I always thought that sayings like “birds of a feather flock together” and “you are who you hang out with,” were so lame. I had all different kinds of friends that I wasn’t anything like. I also dated guys who were nothing like the overgrown frat bros they hung out with. It didn’t make any sense to me.

Fast forward a few years and what I thought were really meaningful, forever friendships turned out to be friendsh*ts. I was also not a very good friend to some people who were genuinely great friends to me. I had to learn how to be a better friend to the people who were better friends to me.

Until you feel good about who you are and have boundaries that reflect that feeling, you will never be attracted to what’s good for you, no matter how much you claim to want, deserve, and seek it. You will only be attracted to what activates you – your triggers.

And your triggers are not your truth.

As I got older, matured, learned, and evolved, I’d like to say that my friendships did as well because they eventually did… but not at first. For a long time, I didn’t have anyone which was hard. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – as you evolve, everyone will have an allergic reaction – good or bad – to that evolution. Even your own family. The more you evolve, the lonelier it gets in many ways. We grow up basing our worth on not only how liked we are, but on how often we are chosen, and how many people we can extract the attention, validation, interest, and affection of.

It’s really hard to redirect those neural pathways through having the back of the one person you have ignored and allowed friendsh*ts to doormat over and over again – yourself.

One of my favorites, Jim Rohn, famously said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I don’t know if Jim meant it in this way, but the real turning point for me was realizing that the group of 5 included myself. You are who you hang out with the most.

It doesn’t matter how amazing of an organic green smoothie you have with the best, most fresh ingredients – if there is the tiniest piece of bird sh*t in it, it’s going to ruin the whole smoothie.

Right?

What if I gave you the world’s healthiest smoothie with ingredients guaranteed to make your skin glow but it had the tiniest piece of poop in it – no bigger than the smallest crumb. Would you still want to drink it? I know I wouldn’t. SAME with you and your friends.

It really is true – You are who you hang out with.

Through the years, I have become much more private, gotten an emotional life of my own, and have realized that I don’t really have “friendships” anymore. I have a lot of what I call acquaintance-ships + a few people who are the family that I have chosen for myself.

My circle is still microscopically small.

Today I have friends of all ages and stages. My best girlfriend is in her 40’s. I have friends who are younger than me, my own age, a close guy friend in his 50’s and another girlfriend in her 60’s. My best friend died last year at 92 (I talk more about that here).

The more I let go of the Sex and The City, Pinterest-friendly, enviable-on-social-media image of what my group of friends should look like, the more I have been able to manifest relationships that have enriched my life to such an extent, I truly don’t know where I would be without them.

Bottom Line: You are who you hang out with.

Before I get into why the friends of whoever you are in a relationship with deal-breakingly MATTER, here are a few things that I have observed about myself and the friendships in my life while writing this post so far…

  • You are who you hang out with. All of the people who I am extremely close with have experienced pain on a life-changing level – a level that their motivation, success, attitude, and lives affirm every day. This isn’t about only being friends with people who own private jets. It’s about embodying Earl Nightingale’s definition of success: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” My close friends have all experienced loss, deprivation, and rejection that they have learned from, grown from, and are a success because of. The pain they experienced motivated them to propel out of their dysfunction instead of becoming what most would classify as a very understandable victim to. They don’t lead with these narratives when they so.easily.could. They very simply, not in a grandiose/#bosslife/theatrical way, quietly ACT in spite of them.
  • We all stay in our own lane while respecting and supporting the lane of the other.
  • My friendships are f-r-e-e and e-a-s-y. There’s no cost in my friendships; no counting cards or getting obnoxiously offended. It’s effortless. Being close with these people does not cost either one of us our peace, sanity, dignity, or self esteem. There’s no tug of war.
  • Although our beliefs and opinions may be different, we share the same core values. Especially when it comes to respect. You are who you hang out with.
  • There is no judgment. We understand and would help each other however we could in situations we may not agree with.
  • I am not close with anyone who is an anchor or who drains me of my energy.
  • I am only close with people who inspire, motivate, and uplift me. I learn from them. We are each other’s cheerleaders, never “yes!” people. And just because they inspire me, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have problems/issues and that I don’t have my own. We are there for one another when we need to be – no judgy/passive jabs, no interrogatory bullsh*t or storing of ammunition for down the road.
  • We are all busy and have our own lives. If we don’t talk for months, we can always pick right back up.
  • We mind our own business.
  • We are protective of one another but never parental. Few things are more annoying in life than a parental friend.
  • We don’t all need to get together – photograph, filter, tag, and post. We don’t feel the need to constantly document our friendship. I would have fun with any of these people in a shoe box. A lot of my friends don’t know each other and a lot do. There are no cliquey vibes.

For a long time, I felt very alone in my experiences, feelings, fears, pain, and insecurities. Part of the reason that I created this blog was to build family and friendships all around the world that connected with me in the most meaningful and intimate way possible – by you seeing your own pain in mine.

You are who you hang out with.

I have formed so many incredible friendships through PMS and I try to interact with as many readers as I can. I still, however, apply the same checklist and ask myself the SAME questions as I do with my close friends:

  • I only respond and give my energy to people who uplift me and like who I am.

I used to feel like I had to get everyone to like me. It never worked and just set me up to be a self sabotaging doormat. You are never going to be able to convince a cynic, so why tie your value to it? Pointless.

I also used to feel selfish and immature for applying this mentality when people would tell me “oh Natasha, you just can’t take the heat!” This isn’t about not being able to take the heat. I can take heat. It’s about caring about the quality of your life and flushing when there’s sh*t in the toilet.

You’d never look at your toilet full of sh*t and think “Oh GOSH. If I flush, then everyone will think I can’t take the smell.” Who the hell WANTS to take the smell?

Anyone that does I don’t care to know any further.

  • I only respond to people who are constructive in their criticism, disposition, and communication.

  • I don’t respond or give any energy to agenda-driven people.

  • I don’t waste my energy on people who are emotional boot-campy types.

I’m not fan of drill sergeant “tough love,” brutality in honesty, people who get their kicks from seeing the extent to which they can control your emotional weather or the height in which they can get you to jump.

  • I don’t respond to people who are out of touch with reality.

  • I don’t respond to people who are empathetically bankrupt.

  • I only respond to people who are respectful in their honesty, not disrespectfully brutal.

I recently told a very successful colleague about something that I am personally dealing with. He was extremely brutal in his response on text. I didn’t respond and deleted the text. I got another text a few days later apologizing, empathizing, and being respectfully honest. You really do teach people how to treat you and you are who you hang out with.

  • I don’t give energy to anyone who gossips, creates drama or is a nosy parker.

This is not High School Musical. This is my life that I only have one of.

  • It has to be a good deal on BOTH ends – Am I teaching something? Am I learning something?

All of this can sound really douchey, cliche, annoying, textbooky, and “holy-sh*t-Natasha-you’re-too-much,” but I’m telling you – it has simplified, enriched, and transformed.my.life. It’s not like I’m going through my days with a checklist before I interact with anyone. I’m actually MORE easy going and LESS uptight because I know my limits and I’m not asking for any more than I embody and exude. It’s no different than going to a buffet and wanting to eat only the foods that appeal to you – that’s the whole POINT of going to a buffet. Your life is your buffet.

  • I only engage with people who are just as open to listening as they are expressing themselves.

  • I only engage with people who get it, respect it, and UNDERSTAND – if I can’t write a long response, if I can’t respond, if I have to go completely MIA for a few months to work on my book, whatever it may be.

And I understand and respect it on their end too. Always. It actually motivates me to keep going – in my own lane.

  • I don’t engage with anyone who I have to lead to water.

Who the hell wants to have to drag decency, kindness, empathy, humanity, and an apology from a grown adult? If you see a grown adult wearing diapers, that’s not your signal to change them. It’s your signal to avoid adults who have not been potty trained and sh*t their emotional shorts. 

+ If you’ve gone through these lists and feel like you don’t have anyone, think again. Comment on this post and just see the love, understanding, respect, and empathy that boomerangs right back to you. You are who you hang out with and you are a part of this tribe. 

So, getting back to “you are who you hang out with” – As far as dating and being in a relationship go…

Here’s why who he/she is friends with MATTERS.

Birds of a feather do indeed flock together and you are who you hang out with. No matter how different they may be or seem, if he/she is close friends with someone, there IS some kind of common denominator shared. It may not be obvious at first but it’s there.

This isn’t about being a bad person – I’ve dated some great guys who had close friends that acted and spoke in ways my boyfriend never did around me.

I could tell that my boyfriend was the leader of the pack and I kind of liked how he would advise, loan them money, and “keep them in line.” His reason for being friends with them was that they were childhood friends, which I totally respected and understood.

The only problem was, none of them had ever branched out and diversified with other relationships, evolved, and they all gave each other advise that an 8th grader could eclipse. Everything was humor that “I didn’t understand.” It slowly got less and less appealing.

Not only did this guy have no one motivating him, he had no reason to branch out. I mean, why would he? He has his own built-in group of exonerators, ego strokers, and mediocrity securers.

They were all very nice guys that to this day I am sure, are very nice guys. They just have no wind beneath their wings because their Members Only friendship has proven to be the ultimate wing clipper.

And that’s OKAY. Really, it is. I never want to come down on anyone and I have definitely been there.

It’s just not for me. And that’s okay too.

Because of this and other red/pink flags, the relationship didn’t work. I ended up being the hype beast for him that his friends never could be.

He was happy to secure my cheerleader position and I was all too happy to (finally!) just be picked to be on the squad. Eventually, I got burned out and expectations formed that could not be met on BOTH ends. 

Whether you are dating or in a relationship with someone, be less of a reactor and more of a quiet observer to:

  • Who their friends present themselves to be (in person and on social media) vs. who they really are.
  • If your partner takes on a different persona with them.
  • How your partner talks about/prioritizes/excuses/exonerates/gossips about his/her friends.
  • What your partner reveals about his/her friends.
  • How your partner treats his/her friends.
  • How your partner’s friends treat their significant others.
  • What similarities, possible enabling, and shared values there are.
  • How your partner AND his/her friends talk about/treat: the opposite sex, animals, their parents, siblings, the elderly, and anyone assisting them whether it be at Starbucks or a nightclub.

If you are in a relationship with someone who is unavailable, winning their friends over will feel just as monumental as the dirty drop of water you get every now and then from the empty well that your partner is.

Pay attention to your surroundings – not just when you’re walking in a dark alley, but when you’re walking through your own relational one.

And appreciate your partner’s friends for who they are first and foremost – clearer windows into what your partner may try to fog up.

Until next time 🙂

Natasha x

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30 comments

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Was thinking today about what a gf told me years ago: 3 types of conversations. People who talk about things, people who talk about others (gossip) and people who talk about ideas. We probably all do some of each, but the ideas are definitely at a higher level. This in relation to your topic? Not 100% sure, but reminded me!

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Love that! 🙂 Thanks for sharing Jeanette! xx

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Are your ears burning?! Today, I was talking to my friend, K, (who is going through as a counsellor) and I told her how I have talked to you (and how amazing you are of course) and about my boyfriend’s friends and how uncomfortable they make me feel.

They have been friends since high school, and they are a very tight-nit group. They are also not very accepting to new people to their group – which is me. My friend K was also a new person at one point and she said she went through a lot of the same things as I am currently experiencing. She says that “it’s just the way that they are, and they will lighten up”. I dont think those are the kind of people I want to be around for the rest of my life. Since I am an outsider, I get pushed to the side until I am “accepted”? It makes me feel very uncomfortable.

It is the girls that are bad. My bf says that he is more friends with the husbands/boyfriends and he more just puts up with the girls. Well the girls run the group, and make me feel uncomfortable. Not only that, when I met them for the first time, he didnt introduce them to me (like how you said “If your partner takes on a different persona with them”). That really upset me, and he heard about it.

To add to it, the ring-leader of the group, D, and I had a run in many many years ago. I was best-friends with her cousin, and she asked me for my opinion on her bf of 5 years at the time. I didnt want to say anything, but I remember, clear as day, D saying “I won’t say anything”. … you guessed it, she said something. That tore me and that girl apart. I was so upset. What ended up happening with my ex-besties boyfriend? He dumped her for one of her friends and they were engaged under a year. So I was right. But D is the one with all the friends, and I’m here all alone.

Hearing your words really helped me, again, Natasha. Thank you so much. The point forms you wrote out, I copied to my phone and am going to read them over before and throughout the night when needed. I do not need to see them on a regular basis – thank goodness – so maybe I can deal with it. We will see.

I am so sorry for going on for so long. It was a rant I needed to get out. I hope many others find it as useful as I did

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Sam! Hiiii 🙂 YAAAA so glad that this was helpful and that it served you 🙂

Thank you for being you. Love and miss you so. XOXO

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The world is a better place because of you.
You do so much to better this community, the tribe of women/men that you created and for our society.
It’s almost like we’re telepathic.
Whatever I’m thinking, grieving, obsessing about…the next few weeks there’s a post about it.
Very beautiful photo. I love your blog aesthetic, style and taste.
You make a serious subject in a fun way.
Reading your blog posts, I can relate to, I can feel my feelings and own them and also have a good time laughing.
You have a gift with using words and creating posts that people normally do not address or feel afraid to talk about.

reading this just made me laugh…his cabbage patch friend hahaha!!

Keep it up Natasha.
Always your biggest fan

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Thank you so much sister 🙂 This made me tear up – I feel the same way about you.

So happy that the post was helpful and made you laugh too. HAHA I was lol as I wrote it. XX

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GOALS: Wake up and read this article first thing every day for the rest of my life (along with like 72 of your other Bible-level pieces). Even when I take some time away, I always come back and read your new material and think, “Wow, I’m home.” I’m not even gonna say thanks, because that doesn’t do it justice. You rock <3
PS. I FINALLY stood up for myself in the nicest but most “unapologetic” way and lightbulbs are going off that these are the boundaries you’ve been talking about. Did I already say you rock?!

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Carlie –

Can we please get a 4 hour long brunch together? You are a DOLL. Thank you – I’m so happy that the posts have helped. You always always have a home here and a soul sister in me.

Yayyy! So happy for and proud of you. Doesn’t it feel fantastic? 🙂 Love you beautiful. xx

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Another great post. Nice enough guys, but as a 40 something man, my ex still hangs with a group of addicts and “losers.” While we weee broken up my ex and his friends were arrested for having weed in a campground. Grown ass men. I always felt like I his friends weren’t really my business. But then I realize that my ex didn’t want to surround himself with friends who would make him want to do and be more. And maybe it helped him feel superior in a way as out out of the whole bunch he has it most “together.” When all of your friends are addicts, nobody will judge you for being highly functioning alchohloc, which is why I ended the relationship. I had to let him go in peace and love. Those issues exissted long before me and are likely to stay that due to his rotation of enablers. I know I did the right thing. A small group of loyal friends better than a mess of shitty ones.

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Hi RebeccaJo!

It sounds like you definitely did the right thing. Couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you for sharing, for being YOU, and for being a part of this tribe 🙂 All my love to you. xoxo

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Hi Natasha. This made me really think back to one guy in particular. They always ran together sharing a love for the alcohol and golf ( at least that is what he called the game). I too know about boys getting arrested. It truly was a sign of no maturity. I don’t miss any of that.
This is a great post as usual😘. I do think that the friends and people we invest in are a reflection of ourselves. I spend most of my time alone. It’s lonely most times but when I am sometimes with others who have no boundaries I feel I don’t belong. It’s rough but once we set our boundaries there is no turning back.
Thank you again Natasha for your wisdom and clarity. Love you and all you do for us. You are a light 💡
Xoxo xoxo 🌸💕🦄

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I love you so much Linda 🙂 being alone is better than lowering your standards or having to settle for boundary-less crumbs and chain yanks.

Can’t wait to meet in person one day. Thank you for being in this tribe – we’ve got each other always. xx

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such a spot on post. I remember how much i disliked my exes friends especially his “best friend” i couldn’t trust him when he was around them and i knew they had no respect for me, they didn’t even have respect for each other. 9/10 of our arguments were over issues including his friends. I still wonder how some people can choose to surround themselves with such negative energy from their “friends” but then i remember i chose to stay around his negative energy as well. its like the victim card was the only card i knew how to play! funny story, now my oldest brother ( four years older than me) is best buds with my ex and they never had contact during the relationship. i catch my brother saying or doing things my ex would do and i automatically get triggered. Every time this happens i realize you truly are who you hangout with, even if you don’t realize it! often times i worry my ex will be in my life forever because of the tie to my sibling, it hurts me to think if this carries on in the future or if my ex tries to sabotage my life through my sibling then my only option will be to cut contact with my own brother! hoping this wont happen, but i know my happiness and health are most important to me!

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Jamie,

Thank you so much for sharing. I’m happy that the post resonated with and served you. I felt alone in this for a very long time.

BIG love to you sister. xoxo

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First, uncontrollable LOLing at bird sh*t in an organic smoothie.

Second, thank you for laying this out. When you realize Peter Pan and the Lost Boys are taking turns playing Peter Pan, it’s time for Wendy to get a life.

xo,
Wendy

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LOL I was dying laughing while I was writing it.

YES YES YES 🙂 Love you sissy. XO

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Natasha, your blog has been an incredible resource after my breakup. I come here few times a week to reread your articles whenever I have triggers or need to feel like it is going to be okay. Thank you so much for this amazing blog!

Also related to the topic, my ex-bf and I broke up after he moved to a different country for graduate school and in the three months he was there before christmas he changed quite a bit. I really liked his friends here and thought they were a great reflection of who he was and the type of values he had. However after moving to the new country, it seemed like he made the wrong type of friends. He was going for certain types of experiences and quantity. He made a lot of friends and got really invested in the friendships, which I think he got a lot of validation from. His values in life changed and he begun neglecting our relationship almost immediately and keeping secrets etc. I personally never got the impression that he had made good friends there but he always said they really appreciated him for his genuiness, that he finally understood the effect he had on people, he was an alpha male (lol) and was now very confident because of them. It was life changing experience to him. Ofcourse I wasn’t there with him for school so perhaps he did make some great friends and I cannot see it with my bias of the breakup.

Overall I just feel like I never saw this sudden and huge change in him. I know you mention people do not change but they just reveal themselves over time but I still find it perplexing to accept that this is what he would have been and what he always was. It was all so sudden and unlike him. We were dating for 13 months and these changed occured in 3 months. Even his own best friend of years who visited him in the three months there mentioned that he had changed and was acting like an 18 year old (he is 23 btw). It would be great if you could write more on how people dont change but reveal themselves over time.

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Priyanka,

I’m so happy to have helped 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation! I will write about this soon 🙂 xx

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Girl, you hit the nail on the head every single time. Your words are so powerful.

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Thanks Jess! 🙂 xoxo

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Why oh why are your toilet analogies always so good?! LOL, exactly. Who the hell WANTS to take the smell??? Ugh YES. It’s so easy to forget: We. Don’t. Have. To.

I’ve been “taking inventory” on my life a lot lately and realizing just how difficult it is to accept some truths about certain people but you’re right – it’s so much more important to recognize and listen to the clarity our quiet observations give us. Even if we try to ignore it will all our might. I used to (and still do) get so panicked about keeping people in my life. Recently, in the midst of these panicked moments, I’ve found myself a few times thinking “Let me point you to the exit, folks. Good luck wherever you’re going but I won’t be joining,” followed by “Drop. Like. Flies.” It’s sad sometimes, but I also feel so relieved. Reminds me a lot of what Lorelle wrote in her guest post too. Bringing into sharper focus who I want in my inner circle is probably one of the most significant acts of self-love I could do for myself, even if it hurts or feels more lonely at first. I’m hopeful with time that it will open up room for the right people. In the meantime, I have to work on me – the one person I can’t “fire” from my inner circle.

Another great post, Natasha ❤️

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HAHAHAH glad you laughed as much as I did while writing it LOL

I used to get panicked like that too. I appreciate the peace now on a level that I only could from knowing just how bad it can be.

You’ve got me and this tribe always – we love you Amy. Thank you so much for sharing and shining your incredible light 🙂 So glad that the post was helpful! xx

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Great simplified check list Natasha! I love that… and would add from my recent experience, how about if a guy really has no friends??!! (at age 35) isn’t it a bit of a pink/red/neon flag? My ex would say”guys don’t like me…” He would say he connected with women better…. hmmmmmm. He would say it doesn’t matter the gender for friendship and that he didn’t understand that if he gave a girl (single) his number and it was just to be friends, what the big deal was. Why do you need female friends at age 35? when you have a girlfriend?? Something felt off to me about that. I don’t tend toward jealousy unless provoked so when my antennas went up… time and again, I had to wonder. Any insight on that one??
You are amazing!! Thank you xxoo

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Hi Robin! Thank you 🙂

YES – always listen to your gut/antennas. I wish I had the time to write everything that I have to say, but this definitely is red flag in the way you are describing it.

Right back at you – you are incredible Robin. Thank YOU for your love, support and for bringing this up! xo

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Hello to the Tribe – Thanks to Natasha for another post that really hit home, albeit in a somewhat different way from what’s been described so far. I’ve been analyzing the wreckage of my attempt to be in a relationship with an Emotionally Unavailable Narcissist. I couldn’t figure out for the longest time how his friends, who are a friendly and generous lot, didn’t see the mental cruelty and spectacular lack of sensitivity and empathy that I had encountered with him (and that I had either overlooked or excused for in my mind). But I’ve come increasingly to believe that his friends do see and choose to accept it, for whatever reasons they have, and that we all have different standards of what we deem to be honourable behaviour. The EUN couldn’t meet my standards for a committed relationship – which he didn’t want, anyway, and which he made clear in the most hurtful and insulting manner possible (gaslighting, infidelity, diatribes about what he saw as my shortcomings, and, bizarrely, a few declarations of his love for me that were completely misaligned with his actions).

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Thanks Nathan 🙂 happy that the post served you. xx

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So true for all relationships and what a great way to measure one’s compass. I love all the points here about how you choose friends. I am similar, in that, I have kept my circle very small and have for years. As a result, circle is so rich and made up of incredible inspiring people. Took so much away from the checklist here. Will be creating one of my own immediately. Thank you for writing and your style. Very much needed in this world 🌍!

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I’m all smiles 🙂 Thank you! Happy it inspired you to create your own checklist! xx

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This is so spot on! You are that little voice that literally changes my life post by post. I’m so glad you do this. You inspire me every day to be the authentic and powerful woman I know I am deep down and see my own value and beauty. I love the bit about flushing the toilet! I really chuckled for a good few minutes after reading that!
Thank you x100000000 for doing what you do xx

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Hi Arina! LOL I’m glad it made you laugh too I was laughing so hard as I was writing it hahahah.

I am so happy and honored to help and inspire 🙂 Happy that you are seeing your beauty, resilience, strength, value and courage. We all support and are behind you 1000%.

Love you soul sister. Thank you for being YOU. XX

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