This girl listens to trees

Wherever I go, I always notice trees. I think they are nature’s greatest wonders and we can learn so much about life just by observing trees and their seasonal transformation.
I have discovered some beautiful spots in and around Haarlem where I can go to spend time with trees.
Sometimes I am not alone (often I have my son with me) or I appreciate a beautiful tree through a window while I am indoors. However, I really treasure the moments when I am alone with them.
This ritual has become an important self care activity. Some people go for facials and manicures, I head for the trees.
In this environment I often find it easier to seek inner wisdom about life’s difficult questions and my inner struggles. It is an opportunity to connect with the earth and myself again. I don’t need to engage in articulate conversation. All I have to do is sit quietly, observe the beauty around me and listen to my heart. Trees teach stillness so well.

I think life is like a tyre’s tread. When a tyre hits a few bumps in the road it needs realignment to run smoothly again and prevent damage to the tyre. This also happens to people. When I feel that my soul is restless and things just don’t seem right I like to spend time in nature to find realignment and new perspectives.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. – Hermann Hesse

One of the most significant lessons I’ve learnt from trees is their ability to let go. Have you ever noticed how gracefully trees change colour and lose their leaves? They seem so at ease with embracing change.
Learning to welcome change – whether it is positive, negative or a bit of both – has improved my quality of life. I’ve realized that the universe always brings the change when I am ready for it and need it. Moving to another country is the biggest decision I’ve ever made. Uprooting 17 years of adult life in one place wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t difficult because the time was right to see what else the universe has planned for me.

There is great freedom in letting go. It could be a person, a relationship, a job, a career path, a home country or material possessions – all of these have applied to me at some point in my life. Letting go gives me so much freedom to discover new places, different ways of thinking, new people and ultimately a new life.

If you want to read some of my previous posts on trees, freedom and new beginnings, click on these links:

Celebrate the gift of life


I’ve discovered these awesome little Buddha Doodles. I subscribed and they drop into my inbox each day. Buddha Doodles was started by a cartoonist in 2011 as a daily sketch practice for personal therapy. It quickly went viral in social media and appears regularly on the Huffington Post and Tiny

I liked this one – it reminds me that I have a beautiful life. And I treasure every minute of it, even though there are some difficult days (weeks…months). It is a privilege to be alive. I can stand outside in my garden and appreciate a beautiful sunset. I can walk in the park with my family. I can see my son grow. I am fortunate to have the most amazing life partner. I have enough. I am enough.


Life is a work in progress



Dusk in Knysna, Western Cape, South Africa.  Pic credit: Stephen Buchanan

Dusk in Knysna, Western Cape, South Africa.
Pic credit: Stephen Buchanan

I love reading stuff by The Mankind Project, an educational, personal coaching, counseling and mental health organisation. I found this on their Facebook page today. Real food for thought by Pema Chodron, Buddhist teacher, author and founder of the Pema Chodron Foundation.

Life is a work in progress, a process of uncovering our natural openness, uncovering our natural intelligence and warmth. I have discovered, just as my teachers always told me, that we already have what we need. The wisdom, the strength, the confidence, the awakened heart and mind are always accessible, here, now, always.

We are just uncovering them. We are rediscovering them. We’re not inventing them or importing them from somewhere else. They’re here. That’s why when we feel caught in darkness, suddenly the clouds can part. Out of nowhere we cheer up or relax or experience the vastness of our minds. No one else gives this to you. People will support you and help you with teachings and practices, as they have supported and helped me, but you yourself experience your unlimited potential.

I’m struggling with life at the moment and seeing the silver lining is a little difficult (I’ve blogged about this before – you can read that post here). But I’m also trying to keep things in perspective – amid everything that feels like disaster right now I have a beautiful life that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

I don’t have to be perfect – striving for perfection is actually a self-abuse and not helpful in any way. I am trying to stay connected to myself by listening to my inner voice, even when my inner critic is talking very loudly. I read something that said the soul knows what to do to heal itself but the challenge is to silence the mind. I think there’s a lot of truth in that.


There’s no App for this


I want to tell you a story about these trees. I’ve photographed them at different times of the year and different stages in my life over a couple of years. I actually feel like they’ve been on a journey with me.

I’ve celebrated amazing moments with them – we went for a walk at this park straight after I found out I was pregnant after trying for years. We introduced our son Matthew to this park when he was only a few weeks old (that photo is in the gallery) and now that he’s three he still enjoys running around the dam where these majestic giants live. I’ve contemplated my life here. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. These trees have heard it all, really. They’ve touched my spirit.

When my mind is a mess this is where I go and sit for a while to figure things out. I’ve found that the answers I need usually come when I sit quietly with myself.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. – Hermann Hesse




Happy Spring Day!




Happy Spring Day! My beautiful friend Robyn sent this thought to me this morning (my friends are going to stop telling me/sending me stuff…a lot of it ends up on my blog!).

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.

By Ernest Hemingway, reminding you to indulge in the start of the season with those who make you truly happy. Or else with nobody at all.

I love Spring. It is a time of new beginnings, renewal, colour and an opportunity to appreciate everything that’s beautiful. Being truly alive is quite wonderful and a privilege that many people never get to experience. I have so much to be thankful for this Spring. I didn’t think I would live to see another Spring…and now here I am. I am grateful for my life and all the people who make life worth living. ❤

Finding happiness


john lennon


This is really what I’ve always wanted. To be happy. Nothing more than that – just happy. It seems so simple, but I’ve spent years of my life trying to get to this point. I don’t really think of it as a destination, but more of a process and it has been a desperate search at times. And by happy I don’t mean rainbows and unicorns and that everything in life is always fantastic. It is a deep feeling that no matter what goes wrong, in my soul I am feeling alive, safe and at peace.

One of my favourite quotes is one by Aristotle:

Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.

For me, being happy is the the biggest success I will ever achieve in my life. If I’m happy I can be a better person, love more and feel more deeply. It means I can live a more meaningful life.