Feeling at Home: Defining Who You Are and How You Want to Live

Feeling at Home: Defining Who You Are and How You Want to Live

by Alexandra Stoddard

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Most decorating books omit the most important element of the home: you. Does your home reflect who you really are? Feeling at Home focuses on this most essential aspect of decorating: creating a home that is truly your emotional center. Every room and object should answer your needs and make you feel more human and whole. Alexandra Stoddard gently leads us


Most decorating books omit the most important element of the home: you. Does your home reflect who you really are? Feeling at Home focuses on this most essential aspect of decorating: creating a home that is truly your emotional center. Every room and object should answer your needs and make you feel more human and whole. Alexandra Stoddard gently leads us through a process of self-attunement and self-expression in which we discover not only our practical needs, but also our yearnings--perhaps a sunny spot for reading; a colorful nook for ironing; an inviting place for paperwork. She urges us to question the rules and to never "pre-compromise" by talking ourselves out of our true desires. With imaginative and practical examples from her personal and professional life, she helps us discover countless ways to express ourselves at home and instantly feel comfort, pleasure, and ease.

Why settle for merely being "in" our homes when we can be "at home?" Feeling at Home puts us on the path to home as we've always dreamed it could be.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stoddard (Open Your Eyes) is a well-known interior designer, but her books mine a territory that's closer to self-help than color schemes. Her latest volume urges readers to look at themselves and their homes with a new consciousness. Through a text liberally laced with both personal anecdote and queries (from "How well are you getting along with your spouse?" to "How much time do you spend eating?"), Stoddard guides readers through a process of self-exploration, then encourages them to reshape not only their houses but the way they spend time there. What she calls emotional comforts, such as order and color, are enhanced along the way, while unrewarding chores, spaces or possessions are pared down. The result, she convincingly affirms, is a more delightful, less demanding life. Stoddard has a genuine gift for thinking creatively about interior spaces; too often, though, she returns to themes well covered in past books--her own and others'--or collapses into vague silliness ("If in the past you found no satisfaction in emptying the garbage, transcend the garbage pail, rise above it"). However, the book bubbles with an infectious appreciation of even the smallest domestic pleasure and an inspiring awareness of the spiritual and emotional life of a house. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Stoddard (Open Your Eyes, The Decoration of Houses) explains that this is a "guide to help you live an inner-directed, dynamic life every day in your private haven." She successfully shows how to create an attractive, comfortable home by examining one's lifestyle, personality, and interests. As is her style, she interweaves anecdotes, both personal and professional, with her decorating advice. Recommended for public libraries. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Defining Who You Are Now

The immense value and beauty of the human being lies precisely in
the fact that he belongs to the two kingdoms of nature and the spirit.

--Thomas Mann

Feeling at Home

Several years ago, my daughter Brooke was sitting at a favorite café in Paris, reflecting on how central France is to her life. Not only did she find her true self in France but her love of this country led her to a career in design and style. Something extraordinary happens to Brooke's face whenever she sets foot on French soil. She gets dimples. Ever since she was five, France has been a living reality in her philosophy and her way of experiencing the world. At that café that particular afternoon, reflecting on her good fortune to be able to make her home in Paris after graduating from college, she did something I would do -- she got out her pen and a sheet of paper from her Filofax and wrote down the ten things that define who she is. She kept that list in her notebook all these years and came across it recently. What's powerful about this exercise is how true to her center these words continue to be. These words tumbled from pen to paper without conscious thought. They symbolize all the true meaning of her being.


Over lunch in a French bistro on Madison Avenue, she shared with me these ten symbols that define who she is. Ireached for pen and paper and wrote mine down. My husband, Peter, joined in and wrote down his. We laughed and laughed. Tears of joy rolled down our cheeks because of the ineffable liberation of our spirits. Here we are, three people who love each other dearly, who have shared a home together happily ever since Peter and I married in May 1974, yet each of us expresses our true self so differently. That lunch was memorable because of the intimacy we felt toward each other and the feeling of freedom each of us experienced in defining who we are.

Because this experience was so powerful for all of us, I suggest you get out a pencil or pen and a piece of paper and write down the ten word symbols that tell who you truly are. Don't think. Your subconscious does all the work. Be there to record what emerges from the deepest recesses of your heart. This may be one of the sweetest moments of your entire life. Try it, and see for yourself how you feel.

Your Personal Book

The brilliant result of the exercise you just completed is that you see your individuality in front of you. You have a unique mind and spirit. No matter what social conventions or habits you've learned, you are different from anyone else on earth. Once you tap into that awareness of your self, then the joy is in expressing that unique soul.

Buy a notebook to use as an exercise book as you read Feeling at Home. Think of this book as a place to discover your own personal truth. By getting in tune and in touch with your truths, you can create a home that echoes your true spirit. When I ask you a question, write the answer in your notebook. The notebook will be our creative interaction.

I am going to share some deeply felt truths about our feelings at home. I want you to be challenged by them. Make notes, write your questions, answer those you wish to, and remember, there are no right answers. You will see that the questions lead you to your own reality, your own truth, your own answers. Your answers can't be answered by me (or anyone else), nor will I ask you all the right questions. Some will cause painful self-analysis and others will help you to see how well your needs are met at home. I want to stimulate your thinking about your daily life, your needs, and your desires.

The notebook you use to accompany Feeling at Home might be the best book ever written because it will be you at your core, free of social expectations and the anxieties of day-to-day living. Once you can touch that essential nature, you are free to live not only a beautiful life but a joyful existence in your earthly home.

Ten Personality Traits

The ten symbols that define who I am are:


Later, I will share examples of how and why I've been untrue to my self at different periods of my life and how I got back on my path.

Peter told me he'd be happy to share his ten defining symbols:

Old friends

I smile every time I think of this because anyone who knows Peter understands this is pure Peter Megargee Brown. One of the most important lessons I've learned from Peter is how true he always is to who he really is. No matter who he's with, whether he's alone with me, with family, with a mentor, a client, a friend, or a waiter, with rare exceptions he is quintessentially himself. He is a playful fourth child of four, always the baby, and as the youngest he had invaluable time to learn from his mother, who was happy and resourceful, beautiful and graceful in spirit. Simply, he got away with being himself. To the extent he could separate himself from others' demands, he managed to do so. Often he just played dumb, politely listening to others' advice, while following his own.

On Becoming Who We Are

It took me longer to break free for many simple and complex reasons. My mother was easy to get along with as long as you agreed with her. Perhaps...

Feeling at Home. Copyright © by Alexandra Stoddard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Author of twenty-four books, Alexandra Stoddard is a sought-after speaker on the art of living. Through her lectures, articles, and books such as Living a Beautiful Life, Things I Want My Daughters to Know, Time Alive, Grace Notes, Open Your Eyes, and Feeling at Home, she has inspired millions to pursue more fulfilling lives. She lives with her husband in New York City and Stonington Village, Connecticut.

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