It was love at first sight.
The heart racing, butterflies in the tummy,
‘never knew it could be this good’ type of love.
I remember opening the front door
and right there from the porch …
“wow” … I knew.
I was looking at The One.
True Love found?
Well, not the tall, dark and handsome variety (not yet).
But rather, the first real “home” I would ever know in my life.
It was darling and perfect and way more $$ than I could afford,
but I decided to be straight up with the landlord about my 503 situation
and he seemed to dig my rare combination
of honesty + integrity + positivity in the face of hard times
and so, he cut me some slack and let me rent the place.
My daughter, upon first seeing it, also fell in love
and immediately named our new home:
And cuddly it has been, indeed.
For the last 2 ½ years, I have stared with big, wide-eyes
at my giant, kind-of-scary/kind-of-awesome brand new world
from the safe haven of this magical, cozy little nest of a home.
But here’s the thing about nests …
eventually, you outgrow them.
And here’s the thing about magic …
turns out, it has a shelf life.
And here’s the thing about truly amazing spaces …
their real purpose is to serve as a metaphor for your own evolution and growth.
And so it would appear that my Cuddle House tenure has expired,
My landlord and The Universe have collectively decided
it is now time for this bird … to fly on.
Two weeks ago, I was given short notice
that Cuddle House has been sold to a random investor.
I have less than 45 days to find my daughter and I a new home.
What I felt first was not panic.
But rather, a deep, genuine sadness.
Because I have utterly fallen apart
and then beautifully put myself back together in this house.
And I love Cuddle House! … like it is a treasured friend!
And when love is real, saying goodbye
is always tinged with a measure of sadness.
And so, my heart gripped itself a bit at the news,
and my mind instantly began to flip (flash-back style)
through the high and low moments I’ve experienced within these walls.
Like, the weekend I moved in…
on a bitter cold January day
glazed thick with an unrelenting drizzle of freezing rain
(odd and rare for FL).
My friends who assisted with the move never complained.
They knew the significance of that Leaving My Old Life day
and they, amazingly, (despite the cold) set their minds to ensuring
that the experience was warm and playful and light-hearted and fun for me.
And it was.
After we’d hauled the contents of the moving truck into Cuddle House,
we set up my oversized dining table and shared a leisurely lunch together,
laughing, telling stories and filling my new home
with its very first joy-filled memory.
There were hard moments at Cuddle House, too.
God, so many of them.
Raw, naked, gutted moments.
Like how hard it was for me to be alone at first.
I had never lived alone before moving to Cuddle House.
Never spent so much time in my own company.
At first, the loneliness was excruciating.
An actual, physical, unrelenting … ache.
I remember the overwhelming loneliness
would come slinking in and over me, like a ghost,
and in those moments I would physically squeeze myself
into the corner of the room or just press my body
into the smallest space possible up against a wall.
And I would just stand there, sometimes crying,
sometimes just breathing to stop the shaking,
needing a space that felt small enough
to counter all that felt so bottomless and endlessly big in my life.
I needed arms around me so badly,
and there was just simply … no one.
No one to be found with arms I could fold into.
I had only the walls of this house to wrap me up safe.
It took me well over a year to stop curling up in bed at night
like a scared little kitten huddled in the corner.
Now, I relish the time alone!
And I stretch across my bed at night
like the Queen of Wide Open Sacred Spaces.
I still get lonely. I still ache for arms to crawl into.
(Honestly, that feeling has never fully gone away.)
But I am more comfortable with it now.
Within the sanctuary of this haven of a house,
I have learned to become my own much-enjoyed companion.
I have sparkled into being!
And learned to dance with silliness in this house.
Literally dance with it.
As I am now prone to late night, scantily clad, wild, twirling dance parties
with no one but Me, Myself and I for an audience.
And I am radiantly, deliriously,
glowingly happy in these hidden moments.
For I almost never dance in front of other people.
But , ohhhh-weee, I tear those inhibitions down when it’s just me, by my Self.
I’ve also hula-hooped in this house.
Roller-skated in this house.
I’ve learned to cook. I’ve learned to meditate.
And I’ve made my daughter squeal with delight
as I’ve chased her around this house.
We collapse in an exhausted heap on the sofa.
We grin gigantically.
We snuggle. We read books. We hug.
I’ve painted with my feet here. And painted with my elbows.
Spent hours with Em happily drawing on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
And I’ve stayed up into the wee small hours of many a night
talking with friends. Sharing and laughing.
Ooohhh! … And there is the memory
of being asked on my very first date!!
Oh, wow! … That happened in this house!
He sent flowers. The loveliest, loveliest flowers.
Accompanied with that ‘first-in-my-lifetime’ request written on the card.
And I was so incredibly thrilled,
so incredibly excited,
that I screamed and starting jumping up and down, in circles!
(Not bouncing on my heels, mind you …
full on jumping up and down, like a high school cheerleader!
Screaming: “Ohmygod! Ohmygod! OHMYGOD!!!!”)
Because, while the girl in me was wildly excited about that particular guy,
the woman in me knew something bigger was occurring in that moment.
She knew … I knew! … that with that request, some sort of threshold
had finally, finally been crossed between my old life
and me truly stepping into my new one.
It was the moment when I shifted from “leaving something behind”
to joyfully “moving ahead”.
And the only one who was here to witness that elated shifting of worlds
and that milestone of my new, true, beautiful Self blossoming into being,
was Cuddle House.
The walls of this house still reverberate with the happy emotions
I sent ricocheting off the walls that day.
And so, in almost every way imaginable
both me and my world have changed dramatically over these last 2 ½ years.
And Cuddle House has witnessed and held me through
the worst moments and best moments of that transformation;
a thousand different moments spanning every notch on the emotional scale.
I have done some serious unfurling and awakening
in this dear, amazing house.
And now, I am leaving it.
But, I am truly okay with that
(however bitter sweet)
because I’ve come to another very important realization recently
about this house.
These last few years, I have lived in this house
how I have walked in my life.
And while I would not change the joy, the silliness
or even the pain.
There is one thing I am ready to change.
When I moved into Cuddle House, two short weeks later,
I threw a party and invited nearly every single person I knew.
The well-intentioned idea was to fill my home up with the energy
of all the people I cared for and loved.
I used little discretion in selecting whom I welcomed in.
If I cared for you even slightly, the door was thrown wide open.
I care for you = you are welcome here without boundary,
into my heart and (on the weeks my daughter was not here) into my home.
But be sure to notice the emphasis on: “if I care for you.”
Because what I realize now is, that statement was missing the clause:
“and you have, likewise, demonstrated true caring for me, too.”
You see, I’ve welcomed a lot of people into my heart and into my life
who did not really warrant an honored place in either.
I’ve naively operated from the mindset
that being open-hearted means exactly that:
fully. wide. open. heart.
I saw a quote on the blog I Wrote This For You recently
that helped me understand why:
Nothing in this world feels safe to a human heart
I always thought boundaries were bad because they are barriers
that barricade against and keep things out.
Which is true … but I’ve learned some things need to be blocked out.
But, more so, I’ve learned that boundaries
are a supreme gesture of love and respect
(to Self and to others).
They serve to let all involved know: this is what you can count on …
this is what you can trust.
Boundaries are a loving steadfast frame
that carefully shelters all that truly matters within!
I didn’t know this at first,
because my new world felt so entirely without solid footing
that I was not even capable, initially, of clarifying
what appropriate boundaries should look like for me.
But now I can.
Now, I’m solid. Embodied. At home in my own skin.
And the time spent here at Cuddle House has taught me that.
And from that tethered place,
I can see the energy that hovers here in this house.
Happy things: like Em giggling,
or me dancing, or good times with true friends,
or echoes of that beautiful moment
of me jumping and blossoming and gleefully screaming.
But there is also energy here that is not welcome.
Because, when you invite someone into your heart or into your home
they leave an energetic fingerprint.
And it’s wise to decide … before opening the door,
whether or not you’re comfortable with that fingerprint lingering.
Because it’s YOUR sacred space in which their vibration continues dwelling.
And so, this challenge of finding a new home (Cuddle House 2.0)
feels aptly timed to the big shifts that have occurred lately
in regard to how and with whom I am willing to share my heart.
It’s not that I am closing off
or barricading behind barbed wire.
Not at all.
(That’s soooo not my style.)
It’s just that I’ve come to hold my space and my Self incredibly sacred.
And admittance into my home and into my heart
both come with more well-defined boundaries now.
The image that comes to mind is that scene from the movie Matilda.
(Have you seen that film?)
That scene when the teacher, Miss Honey, invites Matilda over for tea.
And they walk and they talk, passing by flowers and gardens,
and only after quality time spent navigating the path together awhile …
sharing stories, building trust and true connection …
do they finally reach Miss Honey’s darling, well-hidden little cottage
where Matilda is warmly welcomed inside.
I think this is how things will be with me now.
Not fences and gates barricading people out, per se.
But rather, meandering gardens that more slowly, carefully lead people in.
Enticing pathways worthy of exploration.
Because getting to know me is a journey worth taking.
With beauty, I hope, easily found along every step of the way.
But also, plenty of spots for me to stop and say: “That’s as far as you go.”
And, of course, at times, to some;
to just a very, very special few, whom I invite to continue onward …
a cup of tea will be offered,
along with the warmest -“I do hope you’ll linger!”- welcome,
into my home … and into the soft, sweet abiding shelter of my heart.
How about YOU?
Do your boundaries need tending?
Are you using them to shut people out or to shelter what matters within?