One of the offshoots of our frequent moves has been meeting the challenge of interacting with perfect strangers.
We have both taken on new jobs in each new state, me every new city. As a fitness instructor, I engage with a wide variety of people at each new gym and each class. Chris gets a whole new college campus!
I have never been one for public speaking, doing much better in groups. Part of being a group fitness instructor, tho, is standing in front of strangers and leading the workout! That was the scariest part for me … and is always a bit intimidating each new gym.
Whether we are walking the neighborhood, smiling and saying hello; sitting at the bar in Whole Foods; attending a party, where we barely even know the hosts, let alone any other party-goers … all but a few examples of being open to meeting new people.
And we have been lucky on a number of occasions to make perfect strangers into friends!
When we sold our home in Indiana and moved to Ogden Dunes for our bumper year before heading west, we were graciously welcomed to the new ‘hood by Ken & Curt, whom we dubbed “The Guys” (and who had two adorable dogs, aka “The Boys”). Ken & Curt are the consummate hosts. They had us over for small, impromptu gatherings and also included us in big ones! They introduced us to many more neighbors in our magical lakefront community. We enjoyed an amazing 4th of July at the water thanks, in part, to Ken & Curt’s friendship!
When I initially “joined” Fit Chick Express in Longmont, Colorado, it was for the free 2-week trial. I was in dire need of some gym time and figured 2 weeks for free was ideal since I wasn’t working and didn’t have extra money to pay for a membership! At the same time, I was studying for my group fitness certification. Before my 2-week trial was up, I KNEW I wanted to become part of the FCE family. The kinship with the women was immediate and strong! Angie, the owner, and I also clicked and had the same idea as me: start my instructor career (“cut my teeth,” so to speak) with Fit Chick Express. Coincidentally, Angie was a few months out from her wedding and really needed to be able to take some time away from some gym responsibilities to enjoy wedding preparations. So, I took over some of her bootcamp classes (and during her honeymoon, I also trained her small group). I was only with FCE for a few months (late May to early August), but I made amazing connections! To this day, I am in touch with Chicks and we will have super strong bonds … for life.
We moved from Longmont to Denver, where I soon got hired at Matrix Fitness & Spa. It wasn’t long before friendships evolved between myself and several gym members and other staff. One friendship, Carmella, spun off into another job for me, where I then met some more great folks!!!
Additionally, Chris and I met some people via a mutual friend and were invited to a holiday party. Though we barely knew our hosts, we wanted to enjoy their hospitality. We met some pretty great people at the party, the best being our friends, Ted & Dan! Instantly, the 4 of us were having brunch, regularly meeting up at the nightclub and grabbing drinks & bites when their good friends, The Blond Twins, were in town from Florida!
We also got to know some of our apartment mates: Brad & Glenn, we “met” the day we were unloading the moving truck, as they were loading up Glenn’s SUV for Burning Man and Jonathan chatted us up right away that same day! It was about 9 months later, tho, that we attended a party hosted by the property management company at Jazz in the Park (something we had been attending weekly as we love jazz AND it was right across the street from our place at City Park). Brad & Glenn and Brittany (& Sarah, her wife at the time) asked if they could join us at our table. The threesome were close and we soon became part of their group, hanging out frequently, attending a Halloween party and even caring for one another’s furbabies!
Sadly, just like when we moved from Indiana to Colorado, we had to say farewell to our friends, as we headed for more adventures in the Sunshine State.
Quickly, I landed a gig at Premier Choice Fitness. Another coincidence, the training manager was from The Region! Thus, we had many shared “sensibilities”! Again, I was blessed with meeting truly fantastic people! I have the pleasure and the honor of making close friends, women with whom I have learned and shared personal struggles, health battles and the good & bad of daily life, while also inspiring one another on our individual glitter-filled paths!!
And, as of this writing, I am still struggling with moving an hour from my NPR sisters. Soon, we will gather at the Gulf for some fun-in-the-sun. And drinks at our beach condo’s pools!
We were also “gifted” with some awesome neighbors! An unexpected New Year’s Eve invitation to come party next door turned into an EPIC nite, followed by bonfires & offers of assistance during our next move (just a short 3 months after NYE!), plus promises to let us know of future gatherings (and offers to stay the nite so we can indulge the nite away). We knew that Chris could not continue to make the long commute from NPR to St. Pete (a decision we made as soon as Chris got the job…a month after we started our lease), but we were heartbroken to leave our new neighborhood buddies.
Chris and I are also open to chatting with random people when we are out & about. On one such occasion, we had stopped in Whole Foods for a beer. I have a Celtic tattoo on the back of my neck, which was commented on by another patron. Well, as it turns out, Gene plays in a 3-piece Irish band called Celtic Conundrum ~~ and their symbol, the Celtic Triquetra … also my tattoo!!! A conversation was struck up between us and Gene & Sandy with topics ranging from our shared interests: craft beers, steampunk, Rennaisance festivals, Dunedin (where they live ~ lucky ducks!), dressing in costumes, my fitness career, Sandy’s massage career … and more! We stayed connected on the Book of Face and, finally, made it to a Celtic Conundrum event this past Saturday. It was just down the street, so we were able to hop on the Suncoast Beach Trolley to John’s Pass!
I know that moving, starting fresh, seeing new places & faces has forced us to step out of ourselves and be open. I have always been more social than Chris (sometimes to Chris’s chagrin), but Chris has gotten so much more comfortable with it, too, over the years.
We are not afraid to be our true authentic selves, meeting & greeting others … and forging bonds with others who are true to themselves.