I’ve resumed traveling in fits and starts…but am consistently masked and following what I hope are strict safety protocols as the pandemic continues on.
In March, I returned to the last site outside of the U.S. that I had visited before the pandemic grounded me two years earlier.
I visited Puerto Rico to do some mentoring interventions, the same work that took me there in March 2020. Two years earlier I sat in the liminal space of trying to figure out how to live on the planet without the physical presence of my Dad who had passed away in October of 2019.
In March of 2020, I sat in San Juan staring at palm trees and the ocean trying to redefine what it meant to a “dad’s girl” without him.
The pandemic ultimately forced me to traverse this space of redefinition sitting in physical isolation with myself while staying safe at home throughout many months of the early pandemic. Fortunately, I had virtual connections with friends and family, as well as an expanded set of personal interactions due to the final editing and launch of Lessons from Plants (Harvard University Press, 2021).
Out of an abundance of caution, I was slow to resume travels and in-person engagements, but ultimately vaxxed and boosted I slowly began to emerge and reengage.
I wrote throughout the period of isolation. I first used this blogging space to reflect on “meaning” of work in a pandemic, the role of leadership and trust in uncertain times, to process changes in my writing in isolation, and more. I also publicly grappled with national issues such as racism and elections through writing here.
As I braved coming out of isolation, I continued to write frequently although not in blog posts. As the pandemic raged on and my first book came out, I spent less time here writing based on my personal reflections and to engage shared community. I instead wrote many short pieces for magazines and public venues inspired by Lessons from Plants. I wrote on lessons from trees on seasonal adaptations and healing. I explored lessons from plants on community and mentoring.
I returned to the blog from time to time to share insights on big events, including a pending career transition.
Being back in Puerto Rico in March of 2022, I was again in a liminal space of emerging from the pandemic—or so I thought. I sat again contemplating how to be on the planet differently. Because though there was a rush to get “back to normal” among many, I knew I had to emerge from the pandemic understanding how to be together again differently.
As I began to reengage more fully in the “in-person” world, I would experience individuals citing work of mine and reflecting back to me words that they had engaged in this blog space—working “from affirmation“, stopping in moments to “process and proceed“, and “the limits of institutional imagination.”
During the Q&A after a recent talk, an assistant professor in their first few years on the tenure-track came to the microphone. While anticipating a question, I was instead given a most gracious thank you for the writing that I have shared through blog posts. They shared that specific posts had been critical to their persistence and advancement. That the writing I share here had been—and is—needed for them. I was nearly speechless—a rare occurrence indeed!
I thanked them for sharing and acknowledged the “and is needed.“ I indicated that I received this as invitation to return to this space. I know the invitation is first for me, because most all of the writing I’ve done here starts as an answer to my own need for self-reflection and growth. I then lean into the concept of public sharing as rec0gnizing “knowledge as communal” which stems from my own upbringing and familial beliefs.
So, here I am to say—Welcome back, Beronda.
While, I’m not sure what fully lies ahead for my writing in this space, I’ve accepted the invitation back (thanks again to the brave soul who shared the importance of the space to them and their work). I am now eagerly looking to the horizon for new insights, new reflections, new inspirations…for me, and hopefully for those still here with me.
As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, you can find me on Twitter at @BerondaM.
End note: I wrote and edited this post for sharing prior to the deeply tragic shooting of elementary students in Uvalde, TX. Before what was indeed a tragic week of shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY and a church in Laguna Woods, CA before Uvalde. I have few words of consequence to share in this heavy moment. I debated whether I should even still share this post. The content of the post does not reflect my current conflicted state but is here for you now, if helpful, or in the future when you are ready to engage.