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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.



This is a door.

This is me approaching the door.

This is me standing here: threshold.

This is me going through the door.


This is me saying DOOR.

Door door door door door.

And sometimes: Hello, Door.


Last week I taught this class on the Art of Embarking.

It was about setting things up and preparing for the voyage.

And later a bunch of people asked me how you begin to start paying attention to entry.

They wanted to know how you begin to establish rituals of entry.

What’s a ritual?

A ritual is not as weird or complicated as it sounds. Or rather: it doesn’t need to be.

It’s really just a marker.

A ritual is a marker.

Anything that marks time or space. Anything that says: I am here. Anything that reminds you about your presence in a specific place or moment.

Start with the doors.

Symbolic and literal entrance. The moment of door might be the easiest place to begin.

Or maybe it’s three moments:

  1. The moment before the door.
  2. The moment of door.
  3. The moment after the door.

Or maybe it’s hundreds of tiny little moments. It doesn’t matter.

That is: it doesn’t matter for our purposes right now.

Being aware of DOOR as you are crossing through is another form of the pause. Paws!

Today I’m entering Crossing the Line.

We begin the Crossing (password: haulaway) at 5:00pm this evening.

I am saying hello to all the entryways as I pass through the doors.

The literal doors:

The door to the building, the door to the Playground itself, the doors to the Refueling Station, the Treasure Room, the Toy Shop, the Galley and my Pirate Queen Quarters/Dressing Room.

The pink fairy door.

And other more internal doors.

The doors to teacher-me and writer-me and dancer-me and the me who knows how to be at the front of the V.

The doors to creativity, inspiration, play, delight, curiosity and the scientific process.

But here’s the thing.

Everything is a door.

Even walls, as uncle Ralph said.

So the question becomes:

If everything is a door, what am I doing to mark the moment of passing through it?

Hello, door.

This is me and this is the door.

Me and my relationship to the door. Me and my relationship with myself as I am going through doors.

Me and the person I am becoming as a result of having experienced this particular passage through this particular door.

All of it.

Play with me!

Self-practice and the giant communal and commenting blanket fort.

We can invent rituals.

We can name doors.

We can pile on ridiculous things so that our door-rituals become more and more baroque, and the entire day just becomes one giant door-crossing extravaganza. (I’m picturing illustrations by Dr. Seuss.)

We can have doors for depletion and doors for celebration.

We can put doors inside of doors. We can say door over and over again until it loses all meaning. We can make doors for future-us.

Usual comment zen applies. We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.

We take responsibility for what’s ours, we let other people have what’s theirs. We don’t give advice. We’re supportive and welcoming. Everyone belongs. We play.

21 Responses to Door.

  1. VickiB says:

    I like the idea of naming doors! Perhaps I can mentally name each door as I reach it and pass through it: The door to starting the day. The door to fresh cool air. The door to comfortable sitting. The door to solitude, the door to companionship…

    Your definition/explanation of ritual makes so much sense. I have been thinking a lot about ritual vs routine. Ritual seems to be about presence and grounding, while routine lets me do things without paying attention. Sometimes it’s good to have automatic behaviors because if I had to remember every. single. thing. it would be exhausting. But it’s also good to take the time to notice, especially when life is hard.

  2. Sue T says:

    Someone in the family got a pair of finches for his birthday. They are so cute! They make these soft little cheeps at what seem like random intervals.

    But maybe no so random. I was thinking, what if they’re saying, all the time, “Notice!” “Notice!” “Look at this!” “Listen to this!” “Notice!”

    It would fit the idea, for me, of “Hello, Door!” And “Pause! (Paws!)” Just for the joy of it.

    And suddenly makes “Pray without ceasing!” actually makes sense to me. “Pay attention!” “Notice!”

  3. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah

    Yes! Doors.

    i need to meet my supervisor and my tummy was all tied up in worry and frightened and ‘aaaaah i am not good enough’.

    somewhere deep down it cant be all true.
    but still.
    the tummy.
    the monsters.
    the aching that is physical at this point.

    the doors idea is just what i need.
    when i step through her door, i will let Strong Optimistic Me take the lead of the V. I will present as if it were an old presentation in college. I will draw upon hidden resources somewhere. When I step through that door.

    And when I step out of the same door, I will breathe three times and let it go, let the stress flow back into the ground yoga-style.

    I will do something nice for myself like swimming or a movie. I will walk and feel the doors i pass through with every step.

    Thank you for the post!

  4. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Oh Sue… ‘Pray without ceasing’.

    What is prayer if not connection to the divine/the everythingness/the Universe/the [________]?

    What is [_______] but life itself? What is life and aliveness but [_____]?

    Being aware and connected to life? Without ceasing.

    Being aware and connected to the door, the doorway, our self, our Self, before, during, after…

    Expansion… Expansion… Expansion…

    Claire P recently posted… Radical acceptance, thermodynamics and a very useful paradox

  5. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    And Havi: re comment zen that ‘everyone belongs’, thank you. I’m reading Brene Brown right now and her clarification re belonging and fitting in… I quote…

    ‘Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.’

    In a world where we have nearly all been raised and educated and devoted our lives to getting really, really good at assessing and fitting in as the best way to prevent rejection, the idea that we in allowing others to simply be themselves and belong we most effectively create a space where WE can be ourselves and belong… It’s counter-culture and radical and simple and courageous and the stuff of LIFE and [_______].

    *swoons all over again*
    (tonight has been intense y’all!!)

    Ten million kisses to everyone. I am in love with aliveness!!!
    Claire P recently posted… Radical acceptance, thermodynamics and a very useful paradox

  6. Patricia Eimer
    Twitter: PatriciaEimer

    I so needed this today. Doors between my personal space and the craziness of the day. Doors between my work space and the family so I can rest on the page today. Doors to keep others out and keep my peace inside. Then again, there are days like today when I think I might need more doors.

  7. Simone
    Twitter: simonethinks

    Aaaaand of course, I read Havi’s post and think “this has absolutely nothing to do with me! la la la” and then come back to realize that it is actually the answer to exactly the thing I was looking for and it was staring at me in the face.

    Oh, life. You is funny.

    So, doors. I am walking through all kinds of them right now. Actually, that’s not right. I’m sort of slamming my body against them, thinking that it is just a wall. Wondering why I am all bruise-y. But like in some movie I watched when I was little, all I have to do is draw the door with my HANDS and notice it appear exactly where I want it. And then I open it and walk through it.

    Simone recently posted… The patron saint of public health* (I decided there is one)

  8. Esteban
    Twitter: Estebban

    Somehow the concept of doors helps me to understand the idea of “creating safe spaces/rooms”… Like Hannah said, it can be a way to separate situations and keep them from spreading stress over others, all in a healthy way.

    Just as some times I need to remember that “now is not then”, doors can help to understand that “now is not later” and “here is not there” and “this person is not that other”.

    Thanks again!! Hugs!!

  9. Eve
    Twitter: evejacques

    Hey, wishing you all the best of everything for Crossing the Line! I have a couple of big doors coming up and I needed this :)

  10. Rachel
    Twitter: RChristilles

    I’m seeing the various Me’s who want to walk through doors but the big door-slamming monsters won’t even let us poke our heads out/in. I want those silent sliding doors like on the Enterprise.

  11. R says:

    Today the door is my fabulous darling beautiful boyfriend has gotten a job back in his hometown. Door of Leaving. This is the Door Before He Leaves. Then the Door of Leaving. Then the Door of Him Being Gone. Trying to find loving ways to interact with all my hurt around Leavings and still celebrate this opportunity with him.

  12. Imbrium
    Twitter: nerdknits


    A few years ago I dreamt that I was at college, trying to go to the commissary to buy what passes for groceries for college students (ramen and soda.) I got to the door and found that it was a one foot square hatch about three feet off the ground. My heart sinking, I opened it to discover that the “doorway” was actually a tunnel, about four feet long, that got narrower as it went. I stood there, staring into this tiny portal, feeling the panic rising. There was no other way in, and no other place in all the world to get food. I must find a way to wedge my body into this hole and squeeze my way out the other side, or starve. College life swirled about me I stood, crying with frustration and fear, trying to will myself to climb into the hole.

    Someone walked up beside me, looked at me, looked at the hole, and said, “No. Wait. Look.”

    The person reached over, grabbed a door handle that had been invisible to me, and pulled. A huge door opened, providing me with plenty of space to walk inside.

    The door-that-is-the-need and the door-that-is-the-meeting-of-the-need. The door-of-not-enough hiding in the door-of-spaciousness. The dream reminds me that if what I’m passing into feels too small, too tight, too panicky…maybe I need to look for the bigger door.
    Imbrium recently posted… Fat Tuesday: Petering Out

  13. Liz
    Twitter: lizemmettmattox

    I’ve been thinking a lot about these transitions since the Embarking class and how I so often move without thinking from one thing to the next. I’m still finding myself in the middle of something without noticing that I’ve started it- but when I do- I remember that you said we can begin anytime…

  14. Magda says:

    Have you ever heard of the BBC mini-series/novel by Neil Gaiman called “Neverwhere”? In its’ fantastical world, there is a character named Dore (Doreen), whose family, the Porticos, were all Openers. None of them ever met a lock they couldn’t open, even if it was a wall. Thank you, Havi, for reminding us that we are all the noble Children of Portico, even if we don’t remember all the time.

  15. Lauren
    Twitter: laurenbgood

    I want to share that I am beginning to think about working on some seriously bad, traumatic experiences from my childhood. Fun! I’m actually terrified and not sure I want to do it, but I’m not sure how else to continue. I’m reassured that I don’t have to relive any experiences or force myself to face any fears, because Havi says so and she knows.
    At any rate, for now, at this moment, I’m going to sit and rest in the doorway. To honor this moment, and myself, and notice both the choice to enter and the forward movement.

  16. Risa
    Twitter: lichtstrom_

    I love the metaphor of the god Janus for this reason – a being that encompasses the self-before-the-door, the self-on-threshold, and the self-through-the-door.

    I do this ritual, every once in a while, where I lay a piece of paper down on the threshold of a doorway, half in one room and half in the other (or with equal amounts of paper on either side if the doorway is deep). Then I draw whatever it is I’d like to begin, or release. I choose the rooms on either side carefully, as well as being careful about which way I’m facing, whether I’m sitting or lying or crouching, etc. My most lovely picture came from lying on the floor of my old kitchen, facing into my office/living room. It was a release, and it worked very well. I might want to blog about that…
    Risa recently posted… Wait, Where Did October Go?

  17. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    I am fond of doors that are slightly ajar. Not closed, certainly not locked — but not wide open, either. Slightly ajar doors give me a feeling of being accessible, yet protected.

    What shall I call them? Peekaboo Doors, perhaps.
    Kathleen Avins recently posted… Friday Fragments 7: the fragments are in my closet…

  18. Sue T says:

    Look what I found on doorways! “Real” research!
    So, going through doors could be a means of leaving behind some previously-intractable monster-messages. I think I will try it!

  19. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah

    @ Sue T – wow. “event boundaries”. very interesting!

  20. […] learned some things from Havi about Doors. About the power and awesomeness of saying hello to something, making peace with what it is, in […]

  21. […] it occurs to me that it is rather a perfect time to walk through some doors. (Thanking Havi for these jewels of ideas as well as, oh, everything that’s good and […]

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