot of people thought I would be crying in the corridors, but in fact, I’ve been dealing with this issue since forever. Of course, I get very indignant and sad, but I do not wilt,” she said, triumphantly.

JING WEN

Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 1.14.33 PM.png

Courtesy of Jing Wen Instagram.

This chinese model, Jing Wen, received serious backlash when people noticed her freckles in her advertisement for Zara cosmetics. Many argued that her freckles weren’t adhering to the aesthetic of Chinese culture, but Wen rose above the negativity and made sure her natural freckles weren’t covered by any foundation.

In 2016, Wen told Vogue she hated her freckles when she was younger because “normally Asian people don’t have them.” She said she finally grew to accept them. “It’s okay. I like them, and that’s enough.” Yay for eliminating unachievable beauty standards!

STEPHANIE LAMPKIN

Stephanie Lampkin is the founder of @Blendoor, a blind recruiting app for job recruiters that hides the candidate’s name and photo to circumvent unconscious bias and facilitate diversity. Its goal is to highlight the information that’s most relevant to a candidate being a “good fit,” independent of race, gender, (dis)ability, military history, or sexual orientation.

Lampkin’s company was recently named as one of  Forbes’ 50 women-led startups changing the face of tech. Here’s to crushing bias and putting gender equality at the forefront of business!

ANASTASIA GARCIA

“Body positivity” is a movement in which you are supposed to love your body and believe that it’s beautiful, and some brands are making way into proving their inclusivity. But is this truly always the case? Anastasia Garcia sees through this mirage.

Some “inclusive” brands stop at size 12 or size 20, which doesn’t exactly feel welcoming for all people. What does that mean for those like Garcia who need sizes bigger than those?

In response to Victoria’s Secret’s pushback on inclusive sizing, Garcia commented, “Does Victoria’s Secret not like money? Your sales have been dropping forever, and 70 percent of women can’t wear your clothing. So let’s do the math here, guys.” You go, girl!

Featured image courtesy of Anastasia Garcia Instagram. 

Here at Hey! VINA, we love strong women who rise above the regular standards of society and do so with pride! Check out vinas in your local community to build a strong gal gang that will support you in everything you do.

 

5 SWEET VALENTINE’S TEXTS TO SEND TO YOUR VINAS

Happy Valentine’s Day, vinas! Let’s turn this “Hallmark holiday” into a time to show our ultimate appreciation for our gal pals. Here’s a list of 5 sweet texts to send your vinas this GALentine’s Day!

1. I APPRECIATE YOU

There’s no better feeling than being appreciated by your friends, and now is the perfect chance for you to show how much you care about your vinas! Whether they supported you through a difficult time or grabbed a couple of drinks with you in the city to celebrate your new job, let them know you’re so happy they’ve been there for you.

2. YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, AND YOU DON’T NEED ANOTHER BOY/GIRL TO TELL YOU THAT

Valentine’s Day may feel like a difficult pill to swallow for those who are “alone” on the holiday. Let your vina know that she is loved on this holiday by you, her true friend. Make sure she knows she doesn’t need a romantic partner to tell her that!

3. YOUR FRIENDSHIP MEANS THE WORLD TO ME

Going along with number 1, this is a sweet text to let your vina know that you’re in it for the long haul. You two have cultivated a beautiful friendship, so make sure you let her know you’re not going anywhere! She’ll totally smile at the fact that you’re her forever friend.

4. LET’S HAVE A WINE & PIZZA NIGHT

No solid plans for this holiday? Turn your frown into a smile with a vina meet-up tonight! Order in a bunch of cheesy pizzas, and watch some cheesy rom-coms. (My favorites include “She’s All That,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” and “You’ve Got Mail.”) Pair the pizzas with a wine of your choosing, and bam! You’ve got a perfect night with your perfect vina. Make a VINA-tines out of it and invite other vinas that may not have plans yet by creating an event on the Hey! VINA app.

5.ONE DAY YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A LOVELY WEDDING, AND WE’LL LAUGH ABOUT THIS VALENTINE’S DAY

If your vina loves the idea of love but hasn’t found the “one” for her yet, help her out by letting her know that her time will eventually come! Make sure she doesn’t give up hope, and she’s awesome the way she is now; she just needs someone to see how truly wonderful she is.

Let your vinas know you care about them on this Valentine’s Day by swiping on Hey! VINA. Friendship is the love that never fades!

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: MENTAL HEALTH

It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel like you have to stay in bed for a couple extra hours when it’s rainy outside. It’s okay to seek help from a therapist, a friend, a parent, a teacher. It’s okay to not be okay. Let’s slash the stigma regarding mental health and remind ourselves that our brains matter!

Mental health and physical health are one and the same; If you’ve broken a leg, you’re not going to be able to participate in a 5k until it’s healed. If your brain is “broken”—or, just not working properly—it’s okay to sit this one out. So, why don’t we view these two in the same light? Why do we prioritize physical health?

Two years ago, I faced many debilitating fears that would not allow me to face my day with 100% ability. I had experienced intrusive thoughts that would constantly linger in my mind, despite trying to tell myself that they were completely irrational.

My mom provided me with a sense of solace when she told me, “If you think something bad is going to happen, it probably won’t happen. And if it does, you’ll at least be prepared and see it coming.” Though these words allowed me to breathe a little more deeply, I didn’t feel fully okay. That’s when I decided to seek help with a therapist. My mom is a social worker, so she was very supportive throughout this process, encouraging me to prioritize my mental health.

Talking to a therapist helped me get some of these weights off of my chest. It’s so special to have someone to vent to and to be completely honest with. After multiple sessions, my therapist decided it’d be a good idea for me to try a mild dosage of an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors).

I started taking the lowest dosage of an SSRI last January, and it has helped me to see more clearly. It has put an end to my crippling anxiety, and I feel more like myself again.

Anxiety and depression are just as real and just as valid as a broken bone. We don’t make people with broken bones take on physical activities, so why should we make people with mental illnesses take on mental activities without seeking help first?

The bottom line is this: it’s okay to not be okay sometimes, but do yourself a favor and get help. It has made my life feel whole again. It could make yours feel the same.

Here at Hey! Vina we support taking mental health days to make sure each vina is reaching her fullest potential!

VINA STORY: HOW HEY! VINA HELPED INSPIRE TWO WOMEN TO CREATE BRUNCHITUPNYC

In a city of millions of people, it may seem rather frustrating to feel alone. But, the truth is, it’s not as abnormal as one might think! Searching for friends with the same interests and values as you is a tough task, but the girls at BrunchItUpNYC have made it a little bit easier for us vinas.

Molly and Leyssa are two 20-somethings who decided that they wanted to foster a girl gang for other vinas who may have felt alone in the sea of people in NYC.

“It’s so important to have a group of girls you can rely on,” they said. “Whether it’s for a much-needed girl talk, or a night out partying, we all need a solid support system!”

And they gave us just that! BrunchItUpNYC was created by these powerful vinas when they felt there was a genuine need for a consistent meet-up event where girls could feel comfortable coming alone to make friends.

Your 20s may feel like a strange period in your life; you might witness others your age getting married and starting to have kids while you’re popping Cheetos in your mouth and watching the season finale of The Bachelor. If you maybe feel as though you fit into the latter category, perhaps this brunch-bunch is made especially for you.

“A lot of us actually are not very new to NYC, but are looking for friends that want to travel, explore and live life to the fullest,” Molly and Leyssa said. “Most of us are in our mid 20s, and a lot of our friends are settling down or moving out of the city.”

Molly and Leyssa at their second BrunchItUpNYC event.

This makes BrunchItUpNYC so impactful and special for vinas. Their first brunch meet-up created on the Hey! VINA app consisted of nine other girls who instantly hit it off. “We talked about our interests, our lifestyle, our goals and somehow we all were just on the same page! We’ve already planned a girls trip to New Orleans next month. I think our group is going to stay close forever!”

No initial awkward silences took away from the fun. The girls played games like “Never Have I Ever” to get to know each other and loosen up, which made for exciting conversations!

The creators of BrunchItUpNYC were able to use Hey! VINA to invite more vinas to join them.

“We heard about VINA through a friend and decided to give it a try,” they said. “VINA provided an amazing platform to promote our brunch meetups on, and the girls on VINA are friendly & looking for fun activities, so it was easy to get a group of them together!”

As for making friends and meaningful connections online, Molly and Leyssa have some advice:

“Don’t be nervous!! Everyone on VINA is looking to meet friends, so everyone feels those nerves in the beginning, but you will end up with amazing new friends, and it will be so worth it!”

Join @BrunchItUpNYC on Saturday, February 16th from 1:45pm-3:30pm for their Galentine’s Day brunch in NYC! And if you’re interested in perusing more events such as this one, check out the Hey! VINA app to meet other like-minded vinas and to create that girl gang of a lifetime.