When I get an idea that captures my heart, you won’t find any grass growing under my feet.
I do not hesitate. I do not vacillate. I do not drag my feet. For better or worse, I dive in headfirst, full steam ahead. Every. Single. Time.
I like this way of living. Not every idea turns out to be a good one, but the joy for me is found in the creative process. Thinking up an idea and seeing it come to life is the surest way for me to feel fully present and alive.
As soon as I decided to liquidate my life and travel the world to find my purpose, I went to Ace Hardware with my to do list in my hand and a goal in my mind.
Paint was at the top of my list. The master bedroom needed more than just paint, so my first priority was the empty room left behind by my college bound son.
With fingers crossed, I skipped picking my own paint color and went straight to the mistint paint shelf where I found a can of blue-grey paint for $5.
Perfect. I like misty morning grey, and so will the person that buys my house. I bought a can of paint and the renovations began.
By the end of the day, I had a fresh, new bedroom. One room down.
That was when I decided to go outside and climb on the roof and watch the sunset, which is where I was when I remembered how much I loved those trees AND this town AND the people that live here which led to me rethink how I could travel the world AND keep my house.
I always dive right into ideas that sound exciting, moving forward until, well, until I get a better idea.
Time and again one idea leads to another. And though I tweak my plans regularly, I’ve spent a lifetime making ideas come to life.
Well, I had a better idea.
What if I rented that bedroom out to a college student? It was the right time of year, and if they gave me the first and last month’s rent money and a deposit, I’d be on the right path.
Then I would do the same for the master bedroom, and I would be on my way to having a more affordable house payment long term.
Sharing my house with young energetic college students seemed like a doable idea at least for the next year.
BUT…I wasn’t totally sold on the idea. The math in my head started. Would it be better to rent the rooms out to a college student and have them in my space all of the time OR list the back room on Airbnb?
I clicked over to Airbnb to read about becoming a host and find out about the charges and the going rates. Turns out they don’t tell you ANY of that until after you’ve signed up.
So I signed up. Their process requires you to create a listing, even if you just want to read the fine print.
You have to be a host in order to read the terms of becoming a host. Sneaky.
So I created a listing. One picture of trees and no words in the description. That was it.
No background check. No safety list. Nothing. It was all automatic. I had a listing on Airbnb.
You already know what’s going to happen, don’t you?
It’s so predictable.
Within just a few hours, someone booked my room. Someone booked the listing with a generic picture of trees and no description. Who does that?
Someone who can’t find any other place available because they waited too long to book, and they are coming to Newberg in four days.
My heart started racing.
It was Tuesday, and I sent them a very calm and collected email telling them I was completely delighted they were coming to stay and that they would be my very first guests.
Then I went into that master bedroom, sat down on the chair with my notebook and said to the unseen gods of renovation:
I hadn’t even started my master bedroom.
For the record, there is nothing like a good solid deadline to turn up my productivity level.
And I had a deadline. I had guests coming, and I was going to do my best to make sure they loved Newberg, Oregon as much as I do.
My bedroom has come a long way since I first moved in four years ago. When we bought the house, the master bedroom had been a tanning business with a private entrance, a hot tub, and a wet bar. It was THE place to hang in 1989, complete with a built in cabinet for the 19” television.
A hot tub. In the middle of my bedroom. I lived with this for the first two years, until one Mother’s Day when my two teenage boys gifted me a day of labor to tear the horrid love tub out and haul it off to its final resting place.
Within the last year, my oldest son helped me finish off the flooring leaving an empty, but new space.
I didn’t feel I was starting at scratch to create a nice accommodation, but I had a whole freaking long list of things to do. I still needed to fill in the space where we had removed the wet bar and TV cabinet. That hole had been staring at me everyday for over a year, and I now had 4 days to work it out.
I had a little money in the bank. Not enough to pay my whole mortgage but just enough to buy some IKEA cabinets and a few other necessities. It was a gamble. I would need to make my money back before the end of the month in order to pay my mortgage.
I knew I could cancel the booking. I also knew if I didn’t change anything, nothing would change.
And I needed some change.
I took some measurements and drove to IKEA. Two hours later, I came home with a truckload of boxes and enough detailed instructions to scare even the biggest bottle of Ritalin. I needed my son’s help.
Having worked on so many IKEA assembling projects together over the years, we settled into our preferred rolls. I opened boxes, changed playlists, got tools and brought in snacks. He assembled six drawers and three cabinets like it was easy and anyone could do it. Hmmm…
Within 24 hours, the empty space was filled, and that was when my phone dinged. Another booking for the following weekend.
The pressure was on. I needed to replace the toilet and finish the trim in the bathroom. Heck, I needed to paint the bathroom. The nineties wallpaper would never do for a hip little Airbnb.
There were a few things that felt extraordinarily hard. The outside garden by the back door looked old and dead. It needed help.
Second, I am not a coffee drinker, and I didn’t really know WHAT to buy to appease my guests.
And lastly, I needed a sink. The thought of buying a sink and all the parts and cutting out the hole in the counter and hooking it up felt daunting. I CAN do it. I have done it, but it doesn’t come intuitively and standing in the plumbing aisle looking at all the parts always feels like an intelligence test I’m about to fail.
I rummaged through the garage and found some off white paint and went to work on the bathroom. It was Wednesday afternoon and the clock was ticking.
I was settling into the tedious job of painting the bathroom when I received a text. My friend Sarah was in need of a part time worker at her cleaning business. She wanted to know if I could help her out.
A job. Working for someone else. Cleaning houses.
I gave Sarah a long list of disclaimers starting with how I hadn’t actually had a job working for someone else in nineteen years. I told her that this was a very busy week. I told her that I was used to being the boss, and I didn’t know if I would be a good employee. I told her that I didn’t know if it was a good idea to hire someone to clean whose life philosophy is “Good enough is better than perfect if it leaves time for fun.”
I then told her that I had a son going to college and bills to pay, and if she would take me, I would be really thankful for the work.
She let me know I would need to start the next day.
I painted that bathroom well into the night. I got up early and went to an entry level job working for someone else making as much as my teenage sons.
And, surprisingly, it felt good to get out of my head and just work hard. Turns out I am an excellent employee.
For the next two days I worked during the day and cranked up the music into the night to finish off my bedroom.
I came across the perfect sized sink on Craigslist for a little kitchenette. I went to pick it up and when I got there, I nearly hugged the woman.
EVERY SINGLE PART was already attached to the sink. Her husband was going to install it, but he never got around to it and now they’d changed their mind. I didn’t even have to go to the hardware store. I got a brand new sink with all the hoses, faucet, pipes everything…for $50.
I practically emptied my own kitchen into the back room making sure they had every single thing they would need for a comfortable stay, but I don’t own a coffee maker.
Word got out that I was on a mission to set up an Airbnb, and my brother sent me a message saying, “Amazon will be delivering your Keurig and mugs anytime. A non coffee drinker like you cannot be trusted with the responsibility of choosing something this important.”
He totally hooked my future guests up.
My friend Susan showed up with her green thumb and a few boxes of plants and in about an hour had the tired old ground outside my back door looking alive and welcoming.
Friday afternoon arrived. I texted pictures to my brother who travels for a living and stays in places all over the country.
He said it looked good, BUT…
My phone dinged.
He’d sent me $200. He said, “I mean it looks pretty good, but…your pillows, bedding and towels could use some help. You should hurry on over to the store and get them replaced before your company arrives.”
Off I went. With a few hours to go, I found some bright yellow towels, new pillows and a few final touches.
At 10:30 pm, I placed the chocolate on the pillow and the Oregon Tillamook ice cream in the freezer.
I was ready for my first guests to arrive.
Tired to the bone, I giddily (creepily) peeked through the window as headlights slowed to a crawl and a car turned in the driveway and slowly made its way up the path by the side of my house.
My first guests had arrived. And I had just accomplished something that felt remarkably like progress.
I fell asleep instantly. With a smile on my face. Delighted with the joy of a job well done and grateful for the people that made it happen