By Joan Larsen
So often, we do not have time to smell the roses, do we? Sometimes, it feels as if we have just run a marathon . . . and yet there is still more to do. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but women are responsible for so many things in our world of today. There are so many people that we seem to have to have time to nurture. Frankly, it is often everyone but ourselves. Am I wrong?
After the children were no longer underfoot and on their own, I realized – as we all must – that I had stepped over what I call a line. I was in a new chapter in my life with all its long-felt hopes and aspirations. All those dreams perhaps that lie just beyond our reach until now were now achievable. In my generation, we reveled in the hard-won victories for women that have given us new freedoms in pursuing careers and in creating loving relationships. Now was the hour. The stepping stones of life did not prove insurmountable at all. I relished the climb, to be honest.
But more and more, I found I did not have enough time for “me”, my family and my relationships. I never ever want the love in my life to come in second.
I soon found women still must find a balance in life. Anne Morrow Lindbergh perhaps said it best: “The problem is how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life, how to remain balanced, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and then crack the hub of the wheel”. In her Gifts from the Sea, she wrote the words that changed my thinking. Women need to give themselves the gifts of time, she said.
What was I missing most? Is it selfish to say that I wanted a quiet place for myself? A personal space – just for me – to relax and re-group, a spot of total privacy for body and spirit. Like most of us in those years, I had retreated to the tub to savor a few quiet moments of sanctuary and personal time. But I needed more privacy than that I felt. We all do. To paraphrase the title from author Virginia Woolf’s story, I needed A ROOM OF MY OWN.
Just the thought of it is wonderful. Making it come true not only changes your life for the better but I have found it to be pure heaven. Out of that spare bedroom, I was able to carve out my own private retreat. Nothing would do but sunny yellow to keep the spirits lifted, I thought. Perhaps music in the background by Vivaldi as a beginning, just to set the scene. Everything in yellow though. A big cozy bed with the feel of clean sheets and lots of pillows, the comfy chair that I could just sink into to pull together my thoughts, a desk with a view of the natural world outside – sights I have never been able to resist. This is where I do my writing.
It has become “my nest” – a gift to myself, my own sacred place, a private retreat. As I lie in my bed there, I am surrounded by beautiful things – treasured books and art, photos and mementos – that never fail to touch my heart. I don’t think I have to tell you that it has changed my life. Sunshine streams in. Or the beauty of the full moon when I am finishing an assignment in the wee small hours when writing just flows.
What I have found now – over years in my yellow room – is that to give back fully as we would want to in our relationships, careers, families, and passions, we must pull back into our “nests” to also take care of ourselves. It is then we can return refreshed and ready to continue what is often the drama of our days with their joys, sorrows, pleasures and stresses that go with what we call “life”.
The older I get, the more I value my time alone. Did you notice that creativity is more cerebral than active? We need uninterrupted time to think. Does anyone else notice that our thoughts become deeper with age – and that others seem to listen to us with more intent? When we say something, I do believe that we have something so much deeper and with more meaning to say. We are listened to!
Over time, I have carried my love affair with the color yellow a step further. . . into the main rooms of the house that my love and I share. Yes, women need their own private spaces. Knowing they are there — as we drive back home — becomes our lodestone, our blessing. But in my home, caught in the shaft of the sunlight, the living room has become the place where so much of my love’s and my own togetherness takes place. It seems to invite talk of private things, meant for ourselves alone. The fireplace is – well, it is magical – just lulling us into the moods that further enhance and sustain what we like to call “the good life”. I have found that without that love in your life – love well and flourishing – that there remains that missing piece.
I believe I have found the balance we all seek in life – the beautiful room of my own that gives me a peace, a serenity, a rejuvenation – is, in some ways, responsible for my abilities to live as I would like to: having a full life of my own, a love life to be dreamed of, and that unexplainable rejuvenation that – no matter our ages – makes us feel wonderful.
I feel I have discovered a secret. But for those who do not yet have “a room of your own’, you might want to give it more than a small look. I have found it to be life-changing. . . and, you know what? I think you may as well!
“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”— Steve Jobs
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”