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The other day I had the opportunity to introduce “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert to two special people. This song has to be one of my top three songs ever. Actually, if I think about it, it is more like my favorite song of all time because of the deep connection I feel with it.

It’s not often that I introduce it to someone and they “get it”. Sadly, when I’ve been so excited about sharing this small insight into who I am with friends, loved ones or strangers, they have mostly displayed little enthusiasm or connection. And it can be SO discouraging – when you care about someone and you really want them to “get you” — and they respond with something like “it’s nice … so what’s for dinner?”.

So what’s the song about that I love it and make desperate attempts to have those in my life understand it (and me)?

Well, it has a very literal and figurative meaning for me. I like to think it was written from a real life experience and the writers were compelled to put pen to paper because of the difficult moment they were going through. If they didn’t – well they at least described my life pretty well. Since we all interpret words and experiences differently, I guess that’s the reason why it’s hard to find someone who understands it in the same way as I do. But the other night was surprisingly different. Finally, I shared it with someone who understood the piece inside of me that I really wanted them to “get”.

I grew up in a very small town that was extremely remote and hundreds of miles away from what most people my age had surrounding them. I was raised on a farm in Northern Alberta and “The House That Built Me” was literally the house that my father built and we lived in growing up on the farm. But the story isn’t as much about the physical house — it is more so about all that surrounded the house that played an instrumental role in who I have become as a person. Turns out this small remote farming town, with a Latitude of 58°N and a Longitude of 117°W, and a population of around 1,200 at the time, and winter temperatures often in the -30 to -40° Celsius, well it turns out … it had to lot to offer.

Looking back – I’m extremely grateful for my childhood – and especially the experience that the farm provided me. (I’d be remiss if I gave all of the credit to the farm and not to my wonderful parents — who always provided a loving, safe and thankfully, a very humble upbringing). But I have some great and unique memories from my childhood — watching calves being born and life created in an instant, Easter Egg hunts amongst the bales at the cow yard, going ski-dooing until our face was so frozen that you had to give in and go into the house to warm up, learning how to drive by the age of 11 and being able to take dinner to my dad {by.myself.I’ll.add} while he was harvesting late into the evening, and oh all of the fun times keeping myself entertained with a simple mud puddle. These life experiences, turned values, were (as I now know), priceless.

BUT it was not without some challenges. And the day I moved away … I was so happy and I vowed silently to my 15 year old self that I would never – ever – EVER – return to the town. You remember how traumatic life can be as a teenager, right?

Over the years I have, of course, matured and in addition to moving far away, I have been fortunate to have opportunities that have expanded my mind and way of thinking. And it has made me more appreciative for all of the challenges and disappointments along the way. I look back and it’s certainly not the past that I would have wanted to write about … but alas, it is the one that is being written.

So ever since I heard “The House that Built Me”, it’s been the comfort that I’ve needed to get past the brokenness … the failed marriages … the feelings of being alone (even when self-imposed) … the separation that comes from leaving family and having friends walk away …. and the severe disappointment knowing that all that I might have wanted in my life, might never come to fruition.

The lyrics read “You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can … I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am” has been so true for me. In general we let too many people, things and situations re-define us and shift our way of thinking that we forget about how strong we are … and how sometimes, what or where we are in life, is a result of doing our best and being determined to not give up – regardless how disruptive the path has been. And sometimes, we need to embrace the wonderful things that are right in front of us, without questioning or worrying so much about timing or right versus wrong, or what others might say.

I went back to this town a few years back. I did it with my Dad and got to hear story after story about life on the farm and his recollection of life back then … and that experience in-and-of-itself, was beyond amazing. Much had, of course, changed in 25 years but some things really didn’t. And there were friends and families there that I used to go to school with – ride the bus with – build ice sculptures with – and spend my time with from the age of zero until 15. And that was pretty cool.

We don’t get to write our story before it happens. Sometimes life is quite frankly unfair. People disappoint us and delight us at the most inopportune times. And we survive. We forgive. Or we move on and forget. Hopefully — when you remember back to the house that built you — and you look to the house that you live in today — you see some resemblance and can find appreciation and strength in the person you’ve become and the small mark you’ll leave on this world.

Oh, and for those two special people that heard the song and appreciated the lyrics … thank you – for seeing beyond the words, and into the house.

The house where I grew up. Albeit it looks a little different now.

The house where I grew up. August 2012. 

The House That Built Me Lyrics

I know they say, you can’t go home again
. Well, I just had to come back one last time
. And Ma’am, I know, you don’t know me from Adam
. But these hand prints on the front steps are mine.

Up those stairs, in that little back bedroom, is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar. 
And I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
, my favorite dog is buried in the yard.

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
, this brokenness inside me might start healing. 
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself.

If I could just come in, I swear I’ll leave
. Won’t take nothing but a memory. 
From the house that built me.

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years. 
From “Better Homes and Garden” magazine. 
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
 and nail by nail and board by board
, Daddy gave life to mama’s dream.

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it, this brokenness inside me might start healing
. Out here it’s like I’m someone else 
I thought that maybe I could find myself.

If I could just come in, I swear I’ll leave
. Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me.

You leave home, you move on 
and you do the best you can. 
I got lost in this whole world aAnd forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
, this brokenness inside me might start healing
. Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself. If I could walk around, I swear I’ll leave.

Holding nothing but a memory
, from the house that built me.

Watch The House That Built Me Video