How the seemingly small decision to go out on a Tuesday night can change your life

 This is a Guest Post by Vanessa Beck, whom I met a bit over a year ago (more on how we met below). She’s the Co-Founder of NICE WORK, a shared workspace for productivity (launching in mid 2015).



This is a story about how the act of going to a LIVING A LIFE OF YES Meetup has impacted most of what I fill my time with here in Chicago and beyond.

Hailing from New Zealand, I moved to Chicago two winters ago, the snow blowing around my ankles and the wind freezing my face off. Having previously lived in Baltimore for a year and making very few friends, I knew that with this move I needed to be more pro-active and get involved. But how? My visa does not allow me to work in the USA, so I don’t have workmates, and the Anti Human Trafficking Non Profit I volunteer at does not have an office, so I am left at my kitchen table, planning fundraisers alone.

As a foreigner who will only call Chicago home for a few years, I still needed to address the daunting task of putting down roots and building community.

So I went online to see what Meetups interested me and where I could fit in.

And I found………… LIVING A LIFE OF YES!

It was the best decision I ever made. Who would have thought in that relaxed environment my next few years were unfolding.

Here is the web

At LIVING A LIFE OF YES,  I got some great advice —

….on how I could earn some money without working and meet people at the same time. I now run a regular screen printing class through Dabble at a lovely gift store around the corner from my house. In a few weeks, I will be looking after the store for the weekend and will be paid in store credit. Who needs money, bartering is where it is at.

At LIVING A LIFE OF YES I also met —
kelly in france

KELLY. We clicked like eighties fluorescent t-shirts and bubblegum jeans. We met up again for dinner, and then again and again and at the end of 2013, traveled to France together for a week looking after a house in the south in exchange for doing the garden. What a great deal.

Through KELLY I met —
EMILY loves the Mac & Cheese Productions’ Idea Potlucks and we are regulars at this event.  She also loves volunteering. Through Emily, I have volunteered at LOUDER THAN A BOMB, nannied for the family she nannied for before moving to Japan, had her volunteer at the Traffick Free 5K (the non profit I volunteer for), and discovered my favorite bookstore.

She later invited us to a lake house where I met….

AMY. Amy’s husband was attending Pete’s (Saya’s husband) bachelor party. Amy has participated in Mac & Cheese’s Fear Experiment (FE) and regularly hosts the world’s best parties.

At the lake house, I also met DANA. We made fast friends and now love spending time together. We are amazed each time at how much we have in common and how much we make each other laugh. Sadly, Dana has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The upside of this is that I can go with her to Chemo, and for the 5 hours she is hooked up, we are able to chat non stop about the most interesting topics and the time flies by.

Back to Amy. At one of Amy’s parties I meet STACY. Stacy is also an FE gal and we got to talking while competing in the egg decorating that was the theme of the party.


I told her I planned on opening a shared workspace, she told me she wants to go to New Zealand. She hooked me up with some peeps (all FE alum) who are also into the shared workspace idea (see below KIRK). I hooked her up with New Zealand.  She also roped me into doing a flash mob dance at her going away party and a silk dancing taster class.

hiking with Stacy

flashmob dance

KIRK, another FE alum, and I are now working on opening a boutique shared workspace in the middle of next year. NICE WORK. It will focus on fostering community within the space to aid productivity.

STACY is now on her way, slowly, to NZ. She will be WWOOFing (Willing Wokers On Organic Farms) at my brothers organic market garden and retreat. Stacy and her Mum and Dad are joining my family for Christmas.

One last thing to add to this web if wonderfulness —

A few months ago SAYA and EMILY suggested getting involved with the ON THE TABLE event. I signed up and went along early one morning for breakfast at a lovely restaurant in town. Our table had some great conversations chatting about how to improve our community.

Later I submitted my idea of building an online map of what is happening in our community to bring people together, meet needs and identify gaps. This Asset Mapping idea was also presented by some others and we became the finalists in the Chicago Ideas Week line up.

Now we have a coach and next year we will present our idea to a Shark Tank like event to gain funding and support for our idea.

So really, after going to LIVING A LIFE OF YES, I don’t have time for a job. I now have so many wonderful friends and people I am working on projects with. The web is woven. Thanks SAYA.