Friday, December 18, 2020

Joy Project: Renewal

I've made it through the last chapter of Ingrid Fetell Lee's book, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, and I cannot think of a better topic for the end of 2020 than renewal. This "unprecedented" year affected everyone to a lesser or greater degree, and we are tired, limping toward the holiday season dragging stubborn hope along with us.

A new year is of course a time of renewal, but other than a fresh calendar and some resolutions (or not), where do we find help in hitting the reset button? As with so many things, looking to nature for inspiration is a great place to start. Nature cycles constantly through decay and renewal, death and rebirth. Even now, in the midst of wintry weather, I notice the cycles of freezing and melting, sun rising and setting, birdsong and silence.

But plants have got to be one of the best and most accessible symbols of renewal, whether it is a simple leaf stretching toward the sun or a giant flowerhead bursting into bloom. As anyone who has battled a weedy garden knows, plants have energy that is sometimes difficult to quash. From a design standpoint, reproducing the elements of viney curves and colorful blossoms in our space reminds us that change is not only possible but inevitable. Or, as Ingrid puts it, " suggest a momentum toward a more abundant world."

This is also the reason indoor blooming bulbs such as amaryllis are so popular during the scarcity of the colder seasons. The gradual process of growing and unfurling gives us the anticipation of beauty, with a serving of hope on the side. So, friends, as we make our way to the end of 2020, I encourage you to buy a plant from your local greenhouse, sow a few seeds in a pot, force some bulbs, or suspend an avocado pit in a jar of water...anything to serve as a daily reminder that renewal isn't only reserved for the turning of a new year. It's with us every day, even in small ways.

I'll leave you for now with these lines from the last paragraph of Joyful:
To fix the world is a tall order, but to renew it is not nearly so daunting. The lesson of renewal is that from small seeds big things grow.

Stay safe and well, and enjoy whatever makes the holiday season special for you!



  1. With Oz nearly 1/3 of the way through summer (although the temps seem to be defying the idea of warm), I have been out in the garden. Being out in nature really does help!

    1. I am looking forward to a better gardening year in 2021. I hope! Each year seems to be touch and go :-)