Take Mom’s Advice: Find Gratitude In Tough Times

Three generations of Mumfords together at La Jolla Shores celebrating Mother's Day in better times, May 2016: (L to R) daughter Allie, Mom, and yours truly.

Jim Mumford: My mom, Sandy Fowler,  is a cross-cultural psychologist. At age 81, she is the current president of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training And Research (SIETAR USA). Its annual conference is still a ‘go’ in Omaha, Nebraska this October. Mom is working diligently to make sure it’s a success. This blog was originally written by Sandy, and I found it worth sharing with our readers with a few updates – making it the first-ever mother-son blog post for Good Earth Plant Company! How about that, Mom?

Sandy Fowler: I would observe that when Jim was young, he didn’t do as good a job at taking my advice as he has lately. With age comes wisdom.

Jim Mumford: Ouch! Mom was my early artistic muse. She encouraged me and showed me how to create flesh tone with crayons. 64 freakin’ colors and no “white person” flesh! Enjoy our collaboration everyone, stay safe and stay connected. 

Three generations of Mumfords together at La Jolla Shores celebrating Mother's Day in better times, May 2016: (L to R) daughter Allie, Mom, and yours truly.

Three generations of Mumfords together at La Jolla Shores celebrating Mother’s Day in better times, May 2016: (L to R) daughter Allie, Mom, and yours truly.

For anyone who has relocated, they know that one of the most difficult times in a move is when you have packed your belongings and said goodbye to your comfortable, familiar environment but haven’t yet reached your new life in a different culture with its unforeseen challenges and demands. Preparation helps ease the discomfort of the limbo stage but you still have to go through it. Limbo is where all of us are living right now. COVID-19 has shaken us out of our familiar routines, separated us from friends and loved ones, and only hints at what is yet to come.

The world is full of questions that can’t be answered. When will the pandemic recede? Where can we feel safe? What will the “new normal” be like? How do you reassure people that it will be OK? Realistic expectations can make a difference. Recognizing and relying on our strengths and resilience helps a lot. One thing we cannot do in this crisis is to reach out physically. Virtual contact is possible and communication is one of our great strengths. But a virtual hug isn’t an exact equivalent to feeling those arms around you. As Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her wonderful speech to the German people—and to the world—“at the moment, only distance is the expression of care.”

As we think about this shift in day-to-day life, it’s important also to remember the impact this pandemic has on those in our community who already felt marginalized and excluded. Now is a time for all of us to think about whom might most want our outreach and support to stay connected. We encourage you to think about who around you might need support in finding the resources they need to stay involved and feel supported. While the circumstances around us are forcing us into our smallest social networks, keeping connected with diverse perspectives, individuals, and communities is just as important as ever.

As March 2020 draws to a close, deep in its roots the earth knows Spring is officially here. The cherry blossoms, the daffodils, the budding trees bring with them a sense of renewal and promise. Gratitude for the renewal and beauty of the earth and gratitude for having another day warms the heart. We are grateful for everyone we connect to – employees, clients, vendors, colleagues and all of their family and friends in the decorative plant and flower world. We are all in this together.