My coffee cup was nearly exhausted of its precious Sunday morning flavor as I picked up the Travel section of the Star Tribune today. It is Mother’s Day. While my son Jakob watched morning cartoons in his grey and white jammies and tweenager daughter Krista slept like a Lake Superior rock, I read the Star Tribune from front to back page. Section by section my palms cuffed the paper and ink. As the words filled my mind the images filled my soul.
The story Biltmore’s natural grandeur, May 10, 2009, by Jim Buchta, inspired me to encourage women everywhere to find their way to a Biltmore mansion of their own. So many of us are full time moms, full time employee, part time dreamers, writers, entrepreneurs and visionaries. We barely pause to contemplate how full time plus full time plus part time anything can add up to sanity. We just plow through our days. George Washington Vanderbilt, the wealthy industrialist who conceived the Biltmore mansion, the largest home in America, reconnected with his dreams and visions in his “summer home.” He moved quickly through his demanding life, chaotic schedules, too-short days and sleepless nights, only to slow down in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where his European-inspired home brought him peace a century ago. Today it offers rejuvenation to millions of weary reporters, suburban housewives, and honeymooning couples each year.
The Biltmore is symbolic of finding spaces and places to reconnect with dreams and visions of our own. The tasks of life will continue to slush through every moment we possess unless we make time and space for creativity and invention to take root. I bet George’s best thinking happened on that mountain. I would guess it was precisely because he rested once in awhile that his dreams were realized and empires were built.
I wonder if he ever had laundry to do. Piles of laundry stacked three baskets high trip me as I crawl into bed at night. The sweet stench of bleach-laden, toilet scrubbing hands pierce my nose recalling the chores I completed yesterday. And, the overflowing bill rack waits patiently as I reorganize it but can’t shrink it until payday. These are the signs of modern times.
So what is the connection to the Biltmore mansion? Just as George built Biltmore, so we must build places that put our minds at ease. And, we must go to these places to reenergize. Doing so will make us better mothers. Taking ourselves out of the kitchen and into a peaceful place in our homes allows us to “build-more” in our lives.
In my den, a teal cloth banner drapes a cluttered bookshelf. Atop the cloth, a glass proclaiming “Smart Women thirst for knowledge” holds the cloth secure. Printed boldly in brown and white, an image of a dove with an olive branch and the word Peace communicates its purpose in my den. Other than the chair where I sit there is little else in this room. “Mommy,” my son steps in to ask, “are you sitting in your peace room for a while?” “Yes, dear. I will be out in a few minutes.”
People talk of fear-based safe rooms in their homes. I talk of love-based Peace rooms. This room, sans television, radio, DVD player or any other such distractions offers me a Vanderbilt escape at the bargain-basement cost of zero dollars and zero cents whenever I need a boost of energy, a rejuvenation of spirit, a reconnection to myself. I read. I write. I stare out the window. I meditate. I breathe. Whatever I need in a quick, calming moment, I find it here in my Peace room. It is my “happy place.” It is my Vanderbilt Biltmore mansion.
The coffee cup is empty now. I am done putting a few words on a page. I am ready to start my day. I will give my undivided attention to my two beautiful children on this day that celebrates them and their life. My little dose of Biltmore today, has provided me, in my own family home, the inspirational space that I needed to move me through the week ahead and perhaps closer to the dreams and visions in my head.