This week I am excited to share with you an interview with Jane Beckenham. Jane lives in New Zealand and writes a lovely blog called My Home, My Sanctuary. As well as home-based topics Jane also writes about other thought-provoking themes relating to living a contented and fulfilled life.
Jane kindly responded to my questions to provide a snapshot of what she and her work is all about. I’m sure you’ll want to check out her blog after reading her answers!
I love the name of your blog, My home My Sanctuary. Why do you think it is important that our homes act as sanctuaries and what specifically have you done to help create your own sanctuary?
Thank you, Sarah. It took a while to come up with the name and it went through a few manifestations. Our homes are our refuge against the world, against the busyness of it, and the constant call for our attention to outside influences. I feel (and hope for others) that when they walk in their front doors they will feel that ‘refuge’, that sense of a place of belonging, of a home that wraps them in its embrace.
Specifically, I try to keep our home declcuttered – stuff doesn’t offer sanctuary or a sense of calm. Now am I always successful at this, no, not always. But it’s the effort that is important. On a ‘superficial’ level I have tried to decorate our home so that it is pleasing to those that live here, both in style, color and design. The old adage a place for everything and everything in its place is something I work towards.
Would you mind sharing a favourite piece of furniture or or decorative item in your home that you particularly love?
I have several pieces.
Firstly is this writing desk. This belonged to my grandmother (who if she had been alive would have been about 117 by now). My sister actually inherited but she has no room in her house for it, so I get to have the joy of having it here, and remembering my grandmother sitting at it.
On it, are vintage tea cups, but the pink one in the middle which has little gold legs was a present my grandmother received when she got engaged and that was in 1908. The well-loved teddy bear was my husband’s when he was a child. The Russian icon ornaments are a reminder of my children’s birthplace.
What advice would you offer to an individual who has never spent much time or thought on creating a comfortable home that acts as a sanctuary, but would like to? Where would you suggest they start?
I think it’s a two pronged effort. The room I would start on first is their bedroom. Because this is the one room, hopefully, in the house that they can take respite in and the bedroom should offer respite.
However, if clutter, dirty clothes, clothes not put away, exercise equipment, tv, computer etc etc, are all taking up space in the room, they should be moved out, and at least for the clothes etc, put away.
You can’t make a calm refuge when there is STUFF everywhere. A bedroom should be a claming place and seeing the treadmill in the corner reminding you that you haven’t used it for months and its become a clothes stand, hmmm. Not good. Then there’s the interruption of laptops, computers etc, Get rid of them. Instead read a book, relax, have a glass of wine. Talk even. People are forgetting how to communicate, we’re so locked into the digital world.
And once you’ve decluttered and cleared out the excess. Clean it, top to bottom, move the furniture clean behind it, clean the windows, wash the curtains.
I know this sounds a lot, but it’s a now and again chore, but by refreshing the room thoroughly, it gives the occupants a fresh start.
Do you follow a routine for keeping on top of household chores and if so, do you think it is important to?
I try! I really do try! Am I successful? Mostly-ish. I have a set list of chores I do Mon-Saturday, plus have recently added exercise – oh joy! Friday’s chores are really my catch up days and I do things I haven’t managed to get done Monday-Thursday. Big chores like cleaning windows, I do when I can. I have a disability and unfortunately trying to do these big tasks is not an easy feat.
But at a minimum every day, the bed is made, dishes done, kitchen counters clean, bathrooms swished and swiped, and a load of laundry done. I’m trying to be more organized and pick out the clothes I will wear the next day, right down to jewelry just before I goto bed. It’s a great boost to the morning if I’m organized from the night before – and that I come out to a clean kitchen.
Decluttered, minimalist living in vogue right now. What are your thoughts on clutter?
People say they want to be more organized, but reality is you can’t organize clutter. The trouble is sometimes it feels overhwhel,omg to actually start. I mean where? Every room has STUFF. My suggestion is that the person just picks up a trash bag and goes round each room, picking up rubbish that can be tossed into the recycle.
They may however, just want to focus on one room. Like I said above, start on the bedroom, because you deserve a place of refuge and solitutde at the end of each day.
But… if that feels like too big of a job to start off with, then go small. One drawer, one cupboard, or go to the smallest room in the house, and start there.
The most important thing is – IS THAT YOU START
You have been a successful fiction writer over the last twenty years and are now turning your hand to non-fiction. Which particular aspect or type of non-fiction writing most appeals to you?
I’m really passionate about home and hearth writing, about women finding their way in life. I’ve recently hit my 60s and the last four years was really tough, as I struggled with depression and also the loss of my mother at the age of 90. I kept wondering why should I push myself, I mean why bother. But I am so happy to say, that just recently, that fog of why bother has lifted, and I’m battling my way back top. I really want to focus on home, family, midlife, reinvention and just searching for that joy and passion and purpose in life that we women seem to crave – well I do, anyway!
What do you enjoy to do in your spare time?
Funny you should ask that – today – I decided to be lazy, I watched a movie (The Secret- which I loved), I had a snooze. I love spending time with my family, I am a mother to two daughters and I also now a grandma! I have a wonderful bunch of writer girlfriends; we meet once a week to talk writing and they are a fabulous group of women ranging from 19 years old to 82. We all get on amazingly even with such a varied ages.
You can find Jane at: