I built my first nest when I was about five years old. All I needed was my rusty metal wagon, my baby doll, her favorite blanket, and the hog house down by the crick.
Yes, the hog house.
I’d been plopped into my brother’s hog lot from the time I could stand on my own. My brother loved his pigs, and I loved my brother.
Once he left for college, all that remained was the empty hog barn. It made perfect sense for me to move in with my baby doll, Thumbelina. She was thrilled!
Pulling my wagon, I began my daily trek to the hog barn with my little treasures. It didn’t take long for me to begin cleaning and decorating my little piece of heaven.
Soon the dusty wood floor was swept clean with a broom that I dragged along. I tossed anything that I deemed unnecessary into a nearby ditch. What a busy little girl I was.
I imagined that a little rusty box was the perfect table to adorn with a little blue plastic glass ‘borrowed’ from the kitchen. Each day I gathered dandelions, violets, or sweet clover to add a touch of color in the ‘vase.’ I also brought a bottle for Thumbelina and some of my favorite books to read to her. Torn out pages from my coloring books adorned the sagging walls of the building.
I didn’t know that what I was doing was nesting.
Typically people think of nesting as something that only birds do. While they are the master nest builders, I resonate with this definition from Collins English Dictionary.
“The tendency to arrange one’s immediate surroundings, such as a home or work station, to create a place where one feels secure, comfortable, or in control.”
My little nest in that hog house by the crick gave me a taste of creating a place where I felt secure, comfortable, and a little bit in control. It wasn’t until three years ago that I created my own little nest again. (I nested in our home on behalf of my family for decades, but to nest on my own – now that’s a little different.)
This time it wasn’t in a hog house, and I didn’t have to haul my treasures to the nest in a rusty little wagon. Instead, when our last child moved out, Ron and I had to do a bit of recalibrating in our home. So, he wanted to move his office from the room at the top of the stairs to the boys’ old room at the end of the upstairs hall.
What happened next was all his idea.
“Why don’t you take my old office and create an office for yourself,” he proposed.
That felt SO uncomfortable. I had no need for an office. At least that’s what I thought until he changed his angle.
“What if you just created your own nest then,” he mused. He knew I was a sucker for anything ‘birdlike.’ “You’d have a great view into your garden and get to watch the birds from the window while you write.” This man should have been a lawyer. (Since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve hollered down the hall twice telling him I’d just seen an oriole and a goldfinch on my birdfeeder.)
Hmm. That sounded a lot more interesting. After all, I HATED it when people said I had an empty nest. My husband and I were still here. How could it be an empty nest with two people living in our home?
It takes me awhile to begin wrapping my head around new ideas so I grabbed my copy of The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. I’d read it a few years ago and had been so inspired by her proposition that we can trust our instincts when we surround ourselves with things that we love. Her tagline (which by the way applies beyond decorating) is “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be BEAUTIFUL.”
The more I meandered through the pages of her book, the more I began to see the wisdom of building a nest that is just for me. My mental list of things to tuck in my nest grew. Just like a bird picks the right materials, I wanted to pick what was right for me. Here are just a few of them.
A bookcase holding my favorite books
Vases that I’d given my mom decades ago
A little glass dog that belonged to my grandparents
Pottery my children made
A drawer to hold all the letters from my mom
A frame to display an aqua button from my mom’s woolen dress coat
I had to buy paint, fabric for window treatments, and furniture. But the rest of my nest is filled with little items that had been hidden away because they were too precious to be given away. Now they surround me and help me feel secure, comfortable, and yes, even a little bit in control.
The greatest compliment I receive when people walk in my ‘nest’ is “THIS IS SO YOU.”
A bird can be identified by its nest and what’s in it. Who doesn’t recognize the perfect color of blue of the robin’s egg?
My nest will tell you that I love the gentle colors of nature – blues, greens, browns. I love birds. Gardens. Flowers. Books. Family. The Cubs. Seasons.
And while I will not be giving birth to little ones in this nest, I will be birthing books. What a gift Ron has given me to envision my own nest where I could be free to be creative like I was created to be.
DISCLOSURE: It took me about two years to feel comfortable in my nest for reasons that I don’t fully understand yet. That’s to write about on another day. In my nest.