I started writing this 24 hours after hearing about Alexei Navalny’s death on 16 February 2024. As I tried to digest the news, I was stunned and cried, and I felt furious. All at the same time.

Navalny was only 47 and had a wife, Julia, and two children (aged 15 and 23).

He returned to Russia in January 2021 after he was poisoned by Novichok in the summer of 2020 and treatment in a Berlin hospital. After leaving the Berlin hospital, he recuperated in the Black Forest near where I live and that is when I became interested in his activities. It was amazing that he survived the attack on his life. And it was surprising that he chose to return to Russia after the murder attempt - he knew he would be arrested upon arrival. navalny

So why did he do it? Why did he go back to Russia? Because (in our language) he has (HAD) a Vervain personality. This means he put his mission above his person. That mission was, initially, to expose corruption in Russia, but he grew into becoming the larger-than-life, charismatic, and eloquent leader of the opposition. His cause was, along with other members of the opposition, fighting for a free and democratic Russia. Of course Putin felt challenged and threatened, and Putin even childishly avoided mentioning Navalny’s name. Putin talked about Navalny as ‘a poor excuse for a politician’ and ‘a certain political force’. Putin called Navalny ‘the character you mentioned.’

Navalny was banned from television, from elections, charged with anything and everything and, in the end, put away in an icy prison 40 miles (about 64 km) beyond the arctic circle. During his time there he was kept in solitary confinement for 308 days, and otherwise subject to overcrowding, abuse by guards and inmates, denied access to healthcare, experienced food shortages, freezing cold, intentional and regularly interrupted sleep, and inadequate sanitation. He had to finish his meagre soup within 10 minutes or face punishment. We can barely contemplate what Navalny went through in that horrendous place. But he never fell into victimhood, he remained defiant and cheerful, at least when speaking during his multiple trials. (There must have been a degree of Agrimony here - hiding suffering behind a cheerful face.)

Navalny, the man Putin was so frightened of. In the end, only Navalny’s imprisonment (and ultimate death) was Putin’s solution to dealing with him. Now, (a few days after Navalny's death) even putting flowers down and paying tribute to him at memorials in large cities is the 'crime'. Over 400 people have been arrested for doing that. Navalny's crime was standing up to Putin. Film of mourners in Berlin and Russia. (Skip the ads.)

CNN News

I seriously wonder how Putin gets up in the morning and looks at himself in the mirror. How can one have even a scrap of self-respect with so many deaths on one’s conscience? Does he even feel? (I'm thinking of the people who have died due to his war on Ukraine war along with his murdered political opponents.)

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between Vine and Vervain. A Vervain personality has a following and can win people over for their cause with their convictions and enthusiasm. Vervain people have a heightened sense of injustice. (I'm in a Vervain state by writing this piece.)

Vine (in the negative state) is a ruthless tyrant using fear to get people to 'follow' him. I have already written about The Evil of 'Vine' in a blog piece following the start of the Ukraine war two years ago.

Support Navalny's widow, Julia, on Instagram who has pledged to continue his work.

Photo credits: Navalny in the Black Forest: dpa/Uncredited/navalny/Instagram/dpa.


The Bach flower remedies and WhatsApp

I’ve been wondering and pondering what to write on my blog. Then I realised a bit of fun might be helpful in these dark times. I guess I wrote this in an unconscious attempt to avoid the unspeakable horrors of recent news.

Many of Bach’s astute descriptions of moods and archetypical personality types show up in how we communicate and use our phones. Here we go:

Impatiens will answer you straight away with short, quick messages.

Clematis has mislaid her mobile and can‘t answer.

Vervain is sharing links about the latest demonstration in town or worthy campaigns you should sign up to.

Rock Water only looks at her phone once a day, in the evening, after her workout.

Scleranthus has several chat accounts - with WhatsApp, Signal, Facebook Messenger, X, Snapchat, Telegram and Threema. It’s all a bit unmanageable. You might have to search for her.

Chicory likes voicemail and the possibilities of staying in contact with the family. She expects a prompt answer.

Heather loves voicemail – she uses it several times a day.

Holly is wary and a little suspicious about how the companies collect your metadata. He has also switched off the two blue ticks to maintain privacy about whether he’s seen your message.

Beech is also critical of free messenger services and prefers email. And why do people have to jump to their messages all the time each time their phone makes a sound?

Hornbeam has loads of unanswered messages, so don’t expect an answer quickly.

Pine feels uncomfortable because she has an app telling her how many hours she’s been on her phone this week. It was one hour more than the week before. She's resolved to change.

I hope that made you smile :-) Any additional ideas? Please write your ideas in the comments!

Bach flower remedy Book Club meetings. The series which took place in autumn 2023 has now ended. Notes about the meetings are still online.

Bach Centre accredited continuing education courses coming up in 2024: Marketing for BFRPs and Recognising Bach's plants in Nature.

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While weighing up what to write about for my blog, I was baffled for days. So many things were happening simultaneously, and I couldn't see what my next post could be about. My emotions are all over the place which made the decision harder. Calm…fear…worry…resignation…confidence…fatalism...indifference. 

Then I realised that is precisely the topic. We’re living in extremely turbulent times with uncertainty infusing everyday life. I’m experiencing an unfamiliar vulnerability as normality and stability is threatened; the potential disruption feels very different to the pandemic threat of 2020. Sometimes I’ve taken the rescue remedy at night when sleep wouldn’t come.

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Looking forward to 2022

Some of Edward Bach’s flower remedies are for acute emotional states such as Rock Rose (panic), or shock, (Star of Bethlehem). There are remedies at the other end of the scale which are for more long-term and less dramatic states of mind. The tendency to procrastinate, (Hornbeam) or Wild Oat (uncertainty over one’s direction in life) for example. Wild Oat is a remedy that I often think of in connection with welcoming a New Year.

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I was mixing a combination for my partner recently and wondering why I had to do it for him. He wanted some remedies as he was stressed at work. But taking them was not easy for him and I wondered why. Suddenly, I realised that remedy states include reasons for not getting round to mixing them in a water glass. As my partner is (like me) a famous Impatiens person, I cautiously suggested over breakfast one morning that perhaps it‘s not straightforward for him to mix his remedies because he doesn‘t take time to do it. He immediately agreed and then corrected slightly (instantly!) to 'it takes too much time'.

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I hesitated before I wrote this piece, I was not at all sure how to write it.

The Bach Centre recommends using the ‘story-feelings-remedies‘ formula as guidance to find which remedies are appropriate in a certain situation. The story of this blog posting is shocking in its immensity. On 14. July 2021 floods in Germany of unprecedented intensity swept 181 lives away. Hundreds of houses, dozens of villages, kilometres of roads and rail tracks and bridges and very many people’s livelihoods were decimated. As of 28. July, 73 people are still unaccounted for and are officially missing, hundreds were injured.

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Studying the various Bach flower remedy plants through the years means being familiar with how they behave. We usually only think of animals as behaving (or people) but I think plants behave as well. This year, after a cold April and during a wet May I was surprised at the behaviour of the red chestnut trees around me. They were pale. They looked washed out. I could have understood if it had only been one tree here and there looking a bit ill but they all looked wrong. Usually, the red of red chestnut trees is a cheer to the eyes after a long winter, this year they looked drab. It could hardly be due to lack of water because we‘d had a lot of rain I thought. And it couldn‘t have been due to some kind of local mineral deficiency as they all looked dull, faint and faded. (Yes, I did start to feel a bit sorry for them and concerned.)

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Have you found yourself in the new pandemic now sometimes longing for the past? Those carefree pre-Corona days when we mixed with others as often as we wanted, devoid of caution? I catch myself in this mode now and again and it reminds me of the Bach flower remedy Honeysuckle. People who need Honeysuckle live in the past - when things seemed better. In a true Honeysuckle state, people can become melancholy with remorse, longing for the past that no longer is. This hinders being present in one’s life now.

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Coming out of lockdown

On the evening of 9th March, I drove to my partner‘s place 170 km away from where I live. It was an eerie drive as the roads were already empty although it was early Monday evening. The lockdown was imminent; people were scared. I stayed with Joe for 11 weeks during the lockdown. I was out in the country, worked on my thesis, occasionally went shopping, saw no one and otherwise watched how the world dealt with the pandemic.

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We are still in the roller-coaster process of adapting to how the Coronavirus pandemic, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, has ripped into our lives. Our everyday life and everything we take so for granted (took!) has been gradually, in some countries abruptly, dismantled. I’m writing this on the last day of March and the first of March already seems light years away.

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It‘s nearly two years since I‘ve written anything for this blog. As some of you will know, I went back to university, and this was the reason for discontinuing. So what has brought me out of hibernation? The answer is a) my Vervain streak combined with b) the unprecedented environmental crisis in Australia caused by widespread incineration of the landscape and property. The word „bushfires“ somehow don‘t seem to capture the immensity of the crisis; the word appears belittling to me. But I am not an Australian perhaps Australians are happy with the term.

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I'd had a vague Wild Oat state for about one and a half years, starting at the end of 2015. That meant a question about my path in life had repeatedly come to mind. I found myself thinking: 'Is that it? Is there anything else out there?' My life was moving smoothly, without stress - but there was this niggling question regarding the future that popped in and out of my thoughts. I was (superficially) content with seeing clients and giving courses, but things were not really engaging me enough, I was a bit bored and in a groove. But approaching my 60th birthday, it was clear I was not going to start a new job or something like that. I did not even bother to take the remedy Wild Oat because it was not acute, there was just this vague, intermittant question, 'is that all?!'.

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footprints in the sand bach flower remedy blog

At the end of August I moved flats. It was of course a lot of work and exhausting, but also exhilarating, for I’d found a wonderful new place. For the main move involving furniture, I’d asked around for help from strong young men and an acquaintance had suggested two refugees she’d been looking after who’d been in Freiburg for a couple of years.

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rescue 17

Until recently, my use of the crisis mixture (which Edward Bach called 'the rescue remedy'), had thankfully been confined to minor household mishaps. Sometimes I wondered how I would react in a real emergency, a bike or car accident - and with strangers. My father was extremely squeamish: the mention on TV of 'injection', 'inoculation' or BLOOD would send him scooting out of the living room, pale- faced. How would I react in an emergency, with injured people and at the sight of blood? At some point in one's life I reckoned, statistically, one would experience an emergency...

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be nice

In March this year I booked a train journey to Berlin. Three weeks prior to my travel date in July, I received an email informing me that that I should check the updated time table. I discovered that instead of having to change trains in Frankfurt and Erfurt there was now a direct connection. That was good news. Freiburg is 800km away from Berlin, it is a 6,5 hour journey.

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Sleep Bach flower remedies

Sleep. We cannot live without it. With a sleep deficit, we lose quality of life: we are tired, have less energy and motivation, our mood becomes negative and we may be over-sensitive and tend to over-react. Sleep deprivation causes stress. Everyone knows the wonderful feeling waking after a good nights sleep and the dragging feeling after a night tossing and turning.

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Walnut sign

The deeply disturbing happenings in London in past weeks stunned me. I was born in London, have family living there. So, whether it was repeated terror attacks or the horrific fire in a block of flats with numerous deaths and casualties, I was, like millions of others, overwhelmed by so much disturbing news.

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past present future Bach flower remdies

How much do we have to know about the past to understand the present?

My paternal grandfather was born in 1885. He grew up in a lost world of yesterday, prior to two devastating world wars. I was born in 1958 – he was 74 years old when I was born, I was his first grandchild. He was very present during my childhood in England but I knew little about him although he died aged 94 when I was 22. My grandfather's name was Bruno and he never talked about his past life prior to enforced emigration with his family from Czechoslovakia because he was Jewish. Nobody in the family talked about that.

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Getting Things Done GTD

I am a great fan of planning my week and reviewing the previous one. This comes from years of applying the GTD ‘Getting Things Done’ methodology of David Allen which I wholeheartedly recommend. In Bach flower terms, GTD is (among other things), about transforming Hornbeam (procrastination) states and increasing productivity without stress.

While doing GTD recently there were names of several friends on my list who I'd planned to call, but hadn't. I’d just rather sheepishly transferred them onto my to-do list for the following week. In a flash, I scanned my mind for the reasons for not contacting them and realized there are several remedy states that hinder us socializing. For me it was a combination of Oak (enjoying working a lot and long), Walter Violet (being happy alone, not having a great need for seeing others) and Olive (too tired to go out after work anyway). I am sure the strict Rock Water part of my personality got in the way too: “first work – then play”.

Other states can also hinder us going out with friends:
If someone is overwhelmed by everything (a working mum for example) and in an Elm state she won’t have the capacity to socialize. If someone is feeling gloomy and perhaps in need of Mustard, one does not feel like meeting people. The same goes for Star of Bethlehem (shock and trauma) and Sweet Chestnut states. The latter remedy is helpful in times of deep despair and anguish – that is not a time when we feel like being out and about.
Someone with a strong Beech character might not have many friends as s/he is critical of others. Not many will be up to his/her ‘standard’. I am not sure if a true Vine personality will have lots of friends either…this character is strong and self-confident in the positive state and dominant in the negative. So maybe they are only true friends with other Vine characters?

The real socializers among the remedy characters are:
-    Agrimony (the heart and soul of a party and joking about being in dire straits: socialising distracts from his or her problems)
-    Honeysuckle (copious reminiscing with school friends about old times)
-    Heather (talking keenly at people rather than with people at every opportunity)
-    Chicory (the beloved family is gathered around them, frequently, regularly)
-    Vervain (at a demonstration with hundreds of others, for a good cause).

In case you are wondering, I’ve rung everyone now and we’re meeting soon!

Next time: Breaking decades of silence, part II. Read part I here.

Read 38 short stories about the remedies in my book One Person’s Journey.

Preview the first 30 pages here.
Bach flower remedy blog

Gudrichova 41 1930s Auschnitt

Part I. Growing up in south-east England in the sixties and seventies, I was unaware of my Jewish heritage. Sure, I knew that my father originally came from a place called Czechoslovakia and I had often wondered what language his parents (my grandparents) spoke with one another. I also knew there had been a large house that had been left behind in Czechoslovakia, but more than that… not really.

I no longer recall how, but around the age of 18, I realized my father and his family had been Jews and had fled the Nazis in 1938. The part of Czechoslovakia that they had come from had previously belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that is why my grandparents spoke German. (In 1918 the Czech state was founded as the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart following World War One.)

My grandparents died in 1979 and 1980 and my father in 2005 without us ever talking about events. I never asked my father what it was like as a thirteen year old to leave his country, come to England and learn a new language. And, although my grandfather died when I was 22, I never asked him how he adapted to living in a new country aged 53. But they also never offered to tell me. It was not spoken about; only in recent years have I come to understand why.

But I have a cousin, the daughter of my father’s elder sister – and in 2015 we became pretty obsessed with understanding this unspoken past and the events shrouded in silence. Jules is one year younger than I am and her Jewish heritage had also never been mentioned.

We had some old photos of the house where her mother and my father had grown up, and we knew the name of the town they had come from: Opava. We were both sure that the house still stood. One day in January 2016, after we had decided we must visit the past and the house, I emailed several people listed on the website of Opava’s Town Hall, attaching a grainy copy of a photo of the house, asking if anyone was familiar with it and saying why we were looking for it. For weeks no answer came and then, out of the blue, a woman called Martina contacted me with photos of the house she had taken just the day before. It was a very moving moment and I was suddenly overwhelmed with tears; the past was indeed still there. I was not only touched and moved, an intense feeling of suffering overcame me. It was the deep, heart wrenching all-encompassing Sweet Chestnut suffering. Jules and I spent much time up to our planned visit in April (which Martina kindly offered to organize) simply weeping with one another on the phone. I was surprised and pretty overwhelmed about this sudden intense emotion which was not really mine; it was as if I had entered a ‘memory trace’ of indescribable anguish.

But of course, the Holocaust, the Shoah.

April 2016: After two days in Prague (more on that in a future posting…) we drove to Opava. We arrived early at the house which had been taken over by a state calibration institute. Again, tears flowed as we got out of the car and saw the house for the first time. My grandfather had finished building it in 1929; there was a sign commemorating this outside the entrance gate. The family had only spent nine years there before having to flee to England. We were shown around by very kind and friendly people now working in the house. They had often wondered who the previous owners had been as many loving details had survived the decades. The most touching object was upstairs - the dressing table my grandfather had built for his pretty young wife … it was still there. I was overcome by a sense of her sitting there, young and vibrant, looking out over the wide planes of Moravia as she prepared for her day many, many years ago. Her happiness, her contentment in the wonderful house - it was as if I could suddenly dock on to these ‘memory traces’ too.

We left feeling lighter and somehow relieved although I had fought with tears the whole afternoon and it was a exhausting experience.

jules an meAnd there the house quietly stood as I turned to look at it one last time as we left: still majestic but a little tainted and time battered. It stood there simply on its mound overlooking the area and watching us people - as it had steadily done for the last 87 years.

Read part II of Breaking Decades of Silence here.









Holly is often thought of as the remedy of choice when looking for a remedy for anger. But Holly is only for the jealous, aggressive, envious, suspicious type of anger. It is the spikey type of anger, like the plant.Holly bachblüten


There are other remedy states that include anger in the negative state, let’s take a look:


Someone in a negative Impatiens state will get angry if they are held up; they feel annoyed and tense due to impatience. I have yet to understand why men suffer from this type of anger more frequently than women while driving a car, especially at traffic lights and roundabouts ;-) Impatiens Bach flowerA Vine person can get furious if someone does not follow their orders and do what they say. I really truly know someone who says “if you did what I said, we wouldn’t have any arguements.” Huh!
vine bachblütenThe Beech state involves intolerance. So a person needing this remedy can get infuriated by the shortcomings of others, it is an indignant, sharp, annoyed, critical displeasure.Beech Bachblüten

Chicory is the state of ‘needy love’ – someone giving to their loved ones with expectations coupled to their ‘love’; their loving attention has a coercive quality. If they feel they have given much but not enough is coming back they can feel offended, a smouldering type of demonstrative, demanding exasperation.

Chicory bachblütenThe Willow anger is also smouldering, someone has been hurt and they are bitter and offended. It is the anger of resentment, but it is a quiet indignation that they swallow and may only show non-verbally.

Willow bachblütenCherry Plum is a rather extreme state, someone is so tense, they feel could explode and do something they will regret. So there might have been something that has made them furious. A small child having a paddy has a Cherry Plum state, they can be difficult to reach when they freak out.

flipping out and a dad dealing with itThe Vervain anger is fuelled by a sense of identifying with something that is wrong in their opinion. Think of the angry emotions that flow in demonstrations against nuclear weapons or war or more recently against Donald Trump. The Vervain anger is fuelled by a keen sense of justice.

Vervain Bachblüten

So, remember to think where does the anger come from? when looking for a remedy to deal with anger!

Statue of Liberty

Writing this is an attempt to digest what is happening in the USA. It is also rather difficult because, since Donald Trump has been in office, there has been a flurry of activity on his part, much of which seems to be impulsive.
But looking back, my story goes as follows: when Trump came onto the scene late 2015, I was stunned by his brash, loudmouth manner. Usually I can recognize the negative Bach Remedy states and personality traits in others quite easily, but he confused me.

Things that baffled me were his
-    obvious lack of political experience but unawareness of such
-    his confrontational and dividing approach (why?)
-    persistent use of social media
-    boasting of being able to grab women where he wants
-    overreacting if criticised

After I stopped being stunned, I took a closer look and realized that much of his behaviour points to Heather. His need to be in the limelight, the almost childish ego, his attention demanding tweets and facebook postings – this is the self-centredness and neediness of the Heather personality in the negative state. The way he does his hair - he obviously also regularly artificially tans himself - also indicate Heather.

Then I saw his striving for power and that he is not an integrating team player, but a tyrannically dominant person. If you are unaware of his role in the painful and degrading reality TV show ‘The Apprentice’ look here. Be careful, it hurts.

He is owner of approximately 500 business that he ran and, if you have not seen it, watch his overbearing communication with the CNN reporter who wanted to ask him a question.
This all points to Vine, the remedy for the self-assured who can be inflexible if someone does not obey their orders. In the positive state they can be great leaders. In the negative state they are oppressive, intolerant people using force to get what they want. In the very negative state they are tyrannical dictators.

His critical intolerance and lack of empathy and understanding of others makes me think of Beech.

But I was looking for a bigger story and I asked myself what do I really pick up from him? I saw his lack of authenticity and sincerity, he is not a genuine person. His non-verbal communication is excessively expressive. This made me think of Agrimony, the remedy for people hiding their problems, troubles and hurt behind a smiling façade. Is Trump wearing a mask? If so, what might he be hiding behind it?

The penny dropped in my mind when actress Meryl Streep spoke about his bullying a journalist with a debilitating health condition during Golden Globe awards in January 2017. That predictably led Trump to hit back saying Streep was one of the most overrated actresses and justifying himself. There is a clip of the situation in question if you have not seen it. It is very clear and yes, he was being very nasty.

So he was furious again, but about what? That he had been criticised? That must be part of it but as I started to see the larger picture, I realised Trump might actually be a very, very hurt person. The anger that so easily comes out (he is amazingly easily riled) might have something to do with not feeling accepted and acknowledged by people he would like to be accepted and acknowledged by. This is hateful revenge; hitting back is the aggressive negative Holly state. It is also known that bullies bully others to detract from their own discomfort and inner hurt.

If I am right here, then this points not only to the anger of Holly but also the smouldering hurt resentfulness of Willow. Perhaps Trump covers anger and hurt with an easily penetrated layer of Agrimony?

Everyone needs to be seen and to feel respected. What might happen if something goes wrong in this area? If someone from an early age repeatedly feels hurt and “not ok”? Especially for those with a strong need for confirmation, (which a Heather person will have), if they don’t get what their narcissistic ego needs, their ego will become warped as it fights to get the recognition that it longs for. I believe that Donald Trump has an extreme Heather and Vine personality but is also very hurt inside. I think this anger is his driving force. He is striving for confirmation and recognition and, by becoming President, that need might superficially be satisfied.

To round this up, Trump is also self-declared “germaphobe” who dislikes shaking hands. So I thought of Crab Apple too.

His appeal to voters must come from others with a similar “hurt” and their identifying with him. People who feel left out and hard done by, who feel life is unfair and that they have become victims of Washington politics.

I could advise you via Skype if you would like Mr President. Taking the remedies would help become less thin skinned. They would reduce your self-centeredness. They would support you on a healing journey of introspection. The remedies would make you more aware, less reactive and angry and, above all, more presidential, the positive leader you obviously so long to be. And perhaps you would find just a little peace of mind and would not have to mess up the world while you are proving yourself.

Agrimony Sun method

Bach flower remedies hospice work

The saddest day of a friendship must be the day when you see your friend the last time because she is going to die soon. I saw Caroline the last time on a blustery October day last year; she was in the final stages of cancer.

Her husband showed me in, greeting me with a quiet “thanks for coming” and led me to her room. She had asked for another remedy mixture. Caroline lay in her bed, shrunken and small as a little bird. She regarded me with big clear, bright eyes. She was happy to see me and I gave her a hug, sat down as close as I could and took her hand. It was fragile and warm but it felt empty and lifeless because it was no longer being used to do things.

Looking around, I commented on the row of postcards on the wall next to her, spiritual leaders who were comforting and accompanying her on the final journey. She explained in a thin voice who is who. She had been involved in Buddhism for many years.

I gave her the little present I had bought with me: postcards of flowers. She studied them, relishing the bright colours.

“You are not in pain, are you?” I ventured.
“No, but I can’t keep my food down anymore,” she responded. “But I am still drinking; otherwise there is danger of dying of dehydration.”
“And how are you being looked after? Does your GP come in?”
“He comes in when necessary, apart from that, a carer comes in regularly. She thinks it could only be a matter of days…”
“And what’s your feeling?” I asked cautiously, thinking she is much too lucid and present to go soon.
“Not yet, I like living too much…” she answered wryly.
I said how impressed I was and how brave I thought she was. She said the praise did her good.
She seemed more surprised than anything that this was happening to her.

“You seem to be doing a lot of surrendering…”
“Surrendering” and then she added, thoughtfully, “and letting go.”
“Letting go of the children?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s the most difficult.”
“And what about Richard?” he was her husband.
“No, that is ok,” she said.
I asked if she was bored because she could no longer be up.
“It is so very boring and the waiting –“ her voice trailed off.

“But I have finished my book about my illness,” she said after a little quiet between us. I congratulated her. “But I am not happy about the title. I offered a few words that came to my mind. She considered, pleased. “Light,” she said quietly, “that sounds good, that word must be part of the title.” We chatted for a while about books, writing and literature being a passion that we shared; she had five books on the market. She wanted to give one of her books, signed, to my oldest daughter. I helped her sit up and with a shaky hand, she wrote a dedication. She was obviously very disconcerted by her unstable writing and her failing hand. How something belonging to everyday life and previously easily done was now connected with effort. The slipping away of normality.

I reached to my Bach remedy set that I had with me. I did not want to stay too long and tire her.
“You are not frightened anymore, are you?” I asked. There was definitely a change in outlook since the last time I had seen her three weeks ago.
“No, I took the Mimulus that you left me after your last visit.” I had left her a stock bottle to be used directly when needed along with her mixture.
Gently I said, “and what about your niceness?” She was a Centuary person and we had often spoken about her type remedy in the past.
“I am improving” she said wryly. “Mostly it is about not feeling guilty and accepting the situation.”
“Do you drift away often? Do you sleep a lot?” I asked.
“Yes, and the exhaustion… cancer is so very exhausting.”

I took out the little bottles and explained which remedies I was adding to her beaker.
“Walnut is the remedy for a new phase in life, it helps us adapt and not be influenced by those around us.” I paused to make sure she understood how I meant it. I saw she did.
“Red Chestnut will help you not worry about the children.” I paused again.
“Olive is for the exhaustion, and Pine to help you not feel guilty.” Another short pause.
“Willow we have had in the mixture all along. It helps us accept fate and not feel a victim.
Centaury is your personality remedy, as you know.” I gave her a little wink. She smiled.
“And Clematis is for the drifting away, the sleepiness.”
There was no question of any remedies like Sweet Chestnut, (for great anguish) Gorse (for hopelessness) or Wild Rose (for resignation). Here was a gentle soul whose time had come and was travelling the most difficult journey we all have to take with dignity and calm.

She called for Richard. Caroline wanted to make a donation to the refugee that she knew I was looking after. I showed a her photo of Ayana that I had on my mobile phone and told Caroline briefly about her journey across the Mediterranean with 400 other people, how a woman had given birth on the boat. Ayana had fled from Eritrea. When Richard came into the room, her youngest daughter came in at the same time to give her mother a pill. Caroline said she wanted to donate a bit more because Ayana was pretty.
Tut-tutting, her daughter said, “She gets more money because she is pretty?”
Caroline said, decisively, “no, because she has had a tough time and anyway, she who is dying can say what she wants!” I smiled at Caroline’s quick wit.

The daughter whom I had known for twenty years left the room. I told Caroline and Richard that I was working out of town the following week but I’d ring when I got back. “Bring me some fresh air with you,” she said cheerily, but not very convincingly. The words hung awkwardly between us, as we all knew she might no longer be alive when I returned.
I gave her a hug, said goodbye and left.

Standing outside, I looked up into the pale blue sky, and saw some birds circling up high. I saw the distant mountains of the Black Forest and felt the autumn breeze on my face. I heard some leaves rustle. My very aliveness suddenly felt very uncomfortable.

And as I drove away deep sadness overcame me.




Bach flower remedy blog at HeathrowThis happened on the way back to Gemany after a visit to the Bach Centre in May 2015. I am sure I was more sensitive to the happenings because of the place I had just visited. I had arrived early at the airport and was just sitting and feeling the hum of Heathrow, simply watching. Something of a luxury these days I think.

After a while, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a man walking very slowly in my direction. He was not old but he nevertheless walked with a stoop. At one point he just stopped and stood for a while. When he moved on again, it was obvious that he was in pain and maybe for that reason, perhaps also on medication. He came in my direction and laboriously sat down at the internet terminal near where I was sitting. He was of Indian or Pakistani descent. He took several seconds to do this due to his discomfort. I could see over his shoulder that he logged into Facebook. After several minutes he put his head on his hands and rested, maybe he slept. He had no luggage with him. I felt perturbed and uncomfortable. Here was someone in a close up Red Chestnutpoor state but I did not feel courageous enough to ask if I could help him. What could I do anyway?

After about ten minutes, an airport pastor walked by and spontaneously I jumped up and said, signalling in the man’s direction, “I think there is someone here who needs help.” The pastor disengaged from the person he was with and went up to the man. Crouching down low, he gently asked if everything was alright. The man raised his head a little and said he was just tired. The pastor hesitated, assessed the situation again, and with a non-demanding voice asked politely about travel arrangements and if he could see his documents. The man said he had flown from Paris two days ago to see his sister in London. Taking his time, choosing his words, the airport pastor commented that had no luggage with him, and, quietly joking, asked, “didn't your sister mind?”

The man answered wearily, “she knows about my condition.”

I could hear something about a degenerative back condition. Again came a gentle question: “if you don't mind me saying so sir, you give the impression as looking as if you're in need of medical assistance, is there anything I can do for you?” The unobtrusiveness, the caring, the sensitivity and at the same time the professional clarity, was stunning.

“Have you taken your medication? Have you had breakfast?”

“No” came the quiet answer.

“Have you got any money with you?”

Again I could hear “no” as an answer. Moved, with tears stinging my eyes, I reached into my purse and took out a note and offered it to the pastor whose face lit up with a smile as I offered the money. The pastor helped the man up and they slowly went off together to find some breakfast.

About an hour later, my path crossed that of the pastor and I spoke to him. I told him how his way of dealing with the situation had deeply impressed and moved me. He said, “I think there was more to it that met the eye, but sometimes there is nothing more you can do.” I understood. The thought passed through my mind that here was a positive Red Chestnut person who had found his vocation. Perhaps the place was unusual – Heathrow airport – but the place does not matter, does it?


From the Bach Centre website: Red Chestnut in the positive state “helps us send out calm, unworried thoughts to our loved ones, so that instead of making everyone anxious we are rocks on whom others lean.”

Bach essence Red ChestnutDr. Bach’s description of the negative state:

For those who find it difficult not to be anxious for other people. Often they have ceased to worry about themselves, but for those of whom they are fond they may suffer much, frequently anticipating that some unfortunate thing may happen to them.

Bach flower remedy blog

In January 2015 road works started at the top of the street I work in. New water pipes had to be laid. This meant pneumatic-drill and digging noise with large, loud machines. I was immediately worried when I saw the building site as I knew it would creep up to my consultation room which is at the front of the house. As week for week the workers with their heavy machines and deafening noise approached, I feared losing work and clients; it was quite obvious to me that I would not be able to work while they were doing the road in front of where I work.

My apprehension was simple: I am self-employed and I thought “no work, no money”. I envisaged at least three weeks of disturbance, disruption and having to cancel clients at short notice. Looking round for a solution, I asked colleagues if I could have some time at their place. But it was difficult to say when I would come; planning was not possible even though I talked to the road workers. They could not say when they would reach my part of the road. I bravely took Mimulus for my concerns of losing work and clients adding Aspen because there was this apprehensive, diffuse aspect to my worry. I also dosed myself with White Mimulus flowersChestnut as I kept thinking about the situation and could not get it off my mind.

Time passed, springtime came and then suddenly, one morning after Easter, the five sturdy workers were in front of the house with all their machinery, tools and equipment, ready to demolish the asphalt. I decided on a whim (or as a result of taking the remedies) to go day by day and see what happens.

Fertilised aspen flowersDuring the first week, amazingly, all was quiet when I was there. Once, when the final words in a Bach consultation had been spoken, a pneumatic drill started up, shaking the house violently in its foundations. It was like a dramatic symbolic message, loud and clear, underpinning what had just been said. My client and I burst out laughing. During the second week, arriving once at midday, I asked the workers if they could please now take a lunch break as I had a client. They happily and good naturedly complied. And during the third week as well, there was never once a disturbance for me and my clients while the road was being done.

I came to see that when I was there, regardless of the time of day, (which varied considerably) it was always quiet. I decided I had a building site Guardian Angel that was unobtrusively coordinating the workers activities when I was around.

White chestnut flowers pretty close upThis experience, initially of my anxiety and then the unproblematic consequences of the road works made me again realise how often the mind jumps to conclusions. That is, at least my mind often does that. I had had no trust. The unproblematic outcome was rather uncanny but also a big “don’t jump to conclusions” lesson to me.

Bach flower remedy blog letting go
A client asked me recently "what is the remedy for letting go?" Of course, there is no one single remedy, but it got me thinking on this topic: I mused that our present state of mind has been formed by past conditionings and prefers the familiar to the unfamiliar. Additionally, we inherit personality traits from our parents. That is why we have emotional habits; we are “programmed” through both experience and genetics. We can often observe (usually more easily in others that ourselves), that people repeatedly behave in ways that are not beneficial, and we may wonder why they do not break the habit. Taking the remedies raises our awareness of these habits and paves the way for change: For how can we change and let go of something we are not aware of?

Here is a non-exhaustive list, briefly described and in no particular Agrimony flowersorder, of emotional habits we can let go of with the help of the remedies:

- let go of of the fear of showing how one really feels with Agrimony
- shame and guilt can be released with Pine
- strong convictions coupled with the drive to share with others can melt with Vervain

Vervain flowers
- self-righteousness and dominance habits can be let go of with the help of Vine
- specific fears can be let go of with the help of Mimulus

- let go of repetitive and troubling thoughts with White Chestnut

- rigidity and excessive self-discipline can be let go of with Rock Water
- let go of habitual haste with the help of Impatiens
- let go of feeling hurt, bitter or offended with the help of Willow
- apathy and resignation can be let go of with Wild Rose
- let go of worry about loved ones with the help of Red Chestnut

Oak flowers- let go of excessive work and a sense of duty with the help of Oak
- discouragement after a set back can be let go of with the help of Gentian
- let go of loved ones and expectations from them with the help of Chicory
- the past and memories can be let go of with the help of Honeysuckle
- let go of the habit of being critical and intolerant with Beech

Writing this has reminded me of one of my favourite quotes from Edward Bach: “Possibly the greatest lesson of life is to learn freedom. Freedom from circumstance, environment, other personalities and most of all from ourselves…” (I know I have already posted this quote in the entry about his philosophy... I am a fan.) And it has also reminded me of how much stuff we carry with us that we can let go of....

I do not think that acute emotional reactions like Sweet Chestnut (extreme anguish and emotional pain), the shock and trauma of the Star of Bethlehem state, the panic and terror of Rock Rose or the intense state of fear that Cherry Plum has - of doing something terrible - are states we can "just let go" - I think these have to heal with time and/or circumstance.

Would love to hear from you via a comment, your e-mail will of course not appear! Scroll up to find where to comment.

Chicory 2016 3

Have you ever sulked because someone close to you has not reacted how you think they should have and you felt offended and hurt? I mean, you really did a lot for them, you love them very much and now they are not giving anything in return. This behaviour is also called going into a huff. I like that expression. The Thesaurus tells me that the origin of this word is mid-15th century from the sound of breathing out, expiring with indignation. The negative Chicory state is about caring and loving people one is close to but getting uptight if “not enough” comes back in return. You have been attentive and now you expect some reciprocation. If that does not turn up, one might become demonstrative – to get the message home. There is an implicit deal: I have done something for you, now you have to do something for me, or at least be nice to me, “love” me. It is the opposite of unconditional love, and I guess we all do it at one level or another. Someone in a negative Chicory state can also be over-anxious and interfering in that s/he has plenty of ideas what could be better for the “loved one.” 

Chic 2016 1

One of the first things a child does instinctively in its life is cry to get the attention of its mother and the message is FEED ME! She will usually then nurse the child and at the same time, love and care for it. This is of course, normal behaviour. However, this interaction pattern has to modify if emotional balance is to develop as the child matures. We all know kids who cry to get what they want from their parents, this is when the “Chicory mode” becomes demanding and coercive: Have you ever waited in a supermarket queue watching a child pressurizing a parent by having a screaming fit because the mum or dad won’t buy the sweets they want? Always makes me feel uncomfortable when I see that scene. (And the supermarkets do intentionally place sweets at children’s eye level, reckoning with this kind of behaviour.)

Transforming a negative Chicory state means comprehending that real love interaction with those close to us means giving without any strings attached. In a positive Chicory state we lose our neediness and then it is no longer necessary to act with emotional blackmail, or to be huffy. One gives without expecting anything in return, allowing the loved person become totally free. The positive Chicory person spreads selfless security, genuine love, kindness and warmth with no restrictions. And I suppose getting there (just for a few moments) is a life long task ;-)

Edward Bach has the following words to say on this topic: “If we but sufficiently develop the quality of losing ourselves in the love and care of those around us, enjoying the glorious adventure of gaining knowledge and helping others, our personal griefs and sufferings rapidly come to an end. It is the great ultimate aim: the losing of our own interests in the service of humanity.”

 Chic 2016

Read previous blog postings via links on the right or scrolling down!

emotional baggage bach flower remediesEmotional baggage is a metaphorical term implying a "load" that people carry with them. It means that negative feelings we have not let go of are affecting present behaviour and mindsets. That can be the pain of disappointment or rejection, trauma, any kinds of distressing previous experiences and their memories. Emotional baggage comes to the fore in relationships and is often rooted in childhood. This is where the beauty of the Bach remedies comes in. Using them, we ask “how do I feel?" Honest answers will uncover emotional baggage and lead to resolving it, for we alone carry our baggage, no one else. And we alone can let it go.
Here are five remedies, briefly described, that came to mind while I was thinking about this topic. Certainly, there are more and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Pine emotional baggage- Someone who carries a state of shame and guilt with themselves has a Pine state.There have been shocking revelations about child abuse in the Church recently. Many victims kept quiet for years and the abuse must have had a major effect on their ability to have happy and satisfying personal relationships. One gets an inkling of what kind of trauma and "emotional baggage" the victims must have carried (and perhaps still carry). Pine helps get over shameful, guilty, self-reproachful feelings. Photo: the flowers of the pine tree, Pinus sylvestris

Red Chestnut bachblüten- A child who has lost a parent during childhood may carry a continual fear throughout their life about others they are close to - their children, partners, the remaining parent - that something may also happen to these people too. Red Chestnut helps us relax and develop trust that everyone has their own journey in life and that we can only influence it to a certain extent. We have calm thoughts towards loved ones in a positive Red Chestnut state, not worried ones. Photo: the flowers of the red chestnut tree, Aesculus x carnea

Willow bachblüten- Many people carry a lifelong resentment towards their parents. In the negative Willow state one feels one is a victim and it is their parents fault that one has problems, feels bitter and resentful. (And no, I guess no one has perfect parents, and no one is a perfect parent either!) Willow helps heal, forgive and forget and develop a mature, constructive relationship with parents. Photo: flowers of the willow tree, Salix vitellina

water violet emotional baggage- Some children learn to withdraw early in life if their parents or teachers are critical, dismissive or aggressive. Later in life a person who has not learnt to talk about their feelings might clam up when difficulties arise. Which in turn creates more difficulties. This is the negative Water Violet state and it makes us feel protected in isolation; others cannot reach or hurt us. It is the remedy of choice if one withdraws in emotionally challenging situations, resisting others getting close to us. Water Violet helps reduce aloneness and nourishes the ability to connect with others. Photo: the flowers of the water violet herb, Hottonia palustris

Agrimony 2016 2

- Another pattern that can develop in childhood when a young person is repeatedly confronted with critical comments or aggression from attachment figures is the habit of brushing over difficulties. One learns to make small of problems, humouring those around with false cheeriness, avoiding the real issues because it hurts too much. This strategy leads to lack of authenticity and estrangement from one's true self. Agrimony is the remedy of choice if this kind of habit has developed. It helps us become the person we really are. Photo: the flowers of agrimony, Agrimonia europaea

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Nicola's blog

'One Person's Journey' available as an ebook.

Further training course for practitioners:

Sept. 2024: BC-ACE workshop Mindful communication

Previous blog postings:

- Navalny, Vervain personified

- My phone, my habits!

- Sheer bloodymindesness

- Everything is connected

- Worry

- The evil of 'Vine'

- Finding meaning in life

- Corona - again

- Deadly floods

- A red chestnut discovery

- Impatiens broke my arm

- Goodbye 2020

- Magic

- Coming out of lockdown

- When normality slips away

- Our house is on fire

- The Elm bottle breaks

- When nearly everything changes

- Our social lives and genes

- Two refugees

- A nasty accident

- Friendliness

- Sleep

- Panic

- Someone mad with you?

- Breaking decades of silence (II)

- Who is not socialising and why?

- Breaking decades of silence (I)

- Who gets angry and why?

- Hey, Mr President!

- The saddest day

- Life is full of stories

- At Heathrow

- Building site Guardian Angel

- Letting go

- Specifically Chicory

- The Travellers - a fun piece!

- Emotional baggage

- A wild bird and the rescue remedy

- The garden at Mt.Vernon

- Inside Mt. Vernon

- Brightwell-cum-Sotwell

- Edward Bach's philosophy

Nicola Hanefeld 15My name is Nicola Hanefeld, I am English but I've lived in the Black Forest area in Freiburg, Germany, since 1981. I was a biology teacher before I left England. I have been a BFRP since 1997 and am also a trainer for Bach Centre approved courses. I have three wonderful children, all grown up now and am blessed with three grand-children. I'm a member of Greenpeace and am also a teacher of the Alexander Technique.

Alongside the Bach flowers, photography is one of my passions. Follow me on Instagram where I share my photos. Another passion is writing, and you will find many stories relating to my experiences with Edward Bach's amazing remedies in my book One Person's Journey.





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