Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Are Those the People Who Feed You? Called to Question Gatherings. Home Tours and The Beauty of Sharing.

We host a gathering in our home on and off to which we bring speakers to a small community. We pay the fuel but ask they speak for free if it is a topic they are passionate about, with a question and answer at the end. We have had a variety of speakers, some whom are in demand, yet are humble enough to come out and speak to a gathering of about ten to eighteen people of varied opinions and religious backgrounds. It's been encouraging to see the capability and willingness to share stories from the human collective. Recently we had a University Psychologist who offered to come back for a fourth time because he enjoyed it so much. We joked that he just liked studying us and our home!

We got on the topic of why he chose to accept an invite from a stranger and he replied, "It was an intriguing idea. Even in my home in the Netherlands this is an unusual idea that is not often given. Especially that you are open to all topics and it's not tied to a religious or anti religious agenda. I thought, why not? Then I came and your home is so welcoming and unusual, the people are all unique in that they are so different in belief but respectful in approach, and I enjoyed sharing with people who were interested."

His travelling buddy added, "My friends in Europe now know about your home on google maps and when I found out he was speaking for a third time, I got so excited to come back here! It's such a refreshing place of strangers connecting and understanding in a setting that is unusual and welcoming. I want to take pictures of your house and send them into a magazine. I do photography and can assure you there is not a lot seen like your home. And your concept of being called to question ideas, possibilities and make room to share stories in a safe place is fantastic. In fact, I think I want to start groups like this when I settle down and my friends in Europe were interested in the idea too."

We joked back, "Hey, we can be our own cult of franchises!" We were kidding because one of the topics was cults and thus the joke. The gathering is about freedom and sharing ideas in a safe place from any belief system.

We asked the professor if anyone else in his department would be interested in speaking. He replied, "Actually I have spoken to many of my colleagues about this. I find it funny because a few people have asked me, 'Are those the people who feed you? I think we have heard of that!' "

We laughed. I'll explain why... We offer paltry snacks and some wine. In our email invite we DO offer a cooked meal. But most of our speakers do not take us up on that naturally. I wouldn't if the tables were reversed. It's a brave act to eat at a stranger's home...to speak at one too. However, another professor of Philosophy at the same University had spoken three years ago and ate supper with us and a guest. Word spread.

My husband and I think that it is ironic that we are known as the "people who feed others" because on a daily level at home, we struggle to feed our own family due to our issues with food. We dislike sharing meals at other people's homes unless it is our parents (and even then we sometimes prefer to eat our own stuff if we are on another frequent elimination diet) and we also rarely feed meals to others. All of our meals are home cooked and my husband could have been a Chef - if I do say so myself. He makes all of our sustenance and is required to feed our autistic guts (which are more sensitive.) All in all, our food is often delicious and nutritious but still a struggle daily to figure out! We do, however, provide snacks, wine and coffee often. It is easier for us.

So to be known as "the people who feed you" is astounding. But then I stepped back from the literal statement and realized, "Actually we do feed minds, feed souls, feed the hunger of loneliness and the hunger for knowledge. These gatherings feed love, sharing and understanding. They feed a need for discussion and dialogue within places of unique healing and facilitating. We DO feed people."

My husband came up with the idea of "Called to Question" more than seven years ago. He wrote an article to the paper as an invite. Honestly, some family members gave him flack for that, but it was one of the bravest decisions he made. And since then we have hosted many years of speakers. Each time we usually have one new face, a few regulars, and then an ebb and flow of attendees. But ALWAYS, even if they never attend again, we get profuse thank you's. We have had a range of belief systems. Once we had a Mennonite in attendance (whom had to attend in secret) and our speaker was Nathan Phelps, an Atheist and estranged son of Fred Phelps (the fundamentalist who picketed) who talked about Gay rights. What struck us was that afterwards our Mennonite guest confided, "I didn't know atheists could be kind. He was one of the most thoughtful people I have met, so gentle mannered, so forgiving, so full of intelligence. I was taught that Atheists could not be like that. I have never met an atheist and hearing him speak and share his story has given me a lot to think about." THAT is what it is all about for us. People being able to hear completely opposite thoughts of their own or stories that they wouldn't naturally hear from another human being offline. It's important because it is in person, with tone, inflection and facial expressions to show the range of feeling, human kindness, and beauty.

We have had speakers who are fundamentalist Christian too, but have been kind, willing to dialogue and are able to hold a conversation without anger, but still present their perspectives. We feel showing a range of topics and not limiting to topics we affiliate with, is important. In fact, most of the speakers do not represent what we believe, although there may be facets. Most of the questions stay on topic, even if they do stray to personal beliefs at times, my husband is amazing at keeping things on point if the speaker is less gifted in that area. Although most of our speakers are gifted in neutralizing, staying on topic or bringing it back around, and giving people a listening ear. It's mostly about respect. It's kind of like a home based Ted Talk with feedback at the end and a little conversation, wine and possibly a home tour!

Our home tours are often an event. We are used to them because my grandmother and her friends are proud of our home so over the years we have been asked to give tours to virtual strangers or relatives we don't really know. There is the odd time I say no because I am not comfortable, but generally our home tours are an actual thing. It's kind of odd but also satisfying. I LOVE the reactions. Often we naturally ask if a person wants a tour the first time they walk in. Seeing our entryway they are already curious and usually respond with a resounding yes! Although sometimes they look weirded out but that soon turns into astounded curiosity. It's rare we don't get some sort of reaction because we took a normal, boring bi level that looks perfectly small and ordinary from the outside and maximized it's space and made it creative. Some of the statements that have stuck with me are:

"You're home is so ALIVE." That one was from a Fed Ex agent who happened to glance inside the entry. His eyes widened and he out blurted my favourite exclamation of all. 'ALIVE' - I love that sentiment. I wish that a home being alive would be the usual not the abnormal.

"From the outside it looks smaller than what fits inside. You use every bit of space well. " (I particularly liked that one because the guy was a Realtor and he was astounded at our space planning.)

"Are you an Architect and Designer? Your husband is a very talented carpenter. But who came up with the planning of design, colour and the spacing?" Design was a hobby of mine when we knew we were going to make a basement and tear out rooms upstairs to make a sun room/rec library. I studied Sarah Susanka's 'The Not So Big House' series for years pre internet. (Well, there was Internet but we didn't have it in our home yet.) When I put my mind to something I am passionate about I take it to University level learning at home. I seek out peer reviewed resources and become a 'layman version' of the profession. Thus, I have had 3 designers in my home, one painter, and one architect. ALL of them noticed certain features and thought I had gone to school to plan this. I cherish the compliments because they show two things: You don't have to attend school to be good at something. And chances are, that if you just try in life, try to make, because our souls are MEANT to MAKE and create, the pay offs can be large. I am very different from an official designer. I am too lax and don't apply most rules. Plus, it's not as much of an obsession anymore and has been downgraded to a hobby. In another life, I think I may have gone into Architectural design. I LOVED planning out a home. Sometimes I make new home Reno plans just for fun. I adore Renos. Unfortunately I am not talented like my husband in actually drawing plans and doing the math nor ambitious enough to put the time in to learn it, but I like drawing crappy plans and having him know what I mean and he makes it come fully alive on paper.

I loved learning about lighting, how to raise a ceiling, where to place windows and light fixtures. I am still annoyed at a few mistakes the original top floor came with, as well as a few I made during the Reno phase, but in general I am happy with it overall.

"Your husband should be in high demand for Carpentry. He could make a killing in the city doing the detailed work or fireplaces or ... ect. ect." Honestly, he would hate that. He had a hard enough time on our home and he prefers loads of space and time to make mistakes. He IS talented. He prefers giving his time to home. We have heard statements like, "You could be so much more." Or some such nonsense. We already ARE.

"Home design is a trend but you take it to the next level in a homey way. Yours is quirky yet classy. How can those two concepts even work together? But it does."

"You could be featured in a magazine. It is such a different approach to home living!"

"I feel at home here. Like I wouldn't make my home like this but I feel welcomed. I almost feel that love and feel like I can be fully comfortable." (We get that statement almost every time.)

"You have created something unique here. I could spend hours looking at all the stuff."

"It looks like Pier One exploded." Ha ha. I'm a Maximalist not a Minimalist...and hated the minimalist movement for myself, although at other's homes, if they love it - I love it. But I find that an empty space is aching to be filled.

"How many hours do you spend dusting and watering plants?" We get this statement a lot too. The answer is half an hour weekly for plants and half an hour each, for a family of five, dividing the house for dusting.

"How is it possible to have all seasons in your home? Yet somehow it works? I see Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter decor along with some of the larger holiday themes. It should feel weird. It should feel wrong, but it's cohesive. It's oddly satisfying."

"I would love to stay here. It feels like a resort. Like a soul nurturing resort where the people get to feel HOME, read in a cozy chair with loads of options, shower in a beautiful double shower, enjoy the indoor world of plants without going outside but have the feeling of a sunroom, and layer on the multiple throw blankets. How is it that you have a fireplace in every single room? It is the epitome of Hygge."

And that statement is why we host 'Called to Questions' in our home. We have been offered alternative spaces to grow. We could grow and make it bigger. But bigger is not always better. Reaching more people can be nice, but we would lose out on part of the charm. The environment is part of the reason the conversations flow. We have seen the magical affect our odd home has on people. Immediately they are subdued, sleepy or put at ease...because it is that comfortable. And that provides peace. I often say that half of the world's issues could be solved with beautiful spaces, beautiful homes that provide people with respite so that they don't need a vacation from their own lives, lovingly nurturing medical places that speed up healing, and thought out business models with loads of plants, colour, art, and personality.

I feel that this is mostly all owed to my husband. His big controversial ideas often bring healing. He causes quite a stir but often the dissension is far smaller than the amount of GOOD that comes later. His unconventional ways provide respite for those in need. His willingness to put himself out there for criticism provides others with hope. I honestly had a hard time with the idea, being an Introvert, but I wanted him to realize his dreams. I am glad I took the risk. He also made my ideas into a reality and his talent in making things work, is astounding. I love sharing my home as it's like sharing a piece of my quirky soul, and I like people working towards harmony.

The beauty of sharing brings peace.

"Are those the people that feed you?" What a lovely question. What a sentiment to live up to! In thought or deed.

To peace;
This is one of our family anthems. Enjoy! Home- Philip Phillips "Settle down, it will all be clear, Don't pay no mind to the demons that fill you with fear.Trouble it might drag you down, if you get lost you can always be found. Just know you're not alone. I'm gonna make this place your home... "


Amy said...

Wishing I was able to come! Your gatherings sound so grace filled, interesting and full of meaty discussions. Just to be there and take it all in would be a delight! So nourishing to my soul. I love all you shared about people thoughts and statements in your home that is uniquely you and created by you all! Beautiful!

Kmarie said...

Arizona seems so far away. I wish you could come too. I know you would love it! Yes Meaty discussions:) I love that phrase. It is nourishing but I am glad that we get to have a bit of that on our other forum regardless of distance...and there is a little bit of home ...far away.

Thank you:)

Glynis said...

This was beautiful! You should write a book!! This is amazing. I felt like I was there. The magic. The ambience. The wonderment. You are an incredibly unique family and I really love to read about all of you and your hygge home. 😍❤️

Kmarie said...

Awe thank you! I wouldn’t know what type of book but that’s a great thought! I’m glad you felt like you were there ♥️ðŸŽķI ajeshd hope hot magic, ambience and wonderment 😍🌈 well you are very similar and I also value your unique perspectives and input. But thank you for the lovely compliment for our family! I wish I could share our Hygge home with you but I also love seeing pics of yours and know you also have a similar BEING in your home ♥️

Kmarie said...

Lol that was supposed to say “ I always hope for...”

Anonymous said...

I adored this post! - R.

Kmarie said...

Thanks Ranae!