This Whole Land of our Sojourn is my Home


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This Whole Land of My Sojourn is my Home
This Whole Land of My Sojourn is my Home

This summer, we whisked ourselves away to the rugged northern wilds of California, Minnesota, and Michigan.  On the West Coast, we ducked into a secret redwood garden awash with Rivendell lights; in Michigan, we built campfires on the edges of a 19th century settlement, and — while reading Amory Blaine’s exploits in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise — drove through both Amery and Blaine.

The sun rose and set, for me, in  four states on three of this country’s borders, over two different oceans, on the edge of one Great Lake, and even — thirty thousand feet aloft — over dozens and dozens of sparkling little towns.

I highlighted as many lines in Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley in Search of America as my digital swipe would allow, then watched them all vanish in a burst of pixels, as the server sucked the virtual book back in after three loaned weeks. I sorted through old family documents, scratched away in fountain ink, faded proof of all the secrets and genes tumbling down through the generations.

It’s temporary glory, to put words in Steinbeck’s mouth.

It’s all a temporary shimmer of the eternal.

“To find not only that this bedlam of color was true but that the pictures were pale and inaccurate translations, was to me startling. I can’t even imagine the…colors when I am not seeing them…. ‘It is a glory,’ she said, ‘and can’t be remembered, so that it always comes as a surprise.'”

It can’t be remembered.

It always comes as a surprise.

This Whole Land of My Sojourn is my Home

I belong nowhere, and everywhere. I come home through so many different doors, walk with a sigh across so many different thresholds.

Sarah Dessen rattles her way across the keyboard onto the novel’s page to tell us all, “Home [i]sn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It [i]s wherever the people who loved you [a]re, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”

This shell of mine is stained with the red clay of Oaxaca and the Sierra Nevada, gilded in copper patina from the Ljubljanica River, dusted over from the kiln-like heat of the Sacramento Valley,  preserved in the subzero howl of the northern wilds, and sloshing from the perpetual rain of these subtropics.

It’s always with me.

And it always comes as a surprise.

This Whole Land of My Sojourn is my Home

I don’t know how I would handle having my roots all smashed together and compacted into one tiny plot of earth. I wasn’t made for roots like that. I was made for the kind that stretch and strain and burrow, through clay and sand and heat and rain, putting a little branch down here and other down halfway across the globe.

Steinbeck felt it through and through. “When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ships’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, once a bum always a bum. I fear this disease incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself….A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

The faded old documents I sorted this summer traced a journey across the Atlantic, on both sides of the family, through Ellis Island. As a child, I flew this route over their ghosts by air; less than a hundred years earlier, great grandparents on both sides of the family took this route by sea.

This Whole Land of My Sojourn is my Home

This Whole Land of My Sojourn is my Home

Neruda once said it was our destiny to love and say goodbye. I think it’s our destiny to love and say hello, over and over and over again — in all the “places with no weight” as Octavio Paz would say —

in all our many homes, knowing that He’s put eternity in our hearts [1], knowing all the time that we’re heading Home no matter how many different places we land,

in this, the land of our sojourn.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon. com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  Please be assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links. 

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INTERIOR DESIGN :: Home Office and Homeschool Room (in an Apartment with Limited Space)


Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Several months ago, I had the exciting opportunity to style a practical workspace for Babiekins Magazine; one that would function both for working from home and homeschooling. (Previously, I had styled a global-themed kids bedroom, too.) Since we live in an apartment, I didn’t have a dedicated room to serve as a home office and school room, so I cleared one wall of our living room instead. And I really didn’t want it to be a primary color menagerie of school posters.

There are a few things I really like about this space. Of course the huge wall map is right up at the top of the list! And I love the big white rug to cover the rental carpet. But I also really love how the wardrobe from IKEA hides away the printer and all the messy office/school supplies — leaving room for “pretty things, my dear”. (Oliver Twist, anyone?) And the pine bench, another IKEA find, is amazingly comfortable, and is the perfect arrangement for my daughter and to work side-by-side.

You might notice there aren’t many books in these photos — our bookcases are actually stashed in various places throughout our apartment, so they didn’t all fit in these photos. But boy, do we have a lot of books. A LOT. (My husband is legitimately concerned about this. Don’t tell him each Sonlight core adds 50 or more, give or take a dozen.)

It’s no secret I’m in love with words. I love to try to untangle the words in my mind, and coax them into sentences no one has ever read before. I love to read the expertly-woven words of not just classic authors, but contemporary voices, too. The middle ages print from the late 1400s — showing the arduous process of writing a book in the 1100s — reminds me that it hasn’t always been easy for one’s voice to be heard. This reminder, along with the “Let Your Light Shine In the Darkness” poster, spurs me on to keep speaking out.

I’m so pleased with the way our homeschool room / home office turned out — it’s such a happy, inspiring, wonderful space. (All styling by me, Gina Munsey; and thanks to Priscilla Barbosa Photography for the images!)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

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Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

You can catch this room in the special “#SCHOOLKINS: Books, Bugs & Discovery” interior design section of the 7th print issue of Babiekins Magazine, available here.  And if you have questions about any of the items shown, just leave a comment! :)


DESK :: Malm, c/o IKEA Orlando
WALL MAP :: National Geographic, via The Map Center

MAP RAILS :: c/o Posterhanger
PINE WARDROBE :: Nornäs used as bookshelf, c/o IKEA Orlando
PINE BENCH :: Nornäs, c/o IKEA Orlando
MOROCCAN SHAG RUG :: c/o Rugs USA
GLASS JAR :: Korken, via IKEA Orlando
CERAMIC VASE :: Stylist’s Own, from Mexico City
BAMBOO SPEAKERS :: c/o Otis & Eleanor
METAL LAMP and EDISON BULB :: c/o Lamps Plus
LET LIGHT SHINE PRINT :: Naptime Diaries
DESKTOP CACTUS & TROPICAL PLANT ::  Lowe’s
SPACEPACK BACKPACKS :: c/o lukids.ru
PRINT RAILS :: c/o Posterhanger
MIDDLE AGES PRINT  :: Matthaeus Platearius Writing “The Book of Simple Medicines” via AllPosters.com
NICHOLAS NICKLEBY PRINT :: Book Cover Print via AllPosters.com
ROW OF 3 PRINTS :: Emily McDowell Studio and Jessica Sprague Printables
LAMP and SHADE :: Target
COWHIDE ::  Koldby, c/o IKEA Orlando
BOOKCASE :: Billy, via IKEA Orlando

PERCH CHAIR :: c/o Room & Board
STUDENT DESK :: Flash Furniture Desk with Metal Book Box, via Amazon

Disclosure of Material Connection: Any Amazon links you encounter above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. Amazon.com has not required me to place these links, nor do they have any control over which resources I choose to share. Please be assured, only the Amazon links above are affiliate links. None of the other links in this post are affiliate programs.. Of course I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links in a disclaimer such as this one.

To receive an update in your inbox each time I publish a post, click here.

Books, Books, Books: the Evolution of the Oaxacaborn Blog


Books, Books Books: The Evolution of the Oaxacaborn blog

When I started blogging publicly — over at Xanga, fourteen years ago! — I was in college, and blogged too many song lyrics and homework details. Then over the years, I moved back and forth across the country, working at sheet metal factory, a juvenile detention center, and an IT department, and wrote about all the ups and downs. When I became a mother, I even went through a phase where I predictably blogged about cloth diapers (I am so sorry). I’ve written about death, beauty, brokenness, joy — and interior design. And you’ve likely noticed that in the last few months, I’ve written a few longer pieces about homeschooling.

My blogging “methodology”, if you can call it that, hardly follows all the blogging advice. It’s always just followed the seasons of my life. But that’s the beautiful thing about life, too — it’s not stagnant.  It moves like a current. It flows, it goes through seasons, through changeable states of being. Way down at the bottom of this blog, in the footer, Anaïs Nin reminds me, “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”

Books, Books Books: The Evolution of the Oaxacaborn blog

I kind of feel like things are coming full circle for me, and it all has to do with books. As a girl, I devoured books, and read everything I could get my hands on. Now, it’s only April, and Aveline’s already read 130 books since the beginning of the year. So, you’ll probably be seeing a lot more posts about literature and children’s books, and more posts about homeschooling. (Although, this is no surprise if you follow me on Instagram @oaxacaborn). I have so many good books to share with you all, but I’ve been holding back, thinking for some reason that this isn’t the right place for it, and worried about losing followers. Well, that’s kind of ridiculous. Because when it comes right down to, perhaps, like Margaret Atwood said, “Perhaps, I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”

I’m just thankful some of you keep following along as I scrawl in the snow.

Books, Books Books: The Evolution of the Oaxacaborn blog


To shop the books pictured in this post, click on the appropriate photo.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Any Amazon links you encounter above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. Amazon.com has not required me to place these links, nor do they have any control over which resources I choose to share. Please be assured, only the Amazon links above are affiliate links. None of the other links in this post are affiliate programs. This post is not sponsored in any way. Of course I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links in a disclaimer such as this one.

To receive an update in your inbox each time I publish a post, click here.

POETRY & WORDS :: Chasing Light with Memoky


I wake up with a list in my head, sometimes, not seeing the light, not seeing the shadows shifting through the water-spotted windowpanes, because I’m seeing all the unchecked boxes. I wake up already feeling behind, sometimes, and tumble headlong into it all, very unlike a poet.

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Sometimes, I get up and frantically do, forgetting to be, ignorant to the beauty all around, because the day isn’t going the way I planned.

Because I’m clawing at efficiency.

“We are attempting, all the time,” says Billy Collins, “to create a logical, rational path through the day. To the left and right, there are an amazing set of distractions that we usually can’t afford to follow.  But the poet is willing to stop anywhere.

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My four-year-old stops anywhere.  She’s nonstop, she’s scientific, her brain is a perpetual motion machine, and yet she’s a tiny little poet. Why? Because, even in her intensity, she knows how to pause.

She’s intent on the details.

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She’s still captivated by all the tiny little pieces that together make up this “one wild and precious life” [1], as Mary Oliver says. At four, she hasn’t yet learned to ignore the shapes the sunrise scatters across the wall at dawn. She hasn’t learned to forget how fleeting they are, and hasn’t been trained to shrug over the fact the light fades in seconds. And so she giggles, chasing the shadows, running across the room to catch them, head thrown back, laughing loudly into the golden air.

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memoky_on_oaxacaborn_12And when the light shifts from yellow to white, she stops and pulls her knees up to her chest and lets the light illuminate the pages. It’s as though she’s already read Wendell Berry’s “How to be a Poet (to remind myself).”

“Make a place to sit down. 
Sit down. Be quiet.”

[Okay, so she doesn’t know a thing about quietness, really.]

“You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity…

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Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

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Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.”

I knew we can’t all be silent (although sometimes, after answering  279,817 questions before ten, that sounds like the loveliest retreat.) We can’t all pine away at a desk, acting as writers and poets for a living  (although that sounds marvelous too.)

We can’t all be children. It’s not only impractical, it’s impossible. We can’t abandon our responsibilities. We have schedules, work to do, and tasks we simply must complete. We can’t all recline like men and women of leisure, as though life were some still, calm, ancient painting.

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But we can train our hearts to see the joy and the beauty, right? Even in the hectic chaos, can we see snippets of what the poets see?  Can we choose to have hearts like children? (Jesus had a little something to say about grown people becoming as children, I think. [2])

My friend Marie reminds us that “life isn’t always clean and easy. Sometimes it’s messy and fuzzy.” But, she goes on, “There is still beauty and peace if you look hard enough. Find your beauty and share it. This world needs it.

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So can we do that? Can we leave room in our days for wonder? Can we leave margin for awe?  And then when we switch off the alarm in the morning, we can say, like the poet,

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields…
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –

good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness. [3]”

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About Memoky // Founded in New York City in 2015, Memoky offers an intentional collection of furniture, decor and lighting for the home. Shop online at memoky.com, or follow @MemokyHome on Instagram or on Facebook.

Myhre Table Lamp in White and Brass via the Galla Collection c/o Memoky.

Additional Credits // Flokati Sheepskin Rug: Shades of Light | Side Table, Plywood Chair, Bed: IKEA Orlando |  Tiger Sweatshirt: RUUM | Striped Linen Pants: Leitmotif | Poster Rails: Posterhanger 

Disclosure of Material Relationship: I received a lamp from Memokey in exchange for publishing this post. All the photographs, opinions, and experiences shared here are in my own words and are my own honest evaluation. Please be assured, I only accept sponsorship opportunities for brands I personally use and/or would recommend to close friends and family, and I will always disclose any such relationships.