On Making a Sanctuary of Home

As an empath (Highly Sensitive Person is comparable term), life overwhelms me. Simple things like going to a crowded grocery store, walking down a block with too many strong scents, cars honking in traffic, or interacting with too many people at a time cause sensory overload. Oftentimes, I feel like hiding from the world. On days when that just isn't possible, the place I return to is vital to my wellbeing. 

Many people walk into my home and immediately sense a feeling of warmth. It's not difficult to see why. Cozy is my thing. I worship at the altar of cozy. There must be art. There must be fur. There must be plants. There must be snacks (being a Taurus ruled by the planet Venus helps). However, it hasn't alway been this way. There was a time when I didn't see the value in "wasting money" on decorating a place I was always leaving. I didn't know it, but what I really meant was that I didn't deserve to be surrounded with a visible reflection of my own love. I didn't deserve my efforts. I didn't deserve my time. We all carry some version of these kind of beliefs. It's difficult not to, when each day we are bombarded with images we cannot reflect... standards we cannot fulfill. 


As my view of myself grew, my space transformed along with it. My space supported and preserved that growth. Those internal strides I made towards a love of self extended outwards. I still see it now. My space takes shape to meet me where I am. It began with these questions: What do I love? What colors excite me? What makes me feel most at ease? I found that I loved printed fabrics. Candles are a non-negotialble. Buying fresh flowers was a heart-easing ritual and reminded me of finding weekly bouquets from my mother when coming home from school during childhood. It is not about the accumulation of things, as much as it is about capturing the feeling. Keeping only the things truest to that. What brings me joy to look at? What conditions make me comfortable? Then the selection process simplifies, as the space holders that don't actively increase your quality of life fall away. 

You don't have to spend a bunch of money either. My roommate's flowers of choice are plastic and found at the discount store. My favorite plant cost me $5 and is so low maintenance, I question whether it's actually living. The textile I love the most was found in a scrap bin in an art room upstate. There are postcard bins going 5 for $1. There are secondhand shops and places like eBay to find gently used, but stunning goods. 

Making a sanctuary of home is not about going out and buying new things, it's about consciously selecting the things you already had to buy in the first place. It is about self-examination and living with intention. Having less but selecting smarter. With every item, I ask is this beautiful? Most importantly, does this make me feel joy? With every yes, I find myself closer to a space that feels like home

How do you make your space a sanctuary?

with love,


Nomad Yard: D.C.’s Vintage Treasure Trove

One of the most magical experiences of January's mini get-away was wandering across the bridge at sunset and into the wonder of a shop that is Nomad Yard Collectiv. I was immediately greeted by the majestic Desiree Venn Frederic who stands at what felt about 6'0 in flats (was it her spirit? Was it her hat? Is she actually just a really tall person? I'm not sure). She smiled warmly and focused her attention back on the visitor speaking to her before my friend and I entered.


What can I say about this place that encapsulates it's magic? I will try my best, but the assemblage seems to fall short somehow. It's a space you must immerse yourself in, a sensory voyage. You cannot hear the electronic remixes of Nina Simone classics and Afrobeats filling the space. You cannot see the strategically placed selenite wand, propped against the doorframe (because I did't take a picture of it unfortunately). You cannot smell the mixture of aged textiles, used books and sage once burned. You must make the trip if you can, but I will do my best to share.

I was impressed by the masterful merchandising. The combination of organic and man-made. How each rack held a thought-out palette and mix of textures. By the door, you are brought into the space with a splash of jewel toned dresses. On the far left, there is a pink, black, gold and cream collection of aged lace, sequins, jacquard weaves and faux fur. The back wall supported a nook of 70's mustards, camels, periwinkles and eggplants.  The left wall held cool hues of blue and brown. My wandering was filled with this realization: I was in a shop grounded in love and time. There was nothing superfluous. Everything had its most perfect home. Each detail placed with thoughtfulness and care.


This is not the place you come to on your routine weekend of thrifting. Nomad Yard is to be reserved for the special moments: searching for a birthday dress, an outfit for a dear friends wedding, finding that special something you need to organize your prized record collection with functionality and style. While you will find many items that are priced below $30, you should not intend to come here if you want cheap items in abundance. Leave that to the Salvation Army and Goodwill.

What really got me about this place, however, is the soul of it all. I was a bit afraid to talk to Desiree because I am a shy when I don't know how I will be received. People are not always very kind. I mentioned this to my friend and she said, "Come, let's go say hi," and we walked over together.


Maybe this should be a segue into a lesson I learned in this small moment, which is, speak for yourself. Tell your own stories. Make your own introductions. Because when people speak on your behalf, they aren't going to come to it with all you know, as you. Sometimes, however well they mean, no matter how big the love, they may not tell it how you tell it. They might not always get it right or capture the nuances. I am still trying to master this.

Desiree was darting around carrying handfuls of books, but stopped and looked us in our eyes as we approached. This chat extended a bit longer than expected and I found that not only is she warm, she is also fearless, poised, sharp, and quick witted. She graciously obliged when I asked if I could take a few photos of her.

I ended up staying an hour past close and in this time, I got a real sense of how Nomad Yard functions in the community. Not only is it a beautiful place to look at, it is a safe haven for people from all walks of life. A guy walked in to say hello and let Desiree know he had a bag of chips and some beer and that he was having a good night. She later disclosed that he is a regular who stopped by from the mens' shelter down the block. Another man sitting in a comfy chair by the register was offered a warm cup of tea. There is no sign of the dehumanizing fingerprint of capitalism in this place. Everyone has a name. Everyone has a lesson and a story to share. Desiree asks to hear it. She really wants to know.

Her mother brought by a few cases of snacks, in true loving mother fashion, and you can see where she gets it from. Seaweed and coconut water, Desiree's favorites, in abundance as she smiles and greets us hello. "I would hug you but I've been in the kitchen all day." I hug her anyway. I understand. She places two huge chunks of wood she found on the countertop. "I can merchandise with these," Desiree says with a smile.

I was so grateful when she asked, "Would you like some coconut water?" In no way is this the norm in regular retail stores, not even from the friendliest owners I've met. But there was a knowingness in her which acknowledged that it was late and that we might need something small to hold us over before beginning the journey home.

This is what I want to leave you with from this experience. Not only the beauty, but the small kindnesses, which mean the world. She turned to my friend who is a DC local and said, "You can come here and just Be. I tell this to everyone. You are welcome."

Please visit Nomad Yard and experience it for yourself.


411 New York Ave NE

Washington, DC, 20002





Instagram: @nomadyard