July 8, 2019

The “Zen Den” space we all need at Home.

“Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” ~ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

The best thing I did for myself this past year was create a small, peaceful space in my house just for me.

I call it my “Zen Den,” which is, quite simply, a room of my own.

When my daughter moved out last year, her bedroom sat empty and depressed for a while. She took her bed and other furnishings. She removed things from her walls and cleaned out her closet. As a young adult, it was a big move, but it certainly felt like she was “on her way” and wouldn’t be coming back home to live any time soon. A few months after her departure, I decided it was time to finally create a place in my house where I could simply “be.”

First, the room received a thorough cleaning, and I pulled up the rug. I washed the windows and their respective sills. In came my yoga mat, a desk, my Buddha, some pretty twinkly lights, and lots of crappy little items that mean a lot to me: My vintage camper ornament. My succulents. My Red Sox snow globe. A Block Island bottle cap. Elephants—elephants everywhere. My cactus pen. My adorable wire bicycle. A dish with a bird painted on it. And a few photos of my amazing kids. Essential life things that serve only to enhance the enjoyment of my existence.

I moved an old, comfy armchair into the corner, and added a small Indian print ottoman for some vibrant color. I bought a cute, ocean blue mandala patterned rug and set up my writer’s desk. I hung a beautiful tapestry on the wall, and I mounted a piece of driftwood. Yes, there are candles. Yes, of course, there is a salt lamp. And all of it is ridiculously awesome.

My Zen Den is my creative space. It nourishes and entertains my inner self. I use it to think about the world and burn incense. It exudes all the good and calming vibes required for my imperfect yoga practice and it’s conducive for repeated meditation attempts. I “smoke my vapors” and read my books. And I write for days and days.

As Will Ferrell proclaimed in the movie “Step Brothers,” “there’s so much room for activities!” That is exactly how I feel about my little part of the house.

This room of my own is way more than an office. It’s all about having a place to center and return to myself.

By carving out some time to be alone, I’m able to reflect on important things and let go of what does not serve me. To put it bluntly, I can shut the door, and in doing so, enter the world of “just me” which, from what I’ve been hearing on the streets, is something most of us desperately crave.

At best, it’s an escape, a reprieve from outside influences, and all the distractions and responsibilities that come along for the ride. It’s my way of momentarily removing myself (not avoiding) the complexities of life, which include some of my personal human battles.

My Zen Den helps me combat my depression and my eating disorder. It’s a safe haven, a place to relax and let my tightly wound thoughts go slack. It’s a re-purposed area designated for the sole purpose of enjoying my own company. It’s where I can savor, mull, and hone my own damn thoughts and opinions for a change, instead of absorbing the perspectives of others.

The best part about my room is the fact that I can quietly write for hours at a time, stopping only for bouts of intermittent yoga. When I need a break, I simply get up, step onto my mat, and release. When I’m not writing, I blast Mazzy Star and text people. I search the internet for random things, like tiny homes, crescent-moon necklaces, and anti-wrinkle creams. I mark up my lists and calendars. In the morning, I sip my delicious cup of coffee uninterrupted, while watching the sunrise through my windows. At night, I open them and listen to the calls of night birds and harmonizing insects. My room has a definite “feeling” all its own and if I had to give that feeling a name it would be “Unadulterated Positive Energy,” or “Heaven,” if you want to be technical about it.

I added a pretty lamp recently. It’s an ornate indulgence that doesn’t match anything else in my house, yet somehow seems perfectly at home in my room.

No one else has to like it.

In my Zen Den, I am not responsible for anyone or anything. I am neither distracted, nor bored. I’m not intensely dialed in. I’m not making dinner or plans, or arguing politics, or processing hurt. There is no laundry to fold and there are no relationship problems to deal with. I am not busy, and yet I am also quite busy—doing the restorative things my soul clearly seeks and the contemplative things that feed my silent hunger for meaning.

In my Zen Den, I am me.

So what are you waiting for? Find a spot in your home and fix it up. Create a little space just for you.

A room of your own. Why? Because it’s radical self-care, baby, and right now it’s all the rage.

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