Blooming in Lockdown


On a socially-distant walk over the weekend, my husband pointed out to my 2-year-old daughter and me a neighbor’s beautiful flowers. Luscious, abundant pink blossoms in full bloom. “Pretty flowers!” my daughter said. “So pretty,” I agreed. Just another small teaching moment with a toddler who soaks in everything.


Lying in bed a few nights later, I thought about those flowers again and it suddenly reminded me of my “word of the year.”


Isn’t it true that strangest things can remind of us past intentions, goals, and dreams? Sometimes the sharp smell of coffee takes me right back to my earliest days hanging out in coffee shops, where I was dedicated to reading one new play every day. That was a good goal—one well-suited to the time of COVID-19. How many new plays and playwrights could I have discovered if I’d read one new play for each day of the stay-at-home order?!


But at least half the fun of my play-a-day project was sitting in those cool coffee shops, sipping my macchiato, people watching, and wondering if I’d have an interesting conversation with an interesting stranger.


I remember perfectly the last time I sat in a coffee shop and spoke with a stranger. Two of them, in fact. It was February 29, 2020. Three and a half weeks after my son was born. I went to the new independent coffee/beer place in the closest shopping center. It’s a cool place. I had a chai latte and I decided to do some free writing about my recent pregnancy, labor, and experience with my new baby—memories and impressions I want to hold on to forever. This trip was a Big Deal because it was my first solo outing as a mom of two. “Me time.” At the table next to me was a young couple—college age?—with a stack of familiar books on their table including a Brene Brown title (I was “reading” one of her books for book club, but I never actually finished it) and “Big Magic” by Liz Gilbert which I did read, and loved. So before I left, I struck up a conversation with these young artists who reminded me of me when I was reading a play a day in coffee shops just like this one. They must have been genuinely interested to talk with me, because they asked more than the socially required one or two follow-up questions!


February 29 was also the first time we went out to eat as a family of four. Would the baby cry the whole time? Would our toddler be entertained long enough for us to finish our meals? We went to my favorite—Mexican. The baby slept and my daughter was as good as we could have hoped. The food was delicious. As we were paying the bill, we actually saw another family we know and blocked the aisle for too long with our impromptu catch-up.


February 29, 2020 was a good day. A magical, bonus day. That was our first dinner out as a family of four, and also our last for a long, long while.


This is a really hard, really sad time.


It doesn’t feel like a time for “words of the year,” resolutions, goals, plans, or anything inward-focused. That feels selfish, when people are dying and systems are breaking. When people have far worse problems than I do. My biggest problems are that my toddler throws terrible twos tantrums that I must deal with while feeding a baby, and that the job and field that I love—theater—is facing a cataclysmic event. I have a job, home, food, and safety. For the moment, I and my family are healthy.


Maybe it’s just me, but the culmination of all that put me into waiting mode. This is a time to just get through. It will be over eventually. I’m not in the camp of folks who got extra free time to take on new hobbies (no hate to those people. Okay, maybe a little jealousy, though). But like most parents, my little free time evaporated. (I’m writing this after kid bedtime and when I should be sleeping, too). So I’m waiting this out, basically putting my inner life on pause, putting my head down, and getting through it.


Until the flowers came into view and I remembered my word of the year: bloom.


On January 1st of this year I wrote: My word of the year is Bloom. To bloom fully into my roles as mother, wife, friend, manager, creative, while staying rooted and nourished.


Well, damn.


If ever there was a time in my life when I could feel rooted, it is now. Unable to leave the house for adventure or escape… or work, errands, or general “busy-ness.” I am rooted in my home, in place. And if ever there was a time to focus on being nourished, it would be now, during a global health pandemic.


“Bloom” is the perfect word for me in 2020.


My word of the year for 2019 would have been a joke right now: intention. In 2018 I felt dragged along by life in a year that brought my first baby and a dream job. I said, I don’t know if I’m living the dream or the dream is living me! (ha. ha.) So I chose to be more intentional in 2019, and in many ways it worked. Try being intentional about things right now! The universe has other plans.


Somehow in the imperfect, complex thought process of seeing those flowers and remembering the word “bloom”—and reading a beautiful personal essay I happened to click on when it popped up in my social media feed—it clicked for me that I don’t have to put myself aside and just wait for the pandemic to be over. I can live my word, I can bloom.


Well, I can do my best to bloom. Yes, it’s going to be hard. But I’ve seen flowers grow in pretty desolate places. “We can do hard things,” they say. Instead of waiting, pausing, stressing, worrying and wishing for better times, I’m going to

Be rooted in my values

Find nourishment in the small things

Come into my full beauty as a warrior goddess Mom

Have patience like a flower does coming into bloom

Find joy in the little things, like a neighbor’s flowers

Live in this moment.

Know that what feels like waiting is part of the slow process of blooming.


It’s not a goal that will be easy to prove, like how I can rattle off plot points of dozens of plays. I won’t be able to document it on social media, or announce that I’ve met my goal. Even a lengthy personal essay won’t truly capture how this tiny collection of thoughts is going to help me flourish—no, bloom—in this time of COVID-19. I’ve realigned my mental outlook. This tired working Mom at home is going to stay a tired working Mom at home, but she’s breathing easier.

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