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 ~

Being Optimistic – A Quote

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“Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

~  Nelson Mandela

 

from his book “Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela”

 

 

~ : ~

 

Keep hope alive,

 

Holly x

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

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.

Collecting Leaves ~ A Poem With Little Punctuation

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Gifting myself an hour outdoors in the weak Autumnal sunshine this morning, the intention being to collect what I could, in that time, of the bounty of leaves lying piled up and scattered all around the house and under nearby trees, I savoured every minute of the precious outdoor time. Every bagful would, in only one year, become freely acquired luscious soil, a friable bounty known as “leafmould”.

As I walked back inside afterwards, my fingers frozen to the bone, peeled off my cosy outdoor boots and set my sights back onto working at the computer, I heard a beautiful tune playing on the radio: “Anno Epilogue” by Oliver Davis.  The haunting melody seemed to contain a mirror of the mood I was wafting through. I sat down, with intentions of attending other projects, but instead I wrote this poem.

I hope it will make sense  … there was little punctuation added whilst writing, not wishing to interrupt the flow of the poem writing itself!

~ : ~

[Please continue reading until the Post Script, dated 21 November 2015, at the end of this post. Thank you.]

 

~ : ~

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Collecting Leaves

Golden sunshine captures me as I look into the leaves …
Smells and sights and sounds I feel
As into the depths of golden hues
I allow my spirit to sink and swim and swallow wholeness
From without into within and all around and all beyond me
When all of a sudden the wind whips up and darkness descends into the daylight
Clouds overhead look to me like mighty thunderous promise
While hard drops of icy water hit the surface of the layers on the ground
Sleety icy cold and glorious, windy wet and perfectly sound
I feel the ice begin to enter through my too thin and puny rubber gloves
Knowing soon I shall have to head back inside
But I wish to remain outdoors where I can smell the Autumn and play in her gifts to all mankind
It might be Friday the thirteenth, but superstition is not a worry to me
I am free and I am unencumbered by the fears that grip so many on this day
All I want to do is stay outdoors and be warm enough to play
I look up and see the holly berries ripening on a holly tree
And quickly realise that there lies more promise, more gifts from Nature on this day
Soon I shall gather boughs of berried holly, before the little birds take them all away
And that way we shall have some festive season redness of natural beauty in our home
As we sit in front of log fires, catching up with loved ones who so often are very far away
Playing games and sharing stories, looking at photographs and reminiscing on times we’ve loved
Knowing that every moment is a precious gem, one not to be squandered
But that day soon comes, when we know not when.
And so for now I gather in my harvest of leafy gold dust,
Which when it turns to dust will become my gold
As leaves of many colours and types and sizes become transformed
From rich, papery, vibrant shades of Autumnal tones in every golden hue
Into the rich brown, sweet smelling earth from which they once came …
Once more they are and will become … leafmould.
As we go from dust to dust, so leaves too return to the Earth
From whence we died, we each become new birth.

*

by  Holly Maxwell Boydell

*

[all rights reserved]

~ : ~

 

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Note: If Readers too would like to hear the beautiful tune I heard before penning this poem, and replayed while I collected its stream of words, here is a link that I found to “Anno Epilogue” by Oliver Davis, via YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-71KIvYOKLk

 

~ : ~

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Blessings,

Holly x

 


POST SCRIPT

Saturday 21 November 2015

I wrote the poem “Collecting Leaves” at lunchtime last Friday, 13 November 2015, and posted it onto The Holly Tree Tales that afternoon.  Little did any of us know that, later that day, the most atrocious tragedy would hit Europe, matched only by some of the atrocities being carried out in other parts of the world too.  Two lines in the poem have been haunting me all this week:

“It might be Friday the thirteenth, but superstition is not a worry to me
I am free and I am unencumbered by the fears that grip so many on this day”

At the time of writing, those words seemed relevant to the ambience and experience on the day, but in hindsight they appear truly crass – which is not and was not, by any means, intended. Out of respect to all those who were hurt on that day, in untold and known ways in Europe and around the world, and to all those who are still hurting in the aftermath of the atrocities,  I have since removed those two troubling lines.  There is now a revised version of this poem, which appears later in the blog, republished and with more punctuation inserted.

In mindful consideration, I continue to hope for peace to come into all of our lives.

~ Holly Maxwell Boydell

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)

 

 

An Impromptu Lecture by Richard Demarco, CBE OBE

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I am extremely privileged to know the indomitable Professor Richard Demarco (pictured above explaining his Archive at Summerhall), having first come across him in Edinburgh during the early 1990s, and am honoured to call Richard a friend.

As is his wont and despite his advanced years, Richard Demarco continues to be immensely generous about sharing what he has with others, regardless of where he is or with whom, and he loves an audience with whom to engage.   Ever enthusiastic about disseminating his vast knowledge, conveying his passion in every word, and describing his many encounters with bright and brilliant minds, all of whom he recognises as artists, Richard thrives on speaking with anyone who is interested to hear what he has to teach, and speaks with brilliance and compelling emotion about the things most dear to his heart.

On one of my visits to Richard’s administration base in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, a small crowd had gathered, to whom Richard enthusiastically began to lecture. I switched on my camera to capture the moment in photograph, but hit the video setting, in error.  Thus, instead of photographing him, I found I was filming the exceptional moment, which turned out to be fortuitious.  Richard noticed that he was being filmed, but appeared not to mind the ‘intrusion’, so I kept the film running.  To be honest, I wish I had video or audio recordings of every meeting  and gathering at which we have met thus far, all of which have been fascinating, inspiring and intellectually vibrant.  Richard Demarco is a stellar human being and one who never fails to enliven the world around him, a world which I am so fortunate to be able to encounter him in.

I share this treasure of mine in good faith, the result of my impromptu filming of an impromptu lecture by Professor Richard Demarco, CBE OBE on 10 July 2013, at Summerhall in Edinburgh. The film clip contains mentions of the Edinburgh Festival, the climate and Nature, made poignant by the presence of a cherished portrait of the late Joseph Beuys, renowned artist and environmentalist, a much-treasured and missed friend of the great man.  There are also several ‘guest appearances’ through a creaky door, by those going about their business of managing the Demarco Archive at Summerhall.  I hope none will mind being featured in this little film.

 

 

As an aside before ending this post, mere mention of the fact that this was filmed a day after Richard Demarco’s 83rd birthday.  Richard has recently celebrated turning 85, and continues to travel widely to speak of Art, his great love, and many things related, inspiring all who come into his orbit.  What a remarkable man he is!

With blessings,

Holly x

 

~ : ~

Note:  For more information about Professor Richard Demarco, please search this site for other post(s), where you will also find links to his website.

 

 

~ : ~

 

 

NB.  The film clip featured is the property of and remains copyright to Holly Maxwell Boydell, with all rights reserved.  The film and this post may be shared, but not used elsewhere for gain without prior and appropriate agreement / permission.

 

 

 

 

Copyright ©  The Holly Tree Tales
All rights reserved.

Autumn’s Artichoke

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There is something very satisfying, even decadent, about being able to settle down to a solo lunch of home grown artichoke. What a luxury!

Somehow, with this being the last artichoke of the season in our garden, there was a special tang of just (yet mingled with guilt for not sharing) reward about the perfect plate of goodness before me …

Nothing nicer than a freshly picked, steamed organic artichoke, with freshly melted, organic lemon butter and lashings of pepper  …

Ah. Some days one really feels like a “King”!

 

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How slowly I savoured every last morsel, feeling utter gratitude that I had managed this year, at long last, to produce our own artichokes from the little plants that had held onto dear life in the greenhouse, year upon year, as I tried to figure out whether we had the right garden (climate) conditions for them, and how on earth to go about it.

And what did I do with the precious green liquor remaining in the saucepan that had steamed the delicious artichoke?

 

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Well, it looked far too healthy and full of goodness itself so, instead of tipping the vegetable water down the sink, as so many do, I collected it, diluted it with cold water, and fed it to some thirsty pot plants.

Oh, and the remains of the artichoke?

Well, they went into the composting system, of course!  Winners all round.

In Autumn health and wholeness,

Holly x