I'm Thankful For...The Twitter Community I've Found
gratitude thanksgiving twitter
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States. Since I am an American, for better or worse, I do celebrate this holiday. After all, it celebrates a brief moment in US history when we had the sense to appreciate the kindness shown by the Native Americans, without whose generosity and hospitality, we would have starved to death in a frigid New England winter. The pilgrims needed food, and the local people helped them out.
Similarly, the thing I'm most thankful for this year is the generosity of people who helped me and supported me. The biggest support this year has come from people I met online, and the community I found has helped me grow and learn a great deal. They all went above and beyond what a normal value-based exchange would require of them. Some of them gave donations for downloading my book. Some of them shared my writing with their followers. Some of them reached out and gave me moral support in my projects. Some of them simply let me get involved in their projects.
Here are some individuals for whom I'm especially grateful. (This post is sort of a follow friday/link roundup, so it's mostly limited to people I know through Twitter. This doesn't mean I don't appreciate those who read and comment here on the blog or on Facebook, but Twitter is still sort of new to me, so these friends are the ones I'm thankful for on this particular Thanksgiving).
Ryan, Andy, and Jarlo of Gold Medal Bodies
These guys have put together perhaps the best bodyweight training program ever (I recommended them in the ebook), and their philosophy on training and health was a huge inspiration after my stint with a 'do-or-die' attitude from CrossFit. More importantly, and the thing that really won my appreciation (and loyalty) was how willing they have been to accept me as a contributor to their community. They responded to my tweets and comments, and not just about their content, but about general health and fitness topics. Ryan and Andy have shared my writings, and Jarlo helped me rehab my wrist. They also published a guest post of mine. They are overall great guys, and I'm really glad to have established a relationship with them, even if it is only via their blog and Twitter.
Patrick Garner (@patrickcgarner)
Some people are valuable because they never let you get away with sloppy thinking. Patrick is that guy on Twitter for me. Nothing I say gets by him, and he'll call me to task to defend any statements that may be made hastily. I respect and admire his commitment to his health and evolutionary principles of fitness, and of course his work as a wetlands scientist and hydrologist. He wrote a review of my book within a week of me publishing it, for which I was really grateful. I feel like we get along mainly because I've earned his respect for not getting defensive when he holds me accountable for my words, but since most of our interactions have been via Twitter, I could be reading more into that...
Greg Ripley of MovNat Minnesota
Writing every week and hitting publish, only to send my words into the digital void of the internet can be a spiritually trying experience. I'm trying to start conversations, and it can be frustrating when my words are met with silence (even if it's a thoughtful silence...I have no idea what's going on on your side of the screen). Luckily, there are people who actually bother to reach out and engage with me in the comments (if you have ever commented on any blog post, THANK YOU!). Greg is one such person. Not only did he reach out, serving as an ambassador to the community of MovNat trainers I hoped one day to join, but he even bought a bamboo t-shirt, downloaded a copy of my book, and shared my page with his Facebook followers. If the greatest gift we can give is friendship, it says a lot when you are willing to share your friends.
Sean Rogers of Prime8 Movement
Sean is a movement coach, traceur (parkor practitioner), martial artist, and MovNat trainer, so basically I think he's awesome. Apparently, the feeling was mutual, because, in response to one of my blog posts, he sent me an e-mail sharing an epic quest that he is beginning to undertake. That alone would be worthy of gratitude, since it is very inspiring to know people are pursuing big goals, but Sean has also helped me think about ways to incorporate more parkour into my life, something I've struggled to wrap my head around since I decided I wanted to do parkour.
There are a lot of others for whom I'm thankful. Z (@paleoboost) and I have shared tweets about everything from insomnia to breakfast, and it has been very encouraging just knowing someone's listening. Carla Birnbirg (@mizfitonline) gave me my first big guest post, and the confidence in myself that came along with it (that was a pretty big deal for me), as well as the assurance that there are other weirdos out there playing by their own health rules. Earth Runners (@earthrunner1987), Ben Medder (@benzyM), Brandon Sewall (@brandonsewall), Joseph Simmons (@woodfitninja), Alec Henderson (@alechenderson) and Primal Britain (@Primalbritain) have consistently sent tweets out just to congratulate me as I've made progress with my training and quest to raise money for a MovNat trainer certification (which succeeded by the way).
There are a lot of others. Too many to name, but not too many to appreciate just how lucky I am to have so much support.
I know all of these interactions seems fairly minor: they are all online, mostly on Twitter, and have been sporadic. But, keep in mind, none of us needed to maintain these relationships. In most cases, there is and was no guarantee of return on investment. They just reached out because they wanted to support a fellow natural fitness and health enthusiast. In return, I like to think they enjoy my writing.
So, I am thankful for community. To me, that is something that stands above our dollar-and-commodity society. For a community to work, individuals have to get outside a petty selfish worldview in which they only do things if there is a clear payoff. There needs to be trust, faith, and simple kindness, a willingness to do something for nothing, just because there is the opportunity to help someone or be encouraging.
Thank you, all of you, readers, Twitter friends, real-life friends, and family of course. Your simple acts of kindness have meant a lot to me this year, and I could never have accomplished my two big projects without you. Bit by bit, your tweets, e-mails, comments, and Facebook likes have empowered me to grow into a person who is much more confident and capable, and it's largely thanks to all of you that I've reached one of my dreams this years.
(Photo credit: szeke on Flickr)