We read books and newspapers, blogs and magazine articles. What if we started reading our home’s story; the message between the lines and pages of its history, between the nooks and crannies of walls, furniture and other „stuff“ that surrounds us every day?
Your home wants you to listen to its story. Every story has a deeper message of some sort. Your home’s message always interacts with your own. It may surprise you, challenge or support you and help you grow. Knowing your home’s story may explain certain occurrences in your life. Knowing about the past can help create the present and future – so you are able to live to the best of your life.
Storytelling starts with a prologue. What was before you? What was your starting point in that home?
Just as we fill our home with our own story, our home’s story will mix and mingle with us. When energies of places and people meet, a chemical reaction takes place. Transformation happens.
Some homes come with a well known story. But many times, we know little about the origins of the place. Why is it worth putting in a bit of effort to find out? Because the history of your home can be compared to the roots of a tree. It is the foundation for those who live there.
What goes around comes around. A house whose first owners were „happy ever after“ will probably provide fruitful energy for other relationships to blossom in this place.
Just as good deeds will pay off one day, bad deeds or unfortunate circumstances will leave their traces. A house with a broken heart needs healing before peace can enter. A traumatic history may be compared to a weakened root system: It provides potential challenges for future generations. Just like a relationship which is built on lies, a house with an ill-constructed foundation may continue to show cracks in floors and walls (and relationships) and always need „high maintenance.“
Here are 2 true stories:
Rebecca’s hard working parents owned a flourishing hotel in the countryside. Their restaurant had a stand-alone position in the area and was highly appreciated. On Sundays, they were always sold out, with guests from near and far. Little Rebecca and her sisters worked in the family business from early childhood on, contributing to the growing wealth of the family.
Reaching adulthood, the sisters weren’t interested in keeping the labor and time-intense hotel business. They chose different careers and moved to the city. Then, the parents passed away. Rebecca had just finished her training as a primary care physician. She and her husband decided to move back to Rebecca’s home village. Much to the grief of former guests, they closed the hotel and restaurant. They redesigned the building to meet the needs of a family home. They also incorporated a generous office space for Rebecca to see clients.
Thus, hard working Rebecca saved travel time and saw her own children grow up and flourish while her medical office became a big success: From day one, patients from near and far lined up to see Rebecca, providing a cosy and safe financial foundation for the family of four.
It could have turned out differently. The medical office could have failed to attract enough clients. But in this case, it seems that the full package: the energy of excellent service, an impeccable reputation and a powerful social network plus financial affluence had come with the place – no matter its purpose.
The ease with which Ella found her rental apartment made clear that they were meant for each other. Built in the 1870s and placed in a good neighborhood in the city of Vienna, it provided plenty of space and high ceilings. Just what Ella loved.
Soon after moving in, the landlord tried a trick to change existing rental agreements. Ella and a group of neighbours would have to either pay above market value, move out or settle the case in court. After 5 years of painful legal procedures, a judge decided against the landlord. He had to sell the house.
Years passed. One day, Ella learned that back in the 1930s, a Jewish family had been brutally evicted from one of the apartments in her building. Their home was handed over to a non-Jewish family. Ella was aware about the expropriation, deportation and murdering of Jewish citizens during the Nazi regime – but she was shocked that this had also happened in „her“ building. She realized that, back in the 1930s and 40s, there had been several cases of evictions in her neighbourhood.
She suspected that her apartment may also have undergone such criminal change of ownership, long before she was born. Records were missing, so research showed no evidence. Then, in a dream, Ella was shown a Menorah, the seven-branched Jewish candelabrum, hidden behind the wooden panels of her apartment’s west window. In the dream, she was given the message that someone who had once lived in her place had moved to a country „in the west.“
Does Ella’s example show that past injustice may be corrected by a next generation?
Who knows? My clients’ many different „home stories“ have shown me this: When respect, attention to detail, firm will and a little bit of good luck, you can fill a place with positive energy. Even a problematic building history can be reconciled by a new generation of inhabitants.
I have come to believe that places call us in – either to be healed by us or to heal us.
Healing starts by honestly acknowledging what happened, no matter how long ago.
This is Ella’s solution: She gave thanks to the unknown previous inhabitants. She regularly lights candles to honor and bless them. Though not Jewish herself, she hung a Mezuzah (a small case with a blessing) next to her door. Ella has a challenging family history herself and feels that she has „arrived“ in a place that takes good care of her. So she continues to take good care of her place.
As soon as we learn about problematic circumstances, we turn into witnesses of trauma. That, in itself, as we know from trauma therapy, supports the process of healing. It is now up to us to honor past pain and difficulties. But it is also vital to acknowledge and honor the gain: That which was saved and had a chance to blossom in a different way. Always focus on the blossoming.
Honor the people whose space you have the privilege to live in today. A good way to start is a ritual that needs no religious label whatsoever: Simply light a candle, bring in fresh flowers, say thanks, wish for healing and peace to all involved in the story.
The home of a person is an open book. Psychological studies have shown that a stranger – without knowing you – would quite precisely be able to describe your character, your personal inclinations and most probably your profession simply by looking around your home.
Are you experienced in „reading“ yourself inside your home? Or are you blind-sided – which is understandable when living in a place for a long time.
It helps to refresh your perspective from time to time. Changing seasonal decorations is always an opportunity to analyze a given setting.
Love it, change it or leave it. This principle applies to careers and „stuff“ alike. Just like our dead skin cells fall to the ground on every single day, we may surround ourselves with stuff that has lost its meaning. This is the stuff we should let go. One person’s clutter is another person’s treasure. It’s all relative.
We live in times of downsizing and minimalism. Decluttering has become the new religion of a society in which a single person owns way too much to have the slightest overview of all her belongings – not to speak of multiple persons and households and all their combined „stuff.“
As we grow in years, downsizing gets more relevant, if only for the sake of being able to keep our home clean and in order. Moving beyond our 50s and 60s, we can best review the life lived so far and create a personal outlook on what we still wish to experience, accomplish or simply enjoy.
It depends on how it serves you. Does your stuff celebrate the person that you are today? Or is it mostly about past glory, or your children’s achievements? What story does your home tell about you? Is it a story of meaning? A story of a „life well lived“ – or a challenged one? A story that nurtures you and makes you at peace with what is?
If in doubt, get inspired with:
Does your home speak mostly of the glorious past you had? Or does it proudly represent the person that you are today? Does it leave space for more wonderful things and stories to happen? What is the story your home is telling you and everyone who visits? Share your story.
Tags Downsizing Your Life