Writing a Memoir in Quarantine

The silver lining of quarantine for me has been that it’s given me more time to read and write. I received my MA in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University almost twenty years ago with the dream of penning a work that other people would read and feel both moved and accompanied.

Reading and writing are therapy for me. When I need someone to talk to and no one is there, I pick up books by my favorite authors or write my thoughts and I feel like I am having a deep and engaging conversation. My hope is that others feel that way when they read my words.



Since receiving an MA, life has been so full with the responsibilities of a small business owner, a mother, a teacher, a massage therapist, a doula, and a person who likes to spend time with friends and family, that I haven’t had the mind-space to dedicate to writing – until now, until COVID-19.

Ironically, when I set the intention at the beginning of 2020 to write my memoir and finish it in a year, I had no idea I would have so much time at home, alone, with my dog and my eight-year-old son. I had no idea that I would be longing for mature engagement, and that this longing would propel me to fulfill my resolution.

My memoir is about the time when my life crashed and how yoga saved me. I’m ready to tell this story because I’m down the road from it. I’m looking back at the wreck and I can see among the shards of glass, crushed metal, and bleeding hearts, that there was a meaningful life up ahead waiting for me to climb in and turn on the ignition. I couldn’t see it then but reflecting on it from where I am now feels like receiving gift boxes delivered to my door every day.



We are all going through an enormous adjustment right now in our society and in our personal and professional lives, and we are right in the middle of it. I’m sharing a few excerpts from various chapters in my memoir with you here so that you might feel like you are sitting with a friend and remember that we can get through hard times and that there is a meaningful life up ahead. Maybe that’s exactly what you need right now in quarantine. I know I do.




“Hey Sara, how are you?” she says and walks down the aisle, not waiting for an answer.

The word “Sara” echos in my mind. I stand alone in the middle of that grocery store aisle and whisper “Sara.” The name feels like a memory of someone I used to know. So much of me is gone. My judgment of myself and others, gone. My definition of success, gone. My fear of being judged, gone. Acting fine even though I’m not, gone. Fear of asking for help, gone. My appearance and my care about it, gone.  

Only the pure in me still stands, not like a tree, but like a wisp of grass, a sprig of hope.  



I call my friend, Barbara, hoping I’ll be recognizable, if not to myself, then to her. I hear her voice and sob. She is a sister. Nurturing. Non-judgmental. Wise. A woman who has been through her own descent.  

“Oh dear friend,” she says. “I love you.”  

I am Dear Friend and I am loved. That’s enough. My sobs turn into waterfalls running down the landscape of my face, over my chin, into the basin of my neck, to drain between the soft and fleshy embankments under my shirt. Trauma, of greater force than earth and stone, has turned the crevice there into a chasm. Right under a veil of flesh is the dark abyss of my broken heart.  



I reach toward the bedside table for the small vial of lavender essential oil my sister brought when she visited me a few days earlier. I place a drop on my finger and rub it across my brow, anointing myself. Its scent is layered with earth, sky, rain, and seed, the things I love, the things I trust, the signs of God.  

    “It smells good in here,” the nurse says and walks from the door to my bed.

    “It’s lavender essential oil,” I tell her. 

    “Yum, where can you buy that?” She wants to know. It’s hard for me to imagine how this woman who works in the field of “healing” doesn’t have knowledge about the power of essential oils, liquid memories of who we are and where we come from. That knowing and belonging is missing inside this sterile place. I clutch the vial and feel a tenacious gratitude, for this tiny bit of oil and for my sister who knows the comfort a small gesture can bring, transplanting inside my bones.

    “Amazon,” I say and repeat in a whisper, “Amazon.” The irony is not lost on me.




OUTDOOR and LIVE STREAM Classes with Sara VanderGoot

Yoga & Meditation Schedule

Tuesday 9am: 15 Minute Meditation on Facebook LIVE

Tuesday 6:30pm: Outdoor Flow Yoga at Madison Day School in Del Ray

Wednesday 10:45am: Outdoor Mommy & Me Get Fit After Baby at Judy Lowe Park in Del Ray

Wednesday 5pm: Deep Stretch on Facebook LIVE

Thursday 9am: 15 Minute Meditation on Facebook LIVE

Thursday 6:45pm: Prenatal Yoga on ZOOM – New 6-Week Series Starts on 9/17

Thursday 8pm: Get Fit After Baby on ZOOM – New 6-Week Series Starts on 9/17

Friday 10:45am: Outdoor Mommy & Me Get Fit After Baby at Judy Lowe Park in Del Ray

Saturday 9am: Prenatal Yoga on Facebook LIVE

Saturday 11:15am: Outdoor Slow Flow Yoga at Chinquapin Field in Alexandria


Sara is Director and Lead Instructor for the Mind the Mat 85-Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Starting September 18th! This program will be taught both via ZOOM and safely in small in-person groups depending on the subject being covered.


Mind the Mat is Offering OUTDOOR & LIVE STREAM all Summer/Fall 2020!

New Clients:
OUTDOOR NEW CLIENT DEAL: 4 Classes for $40
VIRTUAL NEW CLIENT DEAL: $20 for 1 Week Unlimited!

Existing Clients:
Outdoor Drop-in Class $22
Outdoor 5 Class Pack $95
Weekly Digital Access Pass: $29 for 1 Week Unlimited! (Auto-renew)

$89.00 for Stylebook Readers ALL AUGUST LONG!
E-mail info@mindthemat.com to grab this amazing deal now!


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co-owner, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500 | Mind the Mat
Sara VanderGoot, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500, is Co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates and Yoga and Director of Mind the Mat Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program. Sara is an experienced Registered Yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She studied Interdisciplinary Yoga with Don and Amba Stapleton in Nosara, Costa Rica and at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Sara is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Sara has been practicing massage therapy, including specialties Prenatal Massage, Postpartum Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Thai Yoga Massage, in Del Ray, Alexandria for over 15 years and a yoga instructor for 7 years. At Mind the Mat she specializes in Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Core Yoga, Mommy and Me Core Yoga, Partners Yoga, and Hot Flow Yoga. Sara frequently acts as a birth companion for many of her clients, doing massage and yoga during labor and delivery to facilitate comfort during both medicated and unmedicated births. Before becoming a massage therapist and yoga instructor, she was a lawyer in the Washington D.C. area and found that the healing practices of massage and yoga brought a balance to her life that she had been searching for.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.


3300 Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201


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