Death by Homesickness

Top of Mind

This past week relationships have been on my mind a lot. Not only are we rapidly approaching Michael’s first birthday but it is, professionally, the busiest time of the year for me. Considering the changing relationship I have with my children as they (and I) get older, the impact that has on my marriage, and the relationships I strive to forge with the students I serve crowd for space in my mind.

As I consider my own relationships and the process of cultivating that closeness, I wonder how you incorporate that into your life.

In My Earbuds

I had a number of podcasts I subscribe to and listen to regularly. This past week there were two struck me as making a delightfully unexpected connection.

The first was TED Talks Daily—The History of Human Emotions. In the talk Tiffany Watt Smith describes a young man living far from home, about 60 miles, in the late 17th century. The young man’s friends discover him “dejected and feverish, having heart palpitations, strange sores braking out on his body.” This young man is close to death and is brought home to die. Much to the surprise of all involved, by the time they arrive at his village “he’s almost entirely recovered. And that’s when they realize that he’s been suffering from a very powerful form of homesickness.” There is a small murmur of laughter from the audience as they are, evidently, tickled at the idea that just missing home did—at one time—have the power to kill you. I will admit, as I was walking with Michael in the dawn hours I was lightly amused as well.

And then, several days later I was listening to The Intelligence on Economist Radio. The episode was “Scarcely surviving: Zimbabwe.” There was a segment in the show talking about an experiment in the Netherlands where young—college aged—adults lived with the very elderly—adults who were 85+ years old. One of the largest successes of the program is that having a mix of ages helps the older adults avoid the devastating health outcomes associated with loneliness.

Suddenly it doesn’t seem so far fetched that homesickness could kill you, does it?

My take-away from all of this is that careful cultivation of our relationships matters deeply and is an integral part of “having it all.”

You Never Know

Over the weekend Elizabeth and I went school clothes shopping. I know to the more seasoned parents out there girls size small probably seems, well, small. But I can hardly believe I have a child big enough to be out of the toddler section entirely.

To stretch our dollars—and be in a relatively relaxed environment—we started out at Goodwill. If you ever want to see assertive communication in action, go shopping with a 5-year-old. Most of the pieces of clothing I chose for her also met with her approval. The ones that didn’t? Well, she’d say something along the line of “Can you do a little something about that?” (referring to one thing she didn’t like).

Regardless of who you are, you never know if you don’t ask.


I can’t stress it enough. Our relationships matter so much. Our relationships with ourselves (that’s another blog post for next week) and our relationships with those around us. Reach out when you can, try to be present with those you’re with.

There are a few housekeeping things I want to mention before signing off for the week.

First, if you’re able there is a box on your right (if you’re on a tablet or desktop) to support quality content. If you can, I appreciate it!

Second, I’ve developed a 3-week course designed to help you effectively choose your priorities. If you’re interested you can click here to sign up.

Third, if a 3-week commitment is too much I’d love to join your group to talk for 30 to 45 minutes about setting priorities!

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