What does home really mean? asks Lebanese-Canadian author Najwa Zebian
What does home really mean? And what happens when we build it in the wrong places? These are the questions at the heart of poet, speaker, and educator Najwa Zebian’s debut book, Welcome Home: A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul.
Through a blend of memoir, poetry and poignant teachings, Zebian shares her deeply personal story of leaving Lebanon at 16, coming of age as a young Muslim woman in Canada, and building a new identity for herself.
For many of us, home is seen as a physical space, a feeling, or a person. But for Zebian, who experienced a profound lack of belonging during her childhood, home is something else entirely—it’s, what she describes as, the place where the soul and heart feel at peace. After years of feeling alienated, Zebian learned to build a stable foundation inside herself, an identity independent of cultural expectations and the influence of others.
“I am my own home. Home is me. Therefore, wherever I go, I am home,” says Zebian. “Now that I have a home within, I don’t wonder if or strive to fit in. I don’t mold myself into the new place. I project who I am into the environment around me instead,” she says.
Using the powerful metaphor of home, practical tools and prompts for personal transformation and healing, Zebian shows us how to construct the following “rooms” within ourselves: Self-Love, Forgiveness, Compassion, Clarity, Surrender, and The Dream Garden.
What do these rooms mean? “Dividing the metaphorical home within one’s soul serves the purpose of being clear on what it is you are needing and what it is you are working on” she says. “For example, in the Clarity room, you envision mirrors all around because it’s literally for the purpose of seeing yourself and the world for what they really are. It’s about authentic acceptance. The Self Love room is all about living in action what it means to love yourself. Being aware that’s the room you’re entering inherently has a defined and empowering purpose. It removes any distractions from that purpose.”
What advice does Zebian have for newcomers and immigrants to Canada? “Don’t abandon yourself and all your identities just to be accepted. If you do that, all you’re doing is living a double life; one at home and one in public. If you work on building that home for yourself within, the place where you feel seen, loved and heard just as you are, you will not feel the need to put on a mask or hide parts of who you are out of feeling ashamed or not good enough. Having a home within means that you are authentically living wherever you go,” she says.
Watch Zebian’s TEDx talk, “Finding Home Through Poetry,”
You can purchase the book here.