Friday, May 22, 2020

Joy Project: Freedom

Photo credit: Nathan Sundstedt
Whew, April's Blogging from A to Z Challenge set me a little behind schedule, but I don't want to let this month go by without posting about the third chapter in the book Joyful. This chapter's aesthetic is Freedom, which is a complex ideal right now as many of us are feeling physically, socially, and psychologically confined by the coronavirus pandemic. But in some cases, those restrictions are actually opening up our lives in unanticipated ways.

Ingrid writes that "Joy thrives on the alleviation of constraints," which seems completely at odds with the increase in constraints we are all experiencing. I'm finding personally, however, that some of those constraints are balancing out. Yes, I have to work from home, but I can do it without business casual. No, my husband and I can't take the beach vacation we planned, but we can use that time and money to make long-needed improvements to our landscaping. And if no one has been to the supermarket in a while and we don't have much to cook for a meal, we all just fend for ourselves.

Much of the Freedom aesthetic doesn't have to do with coming and going. It's really about the feeling of freedom that comes from removing or mitigating obstacles that block us. That could be as simple as rehoming a piece of furniture that doesn't quite work or stepping away from your technology for a while.

But the best freedom is found by going outside in nature, or bringing nature in. Research shows that people living with more access to green spaces have less stress and more contentment. Workers who sit near windows report better health and job satisfaction. Even the humble houseplant can make us feel happier. Walking about in the forest, aka forest bathing, improves immune function and has been a public-health initiative in Japan since 1992.

We humans are deeply connected to nature down to the molecular level. So I encourage you during this unsettled time to experience and appreciate nature as often as you can--at a safe social distance, of course, and taking all appropriate precautions. Get a houseplant and give it a name. Plant some seeds and flowers. Victory gardens are a thing again--although in all honesty, mine will likely be more of an uneasy truce.

Be well, everyone! Find some joy today!

Meet Jeffrey


  1. The best advice ever, Jenny. I can't have indoor plants because of the cat, but I have some lovely things that have popped up in my garden that deserve names (which might encourage me to take better care of them).

    1. Hi, Pat! I'm a much better early season gardener than late. By August, I'm kind of burned out. But now I'm inspired to name my zucchini and tomato plants, and maybe that will help the problem!

  2. When I go into the bush it's like a blanket of calm is wrapped around me. We live in the city because of the Hub's work, but I dream of finding a home more bush-centric. We're heading into winter in 8 days (sigh) so gardening is done for the year - but I did take the opportunity as you know to plant 265 bulbs for spring :)

    1. I feel the same way in the mountains, especially near a river. And I can't wait to see pictures of those bulbs in bloom!