Home is where the heart is.

This is turning out to be the year of the move. So many people are making changes to their living situations: moving in; moving out; changing cities; downsizing; buying, renting, renovating; moving closer to family; moving farther away from family. Every possibility you can imagine-wonderful and exciting; messy and disruptive all at the same time.

Because moving is common place we tend to take it for granted.  But moving involves changing homes and homes of course are more than shelters- they represent at some level our roots and the place we can be who we are. Regardless of what happens in our outside world, home (ideally) represents stability of some kind, a sameness that is reassuring. In contrast, moving uproots us, encompassing a beginning and an ending replete with anticipation and consternation.

No matter how many times you do it, moving can leave us feeling at loose ends until we have lived in a place for a while and created a space that reflects something of who we are and what we value. Look at a home with books everywhere or music playing and that will tell you something about the person who lives there.  Our home matters because- and there is some evidence to support this assertion- our physical environment affects how we feel and manage our lives.

I know my surroundings matter to me. After I graduated from university, I rented a lovely apartment but I had my heart set on travel abroad. I squirrelled away as much money as I could, reluctant to invest much beyond the basics in my place in order to build my travel fund. But my apartment had a temporary feel to it. It was where I stayed rather than where I lived. A wise person at the time pointed this out to me and encouraged me to create a place that was home (on a budget) and could be an anchor until I moved on. It was sage advice.

There is a risk in idealizing home, a concept layered with so many issues. Sometimes our memories of home and what it represents are mixed or may not be positive; but surely, somewhere deep within all of us, there a longing to be in a place where we are safe and comfortable and where we want to return. Even a student living in temporary lodging in the student ghetto or those of us who are nomads at heart, want to be rooted somewhere; to have a place that remains unchanged and to which we are connected.  When we inhabit the place that we truly call home, moving can be a challenge, even when the move represents something better.

We all deserve a place to live that we love. And time is well spent in thinking about how to do that. The Danes know a thing or two about creating a warm inviting home. They talk about homes as hygge headquarters.  Hygge is the Danish word for living well.* Here are some of the ways Danes experience hygge in their living spaces:

  • A room or small space where you can snuggle up with a blanket, book, or cup of tea.
  • A fireplace
  • Candles
  • Things made out of wood
  • Something of nature inside
  • Books
  • Ceramics- a cup or vase for example
  • Blankets and cushions- perfect for a comfortable chair

Home is our base- a metaphor for how we live our life. In one way or another we are all trying to get home and many of us are walking each other home. No matter how many times you are moving in or moving out, make your living space the place you want to come home to.

*Wiking, Meik. (2016). The Little Book of Hygge. The Danish Way to Live Well. Penquin Random House.

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