what is home?

10:20 PM

Six months ago we packed up the house we'd called home for over a year, the first home we'd ever owned, and moved in with my parents as we began a transition back to the east coast. Even typing that out required a deep breath...
It was a lot. It is a lot. And there is so much more I want and need to share on this subject but not right now. Right now I'm taking stock, I'm looking at what I learned and what I gained. I had to stop thinking about what I had "lost" if I was to keep going. We all adored our home in GA - we had made it the perfect little nest for our family. We had our traditions and our rituals. I had spent so much time picking out wallpaper and furniture and our family's smell was steeped into the walls. I lived for the familiarity. For the way the sun slowly crept into the house in the early hours of the morning. The buzz of the insects from the backyard on a hot and humid summer afternoon. The way the stars twinkled so brilliantly at night and the thick mist that arose from the mountains on chilly mornings. In a matter of weeks we turned our backs on all that and made a big change. We moved into a home that wasn't our own and took up a routine that was foreign and new to us.
The first few months were clumsy, all of us trying to adjust. Yet, inevitably and gratefully we eventually fell back into a routine and a rhythm. Some familiarity crept in and though we all continued to miss and yearn for a home of our own we found joy again. The joy wasn't found in four walls or a pinterest worthy kitchen. The joy came from the simplest and purest place of all - our hearts. In these six months we have bonded more than ever, come to appreciate each other more than ever and have learned that as long as we are together it truly does not matter where we are.
As parents we have felt humbled and stripped to our most vulnerable. We feel so much gratitude towards our children who have rolled with it all from day one. Their resolve and positivity is what has kept us going during what has turned out to be an incredibly trying time. But as it so often happens - the most trying times are also the times of the most growth. For me, I learned that it is not what my home looks like, rather it is what goes on inside the home that is of most value. Perhaps it was the homeschooling to some degree but the children and I have become so close this year. They have become my two most trusted companions. With Birdie turning five I have come to enjoy her help more around the house and it's been lovely to have her by my side as I cook, do laundry and run errands. We chit chat all day long and I've begun to look forward to our little conversations from the night before. Every day offers me a better glimpse of this little person becoming an adult. We have painted together and crafted together and cooked together. We read throughout the day and we go on walks daily. Our physical, literal pillars have fallen away this year and instead revealed the most durable and genuine pillars of all - US.
I'll be honest, as an aesthete I worried about what these next six months would look like, having become so accustomed to having my home look a certain way. A lot of it was also fueled by my OCD (not the figure of speech, the actual disorder), I draw a sense of calm and order from having everything "just so." I'm someone that loves to revel in pretty packaging or a new chair. I truly wondered if I would feel robbed of my definition of "beauty." This is where the late John O'Donohue came to my rescue. After being introduced to him through my weekly On Being podcast I began to devour his work. He speaks so much of "beauty" he even devoted an entire book to it. However, his definition of beauty couldn't be further from what we're accustomed to hearing. Here's how he explains it:
"To live with reverence is to live without judgement, prejudice and the saturation of consumerism. The consumerist heart becomes empty and lonesome because it has squandered reverence. As parent, child, lover, prayer or artist - a sense of reverence opens pathways of beauty to surprise us. The earth is full of thresholds where beauty awaits the wonder of our gaze."
Those words changed me. Forever. It turned my idea of beauty on it's head. Beauty was no longer visible in "things" only but beauty could be a moment, a feeling... The smell in the air on that first crisp September morning. A hug with a new friend that instantly feels like a soulmate. Your babe's sighs as she sleeps in the room next to you. Your lover's eyes when they lock with yours in the diaper aisle of Target at 11 pm in the evening. An "I'm sorry," the touch between you and the one you love, the smell of your favorite coffee or the mercy of a sunset and the promise of a new sunrise. It's everywhere, it's constant and it is fleeting.
It felt like I was seeing the world anew. Past the little squares. Past what I had become conditioned to view as "beautiful." Unsurprisingly I constantly wanted to be outdoors. I wanted to listen to the rustling of the leaves, to feel the wind and the sun and the drops of rain against my skin. I wanted to hear the slushing of the mud beneath my boots and my children's laughter as it erupted almost in tune with the pitter patter of their feet against the pavement. And slowly, without a home to call my own... I felt myself coming H-O-M-E. Not to a physical location but to a presence of mind. Home would be in my heart and soul and it was mine, always there, always awaiting my return. Needing nothing but a listening ear, a watchful eye and an open mind.
I am forever grateful for that. Grateful that I could grow. That I could push myself even further outside of the trap of consumerism and consumption and land in a place that needed nothing in return for making me feel complete and at peace. I know now that no matter where our journey takes us I will always have a place to call home, right here, inside myself with the ones I love.

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