by The Land Connection Staff
I read an article this week about working from home and ways to make it work for you. The author did not reference the pandemic. These were just tips to try. This was my favorite pretend like you are actually going into the office. Set your alarm, make coffee, take a shower and change out of your pjs to help you get into the “I’m going to work” mindset. Personally, I confess that I did a quick assessment of what I do already. Took a deep breath and went to pour myself more coffee and there, lo’ and behold, a sign above the coffee pot, literally, a sign that says “Grow where you are planted”. I immediately responded to my remote working self, raised my coffee cup, and said I am and Still I Rise! So for this week’s stay at home snapshot, it is important for me to leave you with my favorite poem and share with you that I witnessed her read this in person and the message forever embedded in my memory. Thank you Maya for your timeless spoken word and courage to speak to the nations. I encourage you to click here on the title “Still I Rise” and let the words fire in your heart and simmer your soul.
My brain keeps spinning and my heart still hurts. But, I am feeling some hope for real change, though trepidatiously. My whole adult life, I have worked at the intersection of environmental and community health. I’ve had many roles. Among them, I served as a US Peace Corps volunteer in China and worked at a “community development” agency in North St. Louis. While I entered these roles idealistically, it became clear that our very white-centric approach to “helping” communities is truly colonial. I became disillusioned about my ability or place to actually be a supporting character in the improvement of any community. I felt it necessary to re-center and focus on what I could (and should) actually be doing. I reflected on where change actually seemed meaningful and possible. And it seemed clear that meaningful change doesn’t happen from the top-down, it doesn’t [usually] happen fast and it doesn’t [usually] involve a whole lot of people making change at the same time. For me, the most impactful moments have come from true connection with individuals. From working with folks to understand their concerns and using my resources (afforded me by my privilege) to try to address those concerns. I still believe that to make actual adjustments to our value systems and to truly improve our collective situation, we must make real connections with each other and we must be sincerely invested in equitable outcomes for all. Right now, it feels like a lot of action is happening and opinions are changing. I hope that this is lasting change and not solely reactionary to our current situation. I hope that the commitments we are making now are real commitments that lead to real action and that we can actually realize the better world we’ve believed is possible.
My oldest daughter Mariah turned 14 on March 15th of this year. Coincidentally, that happened to be the same time this COVID pandemic placed us under strict shelter-in-place- orders. Her bday was a bust, and because I wanted to make it up to her, I surprised her with a trip to the mall for a mother-daughter nose piercing. I went first because that’s what “cool moms” do and everything went smoothly. Next up is Mariah. She hops on the table and closes her eyes awaiting the needle. She did it, it’s through and now it’s time to put the gold hoop in. If only it were that simple… Mariah begins panting and asking kindly for a minute or two as she feels very dizzy, she doesn’t make it to the backrest before her eyes roll back into her head and she faints full force off the table. I jump off the ridiculous electric scooter I’m forced to use due to my foot accident a couple of weeks ago and don’t make it to her in time before she cracks her head on the floor. She came to, with the long piercing needle still hanging from her nose, and, although she was confused, we were able to get her back on the table easily enough. The problem is that she is now not only queasy from her piercing, but also concussed from her fall. She is on the table going in and out of consciousness until she finally throws up in the nearest trash can and becomes more coherent. The EMTs arrive at the exact same moment that Mariah pulls her head out of the garbage, wipes her mouth, and says “Okay, I’m good. Let’s finish this”. So, as a group of medics watched, Mariah officially had her nose pierced. Conclusion: I don’t want to be the “cool mom” anymore.
The dogs have really been enjoying having Rey and I work from home during this whole ordeal, but that is quickly changing. Although Rey is working from home until August 15 as part of Extension, I’m allowed to start phasing back into office life. I have very much enjoyed working from home these past couple months. Having the opportunity to work outside, watch the dogs sprawled out in the sun, and enjoy the sounds of summer has been a delight. As someone who doesn’t like AC, it was almost a dream come true — a dream that unfortunately was born out of truly awful circumstances. Now, while I do enjoy the ability to work from home, I like the option of having a place to go and be super productive. However, with the shelter-in-place orders and business closures, that wasn’t really possible. That in turn, steadily began to decrease my productivity as there wasn’t a place for me to go an focus. Away from the dogs, away from the husband, away from the garden. I think everyone needs a place like that. A place to deep-dive, where your work doesn’t seem to be constantly bleeding into your home-life. A place where your dogs can’t beg for third breakfasts.
By this point in the summer, I would have had a growing list of hikes and outdoor adventures that I have spent my weekends pursuing. This year has been different (and boy is that an understatement). Maybe many of you are feeling similarly, but keeping up with a normal life in 2020 is far from possible. Instead of exploring, I have been spending time trying to find simple activities at home that keep me happy, safe, and finding time for myself. We don’t have the opportunity to garden on a plot of land due to living in a condo, but we do press the boundaries on a continuously growing container garden. It has been fun experimenting over the years to see what’s possible and what we can successfully grow. We could never support our vegetable consumption with this garden, though I am always excited to creatively figure out how many things we can create or preserve for use from our container garden. Plus, we get a great deal of joy leaving our condo and seeing our beautiful plants as we head down the stairs. Here are a few pictures of the start to our container garden this year. Maybe look away from the unidentifiable okra, though. It’s having a moment.