Earlier this year, my partner and I moved to a new city and into a new (to me) home. As soon as we arrived, amid the unpacking and settling-in, I loved getting to know our new abode; it’s the same age as I am, and we have similar groans and greys, we both rumble to life quietly in the morning, and we both seem to be profoundly at home in this space across from the park and on the street to the elementary school.
As fall rolls in, I enjoy seeing the house shift. The light is different than just a month ago, and it bathes the coffee-making and breakfast assembling in a lovely warmth. I have taken to working at the kitchen table in the morning so the sun can wash me through the patio doors as I write. The sun sets earlier in my big front window, so there is always a point at which the drapes close while I make dinner, and we endlessly tinker with the furnace to find the just-rightness of it as we did in the summer. It is officially also flannel sheet season, and the new ones went on the bed last night. I noticed that slipping in is like walking outside in a silent snowfall, as the crisp air comes in through the window beside the bed.
We are just emerging, also, from Thanksgiving in Canada and this time of the year is always particularly delicious for me.
There is much gratitude and I insist that we express it, for the life we have created, the family nearby, the fulfilling work, and for health. And this year, there is also humble and bone-deep gratitude for this privilege we enjoy, as it is not so everywhere. We don’t fear sprays of gunfire, we don’t fear police, and we are treated fairly as we go about our business. My home is still standing and solid, and I am not living in the aftermath of a storm. In my neighbourhood, little kids are trusted to walk to school alone, and without exception, seem to arrive there safely.
As it was stated so beautifully and achingly to me in Texas earlier this year, “I am not free unless we are all free,” I am grateful but with the knowledge that it is not something I feel I can claim if it is not true for all of us.
From the work I do with clients, I know that this is all true, that much of our worlds is deeply unsettled and chaotic and hurtful, and that in our smaller and immediate worlds, our homes and our relationships, it is not. There is stress, there is disconnect. There is a quiet whisper, like a mouse in the wall, of separateness, and it threatens divorce and destruction. There is disappointment and wounds and a whole lot of hard.
On the very-real home front, we are heading into one of the most stressful periods of the year; winter and more time indoors, holidays and stress and expectations bearing down on us, grief that will surface for loved ones lost who are not there for turkey and these gifts and celebrations and on the front of our world home, it’s the same, but much bigger. This year, we have seen political…mayhem (to say the least), tropical storms, marches with torches, mass shootings, untimely deaths and all manner of disasters. All of this? Takes a huge toll on our relationships. It just does.
I wish I did, but I don’t have a cut-and-dried answer to deal with it all and make it better. Sorry about that. I am seeking answers from my own advisors and mentors and I take it to my meditation mat every single day.
For now, what I know is this:
We must be gentle with ourselves and our relationships.
We must not be lazy with how we care.
We must communicate, and clearly, just as importantly about worries we have about the world, as to how the celebrations and gatherings of winter will look this year.
We must take steps and have impact.
We must rest like our lives depend on it.
We must be grateful.
We must act in ways that help us to feel how we desire to feel.
We must not be complacent.
We must define Home for ourselves and find refuge in whatever that is.
We must be brave in the conversations we have.
We must love fiercely and inclusively.
We must stop to see the light coming differently in the windows and notice the flannels sheets. We must marvel at life and agree to stay with it.
We must ask for support*.
*And that might mean calling someone like me into your conversations. No, I don’t have the answers, but witnessing and asking questions are the magic ingredients in finding a shift and being on purpose in a whirl of confusion.
I invite you to embrace gratitude and take the list above as a survival credo to get through the fall and whatever it may bring.