Finding Voice

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I kept real quiet on here for a few months while friends and family would kindly ask, "where did you go?"

I’d smile and fidget awkwardly; my posture whenever someone says kind words. I felt so grateful they'd noticed I left but also so guilty for not coming back.

I’m sure you’ve felt this way before too - there’s something you used to do but stopped doing it because maybe life got too busy or hard. Maybe the thing you really loved started to feel like a silly hobby, taking you away from being a “real adult". Maybe it felt luxurious or selfish. Maybe it didn’t come easy anymore, it felt a heck of a lot like work.

And you believed the lie that if it’s hard, you should stop. Maybe you’re not meant to do it.

The juice isn’t really worth the squeeze.

Perhaps you desperately wanted it to become something and it stayed small.

My main reason for stopping was because I couldn't find my voice. Which seems like a silly thing to misplace. But it didn’t sound familiar anymore. Suddenly the voice I knew, the way I was writing, felt like talking to a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while.

The friend you used to be really close with as a child but after high school, both went your separate ways. Her down one path, you down the another. And suddenly, all the things that seemed so similar before don’t really match up.

So you sit down for coffee, unsure of the best place to start other than at the very beginning, because you have to get to know each other all over again.

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So I stopped sharing because I figured voice was essential to this space. I had to find it.

Along the way, I learned the places you don’t find it.

You don’t find your voice by sitting on it.

You don’t find it by keeping quiet and aiming to please.

You don’t find it by changing who you are depending on who you are with.

You don’t find it by scrolling through instagram or checking facebook.

You don’t find it by choosing isolation in the midst of pain. Or saying, “I’m fine” when really you’re falling apart.

You don’t find it without crawling back into your past. You don’t have to stay there, you just need to visit and dig your feet in a little.

I can say these things with confidence because I’ve done all of them. Many of them I still wrestle with because I’m human. We get buckets of grace for being human. So voice has been the thing I keep coming back to and truthfully it’s been one of the hardest parts as a writer.

Because if it means not silencing it, it means we have to speak. It means we have to walk through the fear - even when we feel like someone else could write this piece way better or we believe the lie that it’s all been said before.

It also means we listen. We have to listen to find our voice. We have to be willing to be quiet and still and put our phones away or any other distracting device that pulls us from living in the present moment.

We have to be willing to go do things alone. Which used to be way easier for me before getting married.

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If I am learning anything, it’s that voice isn’t stagnant, it moves and changes and adapts. Because we change and grow. So if this space doesn’t change, I think I am doing an injustice.

And I’m certainly not being honest with you because the woman I was two years ago is different than the woman I am now. And those changes aren't always clear and visible. They're rarely flashy and instagram worthy. Often the change is grueling inner work, slow and steady.

Two steps forward, one step back sort of thing.

And the only folks who really notice are the ones we are doing life with day in and day out.

So I’ll probably be introducing you to a few more chapters of my story in the weeks to come. I’ll have you meet the person I was in order to truly understand the woman I am now - the woman I am slowly becoming. Because I can’t silence those stories or abandon my past.

And truthfully, I don't want to choose. I don't want to pick a voice and silence all the others. I am still growing in and through them. And I suppose I want to give you the push and encouragement to do the same - to be all the many parts of you. No matter how conflicting they might seem.

Because I think in that place, the tug of war, the walking through our past and touching the walls of where we've been, we just might find it. We just might find the quiet whispers of a girl we used to know and haven’t spoken to in quite a while.

We just mind find our most honest voice.

Photography: Amelia Schmid :: Website // Instagram

Airbnb Hosting Tips

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Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to own a Bed & Breakfast, preferably in Ireland. Though I’m open to other places. And while that dream is on hold, the next best thing for me has been Airbnb. It’s what I was most excited about when we bought our first home - hosting friends and complete strangers.

Our love for hosting began as guests.

Matt and I have stayed in a cabin meets yurt in Asheville, a cozy studio apartment in France and a home with my family in New Zealand. We even used airbnb for our entire honeymoon in Germany because I wanted the real deal. I wanted to chat with locals and sip tea (or a large mug of beer) at their table.

For us, I always like to feel out our guests and gauge their level of social interaction. For some, it’s clear right when you greet them and offer a glass of water or tea, that they’d really love to hear more of your story and share some of theirs.

Like the gal who arrived all the way from California, on a four month road trip and somehow landed in our small town. The three of us sat on our porch sipping wine and swapping travel stories.

Another sweet memory involved a mom and daughter relocating to a new city, we chatted about the hardships of life and the goodness of God over oatmeal bake at my kitchen counter.

And for other guests, it’s simply a place to lay their head.

Both are wonderful!

When it comes to making the space welcoming and inviting, there is a little preparation that goes into it for me - just so I can rest easy knowing folks are comfortable and happy.

Here are the tips/suggestions for you:

(Disclaimer: we are no experts just learning as we go.)

Before the visit

  • Check in with guests the day before just to confirm when they might arrive. That way, you can either make sure to be home or leave a key. We’ve done both.

  • If we’re home, we normally give guests a quick tour - we invite them to use the kitchen and gathering spaces as if it was their own. We'll point out where pots and pans live, mugs for tea and so on. We check in and ask, "How was your trip? Is there anything you need? Water, tea, glass of wine?"

  • If we’re not home, I’ll write a short message to guests about all the above.

Bedroom

Things I make sure to include in the guest room:

  • Two fresh towels on the bed for each guest (one large and one small for the face). I like to put 2 mints on each towel.

  • A pitcher of water and glasses

  • Granola bars and napkins

  • Box of tissues

  • Basket of pamphlets and magazines of local activities

  • Mirror

  • House key

  • Welcome book (that includes)

    • Check out procedure - where should they leave their towels? Do you want the bed stripped?

    • WIFI password and network name.

    • Local attractions and activities - coffee shops, best spots for breakfast, hiking trails, vineyards etc.

    • Cab services

    • Guest Book! (My friend shared this idea and I thought it was wonderful!)

Bathroom

We have one full bath...which means we share with our guests. I know, crazy? Matt and I are used to roommates so that part doesn’t really phase us though I make sure the space is super clean with a basket of extra toiletries in case our guests forget some.

If guests are staying for multiple nights, I’ll often pull some of my “getting ready trinkets” down to our half bath downstairs.

Kitchen

I designated a little corner of our kitchen for guests that offers:

  • Coffee pot

  • Ground coffee

  • Mug (sometimes I’ll put a treat inside)

  • Bowl of teabags (variety is good like decaf and herbal teas for folks who don't drink caffeine)

  • Honey and sugar easily accessible

  • Creamer in the fridge

  • Spoon for stirring

Extra Touches

  • A homemade treat or a few chocolates

  • Essential oils in the room (I like lemon) before new guests

  • Extra Blanket

  • A few pastries or breads for breakfast -- we found most of our guests weren’t staying to eat breakfast so this is not something we typically offer. It really depends on your home and space and what you want to do!

At the end of the day, it's all about how you make people feel. Folks want a clean room but they also just want to feel welcome and cared for - something every single one of us can do, no matter the space!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it weird having a complete stranger sleep in your home?

Honestly, no. I feel like folks who use airbnb are all so kind and welcoming -- it’s a culture all on it’s own. Also, Airbnb does a really great job making you feel safe because you review one another - we read what other hosts have said about all our guests and guests can read reviews about us.

You only have one bathroom. How does that work?

Like I said, this doesn’t really phase us. Normally, guests will ask when we need to scoot out in the morning and we all make it work. Matt typically gets up and out much earlier than guests are even awake. And I work from home so showering and “getting ready” for the day isn’t normally necessary.

Why did you start hosting in the first place?

I recognize we are in an ideal time to do this - no babies. I’m sure it would become a little complicated in a home of our size with a few littles running around or a baby crying in the middle of the night. Although, not impossible.

And at that point, we might rent the space only when we go on a family vacation - leave the whole house to guests. That’s the great thing about this, you decide what works best for your family!

Honestly, my main reason for doing this was to welcome folks into our home and make them feel cozy. That brings me so much joy. I love being a small part of each others story. And the fact that we're able to make a small side income for things like house projects and date nights is an extra bonus.

Interested in being a host? Head on over here.

Have a question I didn't answer above? Comment below! Also, if you're an airbnb host what's the experience been like for you? I'd love to know.