Finding Your Sanctuary


Along with gray hair and wrinkles, with age we gain a few maxims by which we either live our lives – or, if easier, just tell others how they should live theirs.

I tend to do both.

As a parent, I have always believed that every child should have his or her own desk. Even more than their own room, which always remains their parent’s property, a desk is often a child’s first personal possession of consequence. Mine happened to be an Arts and Crafts dropfront desk which my father gave me when I was ten, soon after he had moved up to a larger roll top desk. Fortunately, both desks are still in our family: his is in our family home back in Illinois and mine is in my office here in North Carolina.



I also believe that every adult should have their own workshop. Rest assured, I’m not talking about a professional woodworking shop, pottery studio, greenhouse, or artist’s loft. It need not be more than a corner of a garage or basement, but we all need a place where we can slip off to after work or on a Saturday morning and do whatever it is that makes us happy.



I’m writing this after having spent nearly all of an overcast Sunday in my garage workshop, which is a functioning two-car garage Monday through Friday. But on Saturday mornings I back my truck and Leigh Ann’s car out of the garage and begin rolling my table saw, sander, band saw, and workbenches out from the walls into the center of the garage.



This past weekend I was staining and finishing the top of a 1913 oak desk that had once been in the Grove Park Inn and putting hardware back on the fronts of each of the drawers. Attached to the wall above one of my workbenches I have an older television set, which I generally have tuned to a music channel or to a familiar movie that I can only half listen to while I am tightening a clamp or brushing on a finish. Other times I’ll prop my laptop up on a workbench and answer emails between projects, while Leigh Ann is tending to her flower gardens and shrubs.

Often when I step into my workshop, I am reminded of a line from the feel-good football film “Remember the Titans,” based on the 1971 football season in a newly segregated high school in Virginia, when coach Denzel Washington steps onto the field after a week of hallway taunts and fistfights to declare, “This is my sanctuary — right here.”



We all need a personal sanctuary, especially during these times of fear, isolation, and uncertainty, where for a few hours we can escape the media frenzy and immerse ourselves in whatever it is that we love doing, exercising our creative skills with both our minds and our hands.

While neither Ruskin nor Morris, Stickley nor Hubbard had degrees in human psychology, they were all wise enough to recognize that people need not one, but three elements to achieve a healthy balance in our lives.

Head, heart — and hand.

Find your sanctuary.


Until next week,


“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein