A Little Silver Trunk of Life

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From time to time, I receive messages from people around the world who have been helped, inspired, motivated or simply enabled to take another step through a challenging period in their lives, as they’ve heard bits of my story or read my words.  We are each doing our best on this planet, and we are each facing different things as we negotiate our way along our paths, but it is always encouraging to hear that one’s own journey has acted as an example to others of what is possible and to hear that hope has been restored in the life of another.  Here, I’m sharing another little piece of my jigsaw, as an open hand to any other who might need a little strength …

I have a little silver trunk, where the few remaining contents of my life before marriage are filed … in some ways the trunk is a little substitute for the roots of family home I don’t have.

Late last night I climbed up to the attic, negotiated papers and packages strewn across my studio space to reach it, prized open the wonky lid and extracted some of my old journals ~ teenage and early adult snippets of “life” … Can’t recall why I went up there in the first place, nor so resolutely climbed obstacles to reach my private little trunk, but the gems contained within the pages of the first tome I opened are emotionally immense ….

Clearly it was meant to be, but I’m not sure why.

Poetry reading, words of times past pouring out of my pores now, saturated and awash with memory … and gratitude … for a life well lived …

Potent moments recorded there.

I am grateful that these have survived so many moves. God is good. He has a plan. One day at a time …

Whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, just remember: it will make you and mould you and you’ll be so much richer as a result.

“Never, never give up.”   ~ Sir Winston Churchill

With love,

Holly x

Being A Blogger Is A Process

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It has been two years since I began the journey of technically building a blog, and writing one.  My first ever blogging experience began with the process of creating “The Holly Tree Tales” on WordPress, something that was completely and utterly unfamiliar to me, in every sense.  It was early in January 2015, the first to be precise, when I gathered my two children together at my computer, in order to consult them where possible, and set off cautiously into the jungle that has been my complicated technical process of setting up and managing this website.

For many years I had been told, by all sorts of people, that I ought to write my story, communicate my philosophical thoughts, share about my experiences through childhood, describe my journeys in new places, reveal my trepidatious steps through parenting my children into the great humans that they are, discuss my gardening exploration and tips, reach out by telling others about my life in foreign environments, share my love of Nature that has seeped into my soul on three continents, speak out about my innermost dreams and learnings about leadership, business and ethics, and that I should share with others my poems and recipes, created over decades, a little at a time, and sometimes all at once.  The project of writing on a public stage was a daunting one at the start … there have been many hiccups since, and now I’m back on the writing stage to say again: “I am still daunted by it all.”

When I look, as I infrequently do, at other websites and blogs, I feel mildly intimidated by the seeming ease with which so many appear to have established expansive readership numbers, umpteen likes on their posts, and in many cases income through their ‘blogs’ simply being online.  At the outset, I knew that I did not want to have my website / blog vulnerable or susceptible to the screeching distraction of advertisements, and the random intrusion of brands with which I was potentially distinctly uncomfortable … so I decided to invest money in setting up a ‘premium’ WordPress blog, instead of going with a theme that would be provided free of charge.  I do not regret this choice, but am mindful of the investment that I have made annually since 1 January 2015, an investment which is not insignificant in my present phase of life.  There have certainly been many times when I have wished that The Holly Tree Tales’ presence on the internet would magically manifest a fabulous income, alongside the many other things that I do with my life under current circumstances, mostly non-incoming earning as I write these words.  The internet is not an arena that I have tapped into as a source of wealth, but no doubt those vast stores of potential await, by some means or other yet to be explored!

Being a Blogger is a process; establishing a website (or blog by any other name) and learning to drive the engine of spectacular technical complexity (no matter how simple it may seem to those people several decades springier than I am) has come with immense challenges for me.  There have been days, like yesterday, when I have purposely set aside the time to concentrate (as ‘solely’ as possible) on My Blog, with a clear purpose in mind, when I have achieved absolutely nothing … I lie: yesterday I managed to alter the date on the copyright bit at the bottom of each page.  All by myself, and in record time.  Nothing else happened … no matter how long, how hard, how disconsolately, how cheerily even, I stared at the screen … nothing went in, nothing went out, nothing improved, and all remained clouded in a veil of foggy tomfoolery.  I could not, simply could not, find my way back to what had once been a familiar screen with black background, where I had hoped to re-visit my previously unsuccessful attempt at tidying up the “Categories” of the Blog.

This morning, having wasted several hours getting nowhere fast, I decided to allow myself only ONE HOUR in front of my WordPress screen … one hour to do whatever I could possibly do to make things more streamlined, more logical, more attractive, more like honey to bees … the objective, clearly, is to make an excellent impression, regardless of the audience, wishing to tailor the entire thing so that it is fresh, crisp, chic, intelligent and simple to navigate at will.  I have a goal, I had that goal on the 1st of January 2015 too, and I am still trying to reach it!  Well, this morning my one hour produced little, again … and then suddenly a ‘lightning bolt’ hit!  With two minutes to go before the 9.30am cut-off time allowed for this frippery, my cursor reached the very bottom line on the “Customise” screen … and my eyes fell on the sight of “WP Admin” … I gingerly pressed down on the mouse … et voila!! Shrieking “Praise the Lord!” to my startled hound, causing my suddenly awake teenage son to come bounding down the stairs, I dropped my head into my hands and gave thanks … I had finally found something that looked vaguely familiar … my screen with black background was there …

Or so I thought.

After describing to my son the reason for my shout of adulation, which he very kindly indulged me in by smiling unpatronisingly down at me slumped in my chair, I started to direct my mouse (computer species) towards the destination I’d been trying to head in for hours previously … “Categories” … only to discover that the whole format, despite its familiar black background, has actually changed since we were last acquainted in this deeply meaningful and hot-headed pursuit. Erk.  Breathe.  Head up.  Back straight … let the fingers do the crawling all over again …

Oh my, is Blogging ever a process!  Technological mastery of a beautiful blog is one thing, writing the words is quite another, and then there’s the business of streamlining how you make sure that other people can find the words once you’ve had them crawling all over your site.  I currently have about 75 (yes, that says seventy five) Categories listed, and heaven only knows how many Tags … which desperately need tailoring, tidying, organising, shaping, parenting (yes, that’s a WordPress blog design term, I think) … and I’ve been at this for months – off and on – hence the scarcity of written work, while I try to housekeep the collections of words somehow.  Of course, in the meantime, Life itself has been taking place too … but all that must wait, until I have managed to tailor this jolly blog.

If you have feedback, dear Reader, please feel free to comment below this post and let me know your thoughts on The Holly Tree Tales generally.  I value the presence of every Reader, value the ones who have signed up to follow the blog immensely too, and ask everyone to continue to bear with me, as I continue to hone my live media skills.

With perseverance and onward striving determination,

Holly x

 

A Quick Catch-Up

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Dear Readers,

Just a little note to say that the Blog has not been forgotten, despite the large gap between now and my last post! Lest anyone think that The Holly Tree Tales blogposts have ceased, I thought best to post a quick note to reassure you to the contrary.

It has been a very busy few months, a big time in the lives of my children and I, with all manner of travel up and down the UK, attending milestone events and doing one’s best to keep abreast (or ahead) of the days’ priorities, as well as the expected emotional highs and lows that go with the territory … endings and new beginnings, all happening in these months.  With the Summer come visitors from afar and abroad, and much demanding attention in the garden as well, with everything growing at once, so the Blog has had to settle into the background for a little while.  If you are waiting for a response to messages, please be assured that I shall be writing as soon as I can, and you have not been forgotten either!

In the midst of all the ‘busyness’, I recently decided to dip my toe into the world of Instagram so, if you are on Instagram too, do feel free to connect and follow my picture posts there.  The link is https://www.instagram.com/hollymaxwellboydell/?hl=en

Shall be back, just as soon as I am able.  In the meantime, thank you for continuing to visit and enjoy the writings on The Holly Tree Tales … your presence and your feedback are always greatly valued!

Kindest wishes,

Holly x

Blogging Moments

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Dear Readers, hello again!

It has been ten days since I last posted a note and, despite several attempts at posting new content, I promise that the time in between has not been all together wasted … I have been learning, or at least attempting to learn, how to make a few adjustments to the site.

Having celebrated the first anniversary of The Holly Tree Tales with the most wonderful surprise of many post likes and some new Followers too, delighted at the fact that the blog seems to be moving steadily now … in writing and arrival of new interested Readers … I then hit a wall.

Do you have days when you set out to make a great alteration or improvement to your website or blog, thinking that you can see the way forward clearly in your mind’s eye, but then fail miserably when faced with several open tabs across the top of your screen, as you battle your way back to the clarity that you possessed before sitting down in front of it?  Well, I have had a few of those sorts of days recently and, Murphy’s Law, they have appeared soon after ‘celebrating’ one year on the Road of the Blog. It is utterly maddening and frustrating and I can only think that, if there is a lesson in here somewhere, it is making me a finer and more agile manipulator of all things communication.

Today, at my wits’ end, I have wished that sitting nearby or hanging over my shoulder were a team of bright tech folk, ready, willing AND able to lend a hand to get me back onto my strengthening but wobbly Blogger feet. However, I am completely alone here through most days, living out in the sticks, and have no idea how to even call the WordPress Happiness Engineers for one of their charming cyberspace hugs.  So, I have ‘printscreened’ all of the facts collected, carefully saved into yet another Word document to refer to another day, and am going to keep praying for Enlightenment.

What is the thing that I am trying so hard to achieve, you might ask?  Simple, really: I am trying to add a footer to the bottom of The Holly Tree Tales’ site, saying  © The Holly Tree Tales 2016.  I have followed (at least I thought that was what I was doing) all sorts of instructions, WordPress and otherwise, but do you think I can get any closer to the prize?  Nope.  It has simply not been meant to be … and I promise I have tried until I was almost perspiring the endless cups of Rooibos or organic berry teas I’ve been drinking this week (having decided to cut down on the tannin I was consuming via my multiple cups of organic Earl Grey every day) … Eish.  That’s “fed up” in mod speak.

And what else have I been trying to do … apart from the rest of life, obviously?  Well, I chanced upon the notion that my blog, which uses the Hemingway Rewritten Theme (a Premium one, that is) supports a Static Front Page, amongst its various other bells and whistles.  Understand, please, that I am spending precious pennies on the running of this blog, pennies that are not in plentiful supply right now, nor renewable, in the hope that soon my head will be clear enough to make the pennies chink more loudly and waterfall-like into my ready hands, in all manner of ways.  For now, I optimistically invest a not-inconsiderable amount annually, to have this written internet presence and I really and truly want it to work well.  However, I have yet to see the light as far as something as simple as getting that Static Front Page set up … and still have a number of other areas in the Blog that need, and have been waiting a long time for, updating and more flesh.

If your journey into the blogging world has been full of pits and nasty surprises, fear not: you are not alone.  I might even say, we’re in this together.  Let no one convince you that being a Blogger is an easy feat.  It is not.  Not unless you were born wearing a Tech Design hat, or have been schooled in the fine art of this secret science.  Over time I am sure that The Holly Tree Tales will become better and easier to manage, and more worthy of the loyal and wonderful Readers who so kindly spend their time on the content collected under the shade of The Holly Tree Tales’ branches.  I thank you all for being here still … I will, eventually, get this figured out and into some sort of rhythm, I’m determined.

As with so many things in life, I realise that it is in the letting go that we receive that which is most elusive, if it is meant to come towards us, and so I am letting go … and hoping that somehow all will soon fall into place.

Until next time,

Holly x

 

PS. The pic above was taken three days ago, on Saturday 9th January at 8.00am. The sun had done its best to rise and delight me … but two minutes later, it had disappeared.  The snow was beautiful though, a lovely change from all the muddy fields around here at the moment.

First Anniversary of The Holly Tree Tales Blog

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What a lovely surprise to receive this message from WordPress last night:

“Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com one year ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!”

It is indeed an auspicious occasion, and I am very grateful to have readers and followers of the blog, on this writing and publishing journey with me.

Thank you for the support in this first tentative year of getting my words out into the public domain, taking shaky steps into the challenging technological space that exists as a stage without a visible audience, as I slowly build the jigsaw of my memories, my life story, things I have learnt, and my thoughts along the way.

Thanks, WordPress, for making this worldwide platform possible. With over 100 posts now logged, the first year of novice ‘blogging’ has held many lessons, many moments of confusion in the writing and technological process, and multiple blessings have come my way too. May the second year of this particular journey reap even greater rewards, with the basic blog site’s structure now (almost) all in place, building on that which has been created thus far.

I look forward to seeing the writing reach its zenith, as well as a wider audience, this year! Every small step is a step in growing confidence and validation for that already hard won.

Thank you, everyone, for the great encouragement to keep ‘blogging’. I am very grateful that the work here is so valued.

 

Holly x

 

 

 

A Catch-Up With Readers

Looking South-West at a spectacular evening sky, from outside the Author's home, in February 2015.

Looking South-West at a spectacular early evening sky in February 2015.


Dear Readers,

Today I thought it would be a good idea to stop a while and say thank you to those who have been kind enough to take an interest in my Blog, and who have so willingly ‘signed up’ to follow The Holly Tree Tales, either as fellow bloggers or via personal email updates.

Having finally begun to set up a blog in January this year, then struggling endlessly to master the technical side of it, tripping over all manner of things, and experimenting with all sorts of posts – while, at the same time, being terrified at the prospect of speaking before an audience I cannot see and do not know, yet determined to face the challenge with authenticity – I think I am getting a little closer to being able to post something, without giving myself palpitations or an exhaustion headache in the process!

Yes, some of the photographs featured are dreadfully amateur, but that’s because they’re usually not staged and are often simply captured in the moment. Yes, some of the writing bangs on forever, but that’s because I try to write as if we were in the room together. Oh and, yes, some of my writing might appear rather stilted or old-fashioned … but perhaps I’m being too harsh on myself … Whatever. I do not seek judgement, please, nor critique, merely simple acceptance of my offerings and the knowing that I am grateful to have any readers at all. Your comments are always welcome and it is very heartening to know when posts have been of use or comfort, so please do not hesitate to share your thoughts with me and the other readers of this blog. It really helps to know that there is an audience out there!

I wonder how many have noticed that I have learnt how to create menu headings? Believe it or not, I did not read the WordPress tutor documents before setting out on this blogging journey … perhaps foolishly, but I did not realise that they existed.  Indeed this too has been a steep learning curve, but such fun, with a sense of personal achievement to finally master! As a result, several menu headings have been set up for The Holly Tree Tales, alongside what I have nicknamed the “Blogscroll” (now that I have learnt that it is also the “Home” page), and that as yet most of the additional menu headings and sub-headings still await their content. This is partly because Life itself has determined the pace at which I have been able to compile the page content, and also that writing clarity has not always matched the energy needed to fill in the gaps. They shall come … both clarity and energy … in tandem, I hope. When the clarity comes further, I intend to tidy up the blog site “categories” too, which currently seem rather endless! One dolly step at a time, as the learning continues.

So, thank you for following The Holly Tree Tales, with its wonky structure and its little moments of applause, and thank you for patiently standing in the wings while I figure out what I am doing on the stage. It has been a nerve-wracking experience stepping up to the podium, and one that continues to challenge me, but I shall continue to do my best to deliver writing from the heart and to share some of my journey with you.

Blessings and encouragement on your journey too,

Holly x

Wednesday blog confusion

I wrote a small piece.
I ‘illustrated’ it with photographs.
I tried publishing it at once. It looked fine.
I looked the next day; it looked gross.
I tried again, adjusting everything.
It looked fine. For half an hour. Then, again, it looked gross.
I had heard that it is best to post large photographs.
I had read that it is best to post small ones.
I remain completely and utterly confused.
And yesterday’s smooth path has become today’s utmost rocky one.
The novice blogger bows out, and fades with her flowers.
For now.

Ah, and yes. I thought today was yesterday.
And then I saw what the date is.
Perhaps there is something in this day …
The annual day of the Jesters,
After all.

So I am slipping back into the wings,
Quietly,
Nursing stage fright, once more …
At least until all the Jesters have flown.

Holly x

Monday morning Blog potholes

It is the start of a new week and I would love to be able to find the answers to a few questions on the physical workings of le Blog, by having someone real and three dimensional show me the way.

Yesterday I posted a blurb (about Ifafa) and struggled to get it to look like most of the other posts I have written on “The Holly Tree Tales” site … but to no avail. Thus, its text remains very small, by comparison with all the others. How does one control the font size and style of a simple blog post, when writing the original in a Word document, to save and copy across?

This morning I am wondering, yet again, whether every photograph that I post (which are all my own images), ought to be ‘signed’ by the photographer herself, to avoid plagiary on the internet? Is it sufficient to overwrite the photographs with the name of this blog site? Is it too impersonal to do this, or is it perfectly acceptable and good?

As I am currently writing and editing across several platforms, I wonder at the wisdom of automatically linking them all, but stop at the question of conflict and confusion, or invasion of my personal space. There are no absolutes in this, I know, and no rules to accurately guide us in the wise use of the internet to share our words and message, but there are times when I wish an ‘expert’ could hand me the A-Z.

The saving grace in all of this is that I know that I am the person whom I say I am, that I write what I believe or have experienced, and that consistency of message is my own key ethic by which to live … that certainly takes the wrinkles out of the moral cobweb, and makes me able to sleep soundly at night. An expert guide in all things communication would be a gift from above, but in the meantime I shall persevere with the guide within and hope that somehow a consistent note and path reveals itself.

Here begins a new week … who know the inspiration that awaits? Perhaps these potholes will become filled and solidly reliable this week.

In hope for more technical and communication method breakthrough,

Holly x

Gentle progress on the Blog structure

Well, believe it or not, I have finally managed to create additional Menu headings for The Holly Tree Tales …

After weeks of attempting to do this by myself (both of my tech savvy children away and colleagues scant right now) and making all manner of errors, I have once more achieved a shift in the growth direction. What a relief. Yes, I might perhaps have read WordPress’ tips and guides, but I find it easier to use intuition – even if it does take forever to get there! Not being one who is experienced at reading Blogs, let alone attending to the technical side, I have come at this from a rather dense, naive and muddled perspective, but the light is appearing …

So, we’re one more dolly step closer to building this project’s structure. The satisfaction is immense.

Onwards in hope!

Holly x

Sometimes Nature has a way of reflecting what we might be experiencing!

Sometimes Nature has a way of reflecting what we might be experiencing!

 

An Initial Welcome

[“The Holly Tree Tales” was registered with WordPress on 2 January 2015, and received its first post on Sunday 4 January. This post is an edited version of my original, which I forgot to save and deleted in error, when I posted this version two weeks later.]

 

Welcome to my brand new blog, “The Holly Tree Tales”.

On the ABOUT page, you will find a newly posted ‘story’, introducing myself.  As this is very unfamiliar territory (I am a first time ‘Blogger’ and compete novice in Blog Land), I have not as yet extended the blog with more menu and writing, while I work on the layout first, tentatively familiarising myself with the site workings, and very slowly finding my way through the process …

Having been inspired by the words of Sheldon Kopp, who said “I’ve never begun any important venture for which I felt adequately prepared”, I have taken the bold step to jump into this literary world, and see where it takes me.

And so, waiting patiently for further inspiration to strike, I thought I would simply share a few words from someone long ago, who knew a thing or two about writing:

“And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

– William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Until soon …

Holly x