46: The Importance of Cultivating a Sanctuary

“Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul.” – Christopher Forrest McDowell The Simple Sophisticate, episode #46 Over the course of the first handful of days of my living in Bend, Oregon, I have hit the ground running, exploring walking trails, shops, bakeries and even high […] Listen now or continue reading below.


“Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul.” – Christopher Forrest McDowell

The Simple Sophisticate, episode #46

Over the course of the first handful of days of my living in Bend, Oregon, I have hit the ground running, exploring walking trails, shops, bakeries and even high mountain lakes to paddle board on. And so it was on Saturday, I found myself paddle boarding on Hosmer Lake.

Limited to non-motorized watercraft only, the only sounds that were heard were the occasional fish jumping to catch a fly, the ducks and ducklings from time to time changing direction to avoid the wayward kayaker and paddles grabbing the water to propel the curious navigators forward.

With innumerable lily pads, bulrush wands and other lush, green water vegetation, much of the time was following the path of water that weaved itself along these naturally made water trails. With crisp, clear water, and only fly-fishing made available for anglers, Atlantic salmon, rainbow and brook trout can be seen below bustling about.

Having happened to meet a forest service ranger upon my arrival, he gave me the run-down of the two bald eagles, where their nest was located and the two hatchlings growing up on Hosmer as well as the good fortunate if I should see an otter or two as they were hard to spot.

Why I share this experience with you is that while I was paddling along for well over an hour, it became undeniably clear that when anything, be it mother nature or human beings, are given the space and freedom to do what comes naturally to them without being disturbed, scarred or oppressed, magnificent outcomes materialize.

In previous blog posts and episodes of the podcast I have talked about cultivating a sanctuary with reference to our homes, but today I’d like to view the necessity of a sanctuary in a larger context. Yes, our homes can and should absolutely be one of the sanctuaries in our lives, but as the quote above reminds, any sanctuary is such because it allows us to “perform the duty of taking care of our soul”.

“Taking care of our soul.” First of all, what is the definition of a soul? Oprah Winfrey always ends her weekly Super Soul Sunday on OWN with a handful of questions, and one of them is “What is the soul?”. While it is clear that there are just as many definitions as there are guests on her program, what kept being repeated in one form of another was the idea of the soul being our true and most authentic self, that which is within us that cannot be taken away, die or change significantly.

So if we look at the definition of “soul” through such a lens, the necessity of taking care of our soul is profoundly crucial to reaching our full potential. 

[Tweet “”. . . the necessity of taking care of our soul is profoundly crucial to reaching our full potential.” “]

And since we need to tend to our soul regularly, a sanctuary must be more than just our homes. In fact, as I mentioned two weeks ago, the importance of a sanctuary, or intangible containers, is crucial for HSPs, but whether we are HSPs or not, we all need to have sanctuaries throughout our everyday routines where we can be left alone, unbothered, to discover that which is waiting to be realized within in each of us.

Some of us enjoy more alone time than others, but solitude is actually beneficial for us all as I wrote about a few years ago. Part of the reason, we each need to be comfortable being in our own company is that we need to be able to understand what the crutches are in our lives that we initially were unconsciously aware of and ignorant to the effect they have on our lives (good or bad). Some examples: television and the advertisements and talking heads that fill the background even when we think we’re not listening, reliance on anyone who takes care of basic needs – food, cleaning, laundry, bills, etc., social, and government and community constructs and what they provide that we take for granted (roads, mail, education, etc).

Once we recognize and begin to either appreciate (thereby not taking for granted) or edit out crutches that are unhelpful in our growth as a person, we can then begin to live more consciously. And when we begin to live more consciously, we begin to tap into our true potential.

A few examples of sanctuaries, places or ideas for restoring your soul:

  • a quiet backyard: yard chairs, lush landscape or natural foliage, and a soft breeze to lull you into a state of relaxation (or maybe a nap)
  • a bubble bath before going to bed
  • time to meditate
  • a cozy bakery or coffee shop offering a table to yourself to sip and read
  • your regular work-out time (walking, running, yoga, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, etc)
  • anything that unburdens your mind

Returning to the analogy of Hosmer Lake, because it has been allowed to exist with as little human disturbance as possible, it has flourished into a rare destination to see nature in its most pristine form because it has been allowed to be what it truly can be.

We too need to protect ourselves in this way as often as possible. Will we be able to be free entirely from nagging commercials and uncomfortable situations and people forever? Absolutely not. But we can begin to limit their disturbance in our lives, and thus begin to become clear about who we truly are, what our heart is longing for, and perhaps see and feel authentically without being influenced as much by the world and people around us. Because when we step into our full potential, not only will our lives improve, but the community and world around us as well.

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you a wonderful week.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Time to Recharge

~How to Live Alone Well

~Why Not . . . Travel Alone?

Petit Plaisir:

The Au Courant Weekly

Beginning Saturday morning, July 25th, tune in for the second weekly episode of The Simple Sophisticate.

In French, au courant means literally to be in the current, and Webster’s dictionary defines it to mean “knowing about the newest information, trends, etc. and/or being stylish or current.

Part of living well is being in the know, whether it is being knowledgable of news from around the world or informed of going-ons right in your own community, because it’s not what you think, it’s that you think. Each Saturday, tune in to The Simple Sophisticate where I’ll bring your the facts from the week in world and national news, politics, arts, science, style, and wrap up with something extra special for you fellow Francophiles. Oh, and for you fellow Bendites, I’ll have something for you too. All of the information will enable you to go forth into the weekend ready for an engaging conversation or simply mindful of the most recent current events, from which you can formulate your own opinions. So join me each Saturday morning, and in 15 minutes or less you will be au courant.

~A sampling of news that would have been covered this past week if the episode would have went live this past Saturday.

aucourantpetit

Image: TSLL IG



7 thoughts on “46: The Importance of Cultivating a Sanctuary

  1. I am so excited for your new podcasts!! Thanks for all your hard work on these podcasts and your blog. I swear it’s my most visited website in my bookmarks. You got me thinking about my sanctuaries and I have so many, but I wish I had more natural sanctuaries. In southern Virginia the heat and humidity are just so oppressive but if we get a rare cool evening I’m ready to take a walk around my historic neighborhood. It’s just beautiful to look at and everyone is so nice around here. It makes me truly thankful.

  2. Thank you for a great blog post! I see regulars at my sanctuary spots around town: community gardens and parks, neighborhood cafés and trails along the San Francisco Bay.

    For years my husband and I have struggled to make our home in to the sanctuary we need it to be. We live in a small rental in an increasingly noisy, expensive and crowded neighborhood in Silicon Valley. Most of the time it’s perfectly cozy, but in the warmer months it can be oppressive to be in a small, closed up space. We also have been very involved with dog rescue work, and we put the dogs first, which has often meant sacrificing or delaying our own comfort or trying to include them in our quest for sanctuary in the warmer months, which seem to be five months of the year. Given that I work from home, for me it can be a real struggle to have sanctuary in hot weather when we have dogs. We can’t just take off and run to the coast for a week. So these have been our best innovations:

    -We bought a large portable airconditioner for our living room. To have one room that we can keep cool has been wonderful!

    – We’ve recently created a “grotto” in our very shady little backyard. For 19 years it’s been a gravel-covered doggy litter box. But now that we have just two dogs, we’ve repurposed dog run fencing to close off part of it, added fresh gravel, put a set of free wicker furniture from FreeCycle in it, and strung repurposed, donated tropical grass skirting and battery-powered string lights on the fence tops. It’s serene, shaded, whimsical and private. To keep it easy to care for, the dogs are only allowed in when we let them, and they are loving lounging on their dog beds as much as we are reveling in reclining in comfy chairs, drinking coffee and eating home-baked croissants.

    – Close up the house early to keep it cool and open it up at night to enjoy the lower temps and cross breezes. Having big dogs means we can safely sleep with our windows open!

    – Run errands early or late, enjoy cool salads and deli foods, cook only at night – including making iced coffee for the next day.

    – Use the outdoor grill whenever possible.

    – Soak my feet in cool water several times a day, then sprinkle with chilled eau de toilette.

    For us, not *having* to leave the house just because it’s a hot day (as I used to do in the past) is utter luxury!

  3. Hi Shannon – I am so happy to hear about this 2nd episode of The Simple Sophisticate. I really loved your idea about listening to it in the morning and maybe having it spark something to do over the weekend.

    As a side note – I really cannot wait to see photos of your new home in Bend. I believe you had mentioned you were going to be renting at first. Would you be willing to consider doing a podcast episode or blog post about reasons to enjoy renting? Sometimes I get caught up in “home buying fever” even though I am not financially ready to buy, and it would be nice to have a resource to use for helping me focus on positive aspects of renting! 🙂

  4. Looking forward to more podcasts! You obviously put a lot of effort into these and your blog, I wish you knew how much I appreciate your writing and podcasts! If you have anything to say about forming new relationships and/or dealing with being far from family after a long distance move, I would be very interested. Best wishes to you in finding your sanctuaries in Bend and making Bend your new home.

  5. Hi Shannon, thank you so much for all of your blog posts. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy them and have the information you share to improve my home & my life! I’m looking forward to your second weekly episode of The Simple Sophisticate – Au Courant Weekly. You mention that it will start to air this Saturday, July 25th. What time? I’m in South Florida so I will have to compensate for the time difference. Thanks again!!

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