March 22, 2019

More than Triage:

Sanctuary All the Time, Any Place

When I began to contemplate the concept of sanctuary as a tool for healing, my emotional health was in critical condition. The idea of a haven especially equipped to replenish my coping skills and resolve to live my best life evolved out of necessity. I was bleeding out precious energy. As a mother, I knew what was best for my special daughter; now if I could only beat down the universe, make it submit to my preconceived notions.

But as you probably know, life doesn’t work that way. The more we struggle to imprint a moment with our image of how it should look, the more futile our attempts and the more desperate our frustration. Peace only comes with acceptance. So, discovering this idea of sanctuary in my own professional back yard, almost stumbling onto it within my own field of interior design, to this day feels divinely intentional. As soon as I began to wrap myself within the cocooning layers of sanctuary, my emotional IV drip was hooked up and sustaining me. I could live in the moment and believe it’s exactly as it’s meant to be.

In those days, sanctuary was triage. I needed immediate, urgent attention to be okay (and no doubt will again, as life continues to lob the curve ball now and then). Transforming a part of my home into my personal sanctuary brought me more than creative satisfaction, though it surely did that; it ushered in a rich, sustainable inner peace. Being in the presence of the most restful colors, soothing textures, transporting scents, inspirational art, meaningful objects that tell my and my family’s story, and, of course, deeply comfortable seating and bedding was as reliable as any FDA-approved medication. All I had to do was enter this special space—and declare my intention—for the rejuvenation of body, mind and spirit to begin.

It didn’t take long before I realized sanctuary had to become the focus of my work for others. I had to share what I’d learned. I recognized that I’m not alone in struggling. Life is the great equalizer, isn’t it? It doles out challenges to us all without regard to wealth, privilege or any other artificial socio-economic barriers we can erect in our desperation to be spared. We cannot be spared pain. And on some level, we do want the growth and expansion that comes out of that pain. 

But thanks to sanctuary, we can be prepared. If you are planning a hiking or camping trip and know extreme cold is expected, you pack accordingly, with outer wear and sleeping bags rated to withstand arctic blasts. Sanctuary provides a similar kind of insulation. It won’t stop life’s weather, but it will make it bearable. Thanks to sanctuary, we can be grounded to better endure. And that’s a beautiful promise. It’s one you and I, and all of our friends and family, need, though in different measures at different times.

The deeper I explore the concept, the clearer it becomes to me that sanctuary meets us exactly where we are. When you experience an emotional bleed, sanctuary is triage. Then as you improve and heal, it morphs into something else, reaching you where you are to give you what you need next.

When you’re feeling great and on top of the world, sanctuary can be any avenue that opens up your mind and gets your creative juices flowing. It’s the launch-pad for a creative endeavor like gardening or cooking—or salsa dancing—whatever allows you to express yourself and bring you deeper meaning and fulfillment.

Sanctuary is more than hygge (say “hue-guh”). Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment—whether with friends or alone, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary—as cozy, charming or special. Sanctuary goes beyond the moment. The focus on healthy mind, spirit and body offer a timeless balance and with it, a sustaining energy.

Sanctuary meets you in the parched caverns as well as the lush meadows of your emotional landscape. It also can literally reach you wherever you are—on a plane, in a business meeting, walking the dog.

It can go with you anywhere: as favorite essential oils to smell; music to listen to with earbuds when you travel; a special pen or notepad when journaling; a candle to burn or crystals to hold.

It can help you in all times because the ultimate gift of sanctuary is self-enlightenment on the path to self-actualization. Does that give you goosebumps? It definitely does give them to me.

So tell me, where are YOU in your journey? Where are you between the stages of triage and creative exploration? I’d love to hear. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

With gratitude,


Logo flourish

One response to “More than Triage:”

  1. Kathleen Holterman says:

    Dear Lisa,

    Beautifully written, your message of sanctuary filled my mind with one word: HOPE I am not in crisis, but still your words brought me hope for anyone who is hurting and especially for the whole world.

    Your words and sharing of your personal story left me feeling wrapped in a blanket of love and hope for all.

    I am in a great place of having manifested
    time for myself and a new part time position doing what I like to do. All from letting the Universe do what she does naturally.

    But in your words I heard a message of how to go deeper into a sanctuary way of life – caring for self, as a way of life and example to others.

    Your words moved me.

    Your friend,

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