Who am I? That is a question I have often asked myself, indeed this is something that I asked others for most of my childhood, and something that I have spent much of my adulthood trying to catch up with. In a nutshell: I am who I am. Holly. I am what life has made me, and I try to bring to life what my own has taught me. I do not wear tags, nor harbour a desire for any labels.
When asked what I ‘do’, it is hard to sum up my pursuits and activity, because I do many things and have done many different types of things, in a variety of places and backgrounds and environments. With experience in diverse roles, from administration and secretarial to management, operations and sales, I have worked in the insurance broking world, in corporate training, in communications, in the arts and in media communication, in event management and in the property development world. At the moment, much of my time is spent on managing home and family and, in mid 2014, I established a platform on Facebook called “Towards Greener Borders”, to help in the efforts around the world to address pressing environmental issues, in the hope of helping meet a global need to bring about urgent change.
Included amongst the things that I ‘do’… I write, and have done so since childhood (none as yet formally published in print); I am an organic gardener, and have practised gardening this way for more than twenty years, in both northern and southern hemisphere; I have successfully set up and run my own small, ethical business – resourcing, creating and retailing natural home and life products, raw honeys and other ‘gifts’ of the honeybee hive, as well as other organic and herbal foods; I am a mother and have dedicated myself to that role for more than half of my life, to others as well as my own children; I am a ‘teacher’ of sorts, and in a sense I am a ‘healer’ in certain ways too; I have been married since the early 1990s, have lived on three continents, am motivated by empowering others to lead their own best lives, and am a committed ‘environmentalist’. Wherever I am, and in whichever area I place my focus, I always seek to deliver excellence. I remain passionate about taking care of what we have, in order to hand it over in good shape to those whom we have brought into the world … justice, ethics and sustainability ever my cornerstone.
I spent my childhood years in South Africa, and have lived and worked not only in South Africa, but also in London, Edinburgh, the Borders (English/Scottish), Australia (NSW), currently residing in the countryside amongst the Berwickshire (UK) hills, a little way south of Edinburgh, and half an hour’s drive from England. Our home is situated on one organic acre, located beside a tiny 12th century church, and surrounded by (other people’s) conventional farming business pursuits. I dream of all the land being converted back to vibrant biodiversity, healthy with organic life, safe for all, now and into the future.
On a practical level and philosophical level, first and foremost I am a mother to two wonderful human beings, a daughter and a son, of whom I am immensely proud, who are getting on with their lives in wonderful ways, and for whom I have a great deal of love and admiration. Having devoted a large part of my life to raising children, in two hemispheres, on opposite sides of the world, it is with enormous gratitude that I look at my children and see how beautifully they have developed. Our journey has not been a straightforward one, but our stars shine brightly and our compass is a reliable one. For this all to have been possible, a positive attitude has had to be set, reset and checked at every stage of the journey, and my gratitude to life for all the blessings, despite the potholes, is indescribable.
On a more personal level, I am hugely inspired by integrity, elegance, loving kindness and excellence, wherever I perceive it, including across many facets of design. Where thoughtfulness, mindfulness and care go into any creation, venture or action, I feel that those who come in contact with whatever it is can relax.
I hold no formal qualifications nor boast any institute certificates, beyond completing school at the age of eighteen with a satisfactory university pass – a minor ‘miracle’, given the huge challenge to overcome background circumstances at the time – a loss of potential still haunting me even now. Despite wishing to go to university, I was forced (cajoled? directed?) into attending a six-month Secretarial Course, which held no interest to me whatsoever, and in which I grew increasingly bored. However, I persevered and endured it – for a few months – until I finally experimented with my newfound independence by applying prematurely for a Secretarial job, advertised in the local newspaper one weekend. The tentative application resulted in a glowing interview; the interview led to a job offer, which meant that soon I could ditch the course and concentrate instead on supporting myself, leaving shorthand and bookkeeping skills as mere mysteries to be mastered by others, and throwing all caution to the wind in the process. I was sent home from that inaugural interview with the directed loan and delivery of an electric typewriter to my small abode, and the clear instruction to learn how to use it (we were still on the manual typewriter stage of our course), before returning for my first day of work in the Big Wide World, one month hence.
Thus, apart from attending small workshops on a range of subjects in the intervening years, to date my only ‘doctorate, degree or other certified qualifications’ have been handed to me as real lessons and fully live experiences, gained along a sometimes incredibly rocky and winding path, by Life itself. My schoolgirl dreams of becoming a Teacher, an Interpreter (Japanese held strong appeal, given that it seemed the hardest language to learn), amongst other various and varied potential paths, never did materialise … but they might have, had circumstances been different. And who knows where those journeys might have led?
What nurtures me? Beauty, honesty and naturalness, in all its forms. I adore plants and all beautiful, useful or edible gifts of Nature, with a particular penchant for herbs, amongst which my favourites are lavender and roses. My most enduring interests and hobbies have usually included the use of herbs, with honey or beeswax thrown in for good measure. I am in awe of how much the natural world can provide, if we only remember that it’s all there for us, if we take care of it, and take heed to turn to Nature for help when needed.
Underlying everything I do, and every decision about life that I make, is the desire to seek out the positive and always live in the light of possibility, hope and freedom. I am passionate about children being loved, nurtured, disciplined, and guided well … through excellent example and positive role models… and I strongly believe that it is important to let children have their childhood, and be given the time and freedom to develop imagination. My own childhood was severely challenging at times, and it ended abruptly at the age of fourteen, after the tragic death of one of my step-parents.
Growing up in Africa, I was fortunate to spend most of my childhood outdoors, and always felt connected to the natural world. Perhaps this is why, as an adult, I still care deeply about the environment and believe that we should responsibly and sustainably cherish it – for the sake of our own health and wellbeing, for precious life, for the creatures and plants who play their vital part to sustain our life on this fragile planet, and for the benefit of the little ones who will follow us, inheriting all that we leave behind …
To me, it is the most logical thing in the world, to take care of the planet on which we dwell. Einstein said words to the effect that, if we cannot explain something very simply to a child, then we do not understand it ourselves. I think children have the innate intelligence to understand the need to take care of the Earth, without our having to explain it at great length to them, and it behoves us adults to relearn the simple wisdom that we came into the world knowing.
I take seriously the fact that, as the Bible clearly states, God asked us to take good care of this Earth. Whatever path we are on, I see that when we learn to listen to what life is showing us, we do not need to be told to care – it simply happens. Our life on this little Earth, hanging in space, lasts but a moment. We can each so easily leave it better than we found it … and I believe that we are required to do just that.
My mission for my own life is to make every moment count, to harm no one in the process of my own growth, and to help to empower others to feel strong enough to make a positive difference too. I sincerely believe that we each need love, and that love starts within ourselves, before it can move naturally beyond us. This is a time in the Earth’s history when positive energy and positive action is sorely needed. I hope that, through my blog and other writings or things that I do, some goodness will be added to help humanity, even in the smallest of ways.
Mother Teresa apparently once said: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Each of us can, within our own small or great sphere of influence, do small things with great love.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me … it has taken me a while to summon the courage to walk onto the ‘stage’, having been encouraged to do so for quite some time, and will take a while longer to find my confidence and my way around, but here we are, at last.
Let this new venture into the world of “blogging” begin!
PS. I am the editor of a page called “The White Space” at http://www.facebook.com/thewhitespace. Please feel free to visit there, for some peaceful inspiration in a busy world.
PPS. I would love you to visit and join us at “TOWARDS GREENER BORDERS”, which is a growing ‘community’ of like-minded and interested people – individuals, businesses and organisations – from all around the world. Please go to http://www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders, like it, and help us to spread the word, as we each work towards a safer, more sustainable and positive planet for us. Education and inspiration are the keys … and we need help to pass those on and share what we can. Thank you!
Update October 2017:
The Holly Tree Tales is now on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thehollytreetales.
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