For Those Who Are Afraid to Put Down Roots

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

Bloom Where You Are Planted for ESL Learners

“Bloom where you’re planted.”

This quote is often attributed to the Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622).

Perhaps you've heard it before.

Imagine a child who blows dandelion seeds into the wind. One seed falls to the earth. It doesn’t have a choice where it lands, but it knows that it must grow tall or not grow at all.

So what does this mean for us? My interpretation is this:

Wherever you find yourself, it’s your responsibility to make it your home.

What do I mean by home?

  • Home is a place where you have people who will love and support you.

  • Home is where you can practice your hobbies and explore your interests.

  • Home is you can be a part of a community that respects and appreciates you.

  • Home is where you can feel safe.

My "Bloom" Story

When I moved to Houston in December of 2003, I'll be honest, it was the last city that I wanted to move to. I was a San Diego girl, or an Austin girl, or a Denver, Colorado girl.


There were no hills or mountains for hundreds of miles. It was incredibly hot and muggy for half of the year. The mosquitoes were bigger than I was.

Houston was not where I envisioned myself living. But I had followed my significant other here, and he had no plans to move away from Houston because Houston was home to NASA, his employer.

Working for NASA had been his dream since he was a little boy drawing Space Shuttles on construction paper.

I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to be with the man that I loved; I had to bloom where I was planted. And, it has been hard. Notice my use of the present perfect tense. It was hard in the past, and sometimes it is still hard today.

I know that I have one advantage: I speak English, so I don’t have that hurdle to overcome. But I still feel like a fish out of water sometimes. I’m not from Texas, and you might have noticed (if you have lived in Texas) that it’s practically its own country with its own culture and “vibe.”

Despite that, I like to think that I have bloomed where I was planted. I have some amazing friends now from all over the world. I have a family that includes my husband, daughter, and a myriad collection of animals (animals help me to feel grounded, just like a flower needs to be grounded).

I have learned to enjoy the flatness of Houston—its bayous, streams, and the ocean that is just a few blocks away from my home.

Our Houston Beach

Photo credit: Hussain Hijazi

Watching Others Bloom Too

I have a small business that allows me to do what I love. In this business, I have had the opportunity to see clients (many, like me, who came to Houston because of their spouses) bloom where they were planted.

Some have become entrepreneurs building small business based on their hobbies. Some have started entirely new careers here in Houston—careers that they would have never considered in their home country but careers that are very satisfying and challenging nonetheless.

I have also watched ESL clients who moved here to improve their English and go to school become active members of the community, joining groups and clubs that I’m even too nervous to join (like my two clients who joined Toastmasters!).

The Struggle is Real

I know that it hasn’t always been easy for them. I have talked to some of them about the times they experienced homesickness and the times when they wanted to give up. But every single one of them has remained here to bloom. Watching these remarkable people has been incredibly inspiring to me.

Sometimes it is easy to fantasize about running away to a new place or running back home. But there is another choice for those of you who are reluctant to put down roots where you are right now: You can choose to make your current location your home, maybe not forever but for now. For now, you can bloom where you’re planted.

You can seek out people who will love and support you.

You can practice your hobbies and explore your interests.

You can be a part of a community that respects and appreciates you.

You can feel safe.

I believe with all my heart that these things can be available to you.

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