How to Find Your People

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

When I started writing about ten years ago (ugh, that book is still in the basement of my computer–poor thing), I kept it a secret. It was completely foreign to me yet it felt like home. I had found something that fed my soul yet I didn’t know how to talk about it. I didn’t even tell my husband. Not that I was doing something wrong, but I just wasn’t ready to be that vulnerable…even to him. We aren’t writers…we are 8-5’ers. We grind the old-fashioned way. We aren’t artsy fartsy. No one actually said those things to me but it’s just what I had interpreted over the years. I’ve got enough “play it safe” and practicality hours earned to make the steadiest of steadies envious.

You have to understand that I live in suburbia. I had three kids all under the age of seven at the time when I started writing–my life was diapers and soccer games. It was school committees and being classroom parent. Writing wasn’t what suburban moms did. At least I hadn’t met one yet. Who did I think I was? I kept this secret for a while until I “came out” to my book club friends.

To this day, I think how strange it must have been for them because literally I broke down in tears. I introduced the book I had chosen for our next meeting which was an indie book from an author I had “met” on Twitter. We had become fast friends in the online community along with many other supportive writers in the online space. So when I spoke about this book (independently published books were a new thing back then and fairly unknown) and how I came across it, I started to cry as I shared that I had started writing a book of my own and that I was starting a blog as a way to create a platform for myself. My friends took a collective sigh and one said, “I thought you were going to tell us you had cancer!” Yes, my reveal may have been a bit dramatic. Just a teensy bit.

But that’s how much this new found love of writing meant to me. It had opened me up and gave me a way to express myself like never before. And when I say never, I mean never ever.  Plus, it was something that was entirely my own. I didn’t have to share it with my kids, I didn’t have to ask permission from my parents, and it was the one thing I was definitely better at than my husband. His writing is atrocious. Hideous actually. I edit his texts and give him Facebook status revision changes. He LOVES it but I remind him he’s the looker in our marriage for a reason.

I eventually told more and more people and while friends were supportive, they didn’t really “get” it. I wanted to talk about writing and creativity and it was like when you talk to your mom and she nots really listening because she says “That’s nice, honey”. My immediate family didn’t read my blog and gave zero f*cks about my  new found love. At first I felt hurt. Like what the eff is that? My childhood best friend? I thought FOR SURE she would for sure read every post and share with the masses. Nope, not once. I was devastated. If these people didn’t read every word I wrote then who WAS?!

But I quickly realized that out there in the vastness of the internet galaxy were my people. I found bloggers that I resonated with read their work. I found authors/writers who I supported and, in turn, encouraged me to keep writing. It was like I was living two lives, one online and one in reality. I kept the two very separate because I didn’t know how to intertwine them. Eventually, as my youngest started Kindergarten, I submitted an article to local magazine and started writing regularly for them. I desperately wanted to continue caring for my family but I also really, really, really wanted to get paid to write. Writing for free (blogging) had begun to wear me a little thin. So again, I put myself out there but that vulnerable feeling had started to wane. I was finally getting comfortable calling myself a writer because it was earning me a paycheck.

Soon, I was crazy busy between caring for my family, my multiple deadlines (I ended up writing for four magazines) and a freelance position I took with a boutique PR firm that specialized in self-published or independently published authors. I felt like I was drowning.

What happened next was what I call my midlife crisis. Even though I was only 41, it felt pretty bleak. I was 100% stuck in what I had created for myself. I quit the magazines, the freelance job and even paused the writing on my blog. I just sat still, cried lots of tears then listened. I pleaded with God and the universe to show me the way. I was in a bad place. Blah, blah, blah…I won’t go into the gory details but I ended up pulling myself out of it because the universe showed up. I learned about a workshop through a writer friend and it was EXACTLY what I needed. It was there that I started connecting with people who felt the same exact way.

Fast forward a few years and some of those people are my front row. We’ve been through a lot together and we’re all still growing. If you’ve been a consistent reader of this blog, God bless you, you know that my writing has been sporadic at best. I haven’t submitted any magazine articles since the day I quit and this blog has had some major drought periods. I haven’t written fiction in forever. But I feel the winds of change. My sails are up and I’m picking up speed.

I need more of my people. I have people whom I connect with in a personal growth aspect and I still have a few of the people who I had connected with back when I started writing. But when I stopped writing as much,  I took a step back from them, too. I felt like a fraud because I was hardly writing. But I missed those creative people and I missed being in touch with that part of myself. I had to get it back.

This summer, I started looking for a local group where I could connect with other creatives. I looked up some writing groups but I didn’t necessarily want just writers. I just wanted to be around people who also like expressing and exploring their lives in creative ways.

Then the universe came through for me again. I found Landyn Hutchinson of Living with Landyn from another blog post about WHO I MUST FOLLOW and quickly became a fan girl. One day in her Instagram stories, she shared some other IG accounts that we, her loyal followers, should also follow. That led me to Bev Weidner of Bev Cooks. I began to follow Bev on Instagram and early on in our one-sided relationship, I saw one of her stories where she was hanging out with another local blogger/IG’er, Emily Farris. Emily, from of Festive AF (IG is thatsfestiveaf), was making a fun cocktail with Bev and hence, I was deep in  this little rabbit hole of people to follow.

Shortly after that, my new “friend” Emily then shared that she was going to start hosting a Creativity and Cocktails event once a month in her Brookside studio. And there it was. What I was looking for. I went to the first event in August but had to miss the September one because I was in Salt Lake. However, I was able to go to the October event at which, bum bada bum!, Bev from Bev Cooks was her guest speaker! Ahh, it was so lovely and the group of people that attended were totally different from the group in August. It was really cool because it was a whole new group of people I could connect with.

Bev Weidner (Bev Cooks) and I at Creativity and Cocktails!

The beginning of this event is mingling with cocktails, then Emily introduces her guest and does a Q & A followed by questions from the audience. Next, we each share what we are passionate about and why we are there, then we mingle again! Everyone shares their Instagram handles and we talk about current projects, creative desires, and we learned a lot about each other’s backstories. Bev is amazing, inspiring, and just a fun person to be around. You must check her out. Her blog is full of awesome as well so make sure you click that link on her name.

This is exactly what I was looking for. People that are creative or perhaps want to be more creative and are looking for connection/inspiration just like the rest of us.

It’s been awesome and what I encourage each one of you to do. If you are passionate about something like bike racing, running, photography, reading books or hell, I don’t know…TATTOOS, go find other people that are, too. We are way too disconnected from each other these days…just watch the news and you’ll understand what I mean. If you occupy digital space at any given time during the day, you’ll see internet trolls show up like wet gremlins on every public forum. People have gotten mean and nasty. I think we all need to find people–like living, breathing, reach out and can hug kind of people–that we can connect with that we can’t get from people in our immediate circle of family and friends. That’s not their job. They love and support us unconditionally but they don’t necessarily “get” us.

We need our people and when you find them, you’re going to feel like the sun resides in your heart. You’ll be all glowy and sh*t and people are going to wonder if you’re pregnant or you are on your honeymoon or something. Yep, that kind of glowy.

So how do you FIND your people? Well, I’ve got some ideas.

Use Social Media

Are you still flabbergasted by what the # sign is all about when you scroll through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds? Welcome to Hashtags 101. For example, when a person posts a healthy recipe, they might attach #recipe #healthy #healthyrecipe to the bottom of the post and then when people search the social media site for those things, that post will show up.

You can find people/things/events local to your area by using #(yourtown) and your interest. For example, if I want to find people in my local area who are musicians or into music, I would type #kansascitymusicians or #kcmusic in the search box of the social media site I’m using. You may get a lot of random junk, too, depending on the person who posted because honestly, some people are irresponsible hashtaggers. One thing to note is that Instagram only lets you use one hashtag to search but Facebook lets you use multiple.

Search Eventbrite for local events/talks/meetups/classes, etc. 

Are you into cycling? Search your area and there may be a cycling club meetup. Perhaps an upcoming race where you can mingle before or after.  It’s super easy to use and you’ll find many are free events! Yoga, health workshops, hiking clubs, concerts, running groups, entrepreneurial workshops, networking groups, etc. There is a lot to explore.

AirBnB

Did you know that you can do “experiences” on Airbnb? You can search through categories like Arts, Entertainment, Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Social Impact, Technology and even Wellness. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, obsessed with wolves and you want to meet other wolf enthusiasts, you can go on a Wolf Encounter. Are you looking to connect with other foodies? Go on a Chef’s Tour of Pike Place in Seattle.  If you live in the New York area, love gardening and want to make positive social impact in world? Try this urban farm experience in Harlem. These Airbnb Experiences would also be a great thing to look into if you love to travel. Join/create a travel group and experience these things with them!

Build your own tribe

If you can’t find a group or tribe according to your interest, then start one.  Create what you want and you can directly foster the connection you are seeking. Do something like what my friend Emily Farris does. Share that idea with others and see who shows up. It may not be perfect right away as you’ll get some in and outers as everyone feels it out. What’s important to remember is that YOU are creating what you want and the right people will find you if you keep in mind that “your vibe attracts your tribe.” Be who YOU would want to hang out with and your peeps will show up.

What lights you up?

Are you part of a group that fosters and helps grow that light?

Share what you want or your own experiences in the comments! You never know who you might inspire to do the same.

Happy Friday and shine bright, dear one!

xx,

Hallie

FOMO…What are You Really Missing Out On?

 

FOMO = Fear of Missing Out

 

If you have a teenager in your home, I’m sure this is a familiar acronym. I’ve fought many battles that started out with “But Mom, I’ll be the only one…yada, yada, yada.” Do they even know who they are talking to?! I’m the mom who relishes being on the outside of all the wrong things. Just look at me. I use essential oils every day, I don’t eat fast food unless I have no other choice, and I rarely drink anymore. I’m the poster woman for being alone in a crowd. But that’s okay. That means I miss out on a having a medicine cabinet. I miss out on medicine side effects. I miss out on feeling crappy. I miss out on living symptom to symptom. I miss out on having hangovers and sleeping like poop. I guess I’m anti-FOMO.

I wasn’t always like that but I eventually made the choice to “miss out” because I finally learned that FOMO wasn’t aligning me with my true self. I have said yes to so many things when I should have said no (like getting set up for date parties in college. Ugh. Every one of them was a disaster!), carried on toxic friendships for way longer than they should, drank lots of drinks when I knew I was going to feel horrible the next day, ate gobs of fast food even though they gave me a rolling gut ache within minutes. I sat quiet during morally wrong conversations even though I knew they weren’t okay. FOMO made me feel conflicted and twisted inside. For a long time, I didn’t know I was living out of alignment because I didn’t know myself. Perhaps it was the realization that I was too old to be living like that anymore or that I really didn’t care what people thought about me anymore. I took back my life and kicked the FOMO to the curb.

My teenagers and I have LOTS and LOTS of talks about FOMO and how it’s all bullshit. Someday they have to look back on this time in their life and they will either be proud or disappointed. I was such a FOMO teen and my view of those years is definitely disappointing. I had no idea who I was and what I stood for so I was basically a chameleon. I became whoever I was with.

It’s taken a long time to not give a shit about missing out on things anymore. What matters to me now is that I live a life I love. I connect with others who make me a better person, not drag me down to make themselves feel better about their bad decisions. I have wasted enough time living out of alignment and it’s a huge effing drag.

 

What does FOMO look like in your life? 

 

Are you afraid to miss out on being involved at your kids’ school but don’t really have the time? 

Are you afraid of missing out on being part of who’s who in your community but don’t really feel a true connection with them?

Are you afraid of missing out on drinks with “the girls” but you really need to get some sleep?

Are you afraid of your kids missing out on activities just in case one of them just might be their thing?

Are you afraid of standing up for yourself for fear of being alone?

We’ve all been there, babe, and some of us are still there. Don’t give up on yourself and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to have FOMO when has to do with cutting out all the junk you don’t need in your life.

My FOMO is the fear of missing out on an amazing life. I will miss out on that happy hour and go exercise to take care of my body. I will miss out on the fast food drive-thru and make a healthy meal that fuels my body. I will miss out on “girls’ night” and go on long walk in nature with my husband or dog to feel connected. I will miss out on binge watching ALL the television shows and go take a long bath with a good book that relaxes me. I will miss out on saying yes to people and things that aren’t me and say yes to who and what make me come alive.

I’ll own that FOMO every damn day.

 

 

Say It, Believe It

It’s amazing the bullshit we tell ourselves.

“I’m fat.”

“No one loves me.”

“I’ll never be successful.”

“There is no way out.”

“I’m a nobody.”

“I can’t do ____.”

“I hate my <insert body part>.”

Blah, blah, blah. The list of negative things we tell ourselves on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis is astounding. It’s almost like we enjoy torturing ourselves. I have told myself so many lies over the years that I, the real me, got completely lost. Lost under all that BS I had been telling myself and it’s been a real bitch trying to dig myself out.

Did I think someone was going to come rescue me because they felt sorry for me? Yes, I did. I’ve wallowed in self-pity for so long that it stained me a very ugly color. But in that long wait to be rescued I realized that it was up to me to rescue myself.

I came to that realization a couple of years ago when I was feeling very stuck and less than enamored with what my life looked like. It was a big slap to the face to finally see that I had created the misery myself:

  • I said yes to things when I should have said no
  • I did things because everyone else was doing them
  • I had limiting beliefs about who I was and what I was capable of
  • I sought the easy road rather than the tough one
  • I gave away my power
  • I let opinions of me matter more than they should have
  • I gave up too easily
  • I minimized my worth

Does any of this sound familiar? I know. It sucks to read it and find yourself nodding your head, doesn’t it?

There are two simple yet very powerful words we can add to the dialogue with ourselves that will change everything.

I. Am.

I had a huge shift a couple of weeks ago because I started saying these two words. I had been talking with my mentor and she challenged me on the way I thought of myself. She knows the goals I have for myself yet the verbiage and my self-doubt were never going to get me to where I wanted to go.

I thought about what image I had of myself when I was a kid. I was the child of an unhappy marriage so I was never home. I spent fourth grade through senior year with my best friend. She was funny, outgoing, athletic, the youngest of five, from a divorced family (also an alcoholic father) and chose me to be her best friend. As we grew up, she went from a freckle faced gangly child into a beautiful young woman. In my eyes, I grew into her chubby sidekick. I attributed anything and everything to the fact that I was because of my association with her and not from my own merit. I have always been in awe of her because of what she chose to become in spite of her broken home.

I had a time in my life where I stepped up to something big (at that time it was HUGE!) and acted in spite of fear. I ran for Rush Chair of my sorority, not because I wanted the limelight as much as I felt I needed to do something out of necessity. I ran against someone else and I actually won. I thought, “Oh shit. What the hell did I just do?” But I knew that I was doing this to serve and to help guide our house down the right path so I strapped on my boots and went to work. I figured things out as I went along.

The thing that makes this crazy is that I was deathly afraid to speak in front of others and considered myself a team player and not a leader. But there I was, in a leadership role. Funny how I think back on that as just something I had to do and not really who I was.

When I thought about that time as I spoke with my mentor, I realized what a crock I had been feeding myself for so long. Shortly after our talk, I declared to the ladies in my Skinny Dip Society Facebook group who I was. I felt like I was standing on the top of a mountain teetering on plunging forward into the unknown or leaning backwards, tumbling toward old habits and negative self-dialogue. I chose to plunge forward.

And from that moment on, I have felt different inside. I say a lot of I ams these days. Some I believe 100% and some I have to just say it until I do.

These days I say

I am…

strong
nurturing
free
generous
loving
inspiring
curious
funny
courageous
loyal
witty
lovable
tenacious
adventurous
mindful
purposeful
encouraging
intelligent
wild
fun
contagious
unfuckwithable
authentic
leader
worthy
enough

And these words have changed everything. I stand taller, I walk more confidently, and I am acting as if I am all those things. Because eventually, the more I say it, the more my brain will believe it.

Two words…I am. The rest of the sentence is up to you.