I have been sensitive to my surroundings since I was little. I can vividly remember at the age of 12 or 13, one of my aunts using an interior designer in her home. That was such a novelty to me. I had never heard of such a job. “You mean people get paid to decorate? What a thought.” Her kitchen cabinets and appliances, she told me, were avocado green and they did look fantastic. She had a corner glass curio holding some type of eastern female
statue lit from above. The furniture was quality I had never experienced. At one end of the living room were glass doors with a dining room set overlooking the backyard and pool. On the other end were chairs and a sofa where my cousins and I would perform songs and silly skits during family get togethers. I am a grown woman now with a decorated home of my own. As an interior designer, it is of course, my lab.
aware of my surroundings more than ever and seek much solace from my nest. Three years ago my husband Jim passed away unexpectedly. It left our large family, our young adult son Christian, and me devastated. Jim and I were married 25 years and I had no idea how I would go on without him. I did go on. I went to counseling twice a week. I exercised and fed myself healthy meals. I went to dinner with dear friends.
After a time I started having guests to dinner and started my design business back up again. One of the things that helped me during the first months after losing Jim was in my own backyard, literally. My garden, with its magnificent light and mature trees acted as a sheltering sacred place where I could reflect on memories.
That first spring and summer I spent every day in the garden, or more specifically, different spaces in the garden. One spot in particular was a little seating area I set up just below the rose beds. The sun sets behind the roses and the wicker bistro chairs, table, and iron daybed with big feather pillows in ticking, faux fur, and paisley fabrics acted as my room. This spot at three or four in the afternoon is magical. The shadows are long, the light dappled. With my iced tea and the chirping birds and the sound of the fountain, I’d sit and go through my memories intent on remembering everything. His voice, his features, his personality.
The garden is terraced with old stone walls framed by an ancient oak tree, an old crepe myrtle, a 100 foot liquid amber maple, and a gorgeous flowering Japanese cherry. There are huge azaleas growing in clipped mounds in over 23 colors and varieties. There are numerous lilac trees, a dogwood, and five standard bay trees in an allee’ of big celadon pots. All the beds are rimmed in various types of boxwood. There are wintergreen boxwood’s and little euonymus boxwood’s, both solid and variegated. I have a few statues, chosen to be unimposing, and a beautiful aging fountain that I had installed in honor of Jim. Jim loved birds and the sound of water is so healing so it seemed a wonderful tribute.
Another space that I found to be healing is the outdoor portico which is located off the living room. It has plenty of seating, a wicker settee and chair with feather cushions and plump pillows, a few Adirondacks, a picnic set topped with a collection of healthy ivy topiary. But the chair I prefer has a view of the great old stone stairs that lead up into the main garden. I can sit there for hours with a book sometimes reading, sometimes napping, the afternoon light hitting the tips of new, moss green growth on the large, round boxwood globes. Sometimes I light candles or garden incense. I also like to do my Yoga positions here. This is a treat not a chore.
I have a couple places in my home I consider to be healing but the outdoor ones are my favorites. Being close to the sounds, smells, and beauty of nature allows me to feel closer to my true self. It’s a feeling of being grounded, on the road to healing.