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“It’s good to be home”. I felt that immediately we touched down in Bristol a few weeks ago after a great teaching trip to Italy. Over the last few months I seem to have been gadding around everywhere : band gigs and festivals, Retreat in the New Forest, Italy, World Yoga festival, beach outings with friends, Sidmouth Folk Week and Fringe festival, busking – lots of great music-making. I’ve had a busy summer, and it’s been a welcome distraction from other less happy things. And it’s not over yet – a couple more trips planned before year-end. For now, though, it’s good to settle at home for a while. And in the last week or two I have being doing things around the house and garden in preparation for the coming winter, and preparing to teach my students again.

My home is my refuge – a sanctuary away from the madness of the world, where I can recoup my energy and regroup. I wish everyone a home that provides this, although currently where we live and make a home depends on many factors including finances, relationships, the job we do, how adventurous we are, our personality, the life issues we have to deal with. Sometimes we find ourselves living in places that don’t feel right or safe, due to (usually financial) circumstances beyond our control; that’s particularly true in this current age. Some people live their lives quite happily in one place or area. Others have more of a nomadic existence, and have moved around and travelled a fair amount. I come into this latter category although I have always lived in the UK. It’s a funny little country but in this lifetime it is home and I don’t think I would want to live anywhere else! Years ago, with Don Conreaux and a small team, we took the gongs around the world doing workshops and concerts - visiting towns and cities in India, Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, and USA – we were away on the road for six weeks. I still remember the joy of the plane touching down in London and knowing we were back home.

Being single and partnerless for many years means I have been free to make choices of home and area based on what my heart tells me is right, without having to take into account what anyone else wanted or preferred. I have always felt guided to the right places. It was for that reason that I found myself moving down to Devon 14 years ago.. I only knew one friend already here, but I instinctively knew it was time to move here. It was a magical time : In the two years that followed, things continued to synchronistically drop into place as they do when you’re on the right path, and when I arrived in south Devon it became very clear that I was indeed in the right place – all the signs were there and all the right connections were made. Even the one already resident rose bush in my very bare and sparse garden then containing only about 6 plants was, on checking the label, named “Sheila’s perfume”, out of the hundreds of rose varieties it could have been! (see photo)

I can make a home anywhere – be it in a barn, cabin, boat, campervan, house, flat or whatever else is offered (and I have lived in all those different types of homes). It’s about putting your heart into the place you land in, being flexible, and making the very most of it. Being a passionate, right-brained, creative Scorpio I pour my heart into whatever I do and always dive in headfirst when I know intuitively something is right, whatever the consequences. It’s all or nothing with Scorpios. That’s how I live my life. I don’t know any other way – it’s how I am – I have always just given my all to whatever I am involved in. And that’s probably why I always seem to make a success of things despite having had to completely start again from scratch a couple of times along the way.

There is a phrase “home is where the heart is”, and I think that is true. I love Devon and her people, and am very happy living here.. the softer, slower energy suits me, and my work too. In later life my heart seems to have settled here and I can’t imagine being anywhere else now. Plus, while steeped in this soft Devon energy, I have found a place of rest internally that feels like the ultimate home, where I know that whatever happens and wherever I go, I can always find stillness and rest in that home space deep inside my being. I know this is my real home.

When I first moved to Devon, I lived in a few places before finding my way to south Devon and where I am now. At that time I was in temporary accommodation for a while, and found myself making a home in two different Rectories - one after the other - neither in a particularly good state of repair or decorative order! My creative urge was very active and I wrote a lot of prose poetry at that time in the early Devon years, and I am going to post one below, which illustrates my homemaking efforts in the rather run-down rectory I moved to at that time.

I think the main message is, that wherever your heart is happy and settled and at peace, is where you should make your home. If it feels right, go for it and don’t look back - no regrets.

UNLOVED

Drab. Tatty. Grubby. An all-pervading air of depression. I saw through it, saw the magnificence & beauty of your design Hiding behind the dull shabbiness, Waiting to be released from its drab confinement And be a home again, Filled with music & laughter.

Unloved. Neglected. Forlorn. You were waiting for someone to come & care, To make a place of rest, a sanctuary from the world – Warm, happy, embracing. A place to live, love & enjoy.

Healing was needed here, & much cleaning! Many spiders re-homed outside, & webs destroyed (Quite a little colony residing here) Working our fingers to the bone for three days, we cleaned. I wore my nails down to the quick. My hands took quite a beating. Brushing, scrubbing, wiping & vacuuming, Removing old energy along with the dirt & dust. Carpets brushed, stains removed, cupboards wiped. Paintwork washed, sinks scrubbed, toilets cleaned, floors mopped. At last, a space I can move into And call “home”.

Clean. Fresh. Homely. Welcoming. Amazing what a helpful friend, elbow grease, & a coat of paint can do! The nasty pink room transformed Into an elegant boudoir of pastel shades. Now the not-pink room. The bathroom – “sunbaked terracotta” – warm, inviting. The cloakroom – blue & cream, fresh & gleaming. The guest room – lilac & soft white. A calm & tranquil space for friends.

Transformation. Warm. Bright. Light. The breakfast room – sunny yellow needed here.. North-facing & so cold; now you smile again In your warmth. A rainbow rug adorns your floor. And the hallway, “daffodil white”, welcomes visitors once more.

Unloved? Forlorn? Not any more! No more chipped green paint & shabby magnolia. The torn wallpaper repaired. Warm woolly rugs adorn the once dusty carpets, And healing energy fills the air. Now a much-loved house, alive once more.

©Sheila Whittaker, August 2010



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