Returning Home

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in Happiness

Aaaahhhhh.

The sigh captured my feelings more exquisitely than words.

My body sank into familiar softness, reveling in the feeling of being held in just the right way. Cradled in warmth and enveloped by the smell of my laundry soap, I had found bliss.

I was home. In my own bed.

There is nothing quite like the comfort of one’s own bed, especially after having been gone for a while.

As you may have guessed by now, I have been on vacation the past few weeks, enjoying the company of family in southern Germany and eating my way through numerous delectable pastries.

Although I relish these trips, coming home is always sweet. I rediscover joy in the smallest of familiar things – like being able to use a keyboard where the letters are all where I expect to find them, the taste of the water from my faucet, and driving where I actually understand the traffic signs.

Home.

Yet, my home is slightly different than it was before I left.

I am not speaking of my physical home; rather, I am speaking of the home I carry with me wherever I go. Me. I am different each time I travel and go outside the boundaries of my normal life.

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. ~ Miriam Beard

At home, it is easy to get so caught up in the must-does and the should-does that we are blinded to what is and to what might be. Travel – no matter how far – allows us to step outside of our everyday lives and to see things with new eyes.

Travel replenishes the well of possibility.

My trip was not one of action-packed adventure. I don’t have any exciting “you will never guess what happened” stories. Rather, I just found space to “be” and to enjoy. I didn’t think about much of anything but spent most of my time just noticing.

Noticing how I felt. Noticing what piqued my curiosity. Noticing what delighted me.

Like:

  • Almost anything tastes better when you use real whip cream.
  • How the vibrant colors of the landscape were so different from those at home.
  • Daily meals can be transformed into rituals of beauty and community by using fine china and candles.
  • Lives and livelihoods do not necessarily need to be separated – just ask the many craftspeople and shopkeepers who live above their places of business.
  • The power of place can turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one – for example, taking in a symphony in centuries old ruin on top of hill.
  • Work-life balance seems to be a priority as many shops close early enough to allow workers time at home with their families (and some even continue the tradition of closing at mid-day for a few hours to allow a healthy mid-day break).
  • Mothers are entitled to three years off for the birth of a child.
  • Enjoying down-time in nature appears to be important – whether that is dining alfresco, wandering through the Alps or sitting calmly by the shores of a lake with a glass of wine.

These noticings – although not earth-shattering – prompt me to wonder. To ask questions. To look at how or what I might want to change in my life at home. To consider possibilities I might not have before.

You don’t have to travel far to enjoy this same experience.  You can enjoy the benefits of travel without ever leaving home if only you take the time to notice what you do, how you do it, and why. Granted, it’s not quite as fun as a trip to Paris, but it will do in a pinch.

Take a trip. Look at your life as if you were seeing it for the first time, through the eyes of a tourist. What would you observe? What would seem strange? Fantastic? Utterly remarkable? Non-sensical?

Then return home to the sweet familiar with joy, perspective, and untold possibility.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronna October 3, 2011 at

I, for one, am SO glad you are home – and home with new perspectives and new possibilities. Intriguing, to be sure, to consider both “home” and “away from home” realities – wondering how we might bring the two closer together for a wholistic, generative, replenishing life all the time…not just on vacation.

More pastries and real whip cream seem like substantial steps forward!
Ronna recently posted..Wrestling with angels (and some of my own demons)

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Andrea Olson October 3, 2011 at

You know how I love a new perspective. :) Thank you, my friend. It’s good to be back and I’m ready to look at ways to weave the two realities together. Fun times ahead!!

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