We landed in Orange County and drove to the house I grew up in, from 4th grade on. The home where – 20, 30 years ago – sleepovers, swim parties and college friends came to find home away from home. Where we sat by the fireplace and talked with my folks. Now, it is the home where my husband and our teenage boys and I arrive for the weekend’s gathering. And while the furniture and space have remained the same, I am keenly aware that I have changed. I’ve grown wings and created a new way with our family in Nashville. Where green hills and space and country drives reveal barn after horse pasture after whimsy little town. Where we intentionally make margin to breathe and play, to live simply and welcome strangers inside. To offer philoxenia to weary ones who are in need of rest.
After the weekend festivities commenced, we enjoyed a few days relaxing at a beach house, exploring tidepools, soaking up hours of cousin time, making homemade salsa and guacamole, watching the waves roll out, then in. A consistent echo of life, all ebbs and flows.
On our last night, the boys took their basketball to the court and my hubby and I grabbed a cozy blanket and walked down the wooden stairs, past the fuchsia bougainvillea and delicious- smelling star jasmine, as bonfire smoke wafted and wrapped us with a final goodbye scent. We sat, snuggled close, watching high schoolers savor lingering sun before the ocean swallowed light
and I found tears come.
And they came and they fell and I didn’t try to stop them. For in my tears, I was saying goodbye. Goodbye to the home I knew and the way it used to be. To the places we’d lived in this beautiful golden state and the friends who we’d joined under Friday night lights and our favorite Mexican spot. We’d moved to TN five years earlier, but this moment felt important. A closing, a letting go. As if taking a cue from the palm tree who swayed and surrendered, her hands outstretched, putting down anything that no longer served her free spirit.
I had to come back home to realize I’ve come home to myself, I whisper.
This decade has been a gradual invitation of learning to trust my voice, to gently say my needs, to pull back the veil and mine for authenticity in the midst of loud temptations to be busy, to feed the machine, to people-please. A journey toward congruence. Of living so that my insides match my outsides. This interior winnowing has also been the hardest and most beautiful mid-life awakening. Where I’ve learned to befriended myself. To enjoy who I’m becoming and to be gentle with the slow process that is required.
Before, I’d rushed to take care of everyone at my own expense. Now, I care without carrying. Grief has softened me. As I watch the waves roll and crest and crash, I see smooth edges carved on the regal rock to the right, and know that time has slowly lapped and formed its beautiful surface.
One wave at a time. One breath at a time. A sanding away.
One palm tree sway. A letting go. A surrender.
Where being at home is now…
Listening more than talking.
Offering compassion rather than a solution.
Being content and cozy in my own skin.
Caring more about who I’m becoming than what I’m doing.
Seeing people up close and leaning closer so they may feel known and enjoyed.
Believing small is sacred.
Not apologize for valuing relationships above all else.
A million memories come with and remain, breathing space into the pockets where the painful memories used to hide.
Feeding stable horses from a ginormous bag of carrots.
Family bike rides to Hurless Barton Park, turkey sandwiches and potato chips in tow.
Babysitting dozens of kids from my childhood church family and then having my own children and learning how to redo what I’d missed when I was just a teenager.
Summer camps, kissing my first boyfriend, exploring the trails in solitary bliss.
Moving up and down the coast of CA where, as newlyweds, we fell in love with hospitality, pairing meals with delicious wine, antiquing, creating safe spaces, and tending a garden.
And when I return again, it will be to a homecoming of memories.
That said, this homecoming has not come easy, but rather, a journey abundant with suffering and rejection. The trying of a thousand dreams only to pivot, persevere, take some pieces onward, while leaving other parts behind. Discovering contemplative postures and disrupting the status quo. Mining for the gold in each soul and learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Sitting on the sand, snuggling next to my safe person, I breathe in the salty jasmine air and let the tears continue. Even as I cry, I know my heart is smiling. For, I have found, that wherever in the world I go, I’m already at home. And there’s a beautiful grief and healing peace at trusting I don’t have to carry or do, because my arms are held open, surrendered and free. Like the palm tree. The waves. The space I’ve learned to create, where I’m at home in my very own soul.
If you’re feeling a nudge to come home to yourself, here are twenty invitations to help you begin.
- Begin paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. What do you find yourself thinking about? Feeling? What’s your body asking you to notice? How are you responding?
- What brings you life? What do you enjoy? How can you fold these rhythms into your everyday?
- What messages, narratives or non-truths no longer serve you? What would it look like to lay these down?
- What do you need to forgive yourself for? Who else?
- Where are you feeling stirred to step into something new? Here’s your permission slip to trust and try.
- Think about how you treat your friends. How can you treat yourself with the same love, boundaries and acceptance?
- Speaking of acceptance, what parts of yourself do you need to acknowledge and honor and what parts do you need to gently ask to take a back seat?
- Adopt the mantra, “grace and space” and then live it out.
- Take nature walks and leave your phone at home. Notice what you see, hear, smell and experience. Gather these moments like consolation pebbles for your path.
- Connect with your body in a restorative yoga class.
- Cease giving energy to those who don’t give it back.
- Don’t apologize for your tears. They be healing.
- Consider who you feel safe and welcomed by and surround yourself with these people.
- Allow the pendulum to swing and know you’ll find equanimity in due time.
- Love lavishly. Receive love equally.
- For every negative self-thought, plant a flower and watch beauty grow from darkness.
- Begin a practice of writing a daily poem or drawing a picture to represent what inspired you.
- Be tender with yourself.
- Allow yourself to grieve and heal without rushing past your pain.
- Be honest. Your soul already knows the truth.