Hunting For Hawthorn

I've had a crappy and stressful couple of weeks.

I found myself in a horrible situation with one of my disabled clients where their mother (self-appointed nominee) was bullying, intimidating, and abusing staff. For months I'd held my ground and remained in order to protect this client and help empower them to stand up for themselves. This client did not agree with the decisions their mum was making, and was asking the staff for help to find an independent advocate, and to run their own life.

After four months however, I'd had enough of the abuse and resigned — with a very thorough and frank assessment of the situation sent to all relevant parties. It was not received well.

The week following was blissful. You don't realise how stressful a situation can be until you are totally removed from it. But the wound hadn't been totally cauterised, and there are still loose ends that need tying up.

Abuse and bullying are really shit situations to deal with, especially in work contexts — and even more-so when the work also involves caring for disadvantaged people and the emotional component that it entails. To face such behaviour constantly for an extended period of time took a toll on my nervous system.

I needed to unwind; so we took a day trip out to the country.

It was a typical Victorian spring day: moments of sunshine and rain interspersed, with chilly cold winds blowing about. A perfect day to go traipsing through forests and gardens. My partner and I headed up towards the Mineral Springs country northwest of Melbourne. While my intention was simply to enjoy being in nature, she was hoping to forage for wild-growing herbs.

The stillness of nature was so incredibly healing; hearing the birdsong of the bush. We were greeted on the beginning of our bushwalk by a Kookaburra, sitting in a low branch at the start of our path, like a sentinel watching us. It was as if he was welcoming us into his land.

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Kookaburra Dreaming (original image)

As we continued along, a willy-wagtail chaperoned us, flitting from tree to tree ahead of us. I suggested we follow him, instead of presuming to create our own path. I figured that the spirit of the land was guiding us towards where we needed to be.

Gathering wild medicines is very different to simply ordering them online, or buying them from a shop. Firstly, you're gathering a living plant, so there is a 'freshness' to what the medicine will bring. You're also gathering from an ecological space, so it is going to be growing within a habitat surrounded my many other plants (and animals). This requires being sensitive to the surroundings: being careful where one treads, but also being mindful to not simply 'mine' the place, taking only what one needs, nothing more, nothing less.

The wren led us to a magnificent hawthorn tree growing along a small waterway. It was full of small, white blooms. This was what we had come to find.

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Hawthorn flowers (Crataegus monogyna) (original image)

My partner continued on along the way, while I stood with this tree, listening to the sounds of the water as it flowed past. As I reached out to the flowers, my hand brushed lightly against the thorns growing on the branches. It was as if the tree was reminding me about my manners.

It was setting a boundary; something I had not done very well for the last few months. In supporting this young disabled person, I had opened my heart to care for them; and it was this way that their mother had taken advantage of me, my skills and expertise, and my kindness. What had made me an excellent carer, had also made me vulnerable to being manipulated and abused.

The flowers I was looking at reminded me that keeping my heart open is important, while the spiky thorns on the branches reminded me that I also needed to protect my open heart from predators and those who wanted only to take, take, take.

I pulled my hand back from the branch, and thanked the tree for the gift of its healing.

I didn't need to pick any of its flowers; I had the medicine I needed.




 

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Nature is so therapeutic. I'm glad you're slowly healing from the stresses of the abuse.
That's an amazing photo of the kookaburra. They are such beautiful birds.

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Totally lucked it with that shot... he flew off that lower branch just as I pressed the button. I didn't think it would turn out, but it clearly did.

Felt soooooo good, even if it was a bit wet and windy. We also stopped at a waterfall, I think I just stared at it for abut 10 minutes, listening to the sound of it.

Oh wow! Great capture of a kookaburra! Hawthorn is one of my favourites. We have made haw wine before, and its spirit too has been quite significant for me, particularly when I moved to the UK. Sounds like you had a much needed day ou of the city. May there be more soon.

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It would have been nice to stay a couple of days. I think I could have done with a decent hot springs soak.

What an important lesson to keep your heart open yet protect it from would be predators who only want to take.
That must have been a very difficult desicion to make because of your concern for your client yet it seems like the right one by the amount of relief you felt upon doing it.
So happy you got a chance to be in nature and begin the healing process - thanks so the lovely hawthorn tree and the kookaburra (lovely photos!)
Thanks for sharing!

Thanks.....
.... Yeah that's a lesson I've learned before, but just keep needing those little reminders. This time, it was a reminder that I'm not crazy, I'm not making it up, this is not OK, and the way I feel is perfectly fine, and makes a lot of sense. It's an example of how some peoples' disrespect can knock me off centre and then I start to question my own values, virtues, etc.

Following the wren is something to carry with you in your heart and not just on your days off. Glad you're out of a stressful situation! The hawthorn medicine is about digesting (processing more than you wanted to swallow!) and the heart energy - circulating life force. The celtic symbolism of duality is rather apt. :)

Think about inviting more positive vibes into your client world? And bringing that peace and beauty from your day off into every day? :)

Lovely thoughts.


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Yes. There was certainly a lot about this situation that I "couldn't stomach".

Thanks for the reminder, I think I'll invite the wagtail to come and hang out with me for a bit ;-) I could use his cheekiness.

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I am so sorry to hear about what you have been dealing with these last few weeks. I understand how stressful that can be.
I absolutely love how you turned to nature for your healing and how beautifully it responded. I do miss the call of the Kookaburra, that photo is stunning. The hawthorn tree is such a powerful and magical tree. It is the tree of the heart and I love how it called on you to protect yours. In your profession you give so much, it is wise to remember to protect yourself and take the time you need. Just sitting with trees is all that we need in order to connect with them and receive their healing. The hawthorn is one of my favourites, Hawthorn really helps us to restore us, after experiencing a lot of stress and inner turmoil. I do believe this Wren was your spirit guide today and how wonderfully it guided you xxxx

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Thanks. Yep, both Kooka and Wren were hanging with me and lending me their wisdom. It was so nice to hear the sounds of the forest, rather than the traffic.


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