How Do You "Home on-the-Go?"
“It's very hard for me when that sense of home is always being overturned, or we are living out of other people’s spaces. I feel stupid writing about this reality for me when I know of the poverty much of the world still manages to make a home in.”
It wasn’t until I was older when I realized that most of the world doesn’t define home like me.
I have a children’s book called Home by Carson Ellis. It has beautiful pictures of all kinds of homes in it: huts, houses, shells, igloos, wigwams, beehives, clean homes, messy homes, and even a bus-home. My sister gave the picture book to my one-year-old daughter because we are currently living in a bus-home in the USA, while we aren’t in our host country. I love how this children’s book illustrates all the different types of homes that people and creatures can live in on this earth.
This book is a cute illustration of the reality that many people live differently than us. There are, of course, tall homes and short homes -- but more than that, there are people all over the globe who make a home in less-than-ideal places and spaces. They make homes in jungles and deserts. They make homes in refugee camps, foster homes, or on the streets. They make homes in tents or trash dumps.
I have lived in many places, most of them houses—some smaller than others. Most of my childhood homes were brick houses in different neighborhoods. Most had both a living room and a family room. Honestly, I would be embarrassed to explain the difference between a living room and a family room to my best friend in my host country that lives in a one-room house without a kitchen and bathroom and barely any room for a bed.
Since childhood, I have lived in a tiny apartment in California, bunked in a house full of girls in Australia, stayed in a small cottage on a farm in Illinois, lived in a hotel in Malawi, lived in my grandmother’s log cabin in the mountains, moved back in with my parents before I got married, lived in a Chinese-constructed house in Ethiopia (which had lots of plumbing and electrical problems), and we are now living in an old school bus. In-between all of these places I called home, there have been lots of couches and guest rooms, lots of flights and car rides, and lots of not knowing where the next home would be.
Even after knowing how much of the world makes a home in less-than-ideal circumstances, and seeing it first hand through my time in the developing world, I've still found myself complaining a lot during the last few months about my home. It's very hard for me when that sense of home is always being overturned, or we are living out of other people’s spaces. I feel stupid writing about this reality for me when I know of the poverty much of the world still manages to make a home in. I have no idea how many times I have talked to friends about “being unsettled,” even though I have a safe place to rest my head, a clean bathroom to take a hot shower, and even an oven to bake cookies.
That being said, having seen how much of the world lives and how people define “home,” I have been challenged to push myself to find home even when my sense of home has been turned upside down. Women and men around the globe have managed to find “home” under hard, unsettling circumstances and I can too! The question I've found myself asking over the past few months, as the transitions seem to be endless, is how can I make a home wherever I am? And how can I help my family feel settled even when I am on-the-go?
I had to get back to the basics and ask myself a simple question: how would our family define "home", if it is not a structure or one particular location? This answer will be different for each one of us. For me, home is family and memories. Home is a cup of tea and yoga. Home is time to write and read. Home is knowing who I am. Home is being able to cook. Home is playing with my toddler and talking with my husband. Home is not a particular place—just any place where I can do at least some of these things.
I started making sure I have a few things with me at all times to remind me of “home”: my computer to write, tea bags to brew, a yoga mat to stretch, my toddler’s portable crib, a Kindle filled with books. But more than the things I bring with me, I want a mindset of choosing to find “home on-the-go”. It is a mindset to settle and find peace in the craziness. It is a mindset to calm my fears of the unknown and focus on the blessings of now. It is a choice to breathe deeply and sit in a corner chair, even though I might not be in my corner chair.
I know that most of the readers of this blog are professionals at transitions and the unknown, so how do you create a home on-the-go? What things do you bring with you to remind you of home? What mindsets do you go back to when you are feeling out of control from all of the transitions and have lost your sense of home?