For Your Mental Health Be a Shield Maiden Thrush. Create and Protect

Mental health is discovering what you were born to create, building a supportive nest around it and protecting it like a Viking shield maiden.

It was the scary wild eyes that made me take a step back.

Recently I have been doing some gardening at a retirement village. This isn’t just any old retirement village; this is both retreat center and home to Catholic nuns retiring from their long service. It’s beautiful with lovely gardens and views across our Hauraki Gulf. (follow me on Instagram)


One day I was spraying the roses with some foul smelling fish fertilizer when I went around the side of the rose and discovered a birds nest. Staying very still was one stern looking Thrush.

I took a step back, grabbed the phone and snapped a photo. Another Sister had taken up residence.

You protect what you truly value.

What do you truly value?

That Song Thrush was protecting its eggs, chicks, and future generation.

She had camouflaged her robust nest perfectly, and by staying very still her home was almost invisible. She was warming its eggs and nurturing the future, so I left it well alone.

What you value is worthy of building a nest around.

The greater we value something, the more we will firm up our boundaries.

Do you value yourself?
How much do you value yourself? 

Building a nest of protection 

There is something of beauty and purpose within all of us. It needs protecting and nurturing.

Birds nests are quite amazing in construction. Pieces of straw, twigs, feathers, and mud are woven together to make a safe, protective home.

In recent research, it has been discovered that this ability to make a nest is a learned skill. Try, fail, and learn from the experience.

Birds learn the art of nest-building, rather than it being just an instinctive skill.

As birds gained more experience, they dropped blades of grass less often.

“If birds built their nests according to a genetic template, you would expect all birds to build their nests the same way each time. However, this was not the case,” Dr. Patrick Walsh.

The raw ingredients in and of themselves would not appear to be that strong.

A piece of straw and a dry twig by themselves won’t amount to much but combined with skill and determination they will create a sturdy home.

Protecting your potential

My little Thrush friend was protecting its legacy, its gift to the world.

I’ve been recently watching Vikings, a historical drama series about the Scandinavian seafarers of long ago.

There was something of a wild-eyed shield maiden in the eyes of that little Thrush.

Mental health is discovering what you were born to create, building a supportive nest around it and protecting it like a Viking shield maiden.

A nest was built so that in years to come the beautiful song of a Thrush would be heard.

Are you protecting that which is uniquely you?

Are you nurturing it so that it goes on and will bless others?

Strands of stalky grass are flown into place. Twigs carried up to make a sturdy foundation.

Feathers and mud packed together for comfort and insulation.  Perfectly constructed, artistically designed.

My nest

As a writer, I have built a nest around myself so that the creative expression God has given me can be both protected and nurtured.

I have set aside days and various times of the day when I do my writing.

I also have habits of reading and listening to other artisans to nurture my creativity.

I get an idea. I sit on it, turn it around, write ideas down, hit delete, write some more, tease and turn until I have the final product.

It then flies away and I never quite know where it might land and how it might be received.

Will they listen to the song? Will they notice the beauty of the feathers? Will they take a step back when they look in its eyes?

I have built boundaries around my creative expression. I have built by trial and error.

Mental Health

Something I have noticed about those who have good mental health is that they have taken a shield-maiden seriousness to the creative gifting they have been given.

They may downplay their delight, but deep in their core something of the nature and image of God is being birthed, and we must encourage the nurture and protection of this gift.

We all need its song.

Mental health is discovering what you were born to create, building a supportive nest around it and protecting it like a Viking shield maiden.

Quotes to consider

  • A heart without dreams is like a bird without feathers. Suzy Kassem
  • Remain in beauty, and we will honor beauty everywhere. Richard Rohr
  • When inspiration touches talent, she gives birth to truth and beauty. Steven Pressfield

    Questions to answer

  1. What natural gift of creativity are you nurturing and protecting?
  2. How can you inspire others to create?
  3. What boundaries, support mechanisms, nest materials do you need to gift yourself for your nest egg of delight to hatch?

Further reading

When Women with Depression Discover their Beauty

Smelling the Roses Grows a Healthy Brain

Barry Pearman