Departments Design — 11 January 2019
Finding sanctuary, and wisdom, in the bath

By Doreen Christensen 

 City & Shore Magazine

I do my best thinking in the bathtub.

There is virtually no personal problem I can’t solve once I slip into a hot bath.

As I ponder the day ahead, my daily ritual begins by adding fragrant essential oils and bubbles to a steaming stream of water. Once enveloped in my warm cocoon, the wheels being to turn. Ideas are hatched. Solutions are formulated.

It was on such a morning last spring when I decided my secret sanctuary needed sprucing up. The bathroom hadn’t been upgraded in more than 25 years.

Because a total redo wasn’t in the budget, I opted for a retro-fit. Luckily, the original cast-iron tub and surrounding ceramic tiles were in great shape.

I used a soothing sand-and-sea palette with varying shades of dark chocolate, tans and blues that mixed well with the existing white finishes. Glass mosaic tiles for the backsplash served as my inspiration. The iridescent brown, blue, silver and copper tones perfectly complimented the mustard-colored wall color and cabinetry. I chose a chestnut-colored wood-look porcelain tile for the floor, topped with a contemporary, ebony-stained vanity, white Silestone quartz countertop and under-mounted porcelain sink. Shiny chrome faucets and hardware added some gleaming pizzaz. A vintage milk-glass fixture helped tie it all together.

Decorating with art and accessories are always the fun part of any home renovation. I decide to go with an intensely personal theme.

The wisdom wall, as I call it, is an ever-growing collection of signs, with quotes, advice and sayings that alternately remind, reassure and humor me and others. The collection also entertains visitors while they are, well, occupied.

This tableau of notes to self help me to be mindful and present.

At the center of it all is a large, rustic wooden piece that says, “Not to spoil the ending, but everything is going to be OK.” I’m a worrier, first and foremost.

Another says, “It’s OK to have too much fun.” I don’t need much prodding in this area, thankfully.

Still another says, “Remember it’s better to to look up.” I didn’t immediately notice the extraneous “to” when I bought it, (embarrassing for a former editor, I know), but its imperfectness holds an important life lesson: Even when something is staring you right in the face, you may fail to see it. Pay closer attention.

Still another on an opposite wall reminds me Friday is coming: “Happy Hour 8 a.m. to 7 a.m.”  Other reminders, such as “RELAX,” are scattered about in strategic eye-catching spots.

A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt commands, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” It helps me push through my fears.

A large shadow box rounds the look.

I’ve added vacation mementos that transport me to my happy places, treasures that remind me of cherished moments spent wandering the globe. A stub from a train ride to Vernazza is thumbtacked above a photo of a waterfall in Big Sur, perhaps the most magnificent place on earth, where land meets sea. A stone plucked from the banks of a cold stream flowing beside an Irish castle is perched above a cork from a champagne bottle shared with my husband, Dan, as we glided on the Seine.

Ah, vacation. Anywhere I’ve never been is always my ultimate destination.

Call me indulgent, but I’ve been shunning showers for years, opting instead for this relaxing, old-fashioned ritual. Stealing a few moments of quiet reflection surrounded by memories that make me happy in a soothing, spa-like spot serves as a daily rebirth of sorts.

Life is stressful.

But after a soak and a scrub, I emerge, clean and fresh, as worries and fears symbolically swirl down the drain.

I am ready for the day.

- Doreen Christensen,




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