Creating Values-Based Traditions for a Spirited Home

I tend to hit a wall when it comes to creating home and family-centered traditions: those rituals and moodscapes that anchor a home and nourish it’s heart and spirit.

One day it dawned on my husband and I that, yeah, we’re the parents and the tenders of our home hearth.

I imagine there are others who, like me, feel a call to tend the hearth and craft traditions, but have trouble putting this into practice. You may feel full or overwhelmed, as if just getting by in life. Or perhaps it feels as if you’re missing something - a template, a memory, an instinct or something ineffable.

An elder friend once said to me, "You know what tradition is? It's bringing your values to the hearth."

Let's take a closer look at my friend's wise nugget.  

What is tradition?

Tradition is defined as “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.”

Mining my childhood for positive family traditions allows me to re-awaken and pass along experiences that evoked in me a sense of continuity, safety and belonging. Like banging pots and pans as the clock struck midnight at my grandmother's house on New Year's. Or listening to the Howard Stern Show in the car with my father during my summer visits with him.

Ok, I might not share the Howard Stern of the '80s with my boys, but this memory of a morning ritual that I (and I alone) shared with my father is precious with me. Why? Because of the feeling I associate with it - of feeling connected to my father.

In other instances, letting go of old traditions and creating new ones allows me to affirm my voice as I reconfigure aspects of my lineage that feel less aligned with my truth. I'm not Christian, so I don't attend midnight mass for instance.

What is hearth? 

There are a number of definitions for hearth. Literally, it’s the floor of the fireplace and the concrete, brick or stone area surrounding it.

Metaphorically, hearth can be experienced as the feeling of home, or the heart of the home so to speak. Hearth also refers to a vital or creative center: the vital energy of a community, a family, of one’s Self.

What are values? 

Values reflect our beliefs and ideals about what holds importance for us. They are lenses or currents that shape our priorities, behaviors and movement within our lives.

I believe that while many values surf the crest of the wave (and in this are easily identifiable), others inhabit the currents beneath. Though they influence the nature of that wave less visibly, their impact is no less powerful.

So, let’s return to my elder friend’s statement: Tradition is bringing your values to the hearth.

What do we do with this? As a deep diver, I’m going to encourage you to do a little excavating.

You can use any or all of these prompts in a variety of ways depending on what feels right for you. Here are three suggestions: 1) as journaling or art journaling prompts; 2) as inspiration for Tarot or oracle card pulls; 3) as meditation or journey inquiries.

  • What are some traditions that were handed down to you? What are their underlying values and energy?
  • Have you created new traditions? What are their underlying values and energy?
  • How do you experience your sense of values? Are you clear on them? Do they feel fuzzy or slippery? Do they shift depending on your relationships and perception of others? 
  • Were the things that mattered to you most as a younger person respected or even celebrated by family, carers, peers, etc.? Tolerated? Unseen? Invalidated? Met with punishment? Something else?
  • What values have a noticeable impact on your life? 
  • What values do you imagine affect your life in a quieter, subconscious way? Because these may be in your blind spot, allow your imagination to guide this inquiry.
  • Of these values, which feel most innate and resonant with your truth? Which feel most supportive of a positive experience of home and hearth? Which, if any, feel sticky, crunchy or contradictory to your truth?

If you need a little nudge around identifying values, you can access Brene Brown's Dare to Lead List of Values PDF here.

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