Monthly Archives: January 2014

this must be the place

“Home is where I want to be – but I guess I’m already there”                                                     – Taking Heads “This Must be the Place (Naïve Melody)”

Today I board a plane leaving home in 5 degree weather.  Tomorrow I will land in 85 degree weather.  A shift of environments and a shift in homes. This constant moving of my home in the past few years has left me thinking a lot about what the concept of  “home” really is or means to me.  Is it a place? A dwelling? Having personal belongings? Being with a person or people?  Or is it a feeling as this month’s Chapter writer Ashley Duffalo suggests in her month’s assignment.

It’s been on my mind more than usual this past week. Maybe it’s because of the recent holidays spent with family, or the changes I’m currently making, or maybe the simple fact that I can’t remember my zip code anymore? (This jaunt to St. Croix will be my 10th move in 2 ½ years.)

I remember writing in my high school yearbook that I wanted to be a Bedouin when I grew up.  I’m not sure if I was predicting what my adult life would look like but looking back now, it seems maybe I did become a Bedouin of sorts. The Bedouin’s were an Arab tribe engaged in nomadic herding, and agriculture.  Traditionally they lived in the desert in tents. The scarcity of water and permanent pastoral land required them to move constantly.  It was the environment that shaped the placement of their home.

I have not become a true Bedouin as I am not relying on farming and herding abilities to keep me alive – but I do feel that the environment around me is what shapes my sense of home.  I thank Ashley for recognizing that and pushing me to not only analyze this fact but document it as well in a creative way.

Before leaving this week, I made one more stop in Friendsville, MD. This is the place that has felt most like home to me in the past 2 ½ years.  I would travel to this town from wherever I was staying to visit a handful of fantastic friends including Living Chapters Referee (and now traveling partner Cosmic Jim) as well as my good friend  and poet Ina Clare Hicks.  My last conversation with Ina before leaving brought me closer to understanding the concept of feeling at home.

I will leave you with her thoughts –

She said she always felt at home sitting in front of a window. She would sit still peering out of her favorite window and gaze at the landscape that was visible on the other side of the glass. Sitting there she would remember all the other landscapes that she had gazed upon in past homes. On the inside, the stillness and the quiet brought her a feeling she called home and on the outside she created a connection to the vision, the land and environment which she also called home.

To me what she is talking about is the same thing that Ashley was talking about in her chapter. It’s the quest to connect to your environment while also staying connected to yourself.

I look forward to cultivating this balance by sitting in front of a new favorite window with a view.

1/3/14

 Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

chapter seven

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Dear Beth,

Happy New Year! I’m excited to kick-off Living Chapters 2014-style with you in your new whereabouts of St. Croix. Knowing this short term move will help determine if this island will become your new home, I can imagine your challenge over the next few months will be to stay in the present and not get overwhelmed by questions of the future (isn’t that always the challenge?!)

You’ve become somewhat accustomed to migratory living over the last couple of years with short stints at a pool house, carriage house, boats and friends’ couches. While you never expected to make any of these places a permanent nesting ground, you found ways, especially through Living Chapters and the help of friends, to make yourself at home by being very intentional about the ways you have chosen to live. Knowing I will play a role in keeping you grounded this month as you embark on your latest adventure, I’ve been wondering how do you connect to a new place while staying connected to yourself?

I want this month to be a mindful exploration and reflection of your surroundings. Throughout January I am asking that you use your senses as well as your creative faculties to create a field guide to St. Croix. As your partner in crime I too will make a field guide for St. Paul, my recently named home that I’m in need of getting better acquainted with.

Here are the requirements:

Your field guide should include 4 maps, 6 walks, a daily written reflection, and 3 interviews. Each week you’ll share one of these things on Living Chapters. They should be accompanied by some sort of reflection (which may or may not be derived from your daily log). The daily written reflection is intended to be more of a space for you to develop a writing practice and keep connected to yourself.

After every walk I want you to make a list of everything you remember seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. I also want you to collect something from each of your walks that you can bring home into your domestic space to create a sense of place.

The interviews should all be done at your home over a simple meal that you’ve prepared with locally-sourced ingredients. The interviews should be designed so that they give you insight into some aspect of St. Croix, i.e. culture, history, food, etc. It’s entirely up to you who you choose to interview.

Lastly, I gave you a copy of Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost to accompany you this month as inspiration. She refers to each chapter as one of her maps. Her writing is beautiful and meditative. Early in the book she references a quote by the pre-Socratic philosopher Meno that I want to leave you with, “How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?”

Have fun in St. Croix!

 Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.