The hot summer days are finally behind us, and it is now the time of year when snowbirds make their way back to their desert homes, reminding us that we live in a culture of movement. We move from our childhood home to a place of our own. In time we find something larger with room for the kids, and when we retire we look for someplace smaller or somewhere warmer. We reside “there” in the summer and “here” in the winter, and it seems we are always in movement.

The concept of home is part of how we define ourselves. It explains why many believe that our homes and all the objects that fill it represent the sum-total of who we are. None of that is true. The attachment we have to our homes and all the possessions we have collected in a lifetime only represent part of who we are and only part of who we show to the public.

If our lives were suddenly upended and everything we possessed washed away, what would happen to our perception of self?

Researchers tell us that home and our possessions are part of our extended self and if these become too intertwined with our self-image, we lose touch with our true nature. This is never more evident than in times of transition or loss when it is particularly difficult to connect to our inner voice. Unsettled and unsteady, it can feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under our feet. To regain our balance, we need to create a life more aligned to our true self.

We live hectic lives and we are often on automatic pilot. We neglect taking the time to reconnect to our feelings. Lost in the noise of daily life, we find it difficult to simply hit the pause button and just sit quietly, but studies have shown that when seeking a more meaningful life, practicing meditation is the best way to promote mindfulness. Taking three deep breaths in times of stress can be beneficial, and taking twenty minutes of daily meditation can change our lives. Reconnecting to our true nature may be as easy as revisiting a favorite pastime or rekindling a creative pursuit, which can in time put our lives back in balance.

In search of balance, we should not discount totally the importance of home in our lives. Our homes and the special treasures we have collected, the mementos and our souvenirs, make up the memories that bring depth to our lives. Nevertheless, there is more to who we are than the possessions we acquire. Taking time for quiet reflection allows us to examine and explore our truest self.

If home is where the heart is, home can be wherever you are. Look inward, put your hand on your heart, and come home to who you are.

Judy Nemer Sklar is an artist and writer residing in Palm Desert. and