"A Place of Her Own"

Every woman needs a place of her own; a corner, a room, a space in the garden she can call her own where she can get alone with God, where she can go to read or think, where she can shed private tears or write in her journal. Given the pressures of life, the demands of work and family, most women need “an escape hatch,” a place where we can run and hide for a moment to catch our breath, recoup and regain perspective.

For my mother I suspect it was her sewing room, where to the whir of the sewing machine (and earlier the rhythm of the treadle) she could think undisturbed while she created designer fashions from the patterns on her sewing table.

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For my sister it has always been her garden with its abundant blooms and bird-feeders and trellises growing with the great globes of red tomatoes she had nourished.  There in the garden she and God have had many an intimate conversation and, I suspect, these encounters were why her spirit always seemed to be a homeplace for weary hearts.

Our daughter Suzanne has her writing place where the sweet fragrance of blank paper and the pungent smell of ink blend with the delicious musty aroma of treasured books.  There she cocoons herself away with her cat and gives into her natural hermit nature to express a world that only comes alive for the rest of us on the page.

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Amy is a nester by nature, so she makes every space her own and invites the world into her quiet place.   She and Andrew both have the gift of hospitality and live their outwardly frantic pace as a natural rhythm that we have always referred to as “AMYtime.”

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My special places are an old mission chair by the fireplace in our Indiana farm kitchen, our cabin in the woods, and my potting shed.  The potting shed and its secluded green space is by now an old friend and a place where I can go to dig in the dirt, write in my garden journal, and pray. My other soul-place is the seaside; I’m sure there must be salt water in my veins, for the beach always calls to me.

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The other day Suzanne sent me this poem about décor.  She called it “Finishing Touches.”  I loved it so much, I asked her if I could share it with you.  After all, the most beautiful décor of all is light shining on the special place where your heart feels at home.

The GUIDE TO STYLE IN LIVING tells how
to arrange with organized random
the globed scented candles, books, vases,
how to find palette (no more than three

patterns), how to fill wall space.
“There is a balance to this room,”
it says, the fresh coat of indigo paint
drying behind a fire engine red armoire.

I sling it down on the body of my one
random border collie who looks at me
like I’ve lost it.  I glance around this room
centered around the rich texture of woods
winter bare.  Still I admire how the charcoal,
taupe roughness juxtaposes my worn
jean jacket strewn haphazardly across
the pine trunk at the foot of my four poster bed.

This rocker I received from my husband
when our oldest was born now recovered
for the third time, rests rightfully in the corner.
the book on Aristotle Jesse was reading

lies decorously, a disconnected leaf,
in the floor next to the yellow and black
stripes of Cliff’s Notes on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
screaming their presence at the muted door.

And I realize how we have found palette
filled empty wall space, and how we
balance, sometimes precariously, in the details
of our randomly, organized lives.

Suzanne Renee Gaither Jennings

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