Hidden Therapy, my green oasis

In September of 2019, just a few months before “pandemic life” had me working from home every single day, I was already working my way towards becoming fully remote for my job.

I had started with just one day, back in February of 2019. Quietly, I stopped going into the office on Fridays for the few hours I had left of my work week. I’d take my son to daycare, come home, and hammer out 2-3 hours of work I had left with that “no overtime allowed” life without need to commute.

My mental health started to shift, drastically, with just that one day. Which showed me just how much my depression and anxiety got tapped out by office life.

By July, I had found the courage to speak to my boss about making a 3-day office week a reality.

After waiting for what felt like a year for a decision, I was given the green light, starting in September.

As I moved from my home office, to the dining room, to the living room, and back around on those days, I found my eyes wandering around my house.

The work we still had yet to complete (trim in some places). Walls that were in need of repair and repaint from the wild, imaginative play of a small child. Spaces where the layout and color just didn’t fit anymore.

My list started to grow. My own “Honey Do” list if you will.

Then the pandemic hit, and when you would think, given absolutely no sports/sporting events, everything would slow down, I’d have some time to get this list tackled… Everything seemed to go into overdrive.

The constantly shifting landscape of what we videoed, photographed, wrote about.

Cancelations, modifications, pieces about how the young athletes felt having their last high school sports season canceled… endless.

I also seized the moments of sudden quiet to actually write, something my many-hats-wearing job didn’t often let me do. I tallied 63 stories for my department, and 11 for another in 2020. More than my entire, almost 13 year career (which is sad really, a reflection of how often I’m pulled away from what I was hired for, and called upon to do back-office things).

I can say that this is the moment I became a plant hoarder.

Correction: a houseplant hoarder. I’ve been doing just fine for years with not being able to leave an outdoor plant behind when it’s the growing season here.

While I typed faster than my keyboard could keep up at times, trying to get stories out rapidly, my eyes were no longer tracking the work that needed to be done around the house, but noticing spaces that I didn’t notice before.

Spaces where I could put pots of house plants.

My son was old enough now that I could start that plant oasis I’d always wanted, but couldn’t figure out how to achieve such a thing in our old house with low ceilings.

One by one, then two by two, the plants started coming into the house.

First my home office. I macrame’d some hangers for small pots to hang from my curtain rod, shuffled my bookshelves to make space for pots.

Then, in a flurry, I rearranged the playroom, moving toys here and there, shoving this bookshelf here and that toy shelf there, with the sole aim of “finding that light”.

Did I need therapy? Was this how I was coping with the chaos of the pandemic and work overload (add in trying to expand my business so that it can become my full time gig)?

Plants started outgrowing pots, so I started repotting.

Then I started doing cuttings, propagating the only two plants I’ve had in the 11 years I’ve lived in this house.

I cleared off two open shelves in the kitchen, just so I could put some plants in there.

I found low light plants to put in the living room that has just one window, and only gets very late day sun from April to Sept.

Just today, my son and I went to the store to look at options for a new yard cart because mine finally is beyond fixing – and I came out of there without the yard cart. Instead, I carried out two new plants, and a plant pot I’d been eyeing since November.

Maybe this has just been my way of “getting through”, running full throttle, and surviving being stuck at my house for over a full calendar year.

Or maybe not.

I’ve already started making lists and plans for my outside gardens, like I do every time this year. I primp and preen over those from season prep to winter prep.

Proudly taking snaps and sharing blooms, and veggies on my Instagram stories to my followers. Chatting plants with fellow green-thumbers on there.

I’ve just now, finally, created a space INSIDE to tend to over the dreary, dark winter months like I do with my bright, happy outside space.

Given how I feel mentally? I got hit less this winter with the deep winter blues like I do every year.

So maybe, just maybe, this is what both my depression, and my anxiety needed.

Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and the soul.

Linda Solegato

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Mother. Photographer. Writer. Founder of Fit Fridays for Mental Health. Former powerlifter turned weightlifter. Coach & Nutritionist. Spondy/PCOS/Endo. Bully breed advocate.

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