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The last few days I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something. It'll get to be around 7 and I'll think "there's something I should be doing." Eventually, I'll remember that I should be recording a vlog. Then I'll remember, wait, no, I'm not supposed to be. VEDA is over.

That feels a little sad to me, still. It didn't really sink in until today. It's a rainy day at work, a bit of a rough one, and I was thinking to myself how nice it would be to hop online and watch some VEDA vids to cheer myself up. I could, of course, go back and watch some old ones, but still.

VEDA was, as always, an insightful and awesome experience. Not only did I meet tons of new people, make some new friends (and new guildies) but I created some things I'm really proud of. I explored my own lengths and strengths, and got a more accurate view of myself and my life. VEDA isn't just about meeting new people; it can be a bit of a reflective time, where you look at yourself. I mean, the whole point of VEDA is to film yourself. 

I still haven't decided what all of it means to me. What all I learned about myself. Right now I'm trying to make small, little changes, to further my goals, and a lot of that was directly inspired by VEDA, by the people I met and the things I explored in myself.

Anyway, little bit of navel-gazing, but it's a rainy Tuesday here, so I think that's allowed.

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VEDA has taken over my life

Just a quick note to say VEDA has taken over my life. A little bit. Or at least a lot of my online life.

You can see what I'm up to here. Truthfully, posts may be a little sparse in August, since I'll be spending a lot of time on VEDA. But producing things! So go see them.

See my latest video, and feel free to subscribe or check them out.

Love your face!


#winetoreach and VEDA

This last Friday, Joey tweeted he wanted to #winetoreach. Just like that, suddenly, he had put together one of the most popular, hectic and fun #winetoreaches in a while. That was all it took. 

For those unfamiliar with this, #winetoreach started one fateful night, many moons ago when my BFF Ashley got a bottle of wine and stayed home one night, drunkenly tweeting with the hashtag #winetoreach, parodying her own Twitter handle, @writetoreach.

It started off with folks getting drunk, hanging out on Twitter, and using that hashtag together. It was like we were all going out to the bar together, but were doing so from the comfort of our own homes, in PJs. Obviously better than the actual bar, where you have to dress up and spend more than $8 on a bottle of wine.

Then, one day, I think it was during #VEDA last year, we realized, hey, we have webcams, and there's this thing called Google+ Hangouts that would allow us to all hang out together and see each other and actually talk!

Can I admit that this still freaks me out a little bit? Live, non-text based conversations in general still freak me out a little bit. I always worry I won't know what to say, or there will be some uncomfortable silence, and even though I've had so many awesome and hilarious #winetoreaches, this still freaks me out.

Nevertheless, I did it. I dove in. And suddenly there were all these people I'd come to know, being their awesome, inclusive, hilarious  selves. Anyone who seemed to be at home on Twitter would get a bomb of tweets, asking (or demanding) they come online. Hell, on Friday we were pulling in people who didn't know most of us, just to chat and have a blast.

This is the spirit of #VEDA, I'd say. That inclusiveness. That mutual recognition of the awesomeness in others, even if they don't believe it themselves. That positive attitude, that welcoming, is just so incredibly wonderful and powerful. I've become a braver, better person thanks to #VEDA, thanks to #winetoreach, and probably thanks to most people reading this.

So thank you. Now let's go out there, tomorrow, and create some cool stuff.

And if you're not signed up for #VEDA? That's okay too. I still think you're awesome.

But you totally still could.

Oh, and last night, in the middle of #winetoreach, we made a Happy Birthday video for Linda. What other group of people would do that?


Guest Post: An Introvert’s Guide to Making and Meeting Friends on the Internet

Today we have an AMAZING guest post from Ashley! Thanks to her for this, and check out her blog linked below! She started VEDA (well, the VEDA we all go by) and is generally awesome. And, my BFF. Obviously.

Hello readers.  This is Tom’s bff Ashley and I blog over at Writing To Reach You. Tom and I have never discussed our bff status, but I am stating it now and it would be rude of him to edit this.  So my bff Tom asked me to blog about making and meeting (IRL!) friends on the internet when you’re an introvert.  Some relevant background information on me: I have been an introvert all of my life, but I’ve only known what that means for maybe the last ten years, and I’ve only stopped apologizing for it in the last couple years.  Introversion and shyness are not the same thing, but they’re not exactly strangers either, and I happen to host them both.  And, as for the other part of this discussion, I have been blogging for about four years, and I’ve met so many bloggers now that I’ve lost count.

As for how to make friends in general, I have no idea.  Make eye contact with an extrovert and hope they do the rest of the work?  I have found it easier to make friends on the internet, but I have also learned that all the old rules of meeting people still apply.  The way to make friends is to be yourself and find people who like you.  This is something that gets easier with age, but I think the internet speeds it along, because for a while you don’t think to be anyone but yourself.  Why would you need to anyway when you can find groups of people who like all the same weird things that you do?  I started blogging with the vague hope that I would find some people who would be interested in what I had to say, but I had no idea that I would make some of my best friends.  As in life, if you try to be what people want, they will see right through it.  You can only pretend to be someone else for so long, and as an introvert, you can only pretend to be an extrovert for about 10 minutes before you’ll be exhausted.

You are going to find people online who you click with instantly, you’re going to find people you can grow friendships with over time, and you are going to find really awesome people with whom you simply have no chemistry.  Everything about this is perfectly normal and okay.  Go for the easy friendships, put the work in on the slow-growing friendships, and just smile and wave at the awesome people who aren’t for you.  This is the internet and not a small town; there is no reason to force relationships with people you have nothing in common with or who don’t want to be your friend.  It is my secret belief that it is easier to meet people on the internet when you create stuff.  When you write or make videos or tweet original thoughts, you give people a chance to get to know you.  These things can serve as the foundation for real conversations.  When you only react to other people or tweet links or reblog pictures, you don’t give people a lot to go on.

If you’re anything like me, then you are nice, but maybe not all that outwardly friendly.  Even if you find someone you think you could be good friends with, you may not know how to make that happen.  I suggest that at the very least you should make yourself open to the possibility of friendship.  There will be a few people who see your awesome from miles away and do all of the work of establishing a friendship.  Don’t resist these kind people.  But if that’s not happening, then I would suggest first establishing some kind of a connection through blog comments and replies on twitter.  Make relevant and authentic comments.  If that goes well, send an email to establish a more personal connection. If things go well enough there, then you will be good enough friends to move on to gchat and texts.  If after several good faith efforts to establish a friendship the other person does not reciprocate, then move on and find your people.  They are out there.

As an introvert, you are more likely to take delight in a few good friends rather than a whole swarm of acquaintances.  Don’t forget this and somehow think you need to be friends with everyone on the internet.  You only need a few people who get you.  And once you find them, make it your job to be a damn good friend.  Distance may be a factor, but it doesn’t prevent you from being there for your friends.  Make yourself available to talk.  Comfort them when they need it.  Send them cat pictures to cheer them up.  Do what you say you’re going to do. Know that as with any friendship, things may sometimes be difficult.  These friendships are as real as any other and you should treat them that way.

So you have made it this far and now you’re ready to make things really real and meet your internet friends.  We will assume you have taken all of the appropriate safety precautions--like, you know this person well and you are meeting in a public place.  Make sure this is a person you really do want to meet and choose a venue that works for you.  As an introvert, I’d suggest that you choose a somewhat quiet place where you won’t have to talk over the noise.  You also probably shouldn’t choose a large convention as the first place you meet bloggers (you’re more at home in small groups).  Then, expect it to be a little weird: the first time I ever met a blogger in real life, I walked up to Nico and he said, “Ashley?” and I had this very surreal moment of feeling like the internet had just come to life.  But, remember: this is the same person you have been talking to for months or years, so no matter how weird things might seem for a minute, you will soon be able to pick up where your conversation last left off.  Now: repeat.

As internet people, we make a big deal about how the relationships we form here are real, and we are telling the truth, but nothing compares to finally meeting someone in real life.  I swear you can learn more about a person by watching them talk for two minutes than you can from reading their blog for years (see: why you should vlog).  But the really great thing about meeting someone you first got to know on the internet is that they already know you.  You don’t have to explain your quirks or give them your whole back story.  I don’t even have to explain that I’m an introvert or shy.  This person already knows and likes me, so I get to feel comfortable being myself from the beginning.  As someone who doesn’t normally wear her personality on her sleeve, this is such a relief.

I am going to assume that you had a really great time meeting that girl you’ve known on the internet for a couple years now, but if you have one bad experience meeting a blogger, don’t let it turn you against the whole idea.  Try again.  And if you’re a thoughtful extrovert who has read this far, know that introverts really appreciate when you respect our introversion, but you don’t have to treat us like precious cargo.  We already like you, so you just be yourself, and don’t worry too much about us.  We like that you do a lot of the talking. It gives us a chance to think. Now, who’s ready to meet some bloggers?


A Good, Long Weekend

It's only now hitting me that, this time next week, I'll be sitting in a place that will be my own. Not forever, mind you. But for a month, which feels like forever in the summer. In ways I think I'll miss the company. This surprises me a bit, as normally I'm not the happiest about the relatively constant stream of interruptions my parents tend to offer (which GFM often correctly reminds me is a small price to pay for free room and board) but without them it would be very easy for me to get all my socializing done online and not see a living soul all day.

Is that common now?

I worry a bit about this, but also about balance. Making sure I'm spending time with the people I love online, and the people I love offline. Admittedly, I'm probably not the best at that now. But I really love the online folks, you know.

There is also the worry that this isn't introversion, and that I'm just a grump who's going to have trouble living with anyone. Don't think that thought hasn't crossed my mind.

But I'd like to think it would be different if my partner came home, and I could yell out "Hi honey! I'm in a dungeon right now/Skyping with 5 other people, I'll talk to you in a couple minutes!" I'd like to think I'd have a partner who would get that. Someone who would come and watch, maybe, or even say "Sweet, let me hop online and join you!"

Anyway, forgive the navel-gazing, if you will. It's been a nice long weekend, mostly hanging with my Dad, but I'm excited, and nervous, to be in my own space this time next week. I think I will try and vlog and blog a good bit during that month, just to keep some records.


Aren't you a crafty one, hovering over this?


Cheering for Strangers

Every now and then, I tell a relative stranger that they are awesome, and that they can do something.

Often, lately, this is related to a job. As is common with Millenials, we are constantly seeking new jobs, better opportunities, and all that. Many are still looking for their first job. So someone will tweet about an opportunity, or something they're scared about, or an interview, and I will offer tweets of support, of encouragement, and try to check in later to see how things went. I share in their victories, and their defeats, as things come and go.

And I do this with relative strangers, basically. Not total strangers. People I've known for close to a year now, really. People I've talked with, people who I've seen share some of their deepest secrets, people who I've gotten drunk with. But people I've never met. People whose capabilities, really, I have no idea about.

But still I cheer them on. I tell them they can do it. I tell them I'd wish them luck, if I thought they needed it. And you know what? They do the same for me.

And I think this is absolutely awesome. I think it's kind of hilarious, and a little weird, but wonderful. I do this because I believe in these people. I believe in the power of my generation, to reach out and touch people, to acquire knowledge, and to be the absolute best at anything we put our minds to.

What's perhaps most important, though, is our capacity to love. Our ability to reach out and touch complete strangers. So many people I now count among some of my best friends, I met through a collective video blogging project. That's insane, and wonderful, really.

But I've also learned that if you reach out to people, they tend to reach back. For so long, I had no idea how to tell people "I think you're cool and we should hang out" without them thinking it was some kind of romantic gesture (and, to be fair, occasionally it was). I was always worried they'd be like "WTF? You're weird." But I've learned that, if you do say basically that, people tend to go "Cool! Let's!". It's amazing, and wonderful.

I don't know if there was a particular point to this, but just something that's been on my mind, lately.

And just as a reminder; if you ever need to talk, I'm here to listen. I can't promise stellar advice, or really saying anything more than "I'm sorry, that sounds really difficult." Cause sometimes there isn't more to say than that, really. But if you send me an email, I will read it. And I think, honestly, if you look around and reach out to people, they do reach back.

And if you do ever want to say to me "I think you're cool, and we should hang out," odds are I will say the same thing back. Of course, I may suggest we hang out in Azeroth. But you should not dismiss that out of hand.

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In the halls of daring acts, I'll admit this one doesn't really compare to, say, skydiving or asking out the pretty girl on my GO Train. For me, however, it's a big one.

I've signed up to Vlog, every day in August. One of the bloggers I read regularly, Ashley, is organizing an event whereby a bunch of folks get together and do a video blog every day in August. I remember them doing it last year and watching a few myself. It was...kind of amazing, how people put themselves out there, regularly. Not even just sharing their experiences, but their faces, their voices. For me, it's the last bit that's scary. I'll happily write to you about my most embarrassing events or about my deepest, darkest feelings, but show you my voice and face in a perhaps less than flattering pose? Scary as Hell.

But I've been thinking lately a few things;

  • I need to work on some interests outside of WoW, as it can and does consume a lot of time.
  • I would like to push my own boundaries a bit.
  • I want to write more and blog more.
  • I'd like to be more social, even if that is on the net.

VEDA2011 hits all of these things.

The one thing I will do is to shield these a bit from the general public. I've never been scared of sharing my writings before, but sharing a YouTube channel where I'm talking to a camera is a whole other ballgame. Okay, I feel silly writing that, but still. I'll probably share it with friends and, of course, the general random public. But I draw the line at making it ridiculously easy for every high school acquaintance to see.

So, join me in August to see my handsome mug, every day, talking, any suggestions?