The Importance of Having a Personal Fortress of Solitude

“Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gifts from the Sea

Teacher, student, parent -- everyone needs a personal Fortress of Solitude to encourage good emotional health. My dear friend, Deborah Waanders Haithcox, delights in the Prayer Garden she creates each summer as her retreat from the stress of teaching. It is nestled in a very small corner of her yard, on the shaded side of a playhouse her husband built for their children when they were young. This is the perfect place for a corner of heaven because school breaks are often filled with assisting former students or neighborhood children. Teachers are always teachers.

Deb fills her graden with all of her favorite flowers so her eyes see beauty in all directions and she is awash in wondrous fresh aromas. She paved it with stepping stones that hold inspirational messages, and includes a little place for one (and only one) to sit comfortably and allow nature to just talk uninterrupted. She conducts her personal daily Bible study in this Prayer Garden and renews her mental strength for the great challenges she continues to have as a Master of Special Needs teaching and learning, serving now more than 20 years in South Bend Community Schools, Indiana.

It is critical to success for educators and parents to re-create themselves as needed and maintaining a Fortress of Solitude is a perfect way to protect the precious tool we use everyday -- our minds. It is also critical to the success of learners, too, as good mental health only encourages educational success.

Creating a peaceful learning/sleeping/lving environment is critical to success, especially during these difficult times when a sense of security is elusive in many schools and homes. Balancing of the mind and spirit creates a powerful platform upon which learning and personal gowth can occur.
It also has many other tangible benefits such as:

Reducing acts of aggression, bullying and violence

Reducing discipline referrals and increases in scores on standardized academic achievement measures

Reducing classroom disruptions, provisions of a comfortable working environment to support the learning process.

Numerous health benefits including reductions in sleep deprivation, which can also look suspiciously much like ADHD.

Take a look around your own home. Is there a small space you might be able to adopt and transform into a personal Fortrress of Solitude? It doesn't have to be static; I used to transform my bathroom into a fortress a couple of times each month. I used candles and incense for aromatherpy and streamed music through my phone. After 30 minutes, I could feel the tension begin to fall away.

Be creative. Don't you deserve it?

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Professor Marsha


Marsha Kay Bass, ABD

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