From brushes to shovels: Ms. O takes up a new hobby to relieve stress


Christine Orihuela

With the great outdoors as her new palette, Ms. O has embraced gardening and transformed her yard during quarantine.

Dear Tologs,

As someone who lives for large sweeping hand gestures and the use of all four limbs to communicate, the transition to online teaching has been a challenge. The physical confinement to a Zoom square is draining. Even with my way-too-large blue light glasses, my eyes ache and sting after a four-block school day. Tologs, I found something to cure my screen fatigue, to lift my spirit, to re-energize me from a long day working on my laptop… I found dirt. 

Let’s go back in time. At the beginning of quarantine, I moved into a new home with a massive, unkempt, weed-filled backyard. When it became clear that we would not be returning to school for a while, I took it as an opportunity to clean it up.  

Every day after school I would go outside and pull weeds. It wasn’t very exciting at first, but after a few days, I found myself entering an almost meditative state, finding comfort in the repetition of digging, pulling and releasing. Among the rocks, earthworms and dandelions, I felt great satisfaction in doing a task that my laptop could not make any easier. With the sun on my back, the wind in my face and the dirt under my fingernails, the stiffness of sitting in my computer chair seemed to just release. I felt so free from the screen, so present! 

It’s been weeks now, and my backyard has undergone a true transformation. More importantly, I’ve found a way to cope with the challenges of excessive screen time. Now, I’m growing my own herbs and lettuces, making jam from my fruit trees and planning for a new patio.  

I encourage all of you to uncover your own version of dirt, an anti-screen to help you find balance in this most unusual school year.  

I miss you all. 


Ms. O