A love note to NOT feeling at home


These are woods in New York, about 40 miles north of New York City. My family moved here when I was in 4th grade and it's where my husband and I grew up.

Beautiful, no?

But here's the thing -- I don't feel at home there.

I realized this last week when we went back for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. I might never have realized it without coaching. Coaching has made me less judgmental of myself, which lets me hear my own truths more easily.

I mean, someplace beautiful, in a place where you grew up. That's comfort, right?

But it's not. At least, not for me.

My husband has a different relationship to these woods. He grew up camping and hiking. I grew up in a family of transplanted New Yorkers. My parents were from the Bronx and my sister and I grew up in Queens. Earlier in my life, I felt at home in crowds. I loved the feeling of getting lost in the energy of New York streeets, where no one cares what you're wearing, what your hair looks like, or whether you can sing. I still love this about New York.

The landscape on the east coast doesn't feel like home. Give me a view of Lake Michigan, or the gentle woods of Wisconsin. I met these woods on my own terms, as an adult, and feel more at home here.

We often assume we should feel a certain way.

I just got a promotion; I should be happy (but if we don't like our job, a promotion can feel like handcuffs)

I'm going to be a grandparent; it makes no sense that I'm sad (but feeling the passage of time can make us sad, even if we're also happy)

I have such a good life, with a beautiful home; it should be enough (but if what your heart most wants is something else, a beautiful home won't fulfill you)

Sometimes friends don't understand. The woods are beautiful. Promotions are good. Grandparenthood is a blessing. It's all true -- but sometimes it's not true for us.

Hearing what is true for us starts with making it okay to feel differently than others do, or than others think we should. For me, it was a small whisper. Aloud I said, "These woods are so beautiful," and then I heard a very quiet voice say, "but not for me."

It was fine; I thoroughly enjoyed my walk. It was like eating vanilla ice cream when I'd rather have chocolate chip mint -- enjoyable, even if not my favorite. But recognizing that I didn't feel at home let me know myself better and build trust with myself. I don't have to like what other people like. What feels like home for me may not make sense to others.

This week, ask yourself, What feels like home to me? Where in the world do I feel most safe? The most myself? Whatever comes up, don't judge it. Maybe it's a store. Maybe it's someone else's house. Maybe it's somewhere from the past you can never return to. And maybe you don't yet know but you know where you don't feel at home. Knowing this is a gift and builds greater intimacy and trust with yourself.

If this resonates, be sure to listen to last week's podcast, about safety.

Ep #95: Feeling safe enough to say yes (and get unstuck)

The episode on safety is a good follow up to episode #94, about consent, so if you haven't listened to that one, start there.

Ep #94: Savying yes -- the power of consent

Looking at our experiences through the lens of consent and safety is a powerful way to feel more at home in our worlds. ❤️


This week's podcast is about the power of non-negotiables. What are your non-negotiables, the things you make time for, no matter what? Maybe it's a shower, maybe it's running, maybe it's a nightly drink on the patio. Non-negotiables are a superfuel and identifying ours gives us enormous power to shape our lives. Being intentional about our non-negotiables lets us create a life that reflects our values, priorities, and commitments.

Ep #96: What are your non-negotiables? (your brain on cruise control)

I always love hearingthe from you about what resonates in this love note or the podcast -- to share, just reply to this email.

Love, Rachel

P.S. Tomorrow I'll draw a name for my March giveaway, celebrating two years of my podcast. If you've received this in your inbox, you might win! If you have friends who might enjoy my material, this is a perfect time to encourage them to sign up. at makingmidlifemagic.com/giveaway. I've ordered handmade mugs from Etsy (on their way!), soft throws, the Rest Deck, tea -- all my favorite self-care items (things I own and use daily!). Did you know I'm obsessed with handmade ceramic mugs? I love beautiful objects that make every day feel special. I'll take a photo for the April giveaway once the mugs arrive.

I'm on the socials and sometimes even post!

Rachel Baum

I'm a life coach, college professor, and former president of the Overthinkers Club. Also, I host the Making Midlife Magic podcast. I love helping middle aged people dream again and create lives they love. Sign up to get inspiring mind shifts sent right to your email box. I don't over-send, and you can unsubscribe any time.

Read more from Rachel Baum

Grandma, Grandpa Nat, and me, mid-90s Remember senior pictures? In my day, they were like every other year except in senior year you wore a black drape. When my grandmother saw mine she said, “Brooke Shields has nothing on you!” And then she added, “Well . . . from the neck up.” Oof. My grandma loved me fiercely, but sometimes she couldn’t stop herself from making comments. Those comments especially stung because I heard them all the time. In the 1980s there was no shortage of messages...

Pride month is over, but we can live its lessons year-round. Are you proud? Maybe if you’re not part of the LGBTQIA+ community, you think you don’t get to be proud. Maybe your religious tradition taught you that pride was a sin. Maybe your mother told you, “Don’t be boastful” and you made yourself small. Whoever you are, you get to be proud. Not because you’re amazing. Not because you’re better than anyone else. You get to be proud because you're YOU, and because pride is an antidote to...

Hello love, Yesterday we celebrated my daughter’s college graduation. Earlier that morning, a dear friend’s father passed away. I have to take a breath to hold it all, the joy and the sorrow. I know they live right next to each other. My father passed away the day after the birthday of one of my oldest & dearest friends. We chose that day to take him off life support because I didn’t want my friend’s birthday to also be the day of my father’s passing. Years later, her father passed away on my...