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We read blogs all the time about how to combat the blues or to enhance mental health, with access to nature being perhaps one of the top suggestions in every publication.

I have to agree that being ‘out and about’ is my personal number one mood booster, with walking Audrey on a weekend being my favourite thing to do.

When we are lucky enough to have our health we often take ‘being in nature’ for granted; for something as simple as a walk to the end of the street, a scenic bike ride or even a drive around the countryside can be enough to lift a temporary depression when you have been cooped up in the house or hospital for days, weeks and even months.

I’ve been there during hot summers when it feels like everyone is out having fun whilst I am led in bed feeling completely drained, or during the winter when pain and social anxiety are at their hardest to manage.  It’s a daily battle not to let it get you down when you feel like the world is passing you by and you forget what it feels like to hear a birds song on an afternoon stroll, to smell wildflowers on your travels or to dip your toes into the sea.

As a result this often makes said blogs and mood boosting suggestions accessible to a healthy majority, but with a very real exclusion of a struggling minority.   These publications are often only written from a viewpoint of someone who cannot appreciate the barriers to accessing nature, when you may have a chronic physical or mental health condition to consider or a limited number of daily spoons!*

Not all disabilities are visible, which means that sometimes using mobility aids or a blue badge are still not enough of a support to get someone out of the house.  Which means we have to get inventive and find ways to bring the outside in.

This got me thinking what do you do if your chronic illness stops you from accessing nature?  What on earth are you supposed to do when nature is all you crave and your preference is a natural antidepressant?

I’m a fan of the old ‘5 tips’ as it often makes an overwhelming task more manageable and means there isn’t much to sift through before finding something that works for you!

Walking Audrey through Snuff Mills today this blog idea came to me, and as a result I just had to share my top 5 tips with you all:

1 Create an Altar

On your ‘better’ days try to gather as much flora and fauna as you can from holidays, day trips or even local walks.  If you are unable to leave the house at all then ask a carer or someone else to collect items for you.

Gathering shells and pebbles from beaches, pine cones, bark and fallen leaves from the woods or even seasonal flowers and fruits from local shops are all a way of bringing the outside inside.  Creating an altar, which can be as big or as small as your surroundings will allow, is a great way to have a nature inspired focal point, a place to connect to the outdoors and invoke a temple of peace when you are stuck indoors.

Remember there is no right or wrong – create a place that is a combination of collected fresh and artificial treasures and get imaginative!  It should be a scene that evokes the thought and feeling of being in nature for you, so go with what you are drawn to in order to get the most from it.  This will be a site that you can use for meditation and Gaia connection.

2 Get wild with your decor

Decorating your room or your home with nature inspired prints, wallpapers and fabrics is another great way of feeling surrounded by nature.

Taking photos on holiday, day trips or even in your own back yard and framing them or creating scrapbooks and collages will all help to bring memories and nature to life.

You can treat yourself to some paintings or prints online that make you smile or feel as if you were amongst the scene itself.  Where possible, perhaps even get creative and paint your own wild art!

If you particularly miss travelling due to illness then get friends and loved ones to send postcards of natural wonders from around the world that you can place around your home.

3 Invite round some birds

One of the easiest ways to feel connected to nature is to witness it going about its business, freely.

Birds are fantastic to observe for they don’t take much persuading to come into your garden and can provide hours of entertainment with a perspective of the outside on rainy or difficult days.

Placing inexpensive bird feeders, baths for them to take a splash in or even adding bug hotels will send out an invite to all feathered and winged friends that you’re hosting a nature party…and they’re all invited!

There are many DIY bird, bee and bug feeding station ideas online, which can keep you further entertained and involved in helping these beauties.

4 Adopt an animal or support a wildlife charity

There are many charities out there doing great work to support the preservation of wildlife; from trees to turtles and hedgerows to hedgehogs!

Find a charity in your area or a cause that sings to your heart and support them physically on any ‘good’ days or financially from the comfort of your own home – most of them are happy with a small donation of whatever you can afford.

I joined the RSPB last year and I love getting their seasonal magazine as it is filled with beautiful photos as well as ideas of how I can encourage more birds and wildlife into my garden.  They also host The Big Garden Bird Watch each year, which is another easy way to interact with nature and runs later this month from 26th to 28th January.  You can sign up online or for a pack here

Most charities will send regular updates that include publications, photos and alike – all of which will keep you feeling connected and like you are doing your bit for nature.

5 Aroma-nature-therapy

One of the biggest stimulants of nature is the aroma’s; which if blindfolded you are likely to be able to tell whether you are by the sea or in the woods and whether it’s Spring or Winter!

Mother nature is beautiful, as are her scents.  From freshly cut grass, damp woodland, a perfumed rose garden or an earthy pine tree our natural experience is enhanced.

You can invite these smells into your home as another way of feeling like you’re amongst it.  Add this with a CD of bird song, whale calls or a guided meditation through nature and you have yourself quite the setting.

Essential oils, making your own deodorants and lotions, incense, room and aura sprays and alike are great ways to do this.  As is adding fresh flowers or scented foraged treats to your altar (step 1).

This is of course magnified if you are lucky enough to have access to a garden whereby you can create a sensory patch with clever growing and scented plant placement.

 

There are many ways in which chronic illness can still be considered when accessing nature, which is no doubt a very important tool for the Spoonie community.  This blog is aimed at sharing just some of the ways in which the physical, mental and emotional barriers can be broken down, but I appreciate that you too might have your own ways you would like to share with me.

A lot of the obstacles to accepting an illness is mind-set, and allowing ourselves to grieve for the ways in which we used to do something whilst maintaining enough positivity and hope to find new ways to replace the old.

Never stop believing that anything is possible, and please do use these tips for the days when the garden gate seems as far away as San Fran’s Golden Gate!

Yours in love and light,

 

 

*explanation of the spoon theory here

 

Sharing is caring!  Sharing my blogs, quoting my insights, and your continued support is always appreciated.  However, if you reference any of my work then please credit Honeysuckle Healing, and include links to the appropriate piece so that others may benefit from these tools too.  I work hard to ‘give back’ to my community through my free blogs and self-empowering online content.  I can only continue to meet this dedication through your respect and recognition.  Thank you

 

 

There seems to be an influx of visiting bees in our conservatory lately, and today’s guest looked like nothing short of the Queen!

I have always loved nature, preferring to be outdoors (contrary to what those around me may have to say) from a young age, but it’s really been the last few years that my love of wildlife, animals, fauna and flora has really come alive.

I think nature is sent to not only provide for us, but to lift our moods and enhance our connection and purpose, although sometimes it takes going on a deeply inward journey in order to truly appreciate it.  When you awaken the goddess within, when you hear her cries and answer her calls I think you naturally become more sentient, more empathetic and can see the way that animals and nature (when kept alive) fit into the great wheel of life, as if they were fundamental cogs in the machines workings.

For me personally, I can see that my authentic self looks like a wild woman at the core, but somewhere along the line she got lost and scared.  She became frightened of spiders, scared of mice, too afraid to pick up and talk to a rat or walk through a field of cows, and that makes me sad.  It’s only now that I am seeing such sadness in those learned behaviours as I realise that I have missed out on so much, and am having to remove these layers and get back to the essence of who I am much later in life.  Somewhat behind where I should be as a result. Everything I do to heal and connect to my higher power and inner wounds takes me ever closer to this wild woman; and she is someone I like and respect a lot more than the girl I have allowed myself to be up until now.

But the problem comes with the fact that I put a great deal of pressure on myself.  To love nature I feel I must be able to roll around in it, covered in spiders and loving the process somewhere in a remote campsite…but that’s sadly not the case!

I do love camping, but the point is I am still learning to love spiders!  With these high expectations and now the line of work I find myself in, I feel it’s somehow my duty and reputation at stake to be at one with nature…including knowing how to save every bee who comes to Bristol for some time out!

However, whilst watching this bee take what I hope is a nap in our ambient temperature glass house, I began to panic and take an unhealthy responsibility for nursing this bee back to health.  Even my Mum has faith in me that I can save the day, which only ceases to add to my own self–administered pressure!  I opted for the ‘go to’ reaction of giving it a water and sugar solution, ensuring I took my instructions from a reputable Google search such as the RSPB or Wildlife Trust, but he didn’t seem interested.  My next step is always to sit as close as I feel comfortable to do so and send this striped fella some Reiki…which has been known to help in the past.  Even Bach Rescue Remedy can help when diluted!  I sat there and channelled my inner Wild Steve England (read Steve’s Honeysuckle guest blog here) , wishing I had his skills and confidence to pick said bee up and administer the sugar water…but I realised I was scared.  I was a Rock Rose level of scared, yet I am not sure why, as I wanted to save this bee more than anything.  So why couldn’t I just ‘get over it’ and help him when my desire to do so seemed to outweigh my fear?

I left the conservatory, with the spoon within the bee’s reach and went back upstairs.  I sat there restless and began to cry.  I went back downstairs 5-10 minutes later and started the process all over again.  And this rig-moral of going back and forth to the wilting bee went on for half an hour, maybe more!  Goggle searches such as ‘how do you know if a bee is sleeping or dying’ happened, tweets to Wild Steve for advice and a lot more empathetic tears shed on behalf of the Queen all followed this exhausting process.  Until I sat there and the penny dropped…. I needed to work with Pine…AGAIN!

Pine is one of my ‘type’ remedies and the negative aspects of the remedy underpins the majority of my feelings, outlooks and interactions, and this bee served as a reminder today that I still have intricate layers of Pine to balance.  For I took the blame for this bee and sole responsibility for it’s predicament.  I somehow felt guilty for the fact that he is sleeping, resting or heaven forbid preparing himself to cross the rainbow bridge.  I was sat there beating myself up for not being able to pick him up or remove my fear to get close enough to him to help.  I felt angry with myself and stupid for not instinctively knowing what to do with him and how to save him.  After all I am a ‘healer’ right?  Therefore it’s ‘my job’ to know how to help every living and sentient being and to not fear mother nature herself.  It just didn’t sit right with me and from that one flying visit I had spiralled into a deep self-reproach and fear, all from a situation that unless I morphed into David Attenborough I don’t think I could have done much more!

But the idea for this blog came as I sat staring at the bee for the 40th time.  Berating myself for not being a good enough healer, for not understanding nature enough and only having the useless and emotional connection of an empath, a gutless empath at that!  For what good is feeling the bee and witnessing its struggles if I can’t do anything to help.  My self talk was terrible and I really heard it today.  Why on earth was I feeling as though this was my fault?  Why did I think I ‘should’ know what to do?  What was I so afraid of?  All of these questions (and more) served as gentle reminders of my next layers presenting, Pine and Rock Rose.  Perhaps this yellow and black wonder was merely sent as a sign of what I need to do next, which remedies would help me unlock my potential. Perhaps he was sent to show me how to step bravely into the ‘fear bubble’ as Ant Middleton would say.   Or perhaps he was just tired, and nothing more!

The moral of the story is that I am human.  Sometimes I don’t know what to do in situations for the best.  Sometimes I can have deep connections, but be too fearful to see them through as my own emotions take over.   And that’s what this little guy was showing me today.  My best in any given moment is my best.  It’s not my fault he was there, and whilst he may have boded better in Steve or David’s house, he was given love and attention perhaps more than he would have been somewhere else.  So that needs to be enough.  With Pine and Rock Rose, which I will now prepare in a mixing bottle to see me through this next stage of my journey, I am sure I will be better prepared for the next bee-autiful guest who stops by.

Yours in love and light,

 

 

BEE-cause I thought you would like an update: Alas, good news!  Writing this blog inspired me to go back downstairs and to try again, with more determination and trust that my loving intention could replace my fear.  I made a solution of sugar and water and added Olive Bach remedy (for tiredness) and Rescue Remedy (to give this guy back its senses) and I added it to one of my Bach mixing bottles so I could administer it to the bees mouth, one drop at a time.  Within a few seconds of doing this he came alive before my very eyes and flew off as if by magic.  Thanks for the lesson little bee, god speed!

It’s important not to give bees honey, or to use certain sugars (such as Demerara).  For more information on how to revive tired bees, you can visit ‘save the bees’ website here

 

Sharing is caring!  Sharing my blogs, quoting my insights, and your continued support is always appreciated.  However, if you reference any of my work then please credit Honeysuckle Healing, and include links to the appropriate piece so that others may benefit from these tools too.  I work hard to ‘give back’ to my community through my free blogs and self-empowering online content.  I can only continue to meet this dedication through your respect and recognition.  Thank you

Foreword by Ami Smart of Honeysuckle Healing:

This month we welcome the West-Country’s answer to Bear Grylls, Mr Steve England, or as his Twitter handle refers to him as ‘wild Steve England’.

Described through his website as an “award-winning wildlife educator, conservationist and horticulturalist from Bristol, on the Walk of Fame leading wildlife, wild food and protection”.  And I have to say after attending a few of his workshops and wild walks now, he is all of those things and not to mention a generally nice bloke!

Audrey and I first met Steve on one of his workshops last year, which looked at taking a “walk on the wild side”.  I came home with an even bigger thirst for natural knowledge and wishing I could invent some kind of machine that would steal his brain!   That’s because attending just one of his workshops will give you more hands on experience and nature connection than reading several books non-stop for a week could do!

Bristol naturalist (not to be confused with naturist!) Steve, is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to all things nature; from being able to identify an individual bird song, knowing a poisonous plant from an edible one and he is definitely the man you want around when you’re sourcing a mushroom in the forest for your tea or wanting to learn how to light a fire!  I am not saying this to inflate Steve’s ego in any way, but for anyone who has attended one of his events or even looked at his website you will know how much you take away for a very small fee!  In fact I find you even have to ‘write off’ the day when you are booked on one of Steve’s events, as his talks always run over due to his blatant and infectious enthusiasm.

As someone who is deeply passionate about the Bach remedies, it is becoming part of my flowery pilgrimage to learn as much as I can about the source of each tincture, and to witness each plant growing in the wild.  Trees in particular fascinate me and they are the very things I choose to walk amongst (and even hug) when I need grounding or answers.  That said, I was honoured when Steve accepted my invitation to be interviewed for Honeysuckle’s guest corner.  This month I have asked Steve a series of questions which are structured around some of the tree-based Bach remedies, and alongside his interview I have added a brief synopsis of why you might take the remedy in question.  I felt this was important as a lot of people don’t realise that the Bach remedies harness the energy of the plant and do not contain the plant itself.  Therefore, the medicinal benefits of consuming a plant for example will not necessarily mimic the emotional balance obtained from taking the same plant in Bach form, they almost become two separate entities and rewards for working with the same plant.    It is my hope that perhaps one day (when I have personally taken a lot more Larch) that Steve and I might be able to collaborate on our own little plant based workshop!

Thank you so much Steve for your time this month, as I know you are a busy man.

Yours in love and light,

 

 

July Guest Corner
Q&A With Steve England

‘The Teachings Of Trees’

 

BEECH

Beech is the Bach remedy for those who find it hard not to criticise the way other people act, speak or do things.  Beech’s find it difficult to tolerate other people’s idiosyncrasies and as a result may have a tendency to ‘bitch’, gossip, moan at length or may be inclined to be instinctively judgemental – guilty until proving innocent so to speak!  The remedy helps us to be more understanding and tolerant, even when perhaps our feelings are justified, as we are able to exhibit more patience and empathy towards others, learning lessons from every person we meet and every trigger.  Sourced from the Beech tree, the Bach remedy was first prepared in the countryside near Dr Bach’s home, Mount Vernon, in 1935.

What are your tips for identifying a Beech tree?

The easiest way to identify Beech is by its elongated leaf buds that are pointed, also the greyish bark of the tree helps identify it too.

What are some practical uses for Beech?

The leaves are edible in spring just as they open, having a citric “tang” to them.  A traditional use of the beech is the mast, or beech nuts, when simmered in warm water they release their oils which float to the surface and when scraped off can be used in cooking or as furniture oil. The wood is a hard wood and is traditionally used to make rifle buts, as it has a very tight grain and does not split, a good wood to burn being a hard wood burns hot and slow.

 

PINE

Pine is the remedy best known for balancing feelings of self-reproach, guilt and issues of self-worth.  It’s utilised in times when we don’t feel worthy or good enough and when we tend to take the blame for situations, even when it’s clear it’s not our fault.  Pines tend to apologise for anything that goes wrong, often feeling guilty and in affect doing everyone else’s healing for them! The Pine remedy helps us on our journey to self-forgiveness and self-acceptance, as well as brings a balanced understanding of what is and isn’t our fault or responsibility. One of my personal favourites, the Bach remedy is sourced from the Scots Pine tree and was first prepared near Sotwell in 1935.

What are your tips for identifying a Pine tree?

Pine trees are identifiable by their leaves, which are always in pairs of two needles, and they smell of pine!

What are some uses for Pine?

This is in my top two of trees that have uses! The resin is loaded with anti inflammatory, anti-fungal and bacterial agents that can have multiple uses such as a glue, and a great wound dressing.  It’s fantastic for lighting fire as the resin is flammable too. It was used as a water proofer in roman times; heated pine resin was used to line their drinking pots to make them waterproof.

You can also twist a pine cone from its tree, leave it on a heatproof dish/plate on a radiator for a natural air freshener.

ELM

Elm is the number one remedy we utilise in times of overwhELM.  This is the remedy for people who become overwhelmed when taking on additional tasks or responsibility, despite usually being able to cope.  It can be utilised for crisis of confidence, when extra pressures and demands mean that we can doubt our competency and ability to manage the task in hand.  The remedy is a great ‘stress-buster’ and restores our belief in our own strengths by helping to break down tasks into bite size pieces, restoring calm and order once again.  Taken from the Elm tree, the Bach remedy was first prepared using trees growing near Sotwell in 1935.

What are your tips for identifying an Elm tree?

To identify elm you can use multiple methods, first the leaves have jagged edges and at the point where the leaf is attached to the stem one side of the leaf is higher up the stem than the other confirming it as elm, also by its bark and seed cases.

What are some uses for Elm?

Being a hard wood it is great for carving, but the inner bark is traditionally used to make cordage and rope, not the best wood to burn as it smoulders.

SWEET CHESTNUT

Sweet Chestnut is described as the remedy for the ‘dark night of the soul’.  It’s best utilised in those times when we have reached the limit of our endurance and we are searching, praying even, for the ways to get ourselves out of these dark times.  This remedy is a saviour in times when we feel as though we can take no more, we have nothing left and no means of escape.  The remedy helps to restore our hope, to bring about light again, and to help us continue on our journey with renewed will and vision.  Sweet Chestnut was first prepared near Wallingford in 1935.

What are your tips for identifying a Sweet Chestnut tree?

To identify sweet chestnut you look for its long jagged edged leaves and also by the spiky chestnut fruits.  It can also be identified by its wood colour as sweet chestnut is very high in the wood preserver tannin, giving it a very yellow appearance.

What are some uses for Sweet Chestnut?

Traditionally used to make fencing products called “pales” another great wood for carving and being a soft wood it is great for use in lighting fires making a bow drill set from its wood.  The nuts are very edible, traditionally roasted over a fire in winter.

WILLOW

Willow is the remedy for when we find ourselves hosting our own little pity party.  When there are feelings of bitterness or resentment for the situations we find ourselves in, which make it hard for us to be accepting of other people’s success.  The Willow remedy is one of rebirth.  We become more aware of all of the things we ‘can’ do rather than the things we ‘can’t’ and we refocus our direction in a positive light rather than a negative.  It helps to bring about a steady flow of abundance through a more optimistic mindset and connection with others.

What are you tips for identifying a Willow tree?

Depending on the time of year, in spring it can be identified by its fuzzy catkins, or by the waxy bark. Some are very yellow such as the weeping willow, or look for the diamond markings on some tree bark.

What are some uses for Willow?

Willow is traditionally used in basketry; I use the branches for weaving fish traps and general baskets.  The willow sap contains salicylic acid (a key component of aspirin), which in bush craft if in pain you can simply peel the bark off a young stem and suck to give yourself an aspirin dose to relieve the pain.  The tips of the new shoots are high in concentrated auxins which is the plants growth hormone.  By cutting the stems and crushing them, then soak them in water to release the auxins into the water which can then be used as a plant hormone cutting fluid – fantastic for helping promote new growth for cuttings!

SILVER BIRCH

Not one of the Bach remedies, but a little bonus from Steve is the addition of Silver Birch.  After having tried some of it’s sap on a recent ‘plants and their uses’ workshop with Steve I can confirm it tastes lovely!  But after witnessing how much is involved with tapping it’s water in a way that ensures you leave enough for the tree, I will leave it to the expert….

What are your tips for identifying a Silver Birch?

Silver birch can be identified by its white bark.  Some have paper bark which is very flaky and easy to peel

What are some uses for Birch?

It is an amazing tree with multiple uses.  The sap in spring is drinkable and is used to make wine or syrup.  The oils in the bark are extracted to derive tar, and also the bark is used to make pots and fire.  The leaves in spring are edible and have a nutty flavour.  Being a soft wood tree, the wood makes awesome firewood that burns very hot.

 

Steve England Outdoor Learning comprises of educational material and hands-on workshops in Bristol, but Steve is also available for private bookings.  Steve shares regular videos which help those to connect to his knowledge outside of the West-Country and he has both a Twitter and Facebook page (links here in bio).  For more information on upcoming events and Steve’s work please visit his website here  

 

Sharing is caring!  Sharing my blogs, quoting my insights, and your continued support is always appreciated.  However, if you reference any of my work then please credit Honeysuckle Healing, and include links to the appropriate piece so that others may benefit from these tools too.  I work hard to ‘give back’ to my community through my free blogs and self-empowering online content.  I can only continue to meet this dedication through your respect and recognition.  Thank you

 

Legal disclaimeras always, my guests are invited to share their work with you in order to support your healing journey as a whole, by giving you empowering tips and food for thought.  I only invite guests whom I know to be insured and practising to the best of my knowledge at the time of their guest spot.  I will only welcome guests that I have personally used the services of, and have found to benefit my own individual healing journey as a result.  However, if you choose to book any treatments or use any guests services as a result of my monthly interviews, then please be aware that you act personally on this decision.  Honeysuckle Healing take no responsibility for the outcome of this decision and these guest blogs do not act as a referral or recommendation service.  Please ensure that these guests and services meet your individual requirements prior to booking.  Thank you