I moved around a lot when I was a kid and I didn't have my own room till I was almost twelve. This isn't unusual for an immigrant family (we emigrated from Cuba in '59), but I managed to take that approach to my own home space well into my twenties and even thirties.
It was only when I embarked on the path of personal development that I started to notice that my home reflected a long-standing belief that home wasn't permanent so why bother making it my own. I wasn't planning on staying so why invest the energy in making it beautiful.
It's been a couple of decades since then and in the interim, I have learned how to create my own little nest in a way that feels welcoming and wonderful. Whether you've found your heaven on earth, or you're in transition and moving about, here are seven ways to make your space feel like ‘home sweet home.'
1. Create Your Inner Sanctum. Whether you're living alone, or with others, it's important to set up space just for you. If it's your bedroom, set it up in a way that comforts you: position the bed in your favorite way, get a yummy comforter and pillows, add a chair for reading, a meditation mat, music to match your mood, etc. Make sure that you've got a space to come to when the world gets shaky and you need fortification.
2. Downsize and Declutter. The less stuff you have, the freer you feel. Get rid of anything that you don't actively use. If it's in your closet (or cupboard) more than a year and unused, donate or dump it. If you've got so much furniture that you can't move, get rid of some. If you've got things sitting in boxes, open and sift thru them. Either put it away or pare down. Your living space should invoke a sense of spaciousness. Free up your physical world and it frees you up too. Less is more. (I'm down to minimal possessions since the 2013 House Fire. What a wonderful opportunity to wander or begin again.)
3. Add Scents to Your Home. Light scented candles, light incense, or diffuse essential oils. Experiment with scents that relax and center you. Your sense of smell is highly developed and studies show that scents have a variety of benefits: Lavender can help you sleep, cinnamon can sharpen your mind, peppermint boosts concentration, pine can alleviate stress, citrus can help you feel more energized, and jasmine can ease depression. Experiment and find the ones that support you most.
4. Display Your Treasures. Place things in your space that reflect your talents and treasures. Feature your favorite books in a reading nook, create a family tree on a wall with your favorite pictures, place a musical instrument in your creative corner and indulge in your passions. Your home should capture your essence, elicit it and be as unique as your thumbprint.
5. Accent with Plants. It's wonderful to have the energy of living things in your home. Plants are one of the easiest ways to bring the natural world into your home. If you don't have a green thumb no worries. Here are 5 plants you can't kill: bamboo, money tree, orchids, peace lily, and succulents (cactus). You can also buy flowers from your local market, once a week, to add a festive mood to your space.
6. Make more meals. Nothing says ‘home’ more than a good smelling kitchen and some comforting home made food. Visit your local market and get what's fresh. Try some new recipes. Make it easy and go for 3-ingredient dishes or ones that you can prepare in 15 minutes. Don't go crazy, make simple meals instead of ordering takeout. Making your own meals imbues the food with your energy. It's an essential self-care/self-love practice.
7. Find Your People. Community gives us a sense of home and belonging as much as a personal space does. Take a chance and say “Hi!” to people. Join a meetup group around one of your interests. Connect where you can. We all need a community of people in which we feel understood and supported.
In short, surround yourself with only things that give you joy. Remove everything in your space that doesn’t thrill you, and feature what you love. Developing a sense of home is as much an internal discovery as well as an external one. Being present and aware of your feelings and intuition will help guide you in the process.
Home is where you feel whole. Once you get what home is to you, you'll be able to access that sense of ease and openness no matter where you are. (Even if you're on the other side of the world!)
Welcome home, darling!
PS Ready to come home to your self?
A pair of lovers hold hands, a mother cradles her baby, two friends greet with a hug, these are everyday gestures that we usually take for granted. We touch those we care for, more or less depending on our culture, but touch is fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health. It is our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion.
We are born with the need to touch and be touched. If we are not cuddled as babies or children, we do not develop as well. Touch is the first sense we acquire and the last to go. It is the only one of our five senses which doesn't diminish with age. And in the absence of touching and being touched, we grow touch starved and sicken.
Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it always tells the truth.
~ Margaret Atwood
Touch signals safety and trust, it soothes and comforts. Touch stimulates the release of endorphins (the body's natural pain killers). It feels good to touch and be touched. It is our primary language for communication. And we're wired for it: There are approximately 5 million touch receptors in our skin, 3,000 in each fingertip.
In exploring the power of touch I discovered SO many studies, here are some of the wondrous findings:
No other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of loneliness. You cannot touch without being touched.
Research indicates that a regular dose of some type of touch lasting at least a few minutes each day is essential for your well being; 10 to 15 minutes is optimal. Here's how to regain fluency in your first language:
1. Hold Hands. In your relationship you probably did this a lot in the beginning. Spark it up again! Hold hands with your friends, children and grandchildren.
2. Get or Give a Massage. If you can't schedule a weekly message you can certainly partner up with a loved one or friend and gift this to one another. Massage the areas that carry tension, such as the neck, shoulders, and lower back. You can also do self message, but partner massage is yummier.
3. Engage in Hands On Movement.Whether it's ballroom dance, pilates or yoga, engage in a workout that involves human touch. There's plenty of touch in available in these three, as your instructor adjusts your posture and form. It also helps you ‘get it' more quickly than just verbal tips.
5. Hug Someone. Yes, this is the easiest. Whether it's part of your culture or not this is a delightful acquired habit. It's the quickest way to share your love, affection and joy.
6. Visit a Salon. Get your hair washed and blow dryed. Throw in a manicure and pedicure.
We’re wired, and we need, to connect with other people physically. To deny that is to deprive ourselves of some of life’s greatest joys and deepest comforts. Don't hold out now. Join the party!
PS Ready to dive into the deliciousness of self care?