What is Home?

I’ve never really stayed in one house for a long time. It partially comes with the territory of coming from a divorced family, not only the loads of back and forth between Mom’s and Dad’s, but also when one parent moves, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other parent won’t move in the same time frame. By that I mean, separately parents may not move a lot, but when you combine it for the kids… it stacks up.

Looking to my mom, who coincidentally has moved a lot, with her I grew up in seven different houses, and with my dad I grew up in three different houses. Then when they were married, there is one house in my active memory. So we’re looking at eleven different houses I lived in from the time I was born until I graduated college. Speaking of college, you could even increase the places I’ve lived since I lived in the dorms throughout that time, and then my senior year a friend and I got an apartment off campus. I also did a semester in France which was a whole other type of living situation!

After reflecting on my adolescence, and now looking towards my adulthood – almost the minute I graduated college, I shipped up to NYC for an internship that turned permanent. Upon first moving to the city, I lived in a small sublet in Harlem and my room was literally the size of a twin size mattress. Two months later, my sublet was up and I moved to Chinatown for a little over a year and that was an experience! After that downtown escapade, I booked it back uptown to Spanish Harlem for a little over a year.

All sounds complicated and all over the place, right? Am I done yet? Am I getting to the whole purpose of this overshare yet?

Thanks to Miss Rona, things only get more complicated.

My lease was up in Spanish Harlem July 31st and the friend I planned to live with, Zoe, couldn’t move until October. So we were faced with two options:

  1. We find a place for August 1st and sublet until Zoe can move in.
  2. I go home – I’m working from home anyway, so why not spend some time at home, save some money, and move back to the city in the fall?

Two was the obvious option, but the not so obvious is the thing I had to ask myself – “Where is home?”

My nomadic mom is currently posted up in Pittsburgh, which isn’t too far from my uncle and papa along with many other family members. My dad is where he’s always been, in Kentucky, along with many family members. But then I have my nana and aunt and nearly all of my friends who are tucked away in Indiana.

So, again, where is home? Where do I go?

I essentially did what I always do, and that was split up my time and touch ground everywhere. Which definitely isn’t COVID Kosher, but I was essentially homeless, so sue me.

I did some time with all of my family and some friends – sprinkling my sass and two-cents along the way, lending an ear to those who needed it, and offering support when the situation called for it. It was nice to be “home” for a little while. But honestly, I couldn’t help but be hyper-focused on the term, “home“… what is it? Where is it? Do I have one, do I have many, or do I not have one at all?

My mom always says, “Home is where your mom is.”

But I don’t think home is that simple, or maybe it is.

I think home is a feeling. It’s something that comes natural, but it’s also something that can be manifested. For instance, both my grandparents houses always feel like home, the Catholic church I grew up in feels like home… but everywhere I’ve ever had my own room I’ve seamlessly created a notable “cozy-homey vibe” that gets riddled with compliments on how comfy it is.

It’s as if I’ve always understood that with a few adjustments, you can make anywhere feel like home. I have some things I always do, nearly as a reflex, whenever I settle in somewhere in order to make that place more comfortable – to make it mine.

1. Your bed is a sanctuary, treat it as such.

Make sure you have a bedspread that you like to look at, and honestly – the more pillows the better. Even if you only use one pillow to sleep – during the day have your bed coated in pillows. Those decorative sacks of fluff and feathers are so inviting, there’s no such thing as too much, I promise.

Once you like your bed – make it every single day. There was a time not too long ago where I didn’t make my bed everyday; I found I didn’t have time, what’s it matter, etc… I was full of excuses. But what was funny were the days that I didn’t make my bed in the mornings, I would almost instantly make it the minute I got home – because there’s nothing better than slipping into a freshly made bed.

Just respect yourself enough to make your bed in the mornings – respect the evening version of you who just spent a hard day at work and deserves a freshly made bed.

.

2. You look at each wall more than you think, hang things that bring you joy and peace.

Think of every wall in your space as a mood board.

Fill each wall with pieces of art, photos, or shelves of knickknacks that evoke positive emotions. This is where you can put plants, real or fake, to encourage growth in your space and to feel grounded and connected with the earth. Fill your walls with whatever brings you peace and happiness.

.

3. If it smells great, you’ll feel great.

I adore candles. I love them not only for the smell, but I enjoy even the simple flame. The sense of warmth I feel when I see the lit candle and then the scents that beginning coating the room, it brings so much instant peace. I love fall scents the most, like vanilla and hazelnut, but sometimes these scents don’t translate well in the summer. I found that my safe-ground is finding earthy candles that smell of amber and oud.

Go find your scent – be it floral, fruity, earthy, or fresh… find it and do what you gotta do to maintain that smell in your room. Be it candles, incense, oil diffusers, or wax warmers – just give your room a scent that you associate with comfort.

. . .

I’ll be honest, sometimes doing all of the above isn’t enough. You can go the whole nine yards on your space and still feel like a fish in the wrong bowl. Like you’re a pretty fish in a decked out aquarium, but you kind of miss your old bowl for some reason.

AKA -> homesickness.

All I’ve gotta say to that is to think long and hard on what you’re homesick for, what’s missing. Would you be happier back where you were? Or do you find you’re actually missing specific moments and feelings expressed in the old space?

I find that most of the time, my homesickness is for a time and not a place.

Once I realized this, it clicked that going home won’t fix anything, it won’t fix my homesickness. The only type of “going back” that will erase my homesickness is “going back in time” but that’s not possible, obviously. This type of homesickness can really only be healed by some intense self-reflection, maybe even some therapy, in order to dig up what the real root of the problem is and to truly understand what you’re missing. In realizing this, in understanding what it is exactly that you’re homesick for, you can then move forward and adjust what you must in order to find that mental balance and manifest your “home vibe”.

Ultimately, it’s important to understand that you are deserving of feeling at home wherever you’re living.

Hey Insomniac, Have You Tried…

How’d you sleep last night?

I always have trouble falling asleep – my brain runs a mile a minute the second my head hits the pillows, and sometimes I cannot seem to just chill out.

I think about my day, everything I could’ve done differently and how I could’ve used my time more wisely, I think about what I have to do tomorrow, what time I should wake up, and if I go to sleep right now exactly how many hours will I get to actually sleep?

It doesn’t stop there folks, I think about something I said in third grade that was so embarrassing that I’m convinced everyone else must randomly think about it too, I mean if I am then they must be, right?

I think about how many more days I can put off laundry, when I should get groceries, and I get so restless that I think about whether or not I should create a new Spotify playlist that fits with a certain mood I may or may not feel tomorrow, simply because I want to do something semi-productive in the midst of my sleeplessness.

When I say my mind doesn’t stop, it truly doesn’t stop.

So I’ve tried several tricks over the years:

  1. I’ve tried medication, but I always do this terrible thing which is me suddenly feeling “fixed” and like I don’t need them anymore *eye roll*. I’ve been prescribed medication, but I’ve also done over the counter sleep aids, and good ‘ole Benadryl always does the trick to knock me out.
    • One major thing to note with sleeping meds is that the minute you start taking them, your body becomes somewhat reliant on them – so when you stop taking them the best thing to do is wean yourself off to avoid the most sleepless night of your life. More info here on sleep aid medication
  2. I’ve tried teas – these help, but sometimes I just don’t feel in the tea mood and well… that’s how that goes.
  3. I’ve tried pillow sprays, like the ones from Bath & Body Works, which also help – but sometimes they’re a bit out of budget, and sometimes I simply don’t want to smell that same smell every night.

So as you can see, my self-sabotage game is strong! But I’ve identified my main problem is that I’m incredibly fickle-minded, I need something that is flexible and takes minimal effort in order to stick with it.

The first major milestone in conquering my sleep issues was discovering the Sleep Pillow app.

Sleep Pillow not only offers various sounds to soothe and distract the mind, but it allows you to create your own sleep mixes. I find water incredibly soothing and grounding, so what works great for me is a mix of rain splashing in puddles, waves crashing, and a strong thunderstorm. But they also have various other noises to mix in like a crackling fire, whale sounds (lol), and other relaxing noises.

I used this app for a hot minute, but then my fickleness showed face and Sleep Pillow suddenly wasn’t right, or enough, to drown out my late night thoughts. That being said, I still have it downloaded on my phone, just in case 😉

I tried the Calm app for a few weeks and had people like Matthew McConaughey tell me stories, which was oddly relaxing. But then this app cost some money that was more than I was willing to spend, especially on something my fickleness could deem useless in X amount of time.

Then a major breakthrough happened: the Breathe app.

Guys, this app is a game changer. What makes Breathe so different than my previous explorations, is that it’s multi-functional. It’s not just a sleep app, it’s a mindfulness app for anytime of the day – and it’s free. There are meditations in there for a quick mid-day mindbreak, yogic meditations, tracks for quick power naps, and my ultimate fave – hyponotherapy sessions.

Whenever I mention hypnotherapy to people, their eyes widen a bit and I practically hear their thoughts of, “Hypnotherapy?! Why would you fall asleep to getting hypnotized! What if they’re putting false thoughts in your head?!”

All I’ve gotta say is scroll back up and read through what are just a fraction of my late night thoughts. I’m sure you’d be desperate to do what you gotta do to shut yourself up. And ultimately, you just have to trust the process. Breathe has stellar reviews, the people speaking have reputable backgrounds, and I can put on literally anything by Glen Harrold and I fall asleep within 20 minutes. There are other folks on there, but his voice is what is the most soothing to me, I highly recommend bouncing around the various speakers until you find someone whose voice works for you.

I’ve been using Breathe for a little over a year, and I’m sure you’re wondering, “Does the hypnotherapy actually work? Like WORK, work?

If I’m being honest, I genuinely have no idea. Since it’s so psychological, I do have a hard time telling if I’m in a better mood or feel more rested because I switched up the track that night, or because I did stick with the same track every night one week, or maybe it’s simply a better day… it’s hard to tell. I should also note that I don’t necessarily use this app every night, only when the thoughts are significantly loud – which I would put at anywhere between 50-85% of the time.

One thing I will say, is that the last two nights I’ve been listening to Glenn Harrold’s Transformation & Miracles track, and each morning I’ve woken up incredibly well rested and hopeful for the day. Which, I’m sad to say, is a rarity for me.

The last tip I have to share, if you’re not into apps, white noise, or meds, is a breathing trick: get comfortable in bed, take a deep breath in (count to 4 or 5, whichever feels more comfortable), hold your breath for three seconds, then slowly exhale (counting to 4 or 5, whichever feels more comfortable.) The deep breathing slows down your heart rate, and concentrating on counting each breath gives you something to focus on, bringing you to a state of mindfulness and bringing your mind to the present: which is that your day is done and it’s time to sleep.

Made on Canva by Peachy Keen Collective

. . .

So, my fellow dwellers of the night, I’ve shared my tips and I’m eager to know some of yours! Please share your sleep hacks in the comments! My fickle mind could come into play soon and I may need a new fix 🙂