Posts Tagged With: support

My 200th post. The Hawthorn Tree

I know I posted this a couple of days ago, but I’m going to be sneaky and link this to the Weekly Photo Challenge for the topic of Spring! I think it fits quite nicely, and besides, we all need a bit of hope, so the more viewers the merrier 🙂


OK … 200 posts in in 26 months isn’t the most prolific blogging record, although considering the nightmare my life has been and the fact I did leave the scene for over a year, it’s not a bad achievement. So figured I’d better make it a decent post, as I may not make it to another hundred.

I wrote the following tale a couple of years ago, in a creative writing class, for our local MIND newsletter, and I’ve read it out loud a couple of times at our WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) group.

I noticed, when I was out on one of my little walks in the countryside, that the hedgerow branches in the shadows weren’t blooming as vigorously as the ones in the sunshine, and it got me thinking …

Feel free to share this with someone you feel may be losing hope in the cards life is dealing. I know I do on many occasions, and we all need to dig deep to find our own inner strength at times.






Near a pond, near a wood, stood a hawthorn tree. It was very tall and very grand, and it would have been considered a very Majestic hawthorn tree had there not been a small problem.


After winter was over and the ice had thawed, the tree began to grow shoots along its branches, and the shoots began to sprout leaves. As the days became warmer, the tree began to grow flower buds; hundreds and hundreds of clusters of little white flower buds tightly curled into balls. The buds waited patiently to open into pretty hawthorn blossoms. They needed plenty of sun to warm them and encourage them to open up and say hello to the world.


As the days grew longer and the winter clouds began to dissolve away, the hawthorn tree prepared itself to burst into blossom. The buds became plumper and their stalks grew longer, lifting them away from the leaves so that they could capture as much of the sun as they could when it passed by.


When the time came that the sun was warm and bright enough, the buds readied themselves to open up and blossom. They stretched their stems and followed the bright, golden orb as it made its way across the sky. But even though the day was long and the sun’s journey took it from one edge of the sky to the other, some of the buds could not see the sun. Some of the branches were facing the other way. The tree called out to the sun and asked it to send light and warmth to the other branches, but the sun said it was bound to travel along the same route every day and had no way to reach them. Even as it tried to send the warmest, brightest light to all parts of the tree, some of the branches would always remain in the shade, and the buds were never touched by the sun’s rays of life.


This continued for many years, and the tree continued to grow taller and wider and stronger. But it could never be a Majestic hawthorn tree, because there would always be a side of it that remained dark green; where the bees never visited and the insects and birds never made their homes. As spring brought warmer days, the sunny side of the hawthorn tree burst into glorious white blossoms, filling the air with heady perfumes and bringing the bees and the birds to its branches. But on the shady side of the tree, the buds remained tightly closed and were filled with sadness. They longed to be able to flourish and dance like the other blossoms, but they knew they were disadvantaged. They didn’t have the same opportunities as the blossoms on the sunny side, and they could not see how it was possible to grow when they never received any warmth or light from the sun. It had always been this way since the tree was a sapling, and they resigned themselves to believe it would always be this way in the future.


“We are doomed to stay closed,” one bud cried.

“Never to be pollinated,” wailed another.

“Never to be nested!” another called.

“Never to bloom,” sighed another.

“We may as well die,” whispered a fifth.


More buds joined the lament, until the shady side of the hawthorn tree was mourning with misery and defeat.


A voice piped up from the middle of the shady side and stopped the wailing in its tracks.

“Our side of the tree may be dark, and it may be cold and gloomy … but we did not become buds just to give up now!”

A young bud stretched its stem as the others looked on. The bud continued:

“Will you wallow in your own misery forever? You think because we live in the shade we cannot find our own light.  We may not have such an easy, warm and bright life as those on the other side of the tree, but surely, that should make us stronger! I know we can still find a way to bloom. It will just need a little more effort. We have our nutrition and we have our health, and if we try a little harder and believe in ourselves, we can blossom too! The bees will visit us and the birds will nest. We are young and strong, and I, for one, am not ready to give up yet.”

With that, in spite of the darkness and in spite of the lack of warmth, the bud pushed and pushed and pushed until … pop!  It burst open to reveal the most beautiful blossom on the tree.

The other buds on the shady side cheered his success and, from him, gained a new determination to succeed, even in the shade. They pushed and pushed, and even when it all seemed too difficult, they willed each other on to push again. Soon the shady side of the hawthorn tree was full of blossoms, spreading their heady aroma across the pond and through the woods.

The hawthorn tree was very proud. It began fluffing up its leaves, shaking its blossoms, and stretching its branches higher for the world to see. Bees and birds and insects of all species came to visit from miles around to pollinate and make their homes there. The tree no longer had a patch of dark green where blossoms should have been. It was draped in the most marvellous cloak of white flowers on every branch and every side.

It truly was a Majestic hawthorn tree.


© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]


Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

You never know ….

(Picture borrowed from

Most people of a certain age in England will remember having to study J.B. Priestley’s play “An Inspector Calls” in English class.

In short, the play is a three-act drama that focuses on a well-to-do Victorian family, and their response to a visit from a Police Inspector during the course of a single night. The Inspector is investigating the suicide of a young, working-class woman after she drank strong disinfectant. Over the course of the play, it becomes apparent that each and every member of the family had some experience with the young woman. The Inspector’s interrogation leads the audience to believe she had been fired from jobs without reason, she had been used as a mistress and rejected when she became pregnant, and she had been turned away when she had asked for help.  Each of these interactions in isolation could have been managed, but instead, each negative experience increased her feelings of rejection, humiliation, and ostracism, and caused her to eventually take her own life.

Today, as I learned only a few hours ago, is World Suicide Prevention Day , co-sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation.

An extract from the IASP website notes: . . . approximately one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. Suicide attempts and suicidal ideation are far more common; for example, the number of suicide attempts may be up to 20 times the number of deaths by suicide. It is estimated that about 5% of persons attempt suicide at least once in their life . . .

Some of you will know that I’ve been on the brink myself (I wrote about it here and here . . . oh, and I felt a bit like it here too).  Some of you will also know that I have undergone struggles with my mental health. But don’t be fooled into thinking that people with recognised mental health difficulties have the monopoly on suicidal ideation. Stressors are everywhere, and they can affect anyone of any age in any country. How we respond to those stressors and our ability to cope in stressful situations plays a large part in whether the stresses of life will eventually get the better of us.

Speaking only for myself, on the days when I have been closest to the brink, there has generally been a series of events that led to my eventual meltdown. Granted, there was probably some underlying, seemingly massive issue – financial problems and relationship struggles mainly. But it was the little, poxy, throwaway incidents that sent me over the edge . . . The “friend” who needed to “catch the [24-hour!] supermarket before it closes” for a loaf of bread, when I started to tell her how I was feeling; the cashier who wouldn’t look up at me when he handed me my change; the woman on the bus who put her bag on the seat next to her to stop me from sitting there; the mental health worker who would have been happy to talk to me, but she was on a lunch break; the shopper who grabbed all four reduced-price pizzas as I reached for one of them; and the bus driver who drove off without me, despite me banging on the door as he pulled away.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that any one of those people would have been directly responsible for my death had I subsequently succeeded in achieving it later that day. But I am suggesting that any one of them could have acted more kindly and, in the process, I may have been able to waylay the build-up of angst that was slowly spiralling out of control.

Today, I made a point of saying hello to anyone who met my gaze. It took a couple of seconds at most, and very little effort, but it was worth it to seeing the softening of an elderly lady’s face when she gave me a rather surprised smile in the cloudy dampness of the morning rush hour.

Priestley’s play brings to light the fact that each individual family member is partially responsibly for the young woman’s suicide, and the family as a collective is completely responsible for her death. And while Priestley’s primary intent was to espouse socialist objections to the inequalities of the British social class system, his message, as relayed by the Inspector is universal: “We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.”

So when you are out and about, consider your actions towards others:

Offer a smile, lend a helping hand, give up five minutes of your time, ask the unusually quiet person if they are OK, and take a moment to listen to their answer.

Be responsible.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

Categories: Alice's world, Just me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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