If someone had called me a homebody before now, I may have been offended or at least puzzled, as my focus during my work (as an experience design consultant, a family caregiver, and now a cause-founder/champion) has not been on being at home, or home life, but on the work itself: consulting way more than 40-hours a week, caregiving (and recovering from the effects of caregiving) way more than 40-hours a week, and now championing matters of the heart shared by millions in the country, way more than 40-hours a week. Since 2010 I have been a cause-founder on fire with a passion to save the lives of dementia carers; I’ve done most of this work writing from my home office – the kitchen table. I’ve worked from home every day and journeyed out-of-the-home just a few times each week. I’ve spoken with heart blazing for hundreds of community group and conference participants. I have never thought of myself as a homebody.
We don’t pay, reward, or honor homebodies. In fact, there’s predominantly a softness, meekness, shyness, and sometimes weakness implied when we call someone or a friend identifies her/himself as a homebody. When we’re children, there’s a negative connotation to the phrases “you’re grounded” and “you’re staying home,” when used in a context of punishment for bad behavior. In this context, these phrases imply a good withheld, a lack of fun, and/or a punishment.
During a recent snow storm that made us home-bound for two days, I experienced being a home-body vs. being an away-body. Never before had my body experienced nor my mind considered my self a home-body or an away-body. The experience of grounding myself for 30 days (read about my long winter nap at-home retreat) contributed to this enhanced body-awareness. The storm’s “no driving” decree provided an opportunity to really revel in being stuck-at-home. I experienced a sense of relief… un-doing… not showing-up for others but tuning into myself at a very deep and healing level. Somewhere between my closet (I created a “Roots” section to house my Fraser and MacDonald clan tartans), the kitchen table, and the den, I felt a great comfort and new sense of belonging, with my self. Born like a whisper in my belly, a warm feeling radiated throughout my body and grounded me anew; this body-awareness was heightened several hours, stayed with me ’round the house, through the night, and resonated over a quiet period of days. The cells of my body felt as though they were happily glowing, melting, rooting down and out. I felt a sense of belonging to my body in a coming-home way. I felt my body-at-home in a way that is different than what I would now call my away-body. The experience of not having critical family care responsibilities is new and has opened a space to practice and enjoy living-into my new home-body.
Are you interested in practicing being a homebody? Read “Be Proud of Being a Homebody” on wikiHow 😉
Moving forward with a listening heart,
Note: 24/7 care and/or concern for a loved one is often so consuming that attention to self is sacrificed for the moment… which can turn into months and years with crippling effects. It is only now that both parents have passed, after ten years of critical caregiving, that I am able to listen to my self in an open, uninterrupted space, a space free of on-the-edge-of-my-seat crisis responding and chronic anxiety. Being stuck-at-home can be a sensitive topic for current and surviving caregivers because of the fact that extended dementia-care or long-term-care often leads a carer to be home-bound for purposes of safety, supervision, and care for a loved one; care provided daily without respite can lead to feelings of isolation and cumulative stress build-up, even the experience of feeling despairing with no way out. These are feelings I experienced that remain a part of me. Also, a snow storm experience for a 24/7 family dementia-carer or long-term-carer is likely different than the leisure many enjoy during snow-days (e.g. the invitation to sleep-in, stay in PJs all day, wear cozy comforts we’d never or rarely wear out, bake favorite cookies and stews, and/or make progress with indoor projects small or large). In my own dementia-care experience, snow-days included these vignettes: respite-carer calls-in unable to make it to the house; my loved-one with dementia acts especially difficult (like standing out in the snow without the right boots, jacket, etc. and refusing to come in – which is o-so-much-more-difficult than managing a child acting the same); and my care fatigue contributes to my own less-than compassionate and/or competent care of my loved one.