I believe that in life, we all have a journey; a path that we are meant to take – and sometimes that means a career change. For most of us, we don’t manage to get on that path straight away for whatever reason. Perhaps the lure of the corporate world, earning the big bucks, family… Whatever it is, I do believe, and I have experienced in my own journey, that whatever path you’re intended to be on, you will get there when it’s your time.
One of my wonderful Seed to Vase clients, the fabulous Alice Hare, is a perfect example of this.
As a child, Alice was “bathed” in nature, thanks to her father who, in her own words, has an amazing amount of knowledge about the natural world. A wealth of knowledge which has passed to her and won her many pieces of cheese on a Trivial Pursuit board over the years!
A busy career woman, with two children, two dogs and a husband in the world of Pharmacies, the career path Alice’s life followed was one set out for so many women her age: “making millions for billionaires”.
Overseeing 400 pharmacies across England and Wales with a total of 2000 staff, a few years ago Alice started watching Gardener’s World. It gave her some respite, an hour of peace at the end of the week in her busy life. Unknowingly, it started to lead her to the career change and road that she finds herself on now.
“I’ve always enjoyed doing bits in the garden,” said Alice. “So, I started planting and growing and it became a weekend hobby. I loved it and found it helped me to relax.”
One thing led to another, as it so often does when someone gets the gardening bug.
Eventually Alice found herself on my Seed to Vase course, where she really began to find herself.
After joining the students’ Facebook group, she found herself absorbing as much information as she could through the forum, tutorials, and recommended reading as she sat in “dreary hotel rooms” night after night in the name of her job. As part of the community, she learned and developed as her confidence in her creativity and abilities grew. With her own raised beds installed in the garden, she began to see the joy growing your own cut flower garden can bring, and the benefits it can have to mental health.
“Having such a high-pressure job particularly during the pandemic, where I was just sat down on Zoom calls all day was difficult. Between calls, I used to escape to the garden. I’d just go and stand outside and look at the plants and flowers and take in the fresh air. I found it really helped. I just found it so therapeutic”
And then she hit a wall.
After the busiest year of her career, Alice suffered from the plague that’s moving through many women in their 40s and 50s. She burned out. She needed a break.
“I was at the railway station in Cardiff. It was time to board the train to Swansea, and I just couldn’t do it. I needed to go home and have some time,” Alice told me.
“I just needed to stop.”
A period of convalescence in the garden followed. It was here while watching the bees play and seeing life and nature do their thing, Alice’s mind began to open. It took her to the path that perhaps she’d always been meant to be on – her career change to flower farmer. This, compounded with the burnout she was suffering led her to understand that she needed to step away from the rat race and think again.
“The week I crashed, I sat in the garden on the sofa and just looked at everything that I’d spent the last six months creating. Everything that I had produced from your Seed to Vase course was the therapy I got that week.”
“Watching the bees playing and dipping in and out of the Hollyhocks was magical. In fact, I think I spent a whole day doing that!”
Thankfully Alice began to get better quite quickly and was able to turn her attention to her new journey – the journey she’d probably always been meant to be on. A life with nature, growing flowers and offering joy.
“A friend of mine describes this as my period of rewilding,”
“I think she’s probably right -I’ve had to completely rewire my thinking.”
“My husband is a great believer in happiness being more important than money, whereas I’ve always worked in the corporate world which is all about making money and big numbers – and this path isn’t about that.”
As she continues to get well, plans for Alice’s career change to flower farming and floristry business are well underway. With an allotment and 10 beds already in the offing, Alice’s journey is now truly heading in the direction she’s always been meant to be on – and I am overjoyed!
“I have never been clearer about what I want to do and where I go,” Alice enthused as we chatted.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds but I am aware that I want to give back.”
As well as working towards creating a sustainable flower farming business that caters for weddings, events and funerals and those special occasional bouquets, Alice is incredibly aware of the therapy that her blooms brought her when she was unwell. She’s keen to share that. With years of pharmaceutical experience and a strong belief in social prescribing, she’s perfectly placed to bring that to life.
“I’d love to create somewhere people can come and just be.”
“I know that there are lots of people who have been in the same situation as me who aren’t lucky enough to have a garden or an outdoor space where they can immerse themselves in nature. I’d love to be able to allow people to just come and sit and watch the bees – as I did.”
“There’s a lot to be said for social prescribing. I would love to take more of a look at how flowers and floristry work within that context.”
“I don’t know whether it’s the floristry, the growing or just being outside that works. But something does, and I’d love to be able to help people that really need it.”
“I’d want to be able to invite people to come and play with the flowers. I’d love to be able to give back in that way.”
I am excited to see how Alice’s business and career change journey progress. There is so much in her story that resonates with me and my own journey and I am so pleased that sharing my knowledge and my own path can help change lives like this.
Since we started offering the courses and growing the communities, I have always been humbled by people’s stories. Many people find the courses and experience of growing flowers for their own enjoyment, and the pleasure of others, to be therapeutic and that’s something I am so proud of.
Like Alice, I am never happier or more content than when I am amongst the flowers and nature and am a great believer in the vast mental health benefits nature provides. I can’t wait to see where Alice’s ‘rewilding’ takes her.
This blog has been taken from Seed to Vase; How Growing Cut Flowers Inspired Lives to Bloom, my bestselling book about Seed to Vase.