Rockwall, TX (June 13, 2023)- As I write this, I am sitting in a 150 year old half-timbered house in former East Germany.
Several years ago, we bought this home and began the painstakingly slow process of renovating it. Most of the renovation we do on our own when we can be here for three to four weeks at a time. This work takes hours each day, day upon day. There are people who do not understand how we can use our vacation to come and do so much physical labor. When people ask, I usually respond by attempting to explain how this is “my happy place.” These conversations are often met with incredulous facial expressions and perplexed looks.
It was our dearest friend, who happens to be German, who explained it best to a person questioning our sanity. She simply said, “It is her yoga.” This explanation got me thinking about how we find and create a ‘happy place’ and what does that mean for each person?
The first rule to creating a space where you thrive or feel your best must be that it is all your own. That does not mean you will not have to fight to have it be your coveted time and place (I have to fight long and hard for my time and resources to be able to be here ) but it needs to be something you truly love. I think there are many magazine articles and self-appointed self-help gurus that will try to suggest what this personal time should look like but it must be your own. When we arrive here in Germany, we are so far into the eastern part of the country we must take several trains to get here. Then the house, which has been waiting with whatever its last unfinished projects were, has lovingly compiled a whole new list of projects and problems for us. It seems that every time we finish one, we uncover another. This trip we have repaired a ceiling that fell in due to a leak and we ripped out and rebuilt a three-story wall that was filled with 150+ year old straw, clay and sticks. It is the most physically exhausting thing I have ever experienced and will ever do. We climb into our bed at night, arms sore and joints hurting… and we love every single minute of it. It is our place of refuge; Our place of creative problem solving; Our place of peace.
If you do not have a space in the world where you can freely create, rest, build, dream or respite, I suggest you find one. That is the only rule here. It does not need to make sense to anyone else. It does not need to look like anyone else’s place of refuge. It must only do for your mind and heart what you need it to. They have a word here in Germany called “kur”. It loosely translates to rehab but does not mean the same thing as it does for us in the States. A kur is a place one goes to leave the world behind. They are prescribed by doctors as time away to rest and recoup from the stress of life, work and parenthood. While you are on a kur, you are resting, eating healthy, focusing on activities to bring peace to the body. The word for soul in German is “Seele.” Your happy place should be a Seele Kur – a soul rehab of sorts. You know you are in the right space when your soul feels the relief of burden and task. Choose your place with these things in mind: does this bring an inner smile to my mind and soul, does this ask me to be open minded about my time away and will this sanctuary be something I would fight to have all to myself? If you can answer yes to those questions, then you have arrived at your destination: a happy place.
PS – If you would like to follow our journey on our house renovation, feel free to join the party at: Reformation Ministries @ El Roi Haus (direct link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2119162208212017/ )