Burnout and the Clinical Herbalist
One day during the winter of 2010 I went to my beloved Misty Meadows to prepare to see the day’s clients. As I sat quietly in my treatment room going over the files of the follow up clients, I realized something critical. I had lost the joy that for so many years had filled me each time I prepared for an appointment, that deep sense that I could truly help people find their health.
I sat thinking to myself, “If I have to hear one more person tell me they weren’t able to follow their treatment protocol for some stupid reason, or that preparing wholesome meals is just too much work, I swear I’m just going to walk out and leave them sitting there! Why won’t people realize they are responsible for their healing, not me!” In that instant I knew that I was suffering from burnout!
But how could this happen to a person who loves her work, who has been passionate about it, loved every minute of it for more than twenty one years? I don’t know, but I was definitely in no condition to be seeing clients – so I stopped. On March 1, I informed my staff that I would not be taking on any new clients and that as of April 1 I would no longer see any clients; I’d be taking a client sabbatical for at least six months. They were all shocked, but did their best to understand as I shared with them my awareness. That six month sabbatical turned out to be two years.
It occurred to me that I had been teaching herbal apprentices for almost seventeen years with the intention that many of them would become practitioners and teachers; and now, here I was, faced with the challenge of allowing that vision to become reality at Misty Meadows. So, on April 1, Sara Kender took over my herbal practice, with the excitement, joy, gratitude and eagerness that I recognized from so many years before.
As spring became warmer and the gardens beckoned, I realized that I was becoming joyful again; and that the longer I didn’t practice the more joyful, peaceful and happy I was growing. Over the next two years I mentored Sarah and she grew as a practitioner. I studied Karuna Reiki in Glastonbury, England, played in my own garden, walked in the woods, spent more time with my husband, taking delicious picnics up and down the Lamprey River, went to the International Herb Symposium, enjoyed my grandchildren more…….yes, I was definitely regrouping, rebalancing, “gathering my red stones” – a story for another time.
I share this part of my story with you in hopes that other practitioners might learn from my experience. Take more time off, rest more, play more, sing, dance, drum, meditate and pray more, get out in nature and put your full body down on Mother Earth - regularly!