Your Built Environment Matters

Look at the chair you’re sitting in. Is it comfortable? Is it too big or too small? Now look at the lighting in the room you’re in. Is it too bright? Not bright enough? What about the windows? Is there any natural light in the room you’re in? Do you feel safe in the space you’re in? Do you feel relaxed, stressed, or tired?

 

It’s amazing how the space you’re in can affect you both physically and mentally. Research shows that you’re built environment can affect your eating habits, sleeping habits, exercise habits, and even your mental health. 

 

There’s a reason why the coffee shop you go to to wind down after work is so cozy and comforting. There’s a reason why you’re drawn to certain places over others, both psychologically and physically.

 

Either way, you can choosethe environment you’re in, and especially in your own home, you can change the environment you’re in to best fit your needs. 

 

Here are some practical ways you can help create a safe, comfortable, productive, healthy space for yourself.

 

1.  Adopt some plant friends.

Adding plants to your room can brighten up the area and act as air purifiers. Plants increase the oxygen levels in the room which helps you to breathe easier and relax. Studies even show that adding plants to hospital rooms speeds the recovery rates of patients, and decreases their blood pressure, fatigue, and anxiety. Plus, succulents are really popular right now, perfect for small spaces, and are really easy to find both online and at local grocery stores. (Not to mention they’re adorable).

2.  Let in as much sunlight as possible.

We all need a healthy dosage of Vitamin D daily to stay top-notch. Yet, it’s speculated that Vitamin D insufficiency affects 50% of the population worldwide. Open your curtains or shades and avoid blocking windows with large furniture pieces.

3.  Choosing the right lighting

Make sure you have at least a limited amount of control over the lighting in your space. Light dimmers and lamps are extremely helpful to set the most comfortable setting for your mood, whether that be relaxation, productivity, or sleep.

4.  Freedom within your environment.

Do you feel free to get up and move around in your space, or to come and go to and from your space? Feeling safe and free from containment can help you stay relaxed and in control. You can help this by making sure you have plenty of open, free space in your room or different areas to sit or repose if you need to get up and move. A rug can help a space to feel larger, and an open door or window can help let in outside air and space.

5.  Wall accents

Decorate your wall with accents that you feel represents your identity. Maybe a poster of a favorite band, or a painting that you loved from a downtown art walk. Maybe string some of your favorite photos of you and your friends on the wall. Looking at these photos can be a warm reminder of the people in your life that care about you. Seeing the things you care about and the things that make you passionate in your space can help to reassure you and positively motivate you.

6.  Less blue light 

As someone who works on their laptop constantly, I know what a pain (literally) technology headaches can be. Staring at iPhones, TV screens, and computers exposes us to blue light which is not great for our health (both physically and mentally). You can help this by limiting your time on your devices. I like to keep work on my devices and down time with books or other physical activities like exercise or creating (music, drawing, writing, stretching, calling a friend, cooking a meal, filling out my planner, etc.).

If you’re like me, and most of your work is on your devices, I highly recommend investing in a good pair of computer glasses that block blue light. They definitely help if you’re looking at a screen for hours.

7.  Your personal environment – your body

 The most important environment you need to take care of is your personal one - your body. You can take action for self-care in simple ways that don’t have to break the bank. This might be wearing that new pair of cozy socks that you bought this week or lighting a candle that smells like the woods. Tons of people benefit from essential oils and air diffusers. You can find some really affordable ones online.

Ultimately, these changes can be temporary one-time changes, but self-care is a daily re-commitment to ensuring you’re living your best, healthiest life. When you live a healthy life, you live a happy life. Make sure you do at least one small thing a day to care for yourself and your environment.

Remember: simple things can make the biggest difference.

What is Jólabókaflóð??

This is perhaps my new favorite Christmas Holiday season tradition. 

I personally love the idea of starting new Christmas traditions and adopting new practices into my life that force me to slow down, eat a little chocolate, read a book, and appreciate life. 

Enter:Jólabókaflóð.

 

This Icelandic tradition translates roughly to “Yule Book Flood” and originated during WWII when foreign imports were restricted, but paper was cheap. 

 

“In Iceland, the culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday,” says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. “Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th, and people spend the night reading and eating chocolate. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

 

Visiting a good book and eating chocolate? Sign me up. 

 

(If you also want to participate in Jólabókaflóð this Christmas holiday, Alexander Books, a traditionally loved book store in Lafayette, is hosting Alexanderfest December 15th to celebrate its grand opening and join in the book and chocolate exchange tradition. Check out our event page ~here~ to see more!!)

 

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t finished a book in years. The focus, time, and intimacy it requires to sit down and read a book just isn’t easily obtainable, and doesn’t seem like a priority. 

 

American culture has largely changed to the point that public libraries are in threat of shutting down, and most people’s response to “what was the last book you read?” is “I don’t have time to read”.  It’s just not practical to use your time for “extras” like that.

 

If we look to Iceland, we notice a huge difference in culture: 93% of Icelanders read at least one book a year compared to 73% of Americans. Their publishing industry cranks out roughly 1,000 titles each year and the country produces more published authors than anywhere else on the planet. 

 

This literary practice is deeply rooted in the history of Iceland. The Icelandic Sagas a renowned and form the basis of what we know today about Norse mythology, the history of Scandanavian monarchies, and more. These Sagas were written in the 13thcentury, considered Iceland’s “Golden Age”. 

 

Once the Golden Age ended, Icelanders suffered oppression, humiliation and the hands of their colonial overlords, and horrific natural disasters that caused famine and mass death. 

 

One thing that helped the Icelanders survive those times of adversity was the memory of the great era when the Sagas were written. When they were still proud and independent. This memory gave them a sense of national identity and pride. 

 

In the winter evenings, they developed something called a “kvöldvaka”, which was basically a storytelling session and educational time for children. Because of this, even though the nation was so alarmingly poor, almost everyone could read and write.

 

Jump ahead to WWII, Icelander’s didn’t have the proper currency to buy foreign products, which limited their gift-giving options around Christmas. Iceland’s population wasn’t large enough to support a year-round publishing industry, so book publishers flooded the market with new titles in the final weeks of the year, hence “Yule Book Flood”. 

 

This tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and spending the evening reading is becoming a cultural phenomenon. In recent years, the meme has spread on social media, and bookworms around the world are latching on to the idea and practicing Jólabókaflóð in their own homes. 

 

I will definitely adopt this beautiful tradition of sharing books and chocolate and quality time into my Christmas holiday practices. 

 

Time to go pick out a book! 

The Answer to Self-Destruction

Lately I’ve been thinking about our neediness. We all crave things, and we all have desire – that’s just a part of life. But this neediness often becomes one of two things: self-liberating, or self-destructive.  

We all have an intrinsic role to give, and to receive. It’s when we lose sight of this two-part role that life becomes a burden and may lead to self-destruction.

 

We can give whether we have a lot, or only have a little. In fact, every moment we have is a chance to give. In every moment, we have an opportunity to use that time and to use it on ourselves, or on others. I am not saying that you should choose to use every single moment on others - that would be self-destructive. Because, like the cliché-but-true saying, you can’t give what you don’t have. 

 

The point I’m making is that we’re only given so much time, but that is all the more reason to make intentional choices in it. It’s this option to choose what we do with our time that we often forget we have. One of my favorite quotes as of lately is “what if life isn’t happening to you, but for you?” (shout out to Rachel Hollis). 

 

This simple mind shift can help us realize that every moment can have value if we give it value. And we do this by choosing to give or receive.

 

 The only reason any great piece of art is created is not solely to exist, but to be shared with others. A good piece of art (whether that be a painting or photograph or video) touches an intrinsic human emotion and validates our existence. We crave this human connection beyond anything else. 

 

But this connection can only be reached by sharing our experiences.

 

Self-awareness has to be one of the most important parts of self-care. And self-care enables you to reach your highest potential. But, you can’t achieve this alone. You also have to allow yourself to receive.

 

The same applies that we can receive whether we have little, or we have much. The key point we need to recognize is that we are not, and cannot be, the only source of our own healing and comfort. 

 

The sooner we realize this, the quicker we cam grow and have fuller, more meaningful relationships. We have to recognize and communicate with the people in our lives what the deepest parts of us need in order to grow interiorly. This requires us to be vulnerable. 

 

Having a need does not feel nice. 

 

It requires us to be vulnerable and therefore open to silence and rejection. While this very well may happen, it is necessary to know that someone’s response to your need doesn’t make your need valid or not. 

 

When practicing self-care, remember: if a need is necessary, it is necessary. 

 

And if someone rejects this need, it does not mean the person doesn’t love you, but it may tell you about the nature of your relationship with that person. We all need healthy, reciprocal relationships in order to grow and be better people. If someone can’t recognize your need and help you to achieve it (or point you in a direction that can), then ask someone else. Ask until you get what you need in order to heal and grow. 

 

It is also essential that while we are taking a risk to be vulnerable by asking for help, we recognize that the benefits far outweigh the risks. The step you take for yourself to seek help in your need is healing in itself. What results is only more goodness to accept. I speak of this from experience. 

 

What is it that we are giving and receiving? The answer is glaringly simple: love. Love by acceptance. Love by listening. Love by giving hard truths. Love by receiving hard truths. Love by seeking the help we need. Love by giving a deeper part of ourselves. Love by simply caring. 

 

I in no way claim to be an expert, but I can only share what I, and the people close to me, have experienced. In our intense need, we can only help each other become more human by truly and vulnerably giving and receiving. 

 

There is no need for a world of self-destruction when a world of people truly human exist.

Healing Equals Sight

Have you ever considered the effort it takes to heal?

It isn’t easy.

First, you have to place yourself in a safe space or the presence of a person that feels welcoming and comfortable. Then you have to let that place or person impact you when you may have never willingly let anything or anyone impact you before. 

The darkest, most confusing places of your heart must be exposed. The hardest part may not be exposing the wound, what is already known by you, but showing what you have not fully grasped yet. 

Why would anyone purposefully unveil something they day-in and day-out work to hide? Isn’t life easier when fear and disorder remain hidden? 

“What returns to haunt the victim…is not the reality of the violent event but also the reality of the way that its violence has not yet been fully known.” (p.6) 

As this quote suggests, a traumatic event is not lived once, but is carried out in the reliving of it from the wounds it has caused. The only way to free yourself from suffering a traumatic occurrence is to heal rather than hide the wound. 

To do this, you have to face it in the right setting and environment. With the right resources and support, you can attain that part of yourself you did not dare to see before. 

With this part exposed, you can face the reality of your human experience, heal, and begin to move forward. But first, you must be willing to make the effort to step out of where you are at, to be in a place you could be. 

Healing causes clear sight. Seeing well allows you to live well. 

Peace. 

Identity

Last weekend, I drove 6 hours, to a neighboring city, just to listen to one of my favorite artists playing live. 

Some may say this is crazy. Isn’t this a way to live a full life?

Yesterday, I was asked to take a test plane ride down to the gulf with a friend. It was random. It was unplanned. I went. 

Isn’t that a beautiful way to live life? 

Life is full of moments, that we get to choose to really live in. I’m not always great at it, but the times I have succeeded are the most joyful. 

Give in to the random, the things that bring you intense joy, the things you love, and there you will find your identity. That which set you apart from everyone else. 

Sometimes it really is that simple. 

 

 

 


Mission - Joyfully Serving and being Served

I just realized that I will be leaving on my fourth mission trip in just a few weeks. This time, it is Puerto Rico.  

I have traveled on mission to Brazil, Dominican Republic, Alaska, and I can confidently tell you that each are unique in their own way.  

The first time that I traveled on mission, my thoughts were in regards to how much I will serve the people I meet. While this is true, mission is about falling in love, with a culture, in relationships with others. Many say that you cannot love very well until you learn how to love yourself. If you are aching for that love to be shown to you, I highly encourage mission.  

On mission one becomes loved for their presence, their very existence. In this way, I began to recognize my own value and worth, and was able to joyfully serve in being served.   

When mission becomes a part of your life, you are giving to others your time, and they are giving to your their love. I don’t think there is much in this world more beautiful than that.  

I will be sure to post pictures under my social media platform to keep you updated. 

Talk to you soon! 

Jori

Do What You Love

Hello again!

What a pleasure it is to write to you. 

I thought it fitting that I should share with you my newest pursuits. Due to the motivational book, F*ck it, Do What You Love written by John Parkin, I have realized there are several things that I have always dearly loved, but have never acted on because of the  growing list of "now is not the right time becuase....." 

I decided I needed to change that. As a result, I have committed to this blog space, to help you do the same. You see, doing what you love, is not as scary as it may seem, but baby steps to a happier you. You are capable of choosing the things you love, and there is nothing wrong with that. I would even argue that it is healthy for you!

Be sure then, to join me on this journey of doing what I love, as I travel, do volunteer work, rest with a book, design spaces for better human health, and communicate with you. 

I look forward to this time of growth. I can help you do the same. 

Best, 

Jori