Monthly Archives: October 2017

What Kind Of Overnight Houseguest Are You?

Last week, good friends stayed with us for three nights. They were fun and considerate guests, and we had a great time.

My husband and I love having visitors and especially enjoy showing them around our unique new hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

We’re lucky to have friends and family who make it easy to host them in our home and in our city. Since we occasionally stay with some of them in their homes, we hope we are the kind of houseguests who are easy, too.

Being a great overnight guest isn’t too difficult. Here are 10 tips for guests who want to ensure a good time for themselves and low stress for their hosts.

1.)  Even if your hosts are retired (or aren’t working while you are there), they may have things they have to do during your stay. It’s a good thing to ask them early about any obligations they may have and be understanding if they do.

2.)  If you are staying more than a couple of days, rent a car so that you can strike out on your own once in awhile or be prepared to take an Uber or taxi, or hop on a bus or trolley.

3.)  Even though you are traveling to their city/town, don’t make your hosts plan all of your excursions. Learn about the area before you get there. Know what you’d like to see or do. “Whatever you think we’d enjoy” is not too helpful. Hiking six miles in the mountains is considerably different than shopping at a mall. Going to an upscale pricey restaurant is quite different than a casual visit to a burger joint. If they have to choose for you, it’s stressful for them and you might not like what they choose, especially if your health or finances don’t allow it.

4.)  Be willing to do things on your own. If you really want to do the six mile hike and your hosts are couch potatoes, let them know what you’d like to do at the beginning of your stay – or, even better, before your visit – and figure out together when and how that would work best.

5.)  Clearly state your intention to share in the out of pocket costs involved in your stay. Yes, your hosts will no doubt supply breakfast and probably even a dinner or two. But when you’re out and about with them, assume that you’ll split the bill.

6.)  At least once, offer to buy your hosts lunch or dinner. Better yet, just do it.

7.)  Be clear about your eating issues, especially if your hosts are making dinner for you. There is nothing worse than working hard to create a meal and then watching guests pick at the food because they don’t like lettuce, can’t eat gluten, don’t ever indulge in sweets, etc. And if you are one of those people who could fill three pages with what you won’t or can’t eat, talk to your hosts in advance of your stay. Maybe eating out would be the better choice for everyone.

8.)  If possible, show up at the house with a small gift … flowers, a jar of jam, a bottle of wine. It says to your hosts…we are so happy that you invited us to your home.

9.)  Speaking of their home, find ways to compliment your hosts about their surroundings. Go out of your way to notice things: photos of their children or grandchildren, a piece of art that is obviously something they love, a colorful bedspread, a nice table arrangement. Let them know you noticed.

10.)  Always, always, always send a thank you note (not an email or text) to thank them once you are back at your own home.

Of course, the responsibility for a great few days doesn’t rest solely with guests. Hosts need to ask questions to understand preferences and they need to be clear about their own needs, too.

Good two-way communication is the key.

What do you think?

Are these the things that your best houseguests do?

And… are you a great houseguest?

Cathy Green

I Love Fall! How About You?

In 2014, I posted this blog about my favorite season. As I write this, in mid October of 2017, the leaves are beginning to turn colors, some are already falling from our trees, the air is crisp, the sky is clear and the days are getting shorter.  We had a beautiful summer, so there’s a bittersweet quality to these changes.  Here again is my attempt to explain why I love fall so much.

Fall is my favorite season. I have loved it since I was a young Cincinnati girl growing up on Vittmer Avenue, a cul-de-sac lined with large oak trees that turned bright yellow, brown and orange in October.

When I moved to Florida in the late 80’s, I missed fall so much that I traveled with Ray to Maine trying to “time”  the peak colors each year.  When we finally bought a home there, we stayed until mid to late October when our “leaving” tree would tell us it was time to go. That’s what we called a beautiful birch tree in our yard that turned bright colors before shedding its leaves and ushering in the beginning of winter.

Birch trees in autumn

And now, living in one of the most desirable “leaf peeper” cities in the country – Asheville, NC – I get to see the spectacular changes in color at several different elevations over about six weeks.  Traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost every day – only 5 minutes from my home –  is incredible.

Here are a few of the reasons that I love fall so much…

  • The changing colors of the leaves always amaze me. I take more pictures in the fall than in any other season and most of them are of yellow, red and orange trees glowing in the sunshine. My cell phone has at least 100 of those photos right now.

Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC

  • The air smells crisp and clean. I have good hair days, I can wear light jackets and there’s a spring in my step. Lexie, our Labradoodle, is thrilled because she gets to be outside with us – running around the yard, hiking or going to festivals called Pumpkinfest, Octoberfest or Pecan Harvest Fest in small cities all over Western North Carolina.
  • I enjoy a fall wardrobe. I look better in sweaters and scarves, and they feel “cozy”. Bathing suit and bare legs season is over (thank god!) And, fortunately, orange, yellow and black clothing looks good on me.
  • Halloween is a great holiday. I like the scary ads and ghost stories, the Halloween pop-up stores, corn stalks, pumpkins, candy corn and parties.  I don’t go to the haunted houses, but I read about them and might just get courageous enough to walk through one someday.
  • A fire in the fireplace on those first cool evenings is a special treat. The hypnotic flames, combined with the smell and warmth of a fire, makes me want to bundle up on the couch with a blanket and listen to James Taylor and Bruce Hornsby music.

  • It’s time for crockpots and chili –my kind of comfort food! And, I love the strange looking squash, the thousand varieties of apples and the weird-shaped pumpkins that are everywhere — in stores, restaurants and at roadside vegetable stands.
  • It’s great to decorate the house with fun things … witches, ghosts, black cats, pumpkins, candles, cinnamon brooms, door wreaths and mums. And, the color orange – a bold, optimistic and uplifting color – is everywhere you look!

What a great time of year.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Cathy Green

Let’s Share More Often – Just Not Only On Social Media

When we see or hear the word “sharing” in 2017 our first thought is social media and sharing in that context.  Sharing means posting or publishing something that informs multiple people about a new event – or letting an audience know about something we think is important, relevant, smart, funny, cute or silly.  This is NOT the sharing I am talking about.  Sharing in social media can be a great addition to our lives and to certain aspects of our relationships, but it is worlds away from personal sharing in the intimate sense I am thinking about.  I worry that many fabulousover60s are spending too much time sharing on social media because they think this is the only way “everyone” is communicating; and letting slide the more intensely personal one to one sharing that was and is still a must for maintaining any great relationship.

Because social media can get ugly quickly, many of us are wondering if people are just too thin-skinned to want to hear our thoughts and consider our ideas.  We are often too quick to think “I am not telling anyone anything.  People get so easily offended, or just don’t care about my opinion.  I am going to keep my opinions to myself.”  While I agree that learning to stay on one’s own yoga mat is a great thing, and offering advice via social media can backfire, I think we make a mistake if we fail to share our considered viewpoints with those we really love one on one.  Fabulous women know how to share privately without being a busybody or a know it all.  We personally share to support those we love by adding perspective, not by telling others what to do. Ultimately we know people must make their own choices – and celebrate or recover from the consequences of those choices on their own.

My idea of fabulous sharing is giving serious thought to an issue or to challenge what  one of our close friends/family members is going through – and figuring out how and what we can share with them so they can consider more and/or different options or ideas.  It is then sending a meaningful, sensitive but direct message to someone we love/care for – or sending it indirectly by recommending a movie, book or article that sends the message in a more interesting, elegant or even funny way.  On the reverse side, it is spending time listening/reading another’s message to us, and thinking about why it was sent and what is being suggested that is at least useful and potentially life transforming.  Fabulous sharing starts and helps build fabulous relationships.

Poor “shares” sound like this:

  • Carol — stop bitching about Carl – divorce him or live with him!
  • Linda — your kids are like all young people today – selfish – just stop giving them money.
  • Maryanne — who cares what your daughter says – you want to date Bob and it is none of her business – just don’t tell her anything.

Some great “shares” sound more like this:

  • Laura — I know you are struggling with your health right now, glad you are seeking medical help – for another perspective you may want to look at an old take on the mind-body connection called You Can Heal Your Life by the late/great Louise Hay. I got some real insights from it.
  • Bob — Of course you’re angry and upset with how your family is acting – they do seem to be too critical as you say. Have you seen The Midwife? Great characters sort some family dynamics out – might get you thinking of some new approaches to what you are dealing with.
  • Kathy — just called to say I was sorry to hear you were getting some nasty feedback from people at (the club, the office, church, synagogue etc). Think things can be handled with some style and grace with a minimum of anger/upset. Am here if you want to consider some options for handling these people – think there a number of options, not just one.

Dumping careful and thoughtful sharing strikes me as a lazy move for someone aiming to stay fabulous.   As we age and struggle with staying fabulous it can seem wise to stop getting “too involved” with others’ drama.  But if we do care, and we want to stay close to our small circle of friends and gain the few new ones we need to as times evolve, the best way to do that is with genuine intimacy by risking reaching out to others with support and love and yes, great or different ideas.

If no one wants to hear your thoughts, or feel your concern, or understand what you are trying to communicate to help them, maybe you have lost touch with connecting deeply.  Worse, you may have lost your sensitivity – thinking older age makes being blunt OK.  You wouldn’t be alone in this increasingly disconnected age.  As Cathy and I are often saying: being fabulous is hard work.  And the “new sharing” isn’t always helping us as much as depersonalizing our friendships.  If you only have a small amount of time for sharing why not reach out to someone you care about and offer a piece of yourself – rather than sharing a recipe to all.  Hey, time enough for that when the holidays arrive before it is even Halloween.

Patty

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