Making Lasting Connections

It started off innocently enough. A little back and forth messaging between two bloggers. I don’t remember which one of us suggested it, but we agreed to meet for coffee at a location half-way between. You know… to talk about blogging.

Including that initial rendezvous in 2016, Donna (Retirement Reflections) and I have now managed a meet-up four years in a row. Not bad, considering we live in different countries. The first three visits were made possible because she and her husband, Richard, had an annual home exchange just a few hours from where I live in Southern California. Kathy (SMART Living 365), who also lives in the area, soon joined our little group.

Since Donna and Richard decided not to travel to Southern California this year, we changed the venue to Vancouver Island, where they live. Kathy and her husband were planning a road trip to Canada anyway, and my husband and I had a block of days on our calendar that needed filing, so plans were made.

Spending time with Donna and Kathy no longer feels like “just” a blogger meet-up. While we often discuss blogging, we have become good friends who simply enjoy each other’s company. Best of all, our husbands have happily fit right into this special friendship.

Thom, Kathy, Donna, Richard, me, and Paul.

For our recent get together in mid-July, three other bloggers joined us. Erica (Behind the Scenery), Jude (Dr. Sock Writes Here), and Ann (The Unretired Life), all of whom live on – or near – Vancouver Island, enthusiastically accepted Donna’s invitation. It was a treat to meet these interesting and accomplished women and they added unique perspectives to the discussion.

Enjoying a beautiful day talking about blogging.

Although one whole day was set aside to discuss this crazy obsession of ours, the rest of the time we enjoyed chatting, hiking, eating, chatting, seeing the sights, eating, and chatting. There may or may not have been some wine involved too.

Jude, Ann, Erica, Donna, and Kathy.

From the start, I knew the six of us women would get along just fine and have plenty to talk about. The happy surprise was how much our husbands also enjoyed themselves. That first day, while the women talked blogging, Richard kept the men busy seeing local sights and visiting a favorite lunch spot (where beer was definitely involved).

Fortunately, Paul and Richard continued to solve the world’s problems as we hiked.

Many thanks to Donna and Richard for their generous and warm hospitality. They did everything imaginable to make us feel welcome. Thanks also to Jude and her husband for hosting a delicious luncheon at their home. We also appreciated meeting a group of Donna’s women friends, who invited us to join their afternoon gathering.

I imagine some (non-bloggers) view blogging as an isolating pursuit. After all, we sit behind our screens, write for an unseen audience, and send our posts out to the interwebs, hoping someone will read them and comment. In reality, many of us have developed connections all over the world through our blogs. When those connections develop into friendships, we realize that – far from isolation – our blogs have exposed us to people and experiences we may not have otherwise known.

Author: RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

94 thoughts on “Making Lasting Connections”

  1. What a marvelous gathering! I’ve met four blogging friends on our travels, and John enjoyed their spouses. The instant rapport is amazing. That’s impressive that you met so many at once. Way to go!!!

      1. John was agreeable to meeting our first blogger. He was surprised at how much he enjoyed it and now asks me if I have any blogging friends on our travel route. I’m glad y’all had wonderful gatherings.

  2. What a sweet post, Janis! The fact that all of you were enjoying each other’s company is evidenced by both your warm words and the happy smiles in your photos. Not only is this positive proof that connections and friendships made through blogging can be richly rewarding, but it also indicates the level of support your husbands provide – which is heartwarming, as well. Nicely done!

  3. Here, here, Janis! Yes, that is what blogging is all about for me – the opportunity to connect with kindred spirits no matter where they exist. How wonderful that you (and your husband too!) have made lasting friendships through this medium.

  4. Obviously I like this a lot and agree with your comment about how NON isolating blogging really is. In fact it was a significant part of a conversation I had yesterday with a long time friend who initially didn’t understand this blogging thing. She finally acknowledged how powerful it has been in my life.

    I’m not surprised that virtual life friends connect seamlessly in the real world. After all, we get to know each other so well through our writing. However, the great unpredictable bonus is when spouses also connect. How wonderful is that?!!

    I love all the photos I’ve seen from your gathering together. It’s been so nice to see all your smiling faces 🙂

    1. We had a discussion about non-bloggers and (often) their inability to understand what we do and why we do it. The closest analogy I can come up with is having Pen Pals… on steroids. I know you are planning a visit to VI next summer and I hope you can link up with at least a few of these women while you are there.

      1. I consider it a huge privilege to connect with so many great people through blogging. I appreciate it’s not for everyone and that’s ok too.
        I’m already looking forward to next summer and hopefully meeting some of the great women there!

  5. This was wonderful that so many of you could come together. I’ve met two so far and both have been a delight. Maybe it’s that we know who people really are by their writing. No dating site profiles!

  6. This looks like it was so much fun for everyone and what an added bonus that the husbands all got along as well. The thing about fellow bloggers is that we all can relate to the blogging experience, it’s like having a hobby in common and as well, we do feel like we know each other, especially if we have been reading each other for some years. I am so grateful for the support of the blogging community, in so many different ways. Terrific photos…

    We had the pleasure of meeting two other bloggers, also internationally when they came to Sri Lanka on their travels where we were living. It was even better in person than I would have anticipated.

    I wrote a few comments which seem to have vanished into thin air. If they are there/here, please do delete the extraneous ones.

    Peta

    1. Hi Peta! I’m SOOOOO sorry that your comments kept going into my spam jail. I was under the impression that previous commenters get a pass, but I guess they thought there was something very suspicious about you 🙂 I remember reading about your blogger meet-ups. Now that you are back in Vietnam, perhaps you’ll get other visitors.

  7. How fun! I used to tell the kids all the time not to talk to strangers on the Internet but after blogging for a few years now, I can see how different it is. Great memories. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Haha! Isn’t that the truth! I guess, with blogging (especially when done over a long period of time), it’s hard not to be your authentic self. Although we may not share every little detail of our lives, our readers get a general sense of our personalities and values.

  8. Hi, Janis – What a wonderful post! Reading it helped me to relive some of the fantastic moments from our meetups. I learned heaps from our conversations together…in fact, I’m still processing it all. I also love how, on going out the door, Paul gave Richard and me ‘homework’ of things that he would like to discuss the next time that we get together. I greatly look forward to that!

  9. Janis, I’ve been waiting for this post and am not disappointed. What a wonderful thing you all did. I have only met up with one blogger/friend before and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. My husband was skeptical at first (you met her online!!) but he liked my friend and her husband so much, we have gotten together with them twice since. Thank you for sharing your experience. The world really is a small place, and we all have more in common than we realize.

  10. This is fabulous, Janis! It is so cool that the hubbies had fun, too. Of course, since they’re married to that fun group of women, why wouldn’t they get along just fine? Keeping a blogger meet-up going for 4 years is a real accomplishment. I’ve only met one of my blogging friends when he traveled through Idaho with his family a few years back. That was cool. Unfortunately, he’s since dropped out of the blogging community, which reminds me that I need to try tracking him down.

    1. Couple chemistry can be tricky so we were thrilled when everyone just seemed to click. It is sad how bloggers that you enjoy drop out now and then. Sometimes it’s because of a life challenge, but I think mostly it’s do to burn-out or a realignment of interests. I hope your friend is doing well.

  11. Well said. It’s the connections and loyalty that makes blogging what it is. In some ways we know more about each other than the people who see us every day. Bloggers pay attention, friends irl not so much.

  12. We’ve had our own meet-ups, Janis, you and me in San Diego, then with Liesbet in Pt Loma! My recovery from surgery kept me away this year, but I would LOVE to visit Vancouver. Hopefully in 2020! Great to see your post!

  13. Hi Janis,
    Since I follow Donna, Kathy, Erica and you I am reading about this meet-up from lots of different perspectives. One thing that can through in everyone’s blog post is how much fun and community and friendship was shared. And, bonus, the husbands had a good time, too!
    Seems all my blogging buddies are on the West Coast, Canada, or Australia. I’ll just have to meet up online…

  14. Hi Janis – I enjoyed reading the different posts and photos on this meet-up. Keep the streak going…Toronto is a nice destination, with direct flights from San Diego, Vancouver, Victoria 🙂

  15. Hey Janis! You captured the feeling of our meetup extremely well. Thanks to Donna of course for hosting us and the fact that the three of us knew each other IRL and the rest followed one another’s blogs so is was like long time friends (that sounds better than “old” right?) getting together to talk about something we all consider important in our lives. Every year it seems to get better and I think that has to do with us all being so open and generous with our thoughts and ideas–and maybe a little wine too 🙂 . I known that my husband Thom had a great time as well and like you said, that is a bonus when we all get together. Not sure when it will happen again but I KNOW that it will be equally wonderful. ~Kathy

    1. I always come away from these meet-ups with not only a lot of good ideas, but also a warm fuzzy glow that lasts for a while. And, yes. “long time” friends sounds much better! With all the energy bouncing around our group, I hardly think any of us could be classified as old.

  16. This is so awesome. For me making connections, online AND in-person is one of the top rewards of blogging. I have met so many amazing people through this little adventure. It’s just so great to know that it happening throughout the blogging world for others too 🙂

  17. You are so lucky to have the opportunity to meet some of your blogging friends, and to have your husbands also get along so well! I have to admit I’m just a tiny bit jealous….but mostly, I’m just happy for you and your friends!!!

    1. I was such a fun experience. It’s funny, I live in a pretty big city but I’m having trouble finding other local bloggers in my age group and with a retirement focus. I guess I’ll keep traveling to meet-up with kindred spirits!

  18. I’ve met and enjoyed the company of several of my blogging friends, Janis, but your “collective” is really special and absolutely wonderful! Your lovely photos demonstrate the camaraderie you share. I do think many of my non-blogging friends simply “don’t get it” and I’ve long stopped trying to help them understand. You and your blogging friends share something special that those of us who do blog can understand. Lovely, Janis!

    1. I, too, avoid talking about my blog with non-bloggers. In fact, when I described our recent trip that included (and was the main reason for it) the meet-up, I just said that I was meeting with a women’s writing group. So much easier and their eyes didn’t glaze over.

  19. Janis, you captured our time together at the blogging meetup perfectly. I was thrilled to be part of this get-together, and very impressed with all the work Donna put into planning and organizing it all. There really is something special about meeting blogger friends (and their spouses) in real life for the first time.

    Jude

    1. Hi Jude! Donna did a fantastic job (as did you) and it was so great to meet the three of you that I hadn’t met IRL before. It’s so nice that you are able to have such a nice blogging community on Vancouver Island. I live in a big city but I haven’t been able to find the same type of group here.

  20. Well said and summarized, Janis! The connections made (and often turned into friendships) are the best side-effect of blogging and certainly one I never imagined when I started receiving and returning comments, years ago. We do get to know each other well that way and meeting in person is the cherry on top! I wish I could have been a part of your inspiring and fun group and get together this year!

  21. I’ve said it before – lucky duck, you!
    But the added extra is that the guys actually enjoy each other too…that’s really something.
    Thanks for all the photos…this has been a nice go-to post for me these past days.
    Enjoy your blogger buds!

    1. I am a lucky duck, huh? A few of the men already knew each other so we knew they would have fun, but the two new ones were a bit hesitant at first. I’m pretty sure that, after this experience, they will be much more willing to join in on the fun.

  22. That’s wonderful Janis and although I’ve not connected face-to-face with any of the nice bloggers I interact with, I feel as if I know them as well as regular friends. One of the fellow bloggers Anne Mehrling has connected with two of her blogging pals (whom I also follow) – this was great and a vacation to boot – it does not get any better than that!

  23. Hi Janis, Amazing how you and Donna have now met up four years in a row. Especially when you live far apart. I realize there were a few years where you were living in closer communities, although you still made it happen.

    I really enjoyed hearing some of the other adventures you had on your trip. I especially liked the story from Paul about the kind, hospitable farmer.

    I like your phrase “unique perspectives.” I think our diverse backgrounds and opinions added to the discussion.

    I was also surprised to learn how blogging is actually a team sport. Blogging has truly enriched my life.🙂
    I loved reading your perspective, Janis! It was truly a treat and a privilege to meet you and Paul!

    1. Awwww, you are very sweet. I love, love “blogging is a team sport.” I don’t think any of us foresaw that when we put together our first post and sent it out to the universe. I enjoyed your blog before I met you IRL, but now I will enjoy it more since I feel that I better know the person behind the words.

  24. This is the best of the internet and what was hoped for way back when it was started.

    I have met several friends through hiking and photography blogs, so I have an idea of how wonderful this meet-up was.
    That your husbands hit it off too…AMAZING!!

    I hope you’re able to meet up every year.

  25. The connections are the best part of blogging, Janis! I haven’t had the chance to meet up with any of my blogging friends in real life, but I still feel like we are friends none the less. I admit to being a little jealous of your meet-up though. The photos look like you are all having so much fun. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  26. Did I mention how jealous I am. Just being honest. Meeting blogging friends (neighbors, really, no matter where we live) is a dream come true, particularly when you realize you have true friends virtually and face-to-face, whenever that happens. Great post. Love how you call it “this obsession of ours.” Blogging does become an obsession, in all good ways ❤

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