Musings - Ways to Thrive
by redefining HOME
Have you noticed?
Our dwellings are integrally entwined with our Rites of Passage, those events large and small that become embedded as the distinct chapters of our lives.
When we choose, or when we are required to reassess our life's direction, we also tend to change where home is, and more importantly, what home is for us.
- We redefine it.
Think back. Remember that big move out to the first place? To college, the first apartment, a shift to a new city for a first job, or a marriage. We discovered not everyone did things the way our family did, so that move gave us permission to rethink how we wanted to do things....that move offered each of us our first choices as an independent adult.
- Making choices about the physical space was as much a part of that step of becoming as the move itself.
But then too, redefining oneself by one's space happens at later moments. Maybe it happened with your first child. Was it pregnancy that raised new thoughts inside you about having your own home? And like me, did the things you did to your home become a part of defining how you were a parent? Did you envision that babe playing in a grassy backyard, or crawling across a different family room off your kitchen?
My downstairs laundry room became an art class for my own and my employee's daughters some time later. I transformed a utility space into an enrichment space. As it turned out, it became an unplanned employee perk as well. My colleague Julie told me having her kids with her at work after school just as she became a single parent was one of the most important things to her. So what happened in my space served as her Rite of Passage too - into single motherhood. Changing space is so powerful.
What about retirement? Without the kids, and the assorted educational systems that structured our life for decades, we finally get to choose our own rhythm and our own spaces. What did you want? Bigger, smaller, later, earlier, slower, quieter, more rural? You were making a statement about yourself at last.
And then, the loss of a love perhaps, like me: "What do I want now that I'm alone?"
That takes time.
For me, with two younger children and an unfinished home on 10 acres, there were many choices I faced about my place. But even if your children are fledged, I think we all assess what we need from a place as a reflection of the new place we ourselves are emotionally entering:
Might it be the small escape to the sea to write as we live out our own final chapters? A place in the sun by a large window close to adult children and family, or a small urban aerie that's walking distance to the many things we want to do, once they're available to us again post-Covid? Perhaps it's re-configuring what we already have, a home we share and can be touched by others.
These big life changes always revolve around place. The scale of it, the feel of it, the environment around it. The life we want. We know it's important to reassess where and what our home should be in order to support the next step in our personal lives.
So what this boils down to in my mind then is that we can work this forward and not wait for some major force to make the choice for us. If we want a life direction change now, then we can make it happen by altering where we live, or how.
But if no event is forcing the issue, then we've got to figure out what we want in order to make the house help take us there. We must clarify. Then we can redefine home as we see fit.
And that's the point.