I believe in the power of online community.
Flickr and blogs kept me connected to family while experimenting with Life Abroad.
Flock Â provides a safe haven for the spiritual curious who live in the diaspora.
The Chronic Babes Forum resourced me through nearly a decade of chronic illness.
And the blog-o-sphere introduced me to coaching colleagues while I typed all by my onesome in my Danish studio.
Surely youâ€™ve experienced online connection too?
Classmates reunited long after the lights went out on your 20th reunion.
Cousins keeping in touch on Facebook.
Social movements powered by Twitter.
Romances courtesy of eHarmony.
Iâ€™ve been at conferences where attendees argued thereâ€™s no â€œThereâ€ there on line. Frankly, I think thatâ€™s bullshit.
Still, there is nothing like an In Real Life meet-up. The chance to hug someone around the neck. To connect a voice with a profile picture. To say, as one of my readers mentioned to me last weekend at WDS, â€œI thought youâ€™d be taller in person.â€ (I guess that means my presence is LARGE! )
I knew I.R.L. meets were valuable, but I never really realized how valuable until recently.
You see, this month Iâ€™m taking a course in which one for the assignments involved a sort of a life-long timeline. Just 10-20 life moments. Thatâ€™s all. You had to choose carefully. In my life thereâ€™s been births and stillbirths, graduate degrees and ordinations, homes in three countries, break ups and marriage, stories of survival. But you know what made it on to my list of top 20 most significant moments?
Meeting my soul sisters in-person at a conference.
When I left my role as an ordained minister, I lost my tribe. It corresponded with moving to Denmark, where I didnâ€™t speak the language and an insular culture made it difficult to connectâ€”even for a community builder like me. I started setting up my coaching practice utterly alone, just me in my all white Danish-modern studio, and the magpies outside my window.
Eventually through insomnia, and long grey-lit hours, I came to find a circle of fellow coachesâ€”like-minded colleagues a little bit ahead of me on the soulful business road, each one happy to help. Together we created a loose network of care â€“ referring clients to each otherâ€™s specialities, writing guest posts and ebook chapters, collaborating on courses. But we only knew each other through profile pictures and twitter handles. We hadnâ€™t ever met up in real life.
Then, in 2011, we all went to this slightly mysterious new event in Portland, Oregon â€“ The World Domination Summit. And there, for the first time I was able to shake everyoneâ€™s hand, hear everyoneâ€™s laugh, learn what kind of lip balm they liked best (Burtâ€™s Bees pommegranet), and discover whether they liked sangria. (Um, yes.)
We didnâ€™t make a pact or enter a covenant. We donâ€™t have a joint mission statement, or share an office. But we are truly colleagues now â€“ women on a united on a journey who are:
Thrilled to walk with our clients into better health, sweeter ways of living, more satisfying work.
Committed to introducing as many people as we can to joyful creativity.
Dedicated to releasing women from shame and suppression.
Empowering our sisters to live all the way out to the edges of their own beautiful skin.
Before I met my soulful business sisters in real life, I had tenuous connections. Now I have collegaues and friends. I feel less alone on this â€œcarving out something newâ€ journey. And while I still live on theÂ edges, Iâ€™m not longer all alone.
Thatâ€™s what I want for you, friend.
In real life connections that make the shift from â€œinteresting women I kinda of knowâ€ to â€œsoulful women I can call upon.â€
Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re going back to Portlandâ€”the soulsisters and I. To create the kind of space WDS made for us, but with a little less overwhelm, a lot ofÂ strong-and-lovely feminity, and a little more soul.
What about you, my magpie?
Are you ready to meet your soul sisters in real life?
Can you say â€œyesâ€ to a new kind of community?
Will you invest in creating meaningful connections
I think you are.
I know you can.
I hope you will.
Weâ€™re waiting for you, the soul sisters and I.
*your magpie girl
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Ready to meetÂ your sister’sÂ in real life?Â (Don’t say, “I can’t.”Â Click here, explore, and rest in the curious maybe.)