Sanctuary.noun 1: a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter 2: the protection that is provided by a safe place 3: the room inside a church, synagogue, etc., where religious services are held. http://www.merriam-webster.com
Home. It is my sanctuary. It represents all of the above.
After reading Paradise in Plain Sight I began to look at my surroundings to seek my inner Zen. I desire peace and tranquility. I thought long and hard as I sat within the loud, echoing walls of my home and discovered that it is my bedroom, alone, that is the place I find solace. Silence.
I have spent a lot of time in there lately.
Because I’ve discovered that I find fault in every other room in my home. Try as I might I cannot overlook the dusty blinds, the cracked tile, the cluttered lived-in home. I always breathe a big sigh of relief when everything is put in its place. Until I open my cupboards….
The stuff of my past sit precariously in 45-65 degree angles. Nothing is level and almost always something falls out. I see children’s crafts from years gone, the Operation game, train dominoes and Bunco. They sit amidst paper party goods and cookbooks, trash compactor and odor-free gallon trash bags. These doors remain closed. It’s easier to keep that stuff inside, swept under the proverbial carpet. The pool outdoors begins to green with algae. There are many weeds in my garden. I know what must be done.
It’s easy to not acknowledge the mess. The mess of life. To save it for another day, another year. But it’s still there. And until it is dealt with my life balance cannot be found. It is disheveled amongst the dark cupboards and closets.
I grieve the days of young, stay-at-home motherhood when our days were spent filled with finger paints and multi-colored papers strewn across tile floors.
The games of Mexican train dominoes that overtook my kitchen table as my young sons learned colors and numbers.
The buzz of Operation as tongues lolled out of mouths; chubby fingers attempting to extract bones away from the skeletal game board.
The mashed baby food, the Parents and Parenting magazines with unique ways to present vegetables. The countless cookbooks that covered my countertops with healthier recipes.
The endless supply of Hefty Zoo Pal plates for playdates and picnics. Squeals of laughter and footprint puddles common place in my kitchen.
My children could not begin their chores while I emptied my hall closet. There simply was no space to maneuver the shop vac and vacuum while I attempted to level piles to make room. I filled my recycling garbage bin.
And sat quietly, on the floor, looking through old school projects from my sons. Deep in the recesses of the closet I found my old yearbooks. An hour passed as I glanced through them; seeing my childhood friends from the prior weekend within its pages. I had not looked through my high school yearbook since twenty five years before when that chapter closed and my new one began. I have never looked back since. Until now.
I am reconciling the person I was… to the one I have become. They have been compartmentalized; the various versions of me, deep in dark closets and cupboards. But no more.
Now the paths I walk have infinite possibilities. It is not an origin and a destination. The timeline from the present moment goes in both directions. As I organize my past I acknowledge my history as I walk on the present path I am on. I can move into the future with leveled piles. I am not burdened with clutter; waiting for the next thing to land in life’s precarious balance. I want to be able to fling open my cupboards and closets with all my stuff sorted out and laid open.
I can enjoy the downhill walk as my two younger boys chase one another in the red dust. The squeals of laughter don’t need to be constrained within my four walls.
I read my Hands Free Mama book recognizing the gift of today. I felt the sun upon my face and eventually ditched the book to boogie board with my boys. Now I create puddles alongside my sons and celebrated my youngest’s first ride, to shore, this summer, from the wavy surf. He has always watched his brothers from the shoreline; fearful of the larger waves. Without looking back he ventured out behind them, board on his head as he road the big wave in. It’s time to buy two more boogie boards so each of us can have our own.
I am grateful I am not tied down to electronics and mobile devices. Sure. I use them. But they do not usurp my time to take away from what’s important. I advocate for a house without the constant whir of electronics. I still prefer a paper book over my Kindle and smile when the Monopoly game is laid out with its Navy paraphernalia. As we made our drive to the boys’ maternal great grandfather for Father’s Day; I wistfully smiled at the RVs and camping trailers on the road alongside. Our road trips are the best and soon we will again be on one; to meet my childhood friend I have known since aged four. I look forward to hiking new scenic trails. To be hands free without the distraction of electronics.
My car is my second sanctuary. It is as I drove with my eldest, today, that I finally discovered the statement hidden in my closet. Works do not define who I am. It is I, who defines the works that represent me. I own the roads I choose to walk on; the good and the bad.
Four walls and a car can define my sanctuary but I am learning to not limit myself to them. I clear my mind of distraction and clutter to walk in the present. It is not just the physical that protects my space to create my happy, safe place. It is the mental that allows me the motivation to walk, each and every day. For my sons, my hubs but more importantly, for my own self. I continue to work on my cupboards and closets, to weed my gardens. It is my life work each and every day to create my sanctuary. To practice my religious beliefs and stand for my values. My stride is unbroken.