Sanctuary for the Holidays

A Sanctuary Holiday. Is that even possible? If you are anything like me, you have experienced (and yes, created for yourself) holidays that are over-scheduled, over-stuffed and over-blown. It happens. It’s horrifying, but it happens.

This year I wanted to be different. I set out to the beat of a different drummer — I set out hearing the alluring cadence of sanctuary. What does that mean, exactly? Here’s the short list in my world:

  • Slowing down instead of rushing around like a madwoman
  • Leaving blocks of unscheduled time in the day
  • Saying no to most invitations and yes only to a select few
  • Exercising self-restraint – every surface does NOT have to be adorned with holiday frippery
  • Investing in a bit of extra self-care (like clearing the time for a second meditation during the day, or lingering outside with my feet in the grass – this is Florida after all)

In its truest meaning, experiencing sanctuary involves looking inward rather than outward. It promotes feeling calm and grounded, refreshed and replenished. Sound like any holiday you’ve ever had? Me neither.

So you can see why this year, unlike past years with full-on holiday mania, I am taking my time. Pausing to notice the little moments of happiness and unexpected tenderness. Letting myself sit down and rest. And you know what? I haven’t wanted to kill myself or anyone else. Well, not yet, anyway. And I made it all the way through Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the in-between-the-holidays freak-out-period right after the turkey pan is finally clean and I realize how much I have to do in the coming weeks.

I am lighting my candles, piling my favorite crystals on my desk, grabbing my favorite pen and notebook and just BEING. I am putting on my favorite music, changing the entire mood of my space and sinking into the moment, like relaxing into a hot bath.

What is my favorite music for sanctuary, you ask? At the moment, it is the new holiday album released by my beloved husband, Philip Stephen Allen, and he named it after this very blog. “Finding Sanctuary : Christmas”! (Now I know for sure that he loves me.) I cannot begin to tell you how much I adore it. It is exactly what I love in music — peaceful, calming, inspiring. It soothes my ragged edges and stirs my imagination at the same time. And yes, I am insanely proud of him for creating such an artful work of utter beauty. If you haven’t heard it, you simply must. Find it here and savor a bit of sanctuary for yourself.

So if you think I’m smiling while I’m typing this, you’re right. If you think I’m counting my blessings and thoughtfully sipping a glass of wine, you’re right again. If you think I’ve got all my shopping done and have moved past all possibility of holiday panic at this point, think again. Let’s not get crazy here.

Sending peace and serenity from my house to yours. And please send it back if you don’t mind. For that above-mentioned moment when the panic sets back in.

With gratitude,




  1. Well, another article that resonates with me this holiday season. I just read this article as I was waking up this morning still snuggled in bed and wanting to start my morning off with positive thoughts and energy. So after making a cup of coffee,( of course in my Christmas mug) I came out to my sanctuary lite my Himalayan new candle (inspired by you, in a previous article & yes now I am hooked on these candles!) and surround by crystals,( yup another idea and gift you inspired me to pursue and once again I am hooked!)
    I had to share my thoughts this season as well.
    First off I am a Christmas junkie- I relish and love the music 24/7 this time of year, Bing Crosby get me everytime I hear him and I grew up on this music so it brings fun memories and my heart joy. This time of year it try to do a bit more TLC , more patience in traffic, more patience toward store clerks as its not there fault only one register is open.
    All of it I love and enjoy, right down to the decorations in every nook and cranny of my house one may say Knick knacks, but where I come from its all “choch ki”…
    But I this year something has shifted, not in a bad way at all , it has to do with my time, and where I am right now this season. I still feel the love, gratitude and work always on my patience, however, I just cant bring myself to get every corner of my house decorated. I made this decision right around Thanksgiving when I personally have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and what I can do or not do to get centered again. As I saw and see myself spinning out of control. Awareness is the 1st step , right? Hahaha
    So as all the christmas decoration came down yesterday with my husband and I started to peek through all the bins and boxes and I love everything , I said to myself,” Do I really need to have an entire display this year of all my Lenox snowman? Does every santa figurine really need to be displayed? And my self said NOPE! Pick your favorite and decorate with ease and joy.
    So today while I will be decorating inside the house ,with of course Christmas music jamming, and I am looking foward to a lighter load of Santa’s, fake snow and snowman everywhere. And the Christmas tree will be going up in next 24-48hrs and I absolutley love all the lights.

    We talk about the little things in life that bring us joy , makes us smile and makes our heart full.
    Seeing and sitting quielty at night or 1st thing in the morning as the house is dark with just the christmas tree lights lite, is somehting I adore. Truly, you will defintely find me alone just sitting and starring at my tree while the house is all quiet.
    So as there may not be as many knick nacks around this year, I will still have my coffee in my reindeer mug, and enjoying the tree lights, with a few crystals in my hand to bring me to my happy place. Because truly its about our happy place and getting there as often as possible.
    Much love and adoration,
    Michelle Snyder

  2. Your blog is so inspiring! Thank you. And Phillips Christmas album is wonderful! Ordering the CD for gifts today! Merry Christmas to you both!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Deb. I’m really lucky to get to share with such an amazing group of people. And I’m SO glad you’re enjoying Philip’s album – I think he’s getting tired of me playing it non-stop at home, in the office, and in the car. 🙂

        1. Phillip, I can’t wait to add this treasure to add to my collection! Lisa’s story has helped me find my path this fall. I love collecting ornaments that remind me of life events for the year, this year it’s your album. Thank you.