Photo credit: Scott Webb, Unsplash.com
When I was a kid, I’d go to sleepovers.
Invariably, I’d call my parents, feigning some illness so I could go home. That trend continued as I got older and went to sleep-away camp. My parents love to tell stories of the letters they would receive:
“If you’re wondering why the pages are smudged, it’s because of my tears.”
“Tell daddy to sue the camp, so I can come home.”
I was always homesick. Even when I went out-of-state for college, there were nights I would lie in bed thinking about transferring closer to home. Interestingly, as an adult, wanderlust is part of who I am.
I’ve traveled all over the world exploring and broadening my horizons. I’ve slept in tents in the Serengeti. I’ve rented other people’s homes on Air B&B, Flip Key, etc. in various cities across the globe.
Recently, I experienced something totally different while house/pet sitting in Los Angeles for a friend. I was there for 15 days, and I felt stressed out, off my game, insecure, worried, questioning my abilities, and letting my thoughts spin out of control.
What the heck was going on? I’m a professional coach. I coach others on how to break through inner critic messages. I knew worrying was a waste of energy.
Then, it hit me. I was 51 and homesick! Only this time, my family was with me, leading me to wonder what “home” really means.
Home vs. At Home
According to Miriam Webster Dictionary, “home” means a place of residence; a social unit formed by a family living together; or a familiar or usual setting.
The expression “at home” means relaxed and comfortable; in harmony with the surroundings; and on familiar ground.
So, was I homesick or feeling “at home” sick? I was missing my bed, my stuff, my dog, my friends and was so ready to go home. When I arrived back in Houston, I immediately felt a sense of peacefulness wash over me. I couldn’t wait to climb into my own bed.
I was excited to pick up my dog. I got my equilibrium back. I felt confident, happy, and intuitively knew that no matter what was thrown my way, I’d be fine.
Honing in on Home
“Where your focus goes, your energy flows” is one of my favorite sayings.
All of a sudden the word “home” was popping up everywhere. I kept thinking about Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz saying, “there’s no place like home.”
ESPN reporters were talking about home field advantage for playoff games. I always thought home field advantage was referring to the friendly crowd. Now I understand it runs deeper. It’s not just the crowd; it’s playing on their own turf, sitting in their own dug out, using their own lockers, and planting their feet on their own field.
I noticed countless songs on the radio about going home, leaving home, the long way home, I’m going home, you’re my home, my hometown, etc.
I overheard someone using the expression “homies” to refer to their inner circle or the people they’re most comfortable with.
I gained a new understanding of why getting divorced was so much harder on my ex-husband than it was on me. I stayed in our home. He moved out. I couldn’t really empathize at the time, but it wasn’t just about physically moving to another house; it was losing his home.
It also explains why I was so upset when he didn’t think we should allow our 20-year-old son to come home on the weekends from college this year. How can I tell my son he can’t come home? It’s his safe spot, his true north, his comfort zone. Nope. Not doing it.
Home: A Noun, Verb, or Adjective?
For me, a home’s not really a noun.
It’s not a person, place, or thing. It’s not really the physical house. It’s not really the people — even though I love my family with all my heart. Home, to me, is more than a collection of all the things that reflect who I am. It’s a feeling.
Before I knew anything about Feng Shui or energy, I intuitively knew I needed to change everything when my ex-husband moved out. Within days, I had repainted, bought new bedding and furniture, and read up on clearing out negativity.
I was burning sage and waving it around in each room (sparking some interesting comments from my sons who wanted to know what exactly I was smoking).
My home’s now filled with all things I love: calm blue hues on the walls, beach-themed decorations, paintings I have painted — all things that make me happy.
Yet even with all the things I love around me, it’s truly the feeling that home evokes in me. Home to me is an adjective. Because I’m a coach, I automatically begin to ask myself open-ended questions: How does home make you feel, Carrie?
My answer: When I’m home I feel secure, empowered, comfortable, and aligned.
Home is Where the Heart is!
So I asked myself, “If I feel secure, empowered, comfortable, and aligned with who I am when I’m home, how can I bring that feeling with me wherever I am in the world?”
The question’s complicated, but the answer is simple:
Those feelings are always accessible to me. All I need to do is spend a few moments quieting my mind in meditation and breathing deeply.
The truth is, I am secure. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am empowered. And I am always able to align with my core values in my heart.
I now realize I can always experience the feeling of home. As Glinda, the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz, said to Dorothy, “you’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”