What Can A Prickly Ball Teach You About Human Walls?

Recently my husband and I were in Spain walking a beautiful path through lush green farmland and ancient villages.

My post during these walks was about six steps behind Brent. His 36-inch inseam (enormous strides) and my slightly arthritic hips made this arrangement most suitable for our progression. Because my eyes were fixed on his heels, I had no perspective regarding what was ahead. Suddenly I was dodging large green spiky balls littered all over the trail.

What Can A Prickly Ball Teach You About Authenticity and Being Brave?

I stopped. I looked up. Big Tree.

I alerted Brent to stop and tell me what I was looking at.



“In those huge spiky impenetrable encasings?”


“You mean those brown nut things that are roasted to a perfect state of deliciousness and enjoyed at holiday time out of greasy paper bags.”



The spikes on these balls had to be as long as my baby finger. I was completely transfixed by the protective layer these little fellas had created to survive. I seriously stood there for minutes; fingers looped in my backpack straps, staring down at these vibrant green orbs.

My observation of this bizarre natural phenomenon shape-shifted to considering how humans “encase” to endure their surroundings.

Our growing layer, upon layer, of “spikes” to protect and somehow transport us through a life we are hoping to survive; the spikes carrying us forward regardless of the effect on the other humans around us.

Ugh. Yep, revelation may even find you on a dusty path in Galicia, Spain.

I recalled something my husband said early in our relationship. We were new, I was scared, and I had been shielding my feelings and behaving in a way that I thought would disallow my getting hurt as I had dozens of times before. He said “I will not bear the sentence of all your past relationship pain. It puts us at a gross disadvantage if I am charged with the weight of how other people treated you.”

He was right. He is right.

In relationships, we cannot step into them as a big green spiky ball. It handicaps it from the start. When you are in a new relationship or in a relationship that is a little rocky it is imperative to reflect and check that we are not poking holes in it with all those little green spikes we have built up over the years.

How do we do that?

We become brave.

We strip the outer layer of protection.

We get vulnerable.

We trust when trusting is terrifying.

Go on little Chestnut!


This week I want you to pick one relationship where you are holding back. Look for an opportunity to reveal something of yourself you have been holding back. Tell that person your true feelings. Or share a past event that is scary or painful.


17 Responses

  1. I love when we come across something new and it immediately speaks to our hearts. “Our growing layer, upon layer, of “spikes” to protect, and somehow transport, us through a life we are hoping to survive, the spikes carrying us forward regardless of the effect on the other humans around us.” Love this!

    1. Thank you so much. I am always most nervous about these kinds of posts. Your feedback means a ton!

  2. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this post. Sharing it on my Facebook page tomorrow as inspiration. You should seriously consider writing a book, Little Chestnut 🙂

    1. Daniela, seriously my heart is swollen with your comment. I so appreciate your words of encouragement. xoxox And thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Hi Heather 🙂
    How very cool is this! I learned something new on your blog today! I honestly did not know about how or where chestnuts come from. So thank you for sharing this wonderful post and teaching me this 🙂 Awesome share!

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Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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