Do you ever feel adrift? As in not quite feeling at home in your community, including where you live, at your place of work, or even within your own body? 


Having a sense of clarity about ourselves and when / where / how we fit into each of the communities in our lives provides us with motivation to act for the benefit of each other and/or the whole group; the support of the group and it’s members when we need it; and “just” a sense of warmth and camaraderie that comes with a shared purpose, place or passion.


I have long enjoyed the ability to adapt and fit into many situations, locations and communities of people, but if I’m honest, I haven’t really felt truly at home in my own skin nor definitively connected with a particular people or location. Maybe some of you can relate?

This sense of missing something(s) has had me in “home” search mode for some time now, both unconsciously and increasingly deliberately. To resolve this missing, I created that wherever I am, and whoever I am with is home for me, right now. I transitioned out of microbiology by creating my own business as a visual practitioner and artist. And, I continue to explore!


Along the way I’ve noticed that in some geographical places and groups of people I enjoy a quick look-see, like skipping a stone on top of the water; while in others I do a deep dive, like all the way down. Two such locations have become clear recently: the Catskills / Hudson River Valley and southern California. 


recently traveled to the Catskills for a couple of workshops led by Plant Spirit Medicine founder and Tsaurirrikame Eliot Cowan at the Blue Deer Center, and extra-special bonus: to visit with my sister and brother-in-law at their new home in the Hudson River Valley.


Well, new to them: it was definitely under construction. But the timing turned out fabulously: I was happy to be of some assistance in helping them settle in, and in meeting some of their local community. This was the beginning of feeling like I was coming home here. To myself, to this place, and these people.  


It was a delightfully unexpected indicator of the entire trip! And as I’m re-learning: while the geography matters, so to do the people: community (“a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”) is key!



For up at the Blue Deer Center workshops, I had a similar experience: not only was the workshop content a deeply moving and enlightening experience (including validating many things I’ve “known” in my gut for a long time but are now coming into my conscious awareness) but the wholehearted and abiding connections made with the people I met there and even in the land itself resonated in my bones. And beyond.

And in my case, previously unbeknownst to me, this particular location turns out to have multiple layers of “home-ness”: my brother’s research on our family tree placed our Western ancestors as amongst some of the first to clear land and put down roots. 


One of the important aspects of my trip thus became finding the actual gravestones of our great grandparents. Apparently there are a few Sanford’s around the area: 3 cemeteries later I had a lovely little sit-down with the fam as you can see in these photos. 



I also learned that our family’s First People / Haudenosaunee ancestors  (specifically, the Mohawk /  Kanienkahagen Nation) originally inhabited this very same geographic region. Double fam whammy!  


Not only that, but the Blue Deer Center itself is located on a very special spot: it’s here that the Onondaga /  Onundagaono Nation established a neutral territory and council fire which originally served to avert inter-tribal war between the Haundenosaunee. And since then, people of many diverse backgrounds gather there to resolve conflicts, find healing, and connect with our own ancestral spirits. My reasons for attending were about this connection piece: and boy did I find it!  


It’s frankly difficult to describe my experience (you’ll see what I mean when you check it out for yourself), but some highlights during my time at the Blue Deer Center include absorbing the ancient wisdom shared by Eliot Cowan et al, skipping stones and frolicking with the frisky Saskawhihiwine River, slipping in and out of the remarkable conversations happening amongst us participants, honoring our generous Tobacco Plant Spirit Teacher, keeping watch over a sacred Grandfather) Fire, and learning to model the Great Law of Peace. 


The Great Law of Peace is a Haudenosauneee concept meaning not simply the absence of war; but the growth of your own spirit, or orenda. It is distinct from concepts of the soul, mind, life and death.  Orenda is the divine energy inherent within all persons and objects, and the spiritual force by which accomplishment is made. Each of us has varying degrees and flavors of orenda, which lead us fulfill on our interests: for example being a great hunter or shaman; perhaps in modern life being a great artist, mathematician or surgeon. 



As I write these words a few weeks after the whole Catskills experience, I can literally feel it settling into my bones. Often it takes some time for our experiences to percolate through our consciousness and our physical bodies. And that is when we are actively processing it (which is one of several reasons I write these long-form blog posts: it helps me understand myself, my life and the remarkable work I am honored to be doing in service of my extraordinary clients 🙂 


But back to the Catskills: I’m legit having withdrawals from all that deliciousness!

And yet, to my continued delight just days after leaving the Catskills, more unfolded when an unexpectedly robust Southern California community showed up too!


I’ve no particular biological family connections there, but every time I visit, there something about the light, the land, and of course the ocean always has me feeling so happy. And this time it was even more amplified coming off the Catskills experience, and greatly enhanced by the exemplary people who showed up inside of that time and space. But that SoCali story is for another day… 


Meanwhile, back to the topic of feeling at home in your community. I’m super curious (and, enough about me, we want to hear YOU share):


Do you have a sense of being at home in any particular place?


With a certain person or group of people? 


Or when you are doing certain activities (fulfilling on your orenda)?


If so, where / who / what are they and why do you feel at home there?


If not, how has that impacted your life and career?


Share with us in a blog comment below!






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