Om Sweet Home: What Does 'Home' Even Mean?

I’m moving. Again. I asked my husband over breakfast with our 19-month-old daughter what 'home' means to him. He said, "It’s a quiet place where you can control your surroundings and feel safe." This made me realize how lucky I am to simply feel safe in my home. For some, this is not part of home’s definition.

Yet I can’t help feeling sorry for myself as we go through the upheaval of another move. I’m not talking about the relatively simple upheaval of stuff, of actually moving—although that’s not wonderful either. I’m referring to the emotional junk you can’t help but dig up as you try to put your life into boxes.

My new house will have a yoga studio. I just got my new circular yoga mat, bolster and blanket in the mail. This is a huge perk of our move. My husband’s bikes will have a room for themselves as well, and they’ll have nice trails to ride—another plus of moving to hillier Ohio tapestries. Still, our families will be hours—as opposed to minutes—away. Which leads me to ask myself—after moves out west to New Mexico, east to Philadelphia, and then back home to Ohio—what is home? Is it just semantics?

To me, home is where my family is, but even this definition changes over time. Now my primary family consists of my husband and my daughter rather than my sister and parents. I might like to do handstands and put my feet behind my head, but I’m no longer a child. I’m a mom. I’m a wife. Right now I’m thankful that I’m also a yogi.

My mat has been a faithful traveling companion. Have mat, will travel. My yoga practice reminds me that even my spirit’s earthly home, my body, has had—and will continue to take—many forms. Getting in touch with this deeper me helps me to accept the changing, fluid aspects of life with more grace. Still, I wouldn’t exactly call my current state of mind or behaviors graceful. I feel chaotic, stressed, excited, nervous. I have to hop on my mat just to stay sane at the moment. Forget achieving enlightenment.

A friend recently told me that she finds it fascinating that the human body innately craves change, but when we get it, we don’t know how to deal with it. I find this thought profound. Another move means making new friends, discovering new restaurants, and calling another house my quiet refuge. It also means new adventures, new trails to blaze, and new opportunities from which to grow. Sometimes, though, to truly grow and reach your full potential, you need to set down roots.

Don’t get me wrong, I think traveling, discovering the world and experiencing other cultures are imperative to expanding spiritual horizons. However, I also think that when we dig in and settle down, we’re forced to deal with ourselves and the people around us.

Stability often forces me to deal with my terrible personality traits. Flaws and old scars easily surface when there’s nowhere to run, hide or be distracted. True transformation occurs from uncomfortable personal change. Personal growth is often ugly. It’s not the easy, breezy, cutesy phoenix rising from the ashes that we want. It’s messy. Ironically, this kind of change often takes place when things stop changing around us—when life is stagnant and the real you surfaces from the still waters.

After our first big move to New Mexico, I realized that I couldn’t run away from myself. I still had the same issues that I did in Ohio—they just had a scenic, mountain backdrop. I began to see home as where I was—where the “real” me lived, but even this is just semantics. “I” am constantly changing and evolving.

We are the good, strong, joyful people we want to be. At the same time, we are also the angry, scared, disagreeable people that we fear we are. I think home is not easily defined because it—like people and life—constantly changes. Living in the same house for decades doesn’t stop the world from revolving around you. It doesn’t stop people from coming in and out of your life. For me, having a place to call home is important. For some people, it’s not. Even my yoga mats come and go—my figurative “homes.”

Ultimately, I’m still working on the definition of home. I’m still working on a lot of things. I hope this next house provides my husband and me with a stable, quiet place to raise our daughter. I hope it becomes a source of comfort. I also hope that within its walls, we’ll teach our daughter that a house doesn’t make a home. Maybe this still, calm place starts first within us.

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