The Survivor’s Nest – Five Tips for Healing Our Spirits


Every spirit makes its house, and we can give a shrewd guess from the house to the inhabitant. Ralph Waldo Emerson

What does your house say about your spirit? Like it or not, your house is speaking up loud and clear about who you are and what you value.

I recently met with a young mother and her 15-month old daughter for lunch. She mentioned how she had very little time to keep her house neat, given the time she spends with her two very young children. When she felt frustrated she reminded herself that, “My house isn’t supposed to be neat now.” At this stage of her life, her spirit is one of an involved, loving mother, who puts time with her children above the tidiness of her house.

As cancer survivors, our spirits have walked through fire. Now that we are venturing beyond diagnosis and treatment into life beyond cancer, there are things we can do to heal our spirits and express them more eloquently in our homes:

1. Recognize negative energy and get rid of it: As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a friend who got rid of the comforter from her sick room once she was well. Her spirit needed to move from sick person to well person, and she couldn’t do that with that comforter still on the bed. Look around your home and ask yourself, are there things here that wear on my spirit because of bad memories or emotional clutter? If so, get rid of them and watch your spirit soar.

2. Focus on your spirit’s calling:  Like my friend with the two little children, everyone’s spirit has a calling – a duty of passion. If you don’t know what your spirit’s calling is, find out. Take a class, go to the library and find books that interest you, or talk to others whose work or hobbies you find interesting. It’s important for every spirit to have a way to express itself. Find your way and let your spirit run with it.

3. Put what’s important to you front and center: Whatever your spirit’s calling, put it front and center in your home. Two of my favorite pieces of original artwork in my home were created by my children while they were in grammar school. Make your artwork personal and meaningful. Frame anything that speaks to you, be it concert tickets to a great show you saw with a friend, or a menu from the restaurant where you and your spouse celebrated a special anniversary. The spirit needs to remember and what better way to do that then to surround yourself with positive mementos from your life.

4. Focus on physical and spiritual health: Now that you’re beyond treatment, find a way to bring health back into your everyday life. Set up an exercise room or corner. Dedicate a quiet spot to meditation or journaling. Put healthy snacks out in bowls. When I designed my den, I put three seagrass stools from Pottery Barn together as a coffee table. Had I not thought about my desire to start a home yoga practice, I would have put a heavy, unmovable coffee in their place and that would have been the end of my ability to use that room for yoga.

5. Nurture your spirit:  I’m not adverse to watching television once in a while, but it can’t be your only source of  “home entertainment.” Collect books you love to read and display them together. I have a collection of gardening books stacked on a table in my living room because I just like seeing them. Find creative outlets and have the supplies you need at the ready. If you knit, put your yarn and needles in a basket by the sofa, right where you need them. Make it easy to grab a few minutes of reading or creativity and your spirit will thank you.

Once you give it some thought, it’s not that hard to focus on your spirit and what it needs to make its house. What little changes can you make today to nurture your spirit?

Survival > Existence,




Beth L. Gainer's picture



This is a lovely post! I also got rid of my comforter I used when I was convalescing, in my case from a major surgery. It reminded me too much of being sick.

Thank you for such a useful, excellent posting.

Debbie's picture



Thank you! I’m so glad you’re doing better and over “being sick.” Have a great weekend.

Survival > Existence,


John's picture


Thanks for the nice article, keep it up.

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