Meetup Success!

Well, I did it. I hosted my very first Meetup for women without children in my town. I was so afraid going in. Afraid no one would show up. Afraid I would say something presumptuous or embarrassing. Afraid of awkward silence. Afraid that maybe God is just determined to keep me isolated from anyone else who might have circumstances that resembles my own.

Honestly, it turned out better than I could have imagined.

I went into that restaurant not knowing a single woman without children, and I left with 5 new friends who share a common bond with me. We sat down at the table and all breathed a collective sigh of relief that we were in a safe place. You could just see it in some of their eyes…the joy of finding a whole table of people who just “get it.” The contentment of knowing there would be an entire dinner conversation without mention of breastfeeding, nap time, soccer schedules or some other trigger. Sweet relief.

I dare not assume that all of these women are in my boat. I honestly don’t know their stories yet. My guess is that most of our boats are so unique that there is only room for 1 person to row. But we each managed to drift our rafts into the same radius of calm water on a clear evening, close enough to wave to each other and chat. Thankfully, everyone was pretty darn normal (relatively speaking, ha!). We all knew how to converse well, ask good questions, laugh at each other’s jokes, share stories, attentively listen and not overshare (tempting though, isn’t it? The second I met them, I wanted to just gush my entire life story). It was just a fun, simple evening getting to know one another over chocolate. Yes, chocolate. The restaurant we went to specializes in chocolate; chocolate martinis, chocolate ravioli, truffles, soufflés, pie…chocolate everything. And it was fa-bu-lous!Photo Jun 07, 6 05 11 PM

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve had over 30 women sign up for this group. Many of them emailed me to say thank you for creating a space where they can meet others like them. One of the members even took the initiative to help me schedule a future meetup in 2 weeks: dinner at a local food truck rally! There is talk of brunch and evening hikes too as the year goes on. Fun!

So all in all, I have to say it was a surprising success and I am so thankful I had the guts to go out on a limb. I learned that there are indeed others out there who are like me. We may not share the same path, the same beliefs, direction in life or worldview. But we have a common bond over something that is markedly absent in our lives. And sometimes, it just feels good to know you’re not alone.

 

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Out On A Limb

Have you heard of Meetup? Essentially it’s a website that organizes “meetups” of people with different interests. There are book clubs, hiking groups, music groups, political groups…basically a group for anything you can imagine. People just gather around a common interest.

Well, I was on Meetup the other day looking at the groups they have for the town we just moved to. It was more of a curiosity thing, just looking to see what they had. I happened upon a group for women without children in a town about 50 miles away from me. Just as I found that group, a little box popped up and said “75 Meetup users in your town have expressed interested in a “childless” group. Would you like to start one?” Ummmm, no. I really don’t want to start one. I’m not interested in organizing anything, starting anything or really doing anything outside of my comfort zone. I closed the website and moved on with my to-do list for the day.

For whatever reason, it kept popping into my head throughout the next few days. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit, maybe it was curiosity. Who knows. I just kept thinking…75. There are 75 other people in my town who are interested in meeting up with other people who don’t have children.

I currently do not know anyone, aside from my sister, who is married and does not have a child. Not a single person. Zero. Not in my old church. Not in my new church. Not from college or grad school. Not in my network of photography friends. Not a local friend. Not a distant friend. Not even a remote acquaintance. No one. And to be honest, it would just be really nice to have a friend who also did not have children.

Not that I need to bond with someone over infertility, I have plenty of friends who have been down that road whom I can bond with if needed. Not that I need to have someone understand my story, I have plenty of friends who understand my story. I don’t need further understanding. And it’s not that I can’t relate to my friends who have children, we all get along beautifully and I love them (and their children) dearly.

I guess it would just be nice to meet another outlier, like myself. To have a full conversation with someone that didn’t include talk of swimming lessons, Kindergarten registration, soccer schedules or breastfeeding. I’ve been having those conversations for 7 years now. It feels a bit like a paraplegic talking to a triathlete (shout out to Sarah for giving me that fitting analogy).

So, I went out on a limb and I created a group. It’s for Women Without Children. In the group, I specified that you could be childless not-by-choice, childless because of loss, childfree by choice, childfree by circumstance…whatever best identifies you.

The group is still in moderation, awaiting final approval from Meetup. But if it gets approved, maybe a few of those 75 people will join. And maybe we’ll meet up for coffee or a hike. And maybe we’ll find camaraderie. Maybe I’ll make a friend who not only understands the place where I am, but is there herself. 

Yes, it feels weird. Almost like internet dating. It feels contrived and forced and awkward. A little sad maybe, if I’m being honest. Because it really shouldn’t be that hard to find a group of friends who are in a similar boat as you. Or even just one friend. But when you reside in a minority subsection of society, it’s just not always that easy to find people who are like you, you have to intentionally seek them out to form community.

So we’ll see what happens. Maybe the group will get approved, maybe it won’t. Maybe people will join, maybe they won’t. Maybe it will be a bunch of old, bitter infertiles, or maybe it will be a wonderfully diverse group who share a common bond. Maybe it will work out, maybe it won’t. I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I put myself out there and tried. Can’t fault me for trying!

**Edited to add: So my Meetup group was approved yesterday evening after I wrote this post. Within 4 hours it had 16 members and our first event (happy hour!) is already 75% full with confirmed RSVPs. Wow! tumblr_no7kt8IZPV1teoi3lo1_500
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Bridal Shower

Sunday was my little sister’s bridal shower! I have been planning and scheming and crafting for the better part of 3 months now and it was so awesome to see it finally all come together! Everything turned out even better than I had hoped. Yay!

I will say that it was a lot of work. I think we all know how dangerous Pinterest can be when planning a party. You see a lovely picture and you think “oh, I could totally pull that off! No problem!” And then on your 4th straight hour with a hot glue gun you start to seriously doubt yourself and question your own sanity. All that aside, I managed to finish everything (with my glue gun in tact) and we had a lovely shower to celebrate my beautiful sister.

It will also say that it pays to work in the wedding industry because I have wonderful friends who provide me with beautiful flowers for occasions such as these. I died when I saw the flower arrangements my friend Cori put together for me. The peonies? Good heavens they were gorgeous!

I’m kinda sad that I didn’t get to take more pictures. I greatly underestimated the set-up time and by the time it was all done and I could snap a few pictures, chaos ensued and the shower was underway. I think everyone had a good time. The dessert table went over really well, the cake was so good! Yum!

I think this adorable beverage dispenser was my favorite find. Pier One was having a 30% off sale and I snagged the cutest one. I love the giant cork stopper on top!
 
 
I got real ambitious and decided to create a ribbon garland for the backdrop to the dessert table. This was probably the most time intensive part of the whole thing! I must have hit every craft store in a 30 mile radius looking for the perfect shades of pink, white and aqua. Then measuring them and tying them was pretty time consuming too. Thankfully, my bestie was in town from Mexico and she was eager to craft with me 🙂 Without her I don’t think this shower would have happened!
 
Do you see resemblance? Some people think we look like twins and some people can’t even tell we’re related!
 
 

Me and Caitlin-love her!

Finishing

I’m pretty new to Beth Moore, but I’m hooked. My Bible study just finished doing her study on the book of James and I learned more from that one study than any other Bible study I’ve ever done. She is so gifted at teaching and speaking, it’s pretty remarkable.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go hear Beth Moore speak in Colorado Springs at Living Proof Live. She does speaking tours every year in different cities and I was excited to hear she’d be in my state this year! Unfortunately, the Waldo Canyon fire had just started a few days prior to the conference and had caused some horrible damage to some neighborhoods. Over 32,000 people were evacuated, over 300 homes burned, the Interstate had shut down, it was so devastating to see my home town suffer so badly. The fire was so bad that the conference was almost cancelled, but thankfully they decided at the last minute to go through with everything.

Apparently, Beth doesn’t really plan out what she is going to say months in advance like other speakers. She changes her topic at each conference and just waits until she gets a word from God to share with everyone. I think that’s really neat!

So this weekend’s topic was on “finishing.” It was absolutely a message I needed to hear.

I am a quitter, no doubt about it. If something gets too hard or if I’m not enjoying something or succeeding at something, I quit. If a hike is too hard, I quit. If a start a big project and get overwhelmed, I quit. If I get bored at a job, I quit. I have a list a mile long of things that I have quit, some big and some small. 

Most of the time, I don’t think twice when I quit something. I just move on, never looking back. But there are a few things that I’ve quit which have stuck with me and have made me wonder “what would have happened if I didn’t quit? If I saw it through, even when it got hard?”

Counseling is probably at the top of that list. I finished my Master’s degree in counseling and then declared I would never use it because I hated counseling. My experience as a counselor was not a good one. It was actually rather traumatic. I had some very difficult clients and I felt like I was causing them harm rather than healing. I started to get borderline panic attacks prior to counseling sessions and the amount of stress it put on me was almost intolerable. So although I finished my degree and completed all of my classes….I mentally checked out of school about a year before I was done. My heart had completely given up on the notion that I could be a good counselor. Then once I graduated, I swore off counseling forever and moved on to a full time career in photography.

But I felt some swirling in my soul this weekend about counseling. I felt like I could hear God say “I’m not finished with you on this. Sure, you can take a few years to sort it all out, but you gotta finish this one, I’m not going to let you quit this time.” To which I promptly whined, “But God!!!! I’m flat out no good at counseling. I can’t do it, I don’t like it, it makes me nervous, gives me panic attacks, I’m ineffective and just can’t do it ok?!”

But He didn’t let up. Wave of conviction after wave of conviction hit me. And I started to realize that maybe He was right. Maybe He isn’t finished with me as a counselor. Maybe this is where my Wild Goose Chase has been leading me all along. If He called me to counseling and He wants me to finish and get to a place of peace with counseling, then I’m sure he will make a way for it to happen.

I have honestly no idea what this looks like for me yet and it terrifies me just to think about it. I think my first step is to find a counselor myself and talk through some of these issues I have with counseling. Who better to understand me than a fellow counselor?  I know this is going to be a long road, one that will take years to complete and I’ll definitely be tempted to quit, but I’m going to try my hardest to finish and actually get to a place where I can effectively help people and not have a panic attack every time a client walks in my office looking for help. 😉

I also just felt really convicted in general to quit being a quitter. I really felt the Lord telling me it’s time to get my act together and stay the course on various things in my life. From trying to lose the same 10 pounds I’ve been trying to lose to not giving up on getting pregnant to completing a few decorating projects at home….I have a lot to finish.

I am so grateful for such a spiritually rich weekend. I’m thankful for my friends, for challenging words and for being able to hear the Holy Spirit speak into my life. I’m thankful for moments where my heart changes direction and my spirit is convicted. I’m so grateful that I serve a living God who can speak to me and know exactly what I need to hear. What a blessing!