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Our words have great power. They can encourage or discourage; build up or tear down; bring joy or heartache and give life or death. The thought that we - I, at least - often give little consideration to those words, should make us think harder before speaking.

Last weekend a guest said something that gave me all the positive feels mentioned above. She commented that she knew why we called our place a retreat, because that’s exactly what it was for her. Her words couldn’t have been more timely. The encouragement they gave communicated her faith in what we’re doing at Purdon Groves.

For the past few months, our contractor had been finishing a project that included working on the road that goes through our property, as well as creating better drainage in certain areas. With all of the recent rains, we realized that there were places on the farm that, under certain conditions, would still be wet or muddy. We were pretty discouraged. Our guest’s words and smiling face, in the midst of the drizzly weather, buoyed our spirits.

There are more days than I’d like to admit that Houston and I feel discouraged, sometimes even wondering if what we’re doing makes any difference or any sense. What gets us through the tough times - of animal and crop loss, financial woes, thinking maybe we’re crazy and should chuck the whole thing - are comments from guests when we interact, as well as their reviews.

So never underestimate the power of your words - whether given in person or in a review. Sure it’s great for getting new business (most people look at reviews before booking a place to stay overnight - especially when it’s a place or brand they’re unfamiliar with), but more than that, it’s such an encouragement to the business owner.

We’ve gotten a couple of not so stellar reviews on booking platforms and it hurts. Even though we try to set proper expectations, there have been a few times that guests didn’t have the experience they wanted, and their review reflected that. While instances like that don’t bring joy to my heart, they certainly educate me on things I CAN do to be a better business owner.

As we enter the summer months, which are often slow for some of the other small businesses in our community, I’m considering ways I can lift them up through my words. If they’re anything like me, they’ll be encouraged when I share their posts on social media, send a quick text or stop by their business to say hello. These words don’t cost any money, but they can make all the difference to a business owner who’s having a tough day. I hope you’ll join me as we find ways to show others we believe in what they’re doing.

Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at sherry@purdongroves.com . For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out www.purdongroves.com or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.

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