This topic is something I hold close to my heart as an interior designer – Sacred Nesting. We say sacred because creating nurturing and supportive spaces around us is more important now in widowhood than ever before in our lives. It’s a rebirthing experience that we all go through.
When I was newly widowed, my space, my home was a custom built design created by myself and my late husband who was an architect; a dream come true for both of us. Every detail was selected by us, we truly enjoyed our joint creation. It nurtured me emotionally and practically for many years and yet, for me, on the flip side it was a huge responsibility financially and concerning home maintenance.
I experienced a house fire, was homeless and taken in by neighbors and had to fight an insurance company to rebuild. I was in year five of widowhood when this happened suddenly. On top of that, serious water damage from the incident created claim number two and a tree fell on my home for claim number three all in the same year.
After these turn of events, I started having dreams of letting go of many things from my past, including the home. Not because it was such a pain, but because it had done its job and kept me safe. It also proved how resilient I was and helped me see my top priorities with more clarity. That house was full of joy for me, but I needed to forge my own path and begin anew.
I sold that home on the first day to the first person to a lovely couple who would use it for all it was intended for. I created a closing ritual with sage sticks, walked slowly around it touching most everything, took my last long bath in the Jacuzzi looking at the stars and thought about my future. I didn’t know what the future held for me, but I knew intuitively selling the big house was going to open up a big life for me. But what would that big life look like? It gave me the mind and heart space to explore.
My daughters and I moved into a quaint neighborhood a month later and was surprised to find the most loving neighbors in a great school district and I thought “This will do for now”. As I sat on the front porch watching them ride their bikes to school, I wondered and dreamed about how my future life would unfold??? I asked myself a lot of questions and set out to find the answers. This is so important to redesigning a self identity.
I added all of my late husbands art on the walls, but few photos. I added all of those into organized boxes and albums (this was back when we did that). I treasure those today, a virtual ‘walk back into memory lane’. Honestly, I’m glad I created them because, I forgot a lot in grieving for so many years and they served as a reminder of what we did that was memorable. Anyone know about that forgetfulness??
This cozy home of mine eventually became the birthplace of Modern Widows Club in 2011 when I welcomed 2 beautiful widows into my life to begin making a difference in their life and my own. Widow mentoring has blessed my life ever since in ways I am still constantly surprised and moved. Start something with a genuine heart and it will grow into a garden.
Yesterday, in stark contrast to my own home, I spent the day in San Simeon, California touring the Hearst Castle. A truly, beautiful dream project come into reality executed by Julie Morgan, architect and trailblazer and William Randolph Hearst that was completed in 1947 (28 years to design and build). Guests were assigned a room on their first visit, but given the luxury of choosing the room of their choice on their next visit.
With 38 amazing rooms to choose from, I can’t imagine what this must have felt like. But what I do know is, we can all create spaces to welcome ourselves as we evolve into our new beginnings and welcome others into that life you are creating. We have the ability to create something with a change in paint color, rearranging what you already have and staying put or starting with everything new in a new location. What ever you decide, it will build your resilience that only grows more powerful as time goes by.
My professional advice is to always add in three elements to your rooms, something from the past, something that is all encompassing you and something you are dreaming for towards the future. Let it tell your love story in the world and both you and others will be surrounded by that everlasting and giving love. We honor our partner’s gift to us when we transition and transmute that forward. No one can take that away from you, so share it. Sharing by welcoming people into your home is the best way to love others. Create that experience for yourself.