The Survivor’s Nest – My Number One Tip This Holiday Season


We all know how life goes during the diagnostic and treatment phase of cancer. It’s 24/7 cancer and everything else that used to constitute life takes a back seat. For me, once that phase wound down, I returned to my life and new interests, such as creating the WWGN community, writing my blog and speaking to survivor groups.

I’ve kept my head down and forged ahead, but I recently noticed that some of the things I put in the back seat during my early cancer days are still back there. Foremost among them: cleaning my house.I’m not a Felix Unger fanatic about housekeeping, but do like things clean and organized. Since cancer, however, I spend much less time at it. Surprisingly, I’ve also developed a higher tolerance level; dust just doesn’t bother me as much as it used to before cancer.

If you have been following The Survivor’s Nest series you know what I still find important. I am a big proponent of creating a nurturing home – a soft place to land. I’ve shared tips on seasonalizing for autumn, creating sacred space, making your bedroom your refuge and bringing cheer into your home. I’ve tried to keep the tips low key, both in time and cost, while encouraging small changes that bring big rewards.

It’s a real balancing act, maintaining a home, while at the same time trying to enjoy it. I often call this the “bed and breakfast” dilemma. I’d love to live in a beautifully decorated, immaculate, organized, comfortable house, with a cup of tea and a book always at the ready. I just can’t figure out how to create all that prettiness without all the effort. Basically, there’s just no way to be a guest at your own bed and breakfast.

I recently ran across my copy of The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, and reread his passage “On Houses:”

And tell me…what have you in these houses? 

…Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?

Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scrouge makes puppets of your larger desires.

…Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral. 

But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.

Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.

While keeping a comfortable home is important to me, I can’t become a slave to it, as if I was running a bed and breakfast. I have to balance my “lust for comfort,” with my “larger desires.” To do that, I’ll have to keep putting more focus on my restlessness than I do on the dust.

There was a time when I took a “Martha-Stewart-perfect-level-of-orchestration” approach to the holidays. But, as this very busy season approaches, my only tip this week is to be careful not to overdo it.  Balance maintaining your soft place to land with the “passion of your soul.”  In doing so, our homes really do become masts and we can sail forward into our dreams.

Survival > Existence,


Image courtesy of Louise Leclerc

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