How to Not Be an Absentee Friend When Life Gets Busy

When I was in my mid-20s, I recall reading a magazine article about women who had to schedule their catch-up meetings with friends. I thought to myself “Well maybe you don’t like your friends that much, madam.” Recently it hit me that I am now that friend, and so are my closest confidantes. We are the group that has to open Google Calendar and iCal to scroll through work meetings, appointments with clients and quality time with family and significant others to determine when we can sit down to break bread.

I now give a weak chuckle at my previous ignorance of how life can get busy enough to need to schedule time with friends. Knowing how busy life can get, I am insistent on not becoming the flake of the group. Nearly all of us have that associate or girlfriend that promises to meet up with you soon and never actually confirms a time, place or nail bar to catch up over mani-pedi time. Or, even worse, they agree to grab lunch or book a bike in spin and never show up, offering weak excuses only after being called out. Our time is precious and I have to value my friend’s resources as much as I want them to value mine.

So how do I stay connected?

In this season of launching my own company, here are the ways that work for me to stay accountable to my schedule and keep in touch with friends:

  1. Finding Balance at City Surf FitnessSchedule a sweat session – It is a tried and true rule for me that if I put a workout in my calendar and if I know someone is expecting to meet me there, I won’t miss the class. My sorority sister and I have been known to prep for the week by texting each other on Sunday evening to set up our HIIT class schedule for the week. We may only get 10 words in between stations but it’s a great way to see her smiling face as the sun rises and I’ve completed my workout for the day: two birds, one stone!
  2. Try a new restaurant together – As a plant-based eater, I can be particular about where I meet up for meals. If I know that the group plans include a BBQ joint, I’m likely to flake and miss out on the latest updates. However, for my more open-minded acquaintances, I am quick to suggest a new eatery for a mid-morning coffee or smoothie or a healthy Instagram-worthy lunch. I’d been dying to try Flower Child, a new restaurant that listed delicious sounding salads and wraps on their menu. When a friend called in a raincheck after missing my birthday dinner, I leapt at the chance to catch up over a meal I knew I would love, and I wasn’t disappointed.
  3. Get outdoors – My birthday gift, a Samsung Gear 2, is a blessing and a curse in the way that it tells me I need to get off my booty. Combine inactivity with (often) working alone from home and it’s a recipe for weight gain and losing social skills. I counteract that by extending an invitation to circumnavigate White Rock Lake or people-watch along Katy Trail. It is easy to knock out a couple of miles while plotting a strategic work move, dissect the previous night’s date or simply shooting the breeze.

I’d love to know ways you other busy ladies (and gents!) prioritize your time with friends alongside running the office, your company or figuring out your next side hustle or entrepreneurial enterprise. Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter (@veleisap) or Insta (@veleisapburrell)!

Why I Need to Live Like a Rap Star

How I carry my thug (via vermegrigio on Flickr)

How I carry my thug (via vermegrigio on Flickr)

I fully admit to being inordinately amused by the exploits of most rappers, especially in the antics and lifestyle outlined in their lyrics. I figure if an artist is truly about their business, they’re likely are not doing all of the extra activities they list. There are only so many hours in the day.

So, in the spirit of my ratchet music appreciation, and thinking of the conversation I had with one of my coaches, Dawn, I’ve decided that incorporating some aspects of the rapper lifestyle may not be a bad thing.

Fake It Until You Make It

Going back to my earlier statement, rappers are some of the bombastic creative people in the nation. A local star who still lives at home with his mother, works the stock room at Best Buy and records in his third cousin’s basement will have you believe he was just signed to the most well-known label with a million-dollar advance and has the hottest chick the game on his arm at all times. To use an overused term, it’s “swag.” Applying this to me, I have to be more prepared to talk about my ambitions for freelance work. No one wants to hear the hem and haw of tentatively describing aspirations for excellence. Claim it, declare it, own it. Rappers have this spirit in spades, even the ones who record in their closets. Why not adopt that in your business?

Roll With a Supportive Crew

What performer do you know that goes on stage with less than one hype man? I’ll wait…Exactly. Having a passel means rappers are never alone, bored, hungry and without entertainment. And they always have a fall guy, who doesn’t want that! For my needs, my crew  consists of my sorority sisters, family, my career coaches, former supervisors and various social media accounts for inspiration, laughs and thought-provoking commentary. Since I tend to avoid any kind of legal snafus, I never have to ask any of them to take the rap for me, which I’m sure they appreciate. Instead, this assorted group provides me with feedback and guidance, as well as accountability to do even better than I think I can.

Make An Investment

As Jay-Z said years ago in a line that epitomizes the rap life mentality, “Money ain’t a thang.” Cars, jewelry, houses – but I mean, who really looks at the price tag (thanks for that one, Nicki Minaj). Since it’s all about appearances, and I don’t have to impress the masses, my investments are a bit different. For example, one of the first things I did upon realizing that I have to build my brand outside of any company affiliation was purchase business cards and rent a P.O. box. Though my initial reaction was “Why am I spending money when I don’t have any coming in?” I knew it was the right thing to do to show that I was serious about my aspirations. Now when I go to networking events, I have my own card to hand out. And should I need to receive payments or contracts, I can have them sent to a location that is independent of my home address. As I go even further down the road of independent ownership of my work, I know additional investments will be necessary, though likely not dipped in gold like a Jesus piece. Mentally, this is part of the process for which I have to prepare myself (and my bank account). Thankfully, my momma didn’t raise a fool when it comes to saving and spending wisely.

So, that’s how I plan to adopt a limited scope of the rap star lifestyle. How are you embracing your inner rock and roll star: what would you add to this list?

Also, just for fun: my 90s rap name is Smoove V Tha Magnificent Thief. I will take that, expect T-shirts soon!