Lessons I’ve Learned from Spending All Day With My Houseplants

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Lessons Learned from Houseplants | Central Mass MomI’ve always had a few houseplants scattered on windowsills or side tables, but they’ve never really thrived. I watered them when I remembered, threw away dead ones when I had to, and stood staring in surprise when they actually grew. But being home during the pandemic has given me a whole new appreciation and interest in my houseplants.

When I became a fully remote employee in March, I cleared off a desk, plugged in my laptop, and yes, technically, I had a home office. It was functional, but after a few weeks, it got dull. So I moved a potted plant from our living room into the office.

I have now been working from home for 7 months. This plant has been in my line of sight for 8 hours per day for 7 months. It’s changed from a relatively dormant and droopy little houseplant to a flowing, proud, thing of beauty. And this may be my house-bound stir crazy brain talking, but I think this plant has taught me some important lessons.

Keep it simple.

What do plants need to thrive? Sun, water, air, and some food. What do I need? Nothing too different, to be honest. When I get overwhelmed and anxious, I am trying to focus on getting back to the basics – a warm meal, a glass of water, some fresh air, or a chat with a loved one.

Don’t underestimate a change of scenery.

Maybe all this plant needed to reach its full potential was a move from the living room into the office. It wasn’t a big move. In a time when travel is severely limited and it’s easy to feel down about being stuck at home, maybe I need to focus on small moves as well. I’ve changed my running route to see new neighborhoods, and on easy days I take work calls outside. I’m even working up the nerve to ask everyone to switch seats at the dinner table!

Pay attention to small changes.

Now that I see this plant every day, I notice the smallest changes. I see the vines inch closer to the floor and watch as new shoots turn into leaves. Others don’t notice these little changes. Sometimes progress is small, but it’s still progress. Maybe the progress I’m making, as a new mother trying to balance work and home during a pandemic, isn’t visible to others, but I know it’s happening, and that can be enough.

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Jenny Gallagher
Jenny grew up in Central Massachusetts and after more than a decade living out of state and in Boston, she recently moved to Maynard. She lives with her husband and young daughter. She’s a staunch introvert with a love of trail running, swimming, good books, and podcasts. She is a research administrator at a Boston hospital, with a focus on women’s health research, particularly endometriosis, as well as grant management. She’s passionate about raising a confident and kind daughter and learning from and alongside other moms.

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