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Showing posts from February, 2016

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: What's Stopping You?

At the start of all this, I said that hospitality is creating the time and space for people to be real. I think that's still a pretty good definition. I've talked about several different ways to find that time and space. But the question remains, what's stopping us?

All sorts of things stop up us from doing what we want to do. But I've found that very few things stop us from doing what we really want. Just want it and it will start to happen.

Being real with people can be painful and terrible, but occasionally, it's beautiful. So beautiful in fact that it will make all that terrible pain seem small and negligible. I can't do it for you. You're the one that will have to take the risks and determine if they are worthwhile. I can only speak from my experience. My experience says there is nothing better than having people in your life that are real with you and expect your reality in exchange.


Hospitality for the Rest of Us: The Well Written Note

Do you want to know the secret to the well written note in this day and age? Okay, I'll unmask the mystery for you. You write a note and you send it to the recipient. I know, I know, difficult, but I'm sure you can do it. I'll break it down a little more.

Get something to write on that will fit into an envelope. Find a writing utensil. Write something, put it in the envelope, find the person's address, label it and mail it.

You think I'm being sarcastic or silly don't you? Not true. I often get lost on any of these points when I want to write a letter. I've developed some habits that make it easier.

I keep my stationary, stamps, address book, and pens all together in a common area of my home. I don't have to search for the standard basics when I'm in the mood to write.

I do occasionally have to find someone's address. Okay most of the time. I can help it if people move! Or the fact that I move! I move a lot, I know. Anyway, I've found the…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Grief

Grief is defined as deep sorrow, it's also described by medicinenet.com as the normal process of reacting to loss. I laugh, as if there is something normative about loss. Other than the fact that we all experience, I've yet to see any two people react the same way or process in the same manner. Yes I know about the stages of grief, and they're out out there for us to check off in hopes that we'll see that we're making progress. But honestly, if grief is one thing it's unique.

Which speaks to why we see so many people on the internet blasting one another for saying things like "I know what you're going through." "I feel your pain" and "We all go through this." Screw that! This is MY grief, don't belittle it by trying to take me out of it, even for a second.

How does hospitality fit in with grief? We let people be real, without having to make fake connections. Being present, without saying a word. Sometimes showing up with c…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Anniversaries

Sometimes, it's important to remember dates. Some of those dates are birthdays, weddings, graduations. This particular post is about other anniversaries.

There are hard events in life, most of them involve death. We'll talk about active grief tomorrow, but today it's anniversaries. I believe that one of the most compassionate dates we can remember of those we love are times of loss. I would say this isn't for everyone and it certainly isn't for every death. But some will stick with you and you should do something about it.

When you have a date or time of year stuck in your head in regards to a friend and their loss, take the time to reach out and say hello. It tells them that they are important to you, their loss is felt by others, and that its okay to still be sad.

For some, they may want to move on and not be reminded, you'll get a clear picture of that right away. But for others, it can be a very loving thing to do.

In this day and age of fast communicatio…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Kicking Folks Out

There will come a point during every party that you're ready for everyone to leave. If you're lucky, this moment will happen after folks have started to leave as opposed to before they arrive.

The punch has been drunk, cake eaten, stories told, it's time for them to go. First, since you're an introvert, take a moment and do something alone. For instance, go to the bathroom, take out the garbage, excuse yourself unexplained and close yourself in your bedroom. Just go be by yourself for a second and take an inventory of who's left and which folks you haven't talked to yet. Take another moment and just breath. As we used to say "smoke 'em if ya got 'em." If you dot know what that means, then good for you, ask your crazy aunt about it some time, she'll explain it. 
Now that you've had a moment and a list of folks you haven't spoken with, join the party again, find one of those folks and say hello. This little retreat and attack tactic…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Inviting Folks In

This may be the hardest part for some introverts. You've created your safe haven from the world and now you're going to invite the world into it? Start small, ask someone you really like over for tea or coffee. You can either give a verbal invitation or via email. If the two of you communicate via text that also works. Since I know you're not making a lot of phone calls, I would not suggest that you make a special call, that might make them nervous, same goes for snail mail. If those forms of communication are rare for you, avoid using them to invite your favorite friend over for a cuppa.


Alright! You've mastered one friend, now maybe a few friends? Let people know who else will be there when you invite them or at least who else is invited. People don't like surprises for coffee for the most part. And just because someone is your friend, it doesn't mean they're your friend's friend. And a frenemy in the midst is not conducive to being real with one an…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Coffee Service

I think I covered this a little in the pantry post as well as the little gatherings, but I'm going to recap/expand it here.

When you're serving coffee to people there are some things to have on hand. First is your coffee maker. There are several different kinds, I've owned most of them. There are two that I keep even now that my consumption is very low. The first is a Keurig. It's fast and you can easily switch from decaf to regular. Though it's not the best for long lingering table talk. If you're having more than one cup, I'd suggest a French press. Oxo has one with a clean out thingamabob that makes it even better, because cleaning is easier. If you prefer your drip coffee maker or are into pour over methods, then by all means keep using them. I would suggest that you pick up a carafe so that it can sit on the table and stay warm.
The carafe isn't terribly important for style or the likes in my book, but if it is for you, then shop around. What i…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: At the DMV

There are places in life where we have developed habits of isolation. A prime example of that is at the DMV. We don't really want to be there, lots of people with nothing to do but wait. Some of those people are talkers. Occasionally, they will find another talker and the two of them will have a loud small talk conversation that all the introverts in the building will roll their eyes over.

So what's an introvert to do at the DMV? Two routes, book and headphones or smile and say hello to people. I would actually recommend the second. People may very well tell you something interesting. And by initiating, you will potentially scare off the non-talkers and be able to guide the talkers into a less painful conversation. 
How do we lead into less painful conversations with strangers? I have not perfected that, but I've found asking questions about rabbit trails of their main point works pretty well. For instance, when someone complains about how things used to take less time, y…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: When You Don't Wanna

There will come a point in every introverts life when they just don't wanna. My response to those times is "then don't."

Seriously, there is almost nothing worse than being with people when all you really want is to be alone in your bed with Netflix. Sometimes you need those days. Now if you have a long standing string of don't wannas, then you have something going on that needs to be addressed. The occassional, end of the week, I'm just done with people moment happens, go be by yourself. If anyone harasses you about it, tell them you ate something funny at lunch (note to self, always eat a joke at lunch time so as not to lie to people). It is acceptable and expected that introverts will need time alone, don't feel inferior that you're not out with your friends every night of the week. That's the fast track to hating yourself and your friends in introvert land.

Now, what if you've already said yes and it's at your house and people are on …

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Your Children's Friends

I'm hopefully not just talking about little kids today but adult children as well. No kids at all? Well, maybe this concept will change the way you think about random kids you interact with.

I used to love playing the game "The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." The idea that we're all easily connected if we think about our friendships. I often discovered that I was far less than six people away from others. Today though, I'm interested in the first degree of my child. The people that they interact with and enjoy having around.

My primary thought when interacting with children that are not my primary responsibility is that for that small moment, I'm their mom. Not meaning I take the place of their parent, but I offer them love as if they belong to my clan. I know it's easy to be irritated by small children and just want them to go away. It's also relatively easy to be kind and generous. I listen and engage in conversation. For the time we are together, I b…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Coffee House

There will be times when you want to meet with people, but don't have the energy or time to host them in your home. Lucky for you, there are other places to go.

The coffee house is an extremely popular location. I would suggest that you know your location before extending an invite. Some of them have bands and loud teens, others are so small that everyone hears your conversation. Ideally, there would be a steady flow at the counter but with mainly to-go orders. Lounging in the back also provides some sense of privacy. Chains can be good for meetings, though the feel of a local joint can't be beat. You can always get your coffee to go an pad take a walk with it, if it's too loud or small.

There are other types of places to meet besides coffee joints. Some small restaurants, walking paths, breakfast joints, downtown shopping corridors (you learn a lot about people when shopping with them), bakeries, book stores. Just about anywhere.

In these type of get togethers, don't…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Little Gatherings

In case you didn't know it, introverts, this is your thing. Seriously, I'm telling you, small intimate gatherings are the way to go. You get to talk to people and enjoy each other without the hoopla of a large social event.

These little gatherings can be as simple as milk and Oreo cookies or as elaborate as a ten course meal. It's your choice in regards to how much you want to do. The elaborate meals should probably utilize the LRH method so you're not in the kitchen the whole time.

One thing that I try to do when I have little gatherings is to use nice plates, even if it's Oreos and milk. When you use the nice plates, you automatically let people know that they're special and you put thought into the gathering. As I recently shared with someone "Our plates may be fancy, but we are not." I LOVE serving ordinary foods on fine china. I don't use the stuff often, but occasionally, I will pull it out for pizza delivery. It's just plates at the en…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Big Parties

Sometimes, you just have to host a big party. Whether it be for a work situation or major life event. There are two ways to do this, probably more, but two I've witnessed. There's the chicken with your head cut off mode we'll call that chicken little method and then there's the Little Red Hen method.

In Chicken Little, small things become paramount and by the time everyone is there, you're in a frenzied panic and people are concerned about your well being. I'm sure you can figure out how to do that on your own.

Do you know the story of The Little Red Hen? She wanted to make some bread, but had to start from the beginning of plowing the ground and sowing the seed. All along the way, she diligently takes the steps to keep her moving towards bread. She doesn't just wake up one day and try to do everything in three hours. The end result is a loaf that everyone wants to partake in. In the original story she eats the bread all by herself, but hey, not every fict…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Long Distance

People are moving more and more. When I was a youngster, it was a rare instance for a friend to move away. Now it's me that moves away. We've moved a lot, especially when we first got married. It was something like five addresses and three states in the first four years of our marriage. We've slowed down a bit. In the midst of all that moving, we've made some friends along the way. I try to keep an open line in case of times of grief and celebration.

One of the best tools I've found for keeping in touch with loved ones far away is Facebook. As much time as I could spend doing other things instead of checking it, it's the best thing I've found. It allows me to communicate with others, without having to call. I know calling is amazing, hearing people's voices, but for introverts, there are no body language clues for us to pick up on that help make our conversations easier. It's also why we prefer to video chat :-) Back to Facebook, some etiquette.

If…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Birthdays

Today is my birthday, I've had at least forty of them, so I consider myself a budding expert in the field. My best advice is if someone is having one, wish them a happy birthday, whether it's a clerk in a store, your best friend or second cousin on your mom's side.

Birthdays are the days that our stories began. It's good to remind people that you're thankful to witness a piece of that story. If you have co-workers, bring them their favorite dessert. Doesn't mean cake every week and it doesn't have to be for sharing, could just be a slice of pie. Small gestures are better.

Some folks love big huge parties, introverts I've noticed fall on the other end of the spectrum. You're not likely to know about their birthday unless they want you to. So take it as a compliment when your introverted friends invite you in to their world. Repay the favor by following their requests when it comes to gifts. If we say your company is the gift, believe us. Awkward gi…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Pantry Rules

I don't have a lot of stuff sitting around in my pantry. I don't even have a lot of room for extra stuff, but there are some things I try to keep on hand in small quantities.

I read a book on hospitality once where a family kept an entire closet and fridge full of kid friendly junk foods, to help draw they neighborhood kids to their home with their own children as primary hosts. I loved the idea, but the reality of an introvert living that lifestyle is a little slim. I would instead say to introverts, your regular guests that drop by on occasion can have a special treat on your shelf. If you're super organized, you can keep a journal/folder of friends favorites and purchase one or two before they come over.

My main thing I would encourage you to have is coffee and tea fixin's. Keep not just sugar in the sugar bowl, but a couple packets of pink, yellow, and blue if you can find them. Have dry creamer for emergencies and cream around if you know folks are coming. If you…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Home Care

We can all agree that there is a minimum standard for home care in regards to inviting folks over and having them want to come back. One is probably no banana peels on seat cushions. There are others, but that's pretty universal. The minimum isn't so hard, it's the maximum that gets us in trouble.

First and foremost, people are coming to your home to see you. Even if they think it's to find out what's stashed in your medicine cabinet, it's really to see you. Keep that in mind when you start to freak out that you haven't washed the curtains or some other task that only you will truly notice. If keeping your home clean is a struggle for you, I highly recommend the book The House That Cleans Itself. We went from disaster zone don't step on that to comfy cozy very quickly. I have pictures I could show you of life before, but they're scary and we don't need scary today.

There is a benefit to keeping a minimally tidy home, people can stop by and you …

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Guest Room

Can we talk about your guest room? If you don't have one, that's okay, you offer a couch or floor, people know exactly what they're getting into. But you get offered a guest room, there's no telling what you will end up with.

First of all, would you sleep there? Maybe I should say can you sleep there? People often have junk rooms with beds in them with the grand idea that it could be a guest room. If you can't go in and put sheets on the bed with 24 hours notice, it's probably a junk room. I like junk rooms, they're great! But don't put the stress on yourself of saying it's a guest room. Because then you're not just adding the work of hosting someone over night in your house, an entire room of stuff is displaced in your home and there's more pre-work that has to be done. Just tell folks you have a bed in the junk room you can clear off, it's honest and they understand or stay at a hotel instead.

Okay, you can sleep in there. Do you use …

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Me Time

Look at you, out there meeting people, making new friends, having guests over. You're seeing some changes, your family seems content and yet for some reason, you really want to snap someone's head off and punt it into the next county. I may have a less violent solution for you.

We hear a lot about "me time" from the media. Mom's are calling for it so they can down a couple of bottles of wine with friends in peace. Men are building man caves so they get away from their families to watch the game without interruption. It has officially run amuck.

I'm not promoting pity parties once you act the brink of sanity. I'm going to encourage you to do one small thing a day. Spend some time alone, well preferably, spend some time alone with Jesus every day. It doesn't need to be a lot and it definitely doesn't have to be formal, but it will make a difference. The other vital thing about me time is that it cuts into your time, not your families. It's not…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Extroverts, Check Yourself

I love extroverts! I live with one and she is amazing. It always astounds me how much she enjoys talking with new people. Her latest thing has been trying new foods. Extroverts crave stimulation and normally that means interaction with people.

Why the "check yourself" then? Well, I know that it can be tough for you to live with us introverts. You get home from a long day of boring meetings and extended commutes and you just want to play. Your introverted partner has spent the day navigating toxic people and overly chatty neighbors and want to curl up with some ice cream and disappear for a few hours. For both to win in this situation each has to give, but the largest sacrifice will be on the extrovert.

Give your introvert some time. Help create their needed space. Take the kids and interact with them in some place that allows quiet for the introvert. Send the cat in to get pets, if they can also deliver tasty beverages, even better. I promise you, unless it's been a ter…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Introverts Unite

Hi, my name is Tina and I'm an introvert.

I know that some of you may be surprised by that fact, because you see me talking with people and occasionally taking chances. I'm a little outspoken at times and don't mind organizing gatherings. Here's a little information for you, introvert does not mean shy or even socially awkward. Introverts, according to Susan Cain, author of Quiet, are typically people who prefer quieter, more minimally stimulating environments. Which means given the choice between a raucous night club and an evening at home with a few friends, introverts will tend to choose the latter. Not that they won't go out, but that it will cost them in recovery time beyond the lack of sleep.

Now that we have that out of the way and the majority of the extroverts have bailed, let's get real, fellow introverts. Because of your desire for quieter places with less stimulation, you're perfectly suited for hospitality. Your awareness of what's going …

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Out and About

Okay, this one is especially for the introverts. I know that you're not going to be knocking down people's doors or leaving your own open for extended periods of time. What I'm going to share with you today is a technique that we've been using for awhile to practice hospitality with strangers. Well, they aren't strangers for long.

You're already going out into the world and doing stuff, take the time to do stuff n the same place at the same time. For instance, you're already buying groceries, pick a smaller store and go on a regular day at a regular time, get your meat over the counter instead of off the shelf, use the same clerk when you check out. Over time, you'll feel comfortable talking to them and share part of your life. You'll notice when they're missing and when they're excited. You'll naturally become a part of one another's life. And once you do that, you'll potentially share more of your life with one another and can…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Co-Workers

I'm not really sure why I picked co-workers as a topic. I know some of you have them. I personally haven't had any in well over a decade. Unless we count volunteer positions. I figured I could get some advice from friends and family.

The first bit of advice I got was "Good luck." The next bits I got were a little more useful.

Be nice. Just like your mother used to encourage you to play nice with the kids on the playground, play nice at work. It will serve you well.

Don't forget, everybody is their own person. Some folks like to get in and get out, others are chatters. Try not to chat up the ones that prefer to do their work during work hours. And here's a suggestion for you to implement regardless of which side you're on, suggest meeting after or before work to hang out and talk.

You don't have to be Facebook friends. This is especially true of people you supervise and that supervise you. If you want to interact with them in a professional aspect onl…

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Neighbors

Let me just say, I'm a terrible neighbor. I love my house, my neighborhood, but I stay in my house, a lot. Like a lot a lot. A lot. But I've also had a lot of neighbors in my day, some good, some not so good, some amazing.

Where you live, what type of home and community really sets the stage for how you interact with your neighbors. If you're Sally sunshine and move into a hood of Debbie downers, well that might suck for you. Trust me, it sucks worse for Debbie downers to move into a hood full of Sally sunshines. It's how cranky Cindy gets born.

My best advice is for you to be you. If you're into your house and pajamas, then please do not agree to chair the welcoming committee. But if you like to bake bread or cookies, then by all means feel free to share. You don't even need a special occasion, just wrap them up in a paper plate and tinfoil and walk them on over. You'll see me in my pjs but so what? Cookies make friends. Find a way to interact with your …

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Extended House Guests

I'll just say this from the beginning, I don't do this. Well, I've done it, but I'm not one of those people that has someone come and live in their basement for weeks on end while their in between jobs or assignments. I thought I could be that person, but it's just not me.

My tips from what I've learned are below.

Be positive that you want someone in your home, doubly positive and don't have a time line for them. Extended house guests may stay much much longer than you ever imagined. Don't believe me? Talk to some parents with adult children in their homes. It's better to say no in the beginning than to come to hate someone's presence in the end.

Give them a key, tell them when meal times are, explain the house rules and then let it go. You should not expect anything else from them at this point. They are now a member of your family. You can refer back to ideas from the Immediate Family post, if you want.

Extended house guests are a different …

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: House Guests

You've been invited to stay the night with your introverted friend! You must be very special indeed. Introverts like their wind down routines, adding people to that does not mix well and we learn that very early on. When an introvert says you can stay with them, it's a real blessing and statement about their love for you.

I'm going to share some tips for you introverts on how to keep your much needed down time as well as have people stay in your home for brief periods. We'll look at extended stays later.

Have a space for your guest to sleep that is not in the main living area. If you have a small home then I understand this isn't always possible, but try. It's not just for you, it's for them, too. No one actually likes being woke up by a heard of elephants tip toeing through their sleep space. And you do not want to see your second cousin's underwear choice before your first cup of coffee. Put up a temporary curtain, create a guest room, kick your kid …

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Immediate Family

Have you ever realized that your home may be the only place that you can truly be yourself? So much of human interaction is based around rules, sometimes called etiquette, always created and learned. The way we behave at work, school, church, the playground are different and unique and it's very rarely something that is completely hospitable to our entire self. Today, I'm pondering on how we can create environments in our homes that allow the people inside them to be themselves, without hostile rules.

I said hostile rules, because some rules in the home are very helpful to hospitality, genuine interaction and rest. I'm not saying we do any of the things I'm about to discuss perfectly or even at all in our house, but I'm going to point out some things all the same. And they aren't rules so much as ideas. Like a pirates' code, which are more like guidelines per say.

When someone comes home, greet them. It lets them know two things right off the bat, you miss…

Hospitality Defined

Can we be honest for a moment? No? Well, I'm going to be anyway.

There's a reason you think that hospitality is hard and it's not just because you're an introvert. It's because people have learned you can make money from it. There are magazines, stores, blogs, you name it based on hospitality. We even have degrees for people who want to make a living in the hospitality industry. It's turned into an industry!

 Typically us introverts don't like throwing parties because of the over stimulation. Oh, and the work to make it happen. We've all done it, wanted to spend time with people, invited them over, spent way too much time and money on a meal, cleaned corners of our home that we haven't paid attention to since the day we moved in, yelled at our children to pick up their rooms and threatened them with restrictions if they don't empty the dishwasher right now! At the end of the night, the bench mark of successful visit is that they walk away happy…