7 Lessons I Learned from Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home

Hi, beautiful souls.

I’ve been away for a while, partially because I’ve taken two trips back to Virginia in the past six weeks. My homeland.

This past year, it became clear that it’s time for my father to sell the house I grew up in on Canterberry Road. We moved there from Vienna, Austria when I was 4 years old: just old enough to remember, but not to understand how big of an impact this place would have on me.

It’s where I started my formal schooling, made and lost friends, underwent the depths of my battle with anxiety and panic, attended countless hours of therapy, searched for myself in all the wrong places, discovered my talent for writing, found myself in singing, applied for and got into colleges, and became a full-fledged adult.

It grew me and made me.

There are few words that can adequately describe the experience of going through every object, document, photo, and memory from my childhood over the course of two week-long trips. My mom and I have agreed that we entered some sort of time-warp-vortex on Canterberry Road this past month that might never be fully explained to the outside world.

I don’t have the words for what it was like to say one final goodbye to the home that built me, but I have gleaned some lessons from it that I’d like to share with you.

They apply to all things – letting go, moving forward in life, and evolving into new versions of yourself. There is something in these lessons for everyone.

I am grateful to Canterberry Road for the blessing of these wisdoms.

1. Get rid of what you’re not using. Seriously.

Okay, I’m starting out on a pretty light note, BUT this lesson is not to be overlooked. It’s not until you’ve scavenged your way through thousands of crumbling photographs, 20 years worth of school assignments, and a whole childhood’s worth of dusty old toys and games (let’s just say I was very grateful to have my KN95 on hand, lol) that you realize just how much of it you didn’t need to hold on to. Keep what’s most precious, sparks joy, and tugs at your heartstrings. Donate the rest. Make it a point, at least once annually, to get rid of that which isn’t serving you in your home. If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s gotta go. You deserve to love everything in your space, and your possessions deserve to be loved fully. If they aren’t, someone else will love them for you. Keep your load light. You don’t want to get to the end of a 20-year period and realize you’re weighed down by hundreds of thousands of objects you thought you’d one day use. It will be easier to move forward in the world, because your evolution won’t be tied to so much here in the physical. Stay light, my loves, for the sake of your mind, body and spirit.

2. Homes are sacred space-holders for our wide range of human emotions and experiences. They deserve our utmost gratitude.

I know firsthand that even in the most stunning of living spaces, not everything that happens within is beautiful. In fact, beauty on the outside often masks depths of pain underneath. But what an incredible blessing to move through the seasons of life held by a structure of beauty. To be held in the warmth of her wood and earth through pain and trauma. To be fully supported by her steadiness while my world fell apart. To be loved by the laughter of her flowers when spring came and I remembered my wholeness again. Homes are steady pillars for us in this life. Whatever happens within, they stand. In joy and sorrow, they carry us, provide shelter, and hold space.

They absorb the energy we pour into them, so it’s critical that we say thank you by taking good care of their bones, cleansing their air, and purifying their vibrations. Say thank you to your home today. Give her a sage, a Palo Santo, a sacred ritual. Or utter a simple, “I am grateful for you.” She will hear and understand.

3. Nature holds us in her infinite love.

My childhood home is surrounded by trees. They tower and bend over the house, creating a giant cocoon. The same trees that witnessed my worst panic attacks before school also saw me celebrate landing the lead in the high school musical, graduate high school, and get into colleges. They knew me in all my depths, and stood as sturdy witnesses to my journey. Just like a the structure of a home, nature holds space for us in our times of deepest need. There is no darkness that nature doesn’t already know, and there is no light that can outshine hers. No matter where we are on the spectrum of human experience, she will never turn us away. Nature witnesses our breaking and our healing. If you are suffering and have nowhere to go, go to her. There’s nothing she can’t hold space for.

4. We go through endless iterations of self in this lifetime.

When I opened up the top drawer of the nightstand that lived in my bedroom for 21 years, I found more than just a catch-all space for discarded coins, headphones, disposable cameras. I discovered a treasure trove of nearly every note passed between my best friends and me during middle school English classes, endless letters on looseleaf paper from high school boyfriends, and decades-old journal pages that held explosive expressions of teenage emotion. I had no idea just how many versions of myself and chapters of life were housed in this one little drawer. Declarations of my love for boys whose names I had forgotten reminded me just how deeply and wildly my heart has always known how to love. Private justifications of the way I was being treated by an ex reminded me that there was a time I was completely blind to my worth. Notes from my mom during our difficult years when I was recovering from my severe battle with anxiety and trying to navigate adolescent hormones reminded me how far we’ve come in understanding one another. Cards from my father reminded me that he was trying, even when I wasn't ready to recognize it. I have been so many different versions of myself. I have tried on many outfits, searching for the perfect fit. I have strayed far from my soul in efforts to be loved and understood. As we get older, we stop straying so far and begin to express ourselves in a way that’s a little closer to our soul’s truth. But that doesn’t mean that all those lost and confused versions of ourselves deserve to be forgotten forever. They deserve the utmost love and compassion, because they are us. That lost little girl is still part of me, but now I nurture her with words of encouragement and empowerment. That angry teenager is still with me, but now I see that her pain was really just a cry for self-love and acceptance. She reminds me how far I’ve come, and how much resilience I’m capable of.

5. Time moves faster than we could ever comprehend. Every moment and experience – however difficult – is truly a gift. This moment will never come again.

I vividly remember the day we moved into Canterberry Road: seeing the house appear as we made our way up the the seemingly endless, winding driveway, sitting on the floor as towers of boxes grew skyward around me, and meeting the pigtailed next-door neighbor who stared at me warily while eating a popsicle on that hot summer day (she would go on to become one of my dearest, lifelong friends). Canterberry Road seemed like it would last forever. Like I would never not live there. It was so big, and I was so small. But somehow elementary school became middle school, and middle school became the stressful whirlwind of high school, and high school became visiting home from college on the weekends, which became returning only once a year when I moved to Miami to pursue my Master’s. It became our house, then my mom’s house, then my dad’s house. Soon it won’t belong to any of us. How could something that seemed so infinite fade so quickly and effortlessly from the forefront of my life? No matter how much time you feel you may have to soak up the experience of living in a certain place, it will always be temporary. There will always be an end. There’s a piece of that fact that’s deeply sad, but another piece that’s incredibly magical. The temporary nature of everything makes it that much more worthy of celebration. Live everyday like you’re going to lose what you have, because in the end, you are. It is within your power to let truth that turn your life into a series of cher