Creating Sanctuary

There’s this thing I do whenever I’m feeling down. Instead of first going to find someone to talk to, or writing, I start looking for two things: quotes and songs. I first go through all the quotes that I’ve written down over the years that have spoken to me. Then I go online and look up either specific people or specific topics that speak to what I’m currently dealing with or experiencing. Playing music (and then checking to make sure that I actually know the lyrics and didn’t add my own words to them, lol) is next. You see I’ve always been someone that’s found comfort in words. Part of that is what drove me to writing, and for sure it is what has made me always enjoy so many kinds of music.

One song in particular that I’ve always listened to when my heart has been broken, is “A Rose Is Still A Rose.” When I’m by myself and going through it, that song is the equivalent of getting a hug from my Mom while I cry and let out all of my troubles. Aretha’s voice in the beginning reminds me of all the times older women like my grandmother, my aunts, or my Mom’s friends have sat and shared their wisdom and encouragement just through the strength of their stories. The nurturing I’ve had from those experiences have left me seeking anything that recreates that same semblance of comfort and security. I’ve even gone so far as to create playlists that all make me think of being in a circle with my adopted and real aunties or my sisterfriends and the soothing calm their presence provides when I’m in the thick of things or simply need positive energy to draw from.

And so along those lines, with the temperatures steadily dropping and holidays amongst us (which although this season is one of my favorites and not hard for me -can be for some) and personal seasons coming to an end, I’ve found myself trying to find ways to consistently have those feelings of love, positivity, and comfort around me. In particular, as my desire to stay to myself and enjoy my solitude increases,  I’ve realized that I want my home to be a place that is my sanctuary and provides those things. Everytime I walk through my door, I want to feel that I’m in a safe space. Here are some of the things that I’ve been doing lately to help create that ambiance:

1. Posting affirmations and quotes

So one of my favorite things about the television show “Being Mary Jane” is how she would have these quotes on post-it notes all around her bedroom. That whole premise is me all day. I have written down quotes from people I love and respect (mostly my favorite writes) and taped them to the wall in my bathroom, so that everyday when I get out of the shower and get dressed I read them. Recently I even taped a quote of Gabrielle Union (Mary Jane herself) from a recent  issue of Essence (November 2016 to be exact) where she is talking about how the idea of living life to be appropriate is not how she wants to be remembered. This idea of learning, growing, and being whoever the hell you want to be regardless of your age and people’s opinion of you is EXACTLY how I feel. But so many times I’ve fallen into the trap of playing small and comparing myself to others, like so many other women. And I’ve done that despite knowing that what I envision and desire for myself doesn’t even match what other women I know have. At all. (That may actually be its own blog post in the future).

So these affirmations, these quotes, these reminders about freedom and having the courage to create the life you want and be who you are – I keep them around me and read them everyday. And so far they have done what they are supposed to do: remind me of the kind of life and person I want to me and am meant to be.

2. Artwork and/or Pictures of my S/heroes

This is something I’m actually working on. I already have pictures of my family up in my home. But part of why I have not put purchased any art, despite my desire to, is because I’ve been trying to decide what it is that I wanted to decorate with. In general I tend to be drawn to photography and artwork that features Black women. But I tend to either like bright colors or black and white. And I also love graffiti art and murals. So in thinking about art, my tastes have been rather varied and, I guess you could say, all over the place. But recently, with the need to create sanctuary, I’ve been thinking about how comforting it might be to have pictures, or art, of writers, musicians, and other men and women that inspire me, hanging on my walls. I consider it being like a visual representation of the kind of comfort that Aretha’s songs do for me. Pictures of my favorites there as a constant reminder of what I can be, can do, and what is possible. So this kind of art/photography has now been added to my “buy for the apartment” list.

3. Pillow, pillows, and more pillows

Now I’m actually still toying with this idea because it could be argued that I may already have too many pillows, just from the ones on my bed alone. But I’ve always envisioned having big floor pillows in my living room that I could sit, lay, and write on. I tucked the idea away after I first purchased my couch and love seat. But now the idea is back.

Admittedly part of this stems from this relaxation class I took a month or so ago with a friend of mine. We went in thinking it was going to be a light yoga class that would allow us to stretch and recover from the extreme soreness we both had from strenuous workouts that week. But instead the class was designed to help stretch and relax the muscles. So many of the poses involved using blankets and cushions to lean back and just relax. I don’t think my description is doing it justice, but trust me, it was the BEST. THING. EVER. So ever since I’ve been obsessed again with finding these illustrious floor pillows (that I could never seem to find – at least not in the size I envisioned) to recreate the relaxation of that class. We’ll see.

4. A mini-altar

Part of my spiritual journey this past year has included looking more into metaphysics and eastern schools of thought as it applies to the mind, body, and spirit. I’m still very much trying to learn what I can and read up on things – expanding so much on the ideas I first learned about in my World Religions class from my freshman year in college (I went to a Jesuit college so a certain number of credits in religious or spiritual classes were required). One idea that I had been hesitant for a long time to consider, was that of creating an “altar.” Because of the image I grew up with, where altars were supposed to just be in churches, I suppose that the idea just seemed, for lack of a better word, wrong to me.

But what changed my mind about it recently, was an article I read talking about the idea of creating an altar on  . Essentially what I took from it, was that how you used the altar was more important than what was there. In particular, it is used as a focal point or a place you can turn towards when you want to meditate, visualize, or just focus on your intentions. As someone that struggles with meditation, but does better with it when it is focused visualization, having a focal point – whether that includes prayer beads to hold or a pretty crystal to look at when I’m trying to focus – is a genius idea. And so with the goal to create ambiance and help clear my mind when I’m praying, meditating, etc. I’ve decided to use my windowsill in my bedroom as my mini-altar. So far I  have a piece of palo santo (which I just discovered and kinda love), my prayer beads, and a crystal there. I may add a plant (If I think I can keep it alive). Maybe a few candles. We’ll see.


So that’s what I’ve got so far. I also make sure that I have incense, aromatherapy oils to burn, candles, etc. But my sanctuary is definitely coming along. What ideas or suggestions do you have for creating sanctuary at home?

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