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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.


Nothing is wasted.

This was the hot buttered insight that emerged yesterday.

Like most epiphanies, it sounds pretty stupid when you say it out loud. But it’s still a gleaming piece of truth, and now it lives in my body and is a source of comfort.

Nothing is wasted.

Nothing is wasted.

I spent five years as bartender in south Tel Aviv.

And if you read regularly, you probably know I worked in some pretty dive-ey places.

I knew a lot of people. And an astonishing variety of people.

Artists. Writers. Musicians. Intellectuals. Local celebrities.

Surfers. Motorcycle gang members. Counterfeiters. Tour guides. Cab drivers.

People who did stuff on the black market. On the grey market. Connected to the Moroccan mafia. People with bodyguards.

Once someone tried to follow me home. Once I got a vodka bottle thrown at me. Once someone smashed my cellphone.

Once I nailed someone in the face with a stack of about fifty coasters.

I learned a lot.

I learned a lot about sovereignty. About not taking other people’s shit personally.

About right people. About how to run a bar.

About managing (people, expectations, experiences).

About creating setting. About creating culture.

About ambience and the power of everything that happens behind the scene.

About beauty and safety and pain.

What I’m NOT saying.

I’m not saying these experiences were good.

I’m not saying that everything is for the best. Or that suffering is a gift. Or that we should all be more grateful.

No. I would never say anything like that. There’s way too much implied “this is how you should be” in there.

Just that — for me — nothing is wasted.

I don’t need to spend more time on regret for each moment that wasn’t spent making the world a better place.

Because all those moments have come together to put me here now and headed towards where I’m headed. Not wasted.

Once I had a gig as a choreographer.

No, really. For a children’s folk dance troupe that performed all over the midwest.

I haven’t thought about that in years.

Even though I probably use those skills all the time …

  • putting things (insights, projects, programs, ideas, words) in order
  • creating sequences for things to happen in my business
  • working with groups to make the impossible possible
  • awesome high kicks for when we do Ironic Aerobics (totally optional) at the Week of Biggification in Asheville in November. Wheeeeee!

That job — and everything that went with it — has nothing to do with my life right now.

And yet.

Nothing is wasted.

Once I spent ten months climbing trees.

I know about things that you can only know from spending a lot of time by yourself up in a tree.

Nothing is wasted.

Once I spent three months in bed.

Near-catatonic depression.

Nothing to wake up for.

Only loss and grief and blankness.

Now I know what that’s like.

I can identify with things my clients deal with. But without being in it.

And I have a different relationship with both fear and emptiness because I KNOW them.

And I have many, many entries in my version of the Book of You about what brings me out of those dark places.

Nothing is wasted.

So many things.

Big ones.

I have loved and been loved.

I have lost and been lost.

I have done terrible, terrible things. And had moments of redemption.

Nothing is wasted.

And so many small things too.

I bake bread, name moons, cry, laugh, dance, list things.

Sometimes I’m afraid and envious and exhausted. And sometimes I remember that I get to be the queen of my life.

Nothing is wasted.

Where the stuck happens.

In the resistance, guilt and blame.

In the moments of “But whyyyyyyyy is it like this?!”

And: “But whyyyyyyyyyy is it not already like that?”

When I don’t meet myself where I am.

When I forget to give legitimacy to whatever it is I’m feeling.

When I believe my fuzzy monsters instead of being curious about what is really going on.

When I forget that I have support and so I forget to invoke negotiators.

When I need to be right, and forget about all the good stuff that happens when I’m wrong.

And yet. Nothing is wasted.

So I can stop and remember again.

And should you want to take this deeper.

Of course the next piece is this:

If nothing is wasted, then it is possible to extract the learning and the good, and release the pain that is attached to it.

And in the comment blanket fort today…

We all have our stuff. We are all working on our stuff. It’s a process. It takes time.

This is tough territory. Again, I would never, ever say that you “should” find value in any of the hard, awful things that have happened to you. That would be a pretty condescending, obnoxious and really kind of violent thing to say or imply.

So use this idea of “nothing is wasted” in a way that does feel safe and comfortable for you. And if it doesn’t? Permission to never have to engage with it. Do what you need to do.

*blows kiss*

20 Responses to Nothing is wasted.

  1. Andrew Lightheart
    Twitter: alightheart

    I used to be an ‘Everything happens for a reason’ kind of guy.


    I was young.

    Now I am more inclined to think that lessons can be learned from any experience, benefit can be had.

    I worry about the inverse of that – that because we can find benefit from a situation that is ‘why’ the situation happened.


    I mean, maybe. But only maybe.

    This idea also makes me think of all the things I’ve done, jobs I’ve had, and it helps me notice the automatic guilt that comes with all the unfinishedness.

    This meta-judgement-guilt-anxiety is a recurring theme for me at the moment.

    Nothing is wasted. NOTHING.


    *muses* *smiles*
    .-= Andrew Lightheart´s last post … Your Inner Fundamentalist =-.

  2. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    The beauty is, once we’ve embraced pain, trauma, vulnerability and loss, life blesses us with beauty, love, tenderness, ease, flow, and grace.

    The whole spectrum of human experience is ours. All of it is rooted in Love. Love transforms everything into a version of Itself.
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last post … Nine years ago- today… =-.

  3. Beth says:

    Oh. This is good. I think this is what my grandmother means when she says “all things work together for good” (only with less guilt). New thought in my head: maybe not everything has to be useful for the reasons I planned…

  4. Tami
    Twitter: tamihackbarth

    right to the bone – this is brilliant.

    most people ask if i wish i wouldn’t have wasted time in my former career, since now i’m finding so much satisfaction as a teacher. i always tell them that my former career and all my other experiences created the me who is so enjoying this career.

    thanks for the amazing post.
    .-= Tami´s last post … Banned Books Week =-.

  5. Tracy
    Twitter: verdissage

    One of the great beauties of the things you write, Havi, is that you so often model self-compassion. Not just for the weird and hard and goofy moments of trying-to-figure-out-what-right-now-means, but also for all those past selves who have collectively carried you to right-now. When there are things we regret, or wish we had understood better or done differently, it’s too easy to judge that past self for not getting it right. I love the tenderness you show toward past Havis, who were all just as brilliant and brave and wonderful as current Havi and future Havi. The kaleidoscope of self-experience.
    .-= Tracy´s last post … Small and simple- ATCs on a theme =-.

  6. Mari says:

    Thoughtful smile….”But whyyyyyy…..?”

    Whys can be dangerous.

    My two closest friends, people who loved me when I believed I was unlovable, who healed my body, who gave me something to believe in when I couldn’t imagine such a thing, were in a motorcycle crash last year. One died the other broke her neck and had a laundry list of incredibly serious injuries.

    She is now a widow at 45.

    She says, “there is no why.”

    She is right. Her love’s death can teach. It can bring insight. It can build strength.

    Nothing is wasted.

    And still, there is no why.

  7. Mark says:


    I think I had forgotten! Nothing is wasted (even if I choose to waste it . . )

    We are where we are and it is what it is so we might as well see if there is anything useful-interesting-fun to be picked up and taken to the next now.

    New here – thanks again Havi-

    Nothing is wasted.

  8. Briana
    Twitter: brianaaldrich

    I love hearing about you choreographing for a children’s folk dance troupe. And I love this description of how an epiphany feels: But it’s still a gleaming piece of truth, and now it lives in my body and is a source of comfort. Yes. Lovely.

    I’ve had moments like this where past experience suddenly makes perfect sense. And this post makes me want to go back and look for them, intentionally, and see how it might all add up in light of what I’m doing now.
    .-= Briana´s last post … Nona Jordan- in the Green Room with 1 million index cards =-.

  9. Megan Lubaszka
    Twitter: toacircus

    I need to read this every day. Thank you so much, Havi. I also would love to spend 10 months climbing trees. There is a WWOF peach orchard on the outskirts on LA (where I live) where they do yoga every morning. The thought of going there never sounded like work for me, but more like a retreat :)
    .-= Megan Lubaszka´s last post … Childhood Depression- Is the Cause Lurking in Your Living Room =-.

  10. Cathy
    Twitter: cathyyardley

    Lovely and timely. Thank you. This helps my morning.
    .-= Cathy´s last post … What’s Your GMC =-.

  11. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    This is just what I whisper to myself in those moments when I’m not sure I’ll ever complete my doctorate — in those moments when the voice that says, “I’m not sure I can do this…I’m not sure I want this anymore…” feels like a very plausible voice.

    Nothing — nothing — is wasted.

    If I never go further than this, the years will not have been lost. They will not have been wasted time. I will still have had countless experiences of learning and growing, numerous encounters with people and ideas that might never have crossed my path otherwise. It will not have been for naught.

    Oh, but I fear that nothing is wasted will feel like a tiny, fragile craft if I find myself on the stormy sea of surrender, buffeted by internal and external tempests trying to tell me otherwise. How could you give up? What a waste of time and money! What a waste of all the energy you poured into this, of all the support that others have given you! Shame! Waste! Bad!

    Well, if it comes to that, I will just have to stand in my sovereignty, and trust in the ship that supports me. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is wasted.

    (Please note: I am not at all saying that I am going to quit my program. I am saying that I honestly don’t know what the final outcome will be. Dwelling in the uncertainty is pretty bloody maddening, but that’s another story. What I am saying is that the thought that nothing is wasted has been a comfort and a companion to me as well, and I’m grateful to have had an opportunity to talk about that here.)

    *deep breath*
    .-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … Equinox =-.

  12. Rupa
    Twitter: theyogaofliving

    Thank you, Havi, for this beautiful post.

    For me, the best thing I’ve gleaned from past experiences, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’, has been empathy. There’s nothing like being able to look someone in the eye and know, to a degree, what he or she is going through. It connects us.

    I’ll see people as dimensional, as influenced by their personal victories and tragedies, and as ever-changing. Like me.

    It softens my vision.
    .-= Rupa´s last post … A Pill for Heartsickness =-.

  13. Magicub says:

    Thank you, I found this site about one week ago and it helped me a lot

  14. Mahala Mazerov
    Twitter: LuminousHeart

    Nothing is wasted.

    Havi, this is so beautiful and captures the essence.

    Something cyclical is happening for me and I’m revisiting the early experiences of my head injury with the fierce gifts that arrived because I had no choice but to live and change. I have some thoughts about where this cycle is taking me, but I don’t need to know. I expect the more I hang out in unknowing the more room I’ll make for something new to appear.

    It’s not all comfortable. But trusting. Nothing is wasted.

    Kisses and love ~ Mahala
    .-= Mahala Mazerov´s last post … Meaningful Life- Prison of Thorns to Sacred Enclosure Part 1 =-.

  15. Sheri says:

    Every time I look ‘Maybe I Should Just Quit’ square in the eye, you offer another way to be with the thing…another serving of self-loving-kindness. So thank you for giving me a more compelling question than the one about quitting. I’ll noodle around the one you offer here about ‘what if nothing about what has come before is a waste?’. I notice I take a deep breath when I think on that one. A door opening rather than one clanging closed again. Again, thank you.

  16. Kaleena
    Twitter: Kaleena

    Courtesy of Kathleen Avins above me:

    “Well, if it comes to that, I will just have to stand in my sovereignty, and trust in the ship that supports me. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is wasted.”

    I think I’ll start softly reciting that to myself every time I’m curled up in the corner of my school’s cafe, rocking myself back and forth, wondering just how the hell I’m going to manage it all.

    Indeed, nothing is wasted. Even the things that I’ve ‘quit’ or been immensely hurt by have all helped me out in some way, even if it’s just to make my life more rich and deeper then it already is.
    .-= Kaleena´s last post … Rabbiting =-.

  17. Kat says:

    Today I change an average of 300 diapers a month to make ends meet. Someday I’ll be a superhero.

    Nothing is wasted.
    .-= Kat´s last post … Anatomy and Materialistic Longings =-.

  18. Tricia
    Twitter: Tricia Moise

    Perfect. Thank you.

  19. Amber
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    I’m so, so late on this one. But I had to say, once again, thank you for the epiphanies. When I’m not in a place to have one of my own, it’s like you step up and provide it. So thank you so much for that.
    .-= Amber´s last post … Toothiness =-.

  20. Link Roundup says:

    […] Nothing is wasted. […]

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