As some of you may know, I spent the Christmas holiday with my cousin and her charming family in the UK. We saw as many sights and sounds as can reasonably be experienced in a two week trip. It was the kind of whirlwind vacation where you only rarely think of home, of how you do or don’t miss your most familiar surroundings. I can be rather obtuse when it comes to deciphering my emotions, and for the majority of the holiday, I rarely thought of home. It wasn’t until we’d returned over the Atlantic, and I’d had my first sleep in our oh-so-comfortable bed again, thereafter awakening to the purring and pawing of my kitty cats, that I did suffer a deep, aching gratitude for where I was.

I do not regret, nor would I bemoan a single moment of my vacation—except for the pillows, perhaps. (I don’t know if it’s endemic to Barcelona and the UK, but every pillow in every home or hotel we stayed at was wafer thin.) And yet, once more surrounded in the familiar, I feel a profound sense of homecoming. The days since we’ve returned have been gloriously banal. Getting back into routines. Reaching out to business contacts (some exciting interviews and appearances should be happening in 2015). Reacquainting myself with my life. I’ve been reminded of all the many, many things for which I am grateful: my partner, our life, our home, our families, our cats, my readers, the ashes and smiling picture of my mom that sit above my desk.

I’m not the most flexible personality. Or at least I wasn’t, until disruptions to my homeostatic bubble of existence—like travel, mom’s illness, publishing ups and downs, etc.—really began tossing my carefully planned days into disorder. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that I’m a far more capable and adaptive person than I would have guessed myself to be. And with each new disruption, I become a little more relaxed in the absurd pressures that I place upon myself. For example, workouts were not easy to plan while we were away; we slept in, we stayed out late, we drank like teenagers, and we were always en route to somewhere. I had to get creative with how and when I was able to train. Since returning to Canada, my longstanding—and some say mad—tradition of waking at 3 am and hitting the gym has vanished entirely. I still exercised six days this week, however, I did so after watching the sun rise, collecting my thoughts, and setting my day in order. I did not rush, which is my natural tendency, and what so many of us, sadly, do too often.

Disruptions are good for the soul: they challenge our stubbornness and refine us. Travel, I believe, is a necessity for growth. How can one hope to understand the world if they never truly see it? And yet for all that worldly wisdom, I can still say that being at home in my study, with the quiet melody of Brandi Carlisle’s Just Kids playing in the background, and a furry mammal squinting sleepily—enjoying the music—from the nearby chair where he’s curled up, could be one of my all-time favorite moments. Happiness doesn’t have to be complicated. Nor is happiness ever really far away. It starts in our hearts, and we can bring it with us wherever we go. Still, it is found most easily in our sanctuaries, our privacies, our homes.

I am glad to be back.

All my love,