Instafriends: Making Connections and Meeting IRL

Have you met my friend Tara aka @taralaferrara? She's a really cool girl, and just what you see online is what you get in real life. I first connected with Tara a few years ago through Instagram and we met IRL last year.

When I tell people I've met a lot of my friends through Instagram I get one of two reactions:

People think that's really amazing!

Others are perplexed with the look of 'you can't meet people in real life?'

That's not the case at all; I'm very social and do make friends in a real-life setting. But in today's day in age, the way we connect has shifted. I think it's a fantastic tool we have because it can put you in contact with interesting, like-minded people all around the globe. For many people, their online lives are an extension of their offline ones.

Tara hasn't been the only person I've met on Instagram.

There have been plenty of other amazing women that I've connected with on Instagram and later met in real life like my good and close friend Maxene (aka @MaxenesTrail) we were brought together for our love of food, cocktails and mutuals friends; Jo Encarnacion (aka @gofitjo) during a Barre3 retreat in Portland; Aurora during a trip to her home-base in Mexico City, Cristina Ricci (@addictedtolovely) an LA-based blogger and podcaster that is from the same area where I grew up. There was also my dear friend Bernadette (aka @petiteandtoned) also from San Francisco that came out to visit me in Portland.

We often associate online friendships as weaker or less genuine than those offline. But making friends online doesn’t mean they will not turn into real friendships. According to an article in the CyberPsychology journal, some people who meet online do eventually meet in offline settings. It is only natural that this happens because of the more profound connection and bonds made through shared common interests.

Making connections online is just like making connections in person but a bit better! Let me explain... We know everything there is to know about people's lives via our news feed on Instagram: what they ate for dinner, who they are dating, what products to try. Because of this, it helps to figure out whether you have similar interests that you can build a friendship on. 

Instagram in many ways helps us establish the shared interests and passions all of you shared. Mutual interests promote connection. Even though you barely knew each other, merely being authentically YOU and sharing your vulnerabilities that others can relate to help create a deeper relationship with others.

Making friends online, and maintaining these connections can essentially form an online emotional safety net. When people encounter struggles, they often want to talk about it and feel heard. Having these online friendships provides a safe space where people can discuss how they feel. It's not any more different than in real life and when you meet people in real life.

Have you made connections on Instagram and then met IRL? Share it with me on Instagram - @valeriefidan!

Valerie Fidan

Valerie is a San Francisco native who gave up the comforts of home to travel the world continuously. Now based in Portland, OR, Valerie is a Social Media Marketing Consultant, helping solo entrepreneurs and small business owners DIY their social media by teaching them the in’s and out’s of SMM. She enjoys health hacking recipes, a good cocktail, yoga, hikes, live shows, puns & dad jokes.

Insiders Guide To Holiday Entertaining

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Insiders Guide To Holiday Entertaining

The holidays are fast approaching and ’tis the season for entertaining at home. If you’re daunted by the task of hosting a gathering for the holidays or haven’t had time to pull it together, here are some simple do’s and don’ts for making even the most impromptu gathering feel perfectly planned and utterly chic.

Photo credit: Alba Betancourt

Welcome Your Guests in Style

Spruce up your front door with a fabulous wreath, even if you’re in an apartment! A little seasonal greenery is an inviting way to welcome guests to your home in style.

Write here…

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Serve Food

A dinner party requires a lot of prep and has many components to consider such as menus, place settings, seating and centerpieces. If you want to simplify your prep immensely, throw a cocktail party instead! It’s much easier to serve cocktails than it is to prepare an elaborate meal. Plus, everyone has a great time when drinks are free-flowing!

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Keep the Drink Selection Simple, but Serve One Killer Signature

Serve an all-purpose red and white wine which are surefire crowd pleasers and then add a festive signature cocktail like cinnamon spiced eggnog, a peppermint martini or a fizzy holiday punch which is a great option for a large group.

Photo credit: Brooke Lark

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Focus on Presentation

Accompany your cocktails with store bought snacks presented beautifully on white, crystal or silver serveware. When I’m throwing a last-minute cocktail party, some easy and inexpensive go-to snacks include mixed nuts served in cut crystal bowls, kettle corn served in a stunning silver plated bowl and a simple cheese plate served on a white platter or wooden serving board that features a soft cheese like a brie; a sharp, blue cheese like a gorgonzola; and a firmer, aged cheese such as cheddar, with dried fruit and a few sprigs of rosemary for garnish. A beautiful presentation will make even the simplest store brought snacks appear super fancy.

Photo Credit: Brooke Lark

Set the Tone with Great Music

Take the time to curate a fun playlist that will set the tone and help create a joyous holiday atmosphere. No time to create a playlist? Try the Soul Christmas station on Pandora. It’s one of my favorites and you’ll find everything from old classics such as Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” to contemporary songs like Mariah Carey’s iconic rendition of “All I Want for Christmas.”

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DON’T Go Overboard with your Decor

Instead, create a festive atmosphere with ambient lighting and fresh flowers. Strategically place votive candles and twinkling fairy lights throughout your home which will add a warm glow and a bit of holiday sparkle. Add a bouquet or two of fresh flowers near your drinks and snacks spread, which is a great way to add color and life to your space. A simple bouquet of red or white roses is a great option and can usually be found at your local grocery or drugstore.

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske

Enlist Help

If you can, find a bartender or server through a service such as Task Rabbit who can help with serving drinks, replenishing snacks and clean-up. This way you focus solely on entertaining your guests. If you can’t hire help, be sure to have everything prepped and ready ahead of time so you’re not running around when guests arrive and enlist a trusted friend to help out so you won’t be too preoccupied to enjoy your own party.



Everything You Need To Know About Surviving The Holidays

Oh, the holiday heebie jeebies – my nickname for the stress that often comes with the fullness of the holiday season. There’s family and fun and frivolity, yes, but there’s also a gaggle of other feelings that arise during this time of year – stress, and sometimes even the Christmas blues. I’m shedding some light on how to enjoy the holiday season feeling as jolly as Santa, himself.

Make your list. Check it twice.

Before the hustle and bustle of Christmas can even begin, I plan a trip. Ok, so it might be a bit late for this now being December 1st, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a staycation. Nothing says laughter and love like your best girl friends. Get a group message started, buy the tickets, reserve the hotel, and even figure out which activities everyone wants to do. This way, there are no excuses for me to be able to get away and clear my head.

Planning out the activities ahead of time leaves me at ease while I am there and eliminates any sort of stress that could arise. Sometimes, though, no schedule is the best schedule. Wherever or whatever you can think of as a place you can relax for a couple days, I strongly suggest you make it happen for yourself. Do something that makes it solidified though, so that there is no turning back. Don’t leave it out there as just as idea. If you do, you’ll find excuses not to go.

Wake Up Positive.

Your attitude is in your control. You can wake up with a positive attitude; you just have to tell yourself that is how you will be. Wake up with intention to set how you would like your mood the rest of the day. Honor yourself and your emotions. It is okay to feel the way you feel, even if it is negative, but telling yourself that you will have a positive outlook will help just start your mood to transition to just that. Maybe doing something small for yourself that day will help clear some negative energy. Maybe it something as simple as a compliment, or maybe a manicure or maybe you have the time to treat yourself to a massage. Whatever it may be, find a way to rid the negative and let in the positive. For me, I’ve found that keeping a gratitude journal has helped. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night.

Find Peace.

If you are feeling moments where everything seems a bit overwhelming…just breath. In times of anxiousness our breathing pattern changes. An anxious breathe is too long of an inhale without the same length of an exhale. Pay attention to your breathing. Make sure to balance your inhales with your exhales. A balanced breathe brings balance to the body and brain. Paying attention for just a few moments can bring your anxiousness down to create more clarity in the moment.

Dance it out. Create a Mini Dance Party.

Think of a upbeat song that makes you happy. Play that song as loud as you can and just let the moment take over your body. All it takes is a few minutes to sing at the top of your lungs and shake your booty!  It will get the blood flowing, the endorphins released and send happiness throughout your whole body!

Dress Comfy

The last thing you need through stress and chaos is wiggling your body into uncomfortable clothes. My favorite go to item to dress up are simply workout leggings. The same leggings I would wear to workout in, I will dress up for a night on the town. They are super versatile and hug by body in all the right places. Take a pair of leggings, throw on an oversized cozy sweater, grab your booties, a long necklace and you are ready to go! Stylish, yet comfortable enough to roll around on the ground with the little ones in the family you will be seeing over the holidays. One of my fav brands? LA-based, CoEd Active!

Give Yourself a Break.

Even if you have done your normal routines to help create a positive mind, and you find yourself still a Negative-Nancy, it is ok! We’re allowed to feel the way we feel. Feel the feels, and let it out if you need to. Sometimes you just need to ride the wave and let the feeling pass instead of forcing it to pass. I have a difficult time with this, but the one thing that I’ve learned about myself and divorce this year is that you need to accept and acknowledge those feelings or they’ll be knocking at your door sooner or later. Just remember not to add to the negativity and be hard on yourself for feeling down. We are all allowed to have bad moments or even days, you are human, everything will be just fine! Be kind to yourself.

All-in-all, remember, the holidays are about love and laughter. Sure they come with stress and seeming overwhelmingly busy, but it is because you have a lot of wonderful people in your life that you want to spend your time with. Remind yourself of that. This time of year is made to appreciate those that are in our lives and create beautiful memories with one another!