Creating Together-ish

I hate March.

Of all the months, it's definitely my least favorite. It's the end of winter, but also not really. There's a ways left to go before you even get to spring, which even then, it's still gloomy, cold, and rainy at first. You'll even get some April snow if you're lucky! It's such an awkward time of year, and you're so over snow and freezing temperatures that you could cry. It's depressing.

I enjoy the winter, but I'm a summer girl at heart, so after a while I fall into a slump. Typically by March, I'm in the slump. Over it. Tired. Cold. Uninspired. Bleh.

This year wasn't as bad as previous years, I'll give it that much, but I was still bleh and going through the motions. I had been thinking about doing something creative, but I didn't really know what. Or how. Or when. I'd occasionally write just for me, waiting to see whatever I struck would be "it." Because a lot of times when I write, I just go and see where it takes me.

I follow a bi-annual publication on Instagram called The Letter and had recently pre-ordered their next book. I was subscribed to their email and didn't think much of it because I'm subscribed to a lot of emails and newsletters. One day, I got an email from The Letter's founder, Lauren Taylor, saying she was offering a "Start Your Own Magazine" course. My head perked up a little and I filled out the form, again, not thinking too much of it, but still feeling a glimmer of inspiration to finally get started with creating something. I hit "submit."

A few hours later, I got an email saying I was accepted. Head tilt number one at the word "accepted," but cool...until I saw the price. It was a little bit too much for my play money budget, and I also thought the email itself was automated, so I brushed it under the rug.

Come Monday and Lauren reached out to me (head tilt number two) asking if I wanted one of the last spots in her class before she'd offer it to someone else. I was surprised it was her and not an automation, so I replied explaining to her I was grateful for the follow up, but I just can't afford it at the moment. Maybe if you offer the course again in a few months when I'm in a better place financially, I'll jump on it then.

She offered it to me half off.

K. Sold. I'm in.

Before our first call that night, the idea for Together-ish hit me on my drive home from work. So much so that I filmed myself brainstorming and talking about it while driving so I wouldn't forget. (Desperate times, amIright? But sorry, the video's long gone.)

Here are some ramblings of my ramblings:

- I'm Greek. I can be nosy. Add that to being an English major where I overthink and constantly look for the hidden meaning and symbolism in basically everything. A lot of times when I'm driving and see all the other drivers on the same road or highway as me, I wonder things like: We're on this road together, but going to different places. Where are they going? Where are they coming from? Who are they seeing? How's their day so far?

- When I go to concerts and shows, I look around to see everyone smiling and jamming out, and think to myself: We're all complete strangers going through completely separate lives and problems and experiences, but we leave it at the door. Now, we're all here for the same reason: we have a common love for this music and we're sharing in it together. We cheers our beers to each other. The girl's bathroom becomes the most loving place on earth. Then we'll part ways and carry on, but for now, we're here. That's awesome. Ugh, sorry, my English major is showing again.

- I also love making connections, no matter how brief or random; it's why I chat up my cashier at the grocery store, compliment a stranger on their nail polish or outfit, you know, act human. I also love to listen. I love being the one people feel comfortable enough to come and vent to. My one friend recently wrote me a note explaining there was a reason why I was a cheerleader for 13 years; because I still am a cheerleader for everyone. It was one of the best compliments I've ever gotten, especially because cheerleaders get such a bad rap and I felt proud of my roots. I knew they were good for something.

I took all of that and my love for listening to create an outlet for people to write about their experiences and lessons. I so strongly believe we all have so much to learn from each other, but we never have the chance to. People have so much to say, so many experiences they go through, but they don't have an outlet. That's why I created Together-ish.

Back to that Monday night and my first of many video chat sessions with Lauren, and we hit it off immediately. I was shocked to find out I was one of four students out of 70 applicants. Lil' ole me?! The day of the deadline?! That was an application I filled out?! (Head tilt numbers 3, 4, and 5.)

For the next three weeks, Lauren and I would video chat for about two hours per call, eight calls total. She completely helped me start this thing and I couldn't have done it without her. It was also the first time Lauren has ever offered a class like that, too. It came at the perfect time for me to start something fresh; to finally start creating. Timing, man. It's crazy.

It's especially interesting because I made March into a month that changed the game. I was inspired. I was driven. I was excited. It was so unlike March-me! And now, here we are.

Coming up with the title was harder than I thought, but once I landed on it, I couldn't shake it. Nothing else I thought of could top it because it just encompassed everything I was getting at. So. Many. Meanings! English major! But during our third or second to last call, Lauren asked for my last name. I said it, then out of instinct started to spell it out. She stopped me: "Wait, wait, wait. Your last name is JOINER?" I immediately knew what she was getting at and we both burst into a fit of laughter. How did I not think of it before?! My goal here is to bring people together to find some common ground, and my last name is freaking Joiner. If that doesn't sum it up...

Anyway, I really hope you enjoy visiting Together-ish, reading about what other women have gone through, good, bad, and funny. I hope this becomes a place that resonates with everyone, a place to chill out and take a breather, a place to know we're all going through it. I have Lauren to thank for getting me out of my slump, and in a weird way, March...the month I used to hate.

Cheers!

- Diana

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