“Home is where I want to be
but I guess I am already there
I come home you lifted up your wings
I guess this must be the place”
If you have been reading my blog these past five months you know that I have not felt at “home” in my life. Oh no, I have been lost, confused, lonely, and really scared. I listened to my intuition to quit my private therapy practice to step into the abyss having no idea where I was going to land. Let me tell you, there were many nights where I was cursing and yelling at my intuition for leading me into a forest where I saw no clear direction on how to get out. But with time, patience, and support from my friends and family and quite honestly doing my own “work” I am starting to find my home.
What I mean by “work,” is going inside to really look at the people and situations that trigger you. Then noticing how these triggers holds you back from being yourself and finding your authentic voice. Doing work involves looking deep into your fears and asking yourself questions like why am I afraid to be myself? What is inhibiting me from following my passions in life? Where am I hiding in order to stay safe? What am I not saying or doing because I am afraid that I will not be liked or loved? Let me tell you diving into this inquiry process is no party. But by looking deeper inside you learn how to heal past wounds that may be yours or from your family of origin, you choose to not infect all your toxic stuff upon all those who you love, and you will step into being more clear, grounded, and at ease. When you do your work and become a witness to how your mind, actions, and behaviors are affecting your life you will discover that the comforts of home are all inside of you.
Knowing this life lesson, I did my “work,” I wrote, I went to therapy, I prayed, I attended spiritual gatherings, I went to mass, I cried and was quiet, really quiet, in order to take time to be in this uncomfortable ambiguous place. Anyone who knows me knows this was torture because I love to stay busy, but I needed to stop and really listen. I needed to feel everything that was going on in my body, mind, and spirit in order to authentically step into my next adventure. And what I heard and witnessed was a voice saying, “Go back home, and return to the place that you know to be true to your heart.” It was this voice that led me to travel last week to San Francisco.
San Francisco was a place I called home from 1999-2006. I moved to this city by the bay with my Italian boyfriend thinking I was going to live there for only three months; it was supposed to be a shortstop between leaving Barcelona and moving to Paris but ended up becoming my home for eight wonderful years. A home where my personal and professional life took as many twists and turns as the famously crooked Lombard Street. It was a time in my life where my heart got dramatically broken but also where I magically met and married my husband and had my first child. Even though my life was twisting and turning unbeknownst to me it was heading in the right direction.
Last week I was reminded of all these life-changing memories as I ran along the San Francisco Bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge. David Byrne words rang in my ears “I come home you lifted up your wings,” because San Francisco is a place that I like to call one of my “soul homes.” We all have these places in the world that we call our “soul homes.” It does not matter if you spend every summer there as I do in Okoboji, Iowa, visit once as I did with India, or come one or two times a year as I do with San Francisco they are your “soul homes” because the moment you land on their soil inside you have a feeling inside of comfort, peace, excitement, and being fully alive. It is not necessarily the location, but that these places are a reflection of everything you are and what you love in this world.
San Francisco is not only one of my “soul homes” from a landscape perspective, but also but also from a career standpoint. I found myself reflecting back over my career and remembering where it all began. It was the year 2000 and I was a third-grade teacher. One of my students came in from recess crying and I had to ask myself this question, “Do I take care of the one student who is emotionally upset? Or do I address the other 22 students who are waiting to take a math test?” It was in this question that I saw there was a gap in our education system; teachers and students need time and a set of tools to help with their emotional needs.
At that moment I realized that children had ample amounts of time in school to learn about reading and writing but very little time to learn how to deal with the complexity of their emotional world. I saw that my students did not have a place to land when their hearts were hurting, their lives felt confusing, their feelings were being hurt, or they felt excluded. These children needed resources for the times they discovered their parents were getting a divorce or were struggling with their sexuality. And teachers needed all of these resources and tool-kits as well. In this 10-second moment, I clearly saw this lack in our education system and knew I was the person to fix it.
So I went to graduate school, got a masters in counseling psychology, wrote and developed a social-emotional curriculum (originally called Girl Space, now called Flourish), and opened my doors with an after-school program for children. I did not have my MBA or any finance experience and I only had one months salary, so I turned one of my rooms in my apartment into a place where kids could come once a week and learn how to talk about their feelings with acceptance. A space to stand up about their lives with courage knowing they would never be judged. I remember one girl saying, “Flourish is the place I can be weird, the place I can be myself.” We did it all with art, cooking, yoga, meditation, volunteer projects and a lot of love. I ran this program for several years both in San Francisco and in Bend until other life experiences arose.
Everything from starting a private practice, publishing two books, and running retreats around the world to having another child, supporting my husband’s start-up business and burying my father. But now 18 years later I find myself back in San Francisco coming home to a place where my heart really lives with education, mental health, children, and families. I came back to the Bay Area to share with schools the SEL Flourish curriculum that is now a teacher led-program, in hopes that they will adopt this program into their schools.
I found myself excitedly sharing how Flourish allows children a space to express their emotional world so they do not have to carry it around in their bodies. My body was buzzing talking to school counselors and the heads of schools about how Flourish will support their children’s internal worlds so that they can healthily go out to the external world with more clarity, self-acceptance, compassion, and resiliency. And truly knowing that when their teachers and class gather in a circle and talk about their emotions without shame and with creativity, laughter, and love I am helping solve the problem I discovered 15 years ago. I was home!
I now ask you to ponder this week about your personal and professional “soul homes.”
Where are the places you land, even though you may have never lived there and you feel at home? What is about these places that fill your soul and can you find these feeling in your backyard as well? Where are the places you put your time and energy in order to feed your soul?
Then try asking yourself, where do I feel at home in my career? Am I putting my time and energy into my passions to make money? What do I really love to do? Who do I want to surround myself with in my career?
And then go deeper into your truth and face your fears by asking yourself, why am I afraid to be myself? What is inhibiting me from following my passions in life? What am I not saying or doing because I am afraid I will not be liked or loved?
Then I encourage you to grab a journal, a piece of paper or napkin and write these things down for yourself. Write down your answers without feeling afraid or hiding from your truth. Begin to make your answers a part of your fabric of life. Allow yourself to travel to the places that fill you up and do the things in your life that you know are your passions so that you live in a space of your authentic self and not in a place listening to the voices of the “shoulds” of life. I am giving you permission and encouragement to go deeper into your life to discover more of yourself because when we put our physical, mental and emotional energy behind our soul we feel more at peace and at home. We are kinder to others and yourself and quite simply happier and more fulfilled.
I spent five months not feeling at home in anything in my life. But I did my “work” and went back to my intuition and asked the hard questions and what I heard and witnessed was a voice saying, “Home is where I want to be but I guess I am already there I come home you lifted up your wings I guess this must be the place.” I discovered after this challenging time that my home is with Flourish, my home is with children, teachers, and schools helping them uncover and accept their emotions in order to always know where to go to discover their own homes; their hearts, their emotions, their creativity, their intuition, their tribes of friends an family and most importantly themselves. I learned through deep curiosity and courage that Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and I are kindred spirits in that we both resonate from knowing, “if ever I go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than looking in my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”