Where is Home?

Given all the violence occurring around the world today causing millions of people to be uprooted from their homes and homelands, plus the growing number of homeless people living on the streets across the US, I find myself feeling deeply grateful for the roof over my head and a warm, safe bed to sleep in at night. Every major storm, flood, fire or war causes millions to be displaced from their homes. There is no question that all living creatures seek a home somewhere on this planet, but with increasing climate change, the habitable areas are shrinking while our population is exploding.  Everywhere people are seeking shelter of one sort or another. Having a place to call “home” is a universal yearning for all of us.  Yet everyone has a different vision of home and what that means to them.   

Lately I’ve been reflecting on what “home” means to me. I’ve always known that I was a “homebody”. It’s where I feel safe to be myself and express myself in whatever creative manner I choose. As Maya Angelou once said, “The ache for home lives in all of us. It is the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” 

When I was growing up my family moved frequently, not out of necessity, but by choice. I’m not sure why, but it always felt like an adventure.  I liked exploring new neighborhoods and creating a new space of my own, even if I didn’t like changing schools so often. At age 23, with the help of a small inheritance from my Aunt Louise, I was extremely fortunate to be able to buy my first home in Fairfax, CA. I thought at the time it was where I would live forever! I began enthusiastically renovating every part of the house and yard to place my “stamp” on it. Seven years later however, I made a bold, perhaps rash decision, to move to rainy, remote Oregon where I began the process of “homing” anew.  Once I was settled on a little 2-acre farm outside of North Bend, I once again believed this would be my “forever home”.  Remodeling began inside and out with room additions, porches, gardens, etc.  However twenty years later, single and with my two grown children moved away, I felt a strong desire to remarry and share my life with another. I opened to the possibility of moving yet again.  Each move I’ve made was followed by an exciting period of adjustment, during which I always had  a strong impulse to put down new roots, literally and figuratively.  My next “forever home” was on a farm outside of North Plains.  Much remodeling and landscaping created what was for me a sort of paradise.  And again, I thought I would live there forever.  But… after another twenty years flew by, age crept up on me with the realization that physically I could no longer manage to maintain this paradise without hiring a huge amount of help.  So the difficult decision was made once more to move, this time to a smaller home and yard. Three years have passed now, and I feel the comfort of home again. Although I’ve planted quite a variety of new plants, I’ve left the house mostly intact, and so far no earthquakes, fires, floods or wars have wreaked havoc on my sense of “home”. I am so grateful to have been fortunate enough to always have a place to call home. But in today’s unstable world and with the uncertainties of health, I know that this cannot be taken for granted. I can only hope that I have developed the resilience over the years to feel at home wherever I find myself. Perhaps home really is wherever the heart is. 

Moving Forward in 2022

As I contemplate what to write after such a long pause since my last post, I feel uncertain how to begin. We’ve made it through yet another pandemic year of isolation, anxiety, stress, and frustration. There now seems to be a light at the end of this long dark tunnel, but can we trust it will last? It appears that our society is unraveling on all levels – our democracy, healthcare, homelessness, addiction, violence, schools, and supply chains just to name a few disturbing issues. And over all this now lies the shadow of war, and even more importantly the issue of climate change.

Today at 75, I’m all too aware how short life is. Thinking about my mortality definitely makes me want to re-examine my activities, my relationships and my attitudes towards life.  More than ever I’m feeling the need to reach out and connect with my friends and family. How do I really want to spend my days? Can I live more joyfully, socially connected, and grateful for what time I have left? I’ve spent too many sleepless nights in recent months worrying about all that’s wrong in the world. It’s time to let go of all I cannot change and make a commitment to myself to live more compassionately, playfully and gratefully right now.   

The question is not, “when will this pandemic be over”, but “how can I live today to the fullest”.  I am committed to devoting more time to all the things I deem as meaningful and that add joy to our world. I cannot solve the big problems, but I CAN affect those in my little corner of the world. This is my belated New Year’s wish for all of us. 

Welcome 2021

I’m happy to say good-bye to 2020.  New Years has always been my favorite holiday, but even moreso this year, although I fear the road ahead is going to be difficult for all of us.  More than ever I feel the need to focus on the positive and maintain patience and care as we enter this pandemic winter.  I know that things will get harder before they get better, but there are many ways we can support each other and get through this.  We must all do our part.

Today I especially want to celebrate all that is beautiful in our world…the earth, the stars, wildlife, music, my family and friends, and all the dedicated, courageous, brilliant people working tirelessly to save our planet.

May our hearts be at peace, may we be safe, and may we continue to be sources of healing as we welcome the new year with HOPE for the future.