Yesterday we had an VRBO guest checking in for a week’s stay. I spent all day cleaning our home, arranging everything just so, cut flowers from our garden for bouquets, made everything smell yummy, and put out some treats. Just how I would love to be welcomed.
About 15 minutes after she checked in she called me to say she was flabbergasted at how awful our house was. Had we ever rented this before?? Yes, we have been renting it since February and have had about 10 sets of guests stay and we’ve had nothing but five star reviews. Well she could not believe that. She said the house was the most low quality place she had ever rented, it was filthy, there was food in the refrigerator (condiments), the carpet had stains on it, it looked like the house had been cobbled together. She said she was under the impression that it was was a high-end luxury rental right on the lake. “What in the world was this place??” I replied that it was our home and the lake is a five minute walk away, just as the listing had stated. “Well it looks like it has been “piecemealed” together and I can’t believe you would even think of renting this to anyone.” She couldn’t stay another minute in the house and demanded a full refund.
Now it was my turn to be flabbergasted. I have never had someone react so vehemently to my home. Suffice to say, I was stunned and my feelings were hurt.
She indeed left right away and I came home. I walked around our house and conceded that it is not high luxury. There is a piece of white tape on the microwave handle. There are some stains on the carpeted stairs. There are some stereo wires exposed next to the cd player. The cloth on the table outside is simply a piece of muslin fabric with frayed edges. I thought it was simple, organic, and charming and I can see how she would think it was crappy if she was expecting high-end luxury.
As I walked through our house looking at it through her eyes based on that conversation, I started to notice all the flaws. I started to feel embarrassed and ashamed of our home. I started to wonder, Hmm, why did I think this was a pretty house that we could do a rent to other families?
And then part of me replied, “But I love our house.” Yes, actually it has been piecemealed together. We’ve always been on a budget AND this is my style. Cozy, inviting, peaceful, organic; a shabby chic cottage style. I have so much affection for all the things in our home. It is a collection of beauty I have discovered and brought home from flea markets, family, and travels. I love my white vintage flea-market furniture, my hand-painted thrift-store frames, my huge Flower Portraiture canvases, paintings I brought home from Paris, my white cafe lights strung up here and there. Jay made our bed as a surprise Christmas gift the first year we were married. One of the bed posts is crooked and I love what it represents. I do have gardening tools here and they’re outside and that’s because I’m a gardener.
I have decluttered a hundred times since we moved in. I have chosen things that spark joy. When we decided to Airbnb our home I sorted every cabinet, every drawer, every room, so people might feel at home here.Our home is very tidy and clean AND it is not perfect. Perfection is too have a price for me. I’ve stayed in high-end luxury spaces and, while amazing, they don’t feel cozy. I feel like I cannot breathe in or around perfection. It is not sustainable for me.
I do not want to focus on what was going on for this woman. As Oscar Wilde wrote in his play, The Importance of Being Earnest, “These speculations are profitless.“ Trying to guess what was going on- her motivation, personality, emotional state, etc- would be speculation. Moreover, it takes the power AWAY from my own personal experience. It ROBS me of the opportunity to do my own work and heal the sadness and shame it was triggered for me. If I focused on that woman, it would be like me spending all my time ranting and muttering about what a jerk she was was while my little one was in the corner sad and hurt. If that happened to a little one I loved I would FULLY turn my attention to her and give her the support and space to process.
I gave myself the time to write, to be quiet, and to process. Here is where I landed. WHEN I LOOK FOR WHAT IS BROKEN AND IMPERFECT, I FIND IT. When that is my lens, that is exactly what I see. I just had the opportunity to experience what it feels like to look for the broken and realize how miserable that made me feel.
When I intentionally shifted my perspective and looked for the BEAUTY in our home, for what I LOVED, I found it. I love every piece of furniture, every piece of art, every plant, every vintage lamp, all of our mismatched flea-market dishes. When I looked for beauty, for what made me smile, I saw it everywhere.
My hope for YOU is that you look to find the beauty. When you feel discontent, disappointed, like what you have or are does not measure up, seek beauty in every nook and cranny. What are the little tiny things that make you smile? As you are just waking up, write down three things you are thankful for. As you are falling asleep, write down three amazing things that happened today. I believe you will be amazed at how much beauty is all around you.