Over the past four and a half years, I have uprooted and rerooted so many times that I’ve lost track. I’ve lived in many homes, slept on friends’ floors, jumped from hostel to hostel while abroad, lived in my car… and I’ve had a great time. I’ve learned about what belongings mean the most to me by moving so many times. I’ve learned how little I need to be happy and thrive. I’ve learned how to be neat, gracious, and giving while inhabiting someone else’s space.
The most important thing I have learned is this: my home environment is part of me. It dictates how I feel internally, not completely, but in a big way. Thus, my home environment [wherever/whatever that may be] effects the way I behave and how I experience daily life.
You may have heard a phrase similar to this, “A clutter-free home makes for a clutter-free mind.” I have found this to be so very true. I grew up in a predominantly cluttered home, which had it’s pros and cons. Childhood relics and intriguing antiques adorned the log cabin we lived in… my mom seemed to have any art supply I could ever want, stoking the creative fire within me, which I am so grateful for. My dad hated clutter and my mom would always have to work to declutter our small living space so that he could find peace. With such opposite levels of comfort and attachment regarding material things, I acquired a mixture of both. I remained a relatively messy person in college, where I would procrastinate putting away my laundry so long that I would be sleeping under/next to piles of clothes. In contrast, if there was even one thing in my way in the kitchen, I would become anxious and more stressed than necessary. I found myself holding on to things that I’ve had for so long, not even realizing that they no longer gave me any joy. Obviously, I wasn’t connecting the dots and acknowledging that my levels of anxiety and scatterbrained feelings were significantly decreased when I would clean my room or organize my belongings.
I discovered the concept of minimalism and my life changed enormously. I soon had to move out of my senior year house because I was graduating and I realized that the amount of shit I owned had doubled compared to what I came to college with. This drove me to make a goal of purging my belongings, so much so that all of my things could fit inside my car [with space for me to sleep]. Time for a road trip! I didn’t have a solid plan for post-grad summer, so I was in the mindspace that I was going to become a minimalist and put my trust in the Universe to guide me to greatness. Fast forward to after summer, after traveling, living on my friend’s floor and at my parent’s house, figuring out how I was going to make a living and where I was going to go next. An opportunity to move to Providence presented itself to me and I immediately jumped on it.
I hope I haven’t lost you by going off about decluttering… because the point I’m trying to make here is that a healthy home environment has the ability to promote health in one’s body, mind, and soul. And it takes time to get it right. Your home environment should be a reflection of how you want your life to look. Traveling is healthy for a number of reasons and I will always advocate for it. I believe it has the power to promote positivity and acceptance, but it also has the ability to create higher levels of stress, uncertainty, and not feeling at home, which are quite hard to live with. I now dwell amongst 5 amazing women whom I have grown to love even more than I did when I first met them [and I’ve been friends with some for years]. This wouldn’t have been possible without conscious decisions. Keeping our two-floor apartment clean, organized, smelling good, filled with smiles, singing, plants, and art… Hosting a peaceful sangha here to meditate and bring harmony and safety to our living space. Staying aware of each other’s needs and concerns. Communicating with love whenever necessary. Making my bed every morning and keeping my floor and surfaces clear of unnecessary dirt and clutter. All of these decisions are part of a larger decision to make our home a sanctuary.
The home is where we wake up in the morning, where we cook, where we exist for many hours of the day and night. It’s often a place where we create, exercise, gather with friends and family, and explore the depths of our minds. For some, including myself, home is also a place where we work. Comfort, safety, and peace in the home creates joy and ease within us. Especially when living in a city, these things become even more important to us as we encounter chaos outside of the home more often than if we lived out in the countryside. Can you remember a time where you walked into someone else’s home and instantly felt welcome, comfortable, and happy? What did that space look like, what did it feel like? Did you find yourself becoming jealous of that person for having such a beautiful home?
The first humans traveled in tribes, they always had each other, for the most part. They had community. It’s important to remember, as we dawn a new age of solo travel and nomadism, that we have a homebase where we can return to. Community shapes us and makes us feel grounded and safe. This is part of being a human. There’s a reason why we feel attachment to our hometowns, to a certain state or neighborhood. Coming to grips with this helped me move on from the dream of van dwelling. Not that I have completely ruled out that way of life, but it’s just not how I was meant to live at this time.
Rerooting in Providence has changed a lot for me. It has allowed myself to nurture my most introverted side, while growing my human network and building on the ideas I have for my present and future Self. During such a transformational time in my life, it was apparent that I needed to ground myself and just be patient. I can’t do everything right now. I’ll have time to travel later. Right now is for growing my roots and dropping my seeds.
Happy Thursday ~