Tiny Wisdom: The Heart in Our Homes

Before I found this Flickr image, I had never read this Irish blessing before. What a beautiful idea!

I remember in college, I spent a semester abroad in the Netherlands. My school owned a castle there—a full-on castle with a moat and towers and everything. The school gave us all three-day weekends, and two full weeks off so we could maximize our Eurail passes.

I didn’t bring as much money as other students did—I actually put a lot on my credit card and then worked extra to pay it off when I returned home—so I spent quite a few weekends almost alone in that castle.

It was an absolutely gorgeous space, and I enjoyed reflecting in solitude (and exploring the village), but the memories I cherished the most involved new friends crammed into tiny hostel rooms.

And it wasn’t just the adventure of being in a foreign country that made this so enticing. It was equally exciting to hang out in milk-crate decorated dorm rooms and apartments the following semester. When you're with good people, it doesn't matter where you are as long as you're all together.

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I see no shortage of amazing houses far grander than my apartment. I walk by them frequently, and sometimes I admire them for their architecture and opulence. But the most beautiful home I’ve ever seen will always be my grandmother’s.

She has a small apartment in the housing projects where she hosted holiday gatherings for years before recently getting sick. Crammed with way too many Italian people all talking on top of each other, decorated with homemade afghans and one too many pictures of awkwardly posed grandchildren, it always feels warm and full of love.

That’s what makes a house of home. It’s not designer décor. It’s not the perfect furniture. It’s not the sprawling living room, backyard, or deck. It’s the sometimes messy, always cozy sense of comfort and welcome. It’s where one more person is always received with a friendly, boisterous, “Heeeeey!” in unison (or maybe that’s just us Italians).

There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, and living in a spacious, comfortable house.

But in the end, it’s not our stuff that we value. What really matters is how much space we create in our hearts—and how comfortable we are opening them to let other people in.

Photo by CarbonNYC

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • This helps me put everything in perspective. Thank you Lori!

  • Erik of Ersa

    Fell upon your site this morning and it was like a spiritual cup of coffee.  It is nice to see a a fellow human that is open and honest about their being human with the rest of us who try and tackle the myriad of self doubt, anxiety, depression, and lonliness that we can all feel on the inside even when surrounded by those that love us.  It makes me feel not so alone and want to share my own observations as well as spread yours around to everyone I know.  I’m sorry the comment wasn’t just about the picture, but I just wanted to share my immediate thoughts before my inner critic decided it was too much.  Spread the love!

  • Wonderfully said, Lori!

    I was raised very poor in a house that should have been condemned. However, it was home. Not because of the material items but because it was a gathering place for the whole family – it was my grandparents’ house.

    It was my Italian side. A small kitchen that made homemade sauce. A round bed that cradled all the homemade pasta drying in sheets along the flat surface. It was the laughter, the food, the loud voices and my grandfather always pinching my cheeks and exclaiming “Quanto è bella!” (How beautiful!).

    All-in-all…. it was love that made that old poor house a home.

  • Jenlawson1291

    I can SOO relate to the Italian Family welcoming greeting of HEEEEYYYY! as we enter our grandmother’s home for the holidays. I love it!

  • Sylbyr50

    Well said, and thank you for the reminder. Small condo in nc .

  • Lynn Landry

    Cajuns are like that too! Walk in and they all say HEEEEEEEEEY! Loved this post. My mom always frets about her small house when we visit, but it’s perfect. I try and emulate that. I don’t get upset about spills or breakage and our gatherings are always bigger than our tiny house can handle and somehow it works.

  • You’re most welcome! =)

  • I had a feeling other Italians would relate to that! =)

  • You’re most welcome!

  • It sounds like we had similar childhoods! I grew up with three siblings in a two-bedroom basement apartment. My brother, sister, and I shared a room. We had bunk beds with a pull-out bed underneath it! But still, I always loved having family over around the holidays. The more crowded, the better!

  • Hi Erik,

    Welcome to Tiny Buddha. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the site so far! I started it for that very reason: I know what it’s like to feel alone with my struggles, and I wanted to start conversations that remind us we all deal with the same things. I find it helps me a lot to share my own experiences and hear from other people who can relate, and I love knowing it helps other people as well.

    Have a great night!


  • I always enjoyed the process of putting folding chairs up in my grandmother’s kitchen on Christmas Eve. Even though we were all kind of on top of each other, it just felt right!

  • Nutmegdesigns

    My husband makes strudel from his grandmother’s recipe for his family every October, and the last two years he has also invited friends. It was a delight to have everyone crowded around the dining room table with a motley assortment of chairs from the whole house!

  • That sounds like a lot of fun! =)

  • Lori

    I have been stressing about an upcoming graduation party for my son. Too much to do, too little time…you know. I keep thinking I have to paint, buy new curtains, plant more flowers, have more, be more, etc. This article really hit home for me. I am hanging this sentence on my fridge tonight – “What really matters is how much space we create in our hearts—and how comfortable we are opening them to let other people in.” Thanks for the reminder!

  • You’re most welcome fellow Lori. I hope you, your son, and the rest of your family have a wonderful day! =)

  • Maria Elena Jones

    We are adding another child to our already tiny home and every time I think, “We need more space!” my husband says, “But I like living on top of each other!” lol  We both grew up with big families in small homes and for years I tried to get away.  My husband always reminds me that it’s more fun this way! 😀

  • Kathleen

    Great reminder that it’s people, not things, that make a home.  I’m blessed to spend Thanksgiving each year at my sisters house, our family, her in-laws, kids and dogs running through the house… we have a blast.  It’s those days I’ll never forget.

  • Congratulations on your new addition! And I think your husband’s on to something…I think it’s more fun that way too!

  • That sounds like a perfect to spend Thanksgiving Kathleen. =)