Nestled beneath the branches of a magnificent California Oak tree, Carla’s custom kit shed is a natural extension of the landscape. Painted in earthy colors and surrounded by an un-manicured patch of ground, her shed is both muted and dramatic. That’s why it was selected to be the September shed in She Shed Living’s 2021 calendar.
Dr. Carla Manly spends every waking moment helping her clients cope with an ever-more-stressful world. When she’s not in her office, this busy clinical psychologist is writing her growing library of books about relationships and self-love. Add to that a relatively new second marriage and a move to her new husband’s home and you’ve got the perfect recipe for Zazen.
We asked her to make a list of what she learned (and finds joy in) by having a she shed.
What gave you the idea to build a shed? After leaving my own dream home to move in with my new husband, I realized that I had no true space of my own. The experience was more of a shock to my spirit than I had expected; I felt somewhat adrift in my partner’s space. Erika Kotite’s first She Sheds book was released during my transition to my husband’s house, and I was deeply inspired by the images. Something within me knew that having a sacred space of my own—no matter how small—would be centering and supportive.
Why did you name the shed Zazen? As a clinical psychologist with a mind-body-spirit approach and meditation expert, I believe that meditation has the capacity to bring us deep inner peace. Zazen—“seated, Lotus-position meditation”—provides inner peace even in the midst of external chaos. And, given the life changes I was facing at the time, naming my she shed “Zazen” was a reminder of the importance of pausing to find inner peace. And, on a practical level, Zazen has truly become a sacred space where I can pause to recalibrate and refocus.
Easiest part of the build. We ordered a custom shed from Summerwood that allowed us the convenience of having raw wood, doors, and windows that were made for our project. Selecting the design online was surely the easiest aspect of the build.
What was the hard part? The most difficult parts were installing the ceiling rafters and also getting the front doors hung and fit to perfection. Although raising the walls was a big task, it was fun and proved our physical (and mental) strength. Both my husband and I are a bit type-A, so there were times that the work was painstaking because we wanted Zazen to be well-built.
Favorite splurge. The windows, window boxes, and front doors were a wonderful splurge. Although I love using reclaimed materials, my clinical practice and book writing have kept me very busy, so having the items “ready to go” made the project a bit more expensive, yet allowed us to achieve our vision.
Favorite bargain. I found an old school desk at a yard sale that became an important piece in the interior design. I was even more delighted that the proceeds of the yard sale benefited animals in need. My second favorite bargain is a small vintage chest donated to me by two dear friends who were redoing their own home.
Best tip for someone wanting a she shed. I got the great advice to create a Pinterest board as I envisioned what I wanted for my own design. This suggestion proved invaluable as I took inspiration from others’ creations yet ultimately crafted Zazen—the most perfect she shed for me.
Best use of your she shed. Zazen is not merely a private, centering physical space for me to relax and unwind. It is also a vision that I hold in my mind during busy periods. In the midst of a busy day, the mere imagining of Zazen can bring calm and stillness to my soul.