Finding Home in this Time of Disquiet
Home resides within. Tap into it to create the sense of peace you need.
Home. Because of the pandemic we have all been spending more time there than we normally do. Being in my home almost an entire year with very few times of venturing beyond my little plot of land has sent me on a path of self-discovery. I have been thinking a lot about what home means to me. I have been thinking about what makes a house a home.
I am remembering homes from my past, and sorting out why home has always been so important to me. Home, for me, is so ingrained in my imagination that it has become a strand of my DNA. Home has been the organizing principle of my life. All roads lead back to home. I find that the word HOME shows up on all my vision boards. When home is a refuge I can face the world with courage.
Growing up, I had the great luck of having grandmothers and a mother who knew how to make a house a home. I realize that just because you have four walls and people hanging out inside, it is not necessarily a home. A true home has certain qualities that make it so. Not everyone knows how to do this. But everyone has an innate sense of what home means, even if it’s buried deep in the subconscious. We recognize it when we see it.
I have had two friends, on separate occasions, tell me that walking into my house was like walking into a hug. They recognized that quality there. That is the essence of home — the feeling of being drawn in, embraced, comforted, welcomed. Like walking into the warmth of a grandmother’s hug, her softness and cookie scent transporting you to a place a of safety and belonging that sears itself into your consciousness. “This is home,” your spirit whispers to you. You never forget.
When I was a young teenager, my family bought a second home. It was not your typical weekend house. It was not on a lake, or a mountain stream, or the beach. It was in the center of a small mountain town. It had stood for a hundred years by the time it became ours. It was filled with generations of laughter and love, joy and sorrow, death and birth.
When our family moved in, it became the place that we were truly a family. There was no TV, but there was a wood stove in the kitchen, and we sat around it and played games. We cooked together. We read by the fire, we did crafts at the big kitchen table, we put together jigsaw puzzles. In this house, family and home became intertwined. We were right where we should be, in the embrace of each other’s undivided attention. It was a true home.
Both of my grandmothers created true homes, as well. Their houses were filled with good smells, the warmth of a fire, music on the stereo, and, most importantly, a sense of belonging. The anticipation of that feeling catapulted me through the door of their homes in a burst of giddy excitement all through my childhood. The joy of belonging — that is a big part of home, for me. They made home a place I could sink into, like a big, enveloping feather bed. I was home.
When my children were young, I wanted to recreate the magic my mother and my grandmothers made for me. I wanted them to experience roaming free in the fields and woods and then come back to a cup of hot chocolate in front of a blazing fire. Home. The place of warmth, laughter, belonging. I wanted my house to be filled with music, great conversation, books to read by the fire, a big table to fill with people we love, and most of all, a sense of belonging. I think I accomplished that. It was a true home.
When my marriage ended, and my children scattered to their own lives, I went through a crisis — grasping for that sense of home to bring me back to center. My grandmothers were gone, my childhood home was gone, the home I created for my children was gone. All the places that felt like home to me were gone forever. Would I ever find a home again? I yearned for it with the grief and longing of a woman who had lost everything. I needed to feel the warmth of that embrace called home.
The problem was, I thought home was something I had to find. I didn’t understand that home was something I carried within me. I was holding the broken pieces and wondering how I would ever glue them back together, but I had the whole, unbroken sense of home inside of me the whole time.
When I realized that my sense of home lives within me, I learned to make a home wherever I landed. Home. They say you can never go back. But I have come to believe that you never leave — or it never leaves you. It’s there, like a little fire on a hearth, ready to warm you anytime you turn to it.
Home is not what a house with four walls gives to me, home is what I bring to that house. Home resides within me and I project it outward to my space, interpreting my sense of belonging in the colors, sounds, smells and light that I bring to it. When I move things around, add or subtract objects, dust, fluff the pillows, I am channeling my inner sense of home — that place that embraces you like a hug.
In this disquieting year, home seems more important than ever to me. Not the house I live in, but the sense of peace that infuses the rooms of that house. The sense of belonging. The warmth of being embraced by a space that has taken on the luster of all the homes I have known and that still are alive in my heart. The people may be gone, the houses may belong to someone else, but the spirit of those homes has become a part of me. I don’t have to search for home ever again because my home is within. I can never lose it, and I can recreate it wherever I am.
If you weren’t lucky enough to have the experience of home when you were young, it isn’t too late to have it now. We all seem to have an idea of what home means to us. Especially if you have never had it. If your family didn’t give you the sense of home that you wish you had had, it isn’t too late.
American author Judith Thurman says, “Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.” If you are finding that to be true for you in this time of pandemic, and staying home, take some time to think about what kind of home would give you a sense of belonging, warmth, safety and joy. You have the power to create that for yourself.
Remember, that sense of home resides within you. Pull it out of the recesses of your consciousness and interpret it in your space. Home. It doesn’t have to be grand, filled with the best furniture, appliances, artwork and rugs. It can be humble and still be a home. In describing home, Victorian era English art critic John Ruskin said, “ This is the true nature of a home — it is a place of peace.” This is what we all need more than ever in this unsettling time. Peace. The peace of home. May you find it and feel yourself embraced.