Airbnb Journey: The Townhouse in Kissimmee

I’ve fallen behind in my airbnb home summaries. Life…amiright??

So just to recap, in December 2020 with full-time telework looking like our indefinite future due to COVID, I found a tenant for my condo, my boyfriend and I gave up our lease, and we put all of our stuff in storage and became digital nomads. We decided to basically take advantage of airbnb’s discounts on monthly rentals, and we figured if we kept our monthly lodging at around the same price as what we’d pay in rent/mortgage, it would all work out.

Our first airbnb home was in Raleigh, NC, then we needed to come back to the DMV area so we stayed in Alexandria, VA and then stayed in Frederick, MD for two months. By this point, it wasn’t quite yet Spring and we were tired of cold weather, so we decided to head to Florida for some sun.

We knew that with Covid, amenities were not guaranteed at a lot of places, and even if they stated that pools and gyms were up and running, there was no guarantee that it would stay that way once we got there. Outbreaks and surges just made things really unpredictable, so we thought it would be nice to have a house in a warm area that had a pool included. The 3 bed, 3 bath townhouse with a pool in Kissimmee was perfect! When we read the summary, we liked that there would be space to spread out. And somehow when we mentioned Florida, some friends and family said they may want to visit. And visit they did. lol.

The Rundown: So here’s the rundown on the home. Kissimmee is a neighboring town of Orlando. We had hoped that picking a time before Spring break, we’d for the most part have a peaceful space, before families started converging on the theme parks and warm climate. And that completely worked out. For the most part, this home and the neighborhood were quiet during our stay.

The home itself was decorated in white and orange throughout, and there were televisions in each room, which we loved. We had enough room for visitors, with a bedroom and bathroom downstairs for privacy. We had every kitchen convenience needed, except a few small things. We also loved having a trash valet, so all we had to do was put the trash in the bin right outside the front door and the community was responsible for placing it out for the trash men to collect, and then returning the bin to the home. But of course, the thing we loved the most was the pool right outside the back door. It may have been May but it was HOTTT in Florida. We’re talking upper 90’s on a lot of the days. So being able to take a quick dip during lunch or after running an errand in the hot sun was super nice. We even had a pool guy that came once a week to check water levels and chemicals. The community also had a pool, so we went there as well when we wanted more pool space or a change of scenery. And on most days, we were the only ones in the community pool. It truly was fabulous.

What we did: Because of the pandemic, of course we mostly stayed in the house. We did a lot of cooking and took walks. We found a few places that we could go to and still be socially distant. Because Orlando is inland, it wasn’t like we could really frequent the beach. But we found a nearby lake town where we could walk around, enjoy the scenery, grab food, and enjoy the day.

Before heading to Florida, we researched the safety protocols for the theme parks. They were limiting the number of people who could enter the park, and they also had strict mask mandates. We felt comfortable enough to buy tickets, so we also visited Universal Studios and Epcot. And we literally were not even 10 miles away, no traffic, easy parking…it was awesome!

What we loved and didn’t love: We loved that we had visitors and that we had space for them. We loved the warm weather. We did not love that there was no real space to work (I mean…who goes to Orlando to work??). We had to work either from the glass dining room table, which shifted if you leaned on it too hard…or from bed or the couch. So that was definitely not ideal. And we also had issues with the internet. There were four full work days that the internet was out due to them doing work in another unit and accidentally messing up our connection. Which means we had to take days off that we did not expect to take. So that would be the biggest complaint.

Overall, with a few exceptions, great space and great pick!

Here’s my IG vlog post about my stay:

Have you been to the Orlando/Kissimmee area? How was your trip?

Comfort Zones: Bloganuary Entry #2

Black woman standing in front of a city window.

I am an introvert. I used to think I was shy. And maybe in some ways I am shy. But I’m by definition, also an introvert.

I love spending time alone, I recharge by being by myself, and dealing with crowds, even people that I know well, exhausts me. Simple things like sending an email to more than two people, or attending a group outing with more than two attendees…stress me out and cause me a great deal of anxiety. I make myself small and quiet to detract attention from myself. Even at my own wedding, I did not want people to focus on me.

But my mother taught me at a young age that I had to push through situations like these, and over the years I have learned tricks to get me through. Even when I feel dizzy. Even when I want to vomit. Even when my blood pressure shoots through the roof. I push through and apparently many people don’t even notice exactly how miserable I am in the spotlight.

So most people laugh when I tell them I’m an introvert or that I hate non-intimate groups or that I truly do not enjoy being around people that I don’t know well. In their eyes, they see a person who adapts to crowds effortlessly.

With that said, becoming a blogger and wrangling social media requires stepping outside of my comfort zone each and every time I hit publish. I agonize over every single picture and every single post. I inspect every miniscule pixel and weighing every pro and con of posting. Many times, after hours of adjusting and editing and filtering, I just delete the post entirely. I have hundreds of pics from 2021 alone that never made it to an IG post or story, because I just could not calm my nerves enough to push the post button.

And don’t get me started on being a business owner that suffers from Imposter Syndrome. A business owner that has to exude a certain confidence, that has to make the ask every day for people to buy my products. A business owner that has to generate captions and ads, and constantly engage in the world of social media, because that is the way of business nowdays. There’s not any room for an introvert in a world where reels and stories and lives and tik toks are the way to find your potential customer, engage with them without being pushy, promote your product and keep your business relevant.

My comfort zones are close and tight. Self-promotion is hard. Asking for someone’s attention is anxiety-inducing. So every time I post a blog post or story or picture or reel, I am an introvert that has stepped far outside of my comfort zone.

Are you an introvert? How do you step outside of your comfort zone?

Road trip Tip: Read advice columns

Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

The fall is the perfect time for road trips. Something about the leaves and the air just enhances that wanderlust craving. And with people about to hop on the road to grandma’s house for the holidays, there will be a lot of road travel over the next few weeks.

For me, hopping around to different Airbnb’s can easily be hours on the road. Music is a great distraction but sometimes it just doesn’t fit the bill. My boyfriend and I are together ALL. THE. TIME. and it feels like we’ve covered every discussion topic known to man. So when we’re riding along, and we get tired of music, that’s when we read advice columns.

I know, I know. Ummm what!??! But forreal. We read them, and we discuss our take on each situation. And honestly, it’s a wonderful way to get to know more about your partner without being judgmental.

Here’s what we do. We set up the hypothetical situation using the advice seeker’s information and then we fill in our assumptions based on the unknowns. Then we sliced and dice every sentence, debate our viewpoint, and sprinkle in our past experiences, our boundaries, our hopes, etc. It’s such an interesting and entertaining way to see what we agree on, where we differ and why.

There are so many times I’ve said “wow, I can see how that is something I’ve done and it seems horrible,” or “I was once in a situation similar to this and this is what I did”.

There are things about our pasts that we didn’t know about each other and may not have had a reason to even bring up. But when we’re reading advice columns, it jogs our memory and sheds light on the situation we’re discussing.

Our favorite columns are Dear Prudence and The Moneyist. Dear Prudence is a good way to dive into some social, relationship, and family topics, while The Moneyist helps to delve into your thoughts about finances, investing, budgeting, etc.—all things that are extremely important in relationships. You may not realize that your significant other had a specific view about money, or that they were brought up thinking certain things about home life or vacation or work life…so many things are brought to light just by reading these columns!

Reading advice columns and using them as prompts for discussions actually may even help you hammer out some compromises about situations that haven’t even occurred. Knowing how you will address a situation before it even arises*could* help eliminate future headaches down the road. It may not help at all but you never know…it could.

Among our many outcomes, we’ve agreed that rescue is the way to go for pets, that we’ll never co-sign for anything for anyone ever, and that we’ll try our best to put kids in their own bed as soon as possible. Sounds random, I know…lol…but they were all the result of conversations we had after reading advice columns.

Why don’t you give it a try? Here’ a scenario from Dear Prudence. Chat about it with your significant other and see what you guys think!

Dear Prudence, My cousin’s daughter is getting married in November. We’re not particularly close, and I don’t believe I would have been invited if this were a formal, in-person wedding. Due to the current pandemic, however, the entire event is occurring on-line and the guest list appears to number in the thousands. The happy couple have published an extensive gift registry, with the cheapest items starting at about $200, and have sent a series of mass emails expressing their excitement that we’ll all get to share on their special day, with glossy images of their lives together. I have to confess that I feel a little mean-spirited about the whole affair, as this feels more like an aggressive marketing campaign to maximize the return on investment than a family celebration. Is there a polite way to quietly disengage? Would it be rude to not send a gift (and to RSVP that I can’t make it)? My cousin is notorious for holding grudges and will almost certainly kick up a fuss.

WWY?? Do you see that situation the same way or do you feel differently about it? Have you ever tried this? What are some ways you entertain yourselves on road trips? Let me know!

Weekly Mindset: Appreciate the Simple Things

I’m totally appreciating so many things right now. I took a walk today at lunch, and frolicked (if you will) a little. I even played around on the neighborhood playground and giggled. I realized how that little bit of play brightened my mood pretty significantly.

It brought back memories from childhood when my friends and I used to create obstacle courses on my swing set. It got my heart pumping. The air made me smile. Plus my endorphins were flowing. It was so simple and such a mood booster.

“As the heart flourishes, the mind eases, and so gratitude practice can help to lessen our experience of anxiety and stress, improve the quality of our sleep, and enhance the equanimity we find within ourselves and within our relationships at large.”

mindfulexercises.com

Appreciating simple things has certain benefits, such as improved sleep quality, overall mood improvement and improved emotional regulation.

Author and thought leader Mike Robbins says that there are two things that can help you to appreciate the simple things. They are 1) being easily impressed and 2) being hard to offend. When we are appreciating life’s small miracles, we are opening ourselves up to being grateful and fulfilled.

| feeling the earth beneath my feet |

This makes me think of a conversation I just had about celebrating birthdays. For one person, a small celebration is an evening outing to the local Top Golf. Whereas for another person, a small celebration is a quick trip to Vegas or a week in Dubai. I would never say that someone shouldn’t treat themselves however they see fit, or that people shouldn’t aim high, but it’s easy to see how one is more attainable than the other. Attainable, simple joys are needed just as much as large scale treats and rewards. But if you only look forward to the large scale events, how do you enjoy your daily life? Every day just will not be a trip overseas. How do you find a reason to smile each day or to feel grateful for the little things that make life wonderful?

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I believe in appreciating the small things, and this week that list includes:

  • the amazing crisp fall air
  • the BEAUTIFUL leaves and all of their awesome colors
  • being able to be a digital nomad
  • a healthy family
  • my health
  • good shows to binge watch
  • amazing friends
  • a healthy relationship
  • stable employment
  • access to modern healthcare
  • a roof over my head
  • safety
  • a neighbor who plays the saxophone (after living next to HORRIBLE, loud, aggressive neighbors)
  • peace

There are so many daily things to appreciate. And the benefits of acknowledging the little things in life are wonderful for your mental and physical well-being. Don’t just save appreciation and gratefulness for the holidays. Do it today, and do it often. I’m going to make it part of my daily routine.

What are you grateful for this week?

A Reflective Moment

Photo by Sarah li on Pexels.com

I got some sad news this week about the passing of a high school classmate. The whole thing just hit me in such a weird way. I wasn’t particularly close to this classmate, but I went to such a small school in a small town so everyone in my school knew everyone in some way. Even as a grown-up 25 years after graduation, if you hear a name, you immediately remember the classes you had, or how you went on a class trip, or how you crushed on so-and-so’s older brother, or how you used to play kickball in the cul-de-sac.

So I heard about this classmate, I saw a recent picture of her, and though I could see remnants of the person I remembered, her face in the picture carried the weight of the mental illness that she lived with throughout her adult life. I had no idea. She was a popular girl. A cheerleader. Cute as a button and sweet as can be. Her life was supposed to turn out perfectly. She was supposed to be the one we admired at the reunion because everything turned out as perfectly as you’d expect for the adorable, smart, bubbly cheerleader from high school. She rode on floats and got lifted to the top of pyramids. She was kind. Seeing that picture, with the wrinkles and dark circles, yet with the slight glimmer of the cheerleader from days past that I remember…and reading the family tributes about how things were for her later in life, it all just settled on me so heavily.

Of course your life is more than a picture, and there’s no telling what twists and turns life can throw at anyone over the course of 25 years. You never know what people are dealing with and what demons they battle. You don’t know what trauma they encountered or how that trauma impacted their life. She wasn’t someone I’d keep in touch with but she’s definitely someone I assumed would go on to great things and someone I thought would live well. It threw me for such a complete loop.

It’s all just a weird and sad reminder to be grateful for my health, to not make assumptions about what someone is going through, to live while I can, that life is short and that tomorrow is never promised.