Sanctuary: The Feeling of Being Protected and Comforted

This weekend has been a lovely weekend, spent getting my house clean (again), watching good TV programmes (The White Queen with my Daughter and Dopesick with the Husband… has anybody else seen that one? It’s gobsmacking.) and travelling to and from Nottingham, where the Daughter is at university while listening to wall to wall football match commentary or Taylor Swift, depending on who’s in charge.

The first time we travelled to Nottingham it seemed to take forever, was a long journey along unfamiliar roads and had to be broken up halfway because we were so busy concentrating on which turn to take, where were we now and how did that relate to where we wanted to be. Unfamiliar travelling can be the most unhygge thing ever, especially if the landscape is boring (sorry, hedgerows, but you move too fast on a dual carriageway to spot the diversity) or mostly industrial (hello, Stoke, I’m looking at you!).

Yesterday was our tenth… eleventh?… journey along the same road. We know it quite well now, and it struck me yesterday that at last we were beginning to feel at home. We weren’t concerned about the route, it’s entered in our internal GPS. We didn’t have to worry about the time, we know that barring roadworks or accidents it takes just about 2 hours driving door to door. We even have our favourite stops on the way there and back… Uttoxeter services is nicely placed for lunch or a Costa coffee, and Keele services is a convenient break on the way home. And there are landmarks to look out for that break the journey up. The mannequin of a woman on top of the advert for a pram shop on the M6, for example. Is her arm raised in greeting or to raise the alarm at heavy wind which, it appears, takes her clothes off often? There’s a pretty roadside house past Stoke that would be lovely to live in… were it not on the busy A50. And the Mini showroom that has its display visible from the main road and means that a game of Mini Mini Yellow Car is impossible because whoever sees it first will win.

My daughter is happily settled again in her University sanctuary. Her room is decorated with the objects she chose specially to make her feel comfy and cosy: last term she left her little heated pad piggy she’s had since she was seven, this term she made sure to pack him. He’s a small part of home and gives her a little warmth on a cold night. She let us carry the bags and boxes up to her room, and then kissed us, hugged us and said (very kindly) we could visit again in February, as long as we checked she wasn’t too busy.

It makes life easier as a Mother to leave a child in a place where you know they feel cosy, safe (if not too warm: the boiler at the flat is broken). And it was lovely to walk into a clean, tidy sanctuary of my own: the guinea pigs were fed and happy, the floor was vacuumed and the place had a sheen of furniture polish. And I had my book to read, Filofax to take notes into and large mug to sip from. Nothing expensive or complicated, but enough to be happy. That’s sanctuary.

Spirit of the Home is taking slightly longer to read than, perhaps, I hoped it would. I could have finished it in a night, except I’m making notes on it as I read. The beautiful brown ochre Filofax I’m currently using as my planner sits on one side of the chair and, every so often, I have to write a quote or a concept or a piece of advice. So far I’m on page 21 of notes and only 75% through. Who cares how long it takes to read and absorb, though? What matters is that I am reading it, and I am finding it’s altering my attitude to the house already. I greet my home on entering now, and I’ve taken to stroking parts of it that are particularly lovely… the textured tiles in my ensuite, my doorframes. Even, today, the front door. Just a light, lingering brush of the fingers. Very sensual. It may only be bricks and mortar, but it’s my bricks and mortar and I have to take care of it.

And my own sanctuary, my body, is having a bit of tender love and care shown to it as well. I need to lose some of the excess that is making me ill, so I’m committing to another January diet attempt (and success, this time). Wish me luck, I’m really in need of making this a definite and permanent change to my life. It’s no use having a perfect external sanctuary if I let my personal sanctuary, my body, go to pieces, is it? I’m hoping one feeds the other and strengthens the result.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. The New Year may not be the best time for resolutions, but a reset of rituals and a resuming of routines is not a bad idea after a month of Christmas. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.

Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the Christmas season. I have plans to follow it up shortly with a Self-Care Winter, but I really need to grab my sanctuary plans and run with them to create a writing nest.

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.

The regular photo I’m using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash. I love the implied cosiness of the photograph: the two hot chocolate cups, the biscuits and squares of chocolate imply a good bit of chatting going on here. Plus I like the colours: red tartan and real wood. What’s not to like? And the post header is by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash. I chose it because I liked the topic… a road, bounded by fields that leads to who knows where? And the colours, the light, the shadows, appealed to me. It’s a path to a safe place. Once we reach our destination, we have reached our sanctuary.

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