No Place Like Home?

Most of us know the Wizard of Oz line and this scene by heart – Dorothy realizing that home was at the heart of it all, clicking her ruby slipper heels together and reciting “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!” One of the core lessons of the Wizard of Oz is that we often yearn for something different than home (i.e. the grass appears greener), and then, once we leave home, we realize that everything we wanted and needed (and most deeply cared about) was at home. Many people over the years (and perhaps many of you) have gone off in search of a better life, only to discover that the search brought you back home. Most of us also know the old saying, “Home is where the heart is.” Boy, that’s a lot of focus on home—and yet, what if it’s not true? At least not the way we typically think about home.

Recently, I embarked on an incredible travel journey that included both business, personal and business / personal (what I consider the best – mixing personal experiences with business) trips. It was an amazing adventure and experience to many new places, and I bit into the experience like a juicy peach and let it drip down my chin. There were a few travel challenges, and it was certainly chaotic at times (did I mention that I also moved into my new townhouse in the middle of it all?), and it was nothing like I’ve ever experienced or done before in terms of the intensity of the travel schedule.

Here’s a brief summary of my schedule beginning September 22nd and ending with my arrival back in Cleveland the evening of November 1st (41 days):

  • September 22 – 24 (New Orleans, LA and Vicksburg, MS for annual Civil War trip with Dad)
  • September 25 – 26 (Raleigh, NC for speaking engagement)
  • September 27 – 29 (Napa, CA for client engagement)
  • September 30 (Cleveland for 24 hours including moving into my new townhouse)
  • October 1 – 11 (Amsterdam, Paris, Normandy, France and London for fun and speaking engagement in London)
  • October 12 – 15 (Northwest Ohio to staff a men’s retreat)
  • October 16 – 18 (Canton, OH for client work)
  • October 19 (Kalamazoo, MI for speaking engagement)
  • October 20 (Canton, OH for client work)
  • October 20 – November 1 (Santorini and Athens, Greece and Reykjavik, Iceland for fun and speaking engagements in Athens)

During this period, I slept in my new townhouse (my “home”) for a total of three nights. If you’re thinking I must be (or must have been) exhausted, incredibly I was not – I often thought I “should be” ready to fall over, but I always had whatever energy I needed to deliver for my clients or fully engage in my travel experience.

Here’s what I learned about home on this magical journey. First, home is not a place – home is a feeling and experience. Second, there are other places that can feel like home, and Dorothy might not be right in saying “There’s no place like home.” Third, home might be where the heart is, but there’s a deeper truth about home and here it is: home is where you’re present.

People have asked me if I missed home, and the answer is no – I was too engaged with the experience of everything and everyone that was in front of me on this adventure. The same is true for people – I look forward to seeing family and friends, but I didn’t experience a sense of missing them because I was fully engaged with being present with whatever and whoever was in front of me. I am aware of a desire to be back in Cleveland to begin the process of actually moving into my townhouse, and I’ll be present for that process and with the people that I connect and reconnect with in Cleveland or wherever I am.

Many of you know that over the past eight months, I lived a nomadic existence – purposefully not having a permanent address. When I shared that I had purchased my townhouse, many people said, “That’s the end of the nomad experience,” but they’re wrong because being a nomad is a matter of the heart, not of the place. I’ve come to realize that over the past ten years I’ve lived several places and therefore always technically had a place, but I didn’t realize that I never felt like I had a sense of place. I had been thinking that the new townhouse would provide that sense of place, but now I don’t think so.

I’m looking forward to my new townhouse and to creating it as my home, and I’ll continue to seek out travel and other adventures. I’ll continue to crave experiences with people and places and to cherish the freedom that my life choices are affording me. Most important, I’ll continue to deepen my experience of being present with everything and everyone in and around my life.

What I’ve discovered on this recent adventure is that home (or at least what I desire from the feeling of home) is wherever I choose to be present. When I’m present, I have a sense of place that is peaceful, calming and comforting. When I’m present, I never feel alone or like I’m  missing someone or something. When I’m present and trusting beyond what I can control, the world and its chaos can’t shake me. So called bad things certainly happen around me and impact my journey, but my choice to be present allows me to navigate whatever life wants to throw at me or in my path.

In all deference to Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, my shift in perspective is this: There’s no place like the present. In fact, that’s all you ever have, and it’s up to you whether you choose to be present (and live in the moment and the experience) or spend your days unfulfilled and yearning for something beyond the moment and out of your control (and experiencing the discomfort and stress that accompanies this approach). There will always be challenges to face – that’s a part of life – but stress is optional and being present is a choice. Indeed, there are places (and people) like home, and by being present you take (and create) home wherever you are!

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  1. There is No Place jke XhomeX…er rather Cleveland “The LAND OF LeBRON” where i was born, then left for almost 40 years in BOSTON and CONNECTICUT, even tho i was “PRESENT” there, coming back to my roots has been MIRACULOUS for me.

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