Encounters of the Best Kind

Via MorgueFile
Via MorgueFile

Not to minimize fantastic vacation trips and summers experienced in the past, but this summer’s experiences have amazed me! I cannot resist sharing the almost extraterrestrial sense of time and place present during this season.

For some time I have interacted with two writers and one editor online. In fact, I would go so far to say we forged cyber-friendships never knowing what lay beyond emails and comments.

Like the three windows shown here, we cannot see what is on the other side of the window panes. We can only imagine.

Likewise, we could see a computer screen and send messages to one another. Beyond screens and words, we knew very little about each other. We had no way of knowing the authentic person on the other side of the screen.

Summer 2014 has changed all that, and it has been a rewarding and special time.

First off, in June, I met writing friend and mentor, Sharon Lippincott, in real time in Lake Oswego, a suburb of Portland, OR. We shared a couple of hours and coffee at St. Honore Bakery as we talked writing and memoir, husbands, health, travel, technology, and yes, children and grandchildren! Sharon and her husband, Parvin, were in town to attend their granddaughter’s high school graduation.

Sharon blogs at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, a reservoir of excellent information for those wanting to write life stories and/or/memoir. Sharon also is co-founder and host of Life Writers Forum, an online gathering place for writers to meet others interested in life story writing and memoirs. Additionally, the forum is a base for exchanging writing tips and other writing-related information.

Sharon has written several books, which are available via Amazon.

Next up was a real encounter with Candace Johnson of Change It Up Editing. Candace has a vast background in working with traditional publishers, self-publishers, and independent book packagers. She has assisted clients with nonfiction subject matter ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments and self-help as well as reality based novels and more traditional fiction genres.

A few weeks ago I telephoned Candace to talk over the possibility of contracting for editorial services when the time arrives. While on the phone, she reminded me that she and her partner spend some part of the summer in Portland. We agreed to meet up for lunch or coffee during that time, and we did!

Last Thursday Candace and I met at The Dragonfly Coffee Shop at 1:30 and finally decided at 4pm we had solved as many of the world’s problems as we had time for that day. We had also run the gamut of conversation expected between an editor and a writer. Along the way, we also managed to talk about the places we have lived, jobs we have worked, books we’ve read or are reading, our children, the men in our lives, our favorite spots in Portland, and more.

If these two materializations were not enough, this past Sunday my husband and I attended our first worship service in a Mennonite Church. You might ask why, and I will tell you it’s fairly plain and simple.

A third online acquaintance, writer and mentor Shirley Hershey Showalter was preaching at Portland Mennonite Church that morning. Shirley had invited us to attend providing not only the opportunity to hear Shirley’s message but also for us to meet face-to-face. And we did!

You may or may not know that Shirley and her husband, Stuart, are currently traveling the west coast south to north on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Their trip is shown on Shirley’s events page as “The BooktourAnniversary Palooza Amtrak 30-Day Pass on Coastal Starlight and Empire Builder Trains.” Their travels are so described as this year marks Shirley and Stuart’s 45th wedding anniversary and along the way they make stops for Shirley to speak or preach or read from her recent memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

Meeting Shirley and Stuart was a high point of our Sunday. An extra blessing was the palpable warmth and love of the members of Portland Mennonite Church, an experience I would not have wanted to miss.

I could have flown around the world or taken a 30-day cruise, and neither would have been as gratifying having the opportunity to meet these three cyber-friends, up until now, within a four-week period.

And to Sharon, Candace and Shirley, thank you for taking time from busy schedules to meet up with me face-to-face, real-time, for encounters of the BEST kind!

When you are travelling, do you ever think about folks you’ve connected with online and the possibility of meeting them face-to-face? I highly recommend it!

31 thoughts on “Encounters of the Best Kind

  1. I actually have met a number of wonderful women through blogging and some of them I feel I have a great friendship with. There are a couple of fellow-bloggers that I would really enjoy meeting in person! So glad you have had such an enjoyable and inspiring summer, so far!
    Ann @ Christ in the Clouds

    1. Ann, so nice to meet you. I’ve just spent a few minutes at Christ in the Clouds and Cairn Cottage. I’m inspired by the first, and I am charmed by the latter. And it appears from your 7/8 post you have had an amazing summer so far yourself. I hope and pray some day that you meet those fellow bloggers. Meeting them only extends our outreach farther and farther!
      Blessings for the weekend!

  2. Wow–I sure needed to read this today! I just booked a flight to Guatemala this morning to go with people I’ve never met in real life (only online)–and it scares me! ha. So this is encouraging.
    Anytime I’ve met with a blogger in *real* life, it’s been such a blessing too. I do believe we CAN make friendships online that are just as real as in person, but when we get the chance to meet in person, even better.

    1. Lisa, I always smile when I see yours waiting here. Thanks for stopping in.
      Bon voyage as you travel to Guatemala and Godspeed! Meeting five unknowns will be a great experience and yes, a challenge. Each of my meetings with these friends and others gave me butterflies because we, of course, don’t know what to expect. And then our expectations are exceeded because He has planned it all. Isn’t that great!
      I love my online friendships as much as if I’d met them in person; however, as you say, face-to-face meetings make everything a lot better.
      Can’t wait to hear about your trip to Guatemala.

  3. Sherrey,
    Wow…to have met 3 people in person after developing an online friendship….I could sense the joy emanating from your words….delighted for you 🙂 what a gift 🙂

    1. Hi Dolly and welcome! God has been good to me in connecting me with great people online. Then gifting me with the opportunity to meet some of them. Hopefully, some day we’ll meet face-to-face. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I loved reliving our fun afternoon while reading this post, Sherrey, and I can’t wait to get togehter again soon! Meeting cyberfriends is such a treat—and definitely something I hope to do more of in the future. Sharon and Shirley, I hope we’ll also have the opportunity to meet one day, too!

    1. Candace, I’ve never had so much fun with a post as I did this one! So many neat things to recall and relive. I look forward to our next meeting, wherever it may be, and our continued cyber-relationship.

  5. I LOVE this. I have been given the sweet gift of meeting one of my blogger/writer friends that I felt so close with in person, and it was as you said: what exotic vacation could be more gratifying than this? It sounds like some big pieces are coming together in your writing life and I’m excited for you, for the relationships and experiences that are waiting for you to walk into and savor. Thank you for sharing with us at Unforced Rhythms.

    1. Amber, thanks for stopping by and commenting. These meetings and interactions are a sweet gift. Yes, some big pieces are posturing themselves on the horizon and my hope and prayer is that God will show me the way he wants my book to be used. And now I’m glad that we’ve met and made a connection. I’m heading over to see what you shared at Unforced Rhythms today and perhaps explore your blog a bit. See you soon!

  6. What wonderful experiences. I always enjoy meeting my virtual friends in person (can’t wait to meet you too). It makes social networking so much more worthwhile. Great post, Sherrey.

    1. Madeline, meeting face-to-face certainly gives us a different perspective on the person we’re communicating with online, doesn’t it? Truly we can call it added value. Thanks for commenting today. Hope to see you face-to-face one of these days.

  7. That’s so awesome! Meeting a few of my blogger buddies would make my summer too. It’s pretty cool how God lines things up. We think we’re just meeting by chance and He knows all the blessing waiting in it.

    1. Jennine, isn’t God amazing at how He arranges this kind of thing? He knows what’s needed in the moment and supplies it. This was such fun — I hope you meet some of your online friends soon.

  8. I loved this …. It was thrilling to meet a number of my “on-line” friends in California two years ago. Less satisfying but still wonderful is Skype. The ability to match people’s body language and facial expressions and tone of voice with their words is so valuable. And of course, in real time, the conversation can go anyway.
    I hope our paths cross in the not too distant future.

    1. Hi, Mary! Isn’t it fun meeting people you’ve been talking with online for months, maybe years? I’m so glad you had that opportunity in California. As a sociology major, I appreciated these words in your comments: “The ability to match people’s body language and facial expressions and tone of voice with their words is so valuable.” This is what we lose in email and social media, and it’s an unfortunate deficit in our society today. I too hope to meet you some day, Mary.

  9. Let me testify to what a treat it was to meet you and Bob, and in church, of all places! I felt like I’ve known you for a long, long time, Sherrey. The time was short, but you made an immediate impression on all around you. I think you’ve converted several people into going deeper in their own writing. I love the internet and social media when otherwise impossible connections turn into real ones.
    Thanks, Sherrey, for telling this story. I don’t have time to blog, but I do have time to share!
    And Sharon, I’ll see you in Pittsburgh, I hope. And on Skype before that. Candace, I hope to meet you virtually soon.

    1. And Shirley, it was a delight to meet Stuart and you. It seemed as if we were longtime friends, didn’t it? I’m certainly hoping to hear from my new friend, Sharon, who has quite a story to share. The small group discussion was so enlightening from both the perspective of those listening as it seemed to be for you. Such energy and passion filled the room. I wish we had had more time to visit, but I will cherish the small chunk God gave us on Sunday morning! Blessings on the rest of your journey.

  10. I agree with Kathy, meeting cyber friends face to face is thrilling. Though I have not met her, I am familiar with the impressive work of Sharon Lippincott, and you know I have met Shirley Showalter. Back in June I published a post on the very same theme with faces and commenters you will recognize: http://plainandfancygirl.com/2014/06/18/face-to-face-encounters-the-very-best-kind/
    Your posts are always so polished and welcoming. I’ll probably see more of them now that WordPress has decided to give me instant notifications — what struggle to re-activate. But you know about struggle too — right?

    1. Marian, I had not read that post and find it amazing how nearly identical our titles are! I enjoyed reading your post this evening and I took time to visit Traci’s blog (since we’re both Southern girls) and find myself fascinated by her writing style — so comfortable and inviting. Thanks for sharing her with your readers.
      So glad you are now receiving notifications from WordPress. I’ve begun to once again receive notification of comments too. It was a long dry spell, wasn’t it?

  11. Sherrey,
    Yes, in recent years I’ve made plans to meet online friends face to face when I’m in their area, or vice versa.
    Last year I travelled to Connecticut to finally meet a friend face to face who I had been corresonding with for 3+ years. We had many things in common so being a guest in her home for a week was just wonderful. She planned several outings, but we also enjoyed just chit chatting.
    Recently I made contact with a blogger who lives in Anchorage, Alaska to not only meet for coffee, but also to speak to her speakers’ group, the Alaska Speakers’ Association.
    As I plan my upcoming trip to Australia and New Zealand, I’m notifying my online friends who live in the areas I’ll be visiting. I look forward to putting in-person faces to friends I’ve gotten to know online for years.
    I’m happy that you made the time to connect in real time with friendships that had begun and blossomed on the internet. Thanks for sharing your heartwarming experiences with us. I hope it’ll encourage more people to do the same.

    1. Flora, I enjoyed reading your stories of meeting cyber-friends here and there. And you’re now you’re going to meet up internationally too. How exciting! So glad you stopped by and shared your experiences. Come again!

  12. Sherrey, I can feel your excitement in this lovely recap of your three real-life encounters with Sharon, Candace and Shirley! I can tell you, from my own personal experience, meeting cyber-friends in person is a thrill, especially when you feel you’ve known each other all along. I look forward to the day we get to meet in person!

    1. Kathy, I have been on a 4-week high of sorts running around Portland meeting old friends face-to-face for the first time. Then knowing that they leave and go all the way back to the east coast kills me, but I have this feeling I’ll meet more and I’ll see these friends again. I look forward to the day you and I meet face-to-face!!

  13. YES! Sherrey, these kinds of meetups are so exciting, fulfilling and inspiring! I love that you got to experience these! Thanks for sharing them with us!

    1. From a glance at your blog, I see you’ve had a roadtrip meetup with some of the My 500 folks. I was so sorry to have to drop out of that group. Hoping to get back. There is some great writing charma there. Would you say hi to all my friends there? So glad you dropped by — don’t be a stranger. Or use my “contact” page to privately email me if you wish.

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