Sharing

Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.  – Ruth Reichl

Not long ago, the words “Live to share” came to me on the tag of a teabag.  I saved it on the window sill with a fortune cookie message from the week before. I generally appreciate random bits of wisdom – these two spoke to me so strongly that I wanted to save them.

fortune cookie kindness

From now on your kindness will lead to your success.

If the fortune is true, I’m deeply grateful. What grace to be at a point in life where it’s enough to be kind, to live from the heart without fear, and to leave the world of comparison, competition and mastery behind until its tools are really useful.

I’ve been trying to live by kindness for a long time – who doesn’t love the Dalai Lama? – but the workaday world doesn’t always reward it, and when I was younger and more fiery, it wasn’t always so easy. But now, having received such a propitious cookie fortune, perhaps I can do it.

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The tea tag appeals to me because it so precisely describes what I am doing with my life these days. 

After my mother died and our children grew up, Tom and I were left with a ridiculously oversized empty nest. I’ve always felt that if we have such a big, beautiful space, we should share it, so we’ve filled it with friends and family, exchange students, SERVAS and warmshowers guests, and an array of tenants. I host women’s circles and meditation groups, we have advocacy groups and the French club here sometimes, and once a month we open our home for a community dinner.

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We began having Monday night dinners about 25 years ago. When the kids were younger we did it every Monday: open community dinners. We’ve used the same rules the whole time:  come promptly at 6, leave at 8, bring real food, and help set up and clean up.

The food is consistently excellent though we never plan it. In all those years, not planning only failed twice. Once we had one salad and many desserts. That wasn’t too bad – it was fun to have dessert for dinner. But the time we had all bread was not so much fun. The next dinner is the first Monday in April. Tell me if you’ll be coming so the right number of tables and chairs get set up.

For the past two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to earn a living by sharing the house with new friends from around the world through Airbnb. Some of our guests have already become old friends. What an exquisite joy it is to sit around on the deck after dinner enjoying a glass of wine or a cup of tea with old and new friends, discovering commonalities and sharing stories.

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The exercise I get changing beds and cleaning, especially paired with a couple of dog walks a day, is perfect for me. The pleasure I find in hanging the sheets on the line and then making the beds, especially with my mother’s linens, is enormous. I love keeping the house fresh, clean and beautiful, and the extra cash flow is paying for many long-put-off maintenance projects. When I want the rooms for family or friends, I block the Airbnb calendar and everything is ready.

What more could I ask?

Wisdom

What you would grasp
let go
only those seeds that fall
grow.

a.o.howell

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11 thoughts on “Sharing

  1. Ah, those chocolate’s and pillows look so inviting….Did I thank you for the fruit bowl and
    chocolate waiting for us when we arrived last week?…Hope so…very much appreciated…..
    Thanks again….

  2. The happy communicating going on in your dining room is clearly the evolved form of our little Monday Night Dinners that arose from your love of people so long ago in Trumansburg.

  3. Sometimes we’re lucky to hear poetry from Eric Greening or Jeanie Greensfelder or Liam’s baritonic rendering of Old Man River and Nancy Koren’s own compositions on the piano! And of course, politics is ALWAYS welcome!

  4. I have been working on “doing no harm” and as I put it out to the people, it comes back.
    You are my best teacher.

    Bobbe

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