I know I say this a LOT around here, but I can’t get enough of the amazingly inspiring, unique and beautiful Jewish women I’ve met in this blogging journey. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing fellow blogger Miri Nadler from Miri in the Village. Not only am I in love with Miri’s style – seriously go to her blog from some amazing eye candy, both in her interiors and in her recipes. Wow! In addition, once Miri sent me this Mi casa es Su casa, I discovered beautiful depth and spirituality. I am honestly floored and can’t wait to meet Miri in person one day. Ladies, meet Miri…
In my twenties I began to take my Judaism more seriously. I started keeping a kosher kitchen, dressing more modestly and committed myself to studying Hebrew. I knew spiritual disciplines were a pathway toward developing midot. I didn’t know which midot would develop, but I began to notice certain things. For instance, I didn’t just think about Hashem while praying, I thought about Him during the more mundane tasks of my day like grocery shopping, washing my dishes and picking out clothes.
One particular teaching made an impression on me during this time. Abraham is called a friend of Hashem. A friend – what an title! And what was Abraham’s most notable quality? He was hospitable. He was a friend to others. He had a tent with entrances on all four sides to welcome the traveler.
I began to realize that all these spiritual disciplines I was taking on were not just agreements between Hashem and me. They connected me to my community, and elevated my responsibility to my community.
When I began to meditate on the importance of hospitality, I realized that quality was built within me for years, and I didn’t know it. When I lived in Los Angeles, I did my darndest to welcome visitors whenever possible, but apartments in Los Angeles are expensive and small. They weren’t exactly the most comfortable environments for entertaining guests. When we moved to North Carolina, high on my priority list was a guest room we could have available for family and friends who would hopefully be visiting us from across the country.
I decided to paint the guest room Sherwin Williams Sea Salt. We had painted the bonus room that color, and found it to be instantly calming and tranquil. Most of the furniture and feel of my home is a mix of bohemian and mid-century modern, bold lines and bright colors. I’ve been able to snag several high-dollar pieces for a song at the local flea market. The guest room is different. I didn’t want to make a statement, I wanted to conjure feelings like peace, comfort, belonging.
White bed linens scream “Come, cocoon yourself!” There are a total of seven pillows on the bed. This holy number was not intentional, but I like to think it’s symbolic. I’ve set apart this room for a holy purpose. Three of the pillows are a green velvet. I’ve recently seen the three square pillows across the bed look in different places, and always felt there was something very complete and luxurious about it.
Over the bed is an original painting by a friend of mine named Jewelyah. I met her at my congregation. She is in her early twenties and recently discovered a love of painting. One day she posted on social media that she has found her new passion and asked what she could paint. I told her if she painted me peonies (my favorite flower), I would pay for the canvas. She said she had never painted flowers before, but would give it a try. Can you believe that’s her first ever painting of flowers? It’s magnificent! And I love that it comes from a friend.
We bought the antique dresser from the flea market. I love it because the drawers are so deep. It carries all my sewing and craft things. I had never organized it all before, and the task took about a day, but sometimes I just open the drawers and look at fabric scraps.
So many good memories of things I’ve sewn for myself and others.
On top of the dresser are some guest towels and a sign that currently says “Thank You!” It was from my wedding. I intend to change out the greeting with my wifi username and password.
Above the dresser hangs a poem written by my Aunt Anne called The Coffee Dance. My mother’s family is half Danish, and very connected to their family in Denmark. Every month or so, we headed over to my Great Aunt Betty’s house for a traditional Danish coffee. She lived with my late Great-Grandmother who we called Bedste, which is the traditional Danish name for the eldest matriarch. We would be there for hours. The adults would drink coffee and argue over politics while the kids would sip on Sprite and enjoy all the cookies and cake, though we would still nearly fall off our chairs from boredom. Bedste collected tea cups, which we all called coffee cups. Not one was like another. She would carefully choose a different cup for each guest, usually something that reminded her of that person. No matter who you were, friend or foe, everyone was welcome for Danish coffee. Everyone. That’s what my Aunt’s poem is about.
And in my dining room is the table where the traditional Danish Coffee would take place, still with gum stuck to the bottom from some great uncles or cousins who died before I was born. My son’s bris took place on that same table. It’s in very bad shape, but I feel like restoring the table would be to erase all the memories.
At the foot of the bed is a cedar chest passed down through the family. Right now it only contains a few things, but I should transfer all the craft stuff over there so guests can use the dresser. It’s the perfect size for someone to set a suitcase.
Opposite the bed is one of my most prized possessions. When I was twenty-four I became a flight attendant for a major US airline. I worked so hard for that uniform. Within a year I saw the world. I went to Japan, China, Kuwait, Israel, Mexico, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and all the Caribbean Islands (at least it feels like I went to all of them). I learned the true art of hosting, fine dining, wine service, all while being trained to take out a terrorist if need be. When serving travelers, it’s the little things that matter. Your tone, thoughtfulness, noticing when someone could use some more to drink, offering to rock a screaming baby. Everyone is stressed and uncomfortable. Just small acts of kindness can make a world of difference. My uniform is displayed on an antique dress form that was given to me from a friend. The form is so tiny, I had to pin my uniform back so it didn’t look like a bag.
My guest room doesn’t contain any Judaica, no special books and doesn’t host any events, but it was the most Jewish room I could think of. In a world that tells me to be focused on me and my needs or the needs of my family, it’s my spiritual discipline to make room for others. So far our guest room mostly houses friends from Charlotte who drive up to spend weekends with us. My parents have also stayed here. I don’t know what other travelers we’ll welcome in the future, but we’ll be ready.
Wow, Miri! Can I come? I loved this reminder on the importance of Achnasat Orchim (hospitality). Often we see that some neshamot (souls) are very much connected to a particular mitzvah. Beautiful to see how Miri’s soul is connected to hospitality and she has created a beautiful, tranquil space, full of personal meaning. Bravo! Thank you, Miri! Friends, go follow Miri at Miri in the Village. You will love her amazing recipes and her posts about decor, mommy life and more.
* Watch my interview with Debbie Sassen here and you’ll here surprisingly which mitzvah her neshama seems to be attached to.
** Have you created a home that is also a place where H” feels welcome? Are you interested in sharing the unique way in which you’ve done this? Let me know! I guarantee you will inspire all of us and it will be a lot of fun!
Related Post: Mi casa es SU casa: Rita