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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Things I didn’t know that I knew about nests.

Last week I started making a list of things I know about nests.

Or really, as it soon became clear, a list of things I didn’t know that I knew about nests.

On the surface, I don’t have a lot of thoughts about nests. In fact, prior to last week, I would have described myself as INDIFFERENT when it comes to nests.

But I was using the idea of a nest as a proxy for a project I was working on. And a nest seemed like a good example of something that I don’t care about that might be important.

From my notes:

Nests are the embodiment of SHELTER.

Much like a sukkah or a blanket fort (or a cocoon), nests can be temporarily constructed for a purpose and then be released/shed/deconstructed/taken-apart.

Nests exist to be a container for a very specific purpose or place in time:

  • For a season.
  • For a resting period.
  • For an incubation.
  • For however long it takes to grow something.

Things can be nested inside of other things.

Also nestled, which for me has connotations of things like [+cozy] [+aligned] [+snug] and [+comfort].

Nesting dolls are containers for each other.

But they’re also containers (nests!) for mystery and surprise and delight.

There is something intricate about a nest.

For me, if I were breaking down the word into my personal associations (a la metaphor mouse), NEST would include:

[+intentional] [+craftsmanship*] [+gathered] [+organic] [+sheltering] [+slow process] [+transition] [+comfort] [+softeness] [+growing stronger] [+sinking into] [+release] [+shavasana] [+knowledge] [+experience]

* Though if a bird crafts it, isn’t that craftsbirdship? It kind of should be, if only because that is a crazy-awesome-looking word.

Nests are containers, but it’s more than that.

Nests are doors. Nests are homes.

  • The Playground is a nest for Rally (Rally!).
  • Rally is a nest for changing how you make progress on mysterious and not-mysterious projects.
  • The ship is a nest for the voyage.
  • The Refueling Station is a nest for releasing.
  • The (opening-next-month!) Floating Playground is a nest for process and for feeling like you belong in your life.
  • Shiva Nata is a nest for transformation and rewriting patterns (and for being the eye of the storm).
  • Hoppy House is a nest for learning how to feel at home.
  • My body is a nest for learning how to be at home.
  • My heart is a nest for hiding and for being loved.
  • My cells are nests for blueprints.

And so on.

Tinier and tinier.

Like nesting dolls. Or nesting nests.

How do you know that you know how to build a nest?

The knowledge for how to build a nest (or to invoke a nest) is very… internal.

This stuff isn’t covered in manuals. It’s a thing you need to remember that you know.

There are maps and plans hidden inside the bones of my wings, but first I have to remember that these things exist.

What is powerful about a nest?

Hidden strength.

What is useful about a nest?

Being separate and hidden.

(That could mean above or deep).

When is a nest not a nest?

When you are done with it, and then it can be taken apart or turned into something else.

What happens to me when I am nesting?

I am the complete cycle: mother and infant (in the archetypal sense, not in the about-to-go-to-Bolivia sense).

Caring and being cared for at the same time.

An internally directed cycle.

Also, any nest is really a nest-in-progress. Nests aren’t done. You can always tweak, alter and change. Lovingly maintaining a nest is part of the experience.

What else is a nest?

Well, safe rooms are a form of nests.

My relationship with X was a training ground for me to learn very specific things.

It wasn’t the soft comforting sort of nest, but it was the kind of nest that Mr. Miyagi might build to teach you how to wax on and wax off.

A bootcamp nest? Ewwwwwwww. Oyvavoy. Not that. More like how I’m Bruce Wayne, and the bat cave is a nest. Ahhhhhhhh. Got it.

Right now all the training that I’m doing to get mission-ready is a nest.

AND all the resting that I’m doing to get mission-ready is also a nest.

How do I know that I’m done with a nest?

Okay, so in my personal world of nests, there is no being unceremoniously dropped out.

That is a distortion. That is my pain experience. It’s from then.

In my world of nests, there’s a moment in which I know I am done.

And then the next adventure — which is itself a new and bigger nest — just appears. And the previous nest dissolves.

In I allow my nests to expand and contract as necessary.

And even when I’m flying, the experience of flying is a nest.

My relationship with the experience of flying is also a nest.

Every tree is a nest. Each new opening is a nest.

What is next?

Trusting what I know.

Trusting the nest.

Trusting the me who built it.

Play with me! The commenting blanket fort.

This is my process. It’s personal and a little vulnerable. What I would like: loving sighs. No advice, no analysis. Making space for my understanding of nests to be different than yours if that’s the case.

If you’d like, you can find out what you know about nests and use that as a proxy for something else you’re working on.

Or you can find out what you know about something else (like curtain rods or clouds) and that will probably tell you useful things as well.

Or you can sit here with me and drink tea. Or not tea. Whatever you like.

Usual comment zen applies. We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process. We play. We make room for each other.

Love, as always, to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads.

33 Responses to Things I didn’t know that I knew about nests.

  1. Eve
    Twitter: evejacques

    *hand-on-heart loving sigh* *tea*

    ‘There are maps and plans hidden inside the bones of my wings’ – Oh, Havi. I love your writing. I don’t just mean that you’re good at having concepts or good at explaining [1], I mean dammit Havi that is beautiful creative writing. xxx

    [1] Of course I do think you are ludicrously good at having concepts and explaining them, and this post is a case in point. But I don’t think I tell you enough (I don’t thin I’ve told you at ALL!) that your poetic language makes my story-sense tingle. Part of what makes your writing so compelling is that you’re always telling stories. Sneaky stories that we hardly even notice are stories. I approve so very much of this as a teaching method. :)

  2. katana
    Twitter: artistkatana

    I’m nesting right now- waiting for my fiance visa so I can go back to the US with my partner, & since I’m sick & staying with friends, I can’t go very far or take care of a whole lot of stuff. It’s hard to just sit tight and heal, especially when I’m so new-baby-bird giddy about being engaged. But I can take care of the things that are already in my nest instead of being impatient to get out of here so I will just keep myself sitting tight.

  3. Tapley
    Twitter: tapleyruth

    If I think about it, I discover that I have a lot to learn from my cat about nests.

    She creates them everywhere she goes. Perfectly ordinary boxes, laundry baskets, and cupboards, not to mention afghans and pillows, become perfect containers for the essence of cat-ness, just because she hops into or onto them.

    She has no lack of nests, because everywhere she is simply becomes a nest by virtue of her presence.

    Is this a superpower that I could borrow from her? What would that be like?

  4. Leni says:

    heart sighs. i love nests, and nesting, and making cozy nests with my girls on movie nights. I like how they are like blanket forts, only like a convertible blanket fort.

    I like that Winter is a good time for them.

  5. Sue T says:

    I’m just realizing that rituals involving tea are nests.
    By analogy, same with food.
    I would like to do more ritualizing (nesting) with these.
    As opposed to rushing, cramming, avoiding important questions, etc.
    Hmmm, more processing required!

  6. Kate
    Twitter: CameraKate19

    @Havi This is so good right now. I am going to make a cup of tea (perhaps licorice, because it brings qualities of The Playground to me)!

    @Tapley Oh, I love this! It’s so true! Cats have an amazing superpower to create “perfect containers for the essence of cat-ness!” :)

  7. Corie Weaver
    Twitter: coriejweaver

    mmm. Nesting. Possibly that’s what I need to be thinking on right now. Curling up and waiting, and puttering on what’s easy, until the next step shows up, and I’ll know its right because its the easy one too. Time for percolating – and tea!

  8. Cathy
    Twitter: cathyyardley

    For me, January is one big nest, especially this January. I’m assembling my nest, and nesting, for Floating Playground and later Rally (rally!) and my current Year Long Cruise. There are a lot of nests involved. And cozy nestling (best words EVER.)

    I didn’t know there was this much to know about nests, or even realize that I was nesting. But if that’s what I’m doing, I love it. The flying — that’s going to be a bit trickier. But love that it’s also a nest.

  9. Mary
    Twitter: engagedbliss

    so is there always a nest?

    I am thinking about the massive flock of robins I saw this month. Not their nesting time or place. No nests to build or guard right now.

    Pre-nesting? Robins preparing to nest? So social, twittering, happy sounds, eating fruit and berries as robins do in the winter. *hand on heart*

  10. VickiB says:

    I love the idea of nests and nesting and nestling.

    I looked it up and there are so many kinds of nests. Some of them have their own special names; the eagle’s nest is an eyrie and a squirrel’s nest is a drey! There is such variety — from the simple scrape nests of to elaborate pendant nests made by weaver birds. Nests are made by burrowing as well as building, and in a variety of locations, including burrows and cavities, on beaches and marshes and trees. Mammals, turtles, and insects also have nests.

    So making a nest is not limited, and I get to decide what kind of nest best serves me. Like the many rooms of my castle. And just as nests serve many purposes — shelter, protection, storage, the rearing of offspring, and the place where things of value are produced — my nests can have any function that serves me.

    Now to print out some photos from Creative Commons to serve as a reminder and inspiration. And then to make a nest in my nice warm bed.

    Happy nesting.

  11. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    “I am the complete cycle, mother and infant…”

    I like that so much. It’s so very true. I can create the loving, nurturing space for myself, and then I can snuggle into it. Beautiful.

  12. Amy Crook
    Twitter: amysnotdeadyet

    This is my thought: A project has a nest, but it also is a nest, and when it’s done there’s another sort of nest of happy-done-yay that cocoons me in the warm blankety accomplishment-feeling. The nest-of-yay is built out of the sticks from the nest-of-busy-projectizing.

    Also, I just wanted to say that today-me has left a bunch of little goodies for tomorrow-me, and I love that this has started to become a thing in my life. I’ve been craving the feeling of giving and gifting and getting, and reading here has helped me see that the whole process can be within myself, no extra people required. Though it’s okay if they’re there, too, sometimes.

  13. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah

    *** tea ***

  14. Kateness
    Twitter: vildechayame

    Havi, a big, heartfelt, loving sigh. For you qua you, and for your writing and wisdom. “…the next adventure — which is itself a new and bigger nest — just appears.”

    And a loving sigh for your use of en- (or em-, not sure which)dashes. Favorite punctuation ever.

    I have a bear named Max. When I was feeling terrified and despairing this morning, and knew I somehow had to get myself to work, I thought of this posting and made a nest in my comforter for Slightly Future Me to crawl into tonight. I charged Max with standing guard, Holding Down The Fort. I think he’ll do a good job. He’s a very reliable bear.

  15. Emily
    Twitter: emilyroots

    Love this. Sigh.

    In November, I found out that bluebirds stay here through the long hard winter.

    BirdeyeMan, the birdwatcher I see on my weekly hike, told me that sometimes, you can find up to 20 of them in the nesting boxes in the meadow when it gets really really cold.

    It hasn’t been so cold here this year, and I’ve been seeing them a lot.

    But I always wonder, in every season, what’s hiding in those nsting boxes?

  16. Susan
    Twitter: SusPup

    So lovely! My children love building nests and blanket forts. They call them “special places.” This is a beautiful reminder/permission slip to build myself a nest, even internally. Or to recognize where I already have them so I can say “Hi, nest!” and perhaps tweak them to be even more welcoming.

  17. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    ‘My heart is a nest for hiding and for being loved.’

    A nest is something that is made and remade, to suit the season.

    I can remake my heart-nest. I can remake the way I experience shelter and love.

    *wow* *contemplating*

    I can be sheltered and loved in one way, until I am ready to find a new way.

    It doesn’t mean that the old nest, the old way I knew how to experience shelter and love, was imperfect or that the new nest is better. They are both part of the evolution of my heart.

    The shape of my heart, the manner and means I have crafted in order to experience shelter and love, is what it is, today. And it works as well as it does, today. And I can always change it. Add some twigs, or fluff, or blue things, or start over on a radical redesign if I want to.

    Any time I like.


  18. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Brain says: but self-medicating, violent, dysfunctional ways of experiencing love that damage you CAN’T be deemed equally as “good” as healthier ways!!! What are you talking about????

    Inner genius says: all steps along the evolution are perfect to their time, space, capacity and resources. You have been doing the best you believed possible. All things are perfect. You can change how you experience love, and that is perfect. You can never change the nest, and that is equally okay. The ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ is not inherent in the form, but in your experience of it. You have power (always!) to alter the nest so that your experience inside it is different, but your experience lies within you, not within the form of the nest.

    When you were two you changed your nest to exclude amnesty and incorporate a struggle to please into the way you knew how to experience love. It worked as well as it did, based on the knowledge and skills you had available at the time. You were sheltered and loved within a heart that couldn’t be rejected because you had already done that for yourself.

    Now you are older, wiser and you are changing your heart-nest to experience shelter and love with the qualities of freedom, acceptance and worthiness. And this works better for you, is more pleasant, is stronger and more sheltering and fulfilling. Your EXPERIENCE in the nest is better. The nest is not better. The old nest was built with the same kind of love and good intention as the new one. They are both perfect to their time, space, capacity and resources. Equal.

    Brain: *eyes roll back* *faints*

  19. VickiB says:

    Wow, Claire P! <3 <3

  20. Eve
    Twitter: evejacques

    Yes, Claire P, wow!

    Oh and I totally just wrote a story about a nest. Didn’t even realise it. http://wordbirds.org.uk/2012/01/25/the-boy-who-made-a-world/

  21. chacha1 says:

    Several times over the past few years I have been able to watch a hummingbird build a nest on my patio.

    I like the way she brings back a twiglet or pine needle or a fluffy bit of spiderweb, stabs it (apparently at random) into the foundation somewhere, stomps around on it with her little tiny feet, and then does a shimmy with her little tiny butt to round everything out.

    Nesting: it’s physical!

  22. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Awww, thanks… poor words around big idea…. Brought to you by (nearly killing myself today because i am a complete idiot and) many weeks of feeling utterly miserable and stoopid and failfailfail over my own culpability and dysfunction and co-dependent, facilitating patterns of self-abuse and buying into love-that-was-not-loving…. For so long…. And paying dysfunction forwards, backwards and down the generations…. And then by forgiveness of myself, in the end, cos, hey, that was the best I knew how to do at the time and I’m trying over now which is probably as much as we can ever reasonably ask of ourselves. #perpetualstudent

    Ya know?

  23. May I say that I adore the notion of ‘craftsbirdship’? :>

    And yes, loving sighs of ‘yes’. :>

  24. Aya says:

    For me the nest is a home. We can interpret it in many ways just like the way you did. We have different views but mostly it is about sheltering of which I call home. Everyday is learning.

  25. Laura
    Twitter: flamenooregon

    loving sigh

  26. Eve
    Twitter: evejacques

    Just wrote this in a chat and wanted to share:

    oh, right

    procrastination is hiding

    it’s crawling under the piano during music lessons

    it’s spending lunchbreaks writing in the loo

    it’s spending lunchbreaks in a tree

    it’s spending lunchbreaks in the linen closet or the stationery cupboard

    my pattern as a child, my way of having leisure was to hide

    it was like nesting, cosy, safe and comforting yet a little bit wild, magical, self-reliant, a way of connecting with my not-always-strong sense of self

    and somehow I’m trying to get those same things from avoidant behaviour even though it doesn’t really provide them properly

    because there’s so much anxiety mixed in

    It’s actually funny to realise how much I still have exactly that same feeling – I’m sitting at my desk at work now and I would love to get under the desk and curl up there – and it’s funny because I don’t think of myself as someone who likes to be cosy at all – and actually, being on the floor under a desk isn’t cosy from a grown-up perspective, it’s uncomfortable, demeaning and ridiculous. *And that’s why I like it.* Because it’s somewhere that a grown-up wouldn’t go.

    I don’t settle well in purpose-designed sensible spaces. I always make a mess of my bedroom. I want my wilderness where I can make a little cave nobody will find.

    Interesting, interesting, interesting. How can I give myself these things in friendly and non-avoidant (or maybe possibly less avoidant) ways? The thing is that the original behaviour is avoidant. It’s a reaction to being frightened of others. But actually, it’s a good idea to make a safe space when you’re scared…

    *brain cogs turning*

  27. Barbara says:

    1) *Am* actually drinking tea with you – Earl Grey. Hope Barrington would approve ;)

    2) This sentence gave me goosebumps, in the best sense, and caused me to place my hand over my heart to soften it:

    “There are maps and plans hidden inside the bones of my wings, but first I have to remember that these things exist.”

    Thank you, Havi :)

  28. Simone
    Twitter: simonethinks

    I, um, definitely want to print out this post and all the comments (THE COMMENTS!!) and read it over and over and over obsessively.

  29. Sarah T
    Twitter: edgetocenter

    Ooh, this is lovely. I even love the word “nest.” Nest nest nest.

    Also, the whole thing about being able to build new nests made me think about modular nests, whose bits can be reconfigured. Then I thought of self-transforming nests, which naturally would have to be ROBOT* NESTS, and then I giggled.

    *I am not really a robot kind of person, but somehow “robot” has become code for [+the future] [+awesomeness so awesome I can’t even begin to grasp how it might work], so now I love them, despite really being a trees-and-rocks-and-beaches kind of person.

  30. […] papers. (Hooray!) And now I am done. This experience was a nest for many things. (Everything is a nest!) What things? (I am noticing that I am having resistance to the very act of thinking about this. […]

  31. Pauline Esson
    Twitter: paulineesson

    Just wanted to say thank you for your acknowledgement of and care for lurkers and readers who comment not.
    Feel like I’m in a nest with that being so. :)

    I read EVERY single time and comment so rarely that not even the digits of one hand need to be employed in years of reading, and even though I write a blog myself and enjoy comments very much, for me when I’m reading, the commenting….not so much

    And for that to mean I’m STILL warmly welcomed….nice….nestlike
    Thank you x

  32. […] here’s where the idea of nests comes in (another thing inspired by Havi). What are the qual­i­ties of a nest? (It holds EGGs. […]

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