Where Do You Go?

For me, there is something captivating, even comforting about migration.  Even though my life on the ground may have changed over the year – I’ve lost loved ones, my father is in palliative care – in the spring, the birds return.  And while it does not make the losses easier, there is a serene kind of solace found in the predictable beauty of the cycles of nature.

Depending on the conditions of their geographical location, some Golden Eagles migrate, and some do not.
Depending on the conditions of their geographical location, some Golden Eagles migrate, and some do not.

The arrival of the migrating animals after their long journey exemplifies courage, and life’s triumph over adversity.   We look up and welcome the geese, not only as a sign of the changing seasons and spring’s renewal, but simultaneously as a symbol of perseverance, and life’s constancy.

A family of geese

That’s the thing about migration – it heralds change, but also continuity.  It is a process that transcends our existence here on earth: Migration was here before us, and continues without us. Just like when children grow, they make us more aware of the passage of time, migrations orient us to the seasons of life and create a sense of connection between the passing years.

There is something so worthwhile, so healthy about pausing, and remembering the processes in nature that transcend our own lifespans

Alicia and Neil’s Photography

Migration also reminds us of unseen bonds that connect us to other parts of the planet. We share something beyond ourselves; We share a living species that calls both of our lands home.

“Where Is Your Home, Restless Wings?”

In the modern era, it is harder for us to grasp the magic of migration.  We have developed the remarkable technology to connect with almost anyone, anywhere, instantly, but in so doing may be forgetting a time in recent history when distant lands were still mysterious, and the world felt much bigger.  Less than a century ago, simply receiving a letter from a different part of the world was an exciting event.  In some ways, migrating animals are like living, timeless emblems from distant lands; messengers reminding us of an intricate connection with people we will never meet, and places we might never see.

Reader Julia shared this picture of a beautiful Monarch, know for its epic migration.
Reader Julia shared this picture of a beautiful Monarch, known for its epic migration.

And just as I finished writing these reflections, the world outside my window was transformed over night by a fluffy snowfall, and the words on this post are now a farewell to fall.

How wonderful that the timeless truths of nature are right at our doorstep, and the simple act of stepping outside and looking at the sky can help us find comfort and perspective in our modern, everyday lives.

Mountain blue bird ANP
A beautiful Mountain Blue Bird:  Alicia and Neil’s Photography

Unless otherwise indicated, all of today’s photos are from Alicia and Neil’s Photography.

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Last winter, I heard this song for the first time.  This song may have helped inspire this post.  I have to add that I love this band, and they seem to share my poetic obsession with birds.

Would you like to learn more?  Here are some links to organizations that are working hard to preserve habitat so that life on earth can stay diverse, and migrating animals can persevere.  Every bit we do helps, and these organizations are making a real difference.

World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund International

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Sign a petition to protect Caribou habitat or  Learn more about CPAWS

Thank you for stopping by!

Shelter That You Take With You.

Post by Carina Spring.

Recently, my eldest brother scanned big boxes full of old family pictures and shared the files with us.  It was a labour of love for him, taking hours and hours of work.  I was so grateful he’d done it, as those pictures are part of our family history.  It was amazing to see all of these captured moments in places that have represented home not only to us, but also to some of our ancestors. And what really struck me was how much it is the people and the love that make home; the rich, shifting tapestry of relationships that accompany us through life.

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map.  It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together.  Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”

Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye?

A Place That Feels Like Home.

This picture is courtesy of Alicia and Neil’s Photography.

Have you ever arrived at a new place, a place that felt so familiar, or so right for you, that it instantly felt like home?

The Seasons, Reasons, and Geography in Our Lives.

When I was about 9 years old, I saw the mountains for the first time. We were driving in the car.  Suddenly the distant gray shapes became benevolent giants, covered in evergreens, towering over us.  Looking out the window at that moment, I felt I was home, and that sensation has never left me. Until my late teens, I lived close to the Rockies and spent many happy camping trips enjoying their magic.

Life led me in a different direction, though, and I have lived most of my adult life on the prairies. When I moved away from Alberta years ago, there was a part of me that assumed I would somehow end up back there.  In reality, though, one practical decision after the next, I now lead a happy life far away from the mountains.

I took a day trip out to the Rockies, a few summers ago, while visiting family.  Although a lot had changed, I got the same sensation when I saw them.  The thiness of the air, the joy of climbing up a path, lumpy roots under my feet. The sounds, the colours.  Everything about that geography felt like home, like I was built for it.

On our car ride back, I realized that I’d forgotten my sweater in one of the hiking paths. I had to laugh. I never lose sweaters.  Never! I had to leave the mountains, but my lucky sweater stayed behind. I hoped no one would find it,  so it would decompose and become part of the soil; it’s threads intertwined eventually with the roots and flowers.  Maybe a bird would use pieces of it for her nest.  These silly ideas made me smile, as I watched the familiar shapes, contrasted against bright storm clouds, growing smaller in the rear window.

In the end, I love my current home in a prairie city.  This region offers its own delights: a summer swim in refreshing lake waters, the animated skies reaching from horizon to horizon, the swaying fields changing shades with the wind and light. I love my quality of life here, too, and am thankful for all it gives me. I wouldn’t want to move away, certainly not at this point in my life.

When we are on a path that is followed by choosing what feels right as life unfolds, there is a wisdom in knowing how to derive happiness from the route on which we find ourselves. Our experiences sculpt our understanding of life, and lead us down the roads we need to travel.

I spent years living near the mountains, and it fed something deep in my imagination.  The geography in the mountains expressed the poetry in my spirit, and now my spirit expresses the poetry of my experiences.  In the end, for me, the answer lies in the art of accepting with grace the different chapters in life, and not resenting their end.

Still, I will always love the mountains.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” ~Socrates

How about you?  Is there a place that you have visited or lived in that felt like home, right from the first time you saw it?  Maybe it’s a city, maybe it’s a greographical region?  Dive in if you’ve any thoughts to share on this topic!

 

Series: Can A Song Connect You to Home? Today: Chuck Mangione

The picture above was used with permission: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

Do You Have A Special Song?

“What song makes you think of home? It doesn’t have to literally be about home. Just a song that somehow embodies the concept for you, or makes you feel at home in some way”.

Just for fun, since we are in February, the month of Valentine’s Day, I decided to ask one of my best friends the question above.

We’ve been friends since university.  She is smart, hilarious, and looks remarkably like Audrey Hepburn.  Lucky her!

This was her decisive answer:

“Feels So Good, by Chuck Mangione”.

This instrumental piece reminds my friend of her childhood on the Canadian west coast in Vancouver. It conjures that feeling she loves of experiencing nature in a lively urban setting, and images of the beach, the ocean and the mountains.

“To me, home is more than just being in a house. I feel at home when I am outdoors, in nature.”

What do you think?  Is there a song that connects you to home?  Feel free to leave a comment.

Enjoy!

BTW…

My friend didn’t yet know about my blog when I asked her the above question, so I had to smile when I thought about my own answer from December 1st:

http://www.homehurrah.com/?p=93 )

No wonder we’ve been friends for so long.

Travel, Moving, and Finding Meaning: a TED Talk by Pico Iyer

The Age of Movement

Image used with permission: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

Click on the link at the bottom of the post to listen to today’s TED Talk:

“More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer — who himself has three or four “origins” — meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.”

Changing our surroundings is a way of waking ourselves up.  The longing to travel is often fuelled by the desire to see the world and our lives through different eyes, and to change our perspectives.

Even more profound is the experience of moving.  If you have ever moved, you know how deeply it can affect your view and understanding of the world, and of yourself.  A small move within the same city can affect you, never mind a change of country or province.

In his TED Talk, Pico Iyers considers how living in the “Age of Movement” is transforming us, and suggests that “stillness” is the best way to find what travel and moving can teach us.

Finding Stillness and Meaning

At about the 9th minute of his TED Talk, Pico shares an experience he had in a retreat at a hermitage.

He talks about “retreat” and silence not as a lack of noise, but as the presence of peace: an experience that helps us to rediscover who we are, and make meaning of all the movement in our lives.

His description makes me long for that kind of stillness and solitude – and maybe some day I will spend a few days at a hermitage on a beautiful mountain!  In the meantime, though, scheduling that kind of retreat is pretty hard for most of us.  It got me thinking: is there a way to create  intentional “retreat”  in our regular lives, at home? 

Rebooting:  Retreat in Our Regular Lives

In his Talk, Pico encourages us to find simple ways of intentionally incorporating “retreat” into our “every-day” lives.  While this probably means something different for each of us, here are some suggestions of ways to build more “retreat” into our lives:

Yoga. For several years, I used to practice yoga and meditation.  The focused breathing on the pose is one thing that approaches the experience Pico describes.  I find it hard to make the time to do this lately, but perhaps I need to start again.

Meditation.  Even if you don’t have time to do yoga, a couple of minutes of regular meditation can bring much needed stillness into our lives.  I will provide an in depth post on this interesting topic soon. There are also many books on the subject. For beginners, the key is to focus on the breath for a minute or two.  Just breathe easy, and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.

Walking.  Walking has benefits similar to a retreat.   When you are mindful of nature surrounding you – yes, even urban outdoor settings are part of nature –  you heighten the benefits.  If you can occasionally include an outing to a park or out of town,  all the better! Yesterday, my mom and I drove out of town, and took a  brisk one hour hike in the cold (- 27c), sunny day.  When I was done, I felt like a new person.  To sum up: a good hike is amazing!

Nature.  Related to the point above is the simple act of connecting with nature.  Whether you can go to a park at lunch break, work on your garden, bike ride around your neighbourhood, sit in your back yard, or go on a camping trip, being outside and interacting with nature reconnects you and is a type of “retreat”. In our first six years of marriage, my husband and I lived in an apartment on the 10th floor. In the summer, spring, and fall, we would sit out there watching the birds and world go by. It was wonderful to watch the distant trees sprout buds, turn green, and eventually orange, all from up above.

These kind of activities may not be the same as going on a solitary retreat, where you can walk and think and meditate for three days straight without the interruptions of daily life.  However, they are activities that are accessible, inexpensive, and can help us reconnect with ourselves on a regular basis.

Do you have ideas on how to find stillness and peace in your life?  Have you ever gone an a retreat?  What was the experience like?

Click below:

A Song Called Home.

“Well, Sometimes Home Is a Person.”

~ Beth Revis, A Million Suns.

 

Today’s song, “Home”, by the indie band Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, reminded me of the above quote.  It’s a fun song (a bit strange at parts, but maybe there is a story behind falling out of the window?),  with a cute little video featuring the large, exuberant band (Currently at 10 members).  My husband recently heard this song included in a playlist, and thought I might want to share it on my blog. He was right, and it’s really worth a listen.

Sometimes, home is a person.  Enjoy!

homehurrah.com

 Home, Life, and Living.

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Series: Can a Song Connect You With Home? Today: The Wailin’ Jennys

The picture above was used with permission: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

Do You Have A Special Song?

“What song makes you think of home? It doesn’t have to literally be about home. Just a song that somehow embodies the concept for you, or makes you feel at home in some way”.

In this series, I am asking the above question. The idea of home is complex, and there are many ways to define it, and connect with it.  Sometimes, a certain song expresses this connection  for us.

Today, I want to share one of several songs that does this for me. The lyrics of this melody describe how I see the world at my best moments; when I am authentic and at home with who I am.  It also expresses a connection and oneness with nature – the change of the seasons and the beauty of life – that feel like home to me.

As the poet Gary Snyder said, “Nature is not a place to visit. It is home. ”

Here it is:

The Bird Song, by the remarkably talented Wailin’ Jennys.

 

Thanks for visiting homehurrah.com and I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

If there is a song that answers the above question for you, leave a comment with the name of the song and I will see if I can include it in a future post!

homehurrah.com

Home, Life, and Living.

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We All Long For Home, Whatever It May Be.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

~ Maya Angelou

We each have our own idea of what home means, what or who we associate with it, and where it can be found. Some of us have arrived home already, some of us have left it behind, some us are still seeking to define it – to understand what it means to us. Home can be a changing reality that leaves a permanent imprint in our souls as we journey through life. All of us long to find a home: it may be a place, a person, a vocation, a theology. There is no right or wrong definition of home. It’s an exploration that, like all of the deepest truths in life; you know when you’ve truly found it.

Homehurrah.com is all about this quest. It is a place where we think about home in all its facets: what home is, how the idea of home is expressed, and how our activities at home improve our lives. I am fascinated by this topic, and look forward to sharing this venture with you.

homehurrah.com

Home, Life, and Living.

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Hope you feel at home here – you are always welcome!  Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com, and I can’t wait to share my next post with you!