It's a quiet Thursday night. Bowls are empty and bellies are filled. I glance around the family room and smile at an all-too-familiar scene.
Tucker, our German shepard, is curled up in the usual spot on "his" couch. As I roll into my bedroom three feet away, the first few notes of "The Big Bang Theory" theme song drift from the living room upstairs - along with a low, snarling growl as Sophie and Bella, our cats, tumble and chase each other down the steps.
They land in a football-shaped mass in front of me. I stop and watch Sophie's tiger-striped fur rise up on her back. She's usually the first to strike, but this time, Bella cuts her off at the corner of my door, playfully pinning her to the floor.
Their game of one-upmanship continues into the night as I grab my headphones and settle in for my usual Thursday comedy block on NBC. Through the spine of my door, I see Roxy, our Siberian husky-rottweiler mix - the "diva" of the Kelly household - has already made herself comfortable on my bed.
The cycle repeats itself every night. In fact, if you were passing by, you might think we have a zoo, a mini aquarium with a carbon copy of Nemo from the Disney flick Finding Nemo and a three-ring circus all in one. You'd be right, but this one runs seven days a week, 365 days a year, complete with an occasional song from Yin and Yang, our love birds.
It may seem silly, but if I don't hear a dog toy squeak underneath my wheels as I roll over it, there's something wrong.
It's just how things are around our house - and personally, I relish it. I seem to sink into my surroundings without ever meaning to and that squeak gives me a sense of familiarity and comfort.
I think familiarity is something no one should be without. It gives you something solid to hold onto when your world is crumbling around you. It's like having a soundtrack to your life. It's the same set of songs, but each one has a meaning and a place where it counts the most.
Home is a great place for that. It's the one place where you can start looking for things you may have lost and rediscover things that have been right in front of you all along.
The sounds in your home might serve as that soundtrack I alluded to earlier. They may create the symphony that you can hear, but can't see until you take five minutes to not only open your eyes, but also embrace what it has to offer.
It gives you an opportunity to paint the perfect picture, even if your life is the farthest thing from perfect. Not only that, but if you find a flower in a garbage dump, you can embed that image in your brain to work toward something better.
If you can appreciate the pain of a situation, it could give you something new to appreciate - and that "thing" just might provide the solid ground you're looking for.
It doesn't matter if you start your search at home. It doesn't matter if you sleep with a teddy bear - or if your cats follow you in the bathroom for "potty time" every day.
What matters is finding what's familiar to you - and believing that regardless of where you start and stop, home is where the heart is.
Erin Kelly, 26, was born with cerebral palsy in Seoul, Korea and now lives in Altoona. She is a 2009 graduate of Penn State Altoona. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.