People create – whether works of art, simple meals or woodpiles chopped and stacked. In these special places that also provide comfort, we receive intuitive messages and birth our imagination. Writers sit at desks to write. Woodworkers bustle around their shops. Crafters lean over their workbenches. Composers delight at their pianos. We enter our meaning-making spaces, memory-making spaces and listen for ideas. We step in with reverence and wait for inspiration. Then we perform our rituals: click the keyboard, mix and smell acrylics, flip the switch to turn on the buzz of the saw, sauté the sizzling herbs. We play in these spaces. We wonder what to do next. We hope for the evolution of our skills.

Susan Young, MSEd, MSC, lives happily in retirement and hopes to see more of her grandkids in 2022.

My space has a history, with its mellow, deep gold walls. I called it my office for seeing clients for therapy. Decorated with soft, warm colors, the room invites intimacy. For a relational feel, on one wall I hung a metal image of five women with arms around each other and, on another, pictures of loved ones, grandkids, my kids.

Near my chair I still have paintings depicting emotion. A gray rabbit my son drew in second grade has a tear running down his cheek. Two pictures that my aunt painted hang by the door: one of a toddler in a corner with her head hidden in her hands and another hugging a doll.

This room echoes with stories – mine, these days – and lots of client stories about explorations of career paths, fears about adult illnesses, trauma, depression. Stories with more questions than answers: questions about how or if to retire, or if and when to move to assisted care; crises of faith. What a blessing to witness clients moving from suffering to claiming their brilliance, coming to know the nature of their own true beauty and the beauty of their own true nature.

After retiring, I dismantled the office. The space became a grandbaby’s bedroom with Pack ‘n Plays and board books like “Eight Silly Monkeys” and “A Day with Cows.” This room had rattles and the scent of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.

When these babies outgrew cribs, the room morphed again, became a study for writing, for scattering books on the floor and papers strewn about. We change rooms and we change with them. Rooms change us. We care for them. They care for us.

Today, I sit surrounded by books about writing and poetry. Next to me hangs a sepia-tone picture of Dad at 2 years old, stacking wooden alphabet blocks. When I showed it to him, he nodded and said, “Oh, I loved to build with blocks.” Decades after his life and love of building, and after his death, Dad’s smile acts as a muse for me.

Happy pictures of my mom and my grandparents dot the walls. These loves loved me unconditionally (my dad’s dad, the muse of muses). These inspirers, no longer alive, beam life into me. With our own space or room of refuge, our hearts open, widen, broaden. Perhaps our outer spaces help us access our inner spaces and our creativity.

This warm, cozy room has echoes, memories, history and “herstory.” It is mine. For others? Megan has her weights, mats and stretchy bands in one secret section of her basement. My friend Jamie has her quiet yoga room. My pal Peter has his computer corner. My grandkids have a Lego loft. Whatever we call it – office, art table, kitchen, man cave, garden, woodlot – maybe we all need our own sanctuary.

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