Photo by Trevor Docter on Unsplash

By Fredi Baker

It begins the moment I enter. I am home, returning to my nest after being out in the world. A feeling of place, grounded and authentic, greets me. It doesn’t matter if I’m pre-occupied, in a hurry with a to-do list longer than I’d like, or if I enter at a more leisurely pace. Ah, I am home. Gratitude washes over me.

It wasn’t always this way. Truth is, there was so much I took for granted or just plain ignored. I was too concerned with the outer feathering of my nest, buying new things as they struck my fancy instead of savoring what makes me, and by extension, my nest, feel inviting, creative, abundant, and safe. Back then, I was a workaholic who often worked at home in the after-work hours, someone who never allowed a sense of peace, or place, to envelop me. I was hiding from myself.

As I look back, there were reasons for this. I remember clearly one place where I lived for a dozen years, long ago, that began as a nest and then the nest crumbled. No matter how hard I tried to make it feel like I belonged, like I was safe and grounded, I couldn’t recapture that initial feeling. The foundation was cracked, both in my relationship and in my home. On the physical level, every time there was a rainstorm, water began to run through the basement, and no amount of the quick repairs we did could stop it. The foundation was literally crumbling. (Note to self: never live in a house with a cracked foundation in the basement, especially one that comes with a sump pump already installed.) My husband downplayed it while I had sleepless nights worrying about it. On top of that, while there were many things I could do in this house, there was nowhere I could just be. Nowhere to dream, to find peace, comfort, and joy, or even feel a sense of safety. As my marriage disintegrated I just wanted to escape the betrayal and pain, and working many long hours was a way to do that.

What changed? Since that time, years ago, I experienced some major life changes. A divorce and living in several different places allowed me the chance to heal, be grateful, and move on. To flourish. As a result, I’m continually learning what is essential to I want to have in my nest, and what is important to exclude. What to exclude? This was a big lesson for me. Now the top two things on my “do not allow” list are overworking (especially with work that is not fulfilling) and toxic people. 

As I take a deeper look at what makes me feel a sense of place, the list is both physical and psychological, inner and outer. Added to that, I work at home now, so my nest needs comfort, flexibility, and authenticity for me to be my most creative. In fact, I have found that there are different parts of my nest, and each one can change from time to time and from season to season. But through it all, there is an underlying feeling that is both universal and unique. Again, gratitude is a key component for me. 

As I savor the changing seasons, I am grateful and inspired to have a place that finally feels like home, all year round, every year. Even so, there is something special about the days getting cooler, the nights longer, and a turning inward that happens in the fall. My nest feels cozy and warm. Time to reflect, recharge, renew, and just be.

Perhaps that’s why this is such a wonderful season in my nest. For me, autumn is a time to gather loved ones close. Family comes to visit. Outdoors, the leaves are putting on a spectacular, colorful show, the air outside is crisp, and the aroma of burning wood is in the air. Inside is cozy, and there is conversation, creativity, comfort and love. Occasionally my grandoggy Little will chime in with a bark or two for good measure. The air is scented with something delicious my son-in-law David is creating in the kitchen, and the sound of my daughter’s laughter is music to my ears. We have so much to be grateful for. 

What about you? Everyone has a nesting persona, and if we can identify and honor this, the opportunity arises to live in a way that honors our values and the vision for our lives. It creates possibility and promise. My nesting personality is distinct—and yours is too. So, how do we know just what that is? For me, it was helpful to make a quick stream of consciousness list about what makes a nest for me. My list contained both inner and outer things. For example: a place to rest, renew, relax, recharge (and all the other “re-” words), yarn and knitting, lots of plants, sunlight, white furniture with bursts of seasonal color, textiles hanging on the walls, a place to heal, reflect and lick my wounds, a place to celebrate, draw loved ones close, savor creativity…  

Take this time to reflect: What would be on your list?