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Early Summer is the time of the Elderflower, those lovely frothy white flowers that festoon the hedges in late May and early June. A welcome sign that Summer has arrived, along with Swallows, House Martins and Swifts; making it hard not to wax lyrical about them! 
 
As an established part of the English countryside, Elderflowers mark the turning of the farming year, from late Spring into early Summer. They also play an important part in Celtic folklore, associated with the Flower Bride. And making it easy to see where the inspiration for all those traditional white frothy bridal dresses and bouquets came from… 
 
These days, Elderflower is usually thought of for its culinary uses. Elderflower cordial – more about this later (!) – or, for the more adventurous, Elderflower Champagne. Perhaps sprinkled over summer fruits, such as gooseberries or raspberries, or added to smoothies. 
 
However, Elderflower also has many herbal and health giving qualities, making it a valued medicinal herb. 
It always makes us smile – in a slightly rueful way, we would hasten to add (!) – when we listen to people talking about themselves. Their achievements, skills and abilities. 
 
For some reason – and perhaps it’s part of the natural English reserve / mindset – we’re just not comfortable about blowing our own trumpets. Well, if we’re going to be completely honest, most of us aren’t comfortable doing this. 
 
And, yes, of course there are always going to be exceptions to this rule – and there’s lots we could say about this (!) – but we’ll leave that one for another day... 
We’ve all experienced Concussion at some time – or times (!) – in our lives. Ranging from a light bump on the head which is quickly forgotten about; to a more serious blow followed by a few seconds of unconsciousness and, perhaps, a trip to the Casualty Department. 
 
Despite it coming in many different forms and from a huge variety of causes – and we’ve heard some very “interesting” stories of the events leading up to it, which we’ll leave to your imagination (!) – Concussion is generally considered to be a form of mild traumatic brain injury without long term effects. But is this really the case? 
Service is one of those words with a multitude of different meanings, not helped by it being used as both a noun and a verb. Doesn’t that take you back to English and Grammar lessons at school?!? 
 
Then there are its religious, military and domestic service overtones, all adding to a generally negative vibe. Hinting at hard work, duty and doing things we wouldn’t necessarily choose to do. And, probably, with – or for (!) – people we probably wouldn’t choose to spend our time with… 
 
Given all of this, it’s not surprising that service is often viewed as being rather old fashioned and belonging to a bygone era. Best consigned to the pages of history. 
 
However, this isn’t what we wanted to focus on today, but rather the more general – and voluntary (!) – aspect of service. 
A few weeks ago – goodness, it was mid February (!) – we had a look at susceptibility. Why there is no bogeyman – with your name written on them (!) – out there waiting for you. If you need a quick reminder, you can find the post here
 
As so often is the case, this has led on to various conversations with clients, friends and family about what actually determines susceptibility. In other words, the Risk Factors. The things most likely to tip the odds for you in the wrong direction. 
 
Before we go any further, there’s one very important thing to bear in mind. That we’re all completely unique. In every way. There’s never been another person exactly like us and never will be again. So, however similar we may be to another person – or people – our own particular make up, circumstances, life and medical history are unique to us. 100%. 
This week we’re taking a break from writing a blog post and, instead, sharing a very poignant poem sent to us by a client. Thank you, SW. We trust it’ll touch you as much as it did us and, perhaps, even bring a tear to your eye too… 
 
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the choice of picture, who can resist the sight of lambs at this time of year?!? 
It’s always good to have something to mull over and give the “little grey cells” a gentle workout. So, this week, we’re going to take a look at a little conundrum that’s been intriguing us in recent weeks. And that’s people’s shopping choices in the run up – and during – the current madness. 
 
Here in the UK, we’re used to milk and bread flying off the shelves at the first mention of snow. Well, let’s be honest, even at the mere thought of snow. Which, in reality, usually means a couple of inches max and the country grinding to a halt for a few days. It’s one of those unwritten traditions we’ve all learnt to expect... 
 
This is in stark contrast with a lovely comment we heard years ago from a Canadian. When asked whether she was worried about it snowing – and having to drive back to her hotel in London (!) – she said there wasn’t “proper” snow in the UK. Her definition of “snow” being that she couldn’t find her car in the morning. It certainly gives a very different perspective! 
Despite the unusually strong wind / gales we’ve had over the last few months, it’s been a mild Winter, with very few frosts. And, here in the southern part of the UK, none of the “white stuff” either (!). This means that Spring started early this year and, with Easter being well into April, it feels that Summer is just around the corner. Particularly, with the blossom in full swing and the first swallows appearing over the weekend. Hurrah! 
 
Unfortunately, another less welcome sign of Spring is also starting to make an appearance. Like many other spring flowers it’s also yellow and, for us, always signals the start of the Hayfever season. Have you guessed what it is? Oilseed rape. 
As clients and regular readers of this blog will know by now, we find the human condition endlessly fascinating. And not, as we always hasten to add, in an “OMG” way. Or any other unkind or judgemental way (!). 
 
Rather, what interests us is the myriad of different ways in which people can view the same event. And then react to it. Not surprisingly, the events of recent weeks have provided a very good example of this. And continue to do so… 
 
Interestingly, many of the responses – particularly in the early days – were those we more often see in connection with grief. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. The classic stages which many people go through, although often not in that particular order or at the time. It’s a topic we’ve covered before and our post can be found here
While we may not like to think of ourselves as animals – and herd animals at that (!) – this is exactly what human beings are. We are naturally social by nature, albeit to varying degrees and with different people (!). 
 
As a result – and however much we may not like to admit it – we’re influenced by what’s going on around us ALL the time. Whether consciously or not. 
 
Perhaps from the people around us. Whether we’re interacting with them or not. What they’re saying, doing, thinking or feeling. 
Or, may be, from a change in what’s going on in the wider world around us. 
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