This year has disrupted my life in ways only God could have ordered. I have felt discomfort in my growth. I have been lost and found. And I will continue to grow and feel all of the pains and blessings that come with it. It has made me evaluate and reevaluate. Forced me to look internally and externally at the things that bring me joy and the things that act in the destruction of my peace. This opportunity to ‘go within’ has forced me to look at everything. I have questioned, learned and sought. One of the things that has been a recurring thought for me over the months of Quarantine is use of time. In this, subcategories arose— the preciousness of life, creating new memories, longing for connection and the opportunity to simply be. I decided to go home to Ohio and stay awhile.
At times, you just need to reset. Release the confusion. Find your grounding. And be loved ‘in real life’ by the ones who have raised you and who have watched you grow literally and figuratively from Day 1. The ones who accept your flaws and all. The ones who ask about your well-being, your goals and needs and will sit with you until you answer. And will call you out if you hold back. I am thankful for the ones who allow me to be the quirky, sweet, fiery, unsure, confident, loving, funny, outspoken— and everything in between that makes up the whole me. They know me. They let me be. All while pushing me to be my best and to truly live in that place. And give me space when I need a moment. They love me without conditions.
When you live miles away from your family, you get by on texts, phone calls and video chats. Sending pictures of milestones and special occasions substitute the physical presence most times. Much like what is going on right now with the pandemic. This is my normal. But something about this time has highlighted the missing even more.
This time in Ohio, has given me a chance to breathe. I feel a different sense of purpose. I see myself clearer. That God made me like this self. That in tune with my soul self. The truly connected to nature self. It’s a beautiful way to live. I have been intentional about working out, meditating and allowing myself time for me. It’s been a blessing to have more than a long weekend or week to be with my family. I believe in quality over quantity but with this extended time, some sweet memories have been made that otherwise wouldn’t have.
My daughter is able to connect with family members on a deeper level and grasp the personalities attached to the names. I love the comfort that she has here. She’s free to be. Seeing my baby girl ride her bike, play with her cousins and walk barefoot in the rain on the same sidewalk that I had as a child will never leave my heart. Or trekking back to the creek trail and adventuring with my daughter, brother, nephew and little cousin. We walked over the “Swinging Bridge”, which is nestled within a nature path in the area that holds so many memories for me. It’s a childhood treasure. We made our way down to the creek and skipped stones and dodged mosquitoes. A battle that we didn’t win but you have to take the good with the bad, right?
I visited the cemetery and cried tears of grief, joy and mourning. When you choose to leave “home” and move hours away, it comes with much sacrifice. One of those sacrifices is missing out on formal goodbyes to some of those you hold so dear. I was overcome with emotion. I walked away so thankful for the richness that every soul who has gone on to Heaven has added to my life. Countless lessons and abundant love.
I will always remember that stormy Sunday afternoon in July 2020 when I turned on some music in my Grandma’s living room and she whispered, “Who is that?” And I replied, “Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue”. She murmured, “That’s nice.” I will always reflect on that moment. That’s peace. The peace I know about. The peace that raised me.
I needed to sit in my grandma’s front yard on a blanket and read a book and eat a popsicle. I needed to get back to the simple things that mean everything. I needed to feel the warm breeze blow on my face and have peace fill my soul. I needed to hear the background of bugs and birds and my daughter giggling with her cousins. I needed to be interrupted by a fearless flying insect and run squealing off of my blanket so I could get a good laugh at myself.
It felt good to sit and talk with my Aunt and Uncle who I gained through marrying my husband. I admire the mutual care that exudes from them. You can see the genuine love and respect that they have for one another, it’s like a glow that shines around them. And I am so thankful for her cooking in general—during this visit the apple dumplings specifically. Insanely good.
There aren’t enough words to show the appreciation that I have for just having regular moments with my Mom. Going to the grocery store, eating her delicious greens and potato salad at Sunday dinner, sitting at the table talking or picking up fruits and veggies from The Black Barn, a local farm market. Or being in her kitchen going back and forth pulling out old photos and laughing so hard with her and my cousins. Usually, our visits are quick and I’m spreading myself thin trying to see everyone and do everything before it’s time to head back to New York. If I lived here, I would have a schedule and responsibilities and things to do, so I maybe would not see her daily or maybe even weekly but I would, at least, be able to see her more often. Nonetheless, I am enjoying the quality of our time together.
I love seeing my Aunt in her zone, sitting outside and enjoying her music. I love her spirit, it’s so unapologetic and fun and sensitive and firm.
I needed to stand in the blazing sun all while socially distancing with my childhood friend and pick up where we left off because that’s just how our connection is. We reminisced about our neighborhood and spoke about all the “wtf” moments of this year. I don’t take our familiarity for granted. I yearn for that ease most days.
Some things just come easy. A lot of things don’t. So, when you can walk in your full self and feel free and laugh and smile and simply exist— hold onto it with your whole heart and know how special it is.
I’ve been smiling.
Lately finding inspiration in the breeze.
Along the walkways and in blooms.
In my ache for home and in being home.
In the sunlight and in the raindrops.
I’ve been smiling.
Lately inspiration has found me…
peacefully floating throughout my days
and I am renewed. -Tiffany Reneé
I pray you have peace and a lot of laughter. I hope you smile every chance you get. It’s hard to feel joy with all of the heaviness of life this year. But you deserve it, and I pray you have it. Find it if you need to and open your whole being to the peace and light it brings. I pray that you experience the sweet embrace of home…whatever form that is for you.
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet and activist based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others. She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibilities that exist in choosing “more” of what allows you to live a life that you love.