Blog, Inspiration

100 Wild Flowers

I have a bee in my bonnet about a new story collecting project I’d love to get people involved in.

Here’s the backstory;

I was asked to write a tribute to remember my elderly aunt, Nancy, who we sadly lost in October.  I was delighted and honoured as I love collecting and writing stories. One memory was from when Nancy changed her career from teaching primary school kids to teaching science to secondary school kids, back in the 1970s when she was in her 30’s.

She went back to University to do a science degree at University College Cork.  A major project she was assigned during her degree was to collect 100 wild flowers. I remember flower-hunting trips in which my Mother, Nancy’s sister, would drive through the Irish countryside with Nancy perched in the front seat and us kids in the back of the car.  The two of them would chat, while Nancy kept her eye out for new botanical gems to add to her collection.

Then, Nancy would spot a stunning bloom in its natural environment. “Oh, look, there’s one I haven’t got,” she’d say. Mum would look for somewhere safe to pull up the car. Nancy would skip across the road and pluck a sample for her collection.

Once home Nancy would take her flowers and place them gently between pieces of plain paper, then old newspaper and finally place several volumes of encyclopaedia atop. Weighted down by these volumes of information the flowers would dry and be preserved. After a few days, Nancy would place her dried flower samples into photograph albums, with their Latin and common names neatly handwritten underneath.

I remember the joyful chirping of Nancy and my Mother as they collected the plants.  The project led to memorable days out for us kids too. I first wrote about Nancy’s 100 wild flowers in my book The Tao of Storytelling back in 2013.

On a visit with Nancy in Jan 2014, when she was aged 84, we chatted about the 100 wild flowers collection. She told me she still had these albums but she’d forgotten about them. “I must give them to you,” she said, “they’re in the school.”

Somehow we forgot about the 100 wild flowers until October when the story came to light again as I was writing the tribute. Right now we don’t know if we’re going to be able to find the wild flowers albums. Nancy’s friends are searching for them at the secondary school where she taught science. We’re hoping to rediscover these botanical delights.

So what’s next?

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to recreate Nancy’s project with a twist and here’s where I’d love you to get involved.

I want to collect a story for each of Nancy’s 100 wild flowers. I’m looking for people who have struggled to find meaning in your work. Perhaps you’ve got burnt-out or disillusioned in your career. Maybe, like the flowers, you found yourself wilting under organisational politics or withering under volumes of information.

Eventually, you blossomed and created a life in which you’ve come alive. You might now be working with an organization or company or have created your own business. Your physical circumstances might be unchanged but maybe you see things differently.  You might have created a space for things in your life that awaken you.  Somehow, you’ve bloomed again!

If you have a personal story that resonates, I’d love to hear from you.  Alternatively, you may know someone who fits the description above and perhaps you’d kindly share this with her or him.

What happens then?

I want to have 100 conversations with people like you. Some of the conversations will be private, some will be podcast interviews, some will be on video interviews and some will be written and included in my blogs and articles.  In time, some stories will form part of a book about the journeys’ of people like you and me because this is my story too.

If you’d simply like to chat with me and share your experience so that your story can be used anonymously as research that’s fine too!  There’s no pressure for you to have your story made public but you might like to share your journey. We’ll discuss your preferences when we speak and talk about a way forward.

If you’d like to raise your hand to say “I’m interested” at this stage (no commitment to anything right now) that’d be great. I may not be able to include every story, depending on the response rate.

Please let me know your interest by responding to this post below in the comments box or you can PM me by clicking on the facebook icon on this site.