shelter for the spirit

Soulful Interiors: Reflections from the Book ‘Shelter for the Spirit’

One of my favorite books that I read in 2023 is Shelter for the Spirit. As a homesteader who works from home and homeschools, my home is the centerpiece of my lifestyle. 

When my older children were toddlers I moved into a converted school bus where I’d spend most of my day to day life for 7.5 years. My children were homeschooled, we made food, we made art, I worked, they played, and we lived in approximately 300 square feet for the greater part of a decade. The space was always evolving as our family evolved and I really enjoyed living tiny during that time. We also had an outdoor set that travelled with us from place to place, and a potted plant garden I have kept alive through now! 

I kept a 5×5 small storage unit with seasonal and sentimental items, and generally kept my space very tidy and organized. I LOVED bus life, until I remarried, and the big kids got bigger and our baby was born. Then I began to feel like we were busting at the seams, and I am so grateful to have spent the past 16 months in a cabin that we are remodeling in an intentional community.

Busting at the Seams

Suddenly I’m a maximalist and I’m busting at the seams of a small 4 bedroom cabin! The skoolie has become my husband’s office and we have somehow acquired enough STUFF through inheritance and mindful shopping to fill all of these spaces with SO MUCH. 

In comes Shelter for the Spirit, a book recommended by my friend Nova in the perfect moment to influence our build out. I have really been focused on the word COZY for our home. And NOURISHING. And INSPIRING! It has been a slow process, but my root goal has been CONNECTION. Connection to self, to family, to nature and to God. 

When we first decided to take on this project, we had to put in insulation and dry wall and floors in the bedrooms before we could even move in. The living room / kitchen still needs to be remodeled, but we have come a very long way, inspired by this book. Sometimes I look around and see 50 million incomplete projects and feel disappointed, then I look at photos of what we took on and realize what an amazing feat we have accomplished! We have remodeled 4 bedrooms, a front porch, cleared out several dumpsters of debris and garbage left by the previous tenant, and created a vibrant, bustling home. Not to mention all the work we have done outside, like building a livestock yard and clearing the way for larger grazing fence (still in progress).

“…even an imperfect home can be a magical place, and that making a home – truly making a home- is a soul-sustaining enterprise” (page 21)

Magical Spaces

I do believe our home, albeit a work in progress, is indeed a magical place despite its unfinished imperfections. Over the course of nearly a year and a half we have hosted dinners with friends, sleep overs, rooster slaughters, celebrations, daily hang outs with neighbor kids, and experienced SO MUCH LOVE. I feel proud of what we have created here, and I look forward to creating for many years to come. Our home is a work of ART and once “complete” (is a home ever complete?), will be reflect the years of love and creativity we have poured into this space. 

“But when you can defy the subliminal suggestion that newer or more expensive is better, you can create a home that is uniquely indicative of your personality and belief systems, a home that energizes, enriches, and delights you.” (Page 21).

I am going out of my way to make sure each person has a space that they can retreat to that is uniquely theirs. Each child has their own space, and they reflect their personalities and hobbies. I wanted to complete bedroom remodels before anything else.  I give them full creative control and simply try to support their desires for their own spaces. 

Throughout the home we have antique heirloom furniture, and hand painted art. We have photos everywhere, framed and unframed, displaying our many fond memories together. My vision for the living room and kitchen when we are done is a space that is inviting to guests and comfortable for our family. A place where food can be easily prepared and served and joy can be felt upon entry. Despite the fact we have open shelves on the walls instead of cabinets (walls that need to be painted) and rugs / furniture on subflooring – I believe we are actually accomplishing that goal! I am ok living in the imperfect while we sustainably cultivate our desired outcome. 

Over this past summer, a year into our cabin journey, I helped my dad move out of my childhood home and he gifted me basically all of the furniture I grew up with.  A kitchen table / chairs / China cabinet, a master bedroom set, a dining room set, and beds for two of the kids. Not to mention all the small things we ended up with that would have otherwise been given to donation.  Our cabin (still)  has zero closet space in any bedroom, and the kitchen doesn’t have any cupboards… So it has been an interesting journey to find places to put things, and all the furniture from my dad helped SO MUCH (Thank you!!!). 

Simplification

I am now in the phase of weeding out. I am determining what of my dad’s can replace items of ours, what items have our family outgrown, what items do we not need, etc…. I believe the more I can get rid of, the happier we will be, and yet I want to maintain family heirlooms that can be passed down through the generations.  The book calls for organizing AFTER you declutter, so that’s my current goal. Declutter then organize. “Excess cannot be organized, if it could it would not be excess” (page 57)

Even though I have authored and taught a Whole Life Detox class that helps people simplify their homes and lives, I have found myself in need of support in this area of my Life once again. Victoria Moran’s entire chapter on simplification was incredible and jam packed with tips. I am looking forward to spending 2024 “moving in” to my home by finishing the unpacking of items from my dad’s, and the removal of what we don’t need.

The reality is, too much stuff becomes a thief of your time. And when we are short on time it’s hard to be fulfilled and happy. “We tend to be short tempered when we are short on time” (page 59). My goal for 2024 is to bring back that tidy, organized feeling I had when we lived in a smaller space. 

Some of the aspects of this book that have inspired me include a focus on meditation and how it literally changes the energy field of the home, a focus on creative projects, and creating places to do what you love, using your home as a space to engage in ritual and celebration, and the often overlooked and neglected art of REST. Now that I have more physical space to live in, and a blank template to create upon, all of these considerations are helpful as we redesign common areas and extensions.  

In the back of the book she has an addendum about homeschooling, home birth and work from home. The only thing I think missing was homesteading! Overall I LOVED the book. I am a slow reader and this book isn’t on audible so I literally took the whole year to read this book and I am glad I did! 

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