Defining Home?

Via Carrie Tyler
on Oct 14, 2012
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red shoes, ruby slippers
photo: via Johanna on Pinterest

I recently asked myself the question, “What is home?

If you look up the word home in the dictionary you come up with “residence or refuge.”

But what is it, really?

When I recently gave up my residence, on a whim to follow my heart and do service in the world, I found that I lost my definition of home.

I have moments of aching for the life I had; my beautiful serving wear and my mirrored buffet that was filled with dripping white candles in a very “phantom of the opera-esque dramatic way.”

I ache for the way, during a dinner party, the candles would light up the wall, casting a soft shadow on old photographs and artwork from floor to ceiling. I miss the metal utility table that served as craft area, kitchen breakfast nook and office space and I miss that Anthropologie canopy bed that I saved pennies and dimes to be able to afford, complete with 600 (!) thread count sheets.

Yes, it’s true—I was living in a magazine spread: “Architectural Digest visits a poor art-collector hipster’s dream loft-apartment.” It was even complete with the two “P’s”: Pelligrino and Prius.

I had that life.

But what I’ve come to realize is that, even with the aching, I don’t really miss the “things”—what I miss is the landscape they created for the life lived within the walls.

I miss the people who I shared stories with; the joy of preparing a meal for them and a pouring that last, “No really, that’s my last glass…ok, I’m sleeping on your sofa,” over a cacophony of laughter. I miss the quiet sleepiness of morning, slurping down coffee and trying to decide if chocolate is truly an appropriate breakfast, as I kiss a lover’s tussled head and point them towards the coffee maker. I miss the mornings when I was alone, staring blankly at the wall in front of me, wondering what the day could possibly hold that would make it more amazing than the last. I miss the way it felt at the end of a fulfilling day to know I could get up and do it again—or at the end of a bad day to know it would all feel better in the morning light. I miss feeling a lover’s legs wrap around mine in the sheets…and I miss spreading out in x-formation in my bed, alone.

I miss the moments, not the stuff.

It seems then, perhaps, it is the moments that make a home.

I first started thinking of the concept of “home” a few years ago, when I spent a month traveling through India, living out of a backpack with only a few articles of clothing, some photos of people I love and, thankfully, some quick dry underwear (you really can never have enough underwear when you travel).

I was never happier, with so little to anchor me to the material world. During that time, I found home wherever I could, by spreading out photos by my bedside or throwing my favorite scarf over a lamp for a bit of “Carrie” sparkle.

I found home, knee deep in water, in an underground temple, with my heart full, knowing it would make a great blog article later; I found home in the eyes of the women on a train who would later help save my life—I even found home in the heart of my Guru, at his ashram in Varanasi.

I found both “residence and refuge” in all of these moments.

When I left home a few months ago, I came to my Guru’s ashram in California, to ground and receive guidance before following my gypsy soul into the world.

As I look around my room, I stare once again into the reflection of home. What I see in front of me is that I’ve created a room complete with the same “Carrie” sparkle that I knew, while backpacking in India; knowing that I would be here for several months, the first thing I did is redecorate my room.

Borrowing a rug from one room, a large mirror from another—hanging some of my vintage slips off the mirror, so it looked a bit more movie star glam. I found a simple, modern glass jar, for my pens and colored pencils. All of the furniture moved around, so it was appropriately Feng shuiand even made an altar, with my beloved voodoo doll, some old faded letters and photos that remind me of my best self, taped to the wall next to my favorite worn-in cowgirl boots and puja set.

In other words, I made a Carrie nest.

I am as happy in this nest as I was in my old stylish loft—and, I am as happy in this nest as I was in the backpack-traveling version of myself.

So then, maybe, home on some level comes from the Self. Not the little “s,” but the big “S”—the true you, when all the pomp and circumstance is stripped away—when what you think you should have in the world reflects what you really have, at the moment—not what you buy, as you try to fill an ‘empty box ideal,’ of what other people tell you to want.

Perhaps then, it’s the small things you really need to feel comfortable in your place in the world, whether that be a street corner or a mansion. For me, the big “S” needs to have an anchor; a scarf, a symbol, a picture, a momento to remind me of my connection to the people I love—the very same moments and memories that anchor me to myself.

My Guru asked me recently, “What makes you feel alive?”  It’s the hardest question I’ve ever had to answer. All I’ve got so far?

Seeking and creating beauty; wherever I am in the world has to reflect that.

That IS my refuge. That IS my residence.

It has nothing to do with material possessions: it’s in a smile from a child in a third world country or in the appreciation of an artistic bowl in a Madison Avenue store. It’s in sitting knee-to-knee (and nose-to-nose) at a restaurant with a friend, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all and it is in a piece of music that moves me to tears.

That is home—and that is where my heart livesFor me, it is the true definition of love. So then, perhaps home is personal—my definition of home can’t possibly be the same as yours.

If it’s true that home is individual, then it explains how a sadhu can wander the streets of India, with nothing but a bowl. Or, how Mother Teresa could live in comfort in the midst of a colony of lepers. Or, perhaps, even how the New-York-Upper-East-Side elite can’t imagine home without a butler and a personal masseuse.

Perhaps all of our definitions of home are okay—perhaps, this is what makes us radiantly alive.

And, perhaps, this is what make our world so beautiful.




Editor: Bryonie Wise

Like elephant I’m not “Spiritual.” I just practice being a good person on Facebook.


About Carrie Tyler

Carrie Tyler: Feminist. Writer. Artist. Business Owner. Gypsy yogini. Dedicated to giving women a voice and to making spirituality sexy. Carrie is the co-producer of Shakti Revolution and the creator of the Rasamaya Method of Movement. She is the proud owner of several Rasamaya Movement Centers and runs teacher trainings, retreats and workshops within the US and abroad. In her private practice she specializes in women's chronic structural issues, body language and sexuality. She is also the Northeast Teacher Trainer for Pelvic Floor Pilates (Pfilates). Become one of her 2600+ nearest and dearest friends on Facebook for a daily dose of the ridiculous and the inspirational. Contact her at [email protected] and stay tuned to upcoming retreats, workshops, teacher trainings and events at Give your Life a Voice.


2 Responses to “Defining Home?”

  1. Sienna says:

    This speaks to me in droves! I am there with you…here with you. My home…what I thought was my home was a place to taught, practiced, gave thai massages, sipped red wine outside and listened to the sounds of Kingston. To live in the middle of a city but in an oasis…it truly was magic. But leaving, packing, letting go..and now drifting. I was recently called a butterfly by a friend, NEVER would call myself a butterfly…maybe a moth! but yes…now I move about the world and realize I can teach, practice, learn, grow and give metta filled massage anywhere. Oh and I just relinquished underwear in India…haha much easier!

  2. teri says:

    This message about home… truly moved me. After reading this, in a place that is not my "home" I started to look around and feel like it was. The sense of comfort wrapped around me as it created a feeling of security. This place, actually IS apart of my home. Thank you Carey for opening my eyes to a whole new way of looking at this place. I now think of as home…