Airbnb Life: Discovering What I Don’t Need Helps With My Minimalism Goals

The thing I hate the most about airbnb hopping is definitely the packing. It is SUCH a pain! Packing up bags, loading up the car, just to go to another place and unload the car and unpack…just to pack and load…and then to unload and unpack…WHEW! It gets to be a bit much.

It’s rough. It’s mentally draining, and the physical toll of lugging, packing, unpacking, moving, dragging, lugging, and repacking…it’s just so exhausting.

Every time my boyfriend and I move, we go through this round-robin conversation that goes a little like this:

ONE OF US: We have too much stuff!! Should we try to scale back??

THE OTHER: YES! We should!

ONE OF US: OK, we’ll go through our suitcases at the next home and figure out what we can donate or get rid of.

**After looking through each bag and removing at best, two or three things**

ONE OF US: WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!!!!!

But in all honesty, while I may have too much stuff for life on the road, I do live with far less stuff than what I ever had when I lived in a fixed location. Far, far less. For example…

HOODIES – I only have one hoodie with me. I own…AT.LEAST.20. hoodies AND 10 pull-overs.

JEANS – I have three pairs of jeans with me. I own AT LEAST 30 pairs of jeans and 15 pairs of jean capris.

MAKEUP – I have one eyeshadow, one eyeliner, one mascara…if I were home, I’d have several of each in multiple places throughout my home. And would probably still stock up when I went to stores.

ACCESSORIES – I travel with a small pouch of accessories. At home, I have an entire cabinet devoted to jewelry.

SHOES – I have five pairs of shoes with me, and they cross all seasons, and include my slippers. At home I have shoe racks in multiple rooms AND shoes for other seasons stored in bins.

HANDBAGS – I cannot even begin with my handbag collection. I managed to narrow it down to a fanny pack, a sling bag, two small purses, and one large bag. For me that’s a total success. At home…the story is dramatically different.

So…am I like those people that backpack through Europe and wash out their three pairs of panties at every stop? Ummm no. But am I living with CONSIDERABLY LESS items than usual? ABSOLUTELY!

And each day, it gets easier and easier to not have all of my possessions within reach.

It has been interesting making decisions and figuring out which creature comforts I have to live without. While I love having all of my “stuff”, there have been some positive outcomes from living with less of my things.

  • Less clothing choices means that figuring out what to wear each day becomes less daunting. Less stress!
  • Online shopping is done on more of an as-needed basis, because I have no place to put anything new, and figuring out where to get things delivered can sometimes be logistically difficult. Better for my wallet and no buyer’s remorse!
  • I rarely go shopping for anything in person unless I’ve identified a specific need. More intentional purchasing, and also a wallet saver!
  • Living with less has prompted a lot of productive conversations with my boyfriend around the type of space we want to have when we return back to a fixed location. Communication is key!
  • I have been rethinking some of the possessions that I have stored back at home. If I haven’t used it in this long, do I actually need it. Purging is therapeutic!
  • I have identified some shopping behaviors that I definitely feel like I would like to change. Know better, do better!
  • Learning to make-do versus always feeling like I need to buy things. Appreciate what you have, and problem solve!
  • Living with minimal kitchen gadgets makes me realize I don’t need EVERY kitchen gizmo that I see. Figure out what is needed to prepare meals. You don’t need it just because it seems cool.
  • I have a better sense of what items I love versus things I buy on a whim and then don’t actually ever use. Waste not, want not!
  • Starting with a blank slate in different homes each month makes me realize how much I love not having things cluttering up my space. Cluttered space, cluttered life!
  • I feel like when it comes to decor, sometimes less is more. When I return home, I will decide on a style and be mindful of purchasing excessive home items.
  • I realize now that cluttered space is uncomfortable and mentally draining. It is also the result of procrastination and unmade decisions. Make timely and relevant decisions in order to keep areas clutter-free.
  • I have not thought about any home decor purchases. I’d rather have blank walls than a slew of mismatched things I bought because they were cute.

SO WHAT’S MINIMALISM GOT TO DO WITH IT?

I had already started dabbling into the idea of minimalism. I love the concept and I want to figure out what that means to me and how to apply it to my life. Even before this journey, I felt like my personal possessions were weighing me down mentally, physically, and financially, and I do believe that “things” can totally impede happiness.

The concept of minimalism is too deep to get into in this blog post, but at high level, it’s the concept of living with less so that you can live a more fulfilling, free and intentional life. The concept can be applied to different people in different ways, but I have been intrigued by the idea. I feel like this journey could help me kickstart my minimalism efforts.

I am already overwhelmed thinking about all of the items that await me when I return. And I have already decided that I have no interest in returning to the clutter-filled life of excess that I had. I hope that returning from this journey allows me to make some quick and easy decisions about which items I’d like to keep from my storage unit and which items I’d like to let go of.

Minimalism is a personal journey that means something different for each person. My hope is that the experience of living with less and making do with what I do have helps to frame my thoughts around what is ultimately important in my life.

Have you heard of minimalism? Have you ever wondered about whether it was a good idea for you and your life? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Road Trip Mix – Mountain Vibes Edition

It’s road trip season, and that definitely means that road trip music is necessary.

My recent trip to Wintergreen Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, VA was wonderful. And for this trip, of course there was lots of music over the course of my two-week stay. From the car ride itself, to the mountain bar, to the live musicians that entertained us, music was a constant.

I hate to sound cliche but this mountain resort was sorta Dirty Dancing-ish. We stayed up on one of the mountain sides in a cozy condo, and we came down the mountain (cue the Dirty Dancing stair scene) to go to the lodge, the restaurants, and other activities out on the main lawn. Though Dirty Dancing represented a specific period in time, my music mix has a range of songs…from 80’s and 90’s…to a little older…to a little more recent.

These songs in my playlist were tunes that I heard throughout either the road trip portion or while I was on the mountain at the bar, or at one of the live music performances (hint: the vibe changes a little when we heard the reggae band). The songs stuck out to me when they came on. They were songs that I loved singing, songs that put me in a mood, and songs that made me reminisce. Some are fun, some are quite emo, some will have you running to your journal. But they are a mix of really good ballads, awesome hits, and just great songs to sing for whatever reason.

Somehow these songs made their mark on my mountain road trip so I compiled them as I went along so that I could put together this playlist for my (and your) future enjoyment. Click here for the full playlist on youtube, feel free to jump straight to an individual song below, or scroll down for the playlist embedded in this post.

What would you add to my mountain playlist? Have any faves from this list?

Let me know!

Airbnb Journey: The Trendy Bungalow In NC

It was nearing the end of 2020.  The lease to my apartment was coming to an end, and I truly didn’t want to renew.  I had been house-hunting for a place to rent, and it seemed like rental inventory was at a standstill due to the pandemic.  Time was winding down, I was getting stressed out, and almost as a joke, I said to my boyfriend… “What if we just put our stuff in storage and Airbnb it for a while?”

We kinda laughed and it seemed like a far-fetched, ridiculous idea, until it wasn’t. 

I mean…why not…right??

We were teleworking for the indefinite future, and all we needed was a secure internet connection somewhere in the US.  The more we thought about it, the more we realized…if we can’t go to restaurants and socialize and be around people, if we aren’t going to the office and really have no place to be…why not be somewhere else?  We can be holed up in a house somewhere warmer, somewhere quieter, somewhere different! 

So that’s what we did!  When we packed up our apartment, crammed everything into a storage unit, and embarked on this Airbnb journey, which we have been on for almost 8 months now. 

When we began, we really didn’t know what to expect.  We knew we were super stressed after a really weird year.  We knew we’d be giving up something that was certain—an actual fixed address—for something that was uncertain.  We knew we’d be taking things a month at a time, looking for homes that fit our price range each month, and hoping that whatever place that we chose checked off all the boxes on our house wish list. 

And we knew that all we really wanted was peace.

We were in the midst of a pandemic which was super strange and scary, and we decided to give up our lease, which was so weird and terrifying.  We were going to be staying in places we weren’t too familiar with, after almost a year of being in lock-down mode, after dealing with a really heightened state of racial tensions and after a bizarre election cycle. We were venturing to another state with different COVID policies and possibly different feelings towards us for many reasons, primarily being racial and political. 

And to top it all off, after spending a year dealing with a horrible neighbor, we just craved calm. 

The first monthly home we selected on Airbnb was an adorable trendy farmhouse bungalow in Garner, NC.  Garner is a suburb located only a few short minutes from downtown Raleigh and it boasted of all shopping and dining conveniences. 

The home had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, it had been completely renovated and looked like something that would be featured on an HGTV show.  It also came with a basketball hoop and fire pit—more ways to decompress.  It was in a slightly warmer climate being four hours south.  It looked so peaceful and cute, and it seemed like the change of scenery that we needed.  It looked like the perfect place to hunker down and work for a month while we remained in lockdown. 

Did the home show as well as the pics…

When you book a place online, a certain excitement builds, right along with all types of expectations.  And you truly hope that the place lives up to the expectations that you have built up in your mind.  It’s one thing to book for a long weekend or a few days.  But we were going to be there for a month, and we had no place to go if this home sucked.  So we truly hoped that the home was exactly as the listing described.

When we pulled into the driveway and parked in the carport, we got kinda excited.  We walked into the home, and we were so pleasantly surprised!  You never know if pictures on the web prove to be accurate once you arrive at the property, but in this case, the home definitely lived up to the pictures. 

The open floor plan, the adorable touches, the perfect décor and furnishings…and the brand new modern bathrooms, the nice workspace, and the super clean bedrooms…it was just perfect.

There was an Aldi at the end of our street…we timed it and it was a 3-minute walk.  We loved it!

What did we do while we were in Raleigh…

Well…it was December/January 2020, the world was still in the middle of the pandemic.  There was no vaccine at this point.  Lots of things were closed.  Businesses truly suffered.  And our personal feeling was that we were not doing indoor dining at that time.  We were trying to just stick to grocery stores, Target occasionally, and a sporadic trip to Michaels or some store for crafts, puzzles, or other types of  entertainment.  So the few times we went out for entertainment, we walked around downtown Raleigh, we ventured to a couple of stores at the outlet mall, we found a whiskey bar that had firepits outside and went there a couple times. We socially distanced visited some relatives that lived in Durham, we visited a winery, we did an escape room, and we did lots of grub hub, curbside dining, cooking, and puzzles.  And we also took lots of walks around the neighborhood, especially to said Aldi at the end of the street. 

All in all, we truly loved this home.  It was exactly what we needed at the time that we needed it.  We did a lot of decompressing, we watched tv (ummm Bridgerton anyone!?), and we wrote.  I discovered my interest in making beaded jewelry, I wrote in my gratitude journal, and quite honestly, I stared out of the huge floor to ceiling windows quite a bit.  This was the most perfect home to kick off our journey! 

Here are a few other pics of our Garner bungalow:

Could you see yourself doing something like this? Would you try it? If so, where would you start?

Dear Airbnb Hosts: Let’s talk about reviews

Airbnb Hosts: How you speak to your guests when they post a genuine and honest review of their experience lets me know if you are someone who’s home I would like to stay in. 

I am in the process of searching for my next Airbnb home and I gotta tell you…the way some of these hosts attack their guests when they mention an issue they had during their stay…oh my goodness!!!

Reviews are to be a reflection of someone’s experience, and while some of the feedback may be hard for the host to hear, most reviews are intended to provide insight for the next guest, not to be a trash session for the host. 

I know a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into hosting. I know it feels personal when people say negative things about your space, your procedures, things you’ve put so much effort into trying to make your home great. It can feel like you are being attacked versus someone just stating what their experience was, and it can be hard to hold yourself back from immediately responding.

But I really urge you to take a beat before you fire off a response to an unfavorable review.

Try your absolute best to take your emotions out of your response. Really absorb what the person is saying, and do some inward reflecting as to whether what they wrote could be their version of what they experienced when they communicated with you, checked into your space, and stayed in your home.

Maybe there really was something overlooked by the cleaning staff. Maybe the parking space was actually difficult to locate. Maybe their version of their stay is actually accurate according to them.

I will be honest. If a reviewer is nuts, sometimes that comes out loud and clear in their review, so a comment from the host, much less a snippy comment, isn’t even necessary. But I will tell you, once the host responds with something snarky, rude, mean, or sassy, that shows me the type of person I may be dealing with when I check into their space.

Will you be polite if I come to you with an issue, or will you lash out?

Mean, sarcastic, harsh comments to a guest’s review puts a bad taste in a potential guest’s mouth. Once I see something like that, I move on and I don’t look back. Life is too short to deal with someone that may potentially lash out at me if I say something to them that they don’t care for.

I also know that hosts would rather a guest reach out the them first, or even send them a private note instead of posting the issues publicly and blind-siding them. But truthfully, guests are not under any obligation to do this. If a guest is staying for two days, and they notice that the sink hasn’t been cleaned off or the oven is dirty, there’s a good chance they will clean the sink and avoid the oven, and the first time it comes up may be in their review. They are only there for a couple of days for an event, for work, or whatever, and they may not want to spend any of that time dealing with housekeeping issues. They may opt to get through their weekend’s events and not deal with the issues at the time of their occurence. That is well within their rights, and the fact that they didn’t mention it to you prior to their review, or privately in a message, does not cancel the fact that it happened.

With that said, that is not my choice…to air issues in a review, but guests have that right, and future potential guests can benefit from them sharing their experience. That is the whole purpose of the review. And a guest does not have to alert a host of their issues or feedback before they write that review.

When a guest reviews a home, the host has the option to respond. This is the opportunity for the host to share their side of the story and to show potential future guests what kind of host they are. Do you think a future guest would prefer to see you blast out a past guest and get into an online verbal fighting match? Or would they rather know that you want people to enjoy your space and that you hope that the next guest has a better experience?

Remember, the response to a review isn’t necessarily to square things away, or to have a final say, with the previous guest. Responding to a review lets future guests know whether you have addressed the concerns raised by the previous guest.

If the previous guest mentions a broken garbage disposal, future guests don’t care that the previous guest should have sent you a private note instead of voicing it in a public forum. They want to know whether the disposal will work when they arrive. If check-in didn’t go smoothly, have you updated your check-in packet or figured out how to make yourself more available when guests arrive? Future guests don’t want to see you have a tit-for-tat with a guest after they are gone. They want to know whether the issues raised will impact their visit if they choose to book with you.

What would a potential guest rather see if your home has a less than favorable review?

Instead of writing on impulse or sassing back to your guest, consider the following things that a potential guest would rather see:

A thank you for bringing the issues to their attention (ex: Thank you for raising my awareness to this issue! I had no idea this happened…) –> Show that you value feedback, whether good or bad.

An apology for something that was overlooked prior to the guest checking in (ex: I’m so sorry! We typically do xyz before guests check in, and I apologize that this was overlooked!) –> Own up to what happened. You have a process, but maybe something was overlooked. We’re all human and it happens.

A statement that corrective action has been taken (ex: we have spoken to our cleaning company and they have assured us that xyz will be done going forward.) –> Sometimes procedures slip. Future guests just want to know that you’re on top of things, and that you want to ensure that they have a clean and comfortable stay.

A message that repairs have been made (ex: we have replaced the broken shower nozzle and our bathroom is all set for future guests.) –>Things break. Guests want to know that everything will be in working order when they arrive.

An acknowledgement that the guest’s visit didn’t go as planned (ex: We are so sorry we couldn’t make your stay more pleasant, but wish you well in your travels!). –> Even if you ultimately feel like there was no pleasing this guest no matter what you did or didn’t do, wish them well and be done with it.

A nice way of saying the guest didn’t read the listing well (ex: I am so sorry that this wasn’t understood! We tried to make this clear in our listing but will look for a better way to let guests know about this up front.) –> There are nice ways to say that you did your part, and the guest just overlooked something. Find the nice words. When all else fails, start your response with “Oh my goodness!” Everything sounds nice after that lol.

My final words on the topic…lean on good customer service. Your response to a review is for the benefit of future guests. Do not waste your effort or energy being rude or upset with someone that has already checked out and gone on about their life. Use your response to reassure future guests that you will do all that you can to make sure that their stay, if they choose to book with you, goes well.

Are you an airbnb host or guest? Have you received or given an unfavorable review? How did it go?

Wellness Wednesday: Find Your Perfect Health Squad

Today was Wellness Wednesday. I spent the day at my orthodontist, my dentist, my primary care physician, and getting bloodwork done. Sometimes you just need to take the entire day off and handle your business, and that’s what I did today.

The unbelievable thing was that I left each appointment feeling so happy. Not necessarily happy because I received good news and glowing feedback. But happy because I felt like I received the care I deserved, and that I got the advice and feedback that made sense and felt appropriate. I felt confident in my squad. And that has not always been the case for me. It’s been a long road to get here, but I absolutely love my health care team!

And really, shouldn’t everyone love their health care team?? Shouldn’t you feel confident that you are receiving the best care and advice? Shouldn’t you feel like the service you receive is the best and most appropriate for you? Shouldn’t you have a team that listens to your concerns, and takes them into consideration?

Well–I feel that those things are important. So here is my advice to you after my appointments today.


1) Schedule that appointment. You know the one. The one about that thing that you been meaning to schedule but just haven’t yet because of some excuse that truly isn’t valid. So do that and do it now.

2) Research your doctors. A lot of doctors have profiles on their various hospital or medical group websites. Learn what their qualifications are, what their specialties are, and what it is about their niche that they love.

3) Ask for options. Many times your doctor will tell you what they feel is the best answer or their chosen course of action. Do not be afraid to ask if there are other options. I have had issues with fibroids and irregular, extremely heavy periods for most of my adult life. They have been debilitating, painful, and awful. I have had a doctor tell me that there was nothing that could be done about it. By just asking “is there another option?” I was told about other alternatives that my doctor apparently had no intention of discussing with me. I did independent research, asked even more follow-up questions, and wound up going with a far less invasive procedure than what was originally suggested.

4) Look for a team that collaborates. My dentist and my ortho are in the same office. My dentist noticed some issues with a tooth, and I asked him for the options that were available to deal with the issue. He gave me three options, and I picked the one that felt most appropriate for me. As I was wrapping up at the front desk, he and my ortho had an impromptu meeting as they looked over my files. He told her what his thoughts were regarding an action plan. Together they had a meeting of the minds as I stood by and looked on. He said I’m thinking about doing x, and she said did you think about y…and they went back and forth feeding off of each other’s thoughts and ideas. And by the end of it, a whole new suggestion was presented, one that was much better than what I had initially settled on. It was awesome, and the solution will ultimately solve another issue that wasn’t even part of the original picture! It will be a win-win for me in the end, and that excited me!

5) Ask ALL of your questions. COVID honestly had me going to the doctor less than usual. Things that I may have made an appointment for in the past got put off over the last year if they weren’t mission critical. Today when I went to see my primary care physician, I asked about EVERY bump, scrape, and flutter I’d noticed over the last year while I had her attention. And let me tell you, it took so much weight off my chest, that I felt like I was floating when I left. One example– I noticed an odd patch of skin a while back. And your girl has a complete fear of skin cancer. I’m scared that some small spot that I’ll blow off as a mole or a bump will ultimately be undetected skin cancer that will grow rapidly and kill me quickly…when I could have just asked my doctor about it and had it treated. So I noticed a patch of skin on my leg a while back, and I’ve blown off asking about it. It hadn’t grown, it didn’t change much in any way, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering if it was cancer. Today I just had to know what my doctor thought about it, even though it wasn’t what I originally went in for. She took a picture of it, sent it to the dermatology department AND received a response WHILE I SAT THERE! Nothing to be concerned about. Whew!

6) Don’t be afraid to change insurances. I know researching and pricing out doctors can be an entire pain in the ass. Open enrollment comes around each year, and I know it is easier to stick with what you already have in place than it is to look through books and websites pricing out health plans. Quite honestly, it sucks. Sticking with the devil you know feels like the better option to doing research. I get it. But you could find something so much better. Case in point. A few years ago, I knew I wanted braces. Adult orthodontia still wasn’t really covered by most insurance plans. But some insurance plans were starting to cover them at least partially. And some were covering the expenses after you’d been enrolled in their plan for a year. Taking the time to do some research led me to a plan that covered adult ortho at 50% AND didn’t require a waiting period for the coverage. So I enrolled in that plan and got my braces! Without finding that plan, I may still not have been able to fit braces into my budget. And that would be a shame.

7) And don’t be afraid to change doctors. Listen…don’t let the fact that you’ve been with a doctor forever, or the fact that they have your files keep you from looking for another doctor. You don’t owe your doctor anything, and files can be transferred. There are so many doctors out there. You don’t not have to be stuck with one that doesn’t fit your needs. If there is something you don’t like about your physician, your dentist, or your specialist, FIND ANOTHER ONE. Establishing a relationship with someone who fits your needs will bring a joy that is hard to explain. You deserve good care. Do not feel bad for settling for anything less.

In a kind of unrelated matter, I would like to brag about my all black, #HBCU educated medical squad!!! Today I visited my Ortho (#howarduniversity educated), my dentist (#howarduniversity educated),and my primary doctor (#hamptonuniversity educated)…yes it was a full day!!!

It was not intentional that my medical team is all black however, I have had many many many many many many doctors and I have felt a lot of bad ways about them for a wide array of reasons, and I kept searching until I found doctors that I felt comfortable with, that were professional, and that genuinely listened to me. They just happen to be all black.

So my message is this– DO NOT settle for ANY doctor that does not meet your needs EVER!!!! I have had back issues, fertility issues, blood pressure issues, cholesterol issues, heart palpitations, and lawd, these teeth!!! I have been in so many chairs and offices and have been disappointed so many times. I have been misdiagnosed and mistreated. I have been in tears, I have prayed, I have written letters, I have asked for guidance. And today, after years of effort and research, I left all my appointments joyous, ready to make action plans, and ready to work on areas of concern.

Find your squad! Change insurances. Look up new doctors. Challenge their final decisions. Speak to people around you. Ask for referrals.

Staying on top of your health requires YOUR active participation.

Today, my doctor and I laughed because we have emailed SO MANY TIMES over the past year, but today was the first time we met. And it was like we knew each other for years. Find you one like that!

DO. NOT. SETTLE.!!!

Do you have advice for assembling the perfect medical team? I’d love to hear it!



#wellnesswednesday #healthylifestyle #medicalteam #hbcudoctors #blackdoctors #scheduleyourappointment #kaiserpermanente #kaiser #selfcare #takecareofyourself #myinstadiary #marylandgirl #marylandblogger #hbcugrad #hbcupride #hbcugear #discoverunnder1k #discoverunder5k #morganstateuniversity #morganstate

A word…

Grace.

I get it. People get on social media and show all kinds of pieces of themselves. Some are crazy, some are weird, some are full of opinion. I saw a post today…one of the typical posts from a social media consultant of some sort, about what you should and shouldn’t do on social media. I see similar posts pretty much several times a day. And they can be informative and worthwhile for sure.

But this one just rubbed me the wrong way. I’d only recently just posted my first IG post after being away from social media for a week or so. It wasn’t one of those “I’m Formally Taking a Social Media Hiatus” type of breaks. But for whatever reason, I was choosing to be present in my life, and I just didn’t feel like constantly chasing content or constantly thinking about whether I was doing something postable. So I just didn’t post anything for a week or two.

But back to the post. The post was a video or reel or tik tok, I don’t remember. The person was doing a normal tik tok-ish style dance. There was music in the background, and she’s making hand gestures, pointing to phrases on her screen. On beat, with each one of her gestures, a different social media tip popped up. This post was something about how you should and should not present yourself through your IG account, which is similar to a lot of social media grammers out there. I don’t remember the specific topic.

I guess some of the points were valid. However something about it just…made me want to throw up my hands. It just made me think…why can’t we just let people do what they are comfortable with?

Why can’t we show some grace on social media?

People don’t pop out of the womb feeling comfortable shimmying and shaking in front of the camera. You don’t stay on top of emerging trends and technology without having a few trials to figure it all out. We don’t all know how to be the perfect IG business account holders. And really, isn’t that ok?

I know I personally find people that make errors, have flubs, and show us their human side are people that I gravitate to moreso than the grammers that always have the perfect outfit, perfect filter, spic ‘n span homes, awesome music, dances down pat, and food that looks worthy of kudos from Gordon Ramsay himself…

Like…if I want to watch a perfect studio performance and no errors, that’s what tv productions are for.

I feel uncomfortable around perfectionists. I want to see the person who doesn’t know which button to press during a live. I want to see the organization hack in a home that doesn’t look like Marie Kondo just stopped by. I want to encounter people that are relatable.

I don’t want to see those that spent thousands on an account full of staged pics taken by a professional photographer. For me, it’s just not interesting. There’s no depth.

Be normal. Be yourself. Say “umm” 78 times. I’m here for it!

We as a social media community need to give grace. A lot of people…MOST people on social media…also have other full time jobs…jobs that are NOT the business they use instagram to promote. Most have a 9-5 which pays their bills. Most have families. Most have other important obligations. But for most, there’s something about sharing their lives on IG, whatever piece of their lives they choose to show us, that makes them happy. And we follow them because we appreciate the content they share with us.

Instead of being critical of the content, I’d prefer to be happy that people are being vulnerable and open about something in their life.

So here’s what I am choosing to do.

I am choosing to be present in my own life. Posting on socials is secondary.

I am choosing to be gracious towards the small business owner that’s trying to navigate this new uncomfortable way of promoting their business.

I’m choosing to be gracious towards the new mom that has discovered social media is a great way to find a community of new struggling moms.

I am choosing to be gracious towards that shy girl that has found a new interest and is being brave enough to reach out to a like-minded community, even though it is extremely uncomfortable for her.

People are just trying to be social, have a little fun, and share a bit about their lives or their crafts or their business. Criticism is SUCH a turn-off. Expecting perfection is unrealistic. I’m going to stop expecting social media perfection from myself, and just seek to enjoy the community.

Does social media perfectionism intimidate you? Or do you just get out there and have fun?

Let me know!

Quick Micropost

That look when your to-do list is long af but you know you’re gonna be aight.

Y’all, I have so many things to do, but all I wanna do is drink iced coffee and watch indie movies. Being an adult is THE WORST! LOL. I mean…have y’all done your taxes?? Sigh…lol…

Please tell me I’m not alone! Anybody else be out here ignoring the real world like that actually works? Or just me? Lol.

I hate feeling like I should have everything together and just dont. I guess this is a different kind of imposter syndrome. Let me find my notebook and start writing my list. I have some work to do today so that I can enjoy my weekend. 

Happy Thursday, y’all! ✌
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Oops I Broke Something: Airbnb Mishaps

Things happen.  We are all human.  And just as I accidentally break things in my own home from time to time, obviously things can happen in the Airbnb homes that I rent as well.  I do try to specifically and intentionally be extremely careful as an Airbnb guest, because I really do not want to have to spend money replacing things and I don’t want a bad rating. 

But…life happens.  Things get damaged, things get broken, it happens.

Luckily, so far, I haven’t broken or damaged anything major. And **fingers crossed** it stays that way.

So the question is—as a guest, what do you do if you break or damage something?

I actually find that the answer is really simple. 

Do as you’d want someone to do if they broke an item in your home.  In my opinion, that really only leaves three choices.

  1. Fix it.
  2. Replace it.
  3. Notify the host of the damage.

Or possibly a combination of all three.

Here are a couple of real-world examples from my Airbnb adventures of times when things got damaged, and how I handled them.

Fix it.  It was literally the first home on my adventure.  I hadn’t even checked in yet.  It was well after 10pm when I had pulled into the driveway, opened the trunk to my car, and out tumbled a bottle of red wine.  It hit the ground so hard and so fast.  The bottle shattered, and red wine went all over the driveway.  I wasn’t sure if it would stain the ground and I really didn’t want THIS to be my first impression in my first Airbnb home.  I was exhausted from a long day and long drive.  All I wanted to do was get inside, shower, and go to bed.  It was late and I couldn’t even see because it was dark, I hadn’t even opened the door to the home, and I was nervous that neighbors would think I was trying to break into a home that I didn’t belong in.  But I knew that I would feel horrible if on day 1, I stained the driveway.  Despite exhaustion, I searched.  In the dark I was able to find the hose, wash down the driveway, collect the glass, and get everything cleaned up.  WHEW!!!  All was fixed, and all was well.  And now I can check into the home and hit the sheets.

Replace it.  I will say this. I do feel like there are times that some hosts just leave old dishes they no longer want, for their guests to use.  Knowing that dishes are not clean, kinda rusty, or downright unusable, they still stick them in cabinets and drawers, so that they can check the box stating that they have a stocked kitchen.  Or it could be that previous guests jacked the dishes up and maybe the host hasn’t realized it. Whatever the case, it’s a little gross and kinda irritating.  But we make do.  We wash everything super well before we use them, and we line the dishes that we can with aluminum foil when we cook in them.  In one home, we used a well-worn baking sheet left by the host. We lined it with foil and cooked our dinner.  When we pulled the sheet out of the oven, it was burned too bad to continue to use.  The foil had burned through, and had welded itself onto the crud that was already on the baking sheet.  Though we didn’t feel like it was our fault, because the thing was crusty to begin with, we still opted to purchase a new set of cookie sheets.  We left one sheet at the home to replace the sheet that was no longer usable, and we kept one for our travels.  Though we didn’t feel like we should have felt obligated to replace it, we felt like it was easier to replace it without risking a misunderstanding that resulted in a bad rating from the host.  At the end of the day, it was $10 and it wouldn’t break us.

Notify the host.  At the home in Frederick, one day we looked and just realized the inside of the comforter had a huge rip.  We have NO idea how it got there.  We don’t know if it was there before we arrived and we just hadn’t noticed.  Or whether we damaged the comforter ourselves and just didn’t realize it.  We had a choice to make.  Ignore it entirely and pretend we didn’t see it, or notify the host.  I did what I would want someone to do if I were the host and they were staying at my home.  We contacted the host and explained what we noticed. We asked if he preferred that we pay for it or buy another comforter to replace it.  We realize that an Airbnb home is not the Marriott.  The hosts aren’t sitting around with clean replacement bed linens just waiting to be called into service.  I knew there was a chance that the host had potential guests lined up to move in immediately after I checked out, and they may not have had time to search for a new set before new guests arrived.  I didn’t want to put them into a situation where they were unprepared for incoming guests.  I also didn’t want them to sacrifice their rating by providing (unbeknownst to them) torn linens to guests.  Ultimately, I sent the host a note and asked if they wanted us to reimburse them for the comforter, or if they preferred that we go out and buy a replacement comforter set.  They asked that we replace it, and we did just that.  Was it our fault or our obligation to replace it?  I’m not really sure.  Should they have a line item in their budget that accounts for guest mishaps?  Yes, absolutely.  But at the end of the day, it wasn’t a huge deal to us.  My boyfriend and I split the cost, we found something comparable, and moved on with our lives. We felt this was the easiest way, even if the onus wasn’t necessarily on us to replace the comforter set.

If you rent an Airbnb, or another vacation home, keep in mind that things happen. Items get worn out, things break, things get damaged. Just be honest about it, and handle it the way you’d like others to handle it if it was your item that was torn, damaged, or broken.

Have you ever had a mishap at an Airbnb? What did you do about it? If you’re a host, how would you like a guest to handle an incident in your home?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Quick Summer Wardrobe – 6 Easy Outfits From Walmart

At the end of this week, we will travel to our new airbnb. We decided to pick a warmer climate because… enough’s enough. lol. Spring in Maryland is doing this thing where one day it’s a high of 79 and the next day the high is 42. And I’m just over it. I have to leave the house with layers just in case the temp dramatically spikes or drops while I’m out. I can’t figure out whether to wear a tank top or a puffy coat, and I’ve had enough. lol.

Because it was December when we started this airbnb/vagabond lifestyle, we have zero summer clothes with us. Our upcoming location will be hot and no puffy coats or scarves will be needed. Knowing I have tons of summer clothes in storage, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new wardrobe, but I definitely needed to buy some shorts and sandals. So I scoured Walmart and came up with a few great pieces without breaking the bank.

Here are a few easy, affordable, and cute outfits that I was able to throw together with a simple trip to my local Walmart. I linked the items I was able to find on the website, but some items may be available in your local stores.

Outfit #1: Tie dye dress.

Secret Treasures midi gown in a medium ($14.88)
(I was unable to find this online, but you may find it in your local store)

I believe this is actually a night gown or house dress, because I found it in the section with women’s pajamas. But the material is just as thick as anything I would wear out in public so it is now a multi-use garment. Part dress/part night gown. Lol. It will be put to work! Even in a medium, It’s a little long for me, so I can easily fix that by cinching the sides into a quick knot with a hair tie. Easy breezy! I could have definitely done a size down but I erred on the side of caution. I can shrink it up a little in the wash if I need to.

Outfit #2: High-low top with jeans and clog sandals.

Time & Tru Relaxed Fit Tee ($9.98); Time & Tru Wooden Heel Sandal ($19.98)

I love this top. It’s so easy to throw on with shorts or jeans. Once I got it home, I wound up also ordering it in white and navy blue. It’s just too good to have in the closet as a staple. I am wearing a medium in the top. The sandals…omg I LOVE these!! They are so comfortable, padded with a little memory foam. Just enough heel to be cute without being painful to walk in. I will be wearing these all summer! The jeans are actually pre-owned and another brand, but I could have easily found a similar pair in walmart if I needed some.

Outfit #3: Peach tie-dye paperbag shorts, a white neck, and brown stencil flip flops.

No Boundaries Shorts ($5.98); Time & Tru Flip Flops in Cognac ($9.98); Time & Tru Vneck ($4.98)

These shorts fit amazingly well. I am wearing a 19, but could have definitely gone down a size. I wasn’t quite sure how they would fit and I couldn’t try them on in the store so I erred on the side of caution. I’m quite “healthy” in th back so I would rather them be too big than too small. The neck is a classic and I’m sure I will be wearing that with other things this summer. The flip flops are a summer staple. They are ornate without being over the top. Easily paired with basically everything because of the maroon color, and the heel has a slight elevation so my flat feet appreciate that.

Outfit #4: Drawstring jean shorts, black tank, and straw hat.

No Boundaries Draw String Shorts ($9.88); Time & Tru Tank Top from previous season

What a simple but chic outfit for the beach, for brunch or dinner. These shorts are in a 2xl, and I could have definitely gone down a size. I would prefer them a little shorter so I will use some hem tape so that they stay cuffed like they are in the pics. The black tank is a basic closet necessity, and I can easily throw on my jean jacket or a sweater or kimono over this outfit. The shoes were not purchased at walmart, but I could easily wear my clog sandals for sure!

Outfit #5: Flutter sleeve top and open toed wedge booties

Tierra Sky Peasant Top ($13.98); Time & Tru Booties ($12 on clearance)

This top is awesome for summer date night, or for brunch with the girls. Perfect fit, great style, and easily pairs with shorts, jeans or capris. And these super comfy wedged open toed booties go so well with this outfit! (The jeans are pre-owned, but walmart sells tons of similar styles.)

Outfit #6: Tiered skirt, tank, and clog sandals

No Boundaries Smocked Mini Skirt ($9.98); Time & True Wooden Heel Sandals ($19.98)

This outfit is the surprise from my trip. I really didn’t know what to expect when I got home and tried this skirt on but I absolutely adore it!! Easily paired with a tank top and belt, and it looks so perfectly dainty. Or wear it with your swimsuit for the perfect coverup. I am wearing the clog sandals that I purchased at walmart and I just love this outfit! I cannot wait to wear it!

I love knowing that there are cute options for building a budget-friendly wardrobe! Walmart for the win! Of course they aren’t the only show in town, but there are definitely cute pieces that you can easily pick up while you’re doing your Saturday shopping. And don’t get me started on their bathing suits! They have totally stepped up their game! So far, I’ve talked myself out of buying new swimsuits, but if I break down and buy a couple, I’ll definitely share!

Where is your go-to place for reliable, affordable styles? Have you started your summer shopping yet? Or are you waiting for temps to get warmer? I’d love to hear from you! Let a sista know!

What I wore – Keeping it Simple

I went out to Carroll Creek Park in downtown Frederick yesterday and ummm it’s a whole entire vibe. The sun was shining, people were smiling, a harpist was playing, and the mood was awesome.

Carroll Creek Park is speckled with eateries, shops, places to get adult beverages, sweets, pastries, and ice cream. And smack down the middle of the park is, you guessed it, a creek. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, it was the perfect place to be! Check out my IG reel to see just how lovely it is!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the area, and I wasn’t sure what our itinerary would involve, so I opted for a casual jeans (American Eagle by way of Plato’s Closet – a local resale store) and Hug Life Culture tee (my brand). I paired them with my denim and navy J. Crew x New Balance sneakers (by way of #poshmark) which are the most perfect throw-on kick for any wardrobe.

I’m not sure if I liked wearing the sneakers more because they are so cute and comfortable, or wearing a tshirt from my brand which i got several compliments on. That is such a total boost!

I polished off the outfit with my own beaded bracelet stack which I crafted, a Swarovski tennis bracelet, a gold-toned heart necklace from Walmart, and my new favorite tassel earrings which I got on clearance from Walmart. Oh, and of course, my Ray Bans.

I’m such a strong proponent for keeping things simple. You cannot go wrong with something that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Flattering fit jeans, cute sneakers, and a tee that you can accessories however you see fit…that’s a perfect outfit for a day out and about.

What I wore:

Shirt – Hug Life Culture
Jeans – American Eagle by way of Plato’s Closet
Shoes – New Balance x JCrew by way of Poshmark
Shades – Ray Ban (with prescription)

Necklace and earrings – Walmart
Bracelets – Crafter by me

What’s your favorite go-to outfit? Are you a sneaker girl or is another shoe your jam for being out and about?