February 23, 2018

5 Easy Tips for Maintaining Long Distance Friendships.

     Hello and happy Friday! We've made it to the end of another week... and that also means another week closer to being done with WINTER in Vermont! Now that is something to be smiling about. 😊Something that I've been reflecting about throughout this whole winter season this year is how thankful I am for my best girlfriends. I am feeling blessed to have finally met some sweet girls here in Vermont, but even more thankful for my best friends out-of-state who have continued to be an active and involved part of my life, despite the distance. 

      One thing that I was really nervous about when I moved to Vermont was losing many of my close friendships from college, broadcasting school, and bloggers in Charlotte, or having things become really different. A close friendship is similar in some ways to a romantic relationship in that distance can make an impact, and I was so nervous. After 10 months- I'm here to report that while some aspects of friendships do change with significant distance, your true friendships will be able to withstand any type of distance and evolve into something even stronger. They might be a bit different than what they used to be, but they will still be there. Those that aren't still apart of your life probably weren't right in the first place, or meant to be in your life for a long period of time.

     Anyways- I thought for today's post I'd share my five top tips for how I maintain all of my out-of-state friendships and keep them strengthened and strong despite the distance!! I'd love to know if you've used any of these tips with your BFFs:

5 Tips for Long Distance Friendships

     1. Figure out the communication style that works best for each friendship (no two are alike): Modern technology is GREAT in that it allows so many various outlets for staying in touch with people who aren't physically close-by, but it can also be a bit overwhelming given all the different options. Something that I think I've gotten well at here in Vermont is figuring out which communication style works best for each of my long-distance friends, and going forward with that. For example: with my best guy friends from broadcasting school (they're all like my "brothers" in the industry) I don't talk to them as regularly as I do my girlfriends, as I think guy friendships are different that way. When we do catch up, it's over 1-2 hour Facetime chats, and that's what works best for us! I have some close girlfriends that like me, are big texters. That's what works for us, so we text throughout the week, and a couple friends who I talk to non-stop throughout the day. I have one girlfriend from Charlotte who I keep in touch with via snail mail- it's unique and old fashioned, but I so look forward to getting her letters in the mail (and I can always text her if need be too!). Then I have other friends who I DM daily on Twitter by sending them funny memes I come across... these friends and I might not have the chacne with our schedules for calls or Facetime chats often, but our DMs are a quick and simple way to let each other know we still care! (And who doesn't love getting a meme during their day?!)

     2. Remember birthdays and other important days in your friends' lives: I am a BIG birthday person. I love to celebrate birthdays with my friends in person especially! One thing that made me sad about my move was knowing it would probably be a long time again before I'd have the chance to celebrate birthdays in person with some of my favorite people. Even if you can't be there physically, don't forget about your friends on their day! Send a gift if your personal budget allows, and if it doesn't, try to at least mail a card. It's easy to find cheap cards (the dollar store has tons!), and it's more about the personal message you write in the card anyways then buying a fancy expensive card. I love to put up pictures of my besties on their birthday on my Instagram Stories and Snapchat, and I'm still big into Facebook timeline posts for birthdays too!
     Along the same lines of birthdays, if your friend has an important anniversary in their life, it will mean the world if you remember it from long distance. In October 2017, it was the one-year anniversary of the conclusion of the painful legal situation I was involved with the year before. Some of my closest friends texted me kind words as they remembered the anniversary, and that meant so much to me on a day filled with many emotions.

     3. Try not to create unrealistic expectations about future visits: THIS is something I definitely need to work on in terms of my long-distance friendships and am still figuring out. #honesty When I first moved from Charlotte and during my early months in Vermont, I promised tons of friends that as soon as time-off kicked in for my job, I'd go visit them. Literally, tons of people- in locations all over the country. While it's great that I have so many wonderful people in my life in different areas that miss me and want to have a visit, it is simply not realistic during a stage of my life when I'm starting my career and have limited PTO to make lots of promises about how I'll be using vacation days. This winter I've had to finally start telling friends that right now I have some things to figure out first and foremost in my life before I can make promises about when visits will be happening. Not being able to promise a visit doesn't mean that you don't love or care about your friends any less, it just means that you're trying to be realistic with them about your current stage of life and that's always best.
      (Of course- by all means DO GET EXCITED if you are able to plan a visit with your long distance friends!! How exciting will that be!)

     4. Fill them in about all the details about your current life: During the times when you do get to catch up in greater detail with long distance friends, whether over a long text conversation, phone call, or Facetime, use those opportunities to really get caught up with each others life. If this person is a close friend, you need to keep the emotional intimacy there even if they aren't physically nearby anymore. I've been very honest with my long distance friends when we do catch up about all aspects of my new life in Vermont: the highs and the lows. I've shared with them about exciting moments on my radio show and new experiences I've had at work, and kept them updated about my personal life here as well (like the church I'm going to and friends I'm making here). I also get honest with my friends and share with them about the struggles I've had since the move, like my homesickness, and other things. My friends do the same with me and keep me updated about their highs and lows. Catching up about serious issues and not just superficial topics really helps to still feel like you're an active part of this person's life!

     5. Never underestimate the power of a SURPRISE: I am a big advocate of surprises. Especially surprise parties... but surprises can come in all shapes and sizes! If you can find ways to occasionally surprise your long distance friends, I promise it'll mean so much to them. Whether it's a surprise care package in the mail, or actually showing up and surprising them in person! One of my favorite friendship memories ever is when I surprised one of my childhood best friends from Maine, Katie, by coming home for an Easter break long weekend one year when I was in college. She had no idea I was coming home, and our other friend Jules and I tricked Katie into picking me up from the bus station after my plane arrived!! (Read about that in this blog post!)

    These are the things that I've found work the best for me here in Vermont to keep in touch with my friends out-of-state! As an absolute a bottom line, I try and Facetime at minimum once every two months with everyone, and more frequently with my closest friends. That has definitely helped me to feel at least somewhat connected and updated with those dear to me.

     I'd love to hear your best long distance friendship tips below in the comments!!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


February 22, 2018

Easter Dresses Under $50!

     My favorite holiday is on its way soon! I absolutely adore Easter and I'm so excited that it's coming up on April 1st. I love it mostly for the religious significance in the Christian faith, but I also love a lot of the commercial aspects of Easter, and it really symbolizes the start of spring, which is my favorite season! Yay Easter all around. Anyways, today I'm sharing a round-up of some fun dress picks for this Easter- the best part is they're all under $50!

Easter Spring Dresses under $50

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Southern Belle in Training!

     Can you believe that there are so many different dress options perfect for Easter available for under $50? Some of these are as cheap as under $20, which is even better!! Easter is such an important holiday that I love dressing up extra nice (with a new dress if possible!) for church every year, but I totally understand that you might not want to spend big bucks for an Easter dress. All of these dresses will keep you in budget, and you'll still look absolutely gorgeous! If you don't celebrate Easter, all of these would be perfect for a number of spring occasions like showers, recitals, or attending graduations. 

     My two favorites out of all the ones above are probably the floral dress with the black bow and the polka dot dress! I actually already have the dress that I'm planning to wear for Easter in Vermont... it will still be cold here the first weekend in April so mine for this year is still spring appropriate fashion wise but is a good transition dress. I'll be styling it in a blog post next week, but you can check it out here now if you like! 

     If you'd like to see some of my Easter blog posts from years past- check out these posts from 2014  and from 2015. I didn't do an Easter outfit post for the past two years on the blog- in 2016 I was consumed with final exams and preparing to graduate college (Easter was late that year), and last year I moved to Vermont on Easter weekend!! So I'm happy to finally be acknowledging my favorite holiday on the blog again this year. 😊

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


February 21, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

Church Street Marketplace Vermont

{Church Street Marketplace in Burlington looking so peaceful on a winter morning! Follow me on Instagram @miss_alk}

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Southern Belle in Training!

  • Finally watching Friends: I feel like I am always the last person ever to watch well-known TV shows. I didn't finish Gossip Girl until my junior year of college, I finally finished watching The Office consecutively around this time last year... and just a couple weeks ago I began watching Friends! I had seen episodes sporadically when I was growing up and it was airing live with my parents, but of course I don't remember that very well. I had tried to watch a little bit of the first season when it first went on Netflix, but I couldn't get into it then. I needed a new Netflix show to start a couple weeks ago (all of my current TV shows are on hiatus for the Olympics!!), so I decided to give Friends another go. So very glad I did- it's hilarious! I finally understand the hype! I'm a huge How I Met Your Mother fan and I also see now how there is a lot of Friends influence in HIMYM.
  • Warm in Vermont! This update probably isn't relevant to most of you reading but I am sure am happy about it. The high temperature here in Vermont today is SIXTY degrees and the snow is just about all melted!!! We had record-breaking cold temperatures around the holidays that were absolutely miserable to deal with, so having weather this warm and rare in late February is such a blessing. It will get cold again this weekend but as long as the snow doesn't return I'm happy!
  • Reader survey finished! I want to thank each one of you who took a few minutes out of your day last week to answer my blog's annual reader survey! I am looking forward to recapping those results and sharing some insights here on the blog next week or the week after. I received so much incredible feedback and I'm feeling very motivated for the rest of 2018 with blog content! Great things are to come all around. 😊

  • This week I purchased the cutest little vest! It has gold pineapple motifs all over it and reminds me so much of the South. It was from a boutique so I can't link it for y'all sadly, but it is really cute and will be a fun transition piece! 

  • These adorable hot pink sandals have me dreaming of summer days! I love their vibrant color.
  • I'm really liking these sunny yellow pants, they would add such a fun twist to spring business casual outfits. 
  • I think mugs always make the cutest gifts, so if you know a girlfriend with a spring birthday this mug is too cute!
  • Lilly Pulitzer released their much-awaited swimwear collection... it's all perfect but I'm dying over the style of this one-piece
  • This blouse would have been idea for Galentine's / Valentine's... but it'd still be cute to wear into spring! 

Recipe of the week: Oatmeal Maple Cookies from Genius Kitchen. When in Vermont you just have to bake some maple treats from time to time! These cookies were great and came out really soft and chewy- my favorite! I'm not a fan of citrus so I omitted the orange zest from the recipe, but if you like orange I'm sure that would be tasty in them.

Song of the week: Get to You by Michael Ray.  I've been listening to a lot of country music this week and this song is just so good. Can't get enough! That's really all there is to it on this one. 

On the blog this week:

     Thanks for reading and have a fantastic rest of the week!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese