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Words by VLB

On Hospitality

One of my favorite parts of living in the South is the hospitality of people here. Whether it's a smile in passing, a genuine "how are y'all?" from a waitress, or an undeserved invitation into someone's home, I find that most Texans welcome people with open arms. It's the little things.

A quick side note here - I know there's a lot of debate about whether or not Texas is "the South..." but as a Colorado girl, this feels pretty Southern to me. So, for all intents and purposes, let's go with that here. Don't fret - Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas are at the top of my travel bucket list.

When I moved into my house this summer, I was most excited about hosting people. I wanted to create a space where, as Joanna Gaines says, "everyone feels at home."

My roommates and I decided to purchase a massive wooden table with two long benches for our dining room, and it is easily my favorite piece of furniture in our home because of the opportunities it provides. Whether there's two people in our home or twelve, that table provides a central place to gather and connect. And it makes my heart so very happy.

Letting people into your home is a little vulnerable, but that's the beauty of it. Where I'm from, I've noticed people are a little more hesitant to host - more often, the gathering is a group hike or meeting at a coffee shop. But as I've gotten to know people from Texas and other states even further South, I've realized the home is often the first choice for a gathering space. I love that instead of "let's go out to brunch," it's often "let's cook breakfast together."

And so, as I've adjusted to life in a house after two years in a dorm, I've tried my best to adopt that mindset. I want to be the first to open up my sacred personal space when I could easily keep it closed. I want my home to be a come-as-you-are sort of place. I want to live the reality of dishes in the sink and hair in a messy bun with an audience. I'm challenging myself to expose a little more of my home and my life to those who care about me.

Because, the truth is, the pillows aren't always perfectly fluffed and I'm not always doing as well as I say. My personal challenge to be more hospitable doesn't just apply to my home, but also to my heart.

It's not easy for me to let people in on my physical messes, much less my emotional ones. I'm not careful, my introverted tendencies convince me to keep the door closed and reserve life's more difficult emotions for me, myself, and I. But I know that's not how we're called to do relationships. Life often feels too hard to navigate on our own, and I believe that's intentional. We have to let people in.

The people in your life who really love you won't care if your bed is unmade or there are tears in your eyes. They'll stick around even after they see the piles of junk in your closet and in your heart. The best ones will wash your dishes with you and listen to you explain your heartbreak. They'll help you sort through your laundry and your problems. People are often more willing to love us than we think.

But we'll never get to experience that authentic connection if we don't let people in. Everyone has areas of their homes and hearts that they'd like to keep hidden. But hospitality requires vulnerability. We don't need a spotless house or an Instagram-worthy charcuterie board or all the answers.

We just have to open the door to our hearts and our homes and invite our people to stay.

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If I want to live an extraordinary existence, I need to be brave.


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