Revisiting our past isn’t all about nostalgia — it’s about reclaiming parts of ourselves and remembering who we are
These days few adults have the opportunity to revisit their childhood homes — families move on, relocate and downsize. I’m not talking drive-bys. I mean walk the halls and sleep within the walls again, meander the gardens and daydream. But I do. And now more than ever, it feels like sacred connection — and it is within that sacred connection that gratitude oozes out from every corner, and along with it some new perspective.
All this COVID-19 messaging floating around in our social media feeds and on our various media outlets, even if well-intended, is landing on many as fear-inciting. But I’ve been thinking about the deeper meanings and possibilities within it all. In other words, how to use this time, not be used by it. Hey, there’s nothing like a little global pandemic that shuts the world down — to give us some space to ruminate on a few things.
Seize that opportunity within your own life. It is found between the quiet of our thoughts. It is where the soul emerges and whispers to us. Oh, hello old friend.
This is the house I grew up in; a beautiful home purchased in a new suburban development in Long Island — though it doesn’t really look like this any longer. Now, you can barely see the house from the streets. The trees have grown tall and mighty — and the bushes have filled in like a lush fortress guarding it all.
It was quite an idyllic place to grow up. Each house had a minimum of 2 children. It was a time when kids ran free, dropped schoolbooks and headed out to play in the dirt, on the lawns and in the streets until dinner time. No one knew where we were. No one was worried. Parents weren’t involved. They didn’t arrange playdates and track us on devices. But I digress…that’s what happens when we travel down memory lane.
My mother still lives in this house and each time I visit, I thank it. Each time it seems more significant. On a recent visit, as I crouched down in one of her flower gardens while weeding, I glanced up at the mighty trees above. We literally grew up together. We are a part of each other’s stories and roots. Just taking those moments to pause and be grateful, to say the words, “thank you,” filled me. And it was as if it opened a portal for me to see more.
Later that afternoon, I spotted a small boy across the street wearing a helmet bigger than his whole body. He was being coached by his father how to ride his bike with his newly removed training wheels. As my Mom and I passed by on our walk, he paused and looked up at us. I told him, “Don’t worry. That is a magical street you are on. It is where I learned to ride my bike too. I bet by the time I get back from my walk, you’ll have it down pat.” He smiled nervously, not so sure.
Point being, when we allow ourselves to feel, to remember, to connect — to our stories, our experiences and our memories — we open the floodgates. More arrives. More reminds us of who we were, what we once dreamed and perhaps even what we still long for.
If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know I love a life dancing in metaphors. Because when we search for the deeper meaning of our life events we feed our curiosity, whimsy and wonder — and from that we birth our inspiration and empower ourselves.
During this unprecedented pause in our lives, we are being availed of the space to reconnect to the deepest parts of ourselves that may have been neglected, ignored or denied. And yes, some of what emerges may not be easy to see initially. It is a moment to be honest with ourselves and to see the truth of what we are doing, seeing, feeling, being…and who we are doing it all with.
We tell ourselves stories all the time. Sometimes we are pulling the wool over our eyes so we don’t see the things we don’t want to see. But we can shift.
Growing up, I became acutely aware that we didn’t have what everyone else in my neighborhood seemed to have. Translation: My mother was one of the only mothers I knew who went to work, we didn’t have landscapers (we were the resident landscapers) and we didn’t go on lavish vacations or get to go to fancy summer camps.
Somehow that got downloaded in my young psyche that we had ‘less’ and that defined us. But what defined us transcended all of the above. We had hard-working parents who taught us to value and take care of all that we had. They were sentimental, heart-centered and created deep traditions that left imprints upon each of us. Family. Connection. Holidays. Celebrations. They planted deep-rooted seeds of bonding.
And even today, now with our own families, we are still homing pigeons who wouldn’t consider missing a Christmas together. We wouldn’t consider not showing up for each other in times of need. And there have been dark days, times when I even moved back to that house to be embraced by its love, the love my parents nurtured it with. I sought it’s refuge.
When I visit my childhood home today, I recognize that it is like visiting hallowed ground. I see the privilege I had, not what I didn’t have. (That’s the problem with privilege — it’s a privilege, not to see the privilege.) I feel my lineage — the descendants that came before me. I think of the legacy I’m living built upon the foundation of their labor and love. I see the bricks I’ve contributed to it as well.
Most of all I feel the deep connection to the pieces, parts and chapters of my life. I remember the girl with the pink shag carpeting, the canopy bed and the big dreams. I remember her spirit and excitement for life. And I thank her for reminding me that she’s still here.
All roads lead to home — to the childhood hopes and visions that still pump through your veins. Breathe them back in. Allow them to unfold and reveal themselves. Embrace gratitude and welcome perspective. It’s a gamechanger. There is healing within remembering.
What have you forgotten about yourself and your truest essence? If you could go home again, what would you see? I’ve been able to visit this house throughout the years, but something is different about it all right now — because something is different about me.
Where I once saw lack, I have filled it with gratitude. I believe homes have souls too. So I’m going to keep loving on that house, those trees, those memories for as long as I can.
Consider taking a break from the news, the fear, the ‘what ifs’ and simply shifting to the things that make you feel a part of something rather than disconnected. Remember, there’s no place like home. It’s where you will reconnect with your Best Self.
Is there a part of yourself reaching forward to be reclaimed? Have you felt things stirring up with you this time of disruption? Please share in the comments below, where we hold each other’s hands through this human experience…