A Vacation with a Purpose- Anne-Marie's story

It was such a joy to have Anne-Marie Clegg with us at the Heartistry Experience in France in May 2014.  Anne-Marie was deeply impacted and shares her thoughts with us.

Lyn Johnson’s hospitality seminar re-introduces the lost art of being welcoming.

Thanks to social media, we are able to establish exponentially more connections than our parent’s generation, but do we know how to create connectedness? I went to France to dig deeper into this topic, aware I had at times missed opportunities to build deeper community. Plus I love the Mediterranean, so why not make a vacation of it… a vacation with a purpose

Anne-Marie and the group are off to go shopping at Uzes Market in Provence

Anne-Marie and the group are off to go shopping at Uzes Market in Provence

Who should attend the seminar? Anyone! Hospitality is often associated with women, particularly stay-at-home moms. Good for them! However, we are limiting ourselves if we buy into such narrow associations. Bachelors, bachelorettes, working Moms and Dads, geeks, creative types, etc. can all practice hospitality and reap the rewards.

At the seminar, I learned that the art of being welcoming can start with the home, but it extends to any acts of kindness that represent one’s unique expression of gratitude for another person. Some examples I came up with include:

  •  Ensuring your gluten-free colleague has snack options during a meeting, presented in a thoughtful and appropriate manner – letting them know that you value them and remember details about who they are as an individual.
  • Looking a homeless person in the eye when offering a gift. Acknowledging them as a person with a warm smile and greeting, not just a material hand-out.
  • Putting together a list of friends whom you are grateful to have in your life, and organizing a lunch for them, complete with invitations and a fun theme. Just because!
  • Inviting a friend over who is going through a loss, and making your home a warm inviting place for them to just ‘be’ and for you to share in their pain. Offering up a favorite snack and a hot cup of chocolate.

Sometimes we get caught in the trap of going from event to event to establish community, whether it’s church groups, political groups, volunteer events, etc. but all of this is one-way. It involves attending what an establishment has created for us, and taking what we want from it. We go to be entertained and enlightened, and then we go home.

  • What if you cut your external events by just 10%, and instead invited people outside your inner circle to enjoy the unique expression of who you are – even if it’s a half-decorated studio apartment?
  • What if some of your guests then reciprocated and you were blessed by their unique expression of self and appreciation?

The product of hospitality is a community with deeper connectedness.

Throughout the seminar Lyn provided many tactical tips for “hosting novices” like me, but focused on the bigger picture – exploring what a hospitable lifestyle could look like. How can you establish community and weave multigenerational families into your life? How can you show people their worth and express appreciation?

When I left the seminar, I was armed with both practical tips and a work-in-progress vision for how hospitality could manifest itself in my life. I knew this was a critical missing tool in my life that could enrich my relationships. Not knowing where to start, I naively jumped off the deep end and invited 15 people (some casual acquaintances) to a Mediterranean themed brunch at my place. I went all out with themed place settings, unique Mediterranean recipes, etc.  I was in way over my head and wouldn’t recommend this approach. However, interestingly, though I defied conventional wisdom, everything went splendidly. People enjoyed the dishes and went back for seconds and thirds, and stuck around for 2 hours after the event. There was much laughter, and during moments when I fumbled as a host, friends joyfully stepped in to help. One of my friends took on the role of barista and became the life of the party, preparing the most amazing iced coffees. It was a huge, smashing success.

I felt like a life-long barrier had been removed. My small quirky apartment and so-so cooking skills were good enough. More than good enough. People greatly appreciated them! Having such an event go off well, the mental shackles have been removed and an entirely new world of hosting is now open to me. I’m exercising a different muscle, enjoying connectedness and exploring this as a new tool for ministry.

I am deeply appreciative of Lyn for conveying the art of hospitality in a way that resonated with me, and impacted my life. She has a way of inspiring people to open their hearts and take chances, and is a gifted teacher. I highly recommend making your next vacation more purposeful by attending the hospitality seminar.