I did it. Well, honestly, I had no choice. The universe (and cessation of a little thing called my apartment lease) gave me the psychic shove I needed to finally spend my first night in my new home. And it was fantastic. Good morning, my beloved new abode. I am here.

This has been a very long journey. Long to the point of one friend asking what was taking me so long (to which I responded, "You are not being helpful."). Long to the point that I have circles under my eyes that I am worried won't go away. Long in the way creating a vision and birthing something new are both important and tedious.

For the first time in 10 years, I have moved into a place all by myself. For the first time in 39 years, I have bought a house. And this house belongs to me, which is exhilarating and intimidating. I carefully tiptoe around. I gingerly move furniture. I don't want to mess up this home. My home.

I am not going to compare this process to childbirth, because I used to be a doula and it is not the same. My sister just had a baby and would laugh hysterically at such a comparison. But, in the past few months, I have embedded what I care about into one of my most primal needs—shelter—and pushed my small vision of how I want the world to be out into the sacred space of my abode.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow posited in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" that once we take care of physiological requirements such as food, water and sleep, we can move on to concerns about safety, belonging, accomplishment and self-actualization. But if we have the luxury of having taken care of those basic needs, maybe we can start to let what we care about be reflected in everything around us and seep into those primal requirements. Why? Because that split, or cognitive dissonance, is painful. It causes an uneasy tension to engage in the world in a way that's not aligned with our values. I've felt this split a lot over the past few days as I've consumed a lot of takeout and tossed many disposable plastic containers. My reusables are still in boxes. Ditto for all cooking things. I'm trying to get over myself and have sent out loads of apologies to the planet.

This is also the reason some folks dismiss information that doesn't align with their view of the world. Think of people who tell you the energy you use doesn't matter because you're just one person—or that the challenges we face around climate change are too insurmountable or not real. I disagree. We matter, and our actions matter. We just have to figure out what makes the most impact and proceed accordingly. (And I'm here to help you navigate that process when it comes to environmental concerns.)

My only New Year's resolution is to strive for alignment and be courageous in caring for myself and others. Night 1 in my new house is one of many steps.

I can see the sunrise from my bed.


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Simran Sethi is an award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on Sethi, visit SimranSethi.com.


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