I’ll go ahead and give it to you so you don’t have to skip to the end of the article to find out the truth about those slippers. The big secret is that you’re wearing them. Every single day you’ve got them on. Did you look down and check? Wonder how I know? I know because I’m wearing them too and because I have an uncanny ability to know you’ve all got them on as well.
Do you remember the lessons you learned from The Wizard of Oz other than witches and water don’t mix and Kansas exists in sepia? We all learned that there’s no place like home and that we can return there with a simple and deliberate click of our heels. But what and where is home these days? Is it a physical place? Many of us no longer live in the cities or even countries of our birth. Transient lifestyles are more and more prevalent. My personal journey to find home began back in 2010, not even realizing I was lost. Five long and windy years later, I found I’d been looking for a place in the world to feel grounded and rooted again when it was to be found in my heart all along.
The summer of 2010 found me boarding a plane solo headed for Nice, France from JFK in New York City. With an empty journal and an expectant spirit, I scanned the waiting area hoping I’d score an interesting seat-mate while I repeated the French request for water in my head over and over ensuring I’d ask for it correctly on the plane, “De l’eau, s’il vous plait. De l’eau, s’il vous plait.”
My 17-year marriage had recently ended and I desperately wanted to be in a place where no one knew my story. Since the news of my divorce spread during the winter, I felt the weight of my neighbors’ stares, heavy with pity and cautious judgment. (Should we help her? Should we keep our distance?) Or perhaps I was reading too much into the glances askance and it was my insecurity and low self-esteem informing my suspicion. Either way, I wanted to get out of town.
What better way to run away from my troubles than to embark on a biking trip through the South of France? Could I get farther away from my reality? After having read a New York Times Travel Section cover piece about biking through Provence, I chose this adventure for my disappearing act. And here I was, almost ready to take off, sitting on the plane next to an already sleeping, not so interesting looking middle aged American man bedecked with his neck pillow, noise canceling headphones, slippers and an eye cover. So much for my fantasy of a flight spent enrapt by conversation.
Absorbing France in all her Provencal splendor that summer rendered me highly sensitive to all the gifts I found in nature, in the food, in the people and the stories behind their eyes and in the creases of their hands. I relished in the lightness of being away and melted into the scenery, yet at the same time, this very same scenery reflected back at me all the reality I had come so far to escape. I was forced to face my old patterns and fears even 4,000 miles away from their origin.
We can dress up, cover up and strengthen our exterior to diffuse the existence of inner distress and imbalance, but at some point in our lives the ache will manifest and demand attention. I couldn’t escape my aches by traveling to France. They came along for the ride and I was offered the gift of being able to address them in an idyllic setting.
My lessons that summer were presented in neat packages of getting horribly lost and finding my way almost every day. I met angelic people with big hearts and warm smiles who recognized my beauty, strength and courage, which I half accepted unenthusiastically at the time.
Most important, I remembered that I could always return home no matter where in the world I was and no matter what challenge faced me. Because home is in my heart and when I opened my heart to self-love, I always made better decisions that led to better outcomes and brighter, more balanced days. So, click those heels and shine bright in those ruby slippers! You’re already – and always – home.
Read the full adventure in the summer 2017 issue of The Wellness Mercantile!