Day 390: What kind of wall (is there around you)?

Last week, somebody in therapy used a phrase I’ve heard many times:

I have a wall around me.

This person was referring to a self-protective barrier, between themselves and other people. And it made sense that the wall was there, because of past betrayals and inappropriate intrusions.

I like to reflect other people’s language back to them, because I think the words they use are very important. I also find that metaphors can help explore and uncover possibilities for change.

So I asked  questions about that wall:

What kind of wall is it?

What does it look like?

How much space is there between you and the wall?

How high up does it go?

What is it made of?

Does it change?

How does it feel to be inside the wall?

As we talked about the wall, we agreed a wall could have good sides: Walls can protect and give somebody a safe place to be.

I’m reminded of the saying:

Good fences make good neighbors.

… which is defined by The Free Dictionary like so:

It is easier to be friendly with your neighbor if neither of you trespasses upon the other’s property or privacy.

This person recognized the benefits of a wall, but was unhappy with it.  This wall had served a protective purpose in the past, but was no longer effective. This person had out-grown that wall; also, the wall was keeping out others besides the original people it was designed for.

So, together, we tried constructing a different wall.

At first, this person was unable to think of other  possibilities. The existing wall was so familiar and so old, it was difficult to imagine anything else being there, instead.

But, very soon, we were speculating about other walls. We considered castle walls, like these:

Image 1

Image 2

And garden walls, like these:



(thanks to Steve Snedecker’s Garden and Landscape Blog)

Image 4

We both realized there were lots of options, to re-construct that wall.

And, we realized the reconstruction project is completely under the control of the wall owner, who has the control to change the old wall to a new wall better fitting the current needs and conditions. There’s no need to tear down an old familiar wall, too soon. There’s time to work on that reconstruction, and (unlike real home re-building projects) every step along the way can bring improvement.

This post I’m building is almost finished.  What improvements are left to do?

(1) Check my trusty iPhone camera, for an example of walls.

Wow!  More than I expected:


(see this blog post, for that wall)


(this post, for that wall)


(this post, for that wall)


(this post, for those walls)

Oh!  And here’s a photo I took recently, that I haven’t shared yet:


It’s a Wall of Candy (etc.)!!

Sorry, I got distracted. Where was I?

Oh yes. What’s left to do, before I end this post.

(2) Look into the near future, for walls (and other things) I may be seeing soon:

images (33) 5

filename-dsc00368-jpg  6

Ahhhhhhh.  That’s better.

(3) Give credit, especially to writers, artists, and other people who create.

For example, the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors” is not just an old saying. It also appears in the poem, “The Mending Wall,” by Robert Frost:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”


And one more thing, before I end this post. I want to provide a soundtrack, for those who might enjoy that.  So here’s a tune, by Sting, that’s been playing in my head:

Thanks to PrettyBluePeople (for the “Fortress Around Your Heart” video on YouTube), to Sting, to Robert Frost, to people who build walls, to all my good neighbors (here and elsewhere), and to you — of course! — for visiting today.


  1. I found this image here.

  2. I found this image here.

  3. I found this image here

  4. I found this image here.

  5. I found this image here.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

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43 thoughts on “Day 390: What kind of wall (is there around you)?

  1. Incredible job here, Ann! You bring to our attention the subject of walls which hopefully will make those who read your words, THINK. Hmmm….that T word.

    My walls change. I know they do. And I always have a gate somewhere just in case there happens an occasion where I can open that gate. Some of my walls are thin, others are thick, others are (gosh darn it! I wanted to write a word in my head but I am not sure of the spelling! My spell check is not working!) [And as the Professor would say….dangummit….or something to that effect]….now where was I?

    Let me read what I just wrote……OK. Oh yeah, walls. Some walls so massive no one can get in. Others have windows, others none. The moments that there are no walls are ecstastic, amazing, and SO freeing! Can you feel the smile on my face?

    As I am writing this, my little thingie comes down and tells me you are at Petals. See, I have eyes even when I am here. LOL

    Now for that rainbow…..funny thing, Ann, I was JUST thinking (OH that T word again) about putting a few of my photos on Petals having to do with a rainbow I got on film in a State Park a few years back. And here you are with a phenomenal rainbow photo.

    Love that photo, Ann, and it really did lift me up today! Fantastic article and I thank you for all the work you put into it. Have a great Day!!! ~Amy~

    • I love the T-word and all your other words here, Amy. Don’t worry so much about spelling (and I will try to take my own advice). I look forward to seeing your rainbow in a future post.

      And thanks for your appreciative words …. they help!

  2. Some people have walls of chiffon, and I feel most frustrated by those. They remain pleasant, but trying to communicate is like falling into a soft substance that encompasses you, yet resists any ideas that try to get through by refusing to hear them, even though they nod vaguely in agreement. I used to have a semi-wall that allowed me to see anyone who wanted to breech it, so that I could decide how far I wanted them to climb. Now, I have a low garden wall with a gate so that people I don’t know can enter when I invite them. With family and friends, there are no walls.

    • Thank you for this beautiful and well-built comment, with so many interesting walls. I’m so glad you’re my neighbor here!

  3. Your article and photos are gifts to the eye and mind. It’s a subject that needs to be addressed. Thank you for presenting it so well.

  4. Oh, I’ve learned well how you so wisely use reflection as an appropriate communication tool, Ann. You make sure I understand the wide and narrow scopes of my comments here. Wonderful rainbow in your near-future duo of photos. Is that in the land you’ll be visiting soon, perhaps? (I’m thinking Central America, but the country is not coming back to me right now.) Have a great Saturday!

    • It’s a man, a plan, a canal, Mark. Thank you for this reflective and appreciative comment. My Saturday, of course, is greater now that you’ve dropped by.

      • Ah-hah! As David Lee Roth sang so well with Van Halen a couple decades ago: “Panama. Panama-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah.” I had the Central America portion correct. Yay, memory, Ann.

      • That song’s been going through my head, too. And yes, Mark, YAY! for memory.

  5. OK located the comment thing. I love castles.

    • Me, too! You’ve now inspired me to try to make commenting easier on my page — to remove any walls to doing that for my readers (if possible). Thanks for the visit, Carl.

  6. I have a wall. Couldn’t do without it. Like it. In its crevices grow ivy-leaved toadflax.
    But for some people the wall isn’t t there.
    These people are mostly innocent.

    • Thanks for visiting. I’m glad you have your wall. I was innocent of what toadflax was before your comment. Now I know how beautiful it is.ivy leaved toadflax

      • I met a woman on Thursday. With her there were no walls. It didn’t matter.
        Yet people told me to ‘be careful’ and said I was ‘brave’.
        All she did was tell mer problems.

        Glad you like the toad-flax.

  7. Christopher S. Malone

    Reblogged this on The Infinite Abyss(es) and commented:
    Reblog Saturday: This post got me thinking a bit. What wall(s) is/are around you? Thanks, Ann!

  8. This post is SO inspirational. So many people advise to break down the wall or to build bridges not walls. Both of those involve so much effort and pain. However, to build a different type of wall is a concept I had not heard of before. Much easier, as you have full control. I LOVE the idea of building a wall with uniqueness, boldness and cleverness. This would protective and yet, the right people can still come in. Excellent post!

    • I’m so glad you like this post, Elizabeth! Thanks for coming in and visiting today. I found your comment very inspirational, too.

  9. Reblogged this on Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) and commented:
    Walls – An inspirational post that’ll get you thinking about reconstructing your wall if you have one.

  10. I thought this was a fantastic approach to dealing with the walls that we build up around us. I love the idea of reconstruction. I wish I had a wall (I probably do) but I tend to go off to my own cloud which I can’t visualise rebuilding. I have reblogged this on Thank you for the post.

  11. Oh, I love this post. I can definitely identify with this experience of having a wall and learning to not exactly tear it down but renovate it to a more suitable sort. Dang, I want you as my therapist.

    • Aussa! I love the relationship we have here. I wouldn’t want to change that … who knows how that might affect important walls? I’m so glad you visited today and identified with this post.

  12. Go you for helping them sort out a better way to go!

    I think my wife gets in and out without hitting my walls.
    That’s all I’m really worried about.

  13. This has made me think a lot about the fact that I don’t seem to have walls and, as a result, have been very hurt from time to time over the years because of this. I have often been called transparent and I have never been sure if that were a compliment or not. I am very honest and, even when I was lecturing at the university, I could not built that professional distance wall with students and I didn’t want to. But recently, in the aftermath of my son’s car accident in which 5 kids were injured, I have been the recipient of some inexplicably horrible criticism (not blaming us for the accident, but, strangely, to leave her injured daughter alone). In other words, every act of compassion was met with a metaphorical slap. We have since reconciled and forgiven each other for miscommunication and put our misunderstanding down to stress but I have now begun to build a wall to protect me from her. Sorry for the ramble!

    • I think of my style as transparent, too. I’ve also found that healthy boundaries help protect my feelings and help with interpersonal relationships, in general.

      I’ve been perplexed and hurt when encountering negative reactions that don’t make sense. It’s difficult to know what to do in those situations. Sometimes it helps to recognize that the other person doesn’t really have power over me.

      I didn’t experience this comment as rambling, at all. It’s always great to see you here. Thanks for reading and for your thoughts.

      • Thank you Ann.

      • I actually thought I was replying to your comment the same day you made it, but I made my all-too-common mistake, here, of creating an additional comment instead of a reply. That’s why you didn’t get a notification, back then. I’m glad I fixed that. Better late than never (especially since I value your thoughts so much).

      • HaHA – now I am more confused than usual – thanks for your wonderfulness!

      • Back at you, all the same!

  14. Ann, if you don’t mind me jumping in, IF we can see from the Higher Perspective realizing the hurt projected unto us is from a hurting heart, and not particularly having anything to do with us in the very least, might help us not to react. Easier said then done, on many an occassion, especially when hurt comes from left field and not expected at all.

    This is the very reason why I have learned to build walls. Lately, though I have been training myself to Flow, stay in HIgh Heart, be centered, and when negativity comes my way I greet it with calmness and compassion. Now when I myself am having an emotional day, not possible. But this is the latest I am practicing. Be present in peace and in compassion.

    There is so much hurt and pain in this world and if we can learn to not take things personally, and transmute the pain into neutrality or perhaps peace, how much better this world would be.

    My mind doesn’t seem to want to shut off tonight. I ended up here. Thank you, Ann, for cordially welcoming me.

  15. I’ve always liked that Robert Frost poem. There is such symbolism in walls! love the photos. Gail

  16. Pingback: Day 405: Freaking out | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  17. Pingback: Day 727: Guess what I did | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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