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?