Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Middle Day

The Middle Day

When you operate a Bed and Breakfast, your time is not your own. Weekends are busy, and if you are going to get any time off, it falls during the week. That is not all bad. Weekdays everywhere are often slower, quieter, and more relaxing than a weekend.

Being a social animal, I love the business of the Inn. Guests are coming and going, employees are zipping through the kitchen (right beside my office), passing on a bit of gossip, and sharing the leftovers from breakfast. There are days when I have very little time to myself, and normally, that is the way I like it, but I do need to get away occasionally. With this in mind, I have developed a theory of “the middle day.” I’m sure it is not original to me (very few of my thoughts are), but it has proven true for me over and over concerning my own needs and in observing the experiences of my guests staying at the inn. Let’s see if I can put it into words…

To truly be “here” you need a middle day. If you don’t stay somewhere at least 2 nights, you are never fully “there” mentally. You are either coming (the first day) or going (the last day), and it is very hard to fully embrace where you are, and separate from where you came or to where you are going.

Now that I have put it into words, I am reminded where the thought originated. One day, 12-14 years or more ago, I was having a stressful season as a new Innkeeper (hard to believe, but it does happen!). I needed to get away. My friend Kim helps me escape. He is a musician and can easily get off in the middle of the week like me. We arranged to meet at one of our favorite outdoor escapes, a small fishing and hunting resort on Truman Lake called Reel and Trigger (see the link below). It is a simple, clean and neat, quiet, and inexpensive group of cabins in the woods, and only takes an hour and half to drive there. It is on a bluff overlooking the main body of the lake, and is a great place to just sit and wait (for whatever you are looking for).

We got there mid-day, found our favorite place to set up our day camp (comfortable chairs, food, drink, cell phones on vibrate, and time for quietness) on the bluff. After about two hours of just sitting and staring, saying very little, Kim turns to me and says, “Are you here yet?” Well, that caught me off guard, as conversations with Kim often do. “Of course I’m here!" I replied. "I’m sitting right beside you!” But I immediately knew what he meant. I was not “here” yet. I was sitting on a bluff, 80 feet above the water, watching the gulls make their way across the lake to that island over there, but I was still in Springfield -- still fighting the good fight, still mentally immersed in my problems, even though I had changed my environment completely.

From that time forward, I have tried to see how long it takes to really “be” somewhere, to truly be in the moment; to be “here.” For me, when I leave my business, that is not an easy thing. Most of the time it takes “the middle day” before I’m actually “here.”

I see this playing out with my guests. Those who come for only one night do relax; but in general, they don’t get nearly as much release from their world and their problems as those who stay two nights. “One nighters” sitting at the breakfast table the next day, deep in conversation with each other or other guests, will pass over the “tipping point” somewhere between the second and third cup of coffee (sometimes you can even see this happening!), and “head home” mentally. My theory -- they are no longer “here” at that point; they’re gone.

The “two nighters” often don’t get “here” until the next morning, especially if they are leaving the kids at home with sitters, or arriving late. For many, it takes waking up in a different environment, and knowing they are spending the entire day and coming back to the same bed that night, to allow themselves to release from the responsibilities and reasons they wanted to get away in the first place. “Two nighters” linger longer at the communal breakfast table, have more meaningful conversations on the back porch, smile and laugh more, and are just what we hoped and worked for; guests who are now a little more contented with life than when they came.

I don’t think we (the communal us) spend time thinking about this, and planning it out. But I do think, unconsciously, we are always looking ahead, for our own safety and security. The middle day makes it easier to release from this thinking, and really be “here,” really be in the moment.

If my theory is correct, then I would be doing my guests a favor to institute a two night minimum stay! But I won’t. One night is better than none.

What do you think? Does it work that way for you, or are you quicker to “arrive” than me? Do you have little mental exercises that help you live in the moment? If so, share them with us. We could all use a break!

Back in September, 2005, while sitting on that bluff, waiting, I wrote this little poem to myself.

Today, right now, I will inhabit the moment
I will be present when I'm present
I remember no past
I foresee no future
I feel the heat, suffer the cold,
Sense the cleansing power of the wind
Today, I am here for all eternity,
and it is good

Visit my friends at Reel and Trigger Resort at: They are open March through November.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
 Reservations: 800-593-6346
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

March’s “Calendar Girls"

This Past March we had the honor to have a group of friends choose the Walnut Street Inn for a Ladies Weekend Retreat. For 16 years they have been getting together once a year to share, cry, commiserate on the things in their lives. They allowed me to film a little bit of their conversations around the breakfast table. If you are like me, you will learn to love these ladies very quickly. If we all had support groups like this we could make it through anything. Thank you “Calendar Girls.” It was a privilege to serve you.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

Ahhh, the busy season!

Wow! We are in the middle of the busiest 3 weeks of the year and I love it! Guests are coming and going, employees are always busy getting ready for the next check-in time, and lots of things are going on downtown. The phone is ringing like it did prior to the recession. I hope this continues. There are a plethera  of anniversary celebrations, birthdays, ladies weekends away, and conventions (at the Springfield Convention Expo just 3 blocks away.) First the GOP convention, then the Lutheran convention, and coming in Thursday, the Methodists! I won’t tell you which were the harder to serve, but I can tell you the GOP’s like to talk politics, the Lutherans always make their beds, and, from past conferences, the Methodists would rather stay at the Inn and talk instead of go to the morning functions. All good with us!

Just to spice up things, on Friday night we had a major plumbing problem. Luckily, we have a great plumbing company (Thanks Delong!) that when called at 8 PM on a Friday night, were here within 30 minutes. We had the problem temporarily fixed by 11:15 PM and they are coming back tomorrow to tackle the more permanent repairs in the basement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “What a strange way to plumb this bath,” “I can’t believe this has lasted this long,” or “They should have put a clean-out valve right here.” Oh well, as I tell guest all the time, when you own three houses over 100 years old, it is a river, not a mountain.

We continue to be busy until the end of the month, then it slows down for the 4th of July. I’ve got to figure out how to market that week. Springfield is a wonderful place to be on the 4th of July. Things are happening every night downtown, Springfield Cardinals are playing 2 blocks north of the Inn (a 5 PM game on the 4th), and on the evening of the 4th, Springfield’s official Independence Day Celebration takes place several places downtown from 3-8pm with music, ice skating, inflatables, and entertainment right up until 9:45 when the fireworks start.

You can read about the event at:

The cost of all events is only $7 in advance and $8 at the events. Come on down!

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346 Reservations: 800-593-6346

The Walnut Street Inn

The Walnut Street Inn
the Inn is made up of three 100+ year old buildings.