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.

the space we create

It seems we have to carve out the space, write it in pen in our new planner from Target. The one we anxiously checked the mail for everyday and almost feels too pretty to write in. We have to tell our spouses before we get out of bed, even after pressing snooze twice, “Hey I’m writing at 7am. I won’t be available after that time.”
Because maybe if I make it out of bed and in front of my screen, the guilt will subside. The guilt when I sit down to write and realize the dishwasher needs emptying and the sink is overflowing. When I realize there are random odds and ends to eat – that could somehow form a lunch if he really tried. And so I hear him scrambling to get his lunch made and feel, you know, guilty (even though he’s capable, so capable).
I feel guilt when he eats his eggs alone, after I stole some from the pan.
I feel guilt when I ask him for more coffee, that he made, while I sit on the gray couch by the Christmas tree (we still haven’t taken ours down. another thing, right?).
So it seems much of my hesitation with writing doesn’t have to do with writing at all – it’s about guilt and feeling like I should be doing all the thousand other things than fueling a passion.
And goodness, we don’t even have babies yet. Mamas how do you do it?
I used to think writing was like building a house. Even though I have no idea how you actually build a house – a girl can imagine, right? I used to think each word was like a pretty brick or slab of foundation, gradually growing vertically, until you have something people can walk inside and press their hands against. Normally, you’d wait until it’s structurally okay before inviting folks in, because then it’s safe. You wouldn’t want it to collapse or anything.
So different from writing.
With writing, that lot sits empty for a while as you survey the land. You might walk around the block, observe the neighborhood, say good morning to the little old lady on her front stoop, shop at the local convenience store for a pack of gum, before getting back to the lot to do any groundwork or bricklaying. And then all of a sudden an idea hits, a big bag of bricks and tools and nails tumble to the ground. Though they don’t entirely connect, so you’re stacking them slowly but have to keep running out to the store for more supplies. And sometimes you start over, completely, you’ll build a wall or roof and it will be demolished, maybe used for later. Maybe not.
And despite all of that, you have to invite people in. Because that’s what writing is all about – inviting people in to your messy, broken, beautiful heart.
We have to be brave enough to let people in when the foundation isn’t set and the walls aren’t up – you still have to show people what you’re making because while it might look unkempt, that is holy ground you’re walking on. It’s vital for the story. And it might not feel safe to enter, it might feel terrifying and shaky and hard to sit back down and keep typing but you have to do it. We have to do it. If we ever want our story to come to life, if we ever want the words on our heart to live long after we’re gone, we have to do this – over and over again.
And so I’m here writing, without much sense of which way is up or down. Despite wanting a fresh, new look for this space and not being tech savvy enough to figure it out. Despite being unsure of what I want the essence of this space to be other than what it’s always been – a retreat for the heart. I have no clue where the words will take me. But I persevere, I sit down long enough to create.
I offer in the becoming. I welcome people in like I would a home that isn’t finished yet.
I carve out the space to write even when chores and my own inner critic taunt me. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really about time, a lack thereof and rather a problem with I how I use it and fill a day.
Do we simply let the dishes be while we hone our craft? Do we say no to things we really shouldn’t be filling our schedule with?  Do we take off the superhero cape and stop being all the things to all the people?
Lately, I’ve been making decisions through a filter. 2017 is my year to simplify – simplify my stuff and my schedule. I’m a “yes” person. I like to help. And while I know there will be things we just have to do, commitments we have to make – I’ve decided to try and make most choices through a simple filter: Does this draw me closer to God? Does this help me go deeper with the precious few? Does this support my love for writing and hospitality?
And what I’m finding is that these three, simple questions apply to so many things. So really, it hasn’t felt limiting, it many ways it feels like I am widening my reach without running ragged. It feels a lot like freedom. But it also feels scary as I swim into uncharted waters and say no to things I might really enjoy.
Sometimes, the writing process feels romantic – candle lit, hot cup of tea, essential oils diffusing, and quiet home. And most often, it feels a lot like right now, greasy hair, coffee that is now lukewarm, pajamas (okay, I changed from last night’s yoga pants to yesterday’s yoga pants) and a mascara smudged face. If only you could see this.
But this, in my tired eyes and messy hair, is offering what I have as best I’ve got.
And that’s all we can give most days.
So here’s my offering, my pouring out, my laying of bricks. It’s yours to take and walk inside and press your hands against. While it might be messy, I hope you feel welcome and necessary. I hope you know you’re enough and that I’m really glad you’re here.
This space already feels more cozy with you in it.

more than an ashtray

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The summer before I got married I took a pottery class in an old dairy barn.

It was something I had always wanted to do and felt a season before great change was ideal to press into creativity and art.

Truthfully, I needed something to ground me before such a huge transition.

So I took this class because I love the way coffee and tea feel in a handmade mug and because like you – gardeners, painters, bread makers, writers – I crave to use my hands to make something beautiful.

The class was small. I was the youngest by about twenty years. They were a tight knit group and often wondered how I even found this little dairy barn.


There is technique to wheel throwing but I discovered so much of it is in how you feel. It’s a delicate balance and movement, a dance of sort, of keeping your feet firmly planted, elbows by your side, and arms relaxed as your hands and body apply pressure to a piece of clay in hopes of turning it into something durable and lovely.

And there’s a whole other dance to pull up the sides so a mug or vase or bowl can actually function.

Often I’d be strong and focused with setting the clay and softening it on the wheel. I’d carefully maneuver my fingers and thumb to make the piece come to life. Until suddenly, I’d push too hard or not enough. One side would collapse and I’d have to start all over again or grab a small knife to cut the top.

My mug would become an ashtray.

It became our running joke.

Let’s not make any more ashtrays, yeah? How about we go for something different today. 


In so many ways, this season feels a lot like that piece of clay on a wheel.

Maybe life always will?

We’re constantly being molded and shaped and cut to form something durable. I can feel my God applying pressure to one side, an area of weakness, and sometimes it’s so tender and fragile that it collapses.

And it feels like we’re starting at the very beginning.

A new bud growing on a branch.

Though His work is very different than mine. You see, He doesn’t strip things away, start anew and leave me there to dry and crack.

A piece to place on a windowsill, that while beautiful, has no real extra purpose or ability than holding small coins or rings. 

No, I think He’s much more creative. I don’t think He keeps us there – even when the journey is long and we’re stuck in the waiting room.

Slowly, with time, an empty vessel becomes something that carries weight and isn’t so afraid to take up space.

He turns what was once broken into something useful and plentiful.


I’ve met women in my work who wonder if they are too far gone. Women who have seen and experienced too much to believe that redemption is possible. I have friends who feel stuck in negative patterns and are covered in fog; who feel the weight of anxiety and discontent and not enough.

I’ve been there and am there. I think maybe we always waver in the in-between.

They’ll be those days we think the potter is done.

So you’re just going to make another ashtray, are you? 

And the human element might think: well, would it really be so bad? I mean, an ashtray can be used for beautiful things too. It’s okay if you stop right there and keep me where I’m comfortable.

Please don’t push or pull any further.

I don’t know about you friend, but I get antsy in that place. Like a child sitting inside at school on a really beautiful, sunny day.

I really want to swim out further. I want to enter the place where I have to cry out for something bigger than just me. Because in that place of discomfort and fear, what I trust is actually happening is the potters finest work.

Something that was once sitting on a windowsill collecting dust is reborn and used for more. 

And in this space, we’re able to hear a soft whisper, close enough that it tickles our ear: Don’t be so afraid to take up more space dear one. I designed you to be filled up, poured out and deeply loved.

5 ways to kick “writers block”

PC: Cathryn Lavery
PC: Cathryn Lavery

I once heard that writers block is a myth. That it isn’t really a thing. That if we are waiting for the moment to write – mug of coffee in hand, candle lit, no clutter or mess – we’ll just be left waiting.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I didn’t always believe this to be true. I’ve had what I thought to be “writers block” countless times, each more restless and frustrating than the next.

Though what I began to realize over time was that it wasn’t a matter of having nothing to say. I actually had a lot to say. I just wasn’t sure how to say it. And the deepest, hardest part to recognize was that my inability to write stemmed a lot from fear. I feared that my thoughts and feelings weren’t enough.

Like maybe it had all been said and done before (way more eloquently of course). So why say anything at all?

I think a better, more practical name for this feeling is being stuck. We’re stuck in our head, our mess, the weight of the day. And we need a way to unravel.

Because that’s what writing is for me; a way to come undone.

It’s like suddenly, all the chains and links and filing cabinets in my brain that make so much noise are able to be still. And the quiet thoughts, the ones I have to get down with my ear to the floor to hear are free to swim and spill out of me.

Suddenly the muck turns into something durable and creative and fruitful.

Something in the dark comes into the light.

Something that was once ignored or misunderstood is heard and accepted.

Writing might not be your thing, and that is okay. But I think we all need a way to come undone. We all deserve space to make sense of the joy and pain.

So what do we do when we’re stuck?

I thought I’d share what’s worked for me. This list is alive and active, it’ll change and grow with each season. Dig deep and make your own list when you feel stuck.

Write down the things that help you unravel or loosen the reigns.

Time.

I have to give myself time. Like freshly baked bread, you can’t rush a good thing. I believe in slowing down, abandoning your to do list and walking away from the screen or blank white page. If we’re rushing to every little thing, if our days are marked by google calendar, we have no room left in the margin for creativity.

So much of my writing involves fully living in the world, observing interactions and finding patterns or connection. It makes sense of something that seems so complicated. We need time to observe and process, we need space to daydream and ponder.

“If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, this is how you spend your days–listening, observing, storing things away, making your isolation pay off. You take home all you’ve taken in, all that you’ve overheard, and you turn it into gold. (Or at least you try.)” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

PC: Peter ᴳᴱᴼ Kent
PC: Peter ᴳᴱᴼ Kent

Get Away.

If the sun is out when it rains usually you’ll find a rainbow. Sunflowers ache for light, they actually look up to the sun. A tree so mighty and tall can grow from one small, single seed. Creation is a beautiful, amazing thing. We’re living inside a masterpiece, a miracle really, that can so often be overlooked. Breath in the air, take in the season, savor the colors and light and smells.

Find a friend.

Writing doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens in community. And that can feel so strange because the actual act of writing feels so personal and private. But the truth is, I’d have nothing to say here if it wasn’t for the people around me. My ideas and words flow after a really great coffee date with a dear friend. I am able to say out loud to her what I can’t seem to write down. And the way she interprets the world offers inspiration and clarity.

Friends make sense of all the many thought bubbles in our brains and give us a gentle nudge or push to keep working through it, to come out on the other side.

Be your own friend. 

When I really have nowhere to start and I can’t seem to make sense of the connections and patterns, I talk out loud. I have a date with myself. A blank white screen is terrifying sometimes, it stares us down and intimidates. It causes us to place more importance on filling space over feeling – over asking how we’re doing and what we’re carrying.

Sit down with a cup of coffee, hop in the car – when you think you have nothing to say just start talking. You always have something to say. It just might not be what you originally planned to sit down and write.

The Golden Rule.

I think this one hits closest to home because I have to tell myself it on repeat: your story isn’t plain or ordinary. Your voice isn’t too much or too little. No one experiences life the way you do. No one sips coffee, stirs soup, gathers people like you. You are different than the human next to you. And while so much of us is similar, our hopes, wishes and desires – the ways we interpret life, meaning and love is our own. And that’s a beautiful thing. So you don’t have to worry if it’s been said or done before because until it’s been done by you – it’s never been made that way before. 

Friends, what do you do when you’re stuck? What helps you come undone in the best way?

xoxo

When it’s Bigger Than You Thought

Hey there, Maeve here. When I started this blog, one of my hopes was to connect with other writers. Though I didn’t really know how and I was intimidated to reach out to folks with really pretty blogs and good grammar. Somehow I stumbled upon Songbird & Nerd and saw the words “Guest Post”. As I read further, I felt a nudge to let go of fear and send a few words to Lindsey. To my surprise, she got back to me and wanted to share my words. [You can read that very first guest post here if you’d like here. And while you’re there, read some of her words too!]

This one moment served as a catalyst to be a little more brave, again and again. It pushed me to reach out to other writers in hopes of fostering connection. And I am so grateful I did. I am so thankful to Lindsey and her writing – she writes with an open, unfiltered heart. She writes not solely when she’s learned a lesson but when she’s still in the wrestle. I am honored to feature her here on the wee spoon and hope you enjoy her words as much as I do. 


 

PC: Greg Raines
PC: Greg Raines

I’ve been on the road lately.

Last fall a nearby church invited me to speak to their mom’s group about neighboring, being present to the people God puts in our path. The talk was well received and the group leader shared my name and contact information with other mom’s groups in the state. Since then I’ve fielded invitations from many group leaders to come and encourage their women with funny stories and a fresh dose of truth.

It’s been a blast.

I’ve spoken to rancher’s wives in a tiny farm town, rocked the microphone in a strip-mall church start-up, and found myself in front of a stained glass window telling a story about failed efforts at breastfeeding.

Last week I invited my friend Gina to join me as I headed down to a nearby suburb to speak at a nighttime gathering of young moms. We had about an hour in the car to catch up while we made our way to the meeting. I had entered the address the group leader sent into my GPS, so although I was following instructions about when to turn, I wasn’t paying much attention to where we were going.

Until suddenly the computerized voice told us we’d arrived at our destination.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I was shocked. This wasn’t a tiny farm town, a small chapel with stained glass or a strip-mall start up. This was a mega-church and I mean MEGA. I’m not sure I’d ever seen a church so big in real life. It looked like it could possibly be big enough to host a professional sporting event. And the parking lot was packed.

My heart began to thud in my ears.

“Okay, wow,” I said to Gina.

“How big is this mom’s group?” she asked, echoing my own questions.

I hadn’t read the email that closely. Had they neglected to tell me that I was the opening act for Jen Hatmaker? Was it possible that I was about to speak to 3,000 women? Would my thoughts on cultivating friendships in this season of life work as well in a cavernous auditorium as they did around the table with a dozen mamas in a small town?

“Yeah, I’m not totally sure,” I replied to Gina, breathing deeply, trying to steady myself. I noticed in that moment that I hadn’t remembered to change my pants, which bore evidence of a day spent with 2 toddlers including food from lunch and dirt from playing at the park.

Why hadn’t I changed my pants? Why hadn’t I read the email? WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

I prayed, quickly, under my breath that God would carry me through whatever it was we were walking into and in we went.

As we entered the atrium, with 4 story ceilings and a fully appointed restaurant in view, an electronic marquee prominently displayed a listing of that day’s events. As I read the list, I felt myself relax. There were entries for a high school play rehearsal, a 7th grade basketball tournament, a support group for recovering addicts and a class about blending families after divorce.

And the mom’s group, upstairs, in a classroom down a hallway. Which sounded just about right.

When we walked into the room, we were warmly welcomed and invited to join a table full of other young moms, one of whom was also sporting dirty pants. My people.

The night was sweet, laughing and telling the truth about some of the challenges of developing relationships while raising children. We ate too much chocolate and told our real stories. One woman at my table cried as she shared how much she longs for deeper connections in this stage of life. As Gina and I said our goodbyes, I felt grateful, satisfied. I was in my sweet spot, speaking and teaching from the front, sharing stories in small groups, leading times of prayer.

Here’s the thing – I loved that night as it was, but I also loved that moment, that tiny space where I had to breathe deeply and accept that I might be about to get up in front of a stadium full of people. It was scary and thrilling and reminded me when life doesn’t go according to plan we can lean into what we know to be true.

That dirty pants don’t actually matter.

That God is present for big jobs and little ones.

That all we need to remember is to do the next thing.

If you’re lucky, the next thing will have fun new friends and a plenty of chocolate.


 

Lindsey Headshot NewLindsey Smallwood has good relationships and bad dance moves. She lives in Boulder, Colorado where she works, writes and raises little ones. Read more by Lindsey at her blog or connect with her on Facebook.

On Staying

Avellino Wedding by Hilary Hyland Photography

I’m staring at boxes.

I think now is when we decide to become minimalists. Minimalism sounds so romantic when you’re packing.

But back to the boxes. They are covering the floor, our bedroom, and hallways. Our roommates dog is scared, he runs quickly through towers of boxes to get his breakfast. I’m scared too buddy.

They’re staring at me to fill but I just had to come here first. I had to come to you. A few words on planting roots, settling down [why has that always sounded so boring to me] and staying were pressed on my heart.

Buying a house doesn’t mean you’re stuck [thanks Dad] but it does mean you’re sticking around for a bit.

And this place wasn’t where I wanted to stick around a year ago.

Sure, I thought it’d be sweet to begin our marriage in a small town, a place Matt had grown familiar to. Plus I was tired of the hustle and bustle of a city and wanted a change of pace. And as a lover of travel and new places, I celebrated the idea of starting somewhere brand new. So we moved.

But on one stipulation, I’d gently nudge and throw at Matt through the course of that year, nearly everyday – after this it’s Africa.

After this we’re doing something radical and different and not so vanilla.

I’ve always been a wanderer. I’ve always had a restless spirit. Committing to anything past college threw me into a frenzy of anxiety and worry. It’s why marriage was so terrifying. It’s why signing a lease always felt like all bets were off, life as we knew it was over. Dramatic? Maybe a little.

But the truth is, I’m not very good at staying. I haven’t lived anywhere longer than a year in the past 6 years.

I stay long enough to share all the parts of myself, to be open and vulnerable and then I run. It’s like the honesty and rawness becomes too much and I have to go. I have to start somewhere fresh again because I think I am locked into one identity. I think settling is lame. So I leave, ripping up roots, yet clinging to them with all my might.

I land in the next place – wherever that is – dreaming of back there, the place I was before, the place I felt known and accepted.

It’s a cycle I’ve lived for years.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of place – living out west, the town my grandparents were born in Ireland or a village in Africa. Place has always meant purpose. It’s meant a cool story, exciting pictures to post, adventure, and thrill.

But God wrecked me this year because he gave us people.

He surrounded us with community and friendships so deep and thick that it feels as though we’ve known each other way before this little town. He’s laid the art of neighboring on my heart in a way it’s never been done before. He’s shown me, through others, what being a good neighbor really means.

What being a good friend really means.

So as we rounded out our first year here last September, instead of talking about where we might want to move, we looked at homes. We decided to plant our feet and heart. We decided to give it our all and love people the best we could. We decided to be honest with any pain, regret, or shame with friends who deserved to hear that part of our story.

Running away just wasn’t an option.

Staying was.

Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe in travel and exploration. I believe moving to a place just to move is great. There is a big, beautiful world to see.

But I also believe in seasons – a time for staying and going. A time for planting and uprooting. A time to plow and harvest

And right now is a season of planting. 

Because I think something is being built here and I want to see it through. I bet you see it in your towns too. I think God is doing something powerful in folks homes and around their tables, in coffee shops, and our Wednesday dance class.

I think a movement and awakening is rising and I don’t really want to miss it.

I suppose these words are to thank all the people who’ve made our town home. It’s to celebrate every coffee date and walk and dinner and yoga class and tear that has taught me how good it feels to stay.

Even when it’s hard and a little terrifying.

Because it’s worth it. It’s worth digging our toes in, feeling the dirt between our fingers. When we put our blood and sweat into something we come out braver and stronger and sturdier than before.

And truthfully, I’m a little tired of running. I want to learn how to stay and commit and celebrate even in the mundane. I want to dream right here with what we’ve got and stop thinking there must be some other place that will make things easier and more exciting.

I want to stop craving more and be grateful for what is.

Reader, you are so dear to me. Thanks for helping me stay here on this little space too.

I hope you decide to stay in something or somewhere. I hope you stay connected to the vine or your own source of grace and truth, even if you don’t see the fruit quite yet.

I hope you feel the love from a tribe of people who care so deeply for the person you are and becoming.

p.s This is also an invitation to come visit & stay with us. xoxo

Join the movement

VV Post

This might hit close to home or feel far away.

Chances are though, you or someone dear to you has felt this way before.

Can you visualize something with me friend?

You’re standing in the checkout line of Target. It’s a busy Saturday morning, the lines are long. You look to your left and see a shelf of magazines, you grab one and begin flipping through the pages.

Picture after picture of flawless, photoshopped faces attached to fit, firm bodies stare back at you. Each one more perfect, wrinkle and blemish free than the rest.

You think to yourself: these faces and frames don’t look like mine. In fact, they don’t look like any of the women I love and spend my days with.

As you dig deeper, the article headlines shout similar words and phrases.

10 ways to loose weight before summer.

The best ways to please your partner.

How to fit in those size 2 jeans again.

You look down at your stomach and awkwardly yank at your shirt that shrunk in the wash. Suddenly the dress you picked out to buy, laying on the belt, feels silly to purchase. And your mind swirls down a vicious cycle.

How could I wear a dress like that when I look like this?

Why did I eat that bagel this morning? 

Am I ever going to get my lazy self to the gym?

Vv Post 2I was a sophomore in high school when I went on my first diet.

A lot of girls were doing it, it seemed like the cool, hip thing and I desperately wanted to fit in. A friend recommended shakes for lunch. Though at the time, my body was used to way more food, so I brought a sandwich too.

With time, I became more disciplined.

One shake and half a sandwich.

One shake and no sandwich.

One shake.

Half a shake.

Thankfully in time, I snapped out of this. I missed good food and was sick of being hungry. Yes, I ate more but the lies of not being pretty still snuck in and polluted my thoughts.

vv 3When I was a senior, our teacher told us we could study anything.

Anything?

Yes, anything. 

My mind swirled. What am I passionate about? What makes me fired up? What makes me smile or a little bit sad? What’s something I know little to nothing about and wish I knew more?

For the first time in ever, I made a decision in less than 30 seconds. The topic I wanted to rip a part and pull through was clear.

How the media reinforces a negative self body image. 

I wanted to research it. I wanted to shed light on the epidemic and how much I loathed the way women and men were misrepresented.

How the expectations presented were unattainable and deadly.

vv 6I share all of this with you dear reader, because I believe whole-heartedly in another way, a change of course.

And because I have to believe some of you have felt this way too.

I have to believe, though it pains my heart, that you’ve felt not enough. That you’ve felt guilt after eating. That you’ve screamed in the mirror after trying on fifteen different outfits before going out. I have to believe, because I’ve felt all of this too, that you’ve thought your story was too small or insignificant to share.

That maybe it wasn’t a story worth telling.

If I could leap through the screen and hug you I would.

vv 4

Can you visualize once more with me?

Imagine being at that same Target checkout line and reaching for a magazine on the shelf and finding a picture of…you.

Does that sound crazy in our world?

As you flip through the pages, you find women you recognize and admire. Women who’ve sat around your table. Women who know and love every laugh line on your face.

Imagine reading stories of courage and hope and redemption. Imagine finding heartache and friendship and laughter.

vv 5This dear readers, is what Verity Vareé is all about. This is exactly what this company of women are trying to accomplish. They seek to share your story, your mothers story, your neighbors story and publish it in a beautiful book for all the world to see.

But it doesn’t stop there.

This publication is only the beginning of even bigger dreams. Dreams of hosting and running workshops. Dreams of speaking into the lives of young girls in schools and after school programs. Dreams of telling stories of real beauty – the kind that doesn’t need to be filtered, altered or changed.

I believe in this company so much. I love, adore and admire every woman on the team. Head on over to their about page to meet them all too. And folks, these ladies need our help. Right now, we can all be part of the mission of celebrating true, raw beauty. We can all be story tellers and sharers.

Watch their beautiful video below to hear the heart behind this project. And head on over to their kickstarter page to learn more!