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68 minutes | Jan 26, 2023
There’s No “One-Size-Fits-All” Version of Social Wellness, with Lizzie Braicks-Rinker
TRIGGER WARNING: This episode contains some sensitive topics around the loss of a parent. Today I’m with my dear friend, Lizzie Braicks-Rinker, a wellness brand strategist and holistic health and fitness coach. We met in college, baking pie in the dorm basement, and bonded quickly; I told Lizzie my mom had passed away. She told me hers had cancer. We were at different stages in our lives than our peers, and because of this, had different needs and perspectives on wellness than they did, too.In 2022, Lizzie gave a TED Talk on Mother’s Day about the difference between wellness and physical health. Her beliefs stemmed from her experience in college, when, on paper, she was extremely healthy – she was vegan, she was on the rowing team – and yet, she was having panic attacks and chronic pain due to the wellness pieces that were missing in her life. In this episode, Lizzie and I talk a lot about holistic wellness – especially social wellness, of course – and how, really, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe.In this episode you’ll hear about: The eight pillars of holistic wellness (emotional, physical, occupational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, financial) vs. the wellness industrial complex How self-care looks different for everybody – it could involve playing with your dogs, getting your finances in order, or building a community support system Why social wellness is often left off the priority list of wellness How health (especially social health) – doesn’t have to be linear; for example, your social needs might be higher in the summer than they are in the winter Creating the “third option” instead of accepting social obligations you’re just not into – or, creating INTENTION in these obligations so they feel fulfilling to you Who is your true self vs. your ideal self? Plus, the importance of taking baby steps Resources & LinksLike what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Be sure to check out Lizzie’s TED Talk and the book she recommended in this episode, The Worthy Project by Meadow DeVor, and follow her on Instagram and check out her website.Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
47 minutes | Jan 19, 2023
Digging Into the 3 Kinds of Friendship Roots
About three years ago, many of my friends moved away within a six month period.While I was excited for these friends, I also grieved; my friends are my main support system, my family. How would I keep these friendships alive? I invested a lot of energy into thinking about it, through which I developed what I’m tentatively calling the “Your People” framework. The best way to think about this framework is to imagine a tree. Trees start as seeds, and then you provide them with nutrients and soil. Over time, trees grow roots. Some roots get really thick and strong; some grow deep. Some grow offshoots. The more roots that grow, the more stable the tree.In my friendship theory, there are three kinds of roots, which I’ll dig into today. My hope is that this framework and language helps people think about these relationships and consider what actions to take to build better versions of our friendships.Want more information? Visit my website!In this episode you’ll hear about: SHARED EXPERIENCE ROOTS and their offshoot roots – i.e., when you’re doing something related to the shared experience root, but in a way you’re comfortable EMOTIONAL INTIMACY ROOTS – what we know about our friends and our shared memories – plus shared/overlapping history roots and big/small intimacies STORY ROOTS – the beliefs you have about your friendships, and how we come to develop those beliefs How letting roots (i.e., friendships) die is not a bad thing – we can’t be in high school geometry class forever – but it doesn’t mean it’s not a sad thing How to keep these friendships thriving as we grow and change, and how to replace dead story routes with simpler, more straightforward story roots One of the biggest problems when it comes to adult friendships – plus, the REAL foundations of these friendships Resources & LinksLike what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
35 minutes | Jan 12, 2023
How to Make Friends as a Grown-Up
Today’s episode is about how to make friends – namely, the REALITY we find ourselves in when seeking friendship as grown-ups. How we do it now is going to be different from how we did it as children, teenagers, and young adults – but in a GOOD way.A friend recently said to me, “The way you talk about making friends sounds kind of like dating.” And, well, that’s because it kind of is. But it doesn’t need to be that way. There’s value in even our simplest connections, so let’s get rid of that pressure and just enjoy meeting new people, trying new things, and connecting in new ways.In this episode you’ll hear about: The amount of pressure we put on romantic partners vs. friendships – and why, when making friends in real life, it’s better to expect less How friendship in media (movies, social media, books, TV) is curated to create drama or dream situations – this is often not real life! The realities behind the “pick-up-where-we-left-off friends” and the “friends that will always be there for us” How making friends and maintaining friendships requires staying curious, taking small risks, paying attention, showing up, and using our time, energy, and resources Spending time thinking about the kinds of new friends you want to make – i.e., what do you want to do with your friends? What do you want to connect over? How to get unstuck with “defined friends” by letting them into other parts of our lives and creating new shared experience routes Resources & LinksLike what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
40 minutes | Jan 5, 2023
Simple Ways For Improving Social Wellness in the New Year (+ a Sneak Peek of My Book)
Full disclosure: I am a “set-your-goals” kind of person. I used to get a little out of control with goal setting each year, thinking everything was going to be different overnight. But of course, real life isn’t like that! In this episode, I want to talk about friendship communities and how to improve them in small, sustainable ways this year. What are the ways we can check in with ourselves? What are the factors – actions, habits, everyday changes – we can alter to improve our relationships in 2023?You’ll also get a sneak peek of my new book (well … an abbreviated version, anyway!) and I hope that once you employ the advice in this episode, you feel like you’re on your way to impact change in your life and become the person you want to be.Thank you so much for being here on this adventure with me. I’m really excited about 2023 and all that’s ahead of us. In this episode you’ll hear about: Using a “word of the year” to set goals and create a friendship vision for the new year Three check-ins to find those small, everyday habits that will get you closer to your new year vision Focusing in on time, including habits and boundaries; what can you add/trade/cut? Different ways you can show up for friends this year (running errands, answering questions, making introductions, cooking, etc.) How to cut out the “admin time” in terms of get-togethers and be more present Simplifying and auditing communication so it actually works for you and your people
22 minutes | Dec 15, 2022
Five Ways to Connect with Friends During the Holiday Season
I used to be a bit of a Grinch around the holidays. My family of origin story is not the best – and in fact, this season used to give me panic attacks. Luckily, I’m well past those days, and part of the reason is I began spending the holidays with friends! For a long time, I tried to be subtle about my lack of holiday plans, casually asking friends what they were doing, seeing if they’d invite me.But once I was finally HONEST about my situation – saying something along the lines of, “I don’t want to go home for the holidays. Can I go with you instead?” – it completely changed the holidays for me.This is typically a family-forward season, which is great, but you probably have other people in your life who you’d like to make memories with during the holidays. So, for today’s episode, I’ve compiled a list of tips for how to make time with friends this time of year.In this episode you’ll hear about: Five ways to connect with your friends this holiday season Ways to “opt out” of the things you’re not interested in or would feel burdened by How traditions can actually save time and help you feel like you belong Three different formats to create a tradition (pick it all, pick a date, create a series) Doing “the necessary” to-do list items with friends (for example, holiday shopping, wrapping presents) instead of going at it alone How to make sure you or your friends have a place to go for the holidays Resources & LinksLike what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
65 minutes | Dec 8, 2022
How To Build a Friendship Community for Your Family
If this episode has a theme, it’s this: the adults in the room need to put on their air masks first.Today I’m talking with my friend Adrienne, who I meet with every week to chat about business. Adrienne is married and the mom of two children, one in preschool, one in elementary school.Adrienne is in the thick of trying to build a friendship community for her family. Here, she shares what’s working and what’s not. In my mind, what she’s doing is advanced community building, in part because it’s in her own needs. She wants people around she can depend on so she doesn’t feel alone raising her kids.A lot of people tell me they never saw their parents have friends. Maybe they were part of a local group or a place of worship, but their parents never took those relationships outside of that one place. My thoughts? Even if you live near family, you still might benefit from community support.In this episode you’ll hear about: How finding adult friends with shared interests is more sustainable than letting kids run the show, as kids’ interests are more malleable Shared experience roots – and how this can make entering into a friendship community that already exists difficult How offering small intimacies – inviting someone to your unclean house, for example – shows you’re human and offers the other person the opportunity to do the same An overview of the “community conversation” Adrienne had with the families in her neighborhood Investing in your own friendships, and why this models to children how to navigate and maintain friendships for themselves How being part of a family’s community doesn’t always mean watching kids; it can involve taking apart a swing set or being an emergency contact, etc. Resources & LinksLike what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
57 minutes | Dec 1, 2022
How To Build Meaningful Relationships Beyond Just “Catching Up” with Alex Friedman
As adults, we often tell our friends we want to “catch up.” People catch up over the phone. They catch up over dinner. But the thing about catching up is you’re telling someone about things that ALREADY happened to you. You’re updating them on your recent past instead of being in the present. That’s why I’m such a big proponent of DOING things with people – running errands, hiking, paddleboarding, going on a trip, etc. Whenever you’re doing something together, you’re creating memories right now. Today’s episode is Part 2 of my conversation with Connection Feast founder Alex Friedman. (If you haven’t checked out Part 1, do it now!) Alex and I love talking about friendship, and in this episode, we cover it all, from building friendships slowly to making the time you spend with your friends MEANINGFUL. In this episode you’ll hear about: A great formula for reaching out to people (hint – if you want to hang out with somebody, be specific!) Small intimacies, and how it’s sometimes easier for friendship to build on these instead of big intimacies (plus the dangers of sharing too early or too much at once) How to “create the container” for friendships to build, and then just allowing the connection to happen Relieving the pressure of “catching up” by instead DOING something together The impact of specificity when making new friends; for example, “I’m looking for friends who are really into yoga” (or meditation, running, hiking, etc.) Friendships vs. relationships, and how both build slowly over time Resources & Links Follow Alex on Instagram. Be sure to check out her events if you’re local to Seattle; in this episode, she teased that her next feast is in January! Like what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
31 minutes | Nov 24, 2022
The Secret to Hosting a Gathering (Hint – You’re Probably Doing Too Much)
My secret to hosting and gathering people together? I don’t do it all. For a while I tried to “do it all” as a hostess, but it honestly was stressful and not very fun. There's a photo of me as a kid somewhere, wearing a cute apron and serving my grandma and her friends for a party. For 10 years, I was also a professional wedding and event planner. Since it’s the holiday season, I want to share my insight on what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to gathering people together – and how doing LESS can ultimately help us spend more time with the people we care about. In this episode you’ll hear about: The six jobs of hosting – the initiator, the organizer, the food role, the cleaner, the decorator, the day-of host How to not do it all (split out the roles, narrow down the event, meet somewhere in a public place, keep things more casual & set limits) How to do less when it comes to cleaning - i.e., you don’t have to scrub your baseboards, and you can just shut a door to a room How day-of hosting often gets ignored, but this is make-or-break Setting precedents for future events and turning things into traditions The business term MVP – minimally viable product – and how it relates to friendship gatherings Resources & Links One book I adore and strongly recommend about hosting: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, which helps us understand the purpose of gathering. For a list of the roles and a bigger description of what each entails (and how to not do everything) visit my website. Like what you hear? Leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
53 minutes | Nov 17, 2022
The Art of Making Friends with Connection Feast Founder Alex Friedman
Making friends can be scary, especially as an adult. This is why I love Connection Feast, a social wellness company that hosts events to help create community and facilitate meet-ups between people over a shared meal. Connection Feast was founded by today’s guest, Alexandra Friedman, who envisioned the company after realizing that meetups weren’t working – the connections she made at them weren’t deep enough. Finally, she decided to take control of her situation. I attended a Connection Feast event themed on “emotional intelligence.” And I came home like, whoa. I have 10 new things to consider about myself. Whether you meet someone or not, you’re going to come home with something. These are deep events. One reason I love talking about friendship so much is because every time I think I know a good amount about friendship, I am utterly humbled by these relationships. There’s always new things to learn from and be surprised by. You’re going to LOVE this marathon of a conversation between Alex and I (and stay tuned for part 2!) In this episode you’ll hear about: How structure can help adults be more playful, and thus, make deeper connections with new acquaintances The emotional intimacy and vulnerability it takes to make friends as adults The danger of expecting reciprocity, and how that can set us up to be disappointed, especially if our friends are in different places in their lives When people come into our lives for short periods of time, that doesn’t make it insignificant – sometimes short friendships can offer valuable gifts The evolution of “big friendships” – they evolve over time, day-by-day, over sometimes mundane things Resources & Links Follow Alexandra on Instagram. Be sure to check out her events if you’re local to Seattle, and tune in next time to hear the rest of our marathon of a conversation about friendship! Also, I strongly recommend the book we talked about, Atomic Habits by James Clear. Like what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
51 minutes | Nov 10, 2022
Navigating Friendship Through the Big Life Changes
When big life changes happen, our closest people want to anticipate our needs. But after these transitions, we might be new versions of ourselves, with new boundaries, new interests. The things that mattered before don’t anymore. Today’s episode is with my friend Sarah, who is expecting her first baby in March. While many of the things we talk about relate to the fact that she’s pregnant, the overall arc is about how the big life changes affect our friendships and support systems. Every time my friends who do not have kids announce they’re pregnant, I’m simultaneously freaking thrilled and mournful, knowing things will be different now. We won’t be quite as free to pick up and do what we want all the time. This conversation can apply to any big life transition: a move, an engagement, an illness, an accident, a career switch, or becoming an empty nester. How do we navigate through these enormous changes? Sarah and I discuss a bunch of tactics, from using communication to bridge the gap, to letting go of the quantity of time and increasing the quality of time. In this episode you’ll hear about: Fear, grief, and ego in among friends and family as we go through major life transitions and turn into new versions of ourselves The value in simple friends, who are not wrapped up in who we used to be Reaching out to friends for different needs vs. in order of their “hierarchy” of closeness Reconnections, and how these can facilitate completely new relationships The ways communication can bridge the gap between friends during life changes The vulnerability of letting people in, and the benefit of doing so before the “big moments” Resources & Links Like what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
22 minutes | Nov 3, 2022
What Is A Friend? And the 4 Types of Friends We All Have
This is a pretty important episode, because I want to talk about this ONE question:What is a friend, really? A lot of people are walking through life focusing on what isn't there when it comes to friendship. There's somehow an arbitrary marker of “we are friends!” that I don't even think most people can articulate. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be so black and white.There's so much value happening in our friendships before they hit whatever this arbitrary threshold is that we're ignoring.If you’ve ever thought, “I wish I was closer to that person” or “Our friendship used to feel different!”, prepare to be inspired as I share the 4 types of friends we all have in our lives, and how we can come to appreciate all of these friends in their own unique ways.In this episode you’ll hear about: Why we’re holding ourselves back from experiencing true friendships The difference between “Familiar Friends”, “Defined Friends”, “Present Friends”, and “Historic Friends” The beauty of taking small actions over time with our friends (it all adds up!) What emotional intimacy roots are and why they are key to sustaining close and supportive friendships Moving through the peaks and changes of friendships in our life, especially when one moves away or gets a new job Holding on to our friendships more loosely, vs. gripping on so tight Reflection Question:In which “bucket” do you have the most friends? Is there a small action you can take today to make a friend feel appreciated? Resources & LinksLearn more about emotional intimacy roots on my blog.Like what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
45 minutes | Nov 3, 2022
Your Friendships Are Just As Important As Your Romantic Relationships
Today’s guest is my husband Michael. I know, some of you might be wondering: Alex, you just started a friendship podcast. Why are you bringing your romantic partner on? But here’s the thing. This romantic partnership supports all the relationships we have outside it – with friends, family members, community. All the relationships in our life also help support this romantic partnership. It’s all connected.So today we want to let you inside how WE look at the interconnectedness of all these relationships – and how prioritizing friendship can actually SUPPORT your marriage.Michael and I met in college, the prime time for friends. If we had just forgotten everybody else at that time in our lives, we wouldn’t have any friends. We had to learn early how to balance our romantic relationship with our friendships.We don’t get it right all the time. But I like to think that, as we grew older, we’ve honed in on what works for us, and how supporting each other’s friendships makes us each more whole, and consequently, stronger partners for one another.In this episode you’ll hear about: Seeking a variety of support outside of your marriage/relationship How it’s unfair to burden one person (our partners) to support all parts of us How to call out and say, “I am not the right person for this” – for example, I am not the right person for Michael to go to about anything regarding football! Having separate friendships with your friends, even if you’re in a couple The incredible dynamics it takes to have “couple friends” Reflection Question:How do you and your partner support each other’s friendships?Resources & LinksLike what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
22 minutes | Nov 3, 2022
Hello + 5 Ways You Need to Start Thinking Differently About Friendship
Welcome to the Friendship IRL Podcast! I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends will tell you I like to ask the hard questions. Before starting this podcast, they kept threatening to secretly record me for my insight on friendship. I don’t consider myself a friendship expert by any means – just a person who cares deeply about it. My mom passed away when I was 13, and a lot of raising my younger brother and sister fell onto me. In high school and college, I really leaned into my friendships, which was my respite from this responsibility at home.At the time, I had no idea what I was creating, but it became a support system unlike any other. Today I’m in my 30’s, and the close relationships I have with so many friends surprises people. Nobody has that kind of friendship as an adult, they say. I’m not here to tell you how to be a friend or have a friend; what I’m here to do is ask questions so you can build the right support system, made up of all the people – friends, family, romantic partners, children – whatever that looks like for you.In this episode you’ll hear: How valuing and talking about friendship is counterculture – and why it shouldn’t be How, in small ways, you are already choosing what’s important to you through how you spend your time, resources, attention, etc. How to do, ask, and expect less in your friendships, because it doesn’t have to be hard How sometimes, all this friendship stuff can get uncomfortable – and why it’s okay About the book I wrote after my year of obsessing about friendships and community, which will be released in 2023! Reflection Question:Where does friendship stand on your hierarchy of importance? Resources & LinksVisit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram! Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
3 minutes | Oct 19, 2022
Welcome to Friendship IRL
Imagine you could listen in on those unfiltered conversations about what is actually happening inside someone's friendships, community, and support system... How someone navigated a friendship breakup even though they still see that friend often. What does balancing marriage, friends, and family look like, and who is someone calling when they need support? A parent who is wholly overwhelmed but doesn't have any family that lives nearby. Do they need to move back to their hometown? How might they build a support system from friends and the nearby community? Alex Alexander asks the questions we all want to ask and unearths a new way to think about community, friendship, and the support systems we surround ourselves with. "Doing things the way they've always been done" has left us all at our loneliest and most disconnected. So, ask the questions. Reimagine your relationships. Build yourself a better version. Take the conversation beyond the podcast! Follow Alex on Instagram (@itsalexalexander) or Tiktok (@itsalexalexander), or send her a voice message directly with all your friendship thoughts, problems, and triumphs by heading to AlexAlex.chat and hitting record. New episodes release weekly on Thursdays.
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