love and compassion

Meeting popular writers and realizing they’re just people.

Last week, I had the pleasure of mingling with some popular writers that advocate minimalism and location independence. As I stepped off the bus on the corner of Addison & Clark, my palms sweated, my heart beat quicker with each step, and I kept resisting the urge to use the restroom. The prospect of meeting prominent bloggers and the impression that I may or may leave upon them was daunting.  However, before entering Rockit Bar & Grill, I paused to take a deep breath and remind myself to just be honest. Just be me. They will either like me or dislike me and there is nothing I can do about that as long as I am genuine. I went inside, met everyone, had a great time, learned new things, discussed ideas, and left.

On my journey home, I had time to reflect on the conversations of the evening.  I should not have been nervous. I had nothing to be afraid of.  Everyone I met were ‘normal’ people doing remarkable things with their lives. Other people in the bar probably had no idea of the energy that radiated between us, yet, in our circle, we were fully aware of the movement. This led me to realize that often, we pass by other people and are completely oblivious to the beautiful passions that lie within. Some of the most inspiring people we could meet pass you on a daily basis, serve you your coffee every morning, drive your bus, or work in the next cubicle as you (I’m sure there is another Nina in a corporate office, waiting to break the restraints and live).

If we take a few moments to pay attention to the people in our daily routines, we spend less time tracking the lives of distant strangers and instead, inspire and foster the growth of people in our own communities by connecting with the immediate strangers and friends we see often.

You’re probably wondering about the people I met. They are all wonderful. I originally intended to write a post in which I introduced you to almost each person I met. After I started writing, the focus shifted and I realized that it probably doesn’t make a difference if you know. However, it seemed a shame for me to erase everything I wrote, especially after the face-to-face interactions did influence me (this is my blog, after all).

In order of appearance:

Nina Y. If you passed Nina on the street, you would see a thin, cute Asian woman and assume she is a a quiet, passive person who lives a ‘normal’ day-to-day life. After digging deeper, you will discover an exquisitely beautiful, dominating lady who isn’t afraid to express what’s on her mind and live her life the way she wants. Nina also radiates warmth and helped me feel more at ease being present among everyone.

Hana Kamm of ShesNext.com. Hana is not a self-proclaimed minimalist, but she is the innovative founder of ShesNext.com, an organization providing inspiration and awareness about the issues facing today’s women. The website features short, inspirational videos of women leaders sharing guidance and knowledge on how to lead a unique and self-confident life. Hana was also the first person I officially met at the meet-up and conversed with on multiple occasions through out the evening. She has an inviting, happy aura and I was immediately drawn to her. I really hope our paths cross again in the future.

Mark Lawrence of Lifestyle Ignition. Mark walked up to Hana and I in the midst of our initial conversation and introduced himself quickly. I was immediately drawn to his willingness to meet new people right off the bat instead of focusing on the ‘celebrities.’ I admit that I was unaware of Mark until a couple days prior to the meet-up and was not too familiar with his work, but I think that’s why meeting him was great. I got to know Mark personally first, and then I wandered over to his blog later to check out what he writes (which is excellent!). I feel it is better to be drawn to a person and then read what they write, instead of being drawn to their writing and meeting them in person later only to discover his or she may not be as great as you think.

Dusti Arab of Minimalist Adventures. Wow. The first thing you will notice about this diva is her bright red hair. The second thing you will notice is that this lady radiates positive energy and passion in everything she says and does. She is loud. She is beautiful. She is independent. She is opinionated. She is excited about life. I won’t forget her answer [to one of my questions] with a yell of, “SELL IT!” followed by cheers and a high five to Nina. I am thrilled I was able to meet her in person, merely weeks after discovering and falling in love with her blog.

Colin Wright of ExileLifestyle. Yes, ladies (and gents), he is just as attractive in person as you would expect. Furthermore, he speaks very clearly which enabled me to understand everything he was saying in a loud bar (I’m hard-of-hearing, for those of you who are unaware). My need to lip-read did leave my eyes wandering to the rest of his beautiful face and occasionally not paying attention to the words coming out of his lips. But I think I got everything that I needed to hear. Most importantly, I discovered that Colin is genuinely interested in each and every person he meets – which is a rare trait to find in people these days.

Joshua Milburn, one of The Minimalists. I’m not sure how we started talking (at this point, a group conversation had formed), but we mainly spoke about the fact that we both attended college in Ohio, and we were both minimalists (I suppose in my case, I’m considered an ‘aspiring minimalist’) that don’t entirely agree with some radical forms of minimalism that others live and encourage. I was glad to connect with him and feel better about my own goals and intentions.

Joel Runyon from Blog of Impossible Things. We spoke too briefly – I was unable to get to know him. However, for those of you who are curious, Joel is an athlete with a goal of completing ‘impossible’ things. His blog chronicles these goals as he questions what is impossible and strives to make the most of his life by discovering what he is really capable of doing. He serves as an inspiration to people who question whether or not they will be able to succeed in reaching a seemingly far-fetched goal.

Sam Spurlin from The Simpler Life. Sam is another blogger that I was unaware of prior to the meet-up but was so glad to meet before reading his writing. When I went home, I looked up his website right away and discovered that Sam has pretty much written everything I think or want to say about minimalism and living a simple life. OK, maybe not everything, but when I read his blog, I feel a connection. It also helps to know that he’s a sweet, heartfelt person. Plus, he’s a teacher – not a “quit-your-job-and-travel” minimalist, which is something I admire (and strive to be).

Jenny Smythe is one of the shortest, most vibrant people you will ever meet. She has a wonderful smile and is so passionate about living well and helping others. You will be inspired to run out into the world and make a change when you read her blog over at Minimalism Defined. I spent a majority of my time talking with Jenny and two fellow readers (here’s a shout out to Kim & Meredith!) I’m looking forward to seeing her blog grow!

Last, but not least…

Everett Bogue of Far Beyond the Stars was the last person I met that evening. I kind of avoided him because I had no idea what we could say to each other and he was wrapped up in other conversations. Finally, I grabbed Dusti and said, “Introduce me to this guy!” because I was too shy. We shook hands. We said hi, exchanged words, and talked about his nails – he had painted on glitter nail polish. At this point though, Mr. Bogue had consumed several glasses of alcohol and was ready to leave the bar with his comrades. Needless to say, there wasn’t much of an exchange between us. That’s OK. I got what I needed.

Overall, great night for me. Now that you know who I met, how does that directly affect you? (Hint: it probably won’t.)

I hope I didn’t leave anyone out. If you’re interested in seeing what other attendees had to say about the evening, check out What I Learned From My First Tweetup by Jenny Smythe, Chicago from Dusti Arab, and This Is Real Life from Sam Spurlin.

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8 thoughts on “Meeting popular writers and realizing they’re just people.

    1. I’ve only discovered a few (and most of the people at the meetup weren’t even from the area!). You may find people by spreading the word via social networks, looking for ‘voluntary simplicity’ in Yahoo groups, etc. You may be surprised! The only reason I knew about the meet-up was because of reading a blog post by a minimalist who lives in Portland!

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