From Where I Sit – A Room of Her Own

During a recent trip to Value Village, I was thrilled to find some books for my ever-expanding library. Getting three books (including two hardcovers) for $16.97 does my heart good. I love getting a helluva deal on something that I would have paid full price for. And who hasn’t suffered sticker shock at new book prices at traditional bookstores?

My softcover find was a 1988 A Writer’s Time: A Guide to the Creative Process from Vision Through Revision by Kenneth Atchity. It promises to “apply time-management principles to the specific needs of writers.” I haven’t gotten into that section yet, but know I can use all the help I can get.

Awaiting me, maybe during surgery recovery time, is Mary Lawson’s book titled Crow Lake. It was well received by reviewers and should be a treat to read.

However, the most visually tantalizing purchase was a book called A Room of Her Own: A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces by design expert Chris Casson Madden. With over 200 full colour photos, it appeals to my obsession with interior design and home d├ęcor. With a sub-title of “women’s personal spaces” the concept appeals to the part of me wanting solace, refuge and inspiration. It also satisfies the voyeur in me as I study the very private sanctuaries of thirty-seven women. From Ali McGraw to Maya Angelou, from Jessica McClintok to Oprah Winfrey, it focuses on women in artistic, creative pursuits with I suspect, far larger budgets than mine. Though, I would be the first to admit that escape to solitude is more a state of mind than a physical location.

The book sorts the spaces into seven arbitrary categories: celebrating color, sacred spaces, working sanctuaries, natural retreats, serene spaces, evoking memories and garden rooms. I can find something to love in each of the featured spaces, though none really say “mine.”‘

Textural surfaces, lush fabrics, books, vases, statuary, plants, colour and art are non-negotiable for me. No room of mine would be complete without all these elements. I’m the first to admit that I have more freedom to do what I want because my kids are grown and gone, and my husband is gone a week at a time with his work. I can (and do) retreat from the world at any time and in any part of my house, studio or yard. I don’t have pre-schoolers crying at the bathroom door, teens taking over the house or a husband to accommodate on most days.

“I cannot shed my responsibilities, I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island:I must find a balance somewhere:a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return,” as stated in Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Gifts from the Sea.

Beg, borrow or steal a piece of your home or yard to make your own. Without it you will harden with the unrelenting demands of you. Without it you will slouch instead of soar. With it you will reignite your dreams and passions. With it you will nourish your soul. Decorate it with artifacts, talismans, or anything with meaning for you. Decorate it with colour and whimsy. And finally get thee into it. Regularly. To do less is to cheat yourself, from where I sit.

Atchity, K. (1988). A Writer’s Time: A Guide to the Creative Process from Vision Through Revision. W. W. Norton & Company.
Lawson, M. (2002). Crow Lake. Dial Press.
Lindbergh, A. M. (1991). Gifts from the Sea. Pantheon.
Madden, C. C. (1997). A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces. Clarkson Potter.