How Are you Doing?

Life stress comes in many forms and we all sometimes struggle with ways to cope. This year, COVID-19 impacted the physical health of many and it has also affected our mental health. For a lot of us, 2020 started off with a great deal of hope and anticipation. Personally, I was excited about Hearty Leaf’s growth-- we were booking and selling out many events, gaining momentum with followers, workshop attendees, and venues ready to set up recurring events. Things were happening and it was exciting to experience. Then something called “coronavirus” quickly rolled in to take away that state of happiness.

In March, as Hearty Leaf had multiple workshops scheduled per week, the news of COVID-19 became more alarming. Many people started sheltering-in-place. Soon, non-essential businesses, including restaurants and bars, were closed and all of our scheduled workshops were canceled. No more days spent scouting stores for workshop-worthy items, antiquing, or quick trips here or there. No more planning sessions with the Hearty Leaf team (my brother Mike, sister-in-law Janet and niece Olivia) or organizing materials for workshops. Life as we knew it had completely changed. In what felt like the blink of an eye, our way of life was turned upside down and Hearty Leaf’s momentum screeched to a halt.

Early in the quarantine, like many, I began feeling very depressed. In addition to the overwhelming sense of uncertainty and the economic impact of the pandemic, I had a profound sense of loss regarding our Hearty Leaf business that I could not even care for my own plants. It reminded me too much of what was missing. Sadly, my plants bore the brunt of my pain and some plants did not survive. Finally, I texted my brother and said “I’m depressed. I don’t even feel like caring for my plants.” In what I imagine was his hope that mentioning plant suffering would move me to action, he replied perfectly, “They need you though. At least cry over your plants so they get some water. But don’t get tears on the leaves!” (Disclaimer here: Saltwater is not good for plants. Please do not cry on your plants.)

That little brotherly “push” gave me enough motivation to start tending to my succulents and other houseplants again. Amazingly, the more I did for my plants, the better I felt! Soon I was removing dead leaves, repotting plants as needed and, sadly, disposing of those unlucky ones that didn’t survive my “COVID funk”. I was rediscovering the peace, joy, and mental well-being of caring for my plants. Reviewing their individual needs during this- their growing season- provided a sense of nurturing and purpose. As my plants began growing new leaves, shoots, and flowers, a sense of hope and a renewed love of life developed in me. I had real-world proof that caring for my plants was therapy.

I started appreciating and enjoying little things- walks in the neighborhood, sitting outside with the dogs on a sunny day, listening to the birds sing, working on jigsaw puzzles, reading a book, and, of course, tending to my plants. As the world starts to reopen, I hope to continue to appreciate the simple things and make a conscious effort to slow down the pace of life.

Over the past few months, I’ve re-learned a valuable lesson. When life becomes exceptionally overwhelming and stressful and there is an increased amount of uncertainty and fear, the simple act of caring for plants has amazing power- to re-center, provide calm and focus, and give a sense of hope in a time of need.

As of now, Hearty Leaf does not have any workshops planned but we are hopeful that cases will continue to decline and we can plan some smaller, outdoor events this summer. Until then, please stay safe and enjoy caring for your succulents and other plants.

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