How I Found Clarity + Joy in Community (online + offline)

by Corinne on July 31, 2012

I’ve been wanting to talk about connection and community for a while, but recently it’s become even more evident how uplifting, inspiring and heart-thumpingly beautiful relationships can be, even the ones that are mostly online or with people who you see 99% of the time via Skype video.

Over the past five years, I’ve found a few things to be helpful in discovering people who will lift you up, make you shine brighter and help you see clearer.

Be vulnerable and speak your truth. It feels kind of itchy and awkward when you start talking about your hopes, your beliefs and what makes you happy. I kept these things inside, for the most part, until about five years ago. I thought that my dream of becoming a writer and editor was silly. I worried about how becoming vegetarian (and then vegan) would be viewed by others. I was afraid that if I said what I was really thinking, I wouldn’t be heard.

In a very small way, some of those things happened. But in a much bigger way, I began connecting with life-changing, joyful, awesome people. I started working toward a career that I love today. And I moved toward a lifestyle that’s aligned with what feels right for me. By being vulnerable, I was able to grow and be happier every day.

Reach out. When I decided to begin a new career path, I started out by talking to people who were already walking the walk. I asked for advice (and took some of it), I shared my dreams, and I really listened to what resonated with me. I wanted to become a yoga teacher at first, so I became a volunteer at a nearby studio and learned everything I could about the instructors’ paths. Later, I wanted to work with Kris Carr, so I took a chance and contacted her. I’ve reached out to editors and agents and other people I admire, and most of the time I come out on the other side with new opportunities and knowledge. My life would be completely different if I had been too afraid to write those emails and make those phone calls.

I’ve also experienced the power of reaching out when building friendships with like-minded folks. I Facebook messaged Jaime Karpovich after seeing her Save the Kales! tv show. I felt drawn to connect with her, so I did. I adore Lori Portka‘s art, so when I did my 30th Birthday challenge, I asked her to be a part of it. (And I met Lori in person just a week ago.) Same goes for Christy Morgan, author of one of my favorite cookbooks, Blissful Bites. These are some of the many kindred spirits I’ve found by putting myself out there and saying, “I really like what you’re up to in the world, wanna be friends?”

Do something. Blog, tweet, write a book, start a meetup group, join an online community, become a board member at your local co-op–you get the picture. If you want to connect with inspiring, positive, interesting people, go find them. They’re out there! Volunteering is a great way to get started–it has led to so many enriching relationships for me.

When you’re giving your talents away, you get so much back. Heck, when I started working with Kris (before Crazysexylife.com even existed), I was a volunteer. When I moved to Baltimore, I joined Americorps Alums and met a dear Baltimore friend who was a huge source of support through my pregnancy and first year of mamahood. I met one of the only vegans I know in Baltimore by striking up a conversation with her at a local vegetarian restaurant and now we’re pals. And just recently I’ve been meeting a plethora of veg-mamas on Twitter (like Janae over at Bring Joy and Darrah Parker).

You know you’ve found a kindred spirit when you’re at ease, not on the defensive. When you dream bigger, rather than hide your hopes. When their experiences make you want to be better, stronger and braver.

I started a Facebook page to create a little space for connecting with anyone who is interested in following their bliss, eating more veggies, raising compassionate kiddos, and cooking with love. If this resonates, I’d love to see more of you there too.

❤ ,
Corinne

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christy July 31, 2012 at 10:14 am

Love this post and you!! Probably the most important thing about the internet to me these days is the ability to form a community of like-minded people across the globe. It’s just so special to me. Even though I may never meet these people in person, it feels like we are best of buds. I tried explaining this to a friend who doesn’t blog and I was like “this may seem really weird, but I have A LOT of online friends”.

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2 Corinne July 31, 2012 at 10:32 am

Yes! I’m so glad that this message came across in my blog. Don’t you just love how it gains momentum? I feel like amazing people are popping out of the woodwork every time I turn around. The future is bright (and so is the present)!

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3 Jaime K July 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

I genuinely believe (or maybe just hope very, very hard) we would have eventually crossed paths anyway. But it has been a pleasure to get to know you. Reading your blog — and I’m so thankful you open yourself up and share with us — has been a source of comfort and support. In times of stress or uncertainty it’s easy to feel like we are alone in our confusion, but simply knowing others have been there and have done the scary things and are succeeding, well, that’s just encouraging.

Your work and your heart light up the world, and I’m very, very thankful. xo

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4 Corinne July 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

Thank you so much, Jaime! I truly believe that we would have met sooner or later too, but I’m glad it was sooner! I’m so happy to be here to support you. Please know that your work and support means the world to me as well. Don’t you just love this exchange? It’s so easy to fuel goodness when you keep your heart and mind open:) xo

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5 Olivia July 31, 2012 at 11:48 am

I just love this post, Corinne! You’ve been hitting it out of the park lately, and this resonated so deeply. The vulnerability piece can be so tough for me, but it almost always yields the greatest rewards. Thanks for the beautiful reminder.

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6 Corinne July 31, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I’m so happy to hear that this struck a chord with you. Putting yourself out there is scary, but so helpful to others and yourself. Plus, you meet the coolest kids that way–like you! xo

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7 darrah parker July 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I have really enjoyed getting to know you on Twitter. It’s always refreshing to meet people who share themselves openly and honestly. Keep on doing what you’re doing and I’ll keep reading!

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8 Corinne July 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Ditto, Darrah! I’ll be digging into your blog more soon:) Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and take a read. I know that time is precious.

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