Monday, 30 November 2009

Finding hope and colour through the rain

Winter brings many challenges. It is not just reduced light and worsening weather, but may be personal tragedies or stress brought on by approaching holidays. It’s hard to know how to support everyone around you whilst trying to find time and support for yourself.

I tend to fall back on the simple things within my control
• food (which normally means more soup and proper, nourishing meals),
• laughter (usually silly TV programmes and a dose of Terry Pratchett)
• sleep/resting

There is also the discipline of keeping in the present moment –
• what is going well now?
• what needs to be considered now and what can be discarded until later?
• what are my responsibilities/things I can change/influence and what belongs to others?

The other activities I find really helpful are sending out distant healing to all parties affected by a situation and my herbs.

Distant healing is such a positive activity. It helps the sender because the breathing and attunement makes them relax, dispersing the knot of worry from the solar plexus. Sending energy to an individual for their highest good is such a positive thing to do, achievable even in the most frightening or seemingly hopeless situations. It is easiest to do when you can make a few minutes of quiet either during the day or last thing before you go to sleep, but I’ve done it whilst waiting for a train, during difficult meetings, during inquests and in court when extra support for difficult situations seemed called for.

Herbs can be such generous allies. The ones I have found most useful in keeping me calm and divorcing me from other people’s distress are skullcap tincture and yarrow flower remedy. They might not work for everyone, but skullcap seems to calm the nervous jitters of anxiety and yarrow strengthens personal boundaries whilst helping to connect you with the oneness of the universe (that may sound a contradiction, but it seems to work!).

My major problem is remembering to take my medicine soon enough. Days may pass before I have the energy to start treating myself rather than other people!

Bringing joy to the senses can also help during difficult times. It might be the beauty of a raindrop hanging from a berry or nestling in a fallen leaf. Yesterday it was the fiery red of blackcurrant and pineapple sage flowers sitting on my patio. The leaves of each plant have such uplifting scents when you stroke them and their flowers are so late in the year, they bring joy just by flowering when they do.

Hope is another helpful emotion. It can often be found in strange and unusual places. For me it was in the root system of a rose geranium cutting. Nearly two months ago I took a large numbers of cuttings from rose and lemon scented geraniums in the hope they would send out roots if I left them in water for long enough. I also took some pineapple sage cuttings and some heel cuttings from the blackcurrant sage plant. Both sage cuttings rooted within a couple of weeks, but there was no sign at all from the geranium cuttings until a few days ago when I noticed one set of translucent root tendrils. Yesterday I was able to place this new plant in its own pot of compost, ready to join the others which will be given away over the holiday period.

Christmas seems to be racing towards us. I seem to have been knitting for England since the summer and everyone will be receiving a little something practical whether they want them or not!

If you are interested in Christmas recipes, I wrote a long post here. Although we’re not hosting Christmas this year, I seem to have done more preparatory cooking than ever (3 sweet potato pies, 3 walnut tarts and 3 Christmas cakes) and I’m hoping to make my first gingerbread men and ginger biscuits to go with the peanut butter cookies I usually bake.

I’ve also put together two wall calendars from photos of herbs I’ve taken during the year. If you are interested in ordering one, please email me at for more details.


Unknown said...

this is just what i needed today. i'm looking out at our first snow, and my body feels slower with the change. thank you for reminding me that i need to appreciate the time to slow down and warm myself up.

Sarah Head said...

Glad you found my comments helpful, Stephanie and that you've given yourself permission to slow down. I'm the world's worst at taking it easy so my body has started making me. At the moment my back muscles are protesting loudly - so yesterday I baked, which obviously meant I hadn't got the message, so today they protested louder and I've sat and done nothing. Maybe tomorrow they will relent and not be quite so painful!

Anonymous said...

Calming and distancing from other people's stress - exactly what I need. I think I'll go and find some dried yarrow flowers and make some tea.
Thanks...Carrie x