Creating A Sanctuary

In this world of constant stressors: work, family, finances, health, school time, etc., where do you go to find refuge?  Have you considered creating a place that is all yours?  For rest and rejuvenation, your bedroom might be the place to start.  You already spend around eight hours in a day or a third of every year in this place. There may be another space, a whole room or just a part of one, that you feel brings your heart and mind back into a peaceful state  It should be calming, and free of the forces that clamor for your attention.


As an organizer, when I begin work with a client, I start by helping to create a sanctuary.  It should be a place you can retreat to, especially when the world seems to be spinning at an ever-increasing rate around you.  As difficult as it may seem to focus on this space first, doing so will allow you to be more successful in all areas of your life.  For example, home organizing and decluttering expert, Marla Cilley, “The Fly Lady”, gives this description of your bedroom, “This is the room that is the heart of your family and your marriage.  It should give you joy when you walk in there and fill your heart with peace.” [1] She goes on to say that focusing on this room can be the launching pad for all other home maintenance efforts, give you more energy and allow you to heal faster from illness.

This may be the best place to start, or you may feel the most peace in another part of your home. Maybe you like the warm privacy of a hot bath, with comforting aromatics and candles. Perhaps it’s books that bring you joy and there is a corner of the den, living room or family room that can become a mini library and reading nook. The important thing is that it is a place that you will naturally retreat to, that you will use, and that the rest of the household will recognize as your space.



Let’s use the bedroom as an example of this process.

Go to this room now. For the first time in your life, this directive should not be a punishment!  Sit on your bed.  Reflect on how you feel.  What could you change in this room to make it a place of refuge?   Grab a piece of paper and write down how you would like your bedroom to feel and at least five actions you could take to improve the peacefulness of your bedroom.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started: donate the books that you will not get to reading in the next year, fold and put away your laundry daily or move this activity to another room, remove the trash and recyclables, wash or change the drapes, and add a chair near the window with a container for your favorite magazines. Be aware of the lighting and how it affects the atmosphere. Can you read easily? Is it too white to create a cozy feel? How about the air? Some houses have a stale, musty smell, not because they are dirty or unkempt, but just due to age. Air out the room, try a few candles, or a wax melter to make the place aromatically attractive. If music relaxes you, you could set up a small player, or a speaker for your phone or mp3 player, so that you can listen to music. The goal is to create a space that is attractive to you, that you will use to read, pray, or enjoy time with loved ones. 

Now that you have this list of to-dos, don’t think that it all needs to be accomplished today.  Set the timer on your phone for 15 minutes and set to work on one of the tasks on your list.  Make it a priority to work for 15 minutes every day on this area until it is complete.

If carving out an entire room is too much for you right now, commit to setting up a corner of the room or reclaiming your bed.  This exercise is about creating peace in a chaotic world, not about adding to your to-do list.  However, having a sanctuary will provide the space to mentally, physically and spiritually take on the stressors in your life.  They will not go away but you will be provided with a retreat from the attack. Another positive effect is that, if you are intentional about keeping this space clutter free and engaging, if you take the time to really notice how you feel in this space, you will find that the order will spread. The good feelings that you find there will manifest in other parts of the house and your sense of well-being about order will grow.



[1] Cilley, Marla.  Sink Reflections. Bantum, 2002.


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