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Belonging to Place

It is an odd thing to live somewhere that is different from your ethnic heritage. My heritage is a European soup. My paternal grandparents immigrated from Holland with my father when he was very young. My maternal family has lived in the prairies for a number of generations with Irish, English, and German heritage. Much of the mythos and unconscious knowledge of my ancestors is linked with the landscapes and dreams of ancient Europe. Yet, I belong to this place. Born and raised in Calgary, I can feel the foothills within the shape of my bones. I know the seasons based on the changes in the vegetative and animal patterns here. Living within a Venn of mountains, prairies, and badlands has created within me an ability to shapeshift; an adaptability that has served me in my many careers.

There is a large focus in mental health on individual growth, identity, and connecting within our own communities of humans. I argue that part of identity is also how we relate to the environments and spaces in which we live. This is more than buildings, neighborhoods, and how we create the sanctuary of our homes: It is how we belong to the ecology of the land. As Gabora says

"The land inhabits its people. People fall into the rhythm of the land upon which they dwell, which both constrains and enables how they approach survival tasks, how they create, and how they entertain themselves." (Oct 15, 2022).

The land was here long before we were, and will remain long after us; by syncing ourselves with its movements, history, and unfolding dramas, we become part of its evolving story. We belong within this sweeping epic. To the land. To its flow. To place. Belonging in this way is in stark contrast to believing the land belongs to us. It is instead to become a small piece of a larger pattern, befriending the other living, moving strands within the ever-changing tapestry of place.

I invite you today to take a moment to feel how you belong to place. Notice the synchronicities around you. Notice the trees and plants that create the fabric of your neighborhood. Let your eyes shift between the micro and macro, moving from seeing the small nuances of nature around you to taking in the larger vistas of sky, hills, and plain. If needed, change your perspective by physically changing your point of view. Check in with how in sync or out of sync you feel with the changing light, temperature, and season. Explore any curiosities that arise. Allow yourself to belong to the land; release into that knowing.

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