Home » Life on the Page » An (outdoor) Room of One’s Own

An (outdoor) Room of One’s Own

In order to lose yourself to the flow of thoughts and words, privacy is essential. You need to be uninterrupted and able to concentrate.

Before I signed the lease on my new apartment, I went to an open house there. It’s a little triplex built into a steep hill, with four flights of stone steps leading up to the front door. The first time I climbed those stairs, I felt like I was ascending into my leafy dream home: a tree house.

Then I found the crowning jewel of the place — a hidden patio in back. A tiny corner embraced by a 20′ stone wall with a garden bed, wildly overgrown with blackberries and morning glory. A lilac tree shaded the area and brought in dappled sunlight. Moss covered the concrete ground. Trailing vines scaled the old cedar plank fence. It smelled like earth and green. I was in love.

Even before I removed 100 lbs. of blackberry brambles and re-landscaped the whole shebang, I saw beautiful visions in this little spot. Mostly, it felt like mine. While digging weeds out of the rock wall, I accidentally shook loose an enormous boulder, narrowly missing my foot. It rolled into the perfect spot for a seat.

So I sat.

I drank lemonade and surveyed my new blank canvas, my oasis, my sanctuary. I dreamed and planned, and then I turned it into the ultimate journaling hide-out.

I brought home adirondack chairs in several shades of blue. I emptied out the garden bed and painstakingly removed all the “Yankee potatoes” (rocks, as we call them back East). I planted pink grass, white jasmine, purple heather, and passion flowers. Sunflowers, Star Gazers and Moon Lilies. Hacksaw Ferns and Bleeding Hearts. I tucked my comfy chair in the corner and started writing there in the cool green wilderness.

Feeling secure, secluded and supported, I have found some amazing pathways in my head while lounging in this sacred space. At night I can sit under the string of star lights and hand-blown glass bulbs, citronella candles and cat-tail lanterns. I can throw a log in the celestial firepit, which makes twinkling, star-shaped shadows on the ground. I can hear the crickets and frogs singing as I put my words on the page by firelight.

In the mornings, everthing feels fresh and new — hopeful. The sunflowers have their faces turned toward the rising sun. The moon lilies are quietly retreating to their earthen beds. The day feels clean and full of promise.

When I invite friends into my little wonderland, it feels like a gift for the both of us. I watch their demeanor change and their stress melt away. Even if they don’t consciously acknowledge it, the space works its magic into their soul and sets it free little by little.

It does the same for me.

Do you have a sacred space for journaling or other acts of self-care? Let’s hear about it!


  1. I love this! Just by your descriptions and the pictures I can tell that it really is a magical place. This also makes me want to garden. We’ve had a greenhouse in my house for months, and the poor Morning Glories are suffocating the other plants, but the tiny Sunflowers are strong and growing. We’ve just been too lazy to go out an deal with the tree now living in our garden. Plus, I don’t have to heart to cut down an innocent little tree. It’s life just started. But, that little space is amazing, and the pictures are pretty great too! You should test your iPhone more often!

  2. What a beautiful little sanctuary you created! Everyone needs a retreat to relax and recharge in. Especially surrounded by so much nature (and a dog :))Great job! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Kristin,
    Just the photos of your journaling oasis are inspiring with all the lovely colors and green (and the dog too. :)). I love the idea of having a special place to write in our journals. Your place sounds refreshing and invigorating! What a terrific inspiration to get the writing juices flowing.

    I have chosen your post, An (outdoor) Room of One’s Own, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 7/8/11 for all things journaling on Twitter. I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog Refresh with Dawn Herring, and highlighted in my new Refresh Journal which you can sign up for here: http://refreshwithdawnherring.blogspot.com/.

    You’re welcome to join us for #JournalChat Live on Thursdays at 4 p.m. CST/2 PST through my @JournalChat account on Twitter.

    Thanks again for giving us such an inspiring peek into your journaling oasis.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition

  4. A magical place and a magical story of how it came to be. I love it! Just the pictures make me feel a bit more relaxed, like I have a little more space and time to breathe. Someday I hope I will find a place like this, too–it’s perfect!

  5. Oh what a cozy place that is. I’m going to create such a place for me, soon. 🙂 I can see you’re having a lovely summer Kristin. Yay! Take care!

  6. I am so jealous. I crave my own space. I do have a crazy eyed Australian Shepherd mix and a garden sporting every weed known to man and woman.

  7. I live in a place surrounded by nature in a vacation house built by my late husband. I have always been attracted to this home because of the green all around. Even in winter there are bamboo walls and pine trees all around. I am too old to garden any more but even sitting in my comfy chair looking out over the deck at the bamboo makes me want to write. I still do the morning pages each morning and write at other times to my inner muse, encouraged by my surroundings so I know what you are talking about and from your photos I can see why you love your garden. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I am consumed with envy. Tho we’re slowly transforming our back yard into an oasis in the deserts of suburbia, it’s nothing like this wonderful little space.
    But now I have some ideas for what to do next in the back yard. ^_^

  9. Color me jealous! This looks like a perfect cozy and private nook. I love my backyard, but it’s neither cozy or private. I’m grateful we’re friends with our neighbors, but it cuts down on any feeling of cozy privacy since our fence has inches of space between each slat.

    I do, however, feel this way about my living room. It would just be lovely to have an outdoor nook as well.

  10. You know, I actually read “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf a few years back for school. It was very fascinating and dealt with making your own space just like you did. On a side note, aren’t iPhones fabulous? I too just got mine, and I’m even reading this blog post on my iPhone.

  11. What a lovely outdoor space! Such a cosy little place, I hope you spend many happy hours out there journaling!

  12. Many much time without a new posting. Is everything okay?

    • I’ve been lazy and enjoying the summer, I’m afraid, but I’m alive! Thanks for checking in; there should be a new post soon 🙂

  13. WOW! I have just discovered your blog and I LOVE IT! Thank you for all the inspiration.

  14. Melissa Donovan from Writing Forward had a link to your site in her last post. To be honest, I have not even finished reading her post yet. I was intrigued by your niche amongst all the writing blogs – and then I found your podcasts. This is something I would love to do and have the audacity program loaded and ready to go – just have to learn how to do it. Enjoyed your post. I will add you to my Google Reader – namaste – Nicole.

  15. Glad to see you are ok and enjoying the summer!

  16. Your garden sounds magical & your words really bring it to life! Thanks for sharing!!!

  17. Hi Kristin,

    I miss the “Big Dig!” Just recently I got duplicate emails of “Big Dig” emails you sent out in early August, the one about the flat fox and the dog that didn’t want his new toy. I was wondering why I might have gotten duplicates?

  18. I see we are neighbors now. Welcome!

    I’ve had a fleeting glimpse of Frankenstella the last two mornings as I’ve ridden down Thorndyke on my way to the Apple Store.

    Congratulations on your little hidden gem -:)))

  19. Just wanted to check in and say that I’m looking forward to the next post – hopefully coming soon? 🙂

  20. Just wanted to let you know that your “hideout” looks like a wonderful place to do just about anything!! I have an unused room upstairs and you’ve inspired me to start thinkg about getting that room back in shape for my hideaway. Thanks for sharing teh description and thephotos