Dec 20, 2012 · 3 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to spend time with family, to catch up with old friends, and to appreciate those who are closest to us and mean the most.

I will be spending five days with people I’ve never met.

I’m flying to Arizona to meet my boyfriend’s parents. Interestingly, this does not make me nervous. I’m sure I’ll like them, and I’m hopeful they’ll like me. My dilemma is whether I should bring my laptop, and if I do, how can I sneak away politely to do some writing? Or should I just leave it at home and call it a day?

The heart of the matter is — would it be rude? I’m going to be a houseguest with people who know I like to write, but who rightfully expect to get to know me, and I them.

So this is my question: when you’re a houseguest, how do you carve out a little time to do what you love?

In pondering this conundrum, I came up with a few ideas:

  1. Sneak it in during the lulls. This one seems pretty easy, especially if your passion is portable. Just before bed or upon waking, for instance, I could fire up the laptop for a little bit of writing.

    It’s a little bit harder if your activity is rock climbing, but maybe you can schedule a quick jaunt to the local climbing gym or county park during siesta hours (2-5 p.m. I will lead the charge to institute the siesta here.) when there’s usually a pause in household/guest activities. This leads us to No. 2:

  2. Invite your hosts along. Maybe they’d love to come with you on that rock climbing jaunt. Maybe they’d love to see what makes you tick. Or maybe they’d just like a little break and would be happy to let you head off to play for a bit.

  3. Multitask. Normally, this is horrible advice, but today, it’s genius. Let me explain. Perhaps your hosts are sports fans. Perhaps they never miss an episode of The Price is Right. Perhaps you’ll be picnicking or resting in the ski lodge or hanging out in a pub. Why not keep your hands busy?

    This is a great opportunity to bring along your portable passion, and chat and engage your hosts while painting or knitting or whittling — whatever it is that makes you happy.

  4. Explore for inspiration. If you can’t practice the things you love to do while you’re a guest, get out and see what others who share your passion have done in your destination. Check out a sculpture garden. Visit a textile museum. Rent snorkel gear and examine the local sea life. Go for a hike. You’ll get to know the place you’re visiting and enjoy what it has to offer.

  5. Give it a rest. Sometimes, you just can’t break away. Maybe your passion is gardening, and it won’t fit in a suitcase. That’s OK, too. Your passion won’t wither or waste away to nothingness if it’s neglected for a few days. And being a gracious guest is its own reward — you’ll get to have experiences and conversations that can inspire you with a fresh perspective or new ideas. Experience enhances creativity, and creativity fuels our passions.

As for me and my trip … well, I’m definitely bringing my knitting, but I think this time I’ll leave the laptop at home. I’ll opt for new ideas and experiences, but I will bring a pen and notebook. A girl’s gotta document these ideas and experiences, after all.

How about you? Do you have any tips for balancing being a good guest and pursuing your passion?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.