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

Turning Off the Firehose

turning-off-the-firehose

As I listened to one of Rob Bell’s podcast episodes the other day, Episode 120 Wisdom Part 5, How to Think About the News. I couldn’t but let  turn off the firehose, as Rob put it.

And that’s exactly how I feel whenever I open Twitter, Facebook, or turn on the television. It’s all so overwhelming but really, it’s my own fault. I’ve been confusing media with journalism. Journalism is truth-seeking, storytelling, and shining light on what needs to be exposed. There is a standard by which journalists are held to. There is a level of respect for story and for sharing what’s important.

Media is a whole other beast. As Rob explained so perfectly, media is like a firehose shooting us at point blank range of information all day long. It’s via television, Twitter, YouTube, Vines, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. that floods us constantly with random bits and pieces, like the rapid fire Kim and Kanye nonsense, the latest political scandal news, to a viral video of a child singing in his car seat. While at the time, the trickle of information seems harmless but as we keep clicking our mouses, remote controls, or notification buttons, the trickle becomes a firehouse to the face…if we let it.

We can choose to let the firehose run, blasting us in the face with every possible scrap of information that media can point at us or we can choose to turn it off and only give attention to the things that matter to us.

We can turn off app notifications or simply go into airplane mode if we need some focus time. I totally do the whole Pavlov’s dog thing whenever my phone dings or I see a little red circle on my phone screen. It’s insanity in the making. Why would I ever choose to live life reacting to everything and not creating the life I want. But that’s exactly what I’ve done and chances are, the majority of the first world does the same.

Believe me, I’ve been there and I’m still fighting the withdrawals but hearing that podcast really put what I was feeling into words. I had been feeling truly overwhelmed and honestly, slightly depressed about everything I was trying to keep up on. ISIS, this scandal, that tragedy, climate change, claims that climate change is a myth, etc. It makes me crazy.

So part of the freedom I’m creating in 2017 is turning off the media firehose:

-I’m checking email only twice a day, noon and 8 p.m. and unsubscribing to all unnecessary newsletters, not yours, of course! 😉

-Switch off all notifications on my phone.

-Engage in social media via scheduled time and not whenever I’m bored or trying to avoid a task.

-Give my time and attention to sources with integrity only.

-Curate what will bring value or positivity to others.

This is a non-negotiable. My heart and spirit can’t take the constant barrage of negativity and shallow crap that spouts from mainstream media today. It’s killing any chances that I can truly believe that people are inherently good and that our society isn’t going to hell starting tomorrow. Because after a while, if I just keep taking what the firehose is spraying, I will no longer be able to breathe. And if I can’t breathe, well…that won’t the happy ending I was planning on for my life story.

Before I put anything out into the world, I must ask myself, “Is it helpful to others or is it part of the firehouse?” Sure, I like sharing a funny video like the next person but that has to be the exception and not the rule.

What about you? Have you been able to turn off the firehouse or are you still gasping for air?

If you’re still gasping, I hope you make a pledge to yourself that you’ll hit the shutoff valve once and for all. I would love to hear how it’s going and what changes for you by doing it.

******

P.S. Connection can’t happen without comments or shares so I hope you do at least one! You’re the best.

Sharing is Caring

Writing at computerI have this blog because I want a place to share my thoughts but, more importantly, connect with others. In my “real” life, I’m a talker. As much as I love hiding from the kids my alone time, I don’t consider myself an introvert. I like to share my favorite books, products, ideas, life hacks, embarrassing moments, news, memories, funny stories, and daily struggles with whomever is willing to listen. This blog is an extension of that.

As shocking as this may sound, I spend a lot of time working on my blog posts. No really, I do. It’s the reason why I only post about once a week. Twice if I’ve got my shit together and if WordPress decides to cooperate. (Today he was an asshole and didn’t save my post. I’m still bitter about it.)

It starts with an idea that’s had time to simmer. After some time in the think tank,it still has any meat left, I scribble out the bones of the post in my notebook or type out a rough draft on my computer. My next step is to go back and connect my ideas like a dot-to-dot puzzle, hoping to make something legible out of my tangled words.

Then I’ll go back through it again, reading it out loud to myself, adding and deleting, cutting and pasting text, and possibly contemplating if I should just delete the entire post because it’s total crap.

But then I realize how much time I’ve already spent on it, so I commit to making it better, again re-reading and revising, editing and fixing my punctuation which is still probably wrong. But when the writing is done, I search the internet for picture(s) to perfectly illustrate my post which causes major derailment when I start following other shiny, sparkling words/posts/anything.

When I finally pull it together, I must choose how, when, and where I want it to appear on social media after I’ve added my necessary keywords and hashtags. Then I’ll schedule it to go live, click save (WordPress willing) and let it go.

All of that could take an hour or a couple of days depending on if I’m in the zone and if I keep on task.

My hope after writing each blog post is that someone–ANYONE–will read it and be affected by it. It doesn’t have to be life-changing; just something others can understand, relate, laugh or even cry along with me.

I love when readers comment because that lets me know that my words mattered. However, many people are shy about leaving a comment and I completely understand. But there is something else that you can do that will show that you care about not only about the words I wrote but all of the other blogs, authors, art, or other creatives you enjoy…just share.

I may not have a great comment to add to a blog post but if I appreciate the words and want to show my support for the work the writer did, I share their work, either through email, Facebook, Twitter…whatever I can. Those little icons at the bottom of a post are there to make it as easy as possible!

As much as I’d like to say I am only write for my own pleasure, I’m can’t. The more my work is shared and the more connections I make, the more I want to keep writing.

If a blog post gets written but no one reads it, did it really exist? 

No one wants their work to go unnoticed so here are some ideas:  

  • If you’ve just read a great book, find the author’s email through their website or in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. Tell them what you loved about the story and how it affected you. Or simply thank them for writing the book.
  • If you purchased artwork from a local artist or an Etsy shop, share their site with others or let them know where you bought it. 
  • If you liked a blog post that you just read, share it through social media.

You have no idea how these simple gestures help the writer/artist keep going.

If you care, share. 

I promise that gesture won’t go unnoticed and it will mean the world to the person behind the work.

THANK YOU!

~Hallie

 

{photo credit: Unsplash/Thomas Lefebvre}