Have you ever frequented a place where you instantly felt at home? Where your worries fell away and a cloak of peace draped your shoulders? Like you were exactly where you were meant to be? Maybe it’s a frame of mind, not a location. Maybe it’s a state of being. Maybe it’s a view or a song or a book.
Wherever and whatever it is, this moment in time quiets the chaos and gives you a glimpse into your soul.
I know people who find that place on a mountaintop or in the woods or at the beach. While I enjoy all those places, none gives me the sense of awe that I feel when I exit the 42nd Street subway station in Times Square. Or the sense of belonging as I sit outside a New York City cafe and sip my morning coffee. Or seeing the first glimpse of the city on approach from New Jersey, a sight I find as majestic as some find mountain vistas. The energy that seeps up from the streets fills me with the knowledge that this, right here, is where I am complete.
When I hear the opening piano notes of Billy Joel’s “Empire State of Mind,” I am transported through time and space to our frequent New York City visits and find my center.
Other places and situations that create a sense of home:
Being at my family reunion each year at Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky. This is my favorite weekend of the year. I’m blessed with an enormous, crazy, kind and laughing family that embraces even the oddest of us (that would be me). We always arrive on Friday night, and on Saturday morning, I take time alone to sit on the motel room porch and look at the mountains and feel like the little girl who ran up and down the holler.
Sitting around a campfire at night. This one probably shocks most people who know me, because I’m not quite the outdoorsy type (although I do enjoy walks through the woods during those few months when snakes are asleep). Smelling the firewood and watching the flames, enjoying great conversation or just the crackle of the fire, feeling the warmth emitting from the fire, while the cool air behind you pushes you in closer—that’s peaceful.
Watching 25 Days of Christmas on ABC Family with my mom. We both loved watching Christmas shows, because of the common themes of bad-turned-good or any variation on “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Sitting in the same room with her, just watching the show and listening to her chuckle every little bit, was home.
Running. This is when I’m most at home with me. With every footfall, every minute, every mile, I remember that I can do anything I set my mind to, that I am stronger because it hasn’t killed me, that I am living my life my way, that I’m moving out and down the street, that I’m hooked on the feeling I get when I achieve each mile. OK, I admit it. Those are references to my running playlist.
Attending stage performances. I love theater and everything about it. I always wanted to perform on stage, but I was never brave enough. So when I watch a show, I get lost in the character arc and the storyline and the set manipulation and the songs. For two hours, I can brush the world aside and just enjoy the hard work of talented people.
Sitting in a coffee shop writing. In recent months, I’ve been able to embrace this practice and it makes me feel like a real writer, because I actually end up writing, fueled by cups and cups and cups of coffee. If I write at home, I find a whole task list to prepare me to write, but before I know it, the day is gone and I’ve written nothing.
Listening to George Gershwin. George is my muse. That’s all I need to say.
The ways in which we find our peace are as plentiful and unique as we are. What’s important is to find ways to be grounded and joyful and peaceful and—well—to frequent our senses of home, whatever that means to each one of us, frequently.