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.
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.
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!