When Mark and I left Corporate America in 1995 to embark on our adventure of becoming Innkeepers, some of our co-workers, friends and family thought we had lost our minds. Leave the regular paychecks and health benefits? Trade in our Monday-Friday 9-5 (well, actually it was more like 7-7) jobs for the 24/7 life of an Innkeeper? What were we thinking?!?!
Over the years, there have been times when I have also questioned our sanity We do work very long hours, must be on call and available whenever our guests need us and respond quickly to any questions or requests with a smile and good cheer. And there certainly is no regular paycheck, and don’t get me started on the cost of health insurance when you are self-employed. But then…there are quiet moments of joy I never experienced in Corporate America.
A few mornings ago we got up at 6:30 and began the usual morning marathon when we have guests in the Bed & Breakfast: making coffee and tea, getting Ellie (our dog) fed and out for her morning run, feeding Katie (our outdoor cat), preparing a three-course breakfast from scratch, setting the table, cutting fresh flowers, turning on the music and lights, lighting the fire and candles, greeting our guests wandering into the kitchen, then serving the food. Instead of immediately starting kitchen cleanup, I took a few minutes to sit on the front porch with my cup of morning chai. I told myself “just stop for a minute, take a deep breath, relax and LOOK AROUND!!”
Immediately I felt something brush by my head, and looked up to see a ruby-throated hummingbird arriving at our feeder on the porch, hovering as he sipped some nectar. Next to him was our bird feeder, and several brilliantly red cardinals had arrived, along with a yellow finch. As I looked out beyond the porch, I noticed a robin in our front lawn, tugging vigorously on a worm. I smiled as the worm suddenly popped out of the ground and the robin fell back on his tail. Victorious, he flew off, past the maple tree whose leaves were sparkling as the morning sun bounced off the dewdrops. A red wing blackbird was the next arrival, and the ornamental grasses on the edge of the pond swayed back and forth when he landed, caught his balance, extended his wings and gave his distinctive cry. I imagined he was trying to impress a lady red wing blackbird. The wrens have returned to the bird house farther along the pond in our front garden, and one arrived with a beak full of grasses. I watched as he earnestly attempted to stuff every last bit into the narrow opening. Raising my eyes still farther, I looked out across the barns and horse pastures to see a few scattered puffy white clouds drifting across the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I could feel the beauty and peace of nature reaching out to me, and took a deep lungful of clean, fresh spring air. “Yes,” I thought, “I would never go back to my days when I spent eight to twelve hours a day in a closed office running from meeting to meeting. This, here and now, is truly a quiet moment of joy!”