Test it all against the truth of Love

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While we whinge about aspects of our First World lives, so opulent in so many ways, babies are starving, people are aching for unconditional love, mothers are desperately trying to rise above the humiliation of poverty, business people are seeing the futility of the fast buck when they receive medical shocks … people are sleeping rough on the streets, children are crying and afraid, parents are carrying their children away from war torn conflict, the earth is heaving and groaning in agony as we treat it like a useless machine … Every man has a duty to wake up and examine himself. Every woman has a duty to forgive her peers and show them unconditional love … Every one of us has a duty to work on returning to what really matters and that is not One Upmanship … What really matters is how much we love. Love is an entire subject of its own. Love does not rob, covet, nor harm in any way. Love loves. That’s what brought us each into the world. That’s where we came from. That’s where we might return … To Love. How we live now determines how we’ll be then. Love applies to everything. Test it all against the truth of Love.

~ Holly ~

When People Talk About Others

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When people talk about others, remember that they are just as capable of talking about you. Be careful.

When you notice that people have slipped into the shadows, know that they have not collected their facts. Be careful.

When groups fall off the ledge of your life, know that they have been spreading rumour and gossip. Be mindful.

When people turn their back on you or walk away, instead of towards you with love, let them go. Carefully. Remember: they were never meant to be there for ever anyway, and their thoughts are none of your business.

Go mindfully through life.
Don’t gossip.
Gossip and slander hurts.
And it bites back
Always.
That’s just how the Universe works.

Appreciate those who love you, regardless, unconditionally.
They are the treasure.
Focus on them.
Practise love anyway.
It always wins.
That’s just how the Universe works.

~ Holly ~

 

Friday Thought ~ Break The Chains

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Keep calm and breathe …

 

 

 

Friday Thought

Gratitude, helping others, appreciating the abundance of the planet and doing what you can to tread lightly, sharing out of what you have, opening your mind to the possibilities of making a difference right where you are, trusting in divine providence, minding your own business, refusing to gossip, attending to your own responsibilities, always speaking the truth, being honest in all your dealings, bringing things out from the darkness and into the light, facing difficulties, taking care of your own attitudes, looking after your body, practising compassion, doing the correct things that you expect others to do … all of these and more, help to free the mind from mental chains … and all of these produce good brain health.

Good mind health = good brain health = good body health = good life = peace (regardless of your outward circumstances).

 

‪#‎BreakTheChains

 

Live Free!

 

 

With love,

Holly x

Love And Friendship Without Strings

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If you feel the need to compete for someone’s love, or buy your way into people’s lives, wait and see what happens when you have nothing left to bargain with.
If you choose friends by what they have, rather than who they are on the inside, wait and see what happens when your own rubber hits the road.
If you have unconditional love to offer, but no one takes your hand, remember that you are the richest amongst them, because you have learnt The Secret that they are still running around in circles searching for.
If you can sleep well at night, knowing that you owe no man a debt of love, you are indeed the one with all the wisdom and your riches are stored up in heaven.
If you can love yourself, when others pick at or ignore you, know that your star shines brighter than those with limited vision will ever know.
If you can see the blessings of another and walk on by without envy, your riches are in your heart and nothing can stand in your way of happiness.
If you can turn the light on when others only stand and judge, know that you have plugged into a power far greater than dull minds can ever experience.
If you are able to speak your mind in truth and with clear conscience conviction, you deserve the spotlit platform that you stand on.
If you long for the love of those whose love is only ever competitive or conditional, remember the gems that you have inside, and turn your cheek to face the wind.
It is wiser to do that, than to mind about the minds of others.
If you can be your own best friend, even in times of deepest darkness, you have what few others possess, and no friend in the world can better that.
We are each, ultimately, alone and no substitute for loving yourself will ever be found.
Be your own friend first, as that removes all need to compete or long for the approval and friendship of others.
When friendships and loved ones come to us without strings, each one is truly free to be themselves.

~ : ~

Holly x

 

 

 

© The Holly Tree Tales

A Moment Before Christmas

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A moment of mindfulness, under this year’s fresh and fragrant Christmas tree.


 

 

Written on Monday 21 December 2015

 

I have stolen away from all the things I am ‘supposed’ to be doing, to do something that I need to do … to write a few thoughts down and to catch a moment, to consider and to prepare for the coming Christmas days.  Less than an hour ago, I was in a blind panic, about all that remains to complete on my To Do list, and then I pulled myself together with the remembrance that there are so many around the world right now, for whom Christmas will have anything but a To Do list, a To Buy list, or a to invite list …

I know that this is the time of year when many around the world feel the deepest sense of aloneness, purposelessness and loss. I am aware that we are among the fortunate few on the planet, who have a roof over our heads, food in our tummies every single day, warmth as we snuggle down into our beds at night in the northern hemisphere, know comfort as we do the same in the south, and so much around us from whence we can each draw joy, if we will but stop a moment and see how much we are each blessed by.  And so, I stopped.  In the midst of my busy, modern Christmastime anxiety, I just stopped. I breathed. I remembered those less busy, less encumbered with ‘blessings’, and I gave thanks that I have people in my life for whom I ‘must do’ and complete my To Do list for.

What has happened to Christmas?  What has happened to the Christ child in the meaning and the midst of Christmas?  What has happened to the hearts of those hell bent on spending their cash on things that they and others truly do not need?  What has happened to this time of year when, despite the shops being full and the banks’ coffers overflowing, so many go without everything that we take for granted, and so many have not one loving soul to warm their hearts with?  Why are so many doing so much to sell us what they and we know that none of us truly needs for life to go well?  Why have we become so needs orientated and so acquisitive, anyway, so goal orientated rather than love inclined?

Why have we forgotten that this is the time when we remember how Love came down to meet us where we are already at?  How can we imagine that materialism and things can fulfil us, when those who are totally alone at this time of year know only too well that they cannot?   How many would give their eye teeth to have someone loving to hold?   How many fear the alcoholic rages that follow the “Christmas Cheer”?  How many children wait expectantly for Father Christmas, or Santa (who has stolen the show), and yet many live in fear of what their own fathers might do to them, and have no knowledge of the Father who is our very own and loving God?  How many have grown to hate Christmas, because it hurts, or sends them into spiralling debt?  How many dread the gatherings and the opulence, when all they really want and need is love?

At the start of this day, a mere four days before Christmas Day itself, I had so many plans and intentions of things to complete, my list long and courageously ambitious, as I continue to struggle with the pain of a recently strained back.  At the beginning of this day the morning sky lit up, with tones of pink highlighting the clearing grey clouds, offering hope and promise of strength and resolve and fortitude … and I have done the best I could with those. However, the end of the day is here now, and I have left most of my List a dream and a hope for tomorrow, undone and only with the help of a miracle to be completed in good time. I believe in miracles, have seen and know a fair few myself, but it seems that this time my List really is ridiculous and life is showing me to calm it all right down.

Four years ago, for the first time, I hosted Christmas (with all the traditional British trimmings) in our own home here, with and for my wider family in the UK.  In previous years, we had either been living in Australia, or had spent Christmas in one or another of my UK family members’ homes, but that year I had begged to be the one (as the eldest sibling), to do Christmas for everyone in our home for once.  I look back now at all that was so lovingly created for that day, by myself and by my children and a friend from Hong Kong who was staying with us, and I marvel at the beautiful homemade Christmas crackers, the food (so simple and yet for me, coming out of a breakdown, such a major feat to produce, tasty and on time).  For the first time in my life, I had made Christmas pudding (organic and to my own experimental recipe) for our family to share. Adventurously, I had baked an impressive organic Christmas cake (partly my own recipe too, a scary first time process, baking it nervously in my trusty round Le Creuset), completely homemade and iced, even the marzipan was made by my own hand. That Christmas had every element of magic and joy that I could conjure up, working against so much that had been and was holding me back, and I think I and my team of merry helpers managed to pull it off well … the pictures, in hindsight, certainly looked respectable!

This year, with only my small nuclear family around our table on Christmas Day, I want to create the magic that we have all enjoyed at other festive occasions and places, in previous years.  This year, however, we are keeping everything very, very simple.  Our gifts are simple, things that each person really needs, lavishness a thing for others, our company much decreased in numbers, our peace and goodwill at the centre of our meaningful time, rather than all the trimmings that create the chaos, the bling, the acquisitiveness, the potential for debt along the road … We have been beautifully blessed by the arrival of Christmas cards, each one appreciated for the love and the time that went into its creation or its thought, and it is in these little things that we see the gifts of presence, of friends near and far, and loved ones who are missed, too far away to touch and hug and feel nearby.

In days long past, as I was growing up in Africa, we would usually only put up our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  Now, I often wonder how there was the time to attend that task, with so much else  to attend on that day.  Some put up their tree many weeks before Christmas, but ours usually appears to take its stage in the fortnight leading up to Christmas, once both of my children have returned home from boarding school or university, and are here to enjoy its choosing, as well as attend the decoration and sparkly splendour that goes with the desired end result.  Having stood our fresh tree in a metal bucket of water, the trunk held steady with variously sized stones, we light the interior of the deep green needled branches with warmly coloured strands of Christmassy light, then surround the base of the tree with a plain calico cloth, upon which our gifts are placed on Christmas Eve.  As we build the scene, we try to keep things calm and co-ordinated, choosing baubles, little wooden ornaments and glistening stars from a selection that has travelled from southern to northern hemisphere with us … the shiny red apples a gift from my mother on my first Christmas in Australia, always a regular on our tree.  Nothing is ever hung before the little wooden nativity scene has been safely secured in a visible spot, nestled amongst the boughs, the real meaning of Christmas taking pride of place in our home.

Today, I broke with tradition once more and began to create a Christmas pudding for Christmas Day … something I had intended to do on the weekend of “Stir Up Sunday”, a month ago.  No doubt I have left this task too late for the flavours to mellow and mingle, but a wish and a prayer might see it through to become a taste sensation, hopefully producing a good waft of dessert joy.  This year I shall attempt to create our pudding successfully with a gluten free flour and, if it turns out really well, we might enjoy it at a future gathering with the wider family, where everyone can happily tuck in.  I wish I had started this process earlier in the year, but the ‘ideal’ time had other pressing commitments, and so this one will happen now, traditional timing out the Advent window, so to speak.

Four days before Christmas … if said pudding works and I pull it off in this time, a new pudding tradition may well have begun.  The very act of stirring those fruits and zests and liquids, as the Christmas Pudding’s raw ingredients came together bit by bit today, was enough to get me powered forward.  As I breathed the lovely, familiar smells of Christmas, in calm silence, without any music needed to add to the ambience, I was filled with hope that, despite all that remains on my list To Do, I shall manage to do only what needs to be done, and only in a way that retains calm and can be done lovingly and well.

In closing my record of thoughts leading up to Christmas, I have been pondering too that yesterday I read a mindful piece about Christmas, written by a Buddhist monk.  In his thoughtful article, the writer mentioned that “The Pope has shared that this Christmas there is nothing to be joyous about, because there are so many among us choosing hate and violence instead of peace and love.”  It is a sobering thought, and so sad that Pope Francis should feel moved to say this, isn’t it?  We, who are safe and loved, have so much to be grateful for. If you would like to read it too, the full article is at http://plumvillage.org/news/a-green-santa-and-a-hug-of-love/

I hope that in these days leading up to Christmas, you will know an abiding peace in your heart, and that all your plans and hopes for Christmas will be beautifully and fruitfully realised.  Let’s spare thoughts and share our hearts and treasures with those not quite as blessed as us.

In Peace and evergreen Love,

Holly x

 

 

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Our 2011 homemade Christmas cake.

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Our little homemade angel, atop our 2011 Christmas tree, her flowing hair made of the purest wool and wings of softest felt.

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The beautiful wreath for our front door, made lovingly by my daughter and a friend, with plant offerings from the garden.  December 2011.

Life is worth mastering …

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of when I left my beloved Africa, to come to the United Kingdom, embarking on a journey whose road I could not see before me. It has been one heck of a ride.

The original version of this particular blog post, “Life is worth mastering”, was published in February 2015 (twenty three years after leaving Britain at short notice, due to the death by suicide of my husband’s eldest brother, returning again to live in the UK in 2006).  This post has been reblogged by others, for which I am immensely surprised and grateful. I thank all for the tremendous support that my words have received.

Here it is again …

Blessings and love,
Holly x

 

 

 

The Holly Tree Tales

The piece below was written upon waking this morning, Tuesday 17th February 2015, and flowed from my pen as I allowed the words to ‘write’ themselves. The thoughts come from my own experience of life, and my own journey, but the flow of words was not controlled. I simply allowed them to be, just as I am learning to do.

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of my arrival in Great Britain, home of my ancestors, from the country of my own birth, South Africa. This month, February, marks the anniversary of the sudden and tragic death of my brother-in-law, an event which catapulted me to Australia, as a young bride twenty three years ago. Nine years ago, I returned to the United Kingdom once more, older, a little wiser and with a family of my own. This month, and this year, each hold enormous significance for me personally, as do several other…

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Peace

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Sending thoughts of peace around the world …

Thinking of those in pain right now, and praying for peace to replace all the violence and hatred, everywhere.

Meditate on peace and may peace invade every part of our lives.

With love,

Holly x

Walking Kindly On This Earth

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Thoughts on how each of us could take steps to walk a little more kindly on the Earth.  A message with a few ideas for little things to do, which many of us (who have the means and the tools to read features online) might easily be able to put into practice.

~ : ~

WALKING KINDLY ON THIS EARTH

No one can reach the summit of Everest without an aeroplane and, even then, it would probably be impossible to land. The only way to reach the summit, therefore, is to walk it. The same applies to all the climate change theories. It is the tiny steps that matter and it is the tiny steps that will get us there. To make a real difference requires every man, woman and child to look down at the ground, to feel the importance of the health of their environment, to look around appreciatively, and then to say “What can I do better, and how can I more kindly tend this Earth?”

Yes, we need to urgently halt industrial scale agriculture; yes, we need to urgently halt the suicidal wiping out of diverse forests and multiple ecosystems; yes, we need to cease the use of fossil fuels; yes, we need to address the gross emissions that are wounding our life systems on Earth; yes, we need to urgently halt the spraying of toxins across millions of acres around the globe; yes, we need to empower small- and large-scale farmers to create biodiverse food systems again and turn back to growing our needs without poisoning the precious Earth’s soils … but each of us has the power to stop using spray deodorants; to stop buying toxic products, which we then consume or wash down the drains; to stop using toxic sunscreens, which wash off our vulnerable bodies, while in the process poisoning marine life, as we frolic in the waves … On and on one could go, listing the myriad of tiny changes each of us could make.

It only takes one straw to break a camel’s back, they say.
Perhaps one straw each can go a long way towards fixing it?

It takes only one person in every group to turn away from the crowd and say “No, I won’t do that. I shall do THIS instead.” By doing this, making positive choices, each and every one of us has the power to change the tiny part of the universe in which we live.

So … next grocery shop, how about it?
How about making the effort to seek out the eco products?
Even changing your dishwashing liquid will make one iota of difference, and one iota of difference is so much better than no difference at all.

And the deodorant?
Well, learning to love yourself is all-encompassing … it includes NOT giving yourself illnesses by putting poison onto the largest organ of your own body, your skin … So head instead to the health food shop (skin products are ‘food’ too) or shop online. Look for non-aerosol products, and those that will not make you ill. In the process of doing just that, you change your and our world.

It really is as simple as that.
One man, one woman, one child making right choices … one step at a time. Until we reach a crescendo. Or we reach the summit that we need to get to.

Think twice, and act nice.
Vote with your own purse or wallet.
Stand up for what is right.

Bless us, and bless our very precious, suffering Earth.

Each one of us is needed on board, and the time really is NOW.

 

~ : ~

 

All the best with your endeavours to walk kindly on our Earth!

Holly x

 

 

 

 


Notes:

Other places to view this post:

On Facebook via http://tinyurl.com/q4rz7xn (the original version)

Or find it at http://www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders
(scroll down to 22 October 2015 to view the post shared there)