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Highly Sensitive Havens

Imagine arriving in an unfamiliar town. Everything around you is foreign. You’re disoriented by your long journey, thrown off balance by the suddenness of this trip you’ve not had time to plan ahead for, and your heart is beating faster than usual. What can you do?

You head straight to the local Highly Sensitive Haven. It’s tucked away on a quiet side street not far from where the action is. There’s a small, unobtrusive sign beside the gate in the stone wall to let you know you’re in the right place. The solid wood door is beautifully carved, and heavy as you push against it. The moment you step into the shaded courtyard, into the haven designed with you in mind, all your senses tell you that even though you don’t know anyone in town, even though you’ve never been here before, you’re home.

There are a few people scattered around the little tables in the dappled light. A couple of them glance up at you, but not for long. Most of the people are sitting alone, writing or reading. All of them are quiet, even the people talking and laughing. To the right is a beautiful old building with an open door. You head that way, your heavy luggage banging against your weary legs, but before you reach the doorway, a man comes out, smiling in welcome, and helps you take your bags inside. He introduces himself and directs you to a table with a comfortable chair into which you sink gratefully. He offers you water or tea or juice – perhaps a piece of fruit or something from the little cafĂ© just to tide you over. When you’ve caught your breath, had a few sips, feel a bit restored, you catch his eye and he comes over to sit across the table from you. He asks about your trip, and as he listens attentively to what you want from your visit to this town you find yourself stopping to take a huge breath as you feel the lost bits of you that weren’t travelling as fast as the plane was begin to find you and start to make you whole again. You smile.

By the time you leave the haven, a couple of hours later, you’ve made arrangements to meet the nice couple (locals who work nearby, here as usual on their lunch break) who sat at the table next to you in the courtyard for dinner later, you’ve mapped out your first forays of exploration (and have the brochures and maps already tucked into your bag), you know the location of the health food store that’s nearest the place you’ll be staying (and its hours of operation), and you’re headed to a small hotel (only four rooms) run by a woman about your age who’s also highly sensitive. A taxi is waiting for you just outside the gate of the haven, called for you by the haven folks. You’ll thank them again when you’re back here tomorrow to hear the string quartet that plays every Thursday in the spacious library on the second floor. And you’ll be back for another dose of home.

It’s mid-afternoon when you emerge from the little hotel. The sun shines, the jet lag has been pushed back by the warm welcome and smooth transition. You’re safe. You’re among friends. You’re finally here, where you’ve dreamed of coming for years, with an afternoon all to yourself. You consult the map once more, then tuck it away in a pocket. Your strides as you step away from the stoop are bold and strong. It’s time to explore.


  1. chery wrote:

    I plan to carry this place with me every time I step out the door, from now on.
    It is comforting and empowering at the same time. Thank you !

    Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  2. Yay! I love that. That’s the idea, actually. My dream is that enough people carry this idea around that it becomes a reality. I picture someone coming across a place that would be perfect for a Haven, seeing a “FOR RENT” sign on the door and going for it. When you do it, whoever you are, let us know about it! You’ll be inspiration for others to do the same in other towns and cities and villages.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  3. barbara wrote:

    Just reading this post made me feel better. A sigh of relief – someone gets it. I hope that such havens become reality in many places…

    Friday, September 12, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  4. Dorothy wrote:

    This beautiful vision had me in tears as I read it. What a great gift for us all. I agree with the other comments as well. It will be fun to see this idea expand as the ideas start to bloom from just one read.

    Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  5. Oh, fabulous. I’d hoped to generate some feedback about this. Thank you for your responses. I don’t feel that such ideas are “mine” in the strictest sense – it’s very much as though the idea emerges from the collective subconscious and my work (play) is simply to write it down.

    This idea grips me, too. I continue to fantasize about specifics. For instance, how would screening take place? Would HSPs need to be members first, confirmed to be HSPs, before they could walk in and use the havens? Would anyone be welcome, whether an HSP or not, but once in the haven the HSP-friendly environment was strictly enforced, and if so, how? What do you think?

    Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  6. Heidi wrote:

    Exactly. That is the place I have been trying to create in my mind, a place of peace and warmth and acceptance. Haven.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  7. Well said, Heidi. Creating these places in our minds is the beginning, the seed, the nudge that starts the ball rolling. It’s a dream of mine to walk into such a place in real life, in the real world someday. I’d love to meet you there.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  8. Dee wrote:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s so comforting and creative. I dream about places like these. Thank you again.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  9. lauren wrote:

    this place is my personal lauren haven. ever since i was 4, although i did not know it in certain times of my life. reading, calm, kind people, gentleness followed by security and comfort. those are the tidings i try to seek in my life daily, but are most used on vacation, at the beach, in a comfortable quiet patio or bed, early mornings, gardens..

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  10. I continue to have conversations with HSPs who bring those qualities into their daily lives in all sorts of ways. My sister-in-law searches online for vacation-time lodging option that serve organic food and are secluded yet in the midst of beautiful natural environments. She comes back glowing, mentally and physically. May we all find our havens in this lifetime!

    Monday, November 19, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

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