Go Find Your Like-Minded, Weird, Lovely Friends

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So I have to tell you about a first-rate thing that happened last weekend. Consider it my own personal proof that life’s more fun when you get over your hangups and let yourself be who you are. For crying out loud, you guys, is anybody else tired of being concerned about what everybody might think of us, anyway?

Here’s the deal. I love thrift shops. I adore them so much I’ve devoted entire blog posts to celebrating good ones like Top Drawer of Austin, Texas. I’m also a huge fan of people who build community, which is what draws me to bloggers. So a few weeks ago I had an idea for putting these two together in a way that brought me so much joy it made my head want to explode.

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It wasn’t all that complicated, really: How about I reach out to the Twin Cities Blogger Collective and invite them along on a thrift-shop hop? We’d visit a local thrift store or two, take pics, then write about it. Yes! I was drawn to the idea and it was simple enough. But simplicity wasn’t my problem. No, my issue was much more diabolical. In order to follow through with the outing I envisioned, I’d have to get over my fear of not being liked.

First of all, I’d never met anyone from this collective of women bloggers. I’d recently joined their Facebook group, but that was my only point of contact. Okay, I had met one, but she hardly counted, as she’d told me about the group in the first place. That left 108 ladies I’d never seen face to face.

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Spolier alert, I pushed past my doubt and reached out to the bloggers. Here I am with Sarah, the Recreational Gardner herself. We explored two fine Minneapolis thrift shops, Junket: Tossed and Found and Time Bomb Vintage.  (Photo by Recreational Gardner.)

Second, I hadn’t entirely gotten over my shyness about taking photos in public. Sure, taking a quick phone snap is practically the norm. Even so, wearing a DSLR around your neck feels like an invite for unwanted attention, regardless of whether or not this is actually true.

Think about it. There’s no way to have a long-lensed camera suspended on your chest AND appear casual at the same time. You might as well hang a sign on that industrial Sony strap. It might boast something like, “HEL-LO, fellow shoppers! You may be here for a spontaneous afternoon jaunt, but I actually planned this. I really, really like this place, and I drove 18.8 miles one way just to come. (True story.) What’s more–and this may be the hardest part to admit–I genuinely care about what happens here today.”

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This is my favorite image from our trip. Yes, it’s a bin filled with typewriter keys. I was  drawn to their stark beauty, and it felt good to run my fingers through them.

I know. My dilemma may not sound like life and death, because of course it isn’t. But I believe there are too many of us walking around, holding back back the best parts of ourselves. What a damn shame! Not only does this habit require a great deal of personal energy, but the world is missing out because of it.

Since starting this blog just over a year ago, I’ve grown braver about reaching out. I’ve learned skills that have helped me feel more empowered. I’ve gained inspiration from creative women all over the world. So when the idea came along to connect with actual people in my own city, it was easier to push past my fear and just go for it. And thank God for that, because the afternoon was ridiculously fun.

Four bloggers responded to my Facebook invite to meet me at a local thrift store, and I was able to sync schedules with one right away: Sarah of the Recreational Gardener. She figured she could score some thrifty yard art for her garden. We agreed to meet along the Minnehaha Mile, a collection of hip neighborhood shops in Minneapolis. We’d head to Junket: Tossed and Found, then walk a block to Time Bomb Vintage.

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Truer words have never been spoken. This sign accompanied the rack of ties hanging on a  display at Junket.

Both shops are nothing short of delightful. The displays are arranged so lovingly they actually talk to you. That’s right. Within minutes of our arrival, a photo in a small green frame spoke to me. (Literally, assuming you count thought bubbles, which I clearly do. I mean, obviously.) It reassured me that I’m among friends and don’t have to be embarrassed.

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Here it is, the photo that reached through the cosmos and spoke what I needed to hear. Check out the kids! I snapped this shot without noticing them. Later, while cropping this image, I saw them for the first time and laughed out loud.

I’ve come to believe this advice is is true of the world as well. There’s no need to feel ashamed. And who are the best reminders of this? Our very own like-minded, weird, lovely friends. So get over yourself and go find them, wherever they may be. Look online, head to a meetup in your city, invite that work acquaintance to coffee. Sure, not every lead will pan out. But that’s okay.

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I thought of my grandmother while taking this shot. She collected napkin rings and had two  displays of them hanging on her dining room wall. You could tell she treasured them, and each ring was different from the one next to it. Dosie was an artist who passed away when I was in middle school. Oh, how I’d love to have an adult conversation with her!

Know that it’ll take time, but seek your community. Surrounding yourself with your people is one of the best ways to draw you out of shyness and into your best self. Find those who are already doing what you want to do. Learn from them. Pay careful attention. Then over time, figure out which ones you can come to meet, online or in person. In fact, I’ll leave you with one final piece of thrift-shop wisdom: “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

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Find your community and you’ll be one step closer to living this out.

For the bloggers among you, do you have your own story of creating opportunities? Join my February linky party: Make, Mend, Change.

So what about you? Who are your like-minded friends? Let me know in the comments!

Get Cozy with Your Inner Crafter

Chances are, you’ve got a thing or two on your to-do list this month. No matter what it is you’re fired up to do, it’s going to require some energy. You know you need to take care of yourself to preserve it, so I’m here to give you a little nudge and make sure that happens.

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Let me tell you about two of the best hours I spent this week. Yesterday was the first Sunday of the month, which meant it was time for Crafternoon at my friend Heidi’s place. She’s been hosting these gatherings for more than a year, and yesterday she joked she’s really just looking for an excuse for free advice about how to decorate her apartment.

The truth is she’s one of the best connectors I know, and she brings an orbit of welcome wherever she goes. She brims with project ideas, and I never tire of seeing what she’s making. Even so, I don’t get there every month, sometimes because–say it with me–I’m just too busy. But this time I made self care a priority, and it was the right choice. (Hint, hint.)

The format of Crafternoon’s pretty simple: Show up with the project of your choice, find a spot, and hang out for a bit. (Heck, having a project isn’t even a requirement. Just show up, like Katie did this time.) When I walked in the door, the word cozy came to mind. Everybody was working on something warm you’d reach for during the winter months ahead.

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Don’t you just love the cushiness of Sammi Jo’s scarf? She introduced me to arm knitting, which creates this chunky texture. No needles required!  Check out this arm knitting video from The Crafty Gemini. Then let me know how it turns out!

Rachel was knitting a hat, in the loveliest shade of purplish grey. “Name your color, and I’ll make you one,” she offered, without missing a beat. Sure enough, this hat had been requested by her coworker.

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Why yes, I think I’ll have some tea with my knitting.

This month Heidi continued her watercolor series depicting the Twelve Days of Christmas. As she completes each day, she finds a frame and hangs it on the wall. Continually making room for her newest creations, Heidi’s walls feature a different display each month. Can you name the four days from the song  depicted here?

The coziness continued with some rooibus tea. (We may not have been clear on how to pronounce it, but we enjoyed it just the same.) Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever been to Heidi’s without being offered some tea. Her display cabinet features an artful supply of mismatched cups and saucers, ready for the choosing.

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This sweatshirt, a favorite of Jill’s, was was a gift from her mom years ago. Since moving to Minnesota 15 years ago, I’ve learned the value of having a comfy loungewear rotation.

In addition to the treats Heidi provides, we often bring our own. Because Crafternoons fall on Sundays, the group sometimes scrounges leftovers from events the night before. This time Jill brought cupcakes from her book club’s annual party.

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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of these. Jill made a tiny version of each book her club read this year, complete with marshmallow cream and fondant.

 

The last to arrive, I was also the last to leave. It was just getting dark when I packed up and headed home. Since Heidi lives across the street from the St. Paul Cathedral, I figured I’d take shot for the road.

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Till next time, Crafteroon!

So that was my favorite self care moment from the week. It felt good to surround myself with friends and the chance to be creative. So what about you? What can you make time for that will help maintain your energy?