giveaway: caitlin shetterly's long way 'home'

ISEEM TO BE A BIT SHORT HERE ON YOUTH, SPOUSES, AND CHILDREN…but even with these differences in the facts of our lives, I loved the new memoir called “Made for You and Me” by 30-something wife and mother Caitlin Shetterly. Like my own story, it’s about finding one’s true home—which is not necessarily the place where everyone thinks you belong. Meet Caitlin, and win her book (or mine) in the process, perhaps.

Caitlin’s is a tale, as the cover subheadline says, of “Going West. Going Broke. Finding Home.” In March 2008, she and her then-newlywed husband, Dan, headed to their dream of life in Los Angeles, only to encounter something less, and more, than all the promise their fresh start together seemed to hold. The brutally frank, very personal tale—which has become more than just theirs but a universal and even political one in the wake of the recent recession that has washed over so many American dreams—was first told in a blog to friends and family that became a series of popular radio diaries on NPR’s “Weekend All Things Considered.”

There were other curveballs beyond the economy: An unexpected pregnancy at the start of their adventure left Caitlin too sick to work. A wearying, costly string of apartment mishaps, and the loss of a beloved pet in the process added to the drama. Eventually, the money and the Plan B’s (many of them) were exhausted, and there was a mother’s call from back home in Maine: You can come here and live with me.

Once again these 21st-century Joads packed all that remained of their possessions, minus one cat and plus one son, and crossed America in retreat.

We felt bruised and tired, unsure of anything other than each other and our direction: home.

We drove, stopped, nursed, changed a diaper, drove, stopped, nursed. We were crawling across the country, our car teetering with stuff…

And then: arrival, and a first night of rest in her former childhood bed, which was too small to fit her husband alongside her. Dan was relegated to a mattress in a loft nearby, the latest compromise of their compromised dream.

In the dark, I lay there. I was home. I had made an epic—to my life—journey across America in 11 days. I had lost my cat. I had a child. My husband and dog were still with me. I was at my mother’s, where I had never wanted to end up for more than a visit. I had no idea how long we’d be there. I was tired. I was anxious. I was grateful. What had happened to us? It was almost too much to grasp. My new life as I knew it had collapsed and something else was beginning. I just had no idea what it was, or if I’d even recognize what was before me as my life.

It was back in her home of origin that Caitlin heard her mother’s invocation to each evening (“I love this evening”) or day (“I love this day”), and though such utterances seemed vaguely irritating considering all that was going on, they served eventually to soften, to guide, and helped the surrender. The laughter returned…and you will have to read “Made for You and Me” (enter below to win one of two copies I bought to share) or Caitlin’s blog, to see where, and what, Caitlin and Dan and their son call home today, and how they are doing.

Aside: Perhaps the very best, and quite unexpected, part about writing a book is meeting other authors. I met Caitlin through her literary agent, with whom I was on a panel recently, and who afterward emailed me to say, “I have an author whose work you may like.” With that introduction, I got more than a galley of a good read: I got to correspond with another new author who, like myself, was running from hither to yon doing appearances, having a hard time with exhaustion and wondering what it would all add up to.

I met a woman who in her new life has become, as I have, quite the hippie-style home economist: learning to feed herself well but thriftily, wasting nothing, enjoying the process. And I met a woman who, because she almost accidentally started a blog in 2008 within days of when I did, is surrounded with readers who say things like this to her:

God bless you for making it home.”

How to Win Caitlin’s, and My, Books

IHAVE 2 COPIES of Caitlin’s “Made for You And Me” that I bought to give away; Caitlin bought two copies of my “And I Shall Have Some Peace There” to share on her site. Simply comment below, answering the question:

How have you found home—and what does home mean to you?

Then go do the same thing over at Caitlin’s. We’ll each draw two winners after entries close on Sunday, March 27, at midnight. Remember: You double your chances by commenting on both blogs, even if you simply cut and paste your same comment to both spots.

Now you know me: I understand some of you are shy and just want to say, “Count me in,” or “I want to win” in the comments. That’s fine—but it’s even better if you talk a little about the notion of home. Good luck in the drawing!

Note: Federal regulations require that I say that goods purchased from any links to Amazon here net me a small commission (which I use to buy books for giveaways like this).

  1. Muriel says:

    I know I found home after being in this house for many years and finally seeing small pieces of myself throughout the rooms inside and especially in the plants I nurture outside.

  2. Judith Manion says:

    I have recently returned to my “home” city of Sydney after living overseas for 14 years in 3 different countries. Right now I feel somewhat dislocated as I’m not sure where my true home lies. But rather than despair, I’m prepared to work through this feeling and I know, in the end, the truth will present itself.

  3. Lee Bowers says:

    My husband became disabled last year and we were forced to downsize and sell a lot of our “possessions”. Now, a year later we are very happy in our condo…downsized and living with less. Yes, less possessions, but more love and peace. My husband is thriving without a stressful job and stairs to climb morning and night. Our porch has taken the place of gardens and grass. Life is good!

  4. Delores says:

    I have found home. My life started in the country born to farmers in the high plains. As a young adult I couldn’t wait to leave—I wanted to see the world. My world moved from South Dakota to San Jose, CA to Denver to Las Vegas to Los Angeles with a divorce and remarriage to my highschool sweetheart who turned out to be the love of my life. My career blossomed and the moves were generally for career advancement. In each place, my husband and I created home and each move was an adventure. Then about 1 1/2 years ago, the opportunity arose to retire and we grabbed it. Our final move has been to Nebraska where we found our little piece of paradise on 13 acres with a little cottage that came back with TLC and a barn for our horses and space for a large garden and my delightful hens. I am back in the country and we are truly home.

  5. Judy says:

    Through trying what I thought I should do, what others thought I should do and then what felt good, I found that home is doing and being in a place where I go “Ahhhhhhhh”.

  6. Cheryl says:

    All my life I have moved every three or four years. My father was a researcher for the goverment and my Mom would pack in the car and say proudly, “I can live any where”.
    Today I say “home is where the heart is”

  7. Katharine says:

    My spouse, two cats, one dog, and I all share a cozy, colorful 600-square-foot cottage that truly feels like a haven to me. However, as I get older, I feel that our true “home” lies inside ourselves & that the more authentically we live, the closer we are to it.

  8. Gayle Parrish says:

    I have moved to a smaller town and am working on gutting and renovating an old historic house. I don’t know if this is my “forever” home, but it feels more like home than the larger city I lived in for the past 20+ years. I’m grateful for the chance to save this house, and save myself in the process.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Such a big question! The thought of answering it is intimidating enough… but to keep it short enough for a “comment” on a blog? Yikes! There are so many versions of “home” each with distinct meanings and feelings…. Ultimately though, home is where I know I can come in and close the door and just breathe. So, I guess it is more of an internal heart place, but it’s also currently that physical place, not where my furniture is and books and stuff, though that’s all true, but where I can sneak a kiss or a hug from my little girl or prepare a meal for my family; where I can love and be loved. It happens to be the 11th house or apartment of my lifetime, happens to have a lovely blank slate of a garden for the flowers and work that brings smiles to my face…. well, that’s enough. It’s where I am right now.

  10. Kelly says:

    I’m still looking for home. I moved away from family 10 years ago and even though I e made a home, I don’t think it’s the home I need.

  11. Abiga/Karen says:

    I am sixty this year. I currently don’t have a “home” of my own. I gave up my dream home to be nearer my family. I now live with family because of circumstances in my life and theirs. I will be searching my heart this coming year to hear from God as to where I belong. Blessings to you all.

  12. Amy says:

    I try and tell myself that home is wherever I am. I find though that I feel at home when I can hang out at my house, watch the birds, cook some food and sometimes, when I’m feeling extravert, have friends over to share a meal with. Home means safety – a haven away from the rest of my life, which I find overwhelming. Home means a place I can tuck away and let my shy side have a place to come out.

  13. Mary says:

    Home is where I have lived ever since we were married. We have went thru various stages in our life and always seeking another avenue. Being Farmers we have always been close to the Earth. The past years we have enjoyed planting an caring for trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers. Something new unfolds each day of the growing season. Enjoy your website for more information on our latest chapter of life.

  14. Maude Ciardi says:

    Home is where peace and contentment surround me in this busy world.
    It is where I can enjoy my family and friends as I can surround them with love
    It is where I have my cherrished memories to surround me while I am here in this world.
    My garden with flowers that I love and colors of rainbows; a place to meditate and draw close to God
    This is what home means to me

  15. Debbie R says:

    Home is where the heart is…a place I can relax and just “BE”. Although my house is not the biggest, the newest, or the fanciest…it is the place I most love to be because it is HOME!

  16. Kristina says:

    My husband and I work the family farm and with it come lots of input from said family — in-laws, outlaws, neighbors, etc. It’s not always fun but I’ve learned to “bloom where I’m planted.” I’ve never really felt at home here but I’ve done my best to make it a happy home for my little family and my yard and gardens are my therapy.

  17. Erika says:

    Home is not a physical space and it is not a mental state. Home is an emotionally tangible contentment that comes from action. I am a west coast girl at heart (proud Oregonian to be exact), but I have been in the hustle of NYC for 2 years due to work. It has been exhausting trying to carve that niche that brings comfort and peace – but I found that trying to maintain the habits and actions that I routinely did back home settled the restlessness and helped me rebuild here. Surprisingly, the simplicities of my life in Oregon (i.e. finding a local farmers market, joining a book club, bringing flowers and plants and setting them on my bedside table to wake up to every morning) are expressions of life that I needed to maintain to feel whole. NYC has the tendency strip those who come from snail pace lifestyles (some come just for that reason), but staying true to the virtues of life that I was raised with and believe in, I honestly feel that their is no place on earth I cannot call home.

  18. Joanna says:

    Thank you Margaret for pointing me in the right direction to post this.

    Home to me is where I am, I have lived in four different countries now and visited a few more and I have been home in all of them. I can understand it when people say home is where the heart is, and my heart is just following what I feel God is saying to me to do. Think home is in Latvia for a while longer yet and that is fine, I am loving it.

  19. LW says:

    Having recently ended a 30+ year relationship, I have had an overwhelming need to create a new home. After reaching some clarity on where I wanted to live, I set my intention by incorporating that place into a collage about my new life….a life filled with new and old friends, love, abundance, meaningful work and a small beautiful space in which to make new roots. Less than two months later, the “place” manifested itself. My home will be a place of solitude and beauty as well as a place welcoming to friends for dinners, conversation, and fun.

  20. terri says:

    wherever i am, i try to put down roots and not worry about being transplanted someplace else. that, to me, is the essence of home.

  21. Sherry says:

    I have made my home for myself, as it is the only way I would get to have it. I bought it myself(well, I’m paying for it myself), decorated it myself and planted the garden myself. It’s mine and I love it.

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