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!

It’s Crafternoon, So Pull Up a Chair

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When’s the last time you lolled away an afternoon with friends, making crafts and having snacks? If you don’t have an answer, then it’s been too long. Take a page from my friend Heidi’s playbook, and start hosting Crafternoon.

Last year she began these monthly Sunday gatherings as a present to herself on her birthday. (Don’t tell her this, but in the end we’re the ones who got the gift.) The format’s pretty simple: Invite a few friends over and provide treats. Tell everybody to bring a project and that anything goes.

In my experience, anywhere from two to five people show up, and no two gatherings are the same. Here’s what happened this month. Pull up a chair and join us.

Bree’s Doctor Who Scarf Grew (And So Did My Knowledge of British Pop Culture)

It turns out Bree’s brother is a Doctor Who fan. Along with BBC lovers across the globe, he knows all about The Doctor’s legendary scarf, which–depending on the episode–has ranged from 6 to 14 feet long. (Correct me, die-hards, if I have these numbers wrong.) Naturally, Bree’s brother will be the recipient of her eventual scarf. Well played, I say: Way to combine a hard-core winter project with an amusing gift!

Heidi Cracked Us Up with Her President’s Day Cards

Heidi’s a reader and a history buff. And let me just warn you now. Most of you probably don’t want to go head-to-head with her in a U.S. presidential trivia contest. If you’re one of her Facebook friends, you receive updates on each president’s birthdays, complete with a historic photo.

Sorry, President McKinley. The FB crowd can be pretty harsh. To be fair, your eyebrows do resemble Sam Eagle’s from The Muppet Show. But Heidi brings up a good point. You deserve to catch a break, since you were the last president to serve in the American Civil War, then got assassinated while in office.

I Got to Say Hi to Jill, Then Prepped Some Upcoming Blog Posts

So Jill and I know each other solely through Crafternoon. Even on the first day we both showed up, we had no trouble covering topics from books (her habit of researching scientific topics that appear in novels) to divorce (mine from a few years back, a story for another post). Jill usually has a sketchbook in hand, and it wasn’t till this meeting that I learned she’s a legit designer with a blog of her own.

Jill was heading out as I arrived, but she was kind enough to let me take this shot of her by the door. (Crafternoon spans several hours and functions like an open house.) I then proceeded to load up on some buffalo chicken dip so I could focus on my craft of the day. Be on the lookout for these decorated inspirational quotes. They’ll appear in my blog’s
soon-to-be regular feature, Be Good To You Today.

So, how do you connect with your own community, crafting or otherwise?

Let Me Hear Your Voice

It wasn’t till I reached my 40s that I truly understood how readily women’s voices tend to fall into the background. There are so many reasons for this–societal, personal, and often so subtle it’s nearly imperceptible. One goal of this blog is seek out ways for me to help women find their voices. As such, I’m honored to have been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

In the name of highlighting the endeavors of women bloggers who’ve made an impression on me, here are my own nominations:

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Elle Knowles For reaching out through proactive commenting. Seeing her avatar come up has helped me feel my own voice is being heard. I so relate to her lineup of projects, projects, projects, and I’m glad blogging is on her list.

Lily Pups Life  For sharing her stories of living with bipolar. Mental illness is everywhere, but we’re just on the cusp of being able to talk about it. For support, check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Losing Screws For documenting her home-reno tribulations and helping us all understand things like how to switch out a doorknob. Bonus kudos go to her for the wonderfully amusing blog title.

Quilt Musings  For becoming the first follower to make me think, “An artist just noticed my blog!” One of my goals is to connect with fellow creators. Having a legit quilter click one of my links made my day. And her About page made me want to hear more stories of her perspective on life and art.

Amy Sampson For speaking her voice through a starkly beautiful combination of photographs and their backstories.

Peggy Polias For finding her voice through music composition. I was especially intrigued to read about her recent collaboration with a visual artist.

Bittersweet Sensations For nominating me in the first place. As she herself recommends: Yes, let’s let go of those things we’re afraid of, and keep on blogging.

Comment and let me know about female bloggers who inspire you.

Well, I’ve broken a few of the rules. Even so, I may just find a way to incorporate the questions into another post soon.

The Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  • Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate seven blogs.

The Questions

  1. Who was your first crush and what did you like about that person?
  2. What is something about you that you’re most proud of?
  3. Where is your safe haven? Why?
  4. What is your favorite genre in movies?
  5. If you’d trade a talent with a friend, what would it be and why?
  6. What is your biggest insecurity?
  7. Who is the person you like most in the world?
  8. If you could invent anything but a time machine, what would it be and why?
  9. Do you have a particular way of making someone feel you love them?
  10. How do you see yourself in five years?