As an interior designer by profession, I had learned about environmental design practices, but as a mother, I am finding out what they really mean to me as an individual. 

Balancing work and home

Balancing work and home has always been a struggle for me. I mentally and physically could not sustain both well. As a young professional in my 30’s with what I thought was a fairly healthy American lifestyle, I was frustrated that my mind and body were failing, and my family was struggling.

Overwhelmed by hearing about healthy living practices, and confused by what to do or what not to do, I decided to make it simple. One thing at a time. I became more mindful of my lifestyle and started reflecting on my actions, “How does this make me feel?”. If it was negative, I started to separate myself from those actions. Things were improving for me, but I still lacked the ability to incorporate these shifts into my family’s lifestyles and activities.

Inspiration and Action

The houseplant that set a new path

I attended a seminar with The Resilient Activist that challenged us to set a very simple goal with an accountability partner. It was a way for us to connect with nature or do something positive for the environment. Something I had always wanted to do but just never had done or worried I could sustain, was to raise a houseplant. I did some research about indoor houseplants that would do well in my living room windows and were easy to maintain, but then forgot about it and never did anything.

I later bumped into my accountability partner from that seminar and she asked me, “Hey, did you buy your houseplant yet?” Of course, my answer was no, but it made me think about it again. That evening at my local grocery store they had these large palm plants by the exit. I immediately scooped one up, brought it home, and created a permanent home for it in my living room.

The next morning my children came downstairs and were so intrigued by the plant. My daughter and I started watering it every morning together. My boys were playing in it and around it with their toys. It really became this fun activity that we could do together daily instead of sitting in front of the television – which had been our routine.

Connecting to Nature at Home

It was so simple, but it was so amazing the impact it had. Not only did we now have this responsibility to maintain this living thing, but we were nurturing it while it nourished us by creating more oxygen and connecting us with nature inside our home. It brought us joy. My children started having more of an interest in growing plants and interacting with nature.

Kids and Compost

We had a rainy day not long after and my children and the neighbor kids had filled a bowl overflowing with worms they had found around the house. I realized what they were doing and instantly thought of a goal the speaker at the seminar I had attended had shared, and that was to start a worm bin for composting. I pulled a lidded tub out of my garage, drilled some holes in it and let the kids fill it with dirt, their worms, and our dinner scraps.

What was so amazing is how much the children started to interact with the worms. Now every day after school all of the neighbor kids would come and look at the bin, feed the worms, and look for more worms. Some of the older kids had even done their own research to find out what the worms liked to eat and how to take care of them.

The impact was incredible! Now we were building community by interacting with our neighborhood kids and their parents more. We are instilling these great principles of composting in our kid’s minds, encouraging them to interact with nature and to become caretakers.

How did this make me feel?

A little tree-climbing

Incredible. I very quickly became occupied with these new tasks of being outside and taking care of our worms and plants. Leaving for work in the morning became easier. I was bonding with my kids and my neighbors in a way I struggled to do before, and it was so simple. Nature.

I still have stress, but I am managing it so much better. Work and home life are improving, and both are growing positively. Nature has helped me to find genuine happiness bonding with my family and my community and finding meaning in the little things.

Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t about incorporating all the complicated decisions experts may suggest you need to change. It’s about finding your one simple change.

How does this make you feel?

Budding gardener!

Christine Julian

Christine is a senior interior designer and CEO of CJI Design Group. She believes in developing design solutions that improve her clients' quality of life through the incorporation of sustainable and motivational design practices.