Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Home

"There are two gifts we give our children: one is roots and the other is wings." Anonymous

My Mom and I found a small bird nest in the back yard of her home this past summer. The back yard of my childhood home. The home I returned to with my husband and sons after selling our 'too small' condo, and finally finding our current home only one year ago. We both took a good look at the beauty of this miniature nest. It was built well, sturdily packed with the perfect consistency of found materials. Carefully collected grass, sticks, and hay crafted into a cup shape for little eggs to be nurtured. My Mom held the tiny nest in her hand, and she said, "Wherever it was, I hope it served its purpose."

I have wanted to share thoughts on what a home means to me for a while now. Home is a cherished place of safety, shelter and comfort, a place to grow and be cared for. A home is different from a house. A house is built, maintained or renovated with planning, organization and structured materials. A home is what you put into your house, and I am not talking about the materialistic objects that fill up the space. A home is a feeling, a sanctuary for the body, heart and mind to rest, to be fed, to be held. A place where you can shed the layers of armor that protect your inner world when you are exposed to the outer world. A home is where you can truly be yourself.

A year ago, we uprooted our children from the only home they knew. That 950 square foot living space of love and comfort was a gem. Large south facing windows brought in sunshine, even on the cloudy days, the church bells rang every day at 12 noon and echoed into the one hundred year old walls of our tiny home. The location was amazing, easy work commutes, walkable and quiet for a city. That is, until the banging, running, and screaming started. I'm not talking about my wildly loud boys either. The horsehair plaster was crumbling from the ceiling, our built in hutch with our vintage china was filled with sawdust, sand and plaster chunks that drifted down from the upstairs poundings. Our house was changing, it didn't feel like home anymore, and it was out of our control.

Living underneath a young family wasn't easy, but the home I brought my sweet babies into was getting smaller and smaller, the walls were closing in on me. I felt trapped, unsettled and unhappy most of the time. We had to change our living conditions. It was a sensitive time as well. We decided to sell our condo only a few short months after my Dad passed away. I was still grieving, angry and sad most of the time. Working, packing, moving and preparing the condo to sell were welcome distractions to my current situation, and I dived into the challenge. Always having a task to accomplish is a good way to avoid your emotions. I avoided my emotions as much as possible. It was easier to stay on task and keep going. If I was busy enough and kept myself going, going, going, then sleep would come easily. If I didn't, then I was left to my thoughts and sleep deprived.

Working in the evening, I would leave around 1130pm and get home close to midnight. Heading home stirred up discomfort, so I found solace driving in my car listening to podcasts, music or audio books. When I did arrive home, I would get out of my car, take a moment to pause, and look up at the night sky before walking in the door. This small action turned into a ritual for me, and I started noticing what was happening around me. What planets were visible, what phase the moon was in, how the air felt that night. I began using my senses to really be in the moment. Soon, I started to focus on the changing phases of the moon, its transitional waxing and waning shapes, the color and glow it exhibited based on its closeness to Earth day to day, week to week, and month to month. It seemed natural to start talking to the moon on my ride home. It also felt right to send my prayers and wishes up there too, which led to having conversations with my Dad while I was alone driving in my car. The moon and my Dad were together up in the dark sky. I would imagine my Dad's smile, blue eyes, and handle bar mustache on the moon face. He would sit on the curve of the waxing or waning crescent moon, swinging his legs, smiling, laughing and listening. My Dad was my man in the moon.

Intention is a powerful thing. My husband and I shared the same intention to sell the condo and buy a house for our family. We were focused together, strong for each other and did what we had to do. Our actions backed the intention. We made a plan, packed up everything, stored it in our parents garages and basements, and moved in with my Mom. While our intention played out, my fears and anxieties swelled. Alone most of the time, driving in my car, getting to one place and another, I had to stay positive. I didn't have time to dwell on the past, I needed to stay present and confident in our decisions. To help myself along, I would recite this affirmation I created for the situation, while looking up at the moon, talking to my Dad, or I would say it silently to myself. "There has to be something better for us." I did this for three months.

Moving in with my Mom was easy and extremely difficult at the same time. The commute to work and school was long and filled with traffic. My oldest son had three months left of 2nd grade, my younger son had preschool twice a week, and we didn't want to pull them from their regular schedules. As it was, we were uprooting them from so much already. We had to leave early to be on time for a school that was four towns away. My husband and I met on the road to exchange kids, drop them off or pick them up from childcare. We were lucky to have so many friends and connections to make the impossible seem possible. Five days a week, the boys left at 630am and returned at 630pm. The days I worked, I didn't return home until well after midnight.

My Mother was amazing, selfless and supportive. She got us all up early, helped to make the boys breakfast, lunches and had dinner ready when everyone eventually came home. Home, our place of comfort, shelter and security. Our place to grow and care for each other. Love held us together in the home I grew up in. The home that was built the year I was born. The home that was the same age as me.

Mom and me with baby Amy.

On our long drives, my boys and I would have time to talk. We had deep conversations about life and death, we discussed our thoughts, our situation, and we released many frustrations with tears or laughter. My older son has a strong sense of intuition and compassion. He has the capacity to understand large concepts and relate them to our everyday lives. One afternoon we were driving home, and the boys were talking about their home. My younger son was sad over losing his home, not knowing where we would end up or what would happen. My older son soothed him with these words. "Don't worry about that, home is wherever I'm with you. Home is wherever we are all together. Mom, Dad, me and you." Hearing those beautiful words, melted my heart and eased all my fears about what would happen to us. We had each other. We were already home.

After months of pushing away my feelings of grief and anger over losing my Dad, I was now living in his space. My husband and I were sleeping in the finished basement of my split level childhood home with our two boys. Surrounded by all of his things, his music, his tv, his couch, his bar, his fireplace, his poker table, his golf clubs and his checkerboard collection. My Dad was all around me. This was a help and a comfort to me in many ways. I knew that the support I felt from both my parents was needed to get me through that challenging time. I needed a home unbound by the structural walls of a house to feel safe enough to grieve. I needed a space to be cared for and to be reminded that all I am, all I have and all I need is here. I needed the difficult journey to find that comforting feeling of home within myself, so that wherever I go I can find solace in the home of my heart.

Home is where our hearts are connected, arms wrapped around each other, held, supported, and loved.

I remember driving to the condo on a Friday night after work before the weekend of our open house. I swept the kitchen floor, and touched up the back porch steps with paint under the moon light. I gave the condo one last look and made sure everything looked perfect. Driving back home that night, I saw a red fox crossing the street. It stopped in the middle of the road in front of my car. It extended its large, fluffy tail, paused, looked right at me and then moved along. The connection was unmistakable. That red fox was telling me something.

As fate would have it, our neighbors were away the weekend we planned to show the condo. This was a blessing I could not have foreseen. I'm not sure we would have sold it so quickly, if the upstairs neighbors were banging around during the open house, but it felt like a lucky break. We had our open house one weekend in April, and had multiple offers that Monday morning. We sold our condo in one day, for almost double than what we originally bought it for. Our incredible realtor was organized and professional, as she went through the details of the many offers on our condo. Perhaps seeing that red fox was fortuitous; luck, fortune and opportunity seemed to be on our side.

Immediately after we sold our condo, we began the search for our new home. I went about this as if it was another job. During the week, I researched different locations, and drove by neighborhoods and homes for sale. On the weekends, we toured homes for sale with our realtor, while dragging our boys along. Our realtor was an Earth angel, patient, flexible and hopeful. Part marriage counselor, referee and spirit guide, she forged ahead on the hunt for our new home.

Four months went by as we looked at home after home. We were getting tired, we hadn't found a single home worthy of putting an offer on. Friends would say, "You will know it when you find it." "The right home is out there, just keep looking!" Still working, commuting and struggling with our schedules, we kept going. It was around this time I realized my affirmation wasn't working for me anymore. I continued to talk to my Dad via the moon, absorbing its energy and seasonal shifts. June 2017 brought a beautiful full strawberry moon in my sun sign of Sagittarius. It was the farthest and smallest full moon of the year. I remember my horoscope said it would be a symbol of transformational healing in relationships, and finances. I was determined to stay focused on my path, but I needed a new affirmation. "There has to be something better for us." turned into "There is something better for us." I just needed to change one word.

We found our home at the end of July. It was an older home, a definite fixer upper. There were so many charming characteristics about the house, it felt like it was telling its story, as we explored every nook and cranny. From the glass door knobs, to the picture molding, the hardwood floor, the radiators and the cozy fireplace, I could imagine our family there. I felt my family there. I had a sensation that washed over me and felt my grandfather, my father and my uncles in the house with me, despite the fact that they were all no longer alive on Earth with us.

The house was a sturdy build, with good bones. A solid structure over a hundred years old. Oddly, when we went into the garage my husband and I locked eyes and knew we were putting an offer in.
Our smart and savvy realtor prepared two offers, and we wrote a personal note to the owners making it clear how we felt about the house. Offers were due by 12N on Tuesday June 13, 2017. I had a talk with my Dad that morning, and it went like this... "Dad, I know you are watching over us. If we get this house at our lowest offer, I'll know you helped make it happen."

Our offer was accepted.  June 13, 2017 was exactly one year to the day of my Dad's passing. It is also my parents wedding anniversary date. They would have been married 46 years that day.

Nature is constantly prompting us with an opportunity to look beyond what lies before us. To live fully through each season of our lives as it comes. Some seasons are smooth and calm, while others are turbulent and rough. However it flows, if we miss the prompts that nature gives, we will continue to remain disconnected, untethered and uprooted. I believe our purpose is to connect with each other as human beings, to live in harmony with other animals, plants and the dynamic Earth we reside on. For me, looking up into the night sky and seeing the expansive quality of the known and unknown is a strong reminder that we should not take for granted the possibilities of connection beyond this living, breathing Earth. Every morning the sun rises and the day progresses. Some days are rainy, stormy, windy, gray and cold. Other days are warm, sunny, breezy and clear. In the evening, the sun sets and then the moon rises, whether we see its vibrant full moon glow, or trust in the darkness of the new moon. These constancies of nature provide a grounding point for me, to rise up from sleep every morning, care for myself, my boys, go to work, and fully embrace the waxing and waning of this life journey.

Nature is a part of us and when we are more connected with it, we are more connected with ourselves. 

Finding that bird nest with my Mom was a symbol of our home. The home we created together as mother and daughter provided me with the courage I needed to extend my wings and find my own home with my husband. That sweet little bird nest represents all the love, warmth, enthusiasm and commitment that is required to create a happy home. Home, where we can raise our boys together and watch them grow strong and fly.

I couldn't have predicted our sweet house would bring so much prosperity. The boys have adapted to their new school, and we met wonderful families who continue to welcome us with open arms. We fell in step with new friends, new opportunities, and new experiences, extending our community beyond the walls of our new home. It has been a full year since we have lived in our own home. The boys have found new places to play, we are building a garden, and setting down new roots. The house needs a new kitchen, bathroom and maybe another bathroom, we have electrical work, plumbing and basement renovations ahead of us, but it feels complete because our home is full of love, family and friends.

"What makes a house grand ain't the roof or the doors...if there's LOVE in the house, it's a palace for sure."  Tom Waits


I realize that my situation in life is very different from others, but my definition of home remains the same. "A home is a feeling, a sanctuary for the body, heart and mind to rest, to be fed, to be held." Everyone deserves to have a home. The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless strives to provide a bed for every child, basic needs of food, clothing, and furniture, accessible and affordable options for housing support, medical and mental health care, social services, job training, employment and so much more. 

I stand by my definition of home, and support those who require more assistance and have the courage and strength to seek out resources within their community. I was lucky to have my mother who was so willing to give her personal space, her time, and her care for my family's outcome. My husband and I were able to maintain flexible work hours and commutes to provide a consistent school schedule for our children. I am grateful and humbled by my experience. I'm sharing my personal view of what home means to me to shine a light on the very basic needs to rise up and live, to show my children what it means to serve our community on a larger scale, to bring hope into the lives and homes of others.

2 comments:

  1. Inspiring writings and I greatly admired what you have to say , I hope you continue to provide new ideas for us all and greetings success always for you..Keep update more information..
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