Sweet Sanctuary – Where is Yours?

Sweet Sanctuary – Where is Yours?

Sweet Sanctuary – Where is Yours?

The definition of sanctuary in the words of my dear friend Marianne Piotrowski is “A place of refuge, a place to feel safe & comfortable.  A place where one can de-stress from the outside world & commune with God.”  It means something different to each of us but serves us all in the same way.  Sanctuary can be your home, work, family, friends, outdoors, church – anything, really.  But what does it mean to you?

Most times, a person’s sanctuary changes depending on what stage they’re in at that moment of their life.  When things are good, it can be family or friends.  When faced with hardship – death, divorce, or job loss – many people find sanctuary in their faith.  For years, my sanctuary was work because I couldn’t bear to be at home.  Over the last couple of years, my sanctuary has shifted to my home.  I have transformed it into a place where I enjoy being, though I don’t spend nearly enough time there.  When I faced losing my home, it became very clear how much it meant to me & I fought with all of my being to keep it.  Thankfully, it worked & I feel so blessed.

What are the characteristics of your sanctuary?  Are you surrounded by people & things that you love?  Is it simply going to the beach to watch the sunset?  Is it escaping to the spa for an amazing massage?  Maybe cooking a delicious meal for your cherished family or friends?  Here’s what my sanctuary looks like:

Home.  I have a tiny condo in Huntington Beach.  To many it’s nothing special but to me it’s my escape.  I’ve decorated it with antique furniture & vintage glassware- each carefully selected based on the feeling I get the minute I see it.  If it takes my breath away, I must see it every day in my home.  I love how I can either close all of the curtains & hibernate or go out on the balcony to soak up the sun or watch the stars.  I’m just a half-mile from the beach so I enjoy riding my skateboard or bike on the boardwalk & watching the waves.  I love where I live & Marianne points out that it’s not the house that is important, it’s what you do with it to make it HOME that is significant.  She is so right!

Pets.  I’m the crazy pet lady. 3 cats, 11 lizards, a frog, a fish & a praying mantis.  It seems like it would be crowded, but it works- everyone gets along, each is well fed & loved.  The antics of them all is hilarious, I laugh hysterically at the crazy things they do!  The cats cuddle with me at night while the lizards, fish & frog just do their own things.  The praying mantis kind of freaks me out but I’m dedicated to caring for him well.

Plants.  I have an itty-bitty balcony where I keep my unique garden.  I have a “black thumb” & manage to destroy all plants that require TLC.  So, I have a succulent & cactus garden (they thrive on neglect) in which only the unusual looking plants live.  My favorite is my Night Blooming Cereus– it’s large & fragrant blooms open for just one night then wilt as the sun rises.  This plant attracts bats!  Too bad there aren’t any bats at the beach…. I can only imagine how amazing it would be to sit outside at night & watch them swoop in for a drink of nectar.

Scents.  I use aromatherapy in my home to enhance my time there.  Wallflowers by Bath & Bodyworks are my favorite- the scents I use are Eucalyptus Mint for stress relief or Lavender Chamomile for relaxation.  There’s nothing better than having a great smelling sanctuary!

Paint me a picture of what your sanctuary looks like & how you created it – I’d love to know!  Maybe I can get some ideas from you on how to increase my enjoyment while in mine.  Thank you for sharing!

– Carrie

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Amy says:

    We could all use a place of Sanctuary. Thanks for painting the picture of what your Sanctuary looks like. I am now in search of my own Sanctuary. Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Carrie says:

      Amy, it took me years to develop mine but it was so worth the time. I just know that soon you will have an amazing sanctuary of your own & look forward to you sharing it’s characteristics with me. Carrie

  2. Carrie,

    Sanctuary to me is getting lost in a loved ones eyes, listening to laughter, giving and feeling hugs, listening to anyone with your whole heart. Sanctuary is knowing that as you live your life, if you can say I did the best I could, then Sanctuary is your life. Sanctuary is also giving your trust to someone, trusting that they will take very good care of your loved one when you can’t. Love and thank you for being everyone’s sanctuary.

    • Carrie Bayer says:

      Kim, this brought me to tears- to think that I could be someone’s sanctuary when they need it most is amazing. I’m so grateful that I was there for you & could care for you in a way nobody else could. Every year, I think of you & your family during the month that I served you, & I will never forget your kindness to me in return. Thank you for sharing your perspective on sanctuary, it is the most amazing one I’ve ever known. Love you dearly! Carrie

  3. Lori Bristol says:

    I’ve often heard bits and pieces about your sanctuary, but love the full picture you have painted here.
    A place to retreat and be alone with ourselves and God is crucial for healthy mind, body and spirit.
    As an only child I have always had to have some sort of place I can go and have this time to myself.
    A dream day off for me now consists of one social event such as lunch or dinner with friends. This fulfills the need I have for relationships and interactions, whether it be carefree laughter or heart to heart conversations.
    Once I have enjoyed my people time, I look forward to long walks with Max and Bella. Yes, as you know I am a crazy pet lady too. Spending time with them brings me a great deal of peace, love and enjoyment.
    After our walk I love to sit and read with a pup laying on each leg usually.

    Thank you for your post and giving me this opportunity to reflect on my sanctuary.

    Love you,

    • Carrie Bayer says:

      Lori, you are so good at balancing your activities to allow for your own time as well as social time. I could take a lesson from you! Your sanctuary is very similar to mine, your home & your pets. I know how much you enjoy your alone time in the company of Max & Bella which is something that I enjoy with my animals as well. We both benefit from the time we spend in our sanctuaries, we relax & re-energize then are ready to conquer the world! Thank you for sharing! Carrie

  4. tommy mc mahon says:

    Peace Sister. Carrie You Know Where I Go T o Find My Peace . On My Weekends Off I Love Going To L.A. And Visit Marilyn,Dean,Bing,Bella,Farrah,Bette And All The Rest Of My Favs. On My Working Days , A Nice Glass Of Wine In Front Of My Fish Tanks Is Pure Heaven. On Fridays A Cold Martini And A Hot Dog Also Works Very Well.

    • Carrie Bayer says:

      Tommy, I’m so grateful that I have a friend who also loves the peaceful cemetery retreat outside of being there for work. I absolutely love losing myself in a beautiful cemetery where I can reflect on life. You have a social schedule like no other which makes for a wonderful sanctuary for you, the social butterfly. Being surrounded by people you enjoy or simply watching your fish swim in their tank, you are still surrounded by those you love. Thank you for sharing with me! Carrie

    • Lori Bristol says:

      Sounds like a Laderian to me!! Pale Ale, not wine in front of the fish tank though……

  5. Anne Collins says:

    Carrie, thank you for sharing. I loved the peek into your sanctuary. I have had many over the years that were special. Currently what I look forward to all week is my Sunday sanctuary/date with Lou. My week is always overcrowded with work all day, then if I am working on an estate sale, work in the evenings or directing the work of others or researching. On Sundays, I don’t work. After church, we grab a light lunch at Nordstrom’s Cafe, then go to Dana Point, watch the boats, then walk the dogs around the outer harbor, then sit on our bench at the cove and watch the waves until peace floods over me. It is my “fix” for the week. I see God in all of it and it restores my soul.

    • Carrie Bayer says:

      Anne, you are one of the busiest people I know & I love that your sanctuary is spending time with Lou at a place you truly enjoy. You two have an amazing relationship that others see & admire, myself included. You are so cute & sweet with each other- it is a beautiful example of true love! Thank you for showing me what your sanctuary looks like. Carrie

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