It’s Official… I Moved Home to Canada!

by Brenna Holeman

All photos taken in Canada

OK, so many of you already know this – the title shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who regularly reads this blog or follows me on social media. But I realised that I haven’t explicitly written about it on the blog yet, even though it’s been such a major shift in my life, one that – the more I thought about it – I realised did indeed deserve a post. I wrote about moving to London back in 2013, and then about staying in London after two years, and then again in 2017, when I decided to apply for the Graduate Entrepreneur visa and stay another year. But moving home to Canada? I wasn’t sure if it required any fanfare.

And now, more than six months on, I say fuck that: it deserves ALL the fanfare. Knowing what’s best for you and knowing where you’ll be happiest, even if it may not appear to be the most exciting on the outside (or on Instagram), can be just as exhilarating as moving to a foreign country.

Take it from me – moving home can be just as life-changing and exciting as moving abroad. It can also be just as brave, because let’s face it: there is still a stigma about “moving home”, especially if you’re not from what’s thought of to be a “cool” city (though, after living in London for five years, I’ve learned most London hipsters pretty much only think the following other cities are cool: Berlin, New York, Madrid, Tokyo, Stockholm…?. I dare you to tell a London hipster that any city without a distinct connection to art and design is cool. Like… chill, dude, you don’t write for Vice).

The bottom line was this: I was no longer happy in London. I hated admitting that for a very long time, because admitting that felt like defeat, felt like failure. It’s London, for God’s sake! The greatest city in the world! Was I seriously wanting to leave it?! My whole life, all I wanted to do was leave my hometown of Winnipeg – leave Canada altogether – and live abroad, study abroad, fall in love abroad, and travel as widely and as deeply as I could.

And so I did. I did for twelve years, across almost 100 countries. I got a master’s degree. I planted roots in a few countries, and stayed for a while in three (Scotland, Japan, and England). I fell in and out of love with people and with places many times over. I tried the nomadic thing for a few years, calling a backpack home.

And then… I didn’t want those things anymore. I started to feel it around 2016, after living in London for three years, and it all came to a head in 2017. A lot of people in the travel blogging world talk about burning out – travelling too long and too hard for too many years – but I wasn’t burnt out from the travelling per se. I was lonely and I was sad. I was tired of being lonely and sad.

Tour of Western Canada

I wrote about this in March, where I talked about the pressure I was putting myself under to travel a lot, to keep moving constantly, even though all I wanted to do was stay on the couch and watch Netflix. I don’t think there was ever a month in the five years that I lived in London that I didn’t travel at least once, if not twice (and some insane months, three times). That constant movement, plus the regular pressures we all face in life, plus the fact that I didn’t feel I had anyone to turn to in London, left me reeling. I started suffering from panic attacks for the first time ever. I felt anxious all the time; my go-to emotion became anger. I felt angry about everything, all the time. Going out in public was exhausting.

And as I said in that post in March, I felt uncomfortable writing about this or talking to most people about this because I’m very aware of my extreme privilege. I have been fortunate beyond belief – to travel and get paid for it? C’mon! – and I never wanted people to think I was just being a spoiled brat or an overly-entitled drama queen. But I was in a very dark place, and something had to give.

In early 2017, I started thinking about where I’d head next. The visa I was on in the UK – the aforementioned Graduate Entrepreneur visa – only lasted for two years (I was on a student visa before that), and I wanted to remain self-employed, so finding a job that would sponsor me didn’t make sense. My visa options were extremely limited (not to mention expensive). I was also single AF, so to all those who gleefully told me, “Easy! Just fall in love with someone and marry them!”, I would like to ask you what you think I’ve been trying to do for the past two decades of my life, ahem. Take it from me, you do not want to put all of your immigration eggs in the Tinder basket. And yes, while my family did originate in Europe, I don’t have any of the proper paperwork to get my own EU passport.

So where to move next? I thought about Germany, where I could apply for one of their freelancer visas; a few other countries in Europe have that visa option, too. I thought about Argentina, Indonesia, Rwanda. I thought about becoming nomadic again, about living in a different country for three months at a time; Italy, for example, allows Canadians to stay for three of every six months. Because all of my work is online, the world really was my oyster.

what to wear in canada in winter

But then I thought about what I was really, truly craving. I had just lived abroad for 12 years, so starting again as an expat felt tiring; it’s difficult to move to another country, no matter where you’re going. As for being nomadic, I didn’t want to become one of those asshole digital nomads who swoop into a cheap location for a few months, barely contribute to the local economy (massages and acai bowls don’t count), and subsequently drive up the cost of living for the local community… nor did I particularly feel like living out of a suitcase again.

What I really, truly wanted was to take a break. I wanted to get healthy again, in body, yes, but more importantly, in mind. I missed my family deeply. I wanted to live in a place where I could own some property, plant some flowers, cook, bake, and play piano. I wanted somewhere I could fairly easily afford to live and save up to travel, so big cities like San Francisco and Paris were off the table. It quite quickly came to me: I realised that it made the most sense to move back to Canada, the country that will always be home in my heart.

what to wear in canada in winter

But then another conundrum: where in Canada should I move? I grew up in Winnipeg, got my BAH in Halifax, and lived for a brief period in Toronto. Montreal’s amazing vibe appealed to me, as did Vancouver’s natural beauty. Around this time, I was listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, one of my top five desert island albums. I know every word of this album by heart, love every single song, and have listened to it thousands of times since it came out in 1998.

I was cleaning my flat on early spring day, the sun streaming in the windows, when the titular track came on. I was sort of humming, singing along, when – and I don’t really believe in this stuff, but hear me out – it was like a lightning bolt hit me. It just all made sense.

“But deep in my heart, the answer, it was in me.

And I made up my mind, to define my own destiny.”

Miss Hill was 100% NOT singing about trying to decide where to live, or my specific destiny. But right then and there I knew it, with as strong as a conviction as I’ve ever had in my life: I was going to move home to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I had written about how Winnipeg has felt like such a different city to me when I visited over the past few years, so different than what it felt like growing up, for a guest post on Hecktic Travels. Part of that, of course, is simply about growing up, but part of it is also the huge renaissance that Winnipeg has gone through in the past decade or so; somewhere along the way, our little prairie city became cool as fuck. The amount of cocktail bars, breweries, cafés, restaurants, events, galleries, shops, and festivals that have sprung up is simply mind-blowing.

Photo taken on Kristin’s Drone (Be My Travel Muse)

Not only that, I already owned a house in Winnipeg, a piece of land – small as it may be – all to my own. I bought it back in 2011, when I decorated it for the few months I lived there before renting it out for the next six and a half years (which is how I was able to pay the mortgage and pay some of my bills in London). And before you question how I was able to buy a house, trust me – when I told the average Londoner how much I paid for a three-bedroom detached house with a garage and both a front and back garden, I swear to you some of them nearly cried.

To put it in perspective: my monthly mortgage in Winnipeg is one third of what my monthly rent on my flat in London was. In other words… hell yes I’m proud of this investment. It has turned out to be one of the smartest financial decisions of my life (a nice counterbalance to that time I quit my amazing teaching job, packed up everything I owned, and moved to Tokyo, all for a guy… and then broke up with him three days later. Whoopsie.)

Canada is also the kind of country that one can’t take for granted, and I am thankful every day for my Canadian citizenship. In today’s world environment – one fraught with so much pain and suffering and injustice – I understand the privileged position I’m in to hold a Canadian passport, to come from a country that supports my choices, doesn’t quell my voice, and allows me true freedom and safety.

And so I moved all of my things from London back to Winnipeg, shipping them internationally while I travelled through Eastern Africa last summer. After a brief spell in Winnipeg to paint some walls and buy some furniture, I returned to Europe; I still had an active visa in the UK, and had a few press trips I had already signed on for. By November, however, I was ready to get the hell out. I was ready to get the hell home, now that I knew exactly where home really was.

With my brother Kitt, sister Zalie, and Zalie’s boyfriend Ross

When people ask how long I’ve lived in Winnipeg this time around, I usually say since around Christmas time, considering I spent early December in Central Japan on a press trip. I returned to London in February, planned a huge trip around Europe, and promptly bought a ticket home instead. “Deep in my heart, the answer, it was in me.”

So now I feel that I can say it loud: I have officially moved back to Canada, back to my hometown of Winnipeg, and I honestly can’t remember being this happy. This isn’t some burst of happiness, some high I get from a quick trip to Italy; it feels solid and real, here to stay. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt happiness that wasn’t fleeting.

With my mum in Toronto, where she lives

I worried, of course; I worried that my career would suffer, but I’m happily keeping up with all of my freelance work (though this blog has ONCE AGAIN taken a backseat, as I’ve had almost daily renovations in my house for the past six weeks, and try as I might, I simply cannot concentrate while there is a plumber/electrician/carpenter around, especially when I hear a very distinct bang followed by an, “Uh oh”). I worried that there wouldn’t be enough to do in Winnipeg, but I’m busier than ever and seeing friends and/or family every single day; there were some weekends in London that I wouldn’t even leave my flat, so this is a fantastic change of pace. For the next four days, I’ll be at the world-renown Winnipeg Folk Festival, for example, and I am over the moon about it.

I also worried that I wouldn’t get to travel as much, but that’s not true at all; though I don’t travel as often, I travel for longer (instead of three days in Italy in a month, for example, I’ll spend six weeks at home and then two weeks somewhere instead). Since moving home, I’ve been to Japan, British Columbia, Alberta, Arizona, Nevada, England, Mississippi, Ontario, Barbados, Grenada, and St. Vincent, with upcoming trips to Ontario, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona coming up, not to mention local Manitoba travel, so I’m not too worried anymore.

Spritzes on the roof at Forth, one of the best bars/cafés in the city

I worried that the dating pool might be quite slim in Winnipeg, and I was kind of right; turns out dating apps suck everywhere in the world, not just London (although the common denominator is always me… hmm. Better not dwell on it). I’ve been on a few dates so far – meaning I have some doozies to tell in future blog posts – but I realised it was OK to take some time to get over someone who really messed with my head (and my heart) for years in London. And you know what they say: give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he’ll have Bumble profile photos for a lifetime. Seriously, men of Manitoba, you guys love your fish photos. I’m still cool being single for now. When I buy a fishing rod… watch out. Also, send help.

Finally, I worried about the stigma of moving home. Anyone who’s from a relatively small town or city gets it, I’m sure, especially if you’ve lived in the “big city”; going home can sometimes be seen as defeat, that you just couldn’t hack it elsewhere. Years ago, I would have agreed – there was no way I was ever moving back to Winnipeg, I thought.

But with age comes wisdom, of course, as well as not caring what other people think anymore (not to mention the white hair that I’m hoping people think is just blonde highlights). The bottom line is that I felt it was the right move to make, and that’s all that matters. Nobody else’s thoughts about my own happiness matter as much as my own do.

A sneak peek of my living room… more to come soon. And can you believe there are even more plants by now?!

And holy shit: was it ever the right move. The renovations in my house are allllllmost done; I’ve repainted every wall (including the outside of the house), have a new kitchen, a new front deck, a giant flower garden, all new (vintage) furniture (my couch is from the 60s!), and I just bought a digital piano that’s being delivered next week. I can finally display all of my beloved souvenirs from around the world and not have to think about packing them up in six months time. I have a beautiful home office, and a car I love driving. I make smoothies in a Vitamix like an adult (you might roll your eyes at that, but there was no way in hell that I was buying an expensive appliance unless I knew I was staying for a while). I’m volunteer fostering with the Humane Society again. I’m even considering finally (finally!) getting a dog. A DOG, YOU GUYS.

Every morning I wake up to birds chirping outside my window. I make coffee and sit on my deck to read for a bit, then check on the gardens and indoor plants. I write for a while, make a lunch of avocado, tomatoes, and soft boiled eggs. I go for a walk with a friend, or a bike ride with my dad, or go to the gym. I watch movies, I bake, I have a beer with my neighbours. And yeah, sometimes I buy plane tickets to Namibia, but day to day, I’m loving this peacefulness so much. I haven’t felt anxious or angry or lonely for months, and no adventure abroad could ever take the place of that. I’ve defined my own destiny by simply accepting what made the most sense for me right now – financially, mentally, physically. I love Winnipeg, and I love my life here.

With my dad and brother at Christmas

I write this as I sit on my front porch, surrounded by flowers, a slight breeze in the air. It’s 7pm but the sky is still bright blue, the birds still chirping. I’m drinking a glass of cold white wine, and I’ll be roasting vegetables for dinner.

And tonight, before I go to sleep, I’ll look up hotels in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I’ll be in late September. I’ll be there in between a conference in Austin, Texas and a visit to my dad’s holiday home in Phoenix, Arizona. Do you know who else will be in New Mexico in late September?

Lauryn Hill, on tour for the 20th anniversary of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. And I’ll be there in the audience, singing along.

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LC July 4, 2018 - 11:54 pm

Your last line of this post… talk about serendipitous!
I agree, sometimes you just need to go home. And there’s nothing wrong (and sometimes everything right) with that.

Brenna Holeman July 5, 2018 - 3:08 pm

I totally agree. For years I would have avoided going home at all costs, but now I know it’s the right decision. 🙂

Bea July 5, 2018 - 7:32 am

I’m happy you decided to write this post, it feels so good to read. I also realize it from time to time that happiness in its purest form comes from the simplest things – a good laugh, a good book, a good lunch, good friends… Fulfilling epic dreams can make me feel in heaven, but then I fell and I’m down on Earth again, eventually. 😀 The kind of happiness I really long for is the one you wrote about. A permanent, peaceful and cheerful place – that is probably rather a state of mind. And then some adventures from time to time. I’m happy you found your home that feels like home. 🙂

Brenna Holeman July 5, 2018 - 3:10 pm

Wow, I love this comment – especially the line about heaven and then falling back to Earth… TOTALLY. I was experiencing these highs from travelling… until I wasn’t even experiencing those anymore, and I knew I needed to make a larger life decision. Thank you so much for your words here, Bea! 🙂

Paige July 5, 2018 - 9:48 am

So happy for you! While my own sense of feeling settled (or wanting to feel settled even!) varies from day to day, I’m really starting to crave the kind of house stability in particular that you’re talking about. I’m at least several years out from being ready to purchase a home especially if I stay in the Boston area (VERY pricy market) but I really look forward to the day when I can paint and hang things on the walls with the knowledge that I won’t be moving again in a year or two. Looking forward to hearing about all your upcoming adventures!

Brenna Holeman July 5, 2018 - 3:17 pm

For years I was totally fine with renting, but now that I live in my very own home, I’d find it hard to rent again! There’s something about owning a space and being able to decorate/paint exactly as you want to. I’m sure you’ll find that space when the time is right! Thank you so much for your comment, Paige 🙂

Cate July 5, 2018 - 11:34 am

This post made me so happy! Your joy is contagious. I recently felt exactly the same way, except about travel! I returned from an amazing trip and felt incredibly depressed and useless for a week! I love how if we are all honest about what we want and don’t judge one another, we can all be happy. Everyone is at a different place, and I applaud you on your courage to be honest with yourself and everyone else, and do what feels right!! So excited to hear about your future adventures!

Brenna Holeman July 5, 2018 - 3:15 pm

Thank you so much, Cate! You always leave the best comments. Thank you as always for all of your support. I hope you get to travel again soon! 😀

Taylor July 5, 2018 - 11:40 am

This post is so relatable. And, this might sound pretentious haha, but have you ever read the Joan Didion essay “Goodbye To All That”? I first read it earlier this year while sitting in my family’s Saskatchewan living room after leaving my Toronto life behind and traveling Europe to shake the blues, and it really struck a chord. Like, how Joan knew she had to leave New York but didn’t quite grasp all the reasons why until later, when finding happiness showed her aspects of herself she didn’t know were there. Pretentious rant = over lol, but I loved that essay.
PS Winnipeg really is effing awesome.

Brenna Holeman July 5, 2018 - 3:11 pm

YES! Not pretentious at all… I love Joan Didion (you want to hear pretentious… I keep a stack of her books beside my bed, hah). I need to reread that essay, it’s such a good one. Thank you for reminding me of it! And yes… Winnipeg is indeed awesome 😉

Karle July 5, 2018 - 1:21 pm

Enjoyed this post. Glad you’ve found your happy place. Seems to me that travel is one way we learn about how to live not only out and about in the world, but how to live more fully at home. Wings and roots and all that. Not being a slave to dreams that no longer serve us for now. And also seems to me that unconsciously or consciously trying to live by the “code of being cool” (must live here, must do this or that) is, in effect, living on other people’s terms. Yikes. In the end, you’ll adjust your sails again when you need or want to. Blessings.

Brenna Holeman July 5, 2018 - 3:14 pm

I love that – that you figure out how to live at home. I’ve always felt the same… that travel can not only enrich our lives while we’re there, but make us appreciate what we have waiting for us, too. And yes… it would be awful to feel you had to live on other people’s terms! Thank you so much for your comment, Karle!

Monica July 5, 2018 - 4:38 pm

This post is a culmination of all reasons I read your blog and basically no one else’s. In a filtered Instagram world you are real, you don’t write what you “should” write to get clicks or base your titles on their SEO and it is so refreshing. Thank you for always writing from the heart and good luck in this next phase of your life!

Brenna Holeman July 5, 2018 - 5:23 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Monica! That comment really means a lot to me 😀 I will keep trying to be as honest as possible.

Nicole July 5, 2018 - 6:10 pm

I’m happy for you that you’re where you need to be! I can relate to what you said about feeling anxious and angry most of the time. I felt similar things for most of 2017- it was like an undercurrent of negative energy was always buzzing through my system. For me, I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t happy in my hometown and had to find the courage to move across the country. Now I just feel so much calmer, like I’m finally at peace- it sounds like you are too! Good luck in this next phase and I can’t wait to see more pics of your house- I love your decorating style!

Brenna Holeman July 20, 2018 - 12:57 am

Aw, that’s so awesome, Nicole! I am so glad to hear that you have found such peace. Thank you so much for your comment… I’ll get on a decorating post soon! 🙂

Elizabeth Rosendorf July 5, 2018 - 8:18 pm

I’m so happy for you. I moved back to my hometown (DC) after four years in Germany. I love Germany and it’s my second home but sometimes it’s just good to go home. Enjoy! Your home looks fantastic.

Brenna Holeman July 20, 2018 - 12:56 am

Thank you so much, Elizabeth! You’re right – sometimes it’s just good to go home.

Andrea C July 5, 2018 - 9:20 pm

I’m so happy for you! I must say, I have followed your blog since those long ago LJ day and so happy to hear this! For such a long time, I had been anti Houston, Anti Texas. I use to travel any chance I get just to get out of Houston and experience something new. I used to try to apply for jobs abroad and the like!
Nowadays, I’m happy where I am. i’m thankful that I live in a cheaper city (albeit – a not “hip” city), but I’m close to family and friends which I cherish that the most out of everything. My husband and I do get a travel fix twice a year, but now that I am getting “older”, I don’t really care about the race to post the ‘best instagrammable travel photo’ that I witness every so often. I’m so privileged to have had the experience and I know it is not over yet, but i’m just happy to be able to admit that I do like where I am and this will always be home!

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 10:04 pm

That’s so awesome, Andrea! It sounds like you have an absolutely fantastic balance. It’s so important to find that happiness with where you are and what you’re doing, no matter if that happiness exists in a settled home or a backpack.

And thank you so much for following along so long! Wow!! That is so amazing, I can’t thank you enough for all of your support over the years. <3

Jennifer July 6, 2018 - 12:07 am

This speaks to me so much. Almost like I could have written it.
I’ve been travelling non stop now for almost 2 years, have travelled on and off for 10. Loved in London for 5 years, experienced the loneliness, the realisation that London isn’t the best city in the world. I’m in Central America now but thinking about home all the time. I don’t know where to move to , but I want to get a dog too.

Thank you for making me realise that it’s ok to love travel AND to want to settle!

I am so glad you found a place to be happy!

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 10:03 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Jennifer! It sounds like you’ve had some really amazing adventures. I’m sure you’re going to find that balance soon… whatever you want that balance to be! Happy travels 😀

Bridget July 6, 2018 - 3:28 am

I have tears reading this! I’ve been following since around 2012 when you were planning your South American adventures, and i just love your honesty and all of life approach to life! I totally relate to ALL the feels of time and place. A solid foundation is strongest place to launch from! xox Bridget

Brenna Holeman July 20, 2018 - 12:57 am

Aw, thank you so much, Bridget!! What a beautiful comment to receive. Thank you so much for all of your support over the years. xo

Erin S. July 6, 2018 - 11:13 am

This post resonates with me so much! I’m from Calgary, and grew up feeling like it was desperately uncool. I couldn’t wait to leave and when I left I never envisioned coming back. I absolutely loved my time living in Vancouver, but unlike you, when I moved back home, I didn’t feel ready. I did feel like it was a defeat. Why would I leave such a vibrant, beautiful city for the conservative prairies? I visited often and dreamt about returning. But my home town has grown on me so much and now when I go back to visit, I realize I wouldn’t live in Vancouver. The sheen has worn off and I can see the very real flaws that were blurred by my rose-coloured glasses. It is, undoubtedly, an amazing city but what it offers me is no longer what I need. And I’m ok with that because the life I am able to build “back home” gives me so much to feel grateful for and proud of. I’m so glad you feel the same.

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 10:06 pm

What an awesome comment, thank you so much, Erin! It’s nice to know that others can relate to this feeling. I feel that way about London, too – that the sheen has worn off, and I understand what’s best for me now. I feel very grateful, too. All the best and thanks again for sharing your story here! 🙂

Caitlin July 6, 2018 - 11:54 am

Brenna, I’ve been following your blog for a long time, I am so happy for you! I’m from a tiny town, so I relate to the stigma of not “hacking” it… but you’ve been gone for over a decade! You’ve MASTERED it! Now you’re on to the next challenge of returning home to make something beautiful, just like the Lupine Lady (a character from my favorite childhood book “Miss Rumphius,” which you should totally check out if you haven’t).

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 10:02 pm

That’s so awesome, thank you so much, Caitlin! It means so much to me that you’ve been following for so long. 🙂

Katie July 7, 2018 - 2:12 am

If I had a family like that, (seriously — you all look like Meryl Streep’s family from “It’s Complicated”), I’d move back home too. Sounds like a beautiful life you’re building for yourself!

Brenna Holeman July 20, 2018 - 12:58 am

Ha ha! I love that comment. I’ll have to pass along the message. 😉 Thank you so much for all of your support, Katie! x

ankita bhatia July 8, 2018 - 1:45 am

Hi Brenna, I came across your blog a couple of months back and have been following you since. First time commenting so wanted to let you know that I love your writing. It feels like I know you through your words and stories and it feels so real. In a world on everything filtered and perfect, you are such a refreshing change! I moved back to India after a stint in Amsterdam(Which I totally loved) so your post on the move back hits home. Keep the way you are and a lot of luck and love your way in Winnipeg

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 10:08 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Ankita, what kind words! That really means a lot to me – I’m so glad that you are enjoying the blog. I hope that you are having a good time at home in India. 🙂

Christine Merrill July 9, 2018 - 7:24 pm

Yay! I felt a little bit of this moving back to California after living in NYC for five years (and NOT moving to SF or LA), and I’m so, so, so glad I did. What I realized is that the great cities like NYC for me or London for you will always be there–and they are SO much more fun as a tourist than when you are slogging through the commute and expensive rent and the weather. Sounds like you made the right choice AND can I say that dog ownership is maybe the best part ever about not traveling as much?!

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 10:09 pm

Totally. London will always be there for me to go back and visit… it’s just not where I’m supposed to be right now! And you’re so right – I definitely don’t miss the commute and the expensive rent, ha ha. I love all of your posts from CA – it looks like such a beautiful, happy life, and I’m so happy that you’re loving it. 🙂

Alouise July 9, 2018 - 7:44 pm

Girl I feel you. I just got back home to Canada (greater Edmonton region) after almost two years in Ireland. I don’t have my own house, so I’m staying with my parents (only wish I’d been smart enough to buy a house..maybe one day). It’s a weird feeling. There are things I miss about Dublin, but I really like being home. I don’t think I realized that until I got back. I’m not sure if I’ll stay here forever (well hopefully not at my parents’ house forever), but it’s okay for now. I hope you’re enjoying your home in Winnipeg (a city I need to visit since I was only there for one night).

And that’s so awesome you’re going to see Lauryn Hill in Albuquerque. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is still one of my favourite CDs/albums (however you want to say it). It’s like the soundtrack of grade 8 for me.

Brenna Holeman October 16, 2018 - 1:26 pm

It can definitely be a weird feeling… but I agree, I really like being home! I really feel it’s true that you don’t always appreciate your hometown until you’ve spent some time away and then come home. I hope you get to visit Winnipeg soon! 🙂

Doug July 9, 2018 - 9:22 pm

I’m already obsessed with the dog.

Brenna Holeman July 20, 2018 - 12:59 am

Hah – me too! I’ve already named her (she doesn’t exist).

Melissa July 10, 2018 - 2:33 am

More home decor photos please!

Brenna, I’ve followed your blog for years and only left a random comment here or there, but you are definitely a favorite! I feel like you always got a lot of “lifestyle” type of inspo from traveling – fashion, writing, photography, interior design/decorating all seemed to interest you and travel seemed to feed those interests. But while travel and living in huge multicultural mega-cities like London are amazing for that type of inspiration, having your own home and space so that you can actually use the last decade of inspiration to CREATE sounds pretty awesome. I wonder if that is part of what this was for you: you filled up your “creativity tank” with travel, all those images/experiences/colours/fabrics/meals, and then you really just needed a place to unload and USE all of that mental creative imagery. I feel this way a bit, myself, currently living in my home city after expating in my 20s. Here’s to all the creative endeavors that being more settled make possible!

Brenna Holeman October 16, 2018 - 1:28 pm

How did I not respond to this comment in the summer??? Thank you so much for this amazing insight, Melissa, I really think you’ve hit the nail on the head! I really do love “creating” and it’s been such a joy to have that space and time to do that in Canada. Wishing you lots of creativity in your hometown, too… and thanks again for such a beautiful comment! 🙂

Dominique | July 10, 2018 - 3:25 pm

I completely understand this post. I hear you! I have lived in Scotland for a few years, and in Abu Dhabi. I then had the chance to move somewhere else in the world and I couldn’t think of anywhere else than my little tiny hometown near the beach. It’s tiny, but it’s close to Rotterdam and Den Haag in the Netherlands. I have my own place, and I love it! Home sweet home 🙂

Brenna Holeman October 16, 2018 - 1:23 pm

Aw, that’s awesome! It’s so true… there really is no place like home sometimes.

veena July 10, 2018 - 8:49 pm

I resonate with so many things here, but summers are crazy for me and my brain function is almost non-existent at the moment, so I just want to say that I also struggled with the stigma of moving home and nodded my head so many times in reading this. The last time I moved to India, at the end of 2014, I didn’t really want to go, but I had a job offer there and nothing in Memphis at the time and I had been talking about moving back for so long that I felt I had to. And then I was miserable, because I didn’t move for the right reasons and my heart was still in Memphis. When I finally made the decision to move back home, for me, I felt such a burden lift off my shoulders. I knew it was where I needed to be, and here I am, 2 years later, having just purchased a house and with no plans on leaving anytime soon. I love my job, I love my house, and I love getting out of town every few months just as my feet begin to itch again. There’s no shame in moving home; as I told a friend last year, sometimes you have to take the long way around to end up exactly where you’re meant to be. Good on you for realizing what you needed to do for yourself and then making it happen. I hope you continue to be happy and prosperous xx

Brenna Holeman October 16, 2018 - 1:25 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Veena! It sounds like life in Memphis is really fantastic for you. You’re right – there is no shame in moving home, none at all! Thanks again for your awesome comment 🙂

Sophie July 15, 2018 - 1:55 am

SO looking forward to dog-content. Dogs man, they’re the best.

Brenna Holeman July 20, 2018 - 12:59 am

Ha ha… right?! I’m so excited. 😀

Natalia Carrasco Vargas July 20, 2018 - 2:39 pm

This post is amazing. Thanks for writing about this subject. Not many people do it in blogs and I did feel I’ve taken so much value from it. So thanks for sharing with such sincerity! Happy for your journey 🙂

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 9:53 pm

Aw, thanks a lot, Natalia! I really appreciate that. 🙂

Jessi (Two Feet, One World) July 23, 2018 - 12:35 pm

What a fantastic post – I’m so glad for you that this is all working out! It makes me feel even happier about my own move home (although house prices in Auckland are on a par with London, ouch!). But seriously, to know that it has brought you this much peace is awesome 🙂

Brenna Holeman July 24, 2018 - 10:01 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Jessi! I really appreciate your support 🙂

Alex August 3, 2018 - 3:16 pm

Love this whole post. I relate to this so much; I traveled/lived abroad for four years, including a year and a half in London (we actually lived in the same neighborhood in London), but oh man, was I ready to move home to BC at the end of it! (London is epic, but holy crap is it stressful. I feel you on the anxiety.) It took years, but I was finally able to appreciate my hometown (I hate how cheesy that is but it’s just so true.) I also know what you mean about it feeling like you were being super lame; when I left home I was all I’M NEVER COMING BACK. And then it was all I wanted to do. Anyway, I’m so glad you are happy being back on Canadian soil! All the best 🙂

Brenna Holeman October 16, 2018 - 1:24 pm

Aw, that’s so cool! Our stories sound very similar. I’m so happy that you’re loving life in BC – what a beautiful part of Canada 🙂

Zalie August 19, 2018 - 4:58 pm

I am so glad you are here sister! Obviously for selfish reasons but most of all because this is the place that is making you so happy 🙂

Brenna Holeman September 5, 2018 - 4:19 pm

I am so happy that we can see each other so often now… I love you xoxo

Haley September 27, 2018 - 1:03 pm

I love how happy you look with the new move, but I mean who wouldn’t from the look of those pictures Canada is extremely beautiful.

Brenna Holeman October 16, 2018 - 1:23 pm

Canada really is a gorgeous country! I’m so proud to be from here.

Erin October 17, 2018 - 11:42 pm

I’m totally loving your blogs. I only just found you 10 minutes ago and have already read about 4 of them.
Home is where the heart is. I’m from a very very small town in Western Australia and I know exactly how you felt and why you did what you did. It’s amazing being close to family and having freedom and something to come back too.
So your next trip ?? Australia?? Have you been before and where? I think you’d fall in love.
I am heading to Canada on the 25th Jan and I cant wait! i read your blog about what to wear and wow, amazing, now i know what to buy and bring, cant wait! I know i am going to fall in love with Canada.
anyways thanks for the blogs and very truthful writing. Love it
Erin xxx

Mel November 8, 2018 - 3:11 pm

There’s a quote or saying I came across that says you spend the first half of your life leaving home and the second half trying to get back. I lived in London for 8 years and while I knew I always wanted to move back to Canada I wasn’t sure when making the actual move. So much that you give up, travel, living in a cool city etc etc but the peace and peace of mind you regain is priceless.

Ritu from Lifester November 28, 2018 - 9:55 am

I moved home to Toronto at the age of 31 after living in NYC and London for almost 7 years and I had such a fear of the stigma attached to moving home as well. But you’re so right! After a certain age, you really stop caring about what people think and prioritize yourself. So happy to see that you are happy in Canada! It truly is a country and a citizenship I don’t take for granted.


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