One simple word: “Today.” Tattooed on her wrist, in swooping cursive, the message resonated with me. We’d never met till this morning, so I didn’t ask too many questions, but I was intrigued. I figured there must be a story there—one I hoped to hear someday—but for now, we weren’t here to learn each other’s backstories. No, today, we were here for a reason: to connect with local bloggers.
Two Bloggers Hatch a Plan
Six strangers had gathered at French Meadow Bakery for our first-ever Blogger Breakfast. The writer of One Girl, Two Cities and I had come up with the idea a month earlier, when we’d met over breakfast ourselves. “This was great,” one of us had said, “we should do it again—and invite others along next time.”
We got out our calendars and set a date. We wrote a description of the event we pictured, and sent it to Jenna Redfield, organizer of The Twin Cities Blogger & Creative Collective. (Lucky for us, it’s an active group, with more than 500 members.) Now, here we were, perusing menus and chatting with a group of women we’d just met.
Surround Yourself with People Who Do Your Thing
I’ve been on a quest to find my voice, and I’ve come to understand something. No matter what it is that lights you up, you’ve got to do that thing. You’ve got to make space for it and let it breathe. For me this involves wading through excuses that keep me from blogging. Especially when I’m intimidated, it also means surrounding myself with people who’ve found a way to do it themselves.
And so. Here I was, enjoying a vegan breakfast burrito, discovering what other bloggers are up to. I’ve long been fascinated by the question of why bloggers do what they do. I wanted to find out how the process improves these writers’ lives, and this was the perfect chance to ask.
Blogging has made me braver, and I wanted to find out how the practice has influenced the lives of others. Without blogging, after all, I never would have busted out of my somewhat introverted hesitation and co-founded this event. A book I’m reading, How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields, posits that well-being centers around filling three buckets: vitality, connection, and contribution. Through a giveaway raffle for this book, I invited attendees to share how their blog makes lives better for them or their readers.
Six Ways Local Bloggers Are Living a Good Life
One: Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle
Jenn Espinosa-Goswami, “a former fat girl who dropped 100 pounds without any products or pills,” serves individuals and groups seeking a healthy lifestyle. A health coach and motivational speaker, Jenn provides ways for others to feel their best through her blog Weightless Chronicles. Through posts like, “KFC Put Me in the Hospital” and “How to Love Yourself When You Hate Your Body,” Jenn impresses me with her gutsy storytelling and can-do strategies.
Two: Celebrating the Theater Scene
Kendra Plant uses Artfully Engaging as her way to connect Twin Cities locals with arts. I wanted to do a fist pump when I read her review of Camelot at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater: “We must take art seriously because theater, literature, music, dance, and physical art are all glimpses into our shared humanity and our diversity. We must keep telling our stories.”A social-media strategist, Kendra also leverages Twitter to celebrate good things happening in our vibrant theater scene.
Three: Living to the Fullest
I was happy to discover that Meghan Joy Yancy–of the today tattoo–blogs about “living your extraordinary ordinary life and relishing the joy in TODAY.” She invites readers to, sit back, relax, and dig deep together. In a tone that makes me feel I’m chatting with a trusted friend, she covers topics like raising mixed-race children and the ups and downs of embracing a minimalist lifestyle. Deeply influenced by her Christian faith, Meghan is building community, writing a book, and runs an Etsy shop for today-themed items she created.
Four: Inspiring Foodies to Explore
Kelly and her husband Dusty bring foodie people together through Dining Duster. (The site doesn’t mention their last name, so I won’t either.) Both travel for work, which gives them the chance to explore Midwest hotspots and hidden gems. Thanks to their review of Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm, I’ve added it to my list of summer spots to explore. The blog helps Kelley feel energized and brings her in contact with people and places she otherwise may have missed along the way.
Five: Planning with Intention
At some point during breakfast, a notebook caught my eye. Its pages were hand-decorated by Barbie of A’ine Couture Portraits, a professional photographer who clearly has an eye for beauty. I’d heard about the bullet-journal craze, but hadn’t seen one in person until now. Barbie illustrates each month with quotes, drawings, and hand-lettering. Time tends to hurtle past we Americans so fast, that too many of us yearn for ways to slow down and find intention. To Barbie, I say, “Brava!”
Six: Cultivating the Art of Listening
Laura VanZandt of One Girl, Two Cities enjoys “encouraging people to go to theater as a way to learn about people who aren’t like them.” Her description of The Averagers: Christmas War by Comedy Suitcase made me want to join the laughs and buy tickets immediately. But, like life, theater isn’t all fun and games.
In a series expressing her emotions about the U.S. presidential election (spolier alert: like me, she isn’t happy about it), Laura processes her thoughts about a show she attended recently. It allowed eight women to use performance art as a way to tell their rape stories. I appreciated her take on how this painful topic can encourage us all to listen more than we talk.
What About You?
As far as I’m concerned, better dialogue is what it’s all about. It’s a key reason why I spend my free time blogging. I so appreciated this chance to get out of the house and get to know some others who share the same goal. So, now: How do you bring vitality, connection, or contribution into your life?