Five years ago two women, whom had zero clue how to run a hospitality business, embarked on a dream. They bought a little motel in the mountains with high hopes of people from all over coming to rest and relax. Like any great expeditions the lessons learned have been endured through mistakes, guessing, failing, hard work and intuition. These two women have learned many valuable lessons during the journey. Leaving the city life and retreating to the mountains was a means of allowing the Divine to work through them. In the process they became great students.
When my best friend, Bobbie, and I told our attorney that we were going to purchase this motel his question was, “What do the two of you know about the hospitality business?” Bobbie, still working for the airline business, answered, “I’ve stayed in many hotels and know what is acceptable.” I answered, “I have run other businesses how different could this one be?” To be honest we were clueless and that’s what allowed us to learn throughout the past five years.
Lesson 1: Never judge a book by its cover. There is a reason for this cliché. Our little retreat center needed lots of love and updating. It has been work in progress. With each renovation, clearing and cleaning we have been polishing a gem. And, just like the physical buildings each person who enters here teaches us something. Sometimes those who look edgy turn out to be the most amazing people. Their stories keep touching us even after they leave.
Lesson 2: “Breakdowns” are “break-throughs” in disguise. Things break all the time. Part of being an innkeeper is paying attention, thinking and listening to everything. People are constantly amazing us with suggestions. Owning an old motel has its shares of challenges. Flooding issues, electrical problems, remodeling of all sorts have been needed. We’ve learned that those breakdowns have led to better things. We have broken through valuable experiences. The universe has allowed us to see that things will break at the precise moment that extra money has been in the account.
Lesson 3: Real is just a matter of perception. Time is not an element in the mountains. There are days I have absolutely no clue what day of the week it is. When you live your dreams there are no expectations for tomorrow. Mondays feel like Saturdays. We aren’t trying to fix the world. Cutting the grass, cleaning toilets, and doing laundry are part of owning a home. These are chores. There is comfort in these simple acts. We don’t treat this business like work and therefore those who visit feel as if they are part of the place. We make it look easy because it is enjoyable.
Lesson 4: “Thank you” goes a long way. People want to feel appreciated. They are visiting an extension of our home. This is not just a business. This place is a way of life. A smile and a thank you allow the channel of communication to extend and widen. Many guests enter as strangers and leave as friends. There have been invaluable commodities of lessons and exchanges from every soul who has stayed in our place.
Lesson 5: Patience is priceless. Through the pursuit of happiness and the quest for peace there are things that will alter one’s patience. People are generally good. The more you allow them to feel as if this retreat center is a home away from home, the more they repay with gratitude. Unfortunately, you can’t please every single person every single time. Impossible! We have learned to make the most of those teachers. They provide invaluable lessons in tolerance and humility. I know I am constantly learning not to take it personally. After five years I believe this has been one of the most important lessons for me. It’s none of my business what anyone thinks of this place or me. I have learned to set boundaries on my worth through this simple lesson.
Lesson 6: Nature fixes most problems. I have a hard time understanding how people cannot sit outside by the pond and just chill. We can always tell who’s running away from problems by their avoidance with the outside world. We tell them about the trails in the back woods, the labyrinth, the creeks, and the look in their eyes seem to not comprehend the suggestions. Yet, it is these same folks that on another visit take advantage of the magical outdoors and feel renewed. Contemplation is underrated.
Lesson 7: Know when it is time to move on and follow the next dream. I believe that life happens in cycles. There is a beginning, middle and ending to everything. When Spirit starts showing signs to move forward they appear through synchronicity and serendipitous events. I began finding the strangest of things in rooms last year. These little objects began to give way to a universal and personal scavenger hunt. It was as if teachers were entering every few weekends with messages in their stories. And in following those stories we have realized that graduation is finally here. This little center has given us permission to move on and follow other creative avenues. I would had never began writing had I not found this place. I would have no clue what it was to unleash my creative process. Just like when something appears in a room that requires attention we must listen to our intuition.
Five years in these mountains has allowed us to heal from the past. We thought we would save a little rundown place and in turn the place saved both of us. Bobbie and I are in awed at how things keep transpiring just because we did what everyone thought was crazy. We climbed into the unknown and have been walking through divinity all this time. The quest for peace is the journey. The rest is just a bonus. We are excited at the rest of the journey after this gem is passed on to another. I look forward to witnessing the changes and adventures that the new owners will experience. We have been blessed! Happiness is definitely an inside job. It starts with the self and extends to every soul who enters your space. May you find lessons in your everyday journey!