Have you ever lived somewhere that didn’t feel like home? I don’t mean a condo, apartment, or house, but a state or part of the world?
I have. I am right now.
This Friday the 30th marks 1 year since our arrival in Hawaii and it’s no closer to feeling like home now than it did on the first day. More familiar? Yes. More comfortable? No. Currently as I write this we are just 1 day away from the Fall Equinox. Fall is far and away my favorite season and being here in Hawaii where there are no leaves changing color, crispness to the air, or any reason to be excited to have the oven on and the house filled with spicy fall scents, is extremely challenging. It’s more than that though.
Washington felt like home. It took awhile for me to warm up to it. When we first moved there I often wished we were back in Florida (my home state). Now living in a climate very similar to FL (except not as hot), I find myself missing the cool nights, grey days, misty mountains, and quiet, grounding solitude of the Pacific Northwest.
An Opportunity for Growth
Even though I don’t like living here, I can see the appeal. Many people like the heat and island life. Not only that, but because the climate is so steady many people essentially live outdoors (many people actually live at the beach) . They embrace a poor man’s life in that they don’t have expensive things or the need/desire to travel, they eat cheaply, and live with no air conditioning (a non-issue in WA). And I think that’s great, it’s just not for me. I often feel trapped knowing that we’re out in the middle of the Pacific on a tiny island with no way to drive off and the food here leaves something to be desired.
I had a running mental commentary for the first 10 months that we lived here. It became automatic, “I hate it here. I want to go home”. I want to talk about this because we all have these repetitive thoughts that inform our days and our experiences. I knew that these thoughts weren’t helping me, but there they were. Insistent and full of anger. I didn’t want to feel that way or have these thoughts stuck on repeat, but no matter how much I tried to balance out my dislikes with likes those negative thoughts kept coming.
Eventually, I gave up.
I gave up trying to balance the negative thoughts with positive ones. I gave up trying to distract myself anytime this negativity came up. Instead, I simply observed.
When these thoughts would come up, I would observe the thoughts as less of a part of me and more as something that just happened. I observed how my body would tense up, my shoulders would round forward, and my forehead would crease anytime these repetitive negative thoughts would pop in for a visit.
And one day, they stopped.
I don’t know how long it took for me to notice that I stopped thinking them. I do know that when I noticed that they stopped being so repetitive was around our 10th month here. Do I still have the occasional negative thought about living here? Hell yes. Is that ok? Hell yes. Life isn’t perfect and neither am I. It was when I finally let go of the idea that I “shouldn’t” be having negative thoughts is when those thoughts lost their control over my emotions.
Today will be the same as every other day, yet different. It will be the same because I have a schedule to adhere to and a routine that makes life comfortable and allows me to get things accomplished. Today will be different in that everyday I make a choice to be angry or to let go. Some days I choose to be angry. I acknowledge that I’m angry and then turn my attention to my body. I feel my shoulders tense and my face scrunched in anger. I feel a flare of energy in my chest and realize I’ve been holding my breath.
Then I breathe. I consciously let go of the tension in my neck, shoulders, and face. Does this mean that the anger and negativity are magically gone? No. Do I feel better? Usually. Just being aware of my anger and negative thoughts gives them less power, makes them less abrasive.
Feeling out of place with the land is a persistent feeling that rarely leaves. For someone like me who feels a deep connection to the Earth, this can be very unsettling. But when I’m starting to feel flighty and ungrounded I gaze at the mountain range visible from my room and breathe. I know Mama is Mama no matter where I happen to be and those mountains make me feel more connected to Her, just like the mountains did in Washington.
But this feeling of disconnect affects the rest of my life too. Just as one negative thought rarely visits alone, so do negative feelings affect every aspect of our lives.
Have you noticed?
I challenge you today to observe your thoughts. Do you have persistent negative thoughts? If so, what are they? Can you change something in your internal or external environment that would help these thoughts to dissipate? If not, can you let go? Can you give up, just as I did?
Giving up is rarely encouraged in any culture, but today that might be what we all need.
What can you give up that will leave you with more?