For the first time in several years, I am in the position, hand-in-hand with my loving boyfriend, to fashion a new home for myself. Our new dwelling is more than big enough for the two of us, plus my cat. It had the requisite two bedrooms (one for my office), a kitchen with enough counter space and room for the two of us to comfortably move around at the same time. The gardens and pool were a lovely bonus. Yet with square footage that rivals the houses of several people we know, we are facing the challenge and adventure of creating a new place that reflects the two of us—making a home a sanctuary.
Buried By Remnants of the Past
For the last three years, my medical condition forced me to live with my parents back at home. It’s not as if it has been torture, and I have a beautiful, loving relationship with my folks. Yet, as much as this is the house I spent half of my childhood in, it is no longer fully my home. I have had my bedroom and another bedroom to double as my office as “my own.” After what has now been 35 years of my life, through several moves, including two residences across the country, now living in my childhood room, I have felt buried by remnants of the past—my youth and the accumulation of paperwork from classes and work, bills and various odds and ends. I have been surrounded by all my past lives, struggling to dig myself out of physical and emotional baggage and clutter.
When my boyfriend and I found the new place and made the decision to move in, there was great excitement for us to start building a new phase of our life together. For him, the opportunity to truly build a home after several years of just living in places, spending most of his time elsewhere, was also hugely appealing. For me, I saw an opportunity not only to gain some independence once again, but also to shed my life of the old to make room for the new.
Physical Clutter Causes Mental Clutter
Plenty has been written about how clutter in your physical space can also cause mental and emotional clutter as well. Physical clutter can drain you emotionally, cause you to lose focus and clarity, and also stymie your productivity. With limited physical energy because of my medical conditions, it was very hard to stay on top of cleaning and organization at times. When my room(s) began to get a little out of control, I found it not only physically overwhelming, not being able to find everything I was looking for simply, or even to navigate around all the things collected in my room—I also found my productivity slow to a crawl. I found it hard to prioritize. I found it hard to stay on top of my finances. This bled into other areas of my life—in relationships with loved ones and friends, I’d often find myself frustrated, disjointed and unreliable (trying to keep track of engagements and my overextended yeses was a bitch.)
Ditching The Baggage
As the impending move became more real, I found myself looking forward to finally, fully ridding myself of the clutter. I went through closets and threw out bags of old, sometimes out-of-fashion, clothes that I’d been holding onto—whether for nostalgia’s sake or fear that the moment I tossed an item of clothing, I’d realize I’d need it. I had filing cabinets packed with receipts and bills far too old to be relevant or at all necessary to keep. Old cell phone chargers, obsolete CD players, business cards of people I no longer remembered or needed to stay in touch with all could be tossed. Books I’d only read once, Wii games I’d never played and rollerblades I’ve never used and probably never would could be sold or given away.
With each item I’d shred, toss or give away, I felt instantly lighter and freer. My room no longer felt like a yawning black maw threatening to swallow me whole. Life seemed more manageable. I had room to think. Room to plan. Room to let the new opportunities and experiences in. Freedom.
Making Home a Sanctuary
In the new place, we were instantly drawn to what is easily our favorite space—the ballroom, with its arched ceiling, chimney (unusable) and two walls of windows. The area is so large that we can break it up into three different sections—our living room area, a relaxation/entertaining zone, and finally something I’ve been coveting for many months now—a space dedicated for yoga and all other mind-body practices that strike our fancy.
My love and I aren’t very big on interior design, but we’ve been playing around with visions. I’ve found myself picking up inspiration wherever I go, whether it’s a color scheme, window-covering idea or funky design, whether I’m at a moving sale or office for an interview. I’m so very much looking forward to further creating space that feels like us, in which we can feel supported, rejuvenated, inspired and ready to thrive. At last, I have a home of my—our—own, a sanctuary.