Herbary’s Year in Review & A Happy New Year

So, I sit by a roaring fire in candle light looking out at the dusk falling on the valley. Already the quality of light outside has changed, indicating that soon, the 12 days of Christmas will be over, the decorations back in the loft but the spring proper not yet started. I have always thought that the three weeks between twelfth night and Imbolc to be truly the darkest greyest time of the year. But for now, such thoughts do not pierce the calm and warmth of the hearth. It sets me thinking… I am now in the last few hours of 2016 – the air is pregnant with the world’s population pinning their hopes, promises, fears and dreams on a new year and a new start. What 2017 will bring is anyone’s guess… but my thoughts turn to what 2016 has brought for me. Many people say that 2016 has been some kind of a year from hell. For me, it’s certainly been a year of great change… in both my personal and professional life. I won’t go into the former, but the latter does deserve some review and consideration.

From a quiet start to the year, I got quite a wake up call when I decided to go out to the Calais jungle. The shock of actually going abroad and putting my metaphorical money where my mouth was was just the pinacle of three weeks of hard slog medicine making. That act, culminating in my trip, definitely set the scene for 2016 being radically different than the preceeding few years. It put a delimiter between old and new phases for me.

Teaching and the Fairs
The year then progressed into me busying myself with attending local mind, body, spirit fairs trying to drum up interest in what I do and the courses I run, etc. I’d imagined that these would occupy a lot of my time and they did to some degree, but the fairs dropped off from late spring. Teaching continued but seemed like a lot less effort than last year – probably because each weekend of my course didn’t require a week of me writing the learning materials! The course went well, though it started (and finished) a month late due to the lateness of the spring. Just as well as Autumn was so kind to us.

Event Medical Stuff
When I did the 5 day FREC3 course with Dave, I did it to be current on my first aid and to go to the Green Gathering. I didn’t expect to end up working for Dave almost immediately. This gave me the opportunity to go to various events I wouldn’t normally have had anything to do with, an was both a big eye opener and hugely enjoyable. I’m going to do the FREC4 in the new year so hopefully more opportunities will develop there.

Attending the Scottish Radical Herbal gathering did stretch my legs a bit, I’ll admit. I think it’s the furthest I’ve ridden in a single day, and the furthest I’ve gone for work purposes. Still not sure what the bigger picture is there, but I have made some lovely contacts as a result of going (Hi Roisin, Seamus, Nick, Edwina, Peter, and all the others I haven’t mentioned!!!).

I have definitely come a long way as a clinician. I’m a much fuller, better practitioner than I was a year ago. Working with the event medical teams has made me much more able to react to the unexpected than I was a year ago. As a herbalist, I think I’ve settled into a fuller, more mature role and form of practice that is more effective because I have concentrated on filling out my technique with what works for me and my patients and discarding preconceptions, and bits of other people’s forms of practice that don’t suit me. The unexpected need to help an acquaintance through a mental health crisis has certainly given me a crash course in holding space for those in mental turmoil!

I think I’ve come a long way on the land and in the greenhouse too… I might not have a much under the spade as I’d like, but I’ve got better at propagation – the Prunus serotina, Eucs, Roses, etc – Albizzias, which have eluded me for years.

The Autumn
But perhaps the biggest change this year was the Autumn. This autumn has been so gentle and long it has been a delight to spend countless hours bathed in warm browns, reds and yellows as the trees turned and autumn gave way to Winter. I started learning about a whole new Materia medica in its wild form – the medicinal mushrooms and fungi, turning my theoretical knowledge I started learning with Fred Gillam’s marvellous seminar last autumn into real, applied knowledge. Usually, I get a touch of SAD in October or November, but not this year… not at all.

I think I’ve written as many blog posts this autmn as I did in the blog’s existance until that point. Because I had stuff to share, stuff that is different and maybe interesting (The fungi stuff mainly), and because it’s a form of therapy – a sort of release. I promise not to neglect the blog and abandon the momentum I’ve gained in the coming year!

They say that time is ever speeding up… 2016 feels like it’s taken at least twice as long as 2015 did in terms of it’s progression. Maybe the way to have more time is to make time and do more things with it… This past year has been such a pallette of new experiences and travels (I spent 1 weekend at home in July and August, and two in September – the rest away).

So on with the next, welcome the new…

So, onwards with 2017… what will the new year bring? I haven’t the foggiest. I thought I did last year but I exceeded all expectations and have done so many new things I’m blown away by it all! All I can say is that it will be one wild, uninhibited, amazing – and totally outrageous year. Just the way I like them. I already have a few ideas, so watch this space… _            _

Categories: Reflections

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