I am learning it is necessary to filter just how much of the angst of the news carries through into my days. For at times it is overwhelming how much the world has changed.
Oh, there is no sticking of ones' head in the sand or cupping the hands over the ears and humming so as to not know the grief and misery and anxiety around us.
But as there is enough to cause anxiety within the twenty-four hours that make up my own day, I've made it a goal through the years to make my home a place of sanctuary. The one little part of the world I have some control over.
What is sanctuary to me may not be so much to you. I have many friends whose idea of true joy is a houseful of children running in and out of the front door. While I adore my grandchildren, my preferences these days are more... quiet.
As a young homemaker, I wasn't certain what my style was really... what surroundings caused my heart to sing. But I began to take notice when visiting a home in which I felt warm and cozy. I started filling a file folder full of magazine photos torn from favorite magazines and as the designers suggested, I didn't stop to note what it was exactly that I liked. I just cut or tore and filed.
But eventually there were enough photos and I'd visited enough homes that I began to get a realization of what I liked. What I loved about a room or a place or a porch or a garden. That was the beginning of my home becoming my number one art project through the years, a canvas for which I have "painted" now for decades. Mostly on a budget and while searching for thrifted treasures.
A great deal of what I liked through the years has remained. Changes in our age, the ages of our children, circumstances, where we live, current creative endeavors, inheritance of items... all came together through the years to tweak the colors of the canvas so to speak. But the basics were the same.
When I walk through the front door, home embraces and welcomes me. It may not be beautiful to others. The furniture is quite eclectic, a mixture of our purchases and thrift store finds and inherited antiques. The artwork is a combination of my likes and my husband's likes and greatly reflects what we find lovely to look at through the years.
I like old things. I like vintage. I like history. If there were enough space and time and money to spend, there would be one room of our home that is decorated completely in a Primitive American style. As that is not possible, there are American Primitive accessories in and among the others.
I love the look of English Country so one finds the artwork is displayed all over the walls (it took awhile for Hubby to like that but now he does), beautiful china often collected for just dollars here and there and everywhere, the occasional florals among the deep browns and greens... and often a teacup with tea on the side table.
I love the look of Depression and WWII era American kitchens and thoroughly enjoy the yellow and red accents of my own. It was the one room, before putting together the Study, that was all mine to decorate so it has more color. I thoroughly enjoy mixing batter together in vintage bowls or the very large reproduction antique bowl I bought for the making of bread long ago.
I sift together ingredients in a quite old fashioned sifter, mix all with a wooden spoon when it does not need the strength of the Kitchen Aid, and at times wear an apron as generations before me did. Because it makes me happy in a world full of gloom.
When I am quite down, putting a Dean Martin CD on as background and spending leisure time chopping onions and putting together a stew or making scones or any simple meal... come together to make me feel at peace and full of joy.
We were fortunate to be able to purchase a brand new sofa for the living room when we moved in well over eight years ago. It wasn't what I had in mind when we went to the Lazy Boy store to have a look around. But both of us kept going back to that sofa whose color is called Tobacco. It didn't exactly match the two chairs from our former living room set but it was at least complimentary so it was to come live in our home.
Now I could not imagine the living room without it for along with the two large book shelves full of books (originally purchased to set on each side of the fireplace in a former house), it kind of reminds me of a small English study. A look I like very much.
Then there is My Study, a work in progress but each week becoming more of a personal Sanctuary as that is where I can open a window when it is raining (without worrying about "moldy air" for my husband), read with no TV on, work at my desk with no need to take everything off to set the table for dinner, and it has cute stuff on the bulletin board... and no one cares.
As I have stated before, My Study was the solution for and gift of the Empty Nest Syndrome. A very good thing indeed. ;)
I recognize not everyone has an entire house as their canvas but there may be a room... or a corner of a room. A place for at least one piece of artwork that makes you happy each time you pass it, perhaps a painting of a forest or a landscape or a mountain or a garden or a scene that reminds you of your childhood summers. Or perhaps a framed photo from a special vacation. Or at least a scented candle to light as you read with a cup of Earl Grey at your side.
Which reminds me... my sanctuary must always have books. Lots of books. Books I've read and books yet to read. Fiction. Nonfiction. Books written by favorite Bible teachers. Cookbooks with stories and pictures. Children's books. Grown up books. The Russian novels I tell myself I will read. Very old books with brown pages. Used books with names written in the flyleaf that make me wonder who they were and if they loved the books as I did. Brand new books that have the smell of recently coming off the presses (who needs a new car smell when new book smells are cheaper?).
My sanctuary has lots of magazines with lovely scenes and ideas and pretty rooms and stories. Most collected through the years and some brought home from the free magazine stand at the library. A few much beloved favorite magazines have been purchased with birthday and Christmas money saved for a particular issue. Especially of the pricier magazines that are much more like a book with soft pages.
By collecting some favorite films and TV shows on DVD throughout the years, we have the amazing ability to get lost in a story on film at any time. Something unheard of in previous generations. I can't tell you how many times I have been in a stressful situation only to pop a British Period flick or a favorite episode of Last of the Summer Wine into the DVD player and find the tension ending.
I still find great joy in seeing how other people have turned their homes into a sanctuary just for their family. This past week I perused the most recent copy of Where Women Create, propped against the grocery cart. It contained more than a few ideas whose images I tried to remember (as the cost of the magazine was more than I had to spend on groceries at the moment!).
A few years ago I went through my quite large file folder which contained clippings of rooms and such and realized how my tastes have changed through the years. But some things remain the same. Quite a lot has remained the same, actually. The basics of the canvas. They have been there all the time.
The Word tells us there is a Carpenter preparing our real Home. A Master Designer. One who gifts us with more than our finite mind here on Earth can even think or imagine. I am thoroughly convinced that when I walk through those doors, I will then know I am truly Home.
In the meantime, I would love to hear what you consider important in your home to make it a sanctuary. Maybe I will find a new idea. Added: Your ideas have been wonderful. Please keep adding them even when newer posts are added this week to the blog. I will add a link next Sunday for people to return and read comments.
Image: Alice Schlesinger, Illustrator