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MS. SIMPLICITY: Notes from an older and wiser me

Melissa Schmalenberger, Ms Simplicity columnist

FARGO — As I near the 50 year mark in my life, I have learned a few things I wish I could tell my 30-year-old self. Here they are:

Create a welcoming home

Too often we are stuck in perfection. We look to the pages of catalogs and magazines for inspiration but instead of just becoming inspired we get stuck in perfection. So, we do nothing. Learn to just create a welcoming home. A home where your best friend comes in unannounced and can sit on your couch after making a cup of tea. Mail can be on the counter. Your bed can be unmade.

Learn to speak up

I am Midwest nice with a touch of German Catholic. I was raised to always be kind and not show anger. Last week in yoga, a woman had her cell phone on. She checked her text messages. It even rang. I seethed in frustration during downward dog. I debated all during class if I should say something. I even thought about never returning to class because I dislike conflict.

But I thought about the others in the class and how it was disrespectful to not just me but to the whole class. This was not her first class checking her text messages so I felt pretty justified in speaking up. I kindly went to her after class to ask her not have her phone on.

At the next class, the instructor reminded people to turn off their phones before class. But this woman was 15 minutes late to class and missed the message. Sigh.

Trust your instinct

As a parent, I had to trust my instinct all the time. But in other areas of my life I just silenced my instinct. For example, with an Airbnb guest we had. I felt a little off from the first message I received from this potential guest. He asked for a lot of extras, like check-in early and using our kitchen to cook meals.

I tried to be accommodating because I have created a welcoming home, and I am a nice Midwest girl. But when I came home in the middle of the afternoon of his first day and he was standing in my kitchen I had enough. I asked him to leave. I would refund his money. I just wanted him out of our home, and most importantly my kitchen. I knew more about this guest in the first 10 minutes of meeting him than I do about some of my closest friends.

It was foolish of me to kick him out while I was home alone. But I knew in my gut he needed to go. I rejoiced when he left. I took our listing off Airbnb as I will never be placed in this position again. (Please note this was not our first guest, and we had great experience in the past and we love using Airbnb when we travel.) I should have trusted my instinct from the beginning.

So create that welcoming imperfect home. Speak up and always trust your instinct. And if you are in your 20s or 30s and already know these things, I applaud you.

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