Life Is Like The Tides

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If your life is fabulous,
be grateful.
If your life is difficult,
be grateful.
Life is like the tides,
everything moves & changes.

*

Whatever you are experiencing right now, know that it is only a matter of time before it passes.

If life is going well, grab it with both hands and enjoy every minute, being appreciative and grateful for all that is in your life.  If you are going through trials, do your best to hold on and, in the midst of whatever you’re dealing with, look around for things to be grateful for … this not only helps you to keep your equilibrium during challenges, but seeing the ways in which we are blessed always helps to lift our spirits, even if our circumstances are doing all in their power to grind us down.

No matter what you are experiencing right now, know that “this too shall pass” and it is our attitude to the moment that creates our reality, as well as determining the harvest later on.  Gratitude ought to always be the first port of call, in any situation, as it is the safest. Tides may rise, and tides may fall, and tides may bless us … but they will change. All that is left after a tide is what remains on the beach … our attitude during the tide is key to the picture we shall witness afterwards.

Be mindful, whatever the situation you’re living, and always find ways to be grateful.

When your life is fabulous, that is the perfect time to show appreciation, as well as to sow into the lives of others, and to appreciate within yourself the moment that you have now … these are the blessings for later, these are the areas that you will need to draw strength from when the tides get higher.

“We reap what we sow” and as the tides come in, so out they will go.

 

If your life is fabulous,
be grateful.
If your life is difficult,
be grateful.
Life is like the tides,
everything moves & changes.

*

 

 

 

In mindfulness,

Holly x

 

 


WordPress Prompt:
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/flavorful/

 

Plants For Air Quality

With a certain amount of excitement on his part, and some natural trepidation shared, I delivered my son to university at the weekend – packed, prepped and ready to start his journey within the new academic arena of his choice.

We arrived … only to discover that my son’s allocated hall of residence had just been refurbished. The smell of paint in the stairwell was cloying. The smell of brandnew carpet and MDF furniture in his bedroom stuck in my throat and I felt it everywhere. The knowledge of the air pollution and indoor toxins burnt in my brain, but I refused to panic.

It was impossible to get the bedroom window open wide enough to freshen the air – my son figured out how to free it substantially, 24 hours later, thank heavens – and so we set to the great unpacking procedure, despite the cloying stuffiness. I tried not to worry, but knew that I needed to do something to rectify it or I would not relax, given what I know about these things.

Once unpacked and supped, instead of accepting the status quo, refusing to cave into fear of what the toxins were doing to everyone in the apartment block, I made a beeline for the nearest supermarkets in the town. They are located, thankfully, nearby – all other shops were closed by that stage anyway – and was relieved to find one that had a few peace lily plants. Of the four on the shop shelf,  I gratefully scooped up two in best health, in order to help clean the air of the apartment.

My children are used to this, used to my concern about indoor and outdoor air quality. They ‘get’ that it’s about health and wellbeing, as well as adding effortless hygge (a Danish term I learnt recently), something they’re accustomed to as well. They take it in their stride when I start placing plants everywhere, indeed even listening when I give care instructions for the healthy maintenance of the green. My children have grown up hearing about healthy spaces, they both understand that it’s worth considering the materials we use for renovations. Air quality can make a huge difference to our health or otherwise.

Four days hence, and my son has settled in fast … as I’m sure have the plants. It is just a shame that the rest of the building was not health screened in this way. His bedroom received special treatment. Lucky chap.

It is worth making the effort to use eco paints and install natural carpets, as well as choosing wooden, rather than synthetic, furnishings. Using products that do not contribute any harmful elements to the air that we breathe, would make the world of interiors a much calmer and safer place – for the workers and the inhabitants, alike. Renovators, designers, building managers, handymen and renovation rescue teams of television fame, take note! If in doubt, add plants … Or add them anyway, to suck up fumes from materials, as well as those from electronic devices of all sorts.

It pays to take care of our environments, both indoors and out. A penchant for plants is never wasted!

 

 

In good health,

Holly x

 

 


 

Pingback to WordPress “The Daily Post” – prompt: Penchant
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/penchant/

My Journey Into The University of Life

IMG_2942 - cropped - THTT signedHaving delivered my son, the youngest of my two children, to a prestigious international university at the weekend, I find myself ready to share the thoughts that are streaming through my mind right now … keeping the feelings of emotional adjustment at bay, while I picture our son adjusting to his new life in a new place, and we adjust at home to not having him around.

It is a strange head and heart space to be in, not for the first time another massive readjustment, a new place within a strange place, on a journey that has held many unexpected bits along its path.

Here is a little more of my own story …
It is a snippet about my starting out in the Big Wide World, showing up at the gate to the “University of Life”.

~ : ~

Did you know?
I did not go to university.

Furthermore, I do not have any certificates from any institutions other than a matriculation certificate from high school, and there are no letters after my name.

I have no profession, no specific thing that I can tell anyone that I ‘am’, no one easy answer to provide when faced with a form to fill in about what I ‘do’.  And yet, I do and have experience in a lot.

I have been educated to beyond tertiary level, by the “University of Life” … for those who do not know what this is, the best and shortest way I can describe it is: It is the long way round to blasting through glass ceilings, reaching full potential, and having ‘degree status’ clout. However, in matters of life, meaning, authenticity, sustainability and leadership in a range of ways, it is the path that I have travelled, is most definitely not a short cut nor easy way, and it means that whatever I say, I mean and have quite possibly seen, felt, tasted or survived.

It would be wonderful if there were a degree for this journey into and through the “University of Life”, a piece of paper to frame, a garment and a mortar board, but there is not. There is little recognition in tangible form for the courses that I have been on. As a result of the journey, and despite it, when you meet me, what you see is what you get. My communication is undiluted; I do not suffer fools lightly (nor does the book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible), and I have found that life is far too short to beat around the bush. It would be good to add a degree to this level of experience and integrity, but as yet I have not.

Why did I not go to university? 
Plainly put, I might have gone to university (indeed would have loved to attend the beautiful establishment on the slopes of Table Mountain, where I lived), had circumstances that I was living within been very different.

Having left home pretty much, at the raw age of eighteen, it was simply too hard to take on university by myself – the funding and the focus required were a crippling prospect – as well as manage my life entirely by myself. That said, I tried to get to university or teacher’s training college, I even made an appointment and met with my senior school headmistress – who said in no uncertain terms that she believed in me, even offered to help me to find a bursary – but it all felt too hard to pursue at the time. I found that, as I needed to support myself, still contributing in certain ways to life at home, already by then well-schooled in the rigours and realities of some very obscure scenes of life, I could not afford the time nor the cost nor the luxury of a university life.  How I would have loved to join all my friends who were able to do just that! But it was not the path that life had set me on.

Looking back (and at the time) I know I would have grabbed life on campus with both hands and squeezed every bit of juice out of a university experience when I left senior school – it was how I lived my life, anyway – but instead my mother directed me to undertake a Secretarial Course.  I was told that I would be supported partially to do that, but not to attend university. The lion share of everything that I needed I would have to find myself … not least, it turned out, the guidance to do what I was gifted for.  What a waste of twelve years of striving to be the one who would (and had so often done so or come close to) be winning the prize. There had been many Speech Days, when I was younger, where I had walked proudly up onto the stage to receive a book prize or some other form of recognition … and no one was ever there to support me. I gave up on that lark halfway through high school, when my home life became a series of rapidly changing and dramatic stage sets. It was hard to keep track in the pace of life itself, anyway … I do recall that our headmistress gawped when I told her that one day, during the public reading of our results at the start or end of a school term, in front of my entire year.

Therefore, despite my reluctance at going to do something that held no interest to me at all, the path that I had been told was my most realistic option was the one that I took. The little that I learnt at Secretarial College ended up being one way I kept myself from starving during many desperate times over the coming years. It was never my choice of career path … but it helped when I could find nothing else to turn my hand to fast.

Did I not receive a Certificate upon completion of the Secretarial Course?
No, I did not.
Why not?
Because I did not complete the course.

Four months into my six-month secretarial course in the city of Cape Town, after and whilst enduring endless banging away on manual typewriters (ouch) in an effort to reach perfection and to get my perfect banging of keys up to reasonable speed, with countless sheets of paper and carbon flying in all directions, battling to get my head and hands to process the simplicity of shorthand, staring square-eyed at the columns of bookkeeping figures … and on and on … I could not take any more. I was feeling utterly demoralised.  So, being used to ‘making a plan’ and finding ways to keep going within storms of life, I went straight to the nearest newspaper seller, bought myself a newspaper, and opened up the Classifieds pages to scour the list of Job Ads. I had to find a better way to do life than doing what I was most definitely not suited to, and I hoped that this would somehow lead me through an open door  … instantly I saw various advertisements that I somewhat courageously, very determinedly, rather cheekily, circled and then set my sights on applying for.

The first job I applied for … “Girl Friday for City Insurance Brokers” … led to an immediate interview … and the immediate offer of said job.  However, there was only one problem: the directors of the firm who were offering me the job, at what for me at the time was a huge salary – R300 (South African Rands in 1981) per month – required that I be at least able to operate an electric typewriter. Snag: I could barely manage to keep all the sheets of paper in the manual typewriters at the secretarial college down the road, let alone type one sentence without needing to erase and repair errors (times multiple pages) … and so they, being optimistic men of ‘making a plan’ too, decided to deliver to my little flat, with their company Driver, one of their new electronic typewriters, with the implicit instruction that I PRACTISE.  I was to show up for work three weeks’ hence, armed with the electric typewriter that they owned … and in receipt of the necessary skills required to operate it.  They were, clearly, believing in me to produce a miracle

I showed up for work … on time and on the due date … with the typewriter … whom I might have named by then … only just able to drive it.

My role as “Girl Friday” was a broad one, and it went from challenge to challenge, from strength to strength over a period of two years.  When I became bored, the Directors and senior staff found new challenges for me … while they expected me to answer their incoming switchboard telephone calls with aplomb, and not trip myself in the process of dealing with miles of yellow tape attached to the office telex machine … a vital piece of kit in the inter-office and inter-national communication system of the time.  Oh my word, it was all slog … but I loved it, because I was being mentored and taught and appreciated and given bonuses and helped to stretch and stretch and stretch … all in lieu of my much-coveted university place.  The Directors and senior staff had taught me all that they could, from keys to claims and back again, and wanted me to pursue a career in their field.  It just seemed grey to me, and so I declined their offers to support my studying to undertake the Insurance Industry Exams. C’est la vie.

When I could stretch no longer within the framework of the office and the company, when I decided that I could not face a lifetime in the insurance industry, when I was done with doing all the things that were possible for me to learn in that one office, when they had moved premises from the “Golden Acre” (and I had helped them to do so) to the outer suburbs of Cape Town … and all of life seemed to scream to a boring halt for me … I resigned. Job done. Great friends made. Wonderful experiences, including a yacht launching that I had organised to great success … but it was time to move one.

I am now in my fifties. Much has passed under the bridge since then.

I have much more story to tell, but that’s enough for now.

The “University of Life” is the hardest one on the planet to get into and to do well within … it requires a huge amount of tenacity and guts … and listening … and learning … and independent battle strategy … and following leads … and bumping yourself, getting bruised, picking yourself back up … but it often produces Eagles and Leaders and I have only to look at my children to know that I have defied a whole lot of what Life tried to use to trip me up. It has been an exhausting ride, but I am thoroughly proud of it and abundantly blessed as a result of never, ever, ever having given up.

So, without a degree and without a professional accolade to slip off my tongue, or any other seriously impressive title to blind you with, please know that what I write and what I do and what I speak is me being completely and utterly real, desiring to share what I have and to make the world a better place than the one that I found.  I speak from experience, and all of it hard won.  Often a lone voice, I have lost and found my voice … stronger and more vibrant than ever before … because I have the scars to prove that life is a powerful force and love will carry us through everything, if we just hold on.

Be brave. Be strong. Keep believing. Fall down. Get back up.
Cry. Shout. Scream at the wind. But don’t ever stay down on the ground …
Wait for the next current of life to come along … and then rise up!
It might take time to heal from the wounds, but just remember:
Eagles don’t have time to hang out with those who wish to remain forever on the ground.

If you’re on your path to graduation, go for it!
You’ve got a headstart.

With love and motivation,

Holly x

PS. My typing speed is phenomenal now … and I still have no desire to be anyone’s PA … shall leave that role to those who can do it with aplomb. Oh, I did it, by the way … I worked as a PA in London, in a prestigious establishment there, and I have the experience to prove it … Just no Certificate, I’m afraid. There is, of course, other working experience to add to the bow too, but those stories are for another day.

PPS. I am still learning, changing, rebuilding … and it is now time for me to graduate to the next level too …

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“the gazebo is scheduled for conservation work soon. Please respect the fragility of its interior”*

rings true!

*(a sign seen in a beautiful garden in the Cotswolds recently, it is what gave me the inspiration to write this piece)

~ : ~

Link to WordPress “The Daily Prompt”
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sympathy/

Courage To Be Real

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I recently received a message from someone I have never met, whom I learnt has had a very challenging life and has a very sad childhood story. The message was so heartfelt and so grateful  … it moved me beyond tears … this post is a result of receiving that message.

Apparently my ‘being real’ has been a blessing and has provided strength to this person, who has been following my writing (unbeknownst to me) for some time …

Why am I sharing this snippet into the ether?

Because I have a very important message for anyone who thinks that their life is meaningless, less than, unappreciated, unapplauded, unrewarded or is simply battling through the little and large waves:

You do matter. Being real IS allowed. You ARE precious. You DO deserve to be on this earth. You ARE worthy of love. It does NOT matter what you look like to others. It is NOT money or possessions that give people value. It is NOT anyone else’s place to make you feel bad about yourself. You DO have a role to play in the universe. You ARE allowed to be honest, frank, authentic, and even ‘cut and dried’. You MAY become a brighter, lighter, saltier, more fabulous and utterly authentic version of yourself. There is NOTHING that is impossible with God on your side, so do NOT allow ANYONE to rob you of your dreams, your true nature, your ambitions, your hopes, your desires. It IS OK to fall down and it is even ok to make a complete and utter fool of yourself … as long as you learn from the experience, keep learning, and allow yourself the freedom to laugh at life and to laugh at your own jokes! Laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh and laugh … And HUG yourself a lot, because there are times when no one else is there to hug you. So, always find ways to encourage YOURSELF. You are fully entitled to joy and peace and love and prosperity and abundance in every way that you wish and that would make your heart sing. You DO matter, and every single aspect of life belongs to you just as much as you belong to Life itself.

There is only one caveat to all of this, and it is:

Remember that it is in giving of ourselves that we give the most … money can never quite cut it in the same way … and if we wish to see our own lives blessed, we always receive a greater return for our investment when we help to raise others up first.

Be brave enough to be your AUTHENTIC self, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about you. It is NOT our business to try to dictate all outcomes or another’s thoughts, but it IS our business to BE REAL … and is the only SUSTAINABLE, healthy way.

If you will dare to step out of the box, you never know whose life you might save!

Be brave enough to LOVE, to be who you are, for real. You’ll shine, you’ll prosper, you’ll make a difference, no matter what.


With courage and love,

Holly x

 

 

On Being Moulded For Leadership

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On Being Moulded For Leadership

Have you ever heard it said that people who are positive and always moving forward are a little like ping pong balls, or life buoys? No matter how hard life tries to keep them down, it is impossible to force a plastic ball filled with air to remain underwater – no sooner do you press it down, than it pops right back up to the surface. I heard this description in a church talk about being authentic the other day, and it resonated with me greatly. Such a simple illustration of a basic life truth.

In my experience, and over decades of observing many friends and others who have had to tackle some tough life lessons, those who are destined for leadership and positive mentorship of others, are frequently the ones who have had the biggest trials. Despite all that they have been dealt or had to face, they have persevered and kept on going, regardless of the weight of the challenge.

Sometimes life swings a really hard bat, and in these times even the toughest and strongest willed among us are sideswiped by the trials they face. It is not uncommon to hear of people who, to the public eye, appear to have everything going for them, yet have faced, or are facing, battles and hardships unimagined by most.

I had a thought some time ago, which I noted down at the time and saw again today, prompting the writing of this post …

 

It is often the best ‘Teachers’, ‘Healers’ and ‘Leaders’ who have had to break first;

Having been shaped and chamfered,

they become more capable of aptly, ably and knowingly leading the way.

 

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, from a range of backgrounds and experiences, and their spheres of influence vary tremendously. However, one common element in all leadership is that those who have walked the path that they speak of or expect of others, are usually the ones who gain the most respect.  Leadership can be taught in various fields and forms, experts coming out of the woodwork all around us, but those who command the greatest following and see the most enduring, sustainable results are those who truly have walked, do walk, their ‘talk’.  The most profound lessons are those that are learnt by experience, not those learnt from books or by rote.

Thus, it is always a good idea to try to remember that, when life is creasing, squeezing, squashing, pressing, pruning, and chamfering us … we might just be being moulded for leadership.  The more the chamfering, very often the more and more profound, widespread and sustainable the influence later.

There is always something positive to be found in the chamfering moments of life … leadership par excellence so often being the gold at the end of the rainbow, the treasure after and in between the storms.

So, hold on.

You may well be in for the ride of your life or going through something excrutiating right now. Trust that you are being made into an eagle who, like the proverbial ping pong ball, will always find a way to rise up.

Keep your hope alive, rest and breathe …

Yours may well be the hand, the example and the guiding light that someone else gains strength from one day, and you may well be destined for something truly great.

And remember:

Great people are like ping pong balls … no matter how deep the water and how frequent the dunking, you cannot keep them down.

 

 

 

 

Holly x

 

Note:
chamfer:  verb – to put an edge, angle or groove in.

 

 

 

~ : ~

When We Help Others

It’s quite extraordinary … I keep discovering that, when we help or bless others, without thought of return, we are helped ourselves, in so many different ways.

 

It is, as if by “magic”, the Universe knows exactly what is needed, sometimes at the very last minute, but always there somehow, in perfect synchronicity.

 

Never doubt that what we give out comes back to us. It works like clockwork, every time.

 

So bless others, and it will return to you … I promise.

 

 

 

Holly x

 

 

~ : ~

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/visceral/

 

Shine Anyway

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Shine Anyway

The devil will hold on for dear life, but when he loses his grip, he loses his grip. Cheesed off to the enth degree, mightily ****** off, yes, but when he loses his grip that’s that.

Do not be afraid of anything. Have faith and keep facing forward, with determination and a sword of Truth. Stay in the light. Be brave. Be prepared to stand alone, but stand anyway. Be prepared to be mocked, set aside, left out, but smile anyway. Be prepared to be ripped off, bruised, lied about and lied to, but set your sights on higher things anyway.

“Never, ever give up.”

The Light always wins, anyway.

There will be “beauty for ashes” …

After all, this is how diamonds are made and how gold is refined.

So stand.

Hope.
Rest in God.
Persevere.
Trust and do good.

And shine anyway.

❤️

 

With love,
Holly x

 

Beeswax, light & holly sprigs

Beeswax, light and holly sprigs for inspiration.

 

Delicious Tomato Soup

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I made this tangy tomato soup for a family lunch this week and it was delicious. As my son is about to head off to university too, his older sister having graduated last year, it seems like a good time to add to the recipes already noted on my blog so that he (and others) can refer to them for inspiration.

Please note that all the recipes included on The Holly Tree Tales are those which have been created in our kitchen at home, which I have used myself and, in most cases, devised the recipes for. As far as possible, ingredients sourced are organic and many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs included are / have been grown in my own organic garden.

 

Delicious Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1 medium onion – peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic – peeled, core removed, chopped
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

2 cartons / tins of about 390g each organic tomatoes (chopped)
Half teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (destalked)
About ten fresh basil leaves – sliced (reserve a few to sprinkle onto soup when serving)

About 1 litre filtered water
1 teaspoon seasalt (flakes)
ground black pepper to taste
1 heaped teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder (preferably organic)
1 teaspoon honey

Serve with chopped chives and sprinkle with a few slithers of basil leaf.
(can drizzle a little cream over too)

Method

1.  In a suitably sized saucepan over a low heat, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil, gently, until the onion is translucent (take care not to burn the garlic).

2. Add the chopped tomatoes and herbs, stir and leave to simmer for about five minutes, to enable the flavours to merge and intensify.

3. Pour in the water (add more later, if needed) and add the seasoning, bouillon and honey. Stir and leave to simmer a further five minutes.

4. Take off the heat, and blend with a hand blender (or place in a processor), until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if required.

Serve as suggested above.
Scrumptious accompanied by fresh bread, butter and cheeses.

 

Enjoy!

In good health,

Holly x


PS. Do let me know if you make the soup ~ I look forward to hearing that it was a great success!

Truth And Love

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This piece is raw and unedited. It was written straight from the heart.

 

Truth And Love

When I was a little girl, we had a black “houseboy” called John who cried when we left our home in Natal, to go to Cape Town. He had been my closest ally and loved us all so much, bending over backwards in so many ways to put our lives and needs before his own. Not only did that parting hurt, but so did losing my beloved pet cat, “Kicky” on the journey … and then our father disappeared from our lives a little while later … to reappear magically fifteen years later … but that’s nothing compared to what happened during those fifteen years.

No one knows my full story. No one knows the pain that I rise above every single day. No one else I know has walked a similar path – in Africa, Britain, Australia, and bumped back down in unfamiliar territory in Britain – and I have no one with whom I can compare stories or gain direction from. So I hang onto God and I never ever know what He’s going to do in my life each day … but I always know that He is there and he’s keeping me breathing through it all.

For about twenty years, I had a type of amnesia. After unwillingly leaving South Africa at the end of 1985, and then being totally immersed in British country life for almost two before taking myself on the next (challenging) adventure to London, without back up of any sort, I had completely forgotten the languages of the country where I was born and grew up. Survival mode had kicked in full ball. I had no contact with most of my oldest and dearest friends and many of my beloved relatives for most of the years since leaving South Africa, through no design or choice of my own, and over the past decade or so many have reappeared. This, in itself, has been a massive heart stopping exercise, one that has been on a curve and a roll and non stop for a considerable amount of time. I thank God for these people, every single one of them, and for the serendipity that has been working to repair the broken jigsaw puzzle of my crazy life.

In the meantime, all of life has to happen too.
And, by my God, it does.
Full ball.

Please understand that I’m still doing my absolute best to recover from the last nervous breakdown, the second of two which occurred in Australia over the fourteen years that I lived there, the last in the process of the chaos that was our leaving our home and life in Australia, putting my lovely business to bed ~ hoping to pick it all up again after a little soiree abroad …

One day I might write the full story.
The full story.
The full fifty plus years.
But. I’m afraid to expose those who have betrayed or hurt me ~ I realise that’s their indaba and not mine. I can only live with Truth and we each have to live with the consequences of our own decisions, choices and actions … as do I. We each have to learn to grow and mould ourselves into better shapes and treat others better and gain compassion, understanding, learn forgiveness and practise the loving art of grace … each of us … I do not manage the universe … so one day my story will come out, because it just might help one other person on their rocky path.

God bless those who love unconditionally and who do not judge. Your reward will be waiting for you in heaven … meantime, on earth we each get to experience that which we give out.

Choose LOVE.
It’s the most reliable, I’ve found.
In all its facets.

 

 

 

~ Holly ~