A few days before our trip to Portugal, Beau and I were neck deep in prepping the house for our AirBnB guests, packing and wrapping up work projects. I had slept for approximately three hours the night before and a massive headache was boring its way through my skull. I was in no mood to have guests over.
But the week before, in a moment of “brilliance”, Beau and I had decided that we needed to host a community-building meetup of fellow entrepreneurs and creatives.
So after prepping assorted crudités and a charcuterie plate and a trio of colorful dips, I was slumped on the couch dreading the small talk I would soon be making with a house full of COMPLETE STRANGERS.
(I’ll pause here for a moment to tell you that I am a serious introvert and as such I would pretty much rather have acid thrown in my face than make small talk with strangers—which is what small talk feels like for most introverts anyway. If you want to talk about big ideas or deep emotions or your burning passion for early 17th century postage stamps, I’m game. If you ask me about the weather, I will smile awkwardly and make strange noises and sort of side-scramble away.)
Soooooo. At 5:00 I was sitting on the couch cursing myself for organizing this meet-up and secretly hoping the house would burn down before our guests arrived.
At 6:15 the doorbell started ringing and one by one, our guests trickled in:
A woman who came all the way from Vancouver, Canada to get feedback and support on her growing food tourism business. A work-from-home mom and illustrator who wants to grow her business now that her daughter is in school. A woman looking to lead a more creative, less perfection-driven life after beating a cancer diagnosis.
And so many others.
We discussed how hard it is to be the CEO, creative director, staff photographer, marketing team and admin all rolled into one when you’re running your own company.
We talked about how isolating and overwhelming it can feel when you’re home alone in front of a blank computer screen trying to bring your vision to life. How tempting it is to answer the very important 3,479 emails in your inbox. Or redo your instagram feed so it forms a perfect patchwork and spells your name backwards if you squint your eyes just right. Instead of filling your creative cup.
We commiserated over the way fear and perfectionism can leave you paralyzed—afraid to create the podcast, take the class, make the prototype or raise your rates.
Everyone shared with incredible honesty and vulnerability. It was about a gazillion times better than I’d imagined. Having the meetup was like getting plugged into a 1000 watt battery. I was high on sisterhood and full of fresh ideas for days afterwards.
Which got me thinking about how much solopreneurs, small business owners, artists and freelancers miss out on the energy and connection that comes from working in a team.
It’s true we don’t have unreasonable bosses looming over our desks telling us to get it done yesterday. We can hole up on the couch with a bag of chips at 2pm on a Tuesday to watch reruns of The Office if we feel like it. No one is giving us any shit about logging our vacation days.
But we lose the feedback and encouragement of co-workers. There’s no swapping stories around the water cooler. No high-fives and after-work beers to celebrate the completion of a big project. No office kickball league.
And that connection matters.
We all need community. But our perfectionist tendencies sometimes make it hard for us to have it. We need the “perfect” reason to host a meetup or have someone over, the “perfectly” instagrammable dinner party. But I’m here to say fuck that noise. And to encourage you to host an imperfect gathering, here’s a dip you can whip up in 10 minutes flat with ingredients you probably have rolling around in your fridge right now. So you can invite someone over—your neighbor, your new friend, that barista you have a crush on—and have a moment of connecting.
In that spirit, Beau and I have decided to do a lot more events that bring people together: Meetups for entrepreneurs and creatives looking for their people. Community-building pop-up dinners. Photography workshops focusing not only on technique, but also on how to grow your creative voice. International retreats designed around slow travel, connection and personal growth.
Because as much as I was dreading this meetup in the hours before our guests arrived, it turned out to be brilliant after all. It’s the spark that has me energized to create new experiences and grow our community. The energy that filled my creative cup to overflowing.
Which is what I want for you.
If you are a member of the solitary work-from-home posse, if you spend your days glued to your laptop in a coffee shop or alone with your art in a studio, or if you are just looking for experiences designed to help you lead a more connected and creative life, we have lots of good things coming your way.
Starting with a pop-up dinner in Lisbon in May and a photography workshop in Seattle in July! Details and registration are coming soon. In the meantime, join our First to Know List and get early access to all our events.
I can’t wait to see you there!
Spicy, Creamy, Easy-Peasy Avocado Dip
- 1 large avocado
- 1 scallion, sliced
- 1/4 jalapeño with seeds, sliced
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- Generous pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, leaves and stems
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup cream
- Extra virgin olive oil, to garnish (optional)
- Black sesame seeds or toasted pepitas, to garnish (optional)
*Notes: If you want a less spicy dip, you can deseed the jalapeño or leave it out altogether.
- This dip keeps well for 3-4 days, tightly covered and refrigerated. But I think the flavor is best on the first day.
- This makes a great salad dressing or sauce for tacos, chicken or fish. Just thin it with a bit more water or cream to your desired consistency.
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process on high speed until the dip is completely smooth.. You might need to add a little more water to get the mixture going, depending on the strength of your blender.
Taste. Add more salt, lime, or jalapeño if you want. Blend until uniform.
To serve, transfer the dip to a bowl. Use the back of a spoon to make decorative swoops in the dip. Pour a bit of extra virgin olive oil over the dip and top with seeds and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt if you like.
Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups dip.