Finding my Balance: My Changing Concept of ‘Home’

Home to me is the sensation of peace on a Sunday morning; the sound of the cathedral bells tolling for morning service; the comforting memory of my mum’s bangles jingling on her wrists; the raucous sound of my brothers running up and down the stairs; my dad elegantly playing the piano and then pausing to slowly pace across the wooden floorboards in the wake of a new idea.

The word ‘home’ can mean any number of things to a person. One of the first questions we ask people when we first meet them is ‘Where do you live?’, or ‘Where do you come from?’ Home is our conception of self, the foundation of our identity. Feeling like you have an origin is an essential part of human nature. We are lone wolves, but we will always be part of a pack.

At five am this morning, I woke up contemplating the Western definition of ‘home’. We associate home with comfort, stability, the familiar. But what if home can be the new and unfamiliar?

Before I moved away, home was a place almost too comfortable to motivate me to make a change. Feeling grounded did little to shake off my feelings of despondency. But what if home is meant to be somewhere that challenges you, somewhere that makes you feel unsafe in order to hurl you out into the unknown? What if home can be mobile, transient, ever-changing?

Over time, we cultivate our lives in many different homes. We shed one shell and adopt another.

It’s been three weeks since I moved to Berlin and already my concept of home has changed. I have found home in myself: my passions, my interests, my own company. Home is still a sanctuary, but it has been constructed out of my own being. Home is no longer a physical place, but a concept.

Home is a place to be content, even if you are far away from those you love. Home for me is where I spend time alone, cultivate ideas, immerse myself in culture, literature, the things I love; learn to speak to myself more kindly, reward myself for small personal triumphs. For now, home is within myself and it’s a powerful feeling.

Home doesn’t just have to be with the familiar. Establishing home in yourself actually involves wading through tides of the unfamiliar. It’s surprising how much we conceal from ourselves.

Making home within yourself involves opening the floodgates to emotion. One cannot know oneself without first knowing how to feel.

Home can be any number of places, but it’s comforts are defined by simple, blissful moments that remind you of where you belong. It is in your own concept of home where the fragments of your life are unified. You will leave parts of you in different places and with different people, but home reminds you of what is absolutely true and integral to your life and character.

Home is the place where my facades are shed. I am entirely myself. Imperfect, flawed, but me.

Home is substantial, safe, secure. Places are home. People are home. You, your mind, your body, is home.

 

 

 

5 SIMPLE WAYS TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE

  1. KNOW YOUR LIMITS

This is something very few of us care to acknowledge. We like to think of ourselves as deadline-driven machines who can conquer any task in any given amount of time.

It’s important to realise your own individual capacity for concentration and honour it. If you feel your mind wandering from your computer screen an hour into your emails then TAKE A BREAK. Even if that means getting up from your desk, making a hot drink, even staring out of the window for a few minutes to refresh your mind. You’ll find that the time you spend not actually concentrating is improved by accepting that your mind doesn’t run on a timer.

2. MAKE A LIST OF PRIORITIES, NOT A TO-DO LIST

Lists are an important tool of productivity. I run my life on them. Ticking completed tasks off is a powerful source of validation of your efforts and helps you feel like you have things under control.

My advice would be not to constrain yourself to time. Of course, we all have deadlines that need to be met. But instead of writing a ‘To-do list’ that has a strict time schedule, make a list of priorities in terms of importance. This will allow you to recognise which tasks need to be the most imminently completed without feeling overwhelmed. The aim is to feel like you have an abundance of time, not a lack of it.

3. WORK IN NATURAL LIGHT

Sleep disorders are epidemic and it’s partially to do with our lack of daylight during office hours. Scientists conclude that our circadian rhythms – our body’s internal clocks – are disrupted by our lack of exposure to daylight. Feeling that midday slump in the office? That will be why. Even if your access to natural light is limited by the plan of your workplace, then take time at lunch to go for a stroll. It will do wonders for your concentration.

4. CLEAN YOUR IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT

We don’t all have to be masters of Feng Shui to recognise that a tidy workspace makes for a tidy mind. Our minds are cluttered enough, without having our environment replicate it.

Not only does having a clean workspace keep you focused by limiting distractions, it keeps you more organised. Work on developing your own filing system and invest in some desk organisers. You’ll know where everything is, you’ll waste less time and you’ll be better able to keep on top of things.

5. DO SOMETHING ELSE

If you’re unable to concentrate on the immediate task in front of you, then take a short break that sets your mind on something else. The aim is to keep moving. Keep your brain ticking by reading, going for a walk or cooking. Something that keeps your mind and body on its toes, but that allows you to rest from your original activity.

A Short Anecdote

This morning was miserable. I was feeling particularly sorry for myself as I stood on the platform, drenched and already drained of any fervour for the day ahead. While sat in the carriage, gazing drearily out the window, wishing the cyclist next to me would move the wheel of his bike unobtrusively from the side of my thigh, I overheard a conversation. A lady, who by the sounds of it had been the subject of infidelity by her husband, said ‘but you’ve got to laugh.’ She had to laugh to make light of the situation, to release herself, momentarily, from pain, to protect herself from the judging, yet kind, eyes of the spectator opposite her.

And this is why we laugh, I thought. We laugh to forget the cares of the world. We laugh to remind ourselves that we still live, and breathe, and hurt. We have a heart beating still, reverberating in our chests, beneath the layers of our paper skin.