8 Limbs of Holistic Wellness: Social Wellness

There's No "One-Size-Fits-All" Version of Wellness with Lizzie Braicks-Rinker- FriendshipIRL.com/episode13

Podcast Description

TRIGGER WARNING: This episode contains some sensitive topics around the loss of a parent. 

Today I’m with my dear friend, Lizzie Braicks-Rinker, a wellness brand strategist and holistic health and fitness coach. 

We met in college, baking pie in the dorm basement, and bonded quickly; I told Lizzie my mom had passed away. She told me hers had cancer. We were at different stages in our lives than our peers, and because of this, had different needs and perspectives on wellness than they did, too.

In 2022, Lizzie gave a TED Talk on Mother’s Day about the difference between wellness and physical health. Her beliefs stemmed from her experience in college, when, on paper, she was extremely healthy – she was vegan, she was on the rowing team – and yet, she was having panic attacks and chronic pain due to the wellness pieces that were missing in her life. 

In this episode, Lizzie and I talk a lot about holistic wellness – especially social wellness, of course – and how, really, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • The eight pillars of holistic wellness (emotional, physical, occupational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, financial) vs. the wellness industrial complex
  • How self-care looks different for everybody – it could involve playing with your dogs, getting your finances in order, or building a community support system
  • Why social wellness is often left off the priority list of wellness
  • How health (especially social health) – doesn’t have to be linear; for example, your social needs might be higher in the summer than they are in the winter
  • Creating the “third option” instead of accepting social obligations you’re just not into – or, creating INTENTION in these obligations so they feel fulfilling to you
  • Who is your true self vs. your ideal self? Plus, the importance of taking baby steps

Reflection Question:

Which of the eight pillars of holistic wellness do you tend to prioritize vs. neglect?

Notable Quotes from Lizzie:

“If someone extends an invite, and we don’t want to say no – it’s like, ‘Oh, that was so nice that they invited me, I need to go’ – we think that we’re being bad if we’re being honest. But if being polite is making you miserable, it’s not worth it. And it’s also really not polite. You’re kind of being mean to the other person by telling them you want to do something that you really don’t. I think we’ve just been taught – as women, especially – to go along with this, don’t rock the boat. Be polite. And we get ourselves stuck in these situations that don’t feel very good sometimes.” 

“Self-care looks very different for everybody. There’s a difference between self-care and self-maintenance. Self-maintenance is washing your hair. We have tried to turn these very basic human hygiene things into, ‘It’s self care!’ But your self care might not have anything to do with face lotion or your body at all. Self care for you could be going to a bookstore. Self care could be going and playing with your dogs.”

Resources & Links

Like what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram

Be sure to check out Lizzie’s TED Talk and the book she recommended in this episode, The Worthy Project by Meadow DeVor, and follow her on Instagram and check out her website, donuts + down dog.

Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!

Leave Alex a voicemail!

More talk about SOCIAL WELLNESS:

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Until next time…

Take the conversation beyond the new podcast on friendship! Follow Alex on Instagram (@itsalexalexander) or Tiktok (@itsalexalexander), or send her a voice message directly with all your friendship thoughts, problems, and triumphs by heading to AlexAlex.chat and hitting record. 

Episode Transcript

Podcast Intro  00:02

Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!

Podcast Intro   00:18

Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too. 


Alex Alexander  02:03

Here we are. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  02:06

We’re here. 

Alex Alexander  02:07

We’re together.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  02:08

That’s happening.

Alex Alexander  02:09

Everyone, this is Lizzie, my dear friend Lizzie Braicks

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  02:13

Hello, everyone.

Alex Alexander  02:13

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker. I always forget.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  02:16

Either one. either one is fine.

Alex Alexander  02:18

Lizzie has been in the online space for nearly as long as we’ve been friends, which was a long time, when I tell you the story.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  02:28

Well, I was writing a bio for my branding company. And I was trying to think about when I got started with social media. And I was like, ah, it was in college when your husband’s friends would have me tweet out the location of their parties. That’s like the beginning of my social media career.

Alex Alexander  02:48

Actually a fun story. Yesterday was Michael and I’s 13 year anniversary.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  02:56

Oh my god. Oh, I need to get on Facebook then.

Alex Alexander  03:00

Which is one of these things I talk about where certain people, it hits so different when you were there and you remember. Like you were there when I met Michael, you remember when we went on our first date. I mean, you weren’t on the date, but you remember me like…

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  03:15

I might as well have been. I heard all about it before and after. And you’re the reason that I know… knew who Dan Rinker, the man I’m married to now, is. Like I heard about him from you.

Alex Alexander  03:29

That’s how long we’ve been a duo. Which brings me to how we met. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  03:35

Yeah, let’s dive right in.

Alex Alexander  03:38

You were a sophomore, I believe.

Alex Alexander  03:42

Knowing that. Yeah.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  03:42

I was a freshman. You had just transferred to Gonzaga. I want to say maybe that the school year hadn’t even started yet. But you transferred or like the semester maybe hadn’t started yet. But you transferred to Gonzaga from University of Washington. You knew a bunch of guys on the rowing team. I did too. And they kept telling me that I would love you which they were right, which is so funny thinking about those guys being so right about that. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  04:13

And then I think that the reason that we hung out is they kind of did a friend to set up for us and we were baking an apple pie in the basement of whatever that dorm was, duly I want to say.

Alex Alexander  04:25

Yeah, and I stole a bunch of baking sheets from there, which I still used in my home until maybe a couple of years ago. But we were in that basement, and I don’t know what exact comment you said. But you made a comment. You know, that was like one of those… only somebody who’s gone through it understands what that means. You made some comment and I think I just was like, “Oh, well. My mom died.” 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  04:52


Alex Alexander  04:53

Which I wouldn’t have just thrown out all the time. In fact, the guy we were baking pies with I think was… 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  05:00

I can still picture his face. So mortified. What have I done?

Alex Alexander  05:04

Why am I here?

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  05:05

 I’m stuck in a basement baking a pie.

Alex Alexander  05:08

And you immediately were like, my mom is sick.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  05:12

Yeah, as like my mom has cancer, I can remember it so vividly. Like how quickly it came out of my mouth and the look on your face. And I was like, oh my gosh, this person gets it. Because I was a freshman. I hadn’t been in school for that long. 

Alex Alexander  05:27

And your mom was still alive at this point. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  05:29

And my mom was still alive. Yeah, Alex met my mom a bunch of times, my mom sent her care packages or care package. But I hadn’t really told anybody at college. Because like, it’s freshman year, everyone is so excited. It’s such an awkward thing to bring up versus I grew up in a small town, and everyone just knew, so I never had to tell people. I kind of feel like that might have been one of the first times that I told anybody in college. And it felt so good. And then the rest is history. That’s it. That’s the podcast. Thank you.

Alex Alexander  06:05

We’re going now. Four minutes in. Yeah, I really wish I had a video. I wish I could go back and see because whatever you said, something about your mom just made me realize like, there’s something deeper going on here. And I wouldn’t have just dropped that on you. In fact, I don’t really know how many guys on the team even… like the guys that were there in my high school that I knew knew.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  06:31

There weren’t that many of them that were there from high school. When you think about it that you knew, it must have been just one of those kind of, like you said, sort of dark things that you say when you’re, what was that? 18, that like nobody else gets unless they also are a child who has dealt with a lot of trauma. And I think you just picked up on that.

Alex Alexander  06:52

Yeah. And I just offered it up right away. And that would not have been a good thing with most people. But…

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  06:58

We don’t lead with that usually.

Alex Alexander  07:01

No, I definitely do not lead with that, especially at 18. But I mean, this goes to the… sometimes you just take a little bit of a risk, you drop… varies like on big intimacy. And it worked out well. Because yeah, you also wanted to open up about this to someone, but there weren’t a lot of 18 year olds who had any concept of what was happening in your life.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  07:26

I had one friend from high school whose dad died when we were, I want to say, in middle school. And like some of my parents friends had cancer or had died. Or I knew people who only had one parent, because one had died when they were younger. But I didn’t know anyone really close to me. And all of my besties from high school who are still all of my besties, you guys were all at my wedding. Like they… you know, how are they supposed to know how to deal with it? So, just nobody knew what to do. And I found college really hard because you and I had such different priorities than everybody else. And like such different focuses, we were at such different points in our lives in some ways, that I found it really hard to relate to people. So I was like, I don’t care about my grades. I don’t know if my mom’s gonna make it out of the surgery today. And I remember you just like filling this hole that I didn’t even really realize was there. And it was like the friend that I so desperately needed. And like from the first day, could 100% be my entire full vulnerable self with, in a way that was like really, really powerful. They keep seeing me just like throwing up and people see me just sobbing. You brought up the other day when you picked me up and you just drove around. Like I can think of coming to your house crying and your now husband buying me flowers. Like pretty much from the get go, you saw really what I was going through and you still were like, Yeah, I’m gonna stick around because I know what this is like, where a lot of people were like, “Whoa, I just want to party.”

Alex Alexander  09:02

I think the interesting… so my mom died when I was 13. And to me at the time, it was a very sudden death to the adults around me. They knew. My mom died from alcoholism, from liver failure. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  09:16

Right, right. 

Alex Alexander  09:17

And the adults knew she wasn’t okay. But I didn’t really know. So to me, it felt really sudden. You had a very different experience. And I… to make it through high school, the short version is, to make it through high school, I just didn’t really process it.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  09:35

I mean, survival.

Alex Alexander  09:37

Yeah, I kind of started processing at freshman year of college. So when you and I met was actually… even though you were in the middle of it, I also was in the middle of processing my… my own stuff. So even though the timing seems very different, really we aligned on a lot.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  09:58

Right. I’ve had this kind conversation with a lot of people who have lost a parent where like, I hear your situation where it felt really like… you know, like you didn’t know, maybe the adults did, but it was so sudden. And I hear things like that. And I’m like, that would be a million times harder.

Alex Alexander  10:13

Well, we don’t have to…

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  10:15

Yeah. But it’s just… it’s so funny. Because like, from an outsider’s perspective, it just…

Alex Alexander  10:20

yeah. And the processing is never over. So, Lizzie, Last year, 2022 gave a TED Talk on Mother’s Day,

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  10:36

The day before Mother’s Day. Yeah.

Alex Alexander  10:38

They day before. Why do all the big things have to line up with Mother’s Day? Graduation was Mother’s Day weekend. Terrible.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  10:45

I know. That was part of how I was like, oh, I graduated 10 years ago, on the same weekend that I gave my TED Talk because it was also Mother’s Day weekend. And I remember the very beginning of my graduation ceremony. We were like, “It’s Mother’s Day weekend. Everybody stand up and look at your mom.”

Alex Alexander  11:04

Yep. They did this to me the year prior. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  11:07

Yeah. And I was like, I just sat there. And I remember, you know, you’re not sitting by your friends because you’re in alphabetical order. And everyone was either still drunk or so hungover. And I just remember it being such an uncomfortable… like, get-me-the-fuck-out-of-here situation.

Alex Alexander  11:23

Oh, I remember crying in that moment. And the guy sitting next to me was very confused.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  11:29

Yeah, I was just like, shell shocked. I didn’t talk, I didn’t move. I remember sitting there looking straight ahead. And it was a pretty… in my head, a very long standing. “Look at your parents.” Because everyone’s trying to find their parents in the stand. And yeah, it was really awful. Got why did it. If you don’t have a mom or don’t have a good relationship with your mom, that was such an unnecessarily painful thing to add to an already very intense event.

Alex Alexander  11:59

Honestly, we should write into them and give that feedback. But 10 years to the weekend, you gave a TED Talk

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  12:08

I did. 

Alex Alexander  12:08

And I knew you’re giving a TED Talk. I didn’t know what your full topic was. You weren’t really supposed to talk about it, you’re supposed to kind of keep it under wraps.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  12:20

Keep it a secret. Yeah. And they want it to be… they being the TED organization, want it to be like a very personal story, like have an emotional arc that relates back to even if it is your field of work, which mine was. Like, the personal aspect is what really makes it.

Alex Alexander  12:39

So can you tell us a little bit about your TED Talk

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  12:42

Yeah, I’ll kind of start from the beginning, because they think it makes the most sense that way. So in January of 2022, towards the end, I got an email saying I had been nominated anonymously to speak at the TED event that was happening at the University of Washington that May. And when they reached out, they said, we really love how you talk about accessibility and holistic wellness. We would love to see a topic or a pitch on that. So then I was invited to pitch them and you get like 120 words, it was something really short. And I just said… when I was in college, my mom, you know, had cancer and I was an athlete. It was worded much better in my pitch. But I just said, you know, it really made me question. I talked about the norms in my pitch of like wellness and lifestyle, and really where they come from, and why we’re following them. And has led me down this entire career in wellness and fitness and getting all of these certifications just to really figure out how you can help people actually feel good. So, my TED Talk was… it started out with asking people what they think of as health and wellness. And then I told the story of being an athlete in college and being… Alex remembers this, I was like such an insufferable vegan. And I was just all health all the time. I would do extra workouts, extra practices. And I felt, you know, I was at my physical peak. But I felt terrible. I was having these panic attacks, I had chronic pain. I had all of this stuff that no one could really figure out and they kept saying, “Well, you’re really healthy on paper.” And I realized that I was healthy. Like physically, I was healthy. The definition of health is just the absence of disease. So yeah, super healthy, but I didn’t have any wellness. And so then we talked about what wellness… holistic wellness specifically, actually means, the theory the philosophy of it, and why it matters for everybody.

Alex Alexander  14:48

And I cried while watching this TED Talk and I sat there and thought, why aren’t we talking about this more? Which is obviously why this is your entire brand. You’re doing a TED Talk on it, because we do need to talk about it more. But the idea of holistic wellness. I mean, I see it, I’m like, yes, you know. And I think people are kind of starting to tiptoe and talk about it. But it has eight…. I’m not even holding the right amount of fingers. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  15:18

That’s five.

Alex Alexander  15:22

Right. I graduated from college. It has eight parts.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  15:27

Yeah, there are eight pillars. Correct. 

Alex Alexander  15:30

Eight pillars. Can you tell us what they are? 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  15:32

Yeah. So holistic wellness is an actual philosophy that someone created. It’s based on eight pillars of wellness, which I think is really interesting, because it is such a trend right now to say your holistic or practicing holistic wellness. And a lot of people view that as just alternative. Or like homeopathic, but holistic wellness is a balance. Ideally, they’re all somewhat balanced, emotional, physical, occupational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and financial wellness, which, when you think about it holistically and understand that that is what holistic wellness means, it makes so much more sense than it just being alternative healing. But it’s this idea that, okay, maybe you’re exercising and running marathons and eating really healthy, but everything else in your life, for example, maybe your mom is dying, you know, it’s falling apart, it doesn’t really matter how physically healthy you are. Like, that’s not the only thing. But the wellness industrial complex, which is pseudoscience, marketing trends, it’s where all of this stuff kind of like combines and is the force that we think of as modern wellness, and encourages us to just focus on your body. Because it’s really easy to say, This is what a good body looks like, this is what a bad body looks like. It’s very easy to tap into fear. And also, it’s a lot easier for most people to have a healthy smoothie or do a different workout than to be like, “What is my spiritual wellness looking like in this moment?”

PODCAST EPISODE! Let’s talk about taking control of your social wellness here.

Alex Alexander  17:07

I mean, it’s also easier to… because you touched on this, right? There are three parts of that which I had never heard of the wellness industrial complex until you talked about it.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  17:16

It’s fascinating.

Alex Alexander  17:17

Right? So it’s marketing.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  17:19

Like pseudoscience, capitalism. It’s basically where all of these things combine. And so what’s driving, what we think about as modern wellness, and a lot of this is changing because of social media, especially after the pandemic, but a lot of what we think of as wellness is really things that we’ve been advertised and not necessarily truth. Yeah. Or like, you’ve seen a social media influencer post about it a ton, it might not actually be something that makes you feel better at all, but you feel like you should be doing it or that you’re somehow missing out by not doing it instead of listening to your body, and your needs and what you really enjoy doing.

Alex Alexander  18:01

I mean, there’s a little bit of that like magic pill solution, if you knew this thing, everybody’s doing it. That’s going to make you feel better. When in reality, the root of the problem could be occupational wellness. You’re super burnt out without getting that under control. It’s so low, like that is so rock bottom that it is capping everything else, dragging everything down. You cannot get any better.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  18:30

And we also very much have this mentality in western cultures, at least where it’s like, if I just… you know, I’m feeling really stressed out at work, for example. If I just remove sugar and gluten from my diet, then I’ll feel less stressed. Then I can go to work. Like we always think that we are to blame. And we have, as a culture, this fixation on, okay, maybe I need to exercise more, maybe I need to meditate more, maybe I need to change my diet. And those things are great. But a lot of times, it’s like once I lose 20 pounds, then I’ll feel really confident at work. Like well, maybe you don’t feel competent at work because it’s a really unhealthy working environment. It has nothing to do with your weight.

Alex Alexander  19:11

Yeah, or maybe you need a mentor and support to get through this next stage. Like there’s so many other possibilities of how you can help this area of your life that people are in. Because we’re just sold this idea of health being this very narrow, wellness being very narrow.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  19:31

Like, the trendy diet, the trendy workout. It’s different every single year. And when you have hindsight, like it’s so funny to look back at when… the era when everybody thought celery juice was gonna solve all of our problems, or when kale got a rebrand or coconut oil. The coconut oil phase. You can think of all these things where we were like cauliflower. Yeah, like this is the magic thing and everybody goes all in. And a lot of times, it’s not.

Alex Alexander  19:58

Funny story, right? When cauliflower was like… everybody was saying, replace bananas with cauliflower in your smoothies. I’m gonna tell you a fun fact guys. I’m gonna be pretty honest. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  20:08

Tell us.

Alex Alexander  20:09

Cauliflower makes me have to double over in pain. It causes me so much gas and bloating, and I just replaced that straight up banana. And I want to cry all day, you know? Like, this thing that is just supposed to be, this goes… so, listen to your body. People are doing all sorts of wild things because we’re told this is going to fix it.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  20:33

And that’s another big problem with American and western wellness culture is we look at everybody’s bodies as the exact same. We’re like, well, this works really well for me. So, it’ll absolutely work really well for you. And we have a really hard time being like, oh, people are different. Everybody has a different metabolism. I hate ‘What I eat in a day’ videos, because they’re often posted by people who have what we think of as an ideal body. And then people glom on to them of like, okay, I’m gonna just eat exactly what Alex Alexander eats. And then I’ll look exactly like her. And that’s just not how it works.

Alex Alexander  21:06

Yeah, everybody has to do what’s right for them, for their body, but also just their life and their personality and your…

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  21:16

Your needs.

Alex Alexander  21:17

Situation, your needs.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  21:19

Right. Well, and like I can just think of so many miserable things that I’ve put myself through, other people have put themselves through in the name of it being the hot trend. And it’s fun to try that stuff. But it can be really easy to veer into feeling like shit about yourself if you don’t like the cool new workout, or I’ve talked about in my talk, and you experienced this. I was a really hardcore vegan for seven years, and I stopped in 2017, which was right around the time that veganism was finally starting to kick up. I stopped because it wasn’t healthy for me. It had turned into orthorexia, which is an eating disorder. But a lot of times when I post about my chronic pain or anxiety, or literally anything, someone will say, “Well, you should try being vegan and it will solve everything and change all this stuff for me.” And I’m like,” Yes, I felt like that in the first four years.” But for me, there’s nothing wrong with the plant based diet. I eat mostly plant based, but having the vegan title was so bad for me. And it’s taken such a long time to get out of it. And that’s another thing. It’s like, it really did not work well for me. I felt horrible. My chronic pain was the worst it’s ever been towards the end of my veganism. You know, the first couple years were great, but everybody right now is super intimate, and I just can’t do it. I know that it’s a toxic road for myself.

Alex Alexander  22:42

The next time somebody tells you to try vegan, you should just send it over to me. I’m like, “Hi, I’d like to report on Lizzie’s vegan era.” 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  22:49

Yeah, let me tell you.

Alex Alexander  22:51

The experience, because the thing is, right, you listed off the eight. And certain ones just get prioritized over others. And we’re not again thinking about all of them. And this concept isn’t super mainstream. So I would say social wellness falls low, very low.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  23:15

100%. I think also, just the idea of social wellness, like, what’s your social life like right now? Do you feel like it’s healthy or not, is not something that we really think about? It’s like, I think of so many people who talk about going to things that they don’t want to go to with their friends from a long time ago that they have nothing in common with and it just makes them miserable. And it’s like that as part of your wellness. Do you not see how this is impacting everything else? But it’s hard.

Alex Alexander  23:45

And then we talk about physical wellness, financial wellness, I think is another great one to compare, right? You’re so focused on this one area of wellness, that we aren’t thinking about the balance of it all. So financial people, some people listen, it’s like save, invest, invest, invest, invest, invest. Yes. Yes, invest. But sometimes, maybe we need to come up with an amount of money that you feel comfortable spending to go do things with friends instead of turning it down and waking up 10 years later, and realizing you’ve turned down every invite your friends have tried to give you, you’ve missed out on all these memories. And maybe you have the friends or maybe you missed them. Like we get so hyper focused on the ones that we see with no balance of the others. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  24:36

Yes. Yeah, you’re totally right. 

Alex Alexander  24:38

Same with eating. If you are eating in a certain way, and you’re so hyper focused on that, you’re maybe turning down invites to go to things because there are no vegan options.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  24:53

Yes, to your point. We prioritize this physical thing over all of this other stuff and I love what you said about, save, save, save, invest, invest, invest, because it comes back to why, I think, holistic wellness is so amazing because financial wellness for me might look very different than financial wellness for you. But maybe all of the other pillars look the exact same. So, it’s like holistic wellness really empowers us to meet ourselves where we’re at and be like, what does this look like for me? Because yeah, maybe your values aren’t saving up a ton of money so that when you’re 60, you can go do a bunch of stuff. Maybe your values are, yeah, I want to hang out with friends right now. But I don’t really care as much about, you know, working out or whatever it is. But I think that’s something that we often don’t acknowledge is like, this person might just have different values of finance, or different versions of what emotional wellness looks like. But that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.

Alex Alexander  25:51

No. Yeah, it’s not… everybody’s going to have their own version. But I commonly think that social wellness isn’t even put on the priority list.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  26:02

No, I don’t think people even consider it. 

Alex Alexander  26:05

The thing is, I don’t know why anybody would put social wellness on the priority list for a few reasons. I get why people leave it off. I get why it’s ignored. Because when we’re young, we’re kids and teens and in college, friends are really encouraged. Like, go hang out with your friends, Oh, I totally get that. Going out with your friends, this is the time of your life for your friends. Then you hit a certain age and the priorities shift, right? It’s like, what are you saving? Why would you do that trip with your friends? You should be putting that money away.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  26:39

Or you should go on that nice trip with your partner, not a friend. This is like a honeymoon.

Alex Alexander  26:45

Yeah, you got to find a romantic partner, you know, you need that job. That will look a certain way. Certain things then become the priority. And when you’re younger, when you make friends, you often make them with… Michael and I are like friends of proximity. So people that are around you, they’re in school, they’re in your classes, and they live with you. So, you’re really never learning habits or skills for how to make and maintain friendships.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  27:16

Or even sometimes, like the type of friends you might actually want. Like, maybe you haven’t thought of that, because you’re just like, these are the people that are here.

Alex Alexander  27:24

Exactly. And you just make friends with the people that are there. When in fact, adult friendships can be so great, because you can actually think about the types of people who have similar interests, who have things you want to also try things you want to try, who are going after similar goals who challenge you, who have different life experiences. Like you can pick. And nobody’s spending time to do that. Nobody has thought of that. So why would you prioritize this thing that you have no language for? No habits and skills for? Society tells you not… it’s not a priority. Like, why? Why would you prioritize it?

PODCAST EPISODE! Let’s talk about managing differences (and making different life choices). Listen here.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  28:07

Yeah. And we’re often taught I think, as women, whether it’s intentional, or more subconsciously too that, like, you can’t stop hanging out with somebody, or you can’t fight with a friend, or you can’t say, “Hey, I don’t want to hang…” you know, I feel like we aren’t really empowered or taught to speak up for ourselves. And sometimes I wonder, I’m like, is this just growing up without a mom and not having someone say, “Hey, you don’t have to do that”? Or is this just also a part of culture? Because I don’t think that we’re really empowered to have hard conversations with our friends. It’s like, you have a hard conversation. You’re mad at them. Not like, I respect you and love you so much. I’m doing this for the sake of our relationship. I think we just really aren’t encouraged to have meaningful deep, raw relationships.

Alex Alexander  28:54

Often, when you think of social wellness, right, when you get to that romantic partnership, nucular family stage, you’re supposed to quote unquote, in the culture, “find” this one person, with all of your social wellness on them, maybe a little bit still falls on your family of origin, like the people that raised you or siblings. And if you choose to have kids, that person, and they are supposed to provide all your social wellness.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  29:31

Tick all your boxes.

Alex Alexander  29:33

And the rest is just extra. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  29:37

Yeah, I think too, this is something before we were recording Alex and I were talking about, we met our husbands in college and because of that, you are just still hanging out with so many of your own friends and know how to hang out with their friends. You know, like you and I know our husband’s friends so well because we all went to college together but I find I have a little bit of an easier time breaking away from him than some of my other married friends do who met their spouses later in life, just because they haven’t really been forced to experience that. And, you know, in college, if you’re hanging out with your girlfriend all the time or your boyfriend all the time, you’re gonna hear about it from your friends and in your early 20s. So I think that in that way, we’re able to avoid it a little bit. But I do see that happening with myself sometimes where I’m like, why am I expecting him to want to go to pilates with me?

Alex Alexander  30:28

So, I call that the easy invite. This happened to me six months ago, we were sitting around on a Sunday, and I looked at Michael, and I was like, “Do you want to go shopping today?” And he seems like, “Absolutely not.”

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  30:41

Cool. Call me next time. I would love to go shop with you.

Alex Alexander  30:44

Right. We will go next time. But I was thinking about why I did that, right? And it’s just because we’re together all the time. We’re together all the time, he already does things he doesn’t want to do, for me to keep me happy.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  30:56

Right. And there are some things that are like, this is really fun. And I know you don’t like it. But I just want you to come with me. Because that is the perfect day for me.

Alex Alexander  31:04


Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  31:05

But not all the time. 

Alex Alexander  31:06

How often are we forcing our partners to do that, and really putting that… wait, and then we’re trying to repair it. So now we’re spending all this time this this back and forth of I owe you, doing all these things I don’t want to do, when you could go do that stuff with somebody who actually would enjoy it. And instead of spending the whole time be like, “Oh, sorry, only one more place. Only 10 more minutes.” Apologizing. The time could actually be fulfilling.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  31:31

Totally. Yeah, it could actually be good, fun time for you. 

Alex Alexander  31:35

Yes. Instead of feeling like a burden. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  31:37

Yeah. And I do feel like there is, I find too, sometimes like, I’ll feel guilty. And it’s not that Dan puts this on me at all. He’s always like, “Go go.” But you’re like, oh, I’m going to hang out with someone else. I’m leaving him at home. And he doesn’t care, but it’s this weird, like, oh, you’re supposed to be with your husband thing that sometimes still gets into the back of my mind, even though neither of us believe that.

Alex Alexander  32:00

that. Yeah, I get that sometimes. If it’s been too often if I’m doing a lot and I believe in him at home a lot. I mean, I think at a certain point, he’ll be like, “Okay, can we have a night together?” But I do think we appreciate that more. And then we aren’t just maybe like watching a show, we’re actually hanging out and playing a game or going out or going to do something we both actually enjoy. We enjoy the time a lot more.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  32:24

Yeah. And that’s… that’s why I think hobbies are so important, and having your own interests. Because that’s where I think for a lot of us, it can feel easier to step out. Like Dan is really into golf. I am not. So he’s like, “I’m gonna go golfing with my golf friends.” And it’s like, “Oh, cool.” And then I’ll go to yoga or pilates with my fitness friends, because that’s something that I really enjoy. But I think that that can be hard to get to even if being like, this is my thing that I do for myself, with my own friends or by myself. Like, it’s really important to have your own hobbies and interests, which sounds obvious. But it’s also easy to be like, I love this person, and we do every single thing together. 

Alex Alexander  33:04

But doing this is taking responsibility for your own social wellness instead of just mindlessly moving through these relationships, and waking up 10 years from now, feeling rock bottom. It’s these little intentional choices that are adding up to create whatever social wellness feels right to you and me and people. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  33:32

Yeah, and it feels really different for everybody. We were talking about this before recording too. Like I think some people don’t think about how your social wellness is always going to look different too. Like, maybe it’s seasonal. I know, during the summer, I’m like, “Let’s go out, let’s do all of the things because Seattle is amazing in the summer.” I don’t feel like that during the winter. Like my needs socially during the winter are very different. But I think that will be like, oh, in the summer, I would do all these great things with my friends. So now I need to keep doing that or that’s bad. And it’s like, maybe you’re having a more social month, maybe you’re having a quieter month. Those things are okay. It doesn’t have to be linear. But I think a lot of really being able to embody holistic wellness and all of these different pillars is taking your power back, like you said, socially, wellness wise. Like do I actually think this makes me feel good or no? And like really getting honest with what do I need? What makes me feel good with a friend, with work?

Alex Alexander  34:29

And I think it’s all connected. So I talk about this concept, right, of if you want to find friends, make new friends, getting specific about what you want to do with them, what do you want to talk about with them, and I think it can overlap, right? So if you have financial goals, maybe you want to meet some friends who are trying to do similar things, who are also learning about investing, who want to travel in a certain way. It overlaps. And that’s the whole… you can be intentional about the people you bring into your life. Instead of just wandering around, I get why it would be so frustrating if you feel like your social wellness tank is at the bottom. You feel like you’re at rock bottom and you haven’t learned any of these skills, haven’t ever considered this, no one’s talking about it. 

Alex Alexander  35:26

Don’t really know what you want or need. Don’t know what you want need. And you just are like, cool. 2023 goal? Make friends.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  35:34

Right? What is that? Like when people say get healthy? What does that mean?

Alex Alexander  35:39

And then you walk out into the world, and you are bombarded by people walking past you. And you’re just like, well, are they my friend? Should they be my friend? What if I missed my friend? You don’t know what you’re looking for. Versus if you decide you want to make some friends who are also on a similar financial journey, or, you know, like a fun and play journey. They want to travel more, they want to try tennis, they want to walk, they want go to walking club, I don’t care, whatever it is. You can walk through your days saying to people are you looking to get a group together that walks every week? Does anybody in the office want to walk at lunch? Does anybody here, you know, you’re maybe at a party, and someone’s talking about how they travel all the time, and you start talking to them about travel, and maybe you guys take a day trip together, you know? You actually can hear and see around you what you want. It makes it so much easier to filter what you’re bringing in. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  36:40

Right. I love how you talk about this all the time. Like, this is my friend for this, this is my friend for these other things. And I think when we’re younger, there’s this pressure of like every friend needs to be equal, you have to have kind of the same relationship with all of them or you’re not being a quote unquote, “good friend”. And it’s like, I don’t text all my friends all the time. So my friends like you, I can hop on a phone call with. I have other friends I’ve never talked to on the phone. But it’s, I think, really hard to get there and to stop trying to force people into what you want them to be.

Alex Alexander  37:12

Yeah. I mean, you know, you said earlier, everybody’s body is different. Everybody is different. They’re different. Their interests are different, their current priorities are different. The availability, they have to provide you support is different. The ways they can support you best are different. No one is thinking about that. And we’re asking these very small, I mean, nothing makes me more mad than the… like, all we need is a couple of people. Okay, let’s think about this. If I have you and Michael and that’s it.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  37:43

That’s nothing, we all get so sick of each other.

Alex Alexander  37:47

And that’s a lot of things that really maybe aren’t your strength or your interests that I’m calling you about all the time asking you to support me here. Like, I don’t know how. And that’s a lot of pressure. So this whole, like all or nothing with friendship, it’s just doing everybody a disservice.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  38:07

Right. And I think like, you and I are a great example of this. Like, I used to sleep at Alex’s house all the time, like throughout college Just call, you would just come pick me up all the time, and we would hang out. But like we didn’t continue doing that in our early 20s because we were working and we have things to do. And I know for me, because I wasn’t mature enough, I was like, oh my gosh, are we not friends anymore? And then it was like, no, we’re just… we have lives. We have schedules, you know? But I have those, oh, my gosh, this isn’t exactly how it used to me. Does this mean they don’t like me? Is this bad? And it’s like, no, your relationship with people can and should evolve. But I think that can be a really hard thing too like when someone becomes a parent. It can be really hard for friendships, because they’re like, I don’t see this person as much anymore. And it’s like, well, you’re also expecting them to fit into the exact same spaces that they used to.

Alex Alexander  38:56

One. I also had those thoughts,

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  38:59

Right, because it’s just like, it’s hard. Yeah.

Alex Alexander  39:02

I also didn’t understand how our friendship was changing. Now… now that I’ve spent a million hours thinking about this stuff, I actually have language, and terms I could use to describe what happened to us, right? Those aren’t mainstream, so people don’t even have a way to describe it. And I think when you have some understanding of what’s going on, it’s a lot easier to process all the change. It’s not going to necessarily make it easier, but a little bit because it’s going to be less confusing. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  39:32

Yeah, you just understand what’s happening. It’s like you’re learning a new language or you’re being able to see a new color. It’s like, before it would be so confusing with friendships, what’s happening? Why did this happen? You wouldn’t know how to talk to them about it. And we’ll continue learning about this as we get older, but it’s a hard time in your 20s. Because you’re like, I don’t have any friends. And also I do. Like how do you meet friends as an adult? That’s so hard. And then you’re like I’m not seeing my friends from college or from high school or whatever as much what’s happening, it’s an overwhelming time.

Alex Alexander  40:06

And then that college high school friendship is really seen as kind of like the pinnacle.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  40:10

The best. Yeah.

Alex Alexander  40:11

The best. And so it’s so much harder to go out and push yourself to make friends as an adult. When you feel like you have to hit this peak or pinnacle, like that feels so far away. So unattainable. So, why would you even try? Everything is lesser than, but it’s not. It’s not.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  40:30

Yeah, it’s really interesting that you bring this up, because this is something that I’ve actually had a lot of really weird feelings about for a long time until recently. But like you, and Dan, and his friends and teammates are like the only people I talked to from college. But I used to feel really bad about that, that I wasn’t like besties with all my college friends, and I would see them all going on trips. And I would feel like sad, but also I wouldn’t want to go on the trip that they went on. And I… a couple years ago, I had this reckoning with myself of, it’s okay that I’m not besties with everybody in college. You know, not every single person is. And also, you and I were going through some shit in college. So like, I was not… very few people with the exception like you and Dan really got to see who I actually was. So like, of course, I’m not really close to a lot of people from college because I was just in survival mode. But for the longest time, I would feel so bad about not having this like, super tight knit group of college friends. But as you know, I have a super tight knit group of… they’re not even my high school friends, they’re like my fucking kindergarten friends. So, but that was really hard for me, I felt like there was something wrong with me, because everybody’s so close with their college buds.

Alex Alexander  41:45

You know, this is interesting. So I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of, right, we’re told to like put our best foot forward. We want everyone to like us. So what we do is, when we want to make new friends, especially as an adult, we kind of show up the way we “should”, quote unquote, or we the observe that person a little bit and decide on the type of person they’d want to be friends with. And then we try and be that person, which is kind of a fake version. And then down the line when we start to be ourselves, we might get mad that they don’t like us. What we’re doing, right, is trying to control that person’s reaction which is not very kind to ourselves and to them. And then we get mad down the line when they don’t like us. And we’re disheartened. So, that’s hard. Like, it’s hard work to try and watch this person, figure out what they want, change ourselves. It’s all hard. But you have to pick your own version of hard. So if you have to pick your own version of hard, shouldn’t you just show up as who you are? A lot kinder.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  42:52

Yeah, a lot kinder, a lot more compassionate. You’ll enjoy it a lot more. I’m reading this incredible book right now called ‘The Worthy Project’ that I highly recommend to everybody. But she talks about this concept of like your ideal self versus your true self. And where we run into a lot of this discomfort, it’s like maybe you have this dream of being a really social person who goes out to lunch all the time, or whatever. Your true self, like right now, that’s not who you are, but you’re trying to show up as your ideal self. And so then there’s all of this like, friction and frustration, because you’re not to your point showing up as your true self and really honoring and nurturing her. Instead, you’re like trying to fit yourself into this box that maybe you can get to one day, but you can’t just like start being that person, you have to work up towards it. But that’s not really something that we’re taught.

Alex Alexander  43:42

I mean, it’s definitely not something we’re taught. And I would say, honestly, we’re taught… again, what I’m feeling is that friendship and community has these extremes. Like these all or nothings, there’s not much middle ground, which is what I try and talk about obviously. If you didn’t know that, welcome. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  43:57

Yeah, surprise. 

Alex Alexander  43:59

But it is so interesting, because what we’re told, right, it’s either this social person that, I want to say like, people are kind of jealous of.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  44:11

Yeah. Like, oh, they just have… they’re really social. They’re really outgoing.

Alex Alexander  44:15

Right? You watch people on social media, you make these assumptions about their friendships. I have people when I talk about my friendships and friends will tell me that they get this too. People were like, “That’s fake.” Actually, fun fact. Somebody told me the other day when I posted a TikTok, “This sounds like a cult.” Because this like, positive extreme is torn apart. It’s not possible. So, it’s unattainable. So then the other option is just go to them. If you want to become this ideal version of yourself, you have to do that all on your own. It’s lonely at the top.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  44:52

Yeah, it’s lonely at the top and also, like I talked about in my TED Talk, that hustle culture, everything tells us like you have to do this all by your yourself forever. You have to keep doing it, you can’t ask for help. That’s a sign of weakness. And you have to just figure it out. Fake it till you make it, which that’s good advice in some settings, not every situation. Something else I think a lot about with all of this, like, all holistic wellness, and specifically friendships is we’ve all been trained to be so polite over anything else. Like if someone extends an invite, you don’t want to say no. It’s like, oh, that was so nice that they invited me. I need to go. And we think that we’re being bad if we’re being honest. And it’s like, if being polite is making you miserable, it’s not worth it. And it’s also really not polite. Like, you’re kind of being mean to the other person by telling them you want to do something that you really don’t. But I think we’ve just been taught as women especially to be so like, go along with this, don’t rock the boat. Be polite. And we get ourselves stuck in these situations that don’t feel very good sometimes.

Alex Alexander  46:03

So many things to say. I mean, one is, I talked about this idea all the time of like the third option. We don’t spend the time to actually think about it. We’re not being intentional, we’re just going with it, right? So you get the invite, you feel like you should go, you should be polite. Or you say no, you feel guilty. You know, third option could be, hey, that party, that’s after a long day, I’m gonna be really overwhelmed. That’s the honest truth. But I would love to see you. Can we go for a walk? Another one we were talking about earlier is you get invited to like dinner and a show. You don’t want to go to the show, you’re not interested in the show. So instead of saying no, saying, “Hey, I really want to see you all. I’d love to come to dinner, but I’m not going to go with you to the show.” Like what could you offer if you do want to connect? Now if you don’t want to connect, just say you’re not going to make it and move on. But if you do, we feel so boxed into this, like, yes or no versus trying to find another option that actually is going to work for you.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  47:09

Yeah, it’s all or nothing. And I love the idea of the third option. Because, yeah, maybe your friends inviting you to something that doesn’t work for your schedule, or something that you just genuinely don’t want to do. And saying no, but what if we did this instead, just makes everybody feels so much better.

Alex Alexander  47:26

I mean, like I said, it’s one thing if you aren’t interested in connecting, it’d too much right now, whatever. That’s fine. Just say no. But a lot of times I think people either say yes, because they feel like this is their only opportunity to see their friends. So like, oh, I want to… I do want to see them, but I don’t really want to do this thing. And then they are frustrated the entire time. Or they just say no. And then, right, there’s FOMO.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  47:51

Right. I’m being a bad friend.

Alex Alexander  47:53

… friend when you’re not. You’re not there’s a lot of assets here.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  47:58

I think about this thing a lot. And I’m sure you will, too, because you worked in the wedding industry for so long, but bachelorette parties and being a bridesmaid, like I can think of so many situations in which my friends or someone I know has gone to a bachelorette party and been so resentful because they spent so much money. They were, you know, going and doing all these things that they don’t want to do. But like we don’t feel as if we can say no to those things or no to being someone’s bridesmaid. And I think it’s becoming a lot more common now. And weddings have changed a lot. But it’s this huge part of friend culture in the US with our wedding. But it can get so intense and like, you know, you, Kaylee and myself, all got married the same year. There was just some stuff that I couldn’t go to because like I genuinely couldn’t be in the same place. But it was hard. You guys got it, but like other friends would not have.

Alex Alexander  48:52

It’s all a balancing act. It’s all individual to everybody. Nobody gives bachelorette parties, showers. All these things are like a third option. Sometimes I will say yes to an invite that maybe on first reaction, I’m like, I don’t really want to do that because I do want to show up for the friend or parts of it I actually am excited about but maybe I’ll have a conversation of like, I don’t really want to go out that one night. I’m gonna go home after that. So, kind of having those more whatever conversations. But when I do go to those events, or really any event or any whatever, I try and spend a few minutes thinking about what will make this worth my time.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  49:35

Love that. 

Alex Alexander  49:36

What will I leave this social gathering and feel like it was positive? So if you’re going to something out of obligation, before you go inside, just spend a minute thinking, is there someone here I haven’t seen in a really long time and if I prioritize even a 10 minute conversation with them that made this worth it? 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  49:59


Alex Alexander  50:00

Because it wouldn’t really see them any other way. Or it would be more intentional about our social wellness. Sure, were there parts of sitting there for this party you didn’t love? Yeah. But you can leave and be like, “You know what? I never see that person, I’m so happy I spent 30 minutes of this connecting with them. And that makes this feel like it’s impacting my social wellness.”

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  50:22

Yeah, I think you bring up a really good point too when I say, listen to your body, or listen to what you need. A lot of times, if people aren’t familiar with the concept. They are like, “Oh, just be like comfortable all the time. Don’t do things you don’t want to do.” And it’s like true wellness is making yourself do things, you’re like, this is hard. I know, I’ll like it later. I’ll be glad later, or this was good for me. And so yeah, it might be being like, I don’t super want to go. But I know I will be glad or I’m feeling anxious about reaching out to this person. But I know we need to have a sit down conversation, we always have, you know, a great time when we see each other. And like with exercise, you know, maybe your physical wellness is removing exercise and having a healthier relationship with it. But also, it might mean like pushing yourself and doing some things that are really hard because of the results you want. Like it’s not always all comfort part through holistic wellness and all of these ways. It is also doing things that make you grow, that are good for you in the long run. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  51:22

Yes. And especially when an area is rock bottom.

Alex Alexander  51:27

So if you’ve neglected social wellness, then the initial putting yourself out there is going to be similar to deciding, you know, you want to run a marathon and you haven’t gone running in a long time. Like those first few times you put yourself out there are going to be very uncomfortable. You don’t have a good foundation in this area anymore. You have to build that. And if you give up on those first few training runs…

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  51:58

It’s never gonna happen. 

Alex Alexander  51:59

It’s never gonna happen. But you know, eventually, you get more comfortable. You have made connections, you have people, you know what you can do, you know, how you spend time together, how you connect. It becomes easier to work in your life.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  52:14

Totally. Yeah, it’s that idea of that, like who… be honest with yourself. Who is your true self versus your ideal self. Because yeah, if your ideal self is a marathon runner, that’s amazing. But a lot of times people make the mistake of saying I want to be a runner, I want to be someone who runs five days a week. So I’m going to start running five days a week right now, even though I haven’t run at all, or I only run one day a week right now. And then that’s where people get so frustrated, or I want to be this person who’s really social. I’ve been depressed for the last year, right? Like you have too. We get so frustrated with ourselves because we see where we are versus where we want to be. And we just like try to jump to where we want to be in any of these situations. Like it happens in wellness diets, or crash diets all the time, workout routines all the time. People just go way too hard. And then they are just done. And I think you just have to… yeah, baby steps and be realistic.

Alex Alexander  53:07

What is your vision of social wellness? 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  53:09

Do you want to go out two times a week? You know, do you want to go out for dinner with a friend once a week? Or does that sound miserable? Like really thinking am I doing this because it feels good and that’s how I want to feel? Or because I feel like I shouldn’t be doing it, which is hard.

Alex Alexander  53:25

I think the part of the reason I’m so interesting to people, because, I mean, I’m probably like the elite athlete version of social wellness. You know, extreme. But I’m not doing that… like that is truly who I am.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  53:41

100%. You’ve always been like this.

Alex Alexander  53:44

You know, I was talking to Sheena earlier today. And she’s like, “The thing about you is you didn’t just start this platform. You’ve been literally living your life this way for as long as I know you.” You know, Michael and I sit down monthly, look through the people we want to connect with. Like this is a part of our relationship. I would do this without him.

PODCAST EPISODE! Let’s talk about how friendships are just as important as romantic relationships (and how to balance both). Listen now!

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  54:07

Yeah, you guys have always been the entertainers. Always. Always.

Alex Alexander  54:11

This is just who we are. Now, I don’t think I am some peak. I think that sure some other people may want a similar version to what I have. But most people are gonna want half.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  54:28

But you’re so honest about what you want. And you’re unapologetic about it. And that is so wild for people. Like it’s scary.

Alex Alexander  54:37

And that’s actually a big reason I don’t plaster my friendships as some poster that should be all over my social media. Because when I post things, I want people to see snippets that they might see in their own life and then try and find that I am not the ideal. I’m very much not the ideal for most people. I’m very extroverted. This is a very high priority in my life. Other people, their quote unquote, “peak” or “best” or “fulfilling” version of social wellness is going to look night and day different, right? And that’s what it should be. Just like I never want to run a marathon. I’m never gonna be that person. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  55:24

And I’m like, that sounds amazing. 

Alex Alexander  55:26

Like my physical wellness, that is never going to be my peak. So, why would I train for a marathon? But I would maybe run a 5k.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  55:41

But like your version of this, and this is the whole point. Feels so good for you. Yes. And that’s what matters. That that’s what’s so hard for people to…. and again, I’ll go back too. I really think that it’s really hard for women. I know guys and friendships is a whole another ballgame. 

Alex Alexander  56:00

We have a lot of that coming. Yeah.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  56:01

But, yeah, there’s so much to talk about there. But I think it’s just so hard to realize that you are allowed to say what you want, and to claim it and to say no to things. And that’s what makes you feel really good. Like you’re setting boundaries with yourself and with all of these other things. It’s like they always say fences make the best neighbors, right boundaries, make the best friendships, but people just don’t realize that they have the option to be like, “I’m going to opt out of this.”

Alex Alexander  56:30

So, I like to think of boundaries of bridges. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  56:33

Love that.

Alex Alexander  56:33

Boundaries are like the ways that you say yes. So if you can figure out the ways you say no, it makes it easier to see the yeses. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  56:40

Yeah. You’re showing people how you want to be treated. 

Alex Alexander  56:43

You show people how you want to be connected to them, what you want to do with them, what you’ll accept and won’t accept from them. And then it’s easier to connect.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  56:53

Love that. 

Alex Alexander  56:54

Because there’s certain ways

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  56:58

They know you’re communicating your needs with them. They know what you want, and it makes it so much less stressful. But I think that maybe it’s being in their 30s, maybe I don’t know. I feel like millennial women are having this very strong reckoning right now with like, I’m allowed to say what I want. I am allowed to have a say in this, I’m allowed to decide. And it’s scary. But I think that’s why people see you and are so like, whoa, because you are so yourself, you’ve figured out what works for you, you are really disciplined about it too. Because that’s the thing is a lot of people know what works for them, but they don’t actually enact it. And you’re also like very honest. You share the hard, shitty stuff, you’re not just like, I’m amazing. And I have these huge things with friends all the time. You’re like I do this because XYZ.

Alex Alexander  57:44

Yeah. Sometimes it’s a lot of work. And sometimes it’s overwhelming. There’s things I don’t do anymore. Like it’s always changing.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  57:50

Well, and also like you do this because you do not spend a lot of time, at least not right now, with your family of origin, right? Like Dan’s family hangs out all the time. All the time. So like for… one of his family members, spending as much time as you do with your friends would be like, how the hell am I going to fill this in? And like probably not as appealing. But for you, it makes sense in your life.

Alex Alexander  58:16

Which is why I think we need to include family and community. Like my types, my your people framework has family and community, organizations, formal community in it because you might get support. For example, if your mom dies, from a support group, from a formal community and not from a friend, it might be from your family. There are so many places you can get it. But seen all of those as options. I don’t think most people see those as options, and then balancing it with whatever it is. And you’re right, I have more time. Because I’m not trying to balance family of origin in, so I can invest that in more friendships. And that’s just my scenario, because everyone has a different picture.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  59:05

Yeah, I was listening to a podcast the other day of the therapist talking about all of these people post pandemic, who’re like, 2020 Christmas, are like, “This is amazing. I can’t be with my family.” And then maybe they have that 2021 also, and then 2022. They were like, “I really don’t want to go to this.” And the therapist was like, “You don’t have to.” You don’t have to keep putting yourself through all of these things, do a friend’s giving or like a friend’s Christmas or whatever. But that’s another thing that we don’t realize that we have an option to opt in or out of or to change our dynamic. Like, I won’t share too much in this because it’s personal. But as like Alex knows, I’ve really been changing in the last couple of years. My dynamic with my parents and my brother and it’s like very, very different. But it was really, really hard for a couple of years because we’re all used to the same roles that we had and we just were outgrowing them.

Alex Alexander  59:59

It could be only friends that could be inviting friends to spend time with your family. Maybe that would alleviate some of the pressure. It could be meeting up with family for brunch, and then really spending what you would normally consider as like your full Christmas night with friends. Like there are 9 million options.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:00:16

Saying what time you’re gonna leave, I can only stay til X time.

Alex Alexander  1:00:19

You know, options. And it doesn’t have to be you are alone or you’re with your family of origin. There are so many other varieties out there and just building whatever feels right. We’re using the holidays. But you know, that can work for any thing.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:00:38

Yeah, for Christmas, this year, one of my really good friends almost couldn’t get home to see her family. And so, she was going to stay with us and come and have dinner with my parents. And it ended up that she was last minute able to get home. But when I went over to my parents house on Christmas, and when I say parents, I mean my dad and my stepmom, just in case you guys are like, “Wait, her mom died. She’s talking about her dad and a ghost.” But they were so excited. They were like, “Oh, like, bring her over for dinner another time now because like we got so excited about this idea of like having one of your friends over and getting to know her better.” And I was so shocked. Because it was so outside of… my family never had like friends and stuff come but they were so excited about it. And I was like why have I not done this sooner? Or one year, Dan and I it just worked out with Thanksgiving that we hosted both of our parents. And it was like the most fun I think either of our parents have ever had. Like we were hosting, they didn’t have to do the stuff, they got to hang out. You know, it’s usually just us sitting with your parents like, what are we gonna talk about? And we changed it and it was great. And then also, when you combine both sides of your family, then you don’t have to do another day.

Alex Alexander  1:01:48

You don’t have to stress about how to fit it all in. Yeah.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:01:53

Yeah. But like, it’s so hard to change that. And I think it’s a really hard part of becoming an adult and becoming your own person is how you navigate family traditions and asserting what you want, and just changing your family dynamics.

Alex Alexander  1:02:07

And figuring out where the best support comes from. I mean, we have been chatting for a very long time. So, we should wrap this up. But my kind of baseline is that the ultimate self care is building yourself a support system. So many areas of our life are impacted by the people around us, what they tell us as possible and not possible, the way they treat us, whether we’re going to people who aren’t the right people for certain kinds of support, and then we’re disappointed. Like really taking the time to think about this. I think social wellness is such a foundation for the other pieces, and we’re not paying attention to it. And I get why. And I had not thought… well, I have thought about this, but in other terms, but you said something to me months and months ago. And it was just that, you know, when we talk about self care, we are taught that self care is something you do alone, right? We’re successful if we can do it all on our own, that if we’re hurting, we should go home, spend time in the quiet, be by ourselves, read a book, take a bath, light a candle. But that so much of that comes from the fact that if we tell people the only way that they can successfully self care, they are looking for outside things, so then they buy stuff.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:03:36

Yeah, that’s so purchase based. Like you have to get this thing to feel good. 

Alex Alexander  1:03:42

And you know what’s generally free? People.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:03:46

Hanging out with friends.

Alex Alexander  1:03:48

Asking somebody for a favor in a way that they like to show up for you instead of hiring a service.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:03:54

Right. Well, and also self care is another one of those things. It’s very trendy right now, the last few years, but self care looks very different for everybody. And for a lot of people that have nothing to do with like there’s a difference between self care and self maintenance. Self maintenance is like washing your hair. Like we have tried to turn these very basic human hygiene things into like, it’s self care. But your self care might not have anything to do with like, face lotion or your body at all. Self care for you could be going to a bookstore. Self care could be going and playing with your dogs, right? It’s not always wellness.

Alex Alexander  1:04:31

Getting your finances in order so you’re not stressed anymore. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:04:34

Yeah, yeah. Self care isn’t always just like the bubble baths and that type of stuff. But again, the wellness industry really makes it feel like something you need to do by yourself. You need to figure it out, and that it has to look a certain way.

Alex Alexander  1:04:47

Yeah, I think that’s a great way to close on, that just, I firmly believe so much of self care is having the person to call in the bad moments or in the good moments, or when you want to have fun. And if we just completely neglect this area of our holistic wellness, if it’s so rock bottom, then in the highs and the lows, we probably don’t have capacity to build this area. But that’s the moment we need it the most.

Want to listen to one of the most popular episodes? Check out How to Make Friends as a Grown-up or What is a Friend? and the 4 Types of Friends We All Have.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:05:19

Yeah, it’s really hard to feel good if you have no support system, or friends or community. Doesn’t really matter how much you’re working out.

Alex Alexander  1:05:28

Or you don’t have the right. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:05:30

The right. Yeah, the right.

Alex Alexander  1:05:31

The moment, you know? If you are new parents, and you don’t have anybody in your life, any friends that are parents, your family is not close by and you’re all alone, this is a low. You’re at a high because you have new kids, but you also feel alone and you need help. This is not the moment to build said thing. And you might have friends, but maybe they don’t know how to shop for you, right? You’re really trying to be mindful of building the right people for the right time and appreciating them for whatever they do bring to your life, even if they don’t look like that picture perfect high school friend. Because those people might feel a certain niche. But they may not be the right people for your current moment.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:06:10

I love that. Yeah. I mean, it’s called self care for a reason. You have to think about what your true self genuinely needs and not have any judgment towards it.

Alex Alexander  1:06:21

I mean, that’s aligned to end on. Thank you so much. I’m frickin proud of you. 

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:06:29

Thank you. You too.

Alex Alexander  1:06:30

And we’re going to put a link to your TED Talk in the show notes because people should go watch it.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:06:37

Yes. Please watch. Find me, follow me. Donuts + Down Dog. Every channel. Yeah.

Alex Alexander  1:06:44

Watch for us tagging each other in our matching jackets and whatnot. But thank you so much. I love you.

Lizzie Braicks-Rinker  1:06:50

I love you. Thanks. Love you so much. Thanks for having me.

Alex Alexander  [45:58]

Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.

Profile Photo for Alex Alexander a blonde haired white woman smiling at the camera. She is in her 30s with her hair down and curled and wearing a grey sweater.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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