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I suspect my house might be like a lot of houses – its smaller, its older, its needy.
It has issues.
And such a range and variety of them.
Long term issues, short term issues and everything in between issues.
There’s the undone, the half done and the nearly done. Things that are broken, things that are worn out and things that need more time, dollars and skill than we have at hand right now. And theres only so much you can do in one day.
There are maybe 100 items on my to do list. 200 if I get picky.
We have exterior trim with two different colour schemes going on – the old one and the new one because I’ve only painted the bit that I can reach and Ken s ladders are all out on loan. A garden thats gone mad – (but I kind of like it that way, all wild and free). Only half the kitchen is renovated. Our “big” room at the back is only three quarters painted (long story), a strip of the cornicing needs replacing because the Cockatiel ate it and there is a water mark on the ceiling left over from a now fixed leak. Every other room needs something done. I think we need new guttering and like we don’t have enough going on we have a dark and suspicious looking stain in the bottom of the toilet that no amount of double gloved scrubbing with bleach, lime scale remover, Jiff or bicarb soda has budged. Our covered deck out back leaks buckets when it rains and reaches maybe 50,000 degrees when the afternoon sun hits it in the summer. Every window in the house could use a new fly screen, there are tiles on the front deck that need new grout and the balustrade always seems to need oiling.
And because things wear out and come loose and fall off as soon as I get one thing ticked off that list theres a couple more that get added.
– – – we’re a work in progress
So what do you do when your house has issues and theres no makeover team arriving from the Lifestyle Channel to fix it all up in three days .
What do you do when your to do list is very long but everything else seems short.
Heres one thing you can do.
Throw a party, put on a BBQ, invite a few friends for dinner, host a small group or invite all the ladies from church over for an end of year celebration.
Because if I wait till every thing is done and finished and sorted before I invite someone over I’d never have another visitor in my house – – – – and then I miss out – on the fun and the shared food and the laughs and the Scrabble games and the story telling and the heart connections.
Because I don’t want a “to do” list to dictate how I live in this house today.
Because my home and I suspect yours too is always gonna have issues of some sort or another – but that doesn’t stop it from serving me well today. It doesn’t stop it being a warm and welcoming place for friends and family to gather in now.
If I only focus on what’s not done I might forget all the things that we have done. If I only focus on its limitations I might overlook all the things my little house has to offer. A nice big outdoor area perfect for a few people to gather, an open plan lay out and a lovely wide kitchen bench perfect for spreading out afternoon tea amongst other things.
Because none of it really matters. Not the to do list, not the undone, or half done or nearly done. What matters are people. If I miss out on people then I’m missing out on the best bits. People aren’t always easy, but there the best bits and they’re worth it.
After writing this post I worked out – that like me – my homes purpose isn’t to impress or compete – – my homes purpose is to embrace. That’s made inviting people in easier. So I’ve been putting my welcome mat where my mouth is and throwing the door open more often and with much less stress than I once did. We have our friday night women connect group at my place every second week – and I’ll just let you know Friday nights is not the night when we are all prettied up and ready to shine but it does mean I vacuum at least once a fortnight and – that time together with like minds, to connect and gather our thoughts and recharge a little after a busy week is like gold. I said yes as well (with a gulp) when it was suggested it might be nice to have our ladies year end celebration at someones home.
So if your home is like mine and is not an entertainers delight, if it has issues and is a bit askew and awry – well relax – your in good company. Here’s a few thoughts I’ve been mulling over after having my “ladies afternoon tea party” that might help you open your doors more often and not give yourself a heart attack in the process.
Hospitality – it’s not about you!
We get thingy about our homes and what they might say to people about us . But – – – what if its more important what our homes say to our guests about them. Things like – “your important to me”, “I’m glad your here”, “you can be yourself here”, “relax and take a load off” “your safe here” – my house can do that with all its lumps and bumps and imperfections and things not done – just as well as without. That starts with me.
Focus on your homes strengths not on its weaknesses.
I know its easier said than done but all of our homes, if we stop and take notice, have more going for them than we think. Why not focus on that. While my house is small, the open plan layout at the back with doors onto the deck make it feel more open and roomy than what it is – that’s one of the things it has going for it and thats what made me say yes to a whole bunch of ladies coming over for the afternoon.
Yes you have to walk through my incy lounge room to get to it but I try and make it worth the trip. The thing is when we are all there talking and drinking coffee and eating food no ones worried too much about the paint work or the cornice that’s missing or anything else. The best way to detract from what’s wrong is to focus on whats right.
One of the things I find myself saying a lot is – “it is what it is”. It may not always be that way, it may be on its way to something else, but for now “it is what it is”. So I’m less inclined these days to be trying to cover up all the dodgy bits (within reason) for the purposes of making a good impression.
Here’s an example – to get to the bathroom when we were all here for afternoon tea, my guests had to walk right on past the end part of my family room that is the catch all/ junk pile/waiting to be sorted out end. While I made sure no one was going to trip over anything there was no tying a bow on it, there was no trying to pretty it up or disguising it by throwing a sheet over.
I’ve big plans for this little area and its better than what it was – but right now “it is what it is” – I think we are all grown up enough to know that we all have messes and things in progress in our homes. Here another tip – Don’t be apologising and drawing attention to all your homes faults and failures forcing your guests to acknowledge and reassure you that “no no it looks fine”. Keep the focus on the lovely people I’ve invited in.
Your homes greatest strength – the thing it really has going for it – – – – is YOU !!
Focus on why you have invited guests to your home in the first place?
When you have people coming – ask yourself “what for”, and I don’t mean in a pull your hair out, wish I’d never done this kind of way. Having a clear idea of the purpose of your visitors coming will help you to know whats important to do and what isn’t. We want to make an effort but we want to make it in the right places. The whole idea of all the church ladies converging on my place was to have a relaxing fun afternoon tea where everyone could take a moment and enjoy a breather – a pre christmas reprieve. The key word was relax. The runner up was fun. For that I didn’t need to re tile the roof or repaint the lounge room or even obsess over whether all the cups matched.
What I did feel I needed to focus on was :
1. Having plenty of cosy comfortable seating pulled around into circles and arranged in a way so it was easy to sit and talk . A place to put a glass and your coffee cup and your plate. Room to relax and enjoy.
2. Having plenty to eat and drink – for me I like plenty of everything food and drink wise and I also like to have it all ready and organised beforehand. I don’t want to be distracted or my visitors distracted by trying to find enough coffee cups and dessert plates and glasses and running back and forward to the fridge to get milk and waters etc etc – thats not relaxing for anyone. So that’s worth spending my time on before hand. I made sure I had everything we needed – glasses, cups, plates, serviettes, drinks , eats, laid out and within easy reach so everyone could easily dig in and enjoy and get down to the relaxing and having fun part. Make it easy for guests to do what they came to your home to do.
3. Having things clean and fresh – for something like this I want my house more on the clean and fresh side than on the messy side and so do most people – not pristine, not spotless because I can’t seem to do that – but we all know too messy can be a distraction and is anything but relaxing. So yes I pushed myself a bit to get everything nice because I like things that way. Everyone has a different idea of clean though so don’t kill yourself trying to clean to someones else’s standards – you’ll never get there. It’s your home, its OK to be you.
My priorities are always a welcoming entrance – the front steps swept and some nice greenery near the door. Clean fresh “amenities” and plenty of soap and hand towels. I like my kitchen bench which is basically the heart of the house cleaned right down and set up nice for eating and drinking. I like the floors swept and anything that might stop people from moving around freely tucked away. My best advice – focus on the areas you will be using. Just do what you can and – what you can’t do probably doesn’t need doing anyway.
I’d say none of us are in any danger of this but I’ll mention it anyway. While not having everything perfect is no crime – not making any effort at all definitely is. What I don’t want my home to say is “couldnt be bothered”or worse still “your not that important”. It takes so much less than what we think to make people welcome and comfortable in our homes. The very simplest of things say welcome – the table set, the kettle on, a candle lit, a good listening ear. Small things that speak volumes.
4. Having some fun – I don’t do “life of the party” – that’s someone else’s job. She turned up about half an hour in and had everyone in stitches God bless her – I left her to it. My plan for fun was game of trivia with a few good interesting questions – that worked as well.
Do Your Thing
You know the thing you love doing. My thing is making things look all cosy and comfy and inviting because my other thing is making sure people are looked after and are comfortable enough to relax and be themselves. That’s when the conversations get interesting. That’s where hearts are knit. I know I probably go a bit overboard with the cozy comfort pretty factor but for me this is the fun bit. What keeps it fun is not over thinking it so I didn’t consult Pinterest or create a theme. I didn’t plan out the decor because this was afternoon tea not the Royal wedding and I much prefer just working with what I have.
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Arthur Ashe
I started with my imperfect house and a back deck with issues where we were all going to get wet if it rained and fry in the afternoon sun if it was hot. It wasnt either – we had a cool dry day – blessings!!.
I strung the bunting and used the flowers I had left from doing this wedding. I pulled out all the candle holders and tea lights I could find and used all the throws and rugs and cushions I had around the house. I cut some greenery from the garden and moved my dining table out onto the back deck which I sometimes do in the summer and I used the whole event as a good excuse to hang some fairy lights that I’d been holding off on hanging till my deck area was all finished and complete!?! I had fun. I did all of that because that’s my thing. Was it strictly necessary – not really but for me its part of making people feel welcome and important and honoured and that for me is a priority.
Decorating may not be your thing – it might be the food or the entertainment or good conversation or getting everyone involved in an activity of some sort – karioke, line dancing, whatever – – – – but whatever it is just do your thing the best way you can to bless the people you’ve invited. Don’t try and do it all – don’t try and do whats not you. Cooking up trays of afternoon tea delights is very definitely not my thing so I arranged for everyone to bring something along AND I got someone else to organise that as well. Enlist some help , phone a friend, let others do their thing and forget trying to do it all.
The end result of our afternoon tea party – we ate, we drank, we relaxed , we had fun – mission accomplished.
“our cup was sweet, our words were long, the day was warm and faith was strong”
And all those issues my home has – really weren’t an issue.
“Let’s trade in all our judging for appreciating. Let’s lay down our righteousness and just be together.” Ram Dass
Love to you today and blessing from my imperfect home to yours.
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