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Hospitality, Inviting People Into Our Homes

March 9, 2015

I had a really good conversation with a friend in my kitchen the other day.  We were both sitting in stained, mismatched chairs around my kitchen table.  Small children and upholstered seats don't go well together, at least in my house.  I'd invited her to stop by with her daughter on a whim so I had no real snacks or sparkling water to offer.  If she'd shown up twenty minutes earlier and hungry there wouldn't have been enough sliced turkey to go around and I would have had to offer her cheerios or a hotdog.  And then she would have seen that we've only replaced the shelves in two of our kitchen cabinets.  If she or her sweet four year old had needed to use the bathroom I would have had to choose between our "aesthetically under construction" but in perfectly fine working order powder room or our alien flesh colored upstairs hall bathroom that wouldn't look clean even if I gave it a better go more often.

And as they walked in and the children ran upstairs, I offered her a seat.  She mentioned she was a kitchen person so that's where we sat.  And we talked.  We talked about the dirty seats, the counter tops we wish we could replace.  The dust that was most definitely visible now by the end of the week in more than just the corners.  The fact that there were several softer and prettier places we could be sitting in right then just rooms away but this visit wasn't about that.  It was just about being present in someone else's life.  Just hanging out.  Although we did talk about pretty fabrics and upholstered hostess chairs and snow days and all the things people talk about when they're sitting in a kitchen at 2:00 in the afternoon listening to children play upstairs and parade through their conversation with marching bands and fashion shows.


And this all got me really thinking.  We're headed into two years, this summer, in this house.  We have kicked butt in the makeover department.  My husband has single-handedly transformed our house through countless hours and a commitment to improving our surroundings.  When I go back and look at our before pictures, upstairs tour || downstairs tour, I want to invite the whole world in to see how far we've come.  And actually I do.  Every single day I invite the world into my home and my life.  I proudly show you our before and afters and our progress shots and our process along the way.  Not to be cliche but life's a journey not a destination and I feel so firmly those words are true.  Because I love to play house and I love to share.  This is an easy one for me.

So would you be surprised to realize that not including my large family, I've invited maybe 10 people into my home in person.  What the heck?  What a small number.  What the heck?  I love to entertain!  I have a few people that come over all the time and another list of people I want to invite back.  And more even that I'd love to host.  I've been planning girls nights and play dates in my head but I keep waiting until we have better chairs in the kitchen....until we have a fully renovated powder room....until the deck is fixed and finished....until....until....

What a grand disservice I'm doing to myself and others to assume that they are entering the heart of my home to judge me in such insignificant measures.  To size up who has newer or nicer or better taste.  Can you imagine how absurd it would sound to say out loud, Y'all I can't wait to invite you over but I'm going to wait until things are perfect.  I expect perfection.  And with that, I'm expecting it of you as well.  How ridiculous!  And how far from how I really feel.  I certainly didn't repaint my front hall or buy new throw pillows for my sofa to remind my friends that they didn't.  They aren't going on vacation or getting a new sink to remind me that I'm not.  We're all living our own life.  What matters to me doesn't have to matter to you.  The only thing that matters is that good feeling you have sitting down with a friend and laughing.  Or sharing a part of yourself.  Even over a glass of water on an old seat.

What matters is loving yourself and your home and sharing that good feeling with others.  So my new goal for myself is to make more connections going forward.  Invite more people into my home.  I want to experience some of that good hospitality that makes me so happy. 

Deep thoughts for a Monday, hope you've got your coffee!


And I'm curious, do you do this as well?  Are you hesitant to invite someone over when there's no time to stock the fridge or vacuum?  Do you notice those things upon entering a home?  I know I don't.  Three toys on the floor in my own family room makes me cringe but I could walk into the most lived in and chaotic, to a degree, house and not notice anything more than a friendly welcome and a yummy candle.  Always light a good candle!

Do you even like entertaining?  It exhausts some and I get that.  But I thrive on it and I'm going to start doing more of what makes me happy.  More living in the present and being thankful for all that I have and sharing that with others.

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25 comments:

  1. I love this! I'm the same way, I get stressed and anxious if the house is dirty on days that the nanny comes or even the one day a month my house is clean. It's absurd and with two I'm being forced to chill a bit, but it's not easy...

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  2. I really appreciate this post Julia!!!. I love entertaining and having friends over. Yet, I realize I had been doing the same thing..Trying to make my home perfect before I thought it was ready for "get togethers". The true friends I have will not be worried about what my house looks like, but just enjoying our time together...note to self!!! I am going to make it a point to have people I enjoy over to my home more often as well.

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  3. Gosh, I can so relate to this! Thank you so much for posting!!

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  4. This is a wonderful post. As someone who used to worry about all those things before inviting friends over, I can tell you it is so not worth it and you miss out on so many opportunities to connect with others. I am a neat and organized person by nature. With that said, I do not expect everyone else to be. However, many times I could feel my friends cringing when I would come to their homes (especially if it was unexpected and I was just dropping off something)...they felt like their homes should look like mine. What many of them did not realize is that we were and are in different stages of life (many have little ones still at home, I do not, many work outside the home, I do not). I hated the thought that many of my friends felt inferior because their homes were not as clean as mine. And to be honest, so many days I longed for the messy house, the house that showed signs of kids still living underfoot. In the end, we as women need to be more understanding and accepting of each other period.

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  5. Great post! As I have gotten older, I realize life is too short for the perfect moment. If people choose to judge you over what THEY perceive as a home that is not perfect, then they are no friend. Enjoy your home and all that you choose to invite in it. Thanks for posting.

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  6. Great post, thanks for sharing. I can totally relate and need to be better at not worrying about if my house is clean enough, perfect enough, etc. and just enjoying all the wonderful things I do have with my friends who don't care about that stuff anyways.

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  7. Also want to add that I think your home is gorgeous. Not too staged and sterile, but perfectly beautiful and lived in comfortable. Somewhere you would want to hang out.

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  8. Such a great post!! I used to this all the time! And, then finally my husband put his foot down and said, we aren't going to wait until the house is 'finished' and we're just inviting people over. So, that is what we have been doing. I've invited people into our home with a DR and LR that has no furniture, with a half ripped up stair runner, with paint swatches on my wall b/c I can't make a decision….the list goes on. And, you know what, it is what it is and I apologize when they come in and just explain we just moved here a year ago, etc. Why I feel like I need to apologize is beyond me? Does anyone else do this?? But, after our guests leave, I am always so happy they came over and got to be a part of our lives.

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  9. Great post! We have been in our house and MOST of it is more than I could have hoped for, but I do sometimes shy away from having people over because my bathroom and kitchen are not exactly how I want them to be (yet:)) Lame, I know...I have been trying to force myself to be happy with what I have:)

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  10. Love this post! And such good timing... I've recently had the same realization and have made a commitment to let go of my home insecurities as well. It's refreshing to know I'm not the only one who gets hung up on perfection... and the points you make ring so true. I never notice the things that bug me in my own home in someone else's... and good friends wouldn't care regardless of the imperfection. It's time to let go and and get back to doing what we love... more living in the present, enjoying and being thankful for what we have. Thank you for yet another great post! xo

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  11. Love this post!! I love to entertain, but my house is not "complete" or perfect or always clean and tidy. In fact rarely clean/tidy like I wish. And I don't expect that of my friends either, it is just comfortable. The best compliment I've received is that people feel at home in my home- and I don't think it is because of a new rug or pillows. But I definitely pause and think about inviting certain people over, wondering if my house is nice enough and think about what drinks/snacks I'll serve.

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  12. Love this so much Julia :) This hits home with me so much. I love to entertain too and love to have people over, but I feel like lately that has taken a back burner because we are in major remodel mode. I totally get what your reservations are, but I find it refreshing that you don't let that stop you. Great post xoxo Kristin

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  13. You make some good points. While I personally don't like to entertain (my husband and I are both introverts and don't really like having company that often lol), I think what you're getting at is that it's important to live in the present. And that I struggle with. I often feel like I can't be happy until I have achieved X, Y, Z. We have some impending major life changes coming up and I am very impatient and having trouble staying focused on the here and now. This is a good reminder that things don't have to be perfect in order for you to live. Things never will be perfect, right!

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  14. You made me smile...and wish we were friends in real life. You're the kind of people I love! Real people! ...and as much as I can say that, I will also cop to shying away from having people over because things aren't "perfect". I love the way you explained that in waiting for perfection, you're telling friends you expect perfection....of them too. I had to sit and think about that for a moment - SO true! I'm so grateful that you shared this. Thank you!

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  15. Well said...I shy away from hosting because it isn't perfect. How silly?

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  16. Just embrace the chaos and enjoy the company! What people will remember is you smiling hospitality!
    xo. Leslie
    Segreto Finishes

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  17. Hi Julia, I have been following your blog for a long time and it is one of my favourites. I live in rural Australia on a cattle property but have felt exactly the same especially when my 4 children were small like yours. I felt overwhelmed by the mess they could create and the general amount of house work I needed to get done but mostly I felt judged by my half renovated home. Once my children started school I made friends with lots of other mothers in the same boat {half renovate farm houses and not enough time to get everything done} and I became more relaxed knowing I wasn't the only one. Now my focus for getting the house projects finished and the house tidy and organised is now just for our family to enjoy - not other people and I am very grateful for all the wonderful friends I have made who don't judge me but are just glad to see our family when they come over for coffee or to stay. Also Brene Brown's book: the gifts of imperfection {one of many audio books I listen to while I paint/clean/organise} has been a great for helping me refocus on what is important in life. Thank you for your beautiful post {and your gorgeous blog}, Jude

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  18. We are sisters, right? Ha! I could not of written this any better! Our 70's ranch is a hot mess. I have "this Summer" plans, five-year plans, ten-year plans, and when the kids are gone plans. My very best friends have been over twice since we bought the house a little over a year ago. I always have the "when we finish..." I will have a girl's night at our house. Truth is, I turn 40 on Thanksgiving this year. A year ago I said we would invite 25 of our closest friends/family over for a party this year. As time passes and my kitchen still has the same missing cabinets, torn out wall, and stained fimika (sp) counter-tops, the party does not seem possible. In all honesty, my friends could care less if the house is a hot mess. I care though. I wish I could accept it as-is but my mind will not. This inspires me to go for it! Xo

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  19. I've been reading quite a few blogs for quite a long time and I do always check in on yours each morning. I like seeing if you've done anything new with your home because I'm trying to renovate mine here and there as my budget allows. But out of all the hundreds of posts I have surely read over the past couple of years, this has to be one of the most honest and most relatable pieces that has been put out here in a long time. This is exactly how I (and surely many others) have felt so many times; wanting to have people over, but hesitant to because my home isn't "perfect" yet! But it never will be! And you're right - I never notice when I'm visiting at someone else's home. We are wrong to assume our friends would be so judgmental! And if they would be, then maybe they're not as good as friends as we thought they were. Anyway, thanks for the wisdom - and for the impetus to start making some changes and opening up my home and start practicing some hospitality. It's a good example for my teenage sons also.

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  20. I encourage age you to read "The Gift of the Ordinary Day"....puts it all into perspective and makes you wish the days of mess floors and sticky fingers would linger just a bit longer.

    XO-
    Amelia

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  21. I can so relate. I love to entertain and have people over all the time even in the midst of redoing our kitchen I had our neighbors over and laughed excuse the broken down wall:) and yes why is it we all like to congrete in the kitchen?? My house is a work in progress but it never stops me. and I don't ever judge people on their homes or notice a mess since I usually have toys everywhere. I can't wait to see your house in person one day!!

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  22. I just looked at your before pictures. Wow! You guys have been busy. Maybe we can get an updated picture post (even if things are in progress). No rush, but if you get a chance. You are such a design (in real time) inspiration.

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  23. My sister just read your blog over my shoulder saying how beautiful you are and how gorgeous your house is (I was reading about your laundry room makeover) of course I agreed :) If I am ever in Richmond I am stopping in for some Julia-style entertaining!!! xx

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  24. I loved this post and I'm right there with Natalie/her comment above. While my to-do list for my house is long... I don't let it stop me from having people over. While my husband and I are both more introverted... we do love to entertain/invite friends over. Just last night we texted some friends last minute to see if they wanted to come eat dinner with us. I hadn't planned for 4 extra people... but we made it work. I started to apologize for the lack of sides/clean kitchen and then remembered that they probably didn't care! :)

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  25. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! I laugh, because I can so relate! I often want things to be perfect, or rush in a frenzy to make everything spotless if company is on the way. What's funny though, is that when I walk into a home that isn't "perfect" or is even a bit messy, I feel more comfortable and at ease, than I do in said "perfect" home!

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