LIFESTYLE, Mental Health, Relationships

Building Stronger Friendships Through Character Development

Ciao lovely,

Let’s talk about something super important in our lives: friendships and how we can make them stronger by working on our own character. I’m talking about integrity, empathy, resilience, and accountability. These are the magic ingredients that not only make us better people but also help us build lasting friendships.

Key Ingredients for Great Friendships

First, let’s break down these traits a bit:

Integrity: Being honest and trustworthy. The type of friend others can rely on.
Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others.
Resilience: Resilience helps us overcome setbacks and be there for our friends during tough times.
Accountability: Owning up to our actions. It builds mutual respect and reliability.

When we lack these traits, our friendships can take a hit. Trust gets shaky, things feel surface-level, and conflicts can spiral. Nobody wants that, right?

A Tale of Two Friends

Let me share a little story about two friends who have known each other since college. One of them is basically a poster child for character-building. She’s honest, empathetic, tough as nails, and always owns up to her mistakes. The other, well, she’s got some work to do. She tends to be a bit manipulative and isn’t the most reliable friend.

So, they planned this weekend getaway to catch up and unwind. One friend went all out planning every detail, making sure it was perfect for both of them. But the other friend, being herself, kept changing plans last minute, ignored the other’s efforts, and made it all about her. When the first friend finally spoke up about how she felt, the second friend just brushed it off, saying she was overreacting.

The first friend was hurt and felt unappreciated. She realized that the other friend’s lack of empathy and accountability was seriously messing with their friendship. So, she decided it was time to set some boundaries. This changed the dynamic of their friendship. Both women lacked something that kept them from being their best selves within the friendship. Our unreliable friend had no qualms about taking advantage of other people and taking their kindness for granted. And our poster child lacked something within her that allowed her to be taken advantage of.

This story is a great reminder of how important character-building is in our friendships. By focusing on our personal growth, we can create a supportive circle of friends who truly uplift us. Here are a few tips to help you build stronger friendships:

Be Honest: Honesty builds trust and is the foundation of any strong relationship.
Show Empathy: Try to really understand what your friends are going through.
Stay Resilient: Use tough times as opportunities to grow and be there for your friends.
Be Accountable: Own up to your actions. Apologize when you’re wrong and make it right.
Practice Self-Discipline: Make decisions that align with your values and goals.

Character building is an ongoing journey that not only makes us better people but also enriches our friendships. In the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Cherish the friends who respect your boundaries, communicate openly, and bring joy into your life. And for those who don’t? It’s perfectly okay to set boundaries and focus on your well-being.

So, let’s embrace this journey together, building our character and watching how it transforms our friendships. Cheers to stronger, healthier friendships!

Listen to Episode 3 of the Mull and Wine Podcast “How Lack of Character Impacts Friendship”

LIFESTYLE, Mental Health

Setting Boundaries and Managing Passive Aggressive Behavior

When you’re in a toxic friendship it can sometimes feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. One day you and your friends are having dinner or going for a drink and everything is great. The next day your “friend” decides to showcase their passive-aggressive side and everything feels awful. It took me a long time to learn how to deal with these type of toxic friendships and it started with setting boundaries. 

Setting boundaries isn’t about being mean; it’s about self-preservation. Your time and energy are precious commodities, and you have every right to protect them.

Clearly communicate things like your limits and stand up for yourself when necessary. Teach people how to treat you. Be direct, firm, and unapologetic. If your friend can’t respect that, it’s a red flag. Remember, “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” (Walter Winchell). If they start throwing tantrums because you won’t drop everything to cater to their whims, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the friendship.

Whenever I encounter passive-aggressive behavior I feel like I’m in a soap opera- more specifically, “All My Children.” Entire conversations are full of snide comments, backhanded compliments, and the silent treatment, all classic moves in the passive-aggressive playbook. It’s exhausting.

When faced with this nonsense, don’t play their game. Address the behavior head-on. Ask direct questions like, “Is there something you want to talk about?” This forces them to confront their behavior rather than hide behind their veiled insults. If they deny or deflect, it’s a sign that mature conversation isn’t their forte.

Also, take note: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” (C.S. Lewis). Real friends don’t communicate through sarcasm and snark; they talk openly and honestly.

Sometimes, no matter how many boundaries you set or passive-aggressive comments you dodge, a friendship is just toxic. These relationships drain your energy, self-esteem, and happiness. It’s like trying to water a dead plant; no matter how much effort you put in, it remains lifeless. I’m so serious about that plant part. I’ve lost two plants in the past year and I’m too afraid to try again because I just don’t get what I did wrong. But I digress…

The first step in surviving a toxic friendship is acknowledging the problem. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, folks. Once you recognize the toxicity, distance yourself. Gradually reduce contact and prioritize relationships that uplift you.

If the toxic friend confronts you, be honest but kind. Explain that you need space to focus on your well-being. They might react with anger or more passive-aggressiveness, but stick to your guns. Your mental health is more important than their feelings.

Setting boundaries, dodging passive-aggressive drama, and surviving toxic friendships isn’t easy. It requires courage, self-respect, and a strong sense of humor to keep your sanity intact. Remember, real friendships are built on mutual respect, understanding, and support.

In the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Cherish the friends who respect your boundaries, communicate openly, and bring joy into your life. As for the others? Well, sometimes the best thing you can do is politely show them the exit door.

So, go ahead and reclaim your peace of mind. Set those boundaries, call out the drama, and escape the toxicity. Because you deserve friendships that are as fabulous as you are.

Listen to Episode 2 of the Mull and Wine Podcast “Ignoring Boundaries and Defiant Behavior


Maybe She’ll Start Blogging Again

Ciao Lovelies,

Do you ever feel like your life is on a loop? Like you’re repeating the same experiences, meeting the same people, restarting the same projects. lather, rinse, repeat again and again and again? Well, I do. In my case, it’s to do with blogging.

For some reason, I keep circling back to blogging like it’s some kind of unfinished business. I’ve been a repeat offender of abandoning blogs for years. I’d just quit blogging and then after some time passed, I’d randomly start over, framing it as “reinventing” myself. It sounds like I’m being self-deprecating but I do actually stand by that part about reinventing myself. I firmly believe reinventing yourself is an essential part of healing, growing, and letting go of the things that no longer serve you.

The problem was I would reinvent myself but my writing would stay the same. See, I used to write about surface-level stuff like makeup, travel, and fashion – things that proper influencers focus on. But my heart wasn’t in it. Not for the long haul, at least. It’s not that I don’t enjoy those things or that I judge people for their chosen niche. I just couldn’t maintain the same level of enthusiasm and even when I pushed myself to keep going it felt inauthentic. I felt like a fraud. And so the cycle would repeat. I’d lose interest in the blog and abandon it until the next wave of inspiration came.

This blog is no exception. I started this blog when I moved to Italy. This time around I was going to be that ‘American in Italy’ influencer. I was determined to share aspirational stories about travel, luxury, food, wine, etc. Even in an oversaturated market, I believed I could stand out. But again, I couldn’t commit to it long-term. The passion just wasn’t there and eventually, I lost interest. Again.

Also, real life, real marriage, and real grief got in the way of creating any content at all. And let’s be honest, are people really still sitting down to read a blog these days?

I lost so much after moving to Italy. Friendship, independence, courage, and two babies. I’ve come to accept that I’ll never get back to that person I was before and in accepting that I feel lighter. This is the most important reinvention I’ll ever have. And I think it will be the one that saves me in the end.

Even though I’d experienced some losses, I still had some wins after moving to Italy. Don’t get me wrong, I am, for the most part, happy with my life. I kept writing and also founded Mel Noir Creative for voice acting, writing and producing user-generated content. I’ve been keeping busy. I have Faith that things will continue to get better and that I will continue to attract good things and good people. When that day comes, who knows, maybe I’ll start blogging again. Maybe I’ll have something real – something memorable – to say. Maybe I’ll have found my own unique voice and I’ll be able to write from my own unique point of view.

Maybe by the time I circle back to blogging again, I’ll have found the courage to speak my truth, be it good or bad.

If there is anyone out there who is reading this I hope you find what you’re looking for and are able to find your own voice too and share it with the world.

Until then,

Ciao for now.