Unfurling Pill Bugs: Overcoming Challenging Physical Environments

Posted by: | June 28, 2010

I recently moved from an apartment in the city to a townhouse in Squamish and from a windowless office to a sunny cubicle at work.  All of this moving has me thinking about how the spaces in which we live, work and play can help us open up and engage with the world, or can cause us to shrink back and stop striving to be more and do more.

A few months ago, if you had come to visit me at my apartment, you would have found me in a tidy, decently comfortable basement suite.  The blinds were typically closed since the windows had a view of Burrard Street (and all that traffic on Burrard had a very nice view into my apartment as well).  It was a typical basement suite, with a low ceiling that I could touch if I stretched my arms up.  There was very little light that came in the windows, but it was relatively close to UBC, affordable and had a backyard for my dog.  It worked out well for a little while. 

This past month I moved into a townhome in Squamish.  I have 3 roommates, but even then, it is remarkable how much space I feel in this house.  It is as if that old apartment forced me to curl my whole body up like a pill bug.  Now I feel alive- stretching myself wide with my fingers open, reaching out and up for all that the world has to offer.   
At work, my old office had no windows and was right beside the main doors to the office.  I had wanted privacy, so I chose this space instead of a cubicle when I first started over a year ago.  Recently though, I decided that a cubicle would be better – it had a window and simply was less stuffy.  I had been hesitant since I had never worked in a cubicle before and, truly, cubicles get a bad rap. 

With views of the mountains, and a more social atmosphere, I suddenly don’t feel so isolated in my work.  I didn’t even realize that I had felt somewhat isolated before, in that old office.  Considering how researchers have linked a lack of sunlight to depressive symptoms, it’s no wonder that all this real light and expanded relationships with my coworkers have really lightened my mood.  I still have to add plants to my cubicle (I haven’t made those garlic chive seeds grow!), but that will come soon. After all, there is research that shows how plants can optimize workers health by having them in the office.

I know there are many spaces in which we live and work that are challenging for us to look forward to.  For those of you have lived or worked in such spaces (or do so currently), how do you make it more conducive to positivity and productivity?

Filed under: Suzanne Jolly | Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Unfurling Pill Bugs: Overcoming Challenging Physical Environments”

  1. Lisan says:

    Suzanne, you didn’t mention how commuting from Squamish instead of Burrard St has affected your feelings of well-being and freedom to stretch out. Your story illustrates well how fallacious Vancouver’s policy of “eco-density” is.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Hi Lisan,
    Thanks for your comment and for bringing that up. Honestly I don’t know much about the eco-density issue in Vancouver. I made the decision to move to Squamish since I spend all of my spare time climbing and biking there. Doing the commute to UBC hasn’t effected me as negatively as one would think it would- I make the time pass with books on CD and singing like a crazy woman to good tunes. I have to admit though- now that I’ve joined the ranks of motorists, I definitely miss riding my bike to work! But it makes sense for me to live where I spend all my spare time, in a community that I seem to belong in.

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