Discovering Connection and Creativity at a Dwell Dinner


It was So. Incredibly. Lovely.Where to begin? I suppose, at the beginning.

Yep. Still holding on to those resolutions, actually; putting myself out there to meet the world somewhere around half-way between it’s doorstep, and my own terms. Turns out that meant around a vegan dinner table in Lincoln, Neb., on a rainy Sunday night.

I found the Dwell dinner through Instagram. The premise is simple: a word as a theme, a meal to gather around, and conversation to top it all off. Oh yes puh-lease!

I miss the creative network I found in St. Paul. Slowly navigating my way through coffees and cocktails, and meeting friends-of-friends who were in some way or another moving and shaking, always filled up the creative part of my cup.

Seeing my peers pursue their passions motivated my competitive side to get up and say to myself, “What are you waiting for!?” But it also gave me leave to be patient with myself while we all just fumbled through our futures together. So when I found Dwell, I leaped head-first at the chance to find another creative tribe.

I arrived to a cozy street with cold rain on the pavement, and warm lighting spilling from the open door. Yes, it was exactly as romantic as you imagine. I was late (typical), but around a square table sat 11 individuals so welcoming and open, that I felt suddenly like an impostor among such grace. What on earth was I thinking? I do not belong here!

Brooke, the wise-before-her-years founder of Dwell Dinner Co. (check out her Instagram, I promise you won’t regret it!) prompted introductions and as soon as she told us to introduce ourselves—not by our jobs, but by our passionsI was relieved of any anxieties, and knew I was among friends.

And so I did. To nearly a dozen strangers, I told them about me and it was so incredibly pure. Every conversation from there was born out of a vulnerability that was incredibly refreshing to inhale. We had no expectations, none of the networking awkwardness or pressures of one-on-one nerves and I cannot emphasize how fantastic it was to have real conversations for no reason at all, except because you wanted to.

I find small talk incredibly draining. I remember last spring at a bachelorette party I made the most clumsy conversation with a girl I’ve known, but haven’t seen, since college. It is not my nature, and in my ideal world, I don’t speak, or respond until I actually have something to say.

But I forced it, and will never forget chirping, “What you’re up to these days?”, even though I follow her on Instagram and kinda already have a weird window into her world. Uffda. It wasn’t what I wanted to say, but it’s what we’re often expected to ask, and in the spirit of not making uncomfortable silence, I rambled. In the end, it was awkward anyway. Sorry, Liz!

Conversely, I found the evening’s conversations about our insecurities, hearing people’s passions, and learning what brought them to the table (literally) incredibly energizing. I was simply buzzing with energy on my drive home and could have stayed into the wee hours to talk to everyone in that dining room, but more importantly just to hear listen to their journeys.

Our word for this dinner was “sustain”. In all contexts (spiritually, physically and hell, even economically! Minimalist closet anyone?), it was so appropriate. But I find it not even remotely coincidental that these types of events do in fact, sustain me. 


Like I said, I think the beauty of the Dwell dinner was the absolute lack of expectation. The incredible humans who sat around the delicious vegan plates were so interesting and while I hope to connect with them again, I would understand if last night was just enough for any one of them to say, “Well that was nice”, and that’s the end of that.

Sometimes, the most incredibly difficult thing about figuring out what sustains you when left to your own devices as an adult, is being able to have an experience and leave it at just that, an experience. No complicated attachments or commitments, just a memory to recall some future drizzly Sunday.

And I think we forget that is perfectly okay. But I definitely believe we as a group connected well, and look forward to seeing what emerges from this shared adventure. I can’t imagine any one of us left that table unchanged.

The woo-woo in me is vibrating at its highest frequency and it feels nearly as cleansing as the cold downpour on the dark road back to Omaha. There was certainly something magical in the air last night… and I have found a new level of freedom in appreciating experiences for exactly that: the experience. And the gift of spending time in the company of others without expectations or intentions.

I’m curious to know… what do you do that raises you up, and feeds your energy?

P.S. In case you’re in the area and this little shindig sounds like your jam, there’s an event coming up where Dwell Dinner Co. will be creating more magic alongside the talented team behind Eat. Move. Rest. at their lakeside retreat. Swooon. I’m already signed up and you should, too. Check it out here. No, this isn’t sponsored, I just think it’ll be super. Vibe high, babes.