Archives for posts with tag: life

“Autumn to winter, winter into spring, spring into summer, summer into fall,– So rolls the changing year, and so we change; Motion so swift, we know not that we move.” – Dinah Maria Mulock

I experience life with all of my senses. I even taste it with each of the seasons possessing, to me, a distinct flavor. I imagine winter, with its cool crispness and evergreen symbolism, is rosemary. Spring is caraway seed; tangy and fresh. Summer, of course, is saffron–earthy and warm and the color of sunshine.

And autumn–my season– is cinnamon. Rustic, warm and full of surprising depth.  It’s funny how we can find ways of relating one experience to another. Every time fall rolls around, I anticipate its smells and sights and somehow, I guess, even its taste. The seasons pass like the experiences of life; my brain stubbornly clinging to the memories of both like the hindmost autumn leaves that desperately clutch at the branches of the maple tree outside my window each year.

I don’t observe fall, I feel it. It seizes me; tugging me into this ethereal place where the earth shifts and the air that envelops me is steeped in some sort of otherworldly sensation. Autumn is tactile and alive and I allow it to draw me in like a good book. It is the enchanting phase of the earth’s yearly cycle in which the world sits in somber silence waiting for winter to strike bringing its tendency to strip the trees to their bare, skeletal forms and brush the canvas of the sky a chilly gray hue. The world seems to change its clothes, shedding the bright long days of the prior seasons, and casting itself in a woolen coat full of warmth and weight; eliciting a feeling that is somehow both familiar and enticingly enigmatic.

I<3 autumn. It. Is. Magical.

But as neither life nor my blog would be complete without symbolism, we venture into metaphor here.

Life being likened to the changing seasons of the year, is not a new analogy, but I think it bears significance and perhaps therein lies its tendency to be cliche. To further expound upon this ages-old allegory, I imagine that life not only has seasons, but that for each of us they are so individually subjective. That, like those living in various climes, that the seasons of one person’s life maybe drastic, consisting of dramatic differences from one season to the next with frigid winters and blistering summers. Others might have lives that mimic the climates where the year-round temperature is consistently balmy with only subtle distinctions between each passing season.

I am the former, not the latter (as if any of you had any question regarding that.:)) I have seen periods of such startling contrast so as to be distinguished from one another with remarkable ease. One season, which my blessed mind endeavors daily to blur to a distant, if not non-existent state, occurred during my twenties. I don’t remember them too well as it was fraught with a great deal of despair and more than my fair share of heartbreak. Confusion and unrest were the earmarks of this time and I often–as I have in this forum–referred to it as my Dark Ages. A time replete with darkness, a lack of clarity and an inhuman coldness that seemed wont to follow me.  I felt a tiny bit like Eeyore. Woe was me.;)

Winter can be tough. It does seem to drag on, threatening to smother us each within the confines of its persistent chill. The quilt of downy snow that blankets the earth often starts out cozy, but can become oppressive and stifling after it seems to continue for an inordinate amount of time. I felt as though, as a result of life circumstances, the Universe was unfairly expecting me to traverse through the suffocating brume of my life’s winter. It seemed endless and bleak and without reprieve.

Then came my spring. My world awakened with a startling sense of lucidity and purpose clearly defined. I felt as a rush of warmth danced its way across the sleeping ground and tickled the thawing earth to life. My world had awakened from the weary slumber of my darkest winter (knock on wood:)) and I felt…


Summer followed in short order and I found myself embracing the evolution of Hollie. Like a fine wine, I’m enduring my seasons as I age to my own personal perfection. Not perfection as in, “flawless,”  but rather my own take on the word: perfection as in, “fullness.”  Me being the best Hollie I can be. I have, after all, no desire to be flawless. I find my imperfections are becoming an endearing part of who I am. Sure, I endeavor to improve myself, but I’m okay with me and I like myself more and more with each passing season. And besides, in the words of Nietzsche, “In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.”;)

So as I stand on the cusp of both the literal Autumn and my own metaphorical one, the question begs, do I dread a coming winter? No, I really don’t.

It’s kind of like the Pilgrims’ first winter in America. They struggled so much having been ill prepared and lacking the skills to cope and endure the onslaught of the harshness of a New England winter. But with the passing seasons, they enacted a system of adaptation and preparation that made the subsequent winters bearable and perhaps, even pleasant. I feel the same about my life.

I feel fall as it creeps into the world again. It stretches its fingers out and clasps the bright drape of summer that shrouds the sky. Pulling the curtain of August back, it reveals the pewter-gray sky of early autumn. The smell of decaying leaves permeates the air as a tiny bite nips at my skin. I feel the temperature as it slowly dips to a more boreal state and the world seems to emit a sleepy yawn. I gather a shawl of experience and, hopefully, wisdom around me and relax as my life continues to evolve. I watch as a peaceful hush settles over the landscape of my life. Who knows, maybe the next few winters will be mild and cozy or maybe I’ll skip them all together. I guess we’ll see…



“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Anne Bradstreet


“When are you gonna love you as much as I do?” – Tori Amos

Who’s worthy of love? If you answered, “everyone,” then congratulations! You move to the head of the class! And for the rest of you, looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us today. I suppose class is in session.

The topic of love is something concerning which I have an abundance of expertise. “Why?” You ask.  Well it just so happens that it’s been an ongoing issue for me. Yes, that’s right, Holl has her hang-ups. Who would have thought? (If you say you would have, then you can take your snarky self elsewhere;))

We’ve talked about the lack of self-worth so many people have and how that thinking can lead us to some pretty undesirable places, but I’m thinking more lately about unconditional love; about people hiding their true selves in an attempt to present the world with a facade. I think it’s probably a significant flaw of human-kind to feel so impelled to create persona’s for the rest of us to see and I understand the reasoning behind this thinking; we’re all afraid of people not liking us for who we really are. It’s fear that drives us to hide our precious selves from those who populate our circle; everyone from co-workers, peers, neighbors and acquaintances to the most valued loved ones in our lives.

It’s so interesting, this silly paradox of emotion. We lock away our secret selves in an attempt to protect ourselves, but what winds up happening, is we only throw tiny shards of ourselves out there for the world; these measly little bits and pieces that do not represent us accurately. It does us a disservice to withhold so much of ourselves out of fear of not measuring up; of somehow having deficiencies that outweigh our amazing-ness. (Yes, it’s been a while since I interjected some Holl-ebonix, but I knew you were all jonesing for a fix…;))

So Miranda*, a friend of mine I’ve had for the last several years, said something to me very recently amid a torrent of self-depreciating tears. It’s not an unfamiliar principle, nor is it something we haven’t already explored, but the fact that it seems so pervasive, only adds to the cogent nature of the statement. She said she didn’t know if anyone knew what she really was–all the mistakes she’d made and all the flaws she bore–if any of them would still love her. Really? I mean, don’t get me wrong I totally get what she’s saying, but I’d like to think the people closest to me have more to them than just some superficial appreciation of me. That they love me for all of me.

Here’s hoping that people won’t define me based on my greatest flaw; that I won’t be remembered for my most significant deficiency or my worst mistake.

Can y0u imagine if your name was forever linked to the fact that one time in the ninth grade you shoplifted? Or if people always associated you with the time you picked on a kid at school? I mean don’t get me wrong; these things are certainly not things to be proud of and actions that are harmful to others are likely to have a lasting impact on both them and you. The point of life is not to achieve some level of flawlessness and to live steeped in self-loathing and regret when that’s not achieved, but rather to grasp each opportunity for progression and affirmation as they present themselves, to reach out to those around us by first loving ourselves. It’s an invaluable lesson and an effective tool in building deeper, more enduring relationships with the people around you as well as healing the internal rifts caused by years of self-neglect and derision.

It’s kind of like when the flight attendant cautions you to not leap to the aid of those around you until you’ve first secured your own breathing mask. Wise words from the friendly skies.

This is, undoubtedly, easier said than done. I’ve been pretty blunt regarding my own inability to ease up on self-criticism. To give you an idea of just how insidious it is, I remember in the first grade attending parent teacher conference with my parents and listening intently as my parents discussed my scholastic progression with my teacher. My parents used a phrase that was then echoed by my teacher. I had never heard it until then, but it has chided me with regularity since:

“Hollie is her own worst enemy.”

Wow, I remember thinking at the ripe-old age of six. That doesn’t sound good.

No, Holl. It doesn’t.

It think it’s difficult not to scrutinize our actions and achievements and to often find ourselves lacking. In a world where a person’s worth is often measured by their resumes and people are constantly garnering respect and admiration by burning themselves at both ends, it can be challenging to remind ourselves that we’re each composed of something greater. That we’re more than our accomplishments and likewise more than our shortcomings.

To remind ourselves that as human beings, we’re good enough–sans resumes.

I think it goes without saying that achievement is crucial in contributing to the world around us and endeavoring to leave this planet better and the people in it improved for having humored us throughout the drama of mortality. Progression and productivity are essential in creating our best selves, however, to obsess about it–to feel inadequate when we don’t measure up to some ridiculous ideal of what makes a good man or woman–is counterproductive. I think it’s putting the cart before the horse.

Perhaps if we just concentrated on building character, then the accomplishments would fall naturally into place. We would find greater effectiveness in our pursuits, because we would be operating with greater intentions; motives of a better quality.

I think that God created each of us like vessels. That our spirits take on many forms. I imagine a table filled with crystal decanters, vases and glasses of varying sizes and shapes. And likewise of varying capacities. If you are represented by a small, eight-ounce juice glass and you fill it until it’s brimming wouldn’t that be a greater success than if you were a large, cavernous vase 14 inches tall with nothing more than several drops resting in its base?

Maybe we’re each just responsible for attaining the full measure of our own individual creations. That’s what I’m inclined to think.

I’ll extend a challenge–yes that’s correct–a challenge. When you get some time, flip open a newspaper and peruse the obituaries. It seems morbid, I know, but stick with me on this. Scan over the entries. Read the words of the loved ones of the deceased. Soak in the memories these people have of their friend/family member. Absorb the impact that life had on those around them. See what good people are really remembered for and the effect that a person’s life has on others.

I read one a couple of years ago that five children had composed regarding their beloved mother. I think of it all the time and I get that familiar sting in my eyes. Why? Because I’m a big baby who cries all the time when I hear something that moves me. The children recounted stories and memories. They listed some of the greatest, most relevant principles they had been blessed to learn from their mom. Then they shared the one thing she had provided that was of greatest relevance to them:

“She showed us the face of God.” they said.


Not, “She made us do our homework. Or, “She made us eat our veggies.” Not that these things aren’t important. I’m a mother and I would feel no small amount of guilt had I neglected to set boundaries and be stern when necessary. But the greatest achievement this woman had was in rearing these exceptional individuals who, in turn, considered her greatest accomplishment to be instilling in them a deep appreciation for spirituality; a belief in something greater.

I’ve said it before: I don’t have all the answers. I am the Universe’s greatest work in progress. But there are things I know that resonate with me; that make supreme sense in an otherwise abstruse world. This principle, the idea that we are each distinctly unique and irreplaceable individuals, is likely the most crucial of them . Understanding this I believe is perhaps one of the great purposes of life; that our mistakes and faults may be facets of our life, but they are not what comprise us. Our humanity is more consequential than that. Our value is immeasurable. And yes, that does include each of you.;)



“Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Drift; it’s a funny word that conjures images of fallen leaves and shards of weathered wood as they saunter their way down an indolent stream. How is it that sometimes it seems depressively applicable to our journey in this rather capricious life? (And, yes, I’m fully aware of the fact that “depressively” is not an actual word, but it should be. If you have issues with my fabricated should-be-words, you’ll want to leave this blog immediately as I am unlikely to cease my use of them any time soon ;o)) How is it that even some of us with the most driven, type-A personalities still find ourselves sometimes suffering from this-is-not-the-life-i-signed-up-for-itis?

When one imagines the aforementioned stream with dappled light dancing on its surface, it elicits feelings of peace and serenity, but when we ourselves feel like we’re ‘drifting,’ we feel anything but peaceful. Having been mired in a place of listlessness, I found myself coming to loathe the word ‘drift.’ It seemed to be the order of the day. Despite all my best-laid plans; my years of creating mental outlines complete with bullet points of all the things I’d accomplish by a specific age, I had failed.

Fail. Perhaps the only word in the English language to surpass ‘drift,’ in its ability to throw me into a state of total morose.

Sure ‘fail,’ is a relative term, but does it really matter too terribly much if everyone around us tells us we’re wonderful, smart, beautiful, funny, loved, etc. if we feel somehow differently? I mean, don’t get me wrong–anyone who knows me can testify to the fact that I am not lacking in self confidence–but, I am undeniably my most severe critic. I suspect this is true–to some varying degree–of each of us.

So as my choices and the Universe’s plans for me conspired to guide me down a path that was not in accordance with intended plans, I found my trademarked self-scrutiny becoming tempered. I looked at my life, that had seemed on some level to be lacking for whatever reason, and started to see something different. It was never an issue of not being grateful for things I had, because I was and am, it was more an issue of disappointment. Disappointment in myself for having somehow neglected to have systematically crossed off each item of decreasing significance from my mental checklist. You know what’s really ridiculous? The fact that as I get older/awesomer (another word from the annals of Hollie-bonix) I start to find plans becoming not only less and less appealing, but considerably more limiting. Maybe the Universe does know a thing or two about me and who I’m supposed to be. Maybe I don’t know everything.

Imagine that. Talk about turning your every notion on its ear…;o)

So I stand here, firmly planted in the garden of my thirties with a mental life’s list crumbled in a metaphorical wastebasket and a Cheshire grin pasted to my face. Don’t misunderstand me, I definitely have plans, they just don’t dictate my every thought nor do they determine my self worth. And, like life, they’re fluid. They’re open to evolution and influence as I become whoever it is Hollie’s supposed to be. We’re working in tandem, the Universe and I, rather than having me impose my charmingly-stubborn don’t-tell-me-I-can’t-do-whatever-I-want will on life.

So sometimes I remember the bullet points I’d so painstakingly composed all those years ago and as I do, I don’t become sorrowful or feel in some way inadequate. I feel…free. Free to have possibility and opportunity and to not always know with unerring surety what each day, month and year should entail. And then I chuckle to myself–no I guffaw–because I was silly and young and endearingly human (still am) and constantly being surprised. Like I am so often on those occasions when I think with warm affection about one of my new favorite words: ‘drift.’ While it perhaps shouldn’t be a life’s motto, it definitely serves a purpose. Without those moments of aimlessness, I would never have had the opportunity to be still enough to hear all the things the Universe had been screaming at me all those years and to reach the conclusion that seems to be becoming the slogan for my life: the Universe is pretty damn smart.

But I guess if I’ve learned that, maybe I am, too…  :*)



“The best way to prepare for life is to begin to live.” -Elbert Hubbard

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