By Sherrie Hall Everett
The pandemic is changing my perspectives on so many things. It’s taught me to slow down, play in my garden more, and reinvent how I interact with family, friends and neighbors. It’s created a sense of community and connectedness in a different way...most of which occurs on Zoom.
I remember the first few weeks of the pandemic. I stepped onto my patio where I used to hear the busyness of the world rushing by in a low hum from the freeway about a mile away. It was suddenly barely audible. I noticed because of the near silence. I relished the quiet in contrast to my unusually busy, and yes, often frantic world. In the space of a few weeks, the entire world was being forced to slow down. The pandemic shifted all of us abruptly.
Our friends, our communities, and even our family interactions shifted. I loved the quieter, slower pace for me, I settled in determined to enjoy being still and becoming an introvert.
Part of the magic for me of this experience was the opportunity to really think about my interactions with others. I thought deeply about how I extended acceptance to others, and allowed others to BE who they were—in their journey, learning their things. I felt zero need to change others, to influence them one way or another. I decided to just wonder at their lives and experiences and see their individual magic. I took a welcome personal break from Facebook — other than work for clients — and appreciated the new pace.
I got quiet. I listened hard to the silence. I tried to encourage and connect with others through calls and texts. But then COVID-19 hit close.
My four brothers and I discovered a new reliance and belonging as we met over Zoom for days to help our elderly parents through a prolonged bout of COVID-19. Helping both of them survive and cope, for the longest time they had ever been separated in their lives, was an act of increased belonging and loving that each family member gave with unmeasured generosity.
We relied on each other’s expertise, on our different communication styles, and varied approaches to problem solving and ways of thinking. We leaned into each other’s quirks and triggers. And loved. And chose patience. And expressed gratitude. COVID actually blessed our family. We learned just how smart, capable and essential each of us siblings were to this situation. We learned more about respect and resilience.
So, what does that have to do with community and neighborhoods—and welcoming and belonging?
I think when we see those around us from the start as smart, capable, kind, struggling, hopeful, and striving, we extend an invitation to welcome and to belong. We allow for mistakes, growth, and more connection. I’ve been thinking as I watch Zoom church, that I’ve lost track of the new people joining my neighborhood and community. I’ve yearned to unify us in some socially distanced, yet acceptable way.
I think I have discovered something I hope is wildly successful. I’m a passionate gardener, and this year I’ve sown hundreds of seeds in milk jugs. As they sprout and grow, I’ve loved the diversity and variety and the potential each seedling has to grow into something magnificent.
I want to share them with neighbors, with a note thanking them for sharing their lives with me in our neighborhood. I’m eager to express how much I love their energy, seeing them walk their dogs, bike with their children, and leave empty milk jugs on the porch for me to sow more seeds. I want to make a space of connection and belonging and most of all acceptance.
I’ve been grateful for neighborly help wrangling trees, pulling out countless stems of runaway mint by willing young people who have filled my yard with laughter, hard work, and kindness. We’ve built community.
So, let’s hope the last part of that winter sowing milk jug seed experience will result in little red cups of poppy seedlings that I can share with neighbors—and who knows, perhaps I’ll see pots on porches scattered throughout the neighborhood that connect all of us to feeling like we all deeply belong.
Sherrie trained her entire life for the pandemic not missing a beat working from home within arm’s reach of the back door. That door opens dozens of times a day for two adorable pups that beckon her into a garden that was guiltily neglected during many years in politics and public service. It’s making a comeback little by little. She has big plans to share that garden. Follow @sherriesgarden on Instagram and Facebook to see the progress. Introversion has its benefits.
We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please remember: Share appreciation and positivity, give others the benefit of the doubt, & share your own experiences without assuming intentions of others.