Our Story

Our Core Values

Sanctuary Through Service

The Sanctuary is not here, it is within. 

What we provide is a beautiful retreat and wellness center full of imagination and intrigue. 

The stone walls are steeped in nostalgia,
the galleries, and libraries
breathe creativity and inspiration,
the gardens and wellness center
aid in stillness and silence.

Our family, your family is here to serve,
and support you.

We provide a safe place for you to
navigate uncharted places within yourself
 to find your inner sanctuary,
discover both purpose and peace,
so that you may take it with you
beyond these walls.

Courage Through Community

Some of you will come to learn. 

Some will come to be loved. 

We are here for you. 

Whether you come to find your roots,
or to find your wings, we are here for you. 

As you go deeper you will find
art is the conduit,
connecting you
to the World,
to the Divine,
to Yourself.

As you embark on this journey
We are here for you.

Empowerment Through Education

We are each endowed with incredible gifts, but we unwrap them at different times in our lives.

Elysian strives to create an environment
of imagination and exploration
from our youngest creatives just discovering
their avenues of artistry,
to those rekindling their passions of
a lifetime love affair with their craft.

Our philosophy with education is  
that we are not the map,
but the compass pointing North. 

Our responsibility is not to show you the way,
but to equip you with the tools, skills, and knowledge necessary for your journey,
and serve in helping you find your own way.

The First Sanctuary

“Love” was something my Grandmother, Betty offered to everyone, not just myself as her granddaughter.  She had a heart full of compassion and empathy, she wanted only to hug and play, and nurture… and feed…everyone.  (She was an Italian grandma, it was in her DNA).  I learned a lot about the mother and wife I wanted to be from her.  It filled my heart with so much joy to watch the hands that held me, hold my children.  

She believed I’d be a good mother, a good wife.  She believed I would become a writer, and a successful artist.  She let me play on her typewriter when I was child and told me one day I would write a story about her and share it with the world.  I still have the typewriter.  I still have all her photo albums, more than a century and a half of history.  She believed I would do something worthwhile, with it, with myself… she believed… so I believed.  

Eventually, I got to give the gift of Love and Home back.  In 2019 we turned my home into hospice.  She stayed with me a month.  She judged a pumpkin carving contest, she taught the next generation how to make her famous apple pies.  She visited with family and friends every day.  She was so loved.  We had tea in the fine china tea cups every morning.  She told me stories I had never heard about her life.  I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight.  My daughter held her hand until she fell asleep.  My son hugged her every day when he came home from school and talked to her.  We watched home movies.  We found the 8mm silent films.  I saw her at the same age I am now.  She told me to put love in everything I did.  To make everyone feel like family, to give everyone somewhere to come home to.

And that is how the Elysian Sanctuary was born.  My two great loves in life have been to Artistry, and Family.  When I came across the word in its current definition it fit perfectly with what I was trying to create.  A divinely inspired place, a place of peace, a place that was full of beauty and creativity… A place to call home.  

Elysian is also a name.  The definition through its roots in Greek and Latin translate to “Oath of God.”   I didn’t know until after I had chosen the name, that Betty also means “Oath of God.”

In recent years I’ve come to call “God”  “Love”.  At its heart, whatever is divine and miraculous is Unconditional Love.  Something I still am learning to give.

Finding Home - The Place of Dreams

Since I was very small I remember the dream.  Always the same.  Always different.  I find myself in buildings.  Sometimes I know them, and sometimes they are foreign.  As I wander I find a door, that I nor any other has found.  It leads to hallways and rooms that no one has stood in for years.  Sometimes there are treasures, beautiful furnishings and fabrics, toys, jewelry, books.  Sometimes there are empty rooms and dust, and they are no less magical to me.  I was still a child when I started exploring abandoned buildings and ruins.  A teen when I started hearing the call of old churches and abandoned schools and warehouses asking to become home.  As usual I was told to be reasonable, that I was too young, that I had no experience, that I couldn’t manage or afford the upkeep of such a place.  Eventually (as most dreamers do) I became quieter about my dreams.  I tucked them away, occasionally inviting my inner child to play with the notion of living in castles, and wearing costumes and playing with paints and creating wonderland within the real world.

I found other avenues of artistry, murals, commissions, photography.  I created, and I taught, and I wrote books, I had great success financially, and gained notoriety for my skills.  I found nonprofits to serve and give back… but I kept making myself small, I kept allowing the voice of fear to drown out the voice of purpose.  That too was a gift.  It allowed me to raise my children, whatever effect I will have on the world, I know theirs will be greater.  It allowed me to care for my grandmother at the end of her life, as she had cared for me the first 36 years of mine.

Stone by Stone

When I was little I used to love sitting and dangling my feet from the stone retaining wall that overlooked my grandfather’s gardens.  I remember marveling when he told me he built that wall with his bare hands along with the workshop.  He would take me in and put me on his shoulders so I could see the sparrows’ nests with the eggs and baby birds.  When I asked him how he built the wall he said “Walls are built stone by stone.”  

When my grandmother came home on hospice we spent a lot of time going through her old photo albums, VHS tapes, and even 8mm films.  After she passed I found ones I had never seen… including this one of my grandmother filming her seven children, and her husband building the wall… stone by stone.  

I have received many arguments as I have begun in pursuit of this dream for a Retreat and Wellness center for artists and creatives.  It’s too big, too much, too expensive, too impractical… how can I build this magnificent dream when I start with nothing? 

But I’m not starting with nothing… I’m starting with you.  My loved ones, my family, the people that will call it home.  If we haven’t met yet, that doesn’t mean this isn’t your home and family, you’re just perhaps the next generation.  

We’re building it together, and we build it Stone by Stone.  

In the video below you’ll see our progress… each stone represents a financial contribution of $100.00  from friends, family, corporations, businesses, non profits, grants.  Each stone, helps build the dream a little higher, pulls it from idea and manifests it into reality.  The dream is big, the wall is high, but we don’t have to build the buildings, or even a wall, we just lay the stones we have carefully, soundly, and then work to lay another on top of that.  

Come with me, let’s build dreams together, lets build home:

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