Episode 166: Making Home A Haven
Hello there. Happy holidays. Welcome back to Live Free Creative Podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. You’re listening to Episode 166: How To Make Your Home a Haven.
It sure is the time of year where I love my home to feel like a Haven. This holiday season, things feel a little cozier. The weather turns, we want to be inside a little bit more. Although I have to report that, I feel like we’ve been doing an excellent job of spending more time outside, even though it’s gotten colder.
I did an episode all about that a few weeks ago, that I’ll link in the show notes. It’s called Enjoying The Outdoors All Year Round, and I’m using some of my own tips to make that happen over here.
How are you feeling? I’ve heard from a lot of people and read in some articles that this has been another intense year for people.
And that this season as sort of the year is winding down, can kind of highlight that for us. Do you feel settled and peaceful? Do you feel a little bit anxious and worried? Do you feel overwhelmed and stressed?
All those feelings are valid and normal. And I’m sorry if you’re going through some tough times right now, I will tell you, I have had a rollercoaster of a couple of weeks with so many different sorts of unexpected happenings around here.
Luckily, I’m feeling a little bit relieved. Things are kind of settling down as we head into this Christmas weekend. It’s not going to be a super calm weekend, very celebrating Christmas morning, and then hopping on an airplane to spend the week in Paris, which is going to be a delightful whirlwind and a nice break from the unexpected.
I’m sure lots of unexpected things will happen along our vacation. That’s how trips go. And it will be nice to just step outside of life for a little while and experience something totally new and be able to spend so much time just reconnecting with my family and see my in-laws who are living in Germany and eat all of the delicious baked goods. I am very excited about that.
I hope if you have been celebrating already, if you’ve celebrated Hanukkah or Winter Solstice, or if you’re getting ready to celebrate Christmas or Kwanza, I hope that you have felt in circled about by love, even if not every aspect of your life looks the way you might’ve expected this year.
I hope that you can recognize there is beauty in even the hard things happening in our lives. And it’s that lesson that I want to share about in today’s segment called lessons from nature? What did I, I think that’s what I called it? I did these Notes From Nature. I don’t remember. A lesson from the wilderness?
Here we go.
Segment: Notes From Nature
I was on a walk with my daughter the other day and she picked up a pinecone and we were talking about how the pinecone carries the seeds of the next pine tree. And as we were looking at it, I was reminded of something that I’ve always found fascinating about certain types of pine trees.
I learned this originally when I was a child from my grandfather, Papa, who was a naturalist, a biologist, he worked for the forest service in Sequoia National park in Kings Canyon.
My mother grew up running wild as a child in the summers, when my grandpa was out there working in my grandmother was holding down the fort in a cabin without electricity or running water. True wilderness people.
My grandfather taught me about how nurturing and necessary wildfires were for the forest up there in Northern California, where I know lately the fires have gone so wild that they’re causing so much destruction.
Uncontrolled wildfires have been suppressed since the early 1900’s. But although they can be damaging, a lot of the destruction of fires can also prove beneficial. In the recent decades, ecologists and naturalists and land managers have realized how the net natural patterns of fires in forests actually proliferate the ecosystem.
The two kinds of seeds and pinecones that interests me the most are these serotinous cones that are sealed shut with resin. So, these are pinecones that can hang on to the tree for years and years and years. And it’s only when a fire comes through that. It melts the resin and opens so that the seeds can be distributed.
And at that point it’s open and the seeds can blow with the wind or can fall to the ground and nestled in and take root. The fire creates the new opportunity for growth. And similarly, there are fire induced seeds that the seeds themselves will fall to the ground, but they have this hard, outer coating that is activated by fire.
And at that point, they can lay on the ground buried forever until a fire comes through and bursts them open. And that fire is what causes the beginning of their life.
Before there were settlements in homes and cities in and around these forests, seasons of fire would come through and naturally spawn the new growth in the forest.
And now of course, some of those fires must be controlled and, and they were eliminated completely for a long time until ecologists realize how important the fires are for the regeneration of the forest itself. So now there are areas of controlled burn where the forest managers can both protect cities and settlements and encourage the growth that happens through the.
There’s not an incredible example or metaphor for our lives. And some of the hard things, when you feel like it’s all just burning down, noticing that there are opportunities that are only available to you because of that difficulty, because of that obstacle, because of that season of fire.
Just a quick reminder before I jump into this episode about making your home a Haven. The doors for my Decluttered, Intentional Living Masterclass are now open. This episode talks a lot about how to encourage a particular feeling at home. And I talk a lot about creating these spaces with intention. That is what Decluttered will do for you.
Decluttered, the six-week intentional living masterclass. Enables you to recognize the things that matter to you to create space for them in your home, by clearing out the clutter, by inviting intention, looking at your schedule and your energy expenditure with new eyes. Basically, if you’ve been feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, or like there’s too much around your house, there’s piles, you can’t get rid of. If you just want to reset for the new year, decluttered is for you.
You can find. All of the information and register at livefreecreative.co. You can find the Decluttered home page right there. I’ll also make sure that it’s linked to the top of the show notes. There’s a couple of fun bonuses for the first 10 people who sign up for the decluttered course and the decluttered plus course, which includes an accountability group.
We kick it all off on January 10th to reset for 2022. I’m so excited and I want to invite you to join.
Making Home A Haven
Now let’s talk about making your home a Haven. This podcast was a bonus episode given to my podcast plus Patreon group back in March of this year. So, if there’s a few time-sensitive things in there you’ll know that I was recording it originally in March.
I re-listened and recognized how wonderful this episode is for this season, as we’re thinking about our homes. We’re at home, we’re getting ready for a new year. We’re together with our families. I have a worksheet that goes along with this episode that I will put in the show notes. So, you can go download that there.
I really loved relistening myself. And unless you are a member of Podcast Plus this will be a brand-new episode for you. I hope that you enjoy. Let’s get started.
Today’s episode is all about making your home a Haven. I saw a movie a couple of weeks ago with Dave on date night, called Chaos Walking. It’s a new-ish movie. Okay. It’s based on a trilogy on a series that was written years ago, this kind of dystopian world it’s called New World. And the, these settlers from the old world, which I’m guessing would be earth go into a spaceship and they settle on new world.
Lots of unexpected things happen and there’s this sort of confusing story. And that the first book in the series is called the Knife of Never Letting Go. After seeing the movie Chaos Walking, I was really interested in the books and I found out it was not only one book, but it was three books.
So, I started reading the books. Do you the feel the same way? Do you like to read the books that go along with the movie or vice versa? The movie I thought was fascinating and interesting. And the books while I’ve just finished the first of the three books and it is really thought provoking. I’ve had lots of thoughts.
It will probably all come out in a, in a different podcast at some point, but something that I noticed. As the story is unfolding. There are two people, a boy and a girl who are escaping from one of the settlements on new world. And as they’re escaping, they’re traveling through all these different settlements.
Trying to get to Haven. Haven is the original settlement on New World. It’s where the original settlers landed and where the city is built up. It is supposed to be a refuge of safety and it is the destination that they’re headed toward for the entire book. And of course, they’re hitting obstacles and having stumbling blocks and all the things are getting in their way of getting to Haven.
Haven is the Object of Hope
And that is the object of their hope. And that is where they’re headed. And as I’ve been reading it, I’ve been thinking about the significance of the author deciding to call the destination Haven and the meaning of the word Haven. Wikipedia and Google give the definition of the word Haven as a place of safety or refuge.
And then if you look at some synonyms, you also have a retreat, a sanctuary, or an oasis. Sometimes a Haven is referred to as an inlet that is sheltered from the broader landscape from the broader seascape. It’s where things can be peaceful and quiet and cozy. It’s where you feel safe, and you feel protected, and you feel at home.
I also saw a comment online that Haven is sometimes confused for heaven. The word Haven sounds so similar in a spelled. So similarly, that is sometimes confused for the word. And I loved that. I thought that was just an additional interesting insight as I’ve been considering the idea of Haven. Of course, I have thought about home.
Is your Home A Haven?
Often, we call our homes a Haven. We use that word almost synonymously with home sometimes. And I believe that there are some specific ways that we can make our homes feel more like havens. That we can really engineer our environments at home through the way that we organize through the way that we set up through the way that we purposefully design and through the way that we create ritual within our own home environment.
So that all the feelings that you would love to expect from a Haven that safety sanctuary, oasis, peace, love, connection, that those things are more easily felt within the walls of our homes.
To kick off, I want you to think about for yourself: What does a sanctuary feel like to you? If you close your eyes and you imagine being in a place of peace or in a place of calm and security, what does it feel like?
What images come into your mind? What does it look like? What does it sound like?
One of my first experiences in what I would consider a sanctuary sort of an outside of my own cultural experience sanctuary was when I was a teenager, I was working as a river guide in Idaho and on one of my weekends off my good friend, Megan and I decided to road trip through Idaho, over up into Oregon to visit my little brother who was at the time working as a videographer on Mount Hood.
We got there to his apartment and his camp up on Mount Hood. And we hung out with him for a couple days. And then we were looking into visiting some things nearby and there was a hot springs resort that was came up on our radar.
Now this is before Google Maps. This is before I had a smartphone. So, we, I think printed out a map with some directions to get to this hot springs resort.
And we got there, and it was not exactly what we expected, but one of the things that they offered was to spend time in the yoga sanctuary. And this was sort of a yurt, like building, it was around building, and it had really warm wood tones inside. It was silent. There was no speaking allowed within the sanctuary.
When you looked up, when you walked inside the building, if you looked up, the whole ceiling was made up of skylights. So, there was natural light just flooding into this area. You could see the branches and the leaves of the trees above the yurt, above the sanctuary, up through the skylights. There were really special type objects around.
There were a lot of brass bells. There were some singing bowls. There were really comfortable cushions, colorful, bright, colorful, sort of global inspired cushions on the ground. And it was a place where we were invited to sit and meditate and reflect. And, you know, I was 18, 19 at the time. And it was like, what is this it, I mean, I, I thought it was interesting and I thought it was really cool.
And I also was a little bit intimidated by the idea of this peaceful place.
When I close my eyes and think about sanctuary, I think about, about that experience of the lightness and some special-ness some coziness, some warmth.
What comes to mind for you? What do you think about when you think about sanctuary?
Consider the Elements of Sanctuary for Yourself
Some of the things that might feel like peace or comfort to you are. Having life in the area. A lot of people feel at home with plants and flowers and having living flora in an area. Sometimes people feel at home with more muted colors, or more natural feeling fabric. Sometimes people feel peaceful and happy with, with bright colors and patterns and an invitation for enthusiasm and for happiness.
What about art or candles? One thing that feels peaceful to most people is the idea that there is not a lot of extra unnecessary stuff around that the space feels mostly decluttered or purposeful or organized eliminating the unnecessary.
In your home or in a certain area in your home can invite some of those feelings of peace and comfort and oasis that you might long for during these last 12 months, most of us around the world have spent more time at home than ever before.
We are getting to know our home environments intimately for better or worse. And as I’ve spent so much time at home, I’ve started to notice small things that I can do to invite the feelings of peace and calm and security and connection into my home. Small things that continue the idea of my home being a Haven, a place that my family can connect to each other and feel separate in a positive way, from anything happening outside of ours.
How Does Your Home Encourage Connection?
In the worksheet that accompanies today’s episode. I have a couple reflection questions for you. The first one I already asked, what does it feel like? What does sanctuary feel like to you?
The next one I want to ask is how does your home currently encourage connection? What are some of the ways that your home currently encourages connection or disconnect?
If you can’t think of how your home is set up in a way to encourage connection or encourage some of the interactions that you want to happen. Can you think of some of the barriers to that? Some of the ways that it may be is encouraging a disconnect as you notice those elements, you’ll be able to creatively transform them.
Some of the things that I think of for encouraging connection are, is that table. Set up in a way that everyone fits around it for dinner. Is it a natural gathering place where you’re spending your meals? Are there conversation areas, are the chairs and couch facing each other or are they all facing the TV?
Do you have limits on your screen time, on the amount of time that people are in the digital world versus being present in the, in the actual world with. What types of toys and games and crafts are available? Are they encouraging imagination? Are they things that you can do together? How do you invite yourself from the indoors into the outdoor spaces of your home?
Do you have coats nearby so that it’s easy to go outside, even when it’s cold, are you set up to easily get from inside to outside and backward? If you can identify some of the ways that you would like to interact in your home environment, then you can start to create some very simple solutions for inviting those feelings into your home.
I want to talk for a second about starting small. Starting with one specific area. When I move, I’ve moved over a dozen times in my adult life. And one of my favorite tips for someone who’s moving into a new space is to claim one from the very beginning and set it up completely. So that it feels exactly right.
Even if you have boxes in all of the other rooms in the house, that there is a place that you can go to, that feels put together, it feels organized, it feels cozy, it feels loving. It’s sort of like the one hug in the middle of the chaos that has always worked well for me.
I want you to consider that idea as you create a Haven in your home. Claim one space as you begin, where is one area that you can really focus on the details on the feelings, on the elements that you love, making sure that you feel so inspired and happy in that one space.
And from that experience of creating a Haven in one small space that you claim, you’ll be able to extend those same principles out into the other areas of your home without feeling overwhelmed that you need to do it all at once.
Learning From Other Environments
When we were moving from Texas to Virginia. I was trying to get an idea for what type of home we wanted to live in, what we wanted our next house to feel like. And what were the elements that felt necessary inviting and essential to me in a home. And I mentioned in my book, that one experience that I had was spending a couple of weeks visiting my parents’ home in Southern Utah.
This is not a primary residence for them. And because of that and because it’s new. It’s a newer home. It is virtually empty. It runs almost like a, like a hotel would or an Airbnb that there are the essentials. There is, you know, all the basic dishes and cooking supplies and there’s bedding on the beds, but the closets are empty.
The cabinets are only having the essential items in them. There aren’t any gears of clutter and of storage and of sentimental items everywhere. There are a few. Beautiful sentimental decorations. But other than that, it’s, uh, it’s a very essential home. It’s a very essential place. And the lightness that you can feel in this home because of the lack of access is dramatic.
It reminds me of being in a hotel. One of the reasons people feel so comfortable and relaxed in a hotel or in an Airbnb when they’re on vacation is because. They don’t have all the extra stuff in a hotel. The closet is always virtually empty. It’s never full of random junk. You only have what you’ve brought that you identified as something important and necessary. There isn’t the build-up over years and years.
How can you choose one area in your home to claim as a Haven and consciously eliminate the unnecessary eliminate the distraction? Move things aside so that all that exists in that space is exactly what you need to fulfill the purpose of the space, whether that’s conversation, whether that’s a corner of your bedroom, that you’ve set aside and set up for journaling and meditation or a cozy area to read with some pillows and a blanket and a basket nearby and at a cozy lamp.
What are the essentials for? The one space that you’re going to claim as you begin to create a Haven at home. And how can you focus on the essentials and eliminate the non-essentials in that space? One of the reasons I’ve been so dedicated and interested in the process of decluttering physical belongings over the last 10 years is because of the feelings that it creates because of the emotional state that it invites.
I have noticed, and there’s a lot of research to show that as we eliminate the unnecessary in our homes, that it frees up our emotional state, it helps us feel better. Not only those things look better, but that we feel more relief.
We feel less stressed out. We feel more at peace. What better way to make a Haven at home than to consciously eliminate the things that are distracting us from what matters most.
I know it can feel overwhelming to think of the whole house, all of the areas, all of the cabinets, all of the cupboards and closets. Especially if you are just getting started with decluttering or doing some spring cleaning that it feels like there is a never-ending stream. And it’s important to know things are constantly coming in as well, especially if you are a member of a family and there’s multiple people having experiences in the world and having gifts given to them or bringing things home from school, or you know, going to conferences and bringing things back as there is a steady stream in even more reason for us to create a steady stream out.
On the main podcast. There’s an episode all about how to declutter your home. It’s called Beyond Kondo. I think it’s episode 21 or 22. You can listen to that episode and get 10 different examples of systems for decluttering and for lightening up your physical load. As you do that, you also lighten up your emotional load.
You create space for the feelings you want to have, you create space for the connections that you want to have. So as a final question, and this episode today, I want you to think about how does it feel to come home into your home right now?
How Does Your Home Feel Right Now?
What are some feelings that you have if you are gone for an afternoon or for a couple hours or for a week, and you come home, what are the, what are some of the feelings that you have?
Do you feel relieved? Do you feel peaceful? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel grateful? Do you feel frustrated or stressed out or do you feel happy and hopeful? Our environments can be engineered in a way to invite the types of feelings that we want. And in addition to that, we can choose in a lot of ways that the beliefs that we want to have about our homes, about our inbox.
So, you can work at this from both sides. One side is recognizing what are some of the actual physical elements: like the arrangement of furniture, the addition of candles, or the elimination of distractions that you could do in a room or in a space to encourage the type of connection and, and experiences and feelings that you want.
The other side is recognizing which of your beliefs or your thoughts about your home, you can decide to adjust? For example, if you feel stressed out by your kids, having toys out all the time that you have. Well, you know, there’s, there’s always a mess because your kids are playing with toys. One step, the physical step is to go through the toys with your kids and make sure.
They have the toys that they really like, and they love playing with. And that if there are some extras or things that just kind of get thrown around, but never really played with that, those can be eliminated. And without, you know, a lot of fanfare, the second step is once you’ve recognized physically that you have toys that your kids love, that they want to play with, especially that they’re, open-ended imaginative type toys.
Then when you come home and there’s a mess of toys. Rather than the thought, this is so frustrating. My kids are so messy. You could consider, how could I adjust this thought so that it serves me in and maybe replace it with a conscious thought, like, I’m so glad that my kids use their imaginations this way, or it’s so wonderful that we have this space for my kids to be able to invent these magic worlds or even I’m so grateful that my kids play happily together when I’m.
Or when I’m home, if you have a bunch of hand-me-down furniture in the living room, that isn’t your very favorite, it’s not something you would have chosen, you know, at a store, but it was either handed down or you were able to get it at a good price that fit within your budget. It’s something that you’ve had for a while.
You may have the thought, you know, the sort of the unconscious thought, oh, I don’t really like that furniture. I wish that we didn’t have it, or I wish we had something different. You know, physically, you can arrange it the best that you can, if you, if it’s within your budget and within your capacity to swap it out, then that’s great.
And if it’s not, if that’s a stretcher or emotionally or financially, not within reasonable expectations right now, what you can change is your thoughts. You can consider some other thoughts. Like I’m so proud of us for being restored. Or it’s so wonderful to have a have places for our family to sit and spend time together.
We could do that on the floor, and we don’t have to, because we have these soft cushions to sit on or even something like this furniture is perfect for our lifestyle right now, because I don’t really like it. And so, it’s totally okay with me that the kids. You know, accidentally spill on it or, you know, if or they, the dog gets up on the couch, it fits our life perfectly. Home feels more like a Haven when I’m not stressed out all the time that my kids or my pets or my family is going to ruin precious furniture. Because right now we don’t have to worry about that.
I’ve talked a little bit about how you can change some of your physical. Belongings to invite some of the feelings that you hope for part of making.
Home a Haven is recognizing what feelings you want, what sanctuary and safety and connection feels like to you, and then making small adjustments to get there. And we talked about how to invite connection, being creative about the arrangement of your furniture, about what is available for people.
Maybe having books out and games out that you want to use rather than having them put away. What types of feelings do you want to encourage? For example, I love the feeling of having candles lit in my home year round. Very much so in the winter, I’ll have candles lit in a couple of different places and I carry that through this spring in the summer, even though I don’t need that, Hygge cozy feeling.
I love the, the ambiance that, that fire. Flickering warmth of firelight gives to a room. And, I use these really great soy candles often from trader Joe’s, sometimes from other places that give off just a really nice scent as well, so that I love the smell of coming home and it feels like a sanctuary to me.
It feels like an intentional space. I wanted to briefly talk about as well. The idea of rituals. And I’ve done a podcast episode, all about rituals, but I think that one of the things that can help home feel like a Haven is some of the ways that we act at home with our families and with ourselves, I use the word ritual sort of loosely.
A Note On Rituals
I think of a ritual as something that is repeated that has some sort of co conscious purpose. You could think of a tradition. Also, as a ritual can be daily. They can be weekly; they can be annual. One of our family’s weekly rituals, which I also call a weekly tradition is pizza movie night. And I’ve talked about this, a lot of different places.
We have done this for years and years. Probably definitely over 10 years, every Friday night we eat pizza, and we watch a movie as a family. This is such a simple. And it has a very conscious purpose that my kids and myself and my husband spend a couple hours all together engaged in the same thing.
Spending time together. We try to make it fun. Sometimes we order pizza. Sometimes we make pizza. Sometimes we grill pizza. Uh, we choose a movie together. Sometimes we rotate who chooses the movie often if there’s a newer movie coming out with. You know, splurge. And like a couple of weeks ago we bought the RIAA and the last dragon on Disney.
Plus, even though it doesn’t release to the public for a couple months, we were excited to create this special family movie night and watch together. And it was really cute by the way we know at our house that Friday nights, if you come to our house on a Friday night, you will be welcomed into our family pizza movie night ritual.
It is a tradition with purpose, a specific purpose of creating and maintaining connection among our family. And we’ve like I mentioned, we’ve been doing this for years when we started, our kids were little. We spent all our time with them, and you know, for the last 12 months I’ve spent all of my time with the kids as well.
But in the fall, when they go back to school, I won’t see them during the day, most days of the week, it’s going to be kind of an interesting change after homeschooling. Where they’ve gone to school since they were preschoolers until this last year. And we’ve spent so much time together while I’m super excited for them to go back to school during the day.
I also know that I’m going to miss seeing them as often as I have. And knowing that I have Friday nights set aside for us as a family, that ritual breeds the type of connection that we hope for as my kids get older. It will only become more important because they’re distractions, they’re their own personal social schedules will change.
In fact, my oldest has often had friends invite him to do things on Friday nights and he just switches the invitation and says, you know, that sounds so fun. I’d love to hang out, but would you like to come to my house? Because my family does pizza movie night. You’re welcome to join us, but I’m going to stay home for that.
Now. I don’t know if that’s going to last forever. You know, as 16- and 17-year-old, say I’m going to stay home for pizza movie night, but maybe they will, maybe sometimes they will, they’ll know that that is happening and that we want them to be a part of it. I also have a bedtime ritual of reading aloud to my oldest, and we always have a chapter book going that we’re interested in that we’re reading together because I’m reading it out loud to him.
He doesn’t need me to read out loud to him. He can read well on his own, and it’s this opportunity to connect with him and stay connected with him as he gets older, as he is entering these sorts of, uh, emotional teenage years, he’ll be 12 in a couple of months. And. I already can sense the, uh, the ups and downs in his emotional hormonal state, which is to be expected.
And I am so excited to see him continue to develop and grow up. And I am very conscious of my need to make sure that I do everything I can for our home to be a Haven for him. It’s not a place that he wants to escape. Rather, it’s a place he can escape to. And one of the ways that I can do that is by having this ritual of being there with him too, at night to read together, and that reading often turns into conversation.
And it’s a time that he can ask me questions that have been on his mind, or that I can hear about things that he’s thinking about. Where in your home, where in your life and your school. Can you create small, simple rituals that invite the type of security, sanctuary, a wasteless and connection that you hope for in your home, with your family and with yourself.
As you imbue, meaning into the things that you do in your everyday life at home, you turn those things into ritual and, in turn, add meaning back into the space, into the family, into their relationships.
I believe that making our home a Haven really comes down to adding a layer of intention to what we have and what we do in our homes with our families, with our relations.
And I hope that as you listen to this episode, you got some ideas for that for your own home, starting small choosing one space that you can claim as your Haven, and then moving outward from there. Considering individually, personally, as a family, what is of importance to you and how you create space for that in your homes, how you can encourage connection.
What does coming home and being home feel like to you? And how you can not only change some of the environmental factors, but also start to take a look at your beliefs and choose the beliefs that serve you, that invite and continue to uplift the feelings that you have. In order for your home, wherever it might be, whatever it looks like, whatever it, you know, whatever situation you’re in, as far as home, that that can feel like the Haven, that it has a potential to be.
Thank you so much for tuning in today to live free creative podcast. I hope that this episode has been uplifting and inspiring and thought provoking for you. I hope that you’ll look at your home with new eyes and can choose just one small thing to add or take away to make it feel more like a Haven and wishing you all the most wonderful holiday season.
I’ll be back next year, next week, and next year with an episode for you, same time, same place. Talk to you then bye-bye.