I’ve read countless Q&As and About pages over the years that identify “all the amazing people I’ve met” as the counterpart to “my favorite part about blogging”. And I thought it was all a bunch of hooey. It was absolutely ridiculous to me when bloggers would gush about all the friends they’d met through blogging or social media.
Seriously, people. It’s ONLINE. Get some real friends.
Well don’t look now, Self-righteous Sarah, but I think you’ve gone and landed yourself some blog friends.
How did THAT happen?
Not overnight, that’s for sure. I’ve been pounding out nonsense on this blog for nearly nine years, and for the first six – I don’t know that I connected very well with other bloggers. My blog is a journal – not a source of information or an authority on any one subject – so why would other bloggers care?
But it isn’t about that. Connecting with other bloggers – other WRITERS – isn’t about connecting your content with theirs. It isn’t about connecting links and comments and blog traffic. It’s simply about connecting.
Colt has a book called “Have you filled a bucket today?” And in a few, simply-illustrated pages, this unassuming little children’s book captures the meaning of life. Filling buckets. Everybody has a bucket – and your bucket can be full or empty. Being kind to others fills their buckets, and in turn fills yours. And being ugly makes you a “bucket dipper”. You don’t wanna be a bucket dipper. You cannot fill your own bucket by dipping out of someone else’s. Every day the goal is to fill the buckets of the people around you.
I spent last weekend with a group of bucket fillers. Fellow bloggers, local to Northwest Arkansas. We made plans to get out of our routines and out of the city limits for a weekend of WORK – as each of us defined it. The arrangement was no frills, no fuss, no expectations, no agenda. A weekend to work on whatever we needed to work on. Uninterrupted time to write, think, take a walk, or take a nap. The extent of my prep work for the weekend was buying a cozy new pair of pajama pants, which I wore nearly the entire time. That was the beauty of it. A small group of women self-aware enough to recognize the opportunity in a weekend retreat, and low-maintenance enough to pull it off.
Even after a few short hours into the first day, my bucket was in good shape. There were only six of us, no identified leader or organizer, and a few of us were meeting in person for the first time! But it just worked. We spoke each other’s language though none of us do the same thing for a living – and only one in our group is a professional writer.
We have that common thread I didn’t previously believe existed. That writing, creating, storytelling thread that connects us. It doesn’t matter that we’re not all moms or not all native Arkansans or not all the same age or religion or political affiliation. It doesn’t even matter that some of us consider THIS dangerously unhealthy “food” and some of us consider it the healthiest thing we’ve eaten in weeks! (Jackie, I’m making it my personal mission to teach you to eat junk food.) We’ve managed to find what connects us. And that thread is thicker than we thought possible.
The spirit of the weekend was empowering and inspiring, but we also spent time asking each other – What do you need? What’s in your way? How can I help? For some, the answers were literal. “I need a space. A physical space in my house to get my work done.” For others, it was more like, “I need motivation. I need discipline.”
The weekend was equal parts allowing each other to give ourselves a break – and kicking each other in the pants to get moving. As our time together drew to a close, we each admitted that this was exactly what we needed — whether or not we were aware of it. We couldn’t have planned it any better, and we couldn’t have known how impactful it would be.
Part of me wonders if lightning can strike us twice. If we get back together in the spring like we’re planning, will the dynamic be there? Will our expectations be different? Will our attitudes be different? Will the dynamic be as healthy and encouraging and productive and bucket-filling? I can’t wait to find out. And I’m thrilled to have been wrong about “all the amazing people I’ve met” through blogging.