War Zone or Sanctuary?

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I remember watching a movie where a knight in literal (albeit not too shiny) armor rode up to a castle shouting: “Sanctuary!” He wanted respite from his travels, some food and lodging. He needed rest from the wars he had been fighting. He wanted peace. That scene sticks with me to this day because when I hear the word ‘sanctuary’ I immediately remember that knight. What does the word mean to you? If your goal is to turn your bedroom into one, it would be good to have specific goals in mind.

I confess I intended to use a photo of a generic castle but when I saw this image of Mont Saint Michel, I was reminded of the day we drove to the island and arrived as dusk was taking over the landscape. We were high in the mountains making our final approach. At the exact moment we navigated a tight curve in the road, the island turned on all its floodlights. It was breathtaking and we screamed with joy. Crossing the causeway to the island was like seeking sanctuary in a magical place after a long drive.

Take Stock

When you walk into your bedroom now, what do you experience? If you see clothing strewn on the floor or across chairs, an unmade bed and toys scattered about it’s safe to say all you feel is tired. Let me ask a few questions to help you get a handle on the situation:

  • Is your bed made? Is today an anomaly or is it never made? This is a great habit to cultivate. It’s a restful visual every time you enter. It takes 21 consecutive days of repeating an action for it to become a habit. Creating one simple, new habit like making your bed every day will build your self-esteem and shift the energy in the room from negative to positive.

  • Is your bed too complicated to make? It’s fine to love pillows but when an ocean of them make it too much trouble to make your bed, it might be time to rethink. Some people eliminate the top sheet and just use a comforter. It’s fast but my question is: you realize now you have to wash the comforter cover, right?

  • Do toys litter the floor? If they are dog or cat related have a pretty basket to hold them at day’s end. If they belong to children, walk them back to your child’s room or ask them to do it. This is a simple yet powerful lesson in returning items to a designated spot. Toys, by the way, are a tripping hazard for a middle of the night bathroom run or a sudden emergency like a fire or earthquake.

  • Why are clothes on the floor or across the chair? Even if you are lucky enough to have a housekeeper, nanny or mom in residence, find one of three perfect places for your clothing at day’s end: hamper, dry cleaner bag or the hanger that’s waiting for it in the closet. Again, if you have children you will be teaching by example. This is another powerful yet simple habit to create.

  • Do you have a spouse, partner or lover? Are they allowed to express themselves or is your bedroom all about you? The classic example is the guy who sleeps in a Barbie themed bedroom, hates it and never says a word. Or the woman who resents her husband’s gun safe in the master closet. Negotiate and compromise and if you are skilled in this area do it in front of your children. Show them what a quality relationship looks like and how it functions.

  • And now, the toughest question of all: is your closet jammed because you have multiple sizes in their? Get tough with this situation and eliminate the smallest sizes if you realistically know you are never going to fit into those clothes again. By the way, are they from another era? When it comes to large sizes, if you have lost weight don’t save big sizes ‘in case you gain the weight back.’ That’s an incredible idea if you want to live with negative thoughts and invite those outcomes into reality.

The Past Is Prologue

Some readers are on it the second they read instructions, ideas or receive any guidance. Others people hesitate and need to ruminate on the pros and cons before they can take action. Here’s an approach for those of you in the latter camp. Make two lists on a sheet of paper or on the computer.

The first column will have notes about your childhood bedroom.

  • What specifics do you remember? Was your mom a stickler about making your bed a specific way? Was that a negative experience for you? Are you now 50 and stuck in teenage rebellion?

  • How did you feel in it? My childhood bedroom was spectacular and it made me sad every time I entered it. It was my mother’s fantasy bedroom for her inner child. It reflected nothing about me.

  • Whether positive or negative have you replicated your experience or made a 180 turn? It’s amazing how hard wired we seem to be to replicate the negative because it’s unconsciously comforting. Have you done that in your bedroom? No time like the present to shake it up! I love to say: “You do you.” Some people have no clue who they are.

The second column is your Action List. What steps can you take now to turn your bedroom into a Zen space? Next list the items that have to wait like painting the room or buying new furniture BUT schedule those items on your calendar. Make painting your walls a concrete goal. You are free to bump the project if you need to but keeping it in limbo is guaranteeing your personal expression and happiness are not important to you.

Feng Shui to Sweeten the Pot

A Feng Shui Tip

I love the photo above showing a child working happily at his desk. Guess what? If you want to learn Feng Shui, the Chinese Art of Placement you will encounter this tip: never sit facing a wall with your back to the door. Where my Feng Shui teacher used to ask does the Mafia don sit in the movie The Godfather (or any Martin Scorsese film for that matter)? He sits in the back of the restaurant facing into the room so he can be aware of everything that’s going on.

In Feng Shui (I studied the Black Hat or Intuitive school) they say you don’t want people sneaking up behind you. It’s practical advice and a metaphor. You don’t want people doing sneaky things behind your back. If you can’t for some personal or design reason sit facing out, hang a mirror so you can look up and see the room. No space? Put one on your desk!

Try this in your home and let me know how you felt in both positions. One of my clients described facing out for the first time in her home office as feeling like a captain of industry! It took hours to convince her to give it a try. Now she’s a convert. You can find all the tips here and more in my New York Times best seller One Year to an Organized Life!

My New York Times best seller is your organizing guide for life!

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