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.