For as long as I can remember, I have heard how special it is that I share a middle name with my mother. While I have always felt it to be true, it was only recently that I have embraced the particular significance of sharing our name “Joy." I have realized that in the passing along of the name, my mother also imparted the tools in which to access joy, and that is through play. One of my earliest joys was playing with my mom - running, jumping, laughing, dancing, exploring nature - she never held back with me when it came to having fun and playing hard.

Joy is the feeling of freedom I experience when I reconnect with my more child-like self.

Now, in the juggling of adult responsibilities and everyday stressors, along with overwhelming media stories of the pain and suffering of others in this world, it has become increasingly important to feel connected to that deep, inner child-like joy.  While it’s tempting to chase the most exhilarating, joyous heights, I recognize that finding joy in the mundane is what brings me buoyancy; shielding me against all the things that can mar my fullest perspective on life.

Joy is the feeling of freedom I experience when I reconnect with my more child-like self, often times through play, but sometimes even just in the reminder of things that I loved as a child. These moments are available to me as long as I create the space in my day for them. A great example, and a peek into my silly world, is how I stop to say hello to the squirrels on my daily, on-foot commute around town. I’m well aware this may sound a bit kooky, but I find great joy in connecting with one of my favorite animals and reminding myself of the fun I had chasing and playing with the squirrels in the trees that surrounded my childhood home.  

What’s in a name? So much more than I had recognized before.

Lauren Joy Furutani, MA, LMFT, helps individuals and families of all ethnic and faith backgrounds maneuver through the unexpected turns in life.