WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Deborah Sanders


This week's Wonderful Woman actually made an appearance here a few weeks ago when I featured her mother Anne. Having Deborah amongst this group of amazing ladies is an absolute treat as she really is an inspiration to everyone around her. She has known me since before I was born - apparently her and my older brother shared the same cot for nap times as babies when our parents were neighbours. The fact that we as families have remained in touch for all these years is a testament to how lovely they are!

Deborah is a really loving, warm, caring and generous person with a very strong character, who works well with people from all walks of life. Very early in her career she worked on a preserved railway for a few years cleaning the fire box out, coming home covered in grease and coal dust every day… Recently she’s been making waves as a project manager and has just finished working on commissioning healthcare in prisons in the UK. This was a huge achievement and will have a positive, beneficial effect on so many people. She’s very independent, outgoing, adventurous and loves to keep her brain and body active. She has just moved to Sweden to live with her soon-to-be husband and learning Swedish, whilst planning a wedding in less than three months, is definitely keeping her on her toes!

The actual times I’ve spent in her company over the years have been way too few and far between, but nevertheless always fun. Her positive, can-do, "nothing is impossible" attitude has been a consistent inspiration to me and I’m grateful for the distant role she has played in my life. Thank you dear Deborah for your wisdom and wonderful nature, I wish you nothing but Love Love, Lovely Love for this next stage of your life. x

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

Lovelyness can be found anywhere, the trick is to look for it.  To me lovelyness is being able to reach out and connect with the things that matter to me and allowing those things to reach into me to help me focus on lovely.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

I'm happiest when I'm connected with the people I love and who love me.  Now that I've moved countries from England to Sweden, I'm very happy to be living with my fiancé, but right now I am so looking forward to seeing family for a pre-Christmas celebration. 
There are many things that bring me joy, a job well done, clean bed sheets, my wonderful man unexpectely bringing me flowers, Skype with the friends and family that are no longer in the same country, being able to successfully get off the chair ski lift, a good glass of wine and an engaging book.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

Wonderful parents, who 'dragged me up proper'. I now have a great life because of their belief in me, the decisions they took and the ones they helped me make. 
My brilliant trolovade Herbert. Trolovade is swedish for betrothed, very formal and endearingly sweet.  I'm very grateful for the life we're creating together and very excited about the wedding in January. 
I think the things I'm most grateful for are clothes on my body, a roof over my head, clean drinking water on tap, food readily available as I'm aware so many people do not have these 'luxuries'.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. My family and friends, as they're the ones you create the memories with. 
  2. My health 'mens sana in corpore sano' - a healthy mind in a healthy body. 
  3. Learning new things and having fun, as no one died wishing they had done less of either. 

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I don't have one role model, I have several as I believe everyone has at least one admirable quality that would benefit me if I was to emulate it.    
 

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

I have a lovely friend who has had some adverse health circumstances and even in the midst of a waiting room, we had tears of laughter rolling down our faces from some silly joke.  There were tears of sadness, frustration and upset at other times.  But what I think is particularly lovely about her is being able to explore all that a friendship has to offer both the good, the ugly and the brutally honest. That is a priceless gift of loveliness that I treasure about her.

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

Honestly, anything that's not cooked by me.  Herbert makes a great beef bourguignon and I love my mum's cakes.  However I always think the special ingredient is love.  I love eating food that's been made with loving care and making food for someone else that I really care about.

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Wow, that's changed. Once upon a time it was hanging out with my female friends and having a nice glass of wine...... Now, Herbert (the action man) has got me into riding the back of his motorbike, skiing and listening to / seeing opera - ballet is next.  The one past time we both share is tango dancing, and there is nothing like being swept up in my man's arms and being twirled around the dance floor.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

I have two: 

"Does this honour me?" 

I used that as a mantra for EVERYTHING when life was not quite going as I wanted. If the answer was no, or I'm not sure, I either got it out of my life, did not do it or found another way around.  I applied it everywhere, from big things like relationships and my work  to the food I put in my body.  I continue to use it and it makes me healthier and wiser. 

I love this as it's simple and as the other saying goes if you're not living life on the edge, you're taking up too much room.  I always wonder what people are waiting for (besides the right time, money, circumstances) to make the life that they want to live. We're all going to be dust someday so what can I do now that makes a difference.

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Bed, I love a good bed. The difference it makes to the quality of sleep and my ability to function as a human being is immense.  I'd love to explore some beds in other lands and possibly my favourite is in Cumbria where I was raised as a child. It's a stunning place and I'm always blown away by its loveliness upon returning as an adult.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Hmm, I love all of them, namely for the changes between them but spring, when the chill mornings give way to that face warming sun is wonderful.  I'm especially looking forward to winter this year with proper snow. 

12. Do you have a signature style?

No, I don't think so.  I'm immensely practical so jeans, jumpers and boots right now.  But I love dressing up for parties / tango etc and love the surprise and delight when people see me without my glasses - I completely understand how superman pulled it off as I have people walk right past me.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

I lived in a big house with my family which my nana (grandmother) was a part of.  She was a fiercely bright and formidable woman.  She also gave great hugs.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Integrity, honesty, and a sense of fun / humour.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Best: That I believe everyone is doing the best they can with the knowledge / resources they have got. I therefore find it really easy to practice compassion.  

Worst: I can be stubborn and very right.  A friend tells a great story of when she was going abroad and we went suitcase shopping, she wanted neat black, came home with flowery turquoise.  She has some sight difficulties and I said it would be easiest to spot on the carousel and she of course, got the correct suitcase every time at the airports!

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Loving, committed, generous and loyal.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

Hmmm, I don't know if I could.  I'd love to live in Buenos Aires for some time, to have my tango be beautiful, smooth and elegant. But then I'd have to come back to be nearer family.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

To be a great wife, devoted daughter and great fun mother (fingers crossed).  And to excel in my chosen career.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely book, a lovely movie, a lovely song?

  • Book: A lovely book is anything by Roald Dahl.  I love the stories within the books and the tales that tell of being lovely or not lovely and the consequences. 
  • Movie: 'The Lake House', with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.  A story of time, love conquering all and a house that I would love to live in. 
  • Song: I don't listen to a lot of music but anything by Nina Ferro, a dear friend of mine and she has the most amazing singing voice which leaves me with goosebumps.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

Thank you for asking me to be a part of this, it was very lovely of you. x

 

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Yvette McManaway


Photo by Nicola Inglis

Photo by Nicola Inglis

From our very first meeting where we were sat next to each other at a business awards dinner we attended with our husbands, I knew we'd become great friends. Yvette entertained me all evening with her interesting, insightful and humorous stories, listened intently to whatever I had to say and shared numerous nuggets of nutritional wisdom. That was just over a year ago and what a year it has been!

In the past 12 months we have both been on a similar transformational journey of growth and progress. We have supported, encouraged, advised, listened to and learned from each other and I feel extremely blessed and privileged to have shared such productive, happy hours together. Yvette has championed me at every stage, helping me get a little closer to becoming the woman I'd like to be... This is something she is extremely good at and I am so proud and delighted to be able to announce that her coaching business FeedonLife is now up and running. Yvette is an emotional eating and mindset coach, who helps women gain body and food freedom, supporting them as they break free from dieting and binge eating. 

Dear Yvette, you're like the big sister I always wanted. I wish you every possible success with your new business and I thank you, sincerely, for your support, encouragement, kindness, patience, humour and love... x

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

I think moments of lovelyness touch the soul. Seeing or experiencing kindness, gentleness, unconditional love. When something takes your breath away or makes you smile, everything stops for a moment and you experience a flash of love and lovelyness.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

When I am totally present and authentic... I'm just me, being the best version of myself. Usually this means that I'm not thinking of the zillion things I have to or should be doing or saying .... and I'm totally present with my children, or my husband or with whatever I am doing at that moment. I think it's the greatest gift I can give them, and myself. It gives me a great sense of freedom and happiness when I can still my extremely busy mind and enjoy the "now"!

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

  • My fantastic, steadfast husband who always believes in me and loves me no matter what. 

  • My children who have turned out to be my biggest teachers in my life. 

  • Fantastic friends who I couldn`t be without. And lastly, every struggle, heartache and experience that has helped me to grow as a person and be who I am today.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. My health.. I`ve struggled with this many times in the past, and gosh, it`s hard to be a great Mum, wife, friend etc without it. 

  2. My precious family.

  3. To be of service... to do my bit to make the world a better place... each day. 

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

One doesn`t spring to mind currently!!

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

My dear friend Judi. To me, she is the epitome of Lovelyness. We've known each other for many years and she has always inspired me. She is one of those rare friends who gives you her undivided attention when you are with her. She really listens, never judges, criticises or tells me what I should or shouldn’t do... she just accepts me for who I am, warts and all. And lastly, she always sees the best in others, including myself! How amazingly lovely is that!!

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

You're asking me to pick just one type of food? Impossible!! I love, love, love food. All types, all sorts and lots of it! However, at the risk of sounding overly virtuous, my daughter did say to me the other day "Mum, you are the only person I know that gets excited over a bowl of veges". Yes, I love, crave and adore them.

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Hanging out as a family is my absolute favourite. I love being around nature, especially if I'm also walking or biking. I absolutely adore anything to do with gardening. Escaping somewhere with a good book is definitely a big favourite. Singing, dancing terribly, having a good laugh, eating, being with friends, hugging my gorgeous girls... and most importantly, having fun.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

Many. I'm a big fan of quotes and mantras. My top 2 would have to be:

This reminds me to push through the fear and get out of my comfort zone so I can keep growing as a person. 

And secondly, this isn't really a quote but a mantra that I have developed to help me get 're-centred' and remind myself of who I really am. Depending on the situation it changes. e.g.: 

  • "I am not defined by the state of my house." (This one gets used a lot. Especially when the gorgeous Holly comes around and my house is in its usual mess.) 

  • "I am not defined by my children." (When they are behaving rudely and I'm embarrassed!!) 

  • "I am not defined by my appearance or my weight." (This is a daily reminder for me.)

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Wherever my family is - home. Oh, and also Italy. My second favourite place in the entire world.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

I don`t think I have a favourite. I actually love and look forward to the changing seasons. I enjoy the difference it brings.

12. Do you have a signature style?

Is being comfortable a style? I know that the older I get the more I want things to be comfy! I no longer want to wear uncomfortably high heels all day.... or have my tummy sucked in overly tight...having said that, vanity is one of my downfalls and I do like to look nice and I love clothes! Probably, I would say my style is classic with a twist.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

There have been so many! My mum and dad for starters. Both taught me to be compassionate, to "give back to the community" and always be considerate of others.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Integrity, honesty, generosity, unconditional love, fun.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Best - probably that I care about people and believe in compassion and kindness. And I'm good at having fun! 

Worst - I can be feisty and have a quick temper. I can also be quite impatient. Oh and lastly, I can procrastinate about things I don`t want to do!

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Fun, loving, supportive, loyal and always accepting of who they are.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

That’s a hard one... I loved living in Nelson so I would move back there for the next few years while the girls are growing up. However, I absolutely love Italy and have the romantic notion of living there for a few months or a year. Why? I love everything about the place. The people I find passionate, expressive and warm. The food is amazing, and I love the beauty, history, and language. I guess I just feel very at home there.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

To live life really well and be the best that I can be.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely book, a lovely movie, a lovely song?

  • Book: I love, love, love books so this is a hard one. However, one book that made an impact on me many years ago, was Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom". After reading that, I realised that the most important thing in life is to 'choose your thoughts' or how you look at a situation. He chose to forgive and not be a victim. I found that inspiring.

  • Movie: "Young at Heart" - I saw this movie many years ago with my lovely friend Tania. We sat in the back row of the cinema and sobbed our way through the it. We were so moved to see a group of elderly people finding joy and purpose in coming together as a choir. It was a beautiful movie and reminded me no matter what age someone is, they still desire purpose, love and connection.

  • Song: "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. It always moves me to tears.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

Loveliness starts with how we treat ourselves. Be kind and compassionate to yourself, especially with your self talk. Too many of us have harsh inner critics that dominate and stop us from shining brightly... 
Lots of love
Y

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Suzi Peake


Some of the best friends you make in life are those you meet when you have children... That shared experience of joining the mysterious motherhood club bonds you together in a very real way, making you a part of each other's day to day lives. Having someone to share those early trials and tribulations with can be a lifesaver and for me that person was Suzi Peake - another of my desert island friends.

We moved back to our first home in North Wales a few weeks after our first daughter Arabella was born and within days we met Suzi, with her firstborn Isla, sitting out on the grass. She was the first Mummy-friend I made and it was no time at all before we were spending a few days a week together. Whether out for long walks pushing the prams, at each other's homes for playdates, sharing stories over tea and toast (or the occasional Prosecco when our husbands took the girls out for Daddy Daycare), or bonding over our kids delight at discovering their world around them, Suzi was the best friend I could have possibly hoped for in those early years.

Our daughters were equally delighted about having found each other and the friendship that grew between them was beautiful and very special. From tentative crawling, to chasing each other around wherever we went, to kicking up leaves and picking flowers, to afternoons spent crafting, painting, baking, playing and reading lots of stories, they did it all together and had so much fun. As did we!

Suzi and I also shared the joys of pregnancy with each other... Our second kids were born a few months apart and we looked after each other's daughters during the arrival of the babies. Sadly we left for NZ when they were both only a few months old and the Potter-Peake years came to an end, but there is no-one who will ever replace them in our hearts.

Suzi is wonderful and wise beyond her years. There was many a time she rescued me with her centred, down to earth approach to life and kind, thoughtful ways. She is strong, courageous, extremely intelligent, the most marvellous mother and a truly fabulous friend to those who are lucky enough to have her in their lives.

Dear Dear Suzi, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the years we spent together, I will always cherish the fun, fond memories. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wisdom, your love, your support, your exceptional company and above all your friendship... x

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

There are many things that cause me to think ‘that’s lovely’ – from a beautiful sunset to an unexpected act of kindness from a stranger.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

The tiniest things bring me joy, but they almost always relate to my family. Watching my son read his first book, my daughter swim her first length, a walk with my husband and children as the leaves fall … they’ll move me to tears and make me feel like I’m one of the luckiest people alive.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

The unwavering support and love of my husband, no matter what. My two children who constantly amaze me and surprise me, and the fact that I have a profession that allows me to balance my time with work so that I can be there to drop them off and pick them up from school every day. Also, my group of strong, independent, vocal and brilliant female friends, many of whom I’ve known since University.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

There’s only really one: trying to strike the right balance between work/play and life for everyone in our family. We all need time to ourselves and time together (in 2’s, 3’s and 4’s), and I think that the time we stop checking if the balance is right will be the time we get it horribly wrong.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I don’t really have one at the moment. I’m very happy with where I am in my life.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

There are many people that I admire greatly, and I’d have to mention my friend Katie here, who became a single-parent when her husband tragically died of cancer 8 years ago. I admire anyone who brings up a child alone, and Katie has battled hard and sacrificed a great deal to provide her daughter with every opportunity, security and love – in often difficult circumstances. She’s finally now getting a chance to shine in her career and is doing brilliantly, I am so proud of her. We could all learn something from her positivity, attitude and determination ‘not to be a victim’.

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

Tapas/Smorgasbords/sharing plates/buffets – anything with lots of choice – my daughter calls them ‘picky bits!’

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Dancing with my daughter to Strictly Come Dancing, doing jigsaws with my son, walks as a family, reading a great book, the first glass of wine on a Friday night with my husband when the kids are in bed, girlie weekends with my pals, the list goes on!

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

No. I think people are far too quick to rattle off quotes at times. As a copywriter, I often get frustrated when organisations and people use other’s quotes to try and make sense of what they do. I think it’s lazy. Quotes can be helpful, but there are also times when people throw them around in a preachy way, and I’m more interested in the individual or story hiding behind the quote.

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Generally speaking anywhere in the open air with my family. Or a hot tub with my best girlfriends.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Summer. Though I seem to sit and spend around 3 months waiting for it to arrive. It’s the unfortunate affliction of living in Britain.

12. Do you have a signature style?

I don’t think so, but I suspect my friends and family would say I do. They’ll pick things up in shops and say ‘this is very you’. I think I just like what I like.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

I didn’t really have an inspirational figure growing up. If I could go back to that time, knowing what I know now, I would say my mum. I couldn’t appreciate how much she sacrificed for her children back then, but I sure as hell do now. I just wish she was still alive so I could tell her what a hero I think she was.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty and loyalty. I’m not very good at asking for help or support, and I really value my friends that know that, but pitch up and give it anyway. I’m not one for drama or wallowing – and I love my friends that come round and make me laugh.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Best: I’d like to think I always find the time to be there for those who need me.

Worst: Impatience. If I’ve made a decision about something, I’m not very good at waiting for it happen. I can also be rather grumpy, especially in the mornings – and I’m not good at hiding my emotions, they’re written clearly over my face!

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Always there to listen and offer up advice without being judgemental (I hope).

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

I’d share my time between Colorado, the Isle of Skye, Glasgow and Thailand, depending on the season, dress shopping requirements, R&R needs and of course Midge numbers (anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting the wee Scottish biting Midge, be grateful…)

Thailand

Thailand

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

At the moment I’m in a place where I’m happy to see how the next few years unfold. I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunity life will present next. It’s a good place to be as there’s no pressure.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: I read so many picture books to my kids that make me say ‘What a lovely book!’ I think we should all read children’s books more often, they’re good for the soul.
  • Movie: I can't think of any movie that sticks in my mind I'm afraid. 
  • Song: I constantly have the soundtrack to Annie in my head as it's Isla's all time favourite at the moment!

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

That would be too like a quote for my liking.

July 2011 

July 2011 

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Rebecca Renner


Rebecca was one of the very first friends I made here in New Zealand. As soon as we met each other, it was clear that we shared a lot of the same passions and pastimes, so we instantly clicked. We bonded over our love for creative projects, furniture upcycling, baking, cooking, family time, good food, good wine, good laughs and simple pleasures. 

Rebecca is one of the kindest, most thoughtful, caring, generous people I’ve ever met. She goes above and beyond to help those in need around her and makes a difference in so many people’s lives. As the pastor’s wife she plays an active role in the day to day running of the church, but she also volunteers her time to numerous causes and activities… Sunday School, PTA, Playgroup and Mainly Music, the school board, field trips and school camps, various community projects and making meals for people when they most need it. You could be forgiven for thinking she’s WonderWoman because she does it all and makes the juggling act - for the most part - seem so effortless! She is completely real and down-to-earth, but really is that Supermum who can do everything.

We hosted a cooking workshop together once that was all about resourceful recipes and making your family’s food go further. Rebecca is extremely creative and it was such a joy working with her on that project - we might have to revisit it together to bring you here…

For our first year or two in Hamilton, we saw each other regularly and spent a lot of time together as families. Rebecca and Philip invited us into their home and into their lives when we were struggling to find our feet and were desperately missing close friends and family. As is sadly the nature with having kids who are different ages, life just sometimes gets in the way and you drift apart… but you never forget those special people who truly make a difference in your lives. For the happy times we spent with the Renners, for the kindness they showed us and for all the Sundays we shared meals together, we will always be grateful.

Dear Rebecca, thank you for your thoughtfulness, for your friendship and for the many ways in which you have inspired me… x  

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

It is all the things and people that hold a beauty that appeals/speaks to my heart, mind or eyes.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

I am happiest when I am laughing out loud. I have one particular friend that brings the best out in me and we have the best fun together. One might say we are double trouble. 

My family bring me the most joy (not all the time mind you, we have our moments). Dinner times have become a highlight over the years and have gone from chaos when the children were younger to now hearing about all the highlights of the day and things that matter to us all. It really brings me joy being together.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

I had a choice many years ago to make a decision to change the direction of my life. Because of the people in my life at the time, I chose a new direction and I am so grateful for so many of those people and the opportunities that came my way because of this decision.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. Relationships.
  2. Be Genuine.
  3. Listen, really listen to people and show you are present.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

My daughter would have to be my current role model. When presented with situations that even adults find hard to deal with, she finds a way of showing she is growing into an amazing adult that is able to think outside the square. She doesn’t always get it right and she has bad days like us all, but she is learning to deal with life in the most beautiful way. I am loving that she shares it all with me.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

Mother Teresa because she was so selfless and abundantly generous. What an amazing Lovelyness to have.

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

The kind you can make and give for others to enjoy.

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

I love hanging out at the Hamilton Gardens with my family, drinking coffee at Cafes, going for walks around the lake or beside the river and sharing a bottle of wine over dinner with friends.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

Free printable on www.lilluna.com

Free printable on www.lilluna.com

10. Where’s your favourite place?

We have been blessed to be able to spend a few weeks every Christmas holidays for many years with lovely friends, eating lovely food and drinking lovely wine at lovely Matarangi Beach, creating lovely memories. Definitely my favourite place.

Matarangi Beach, Coromandel, NZ

Matarangi Beach, Coromandel, NZ

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

I love Summer, there is something about the smell of sunscreen on the beach and the feel of the sun on my skin and long lazy days reading that I just delight in.

12. Do you have a signature style?

Not really. I like what I like and finally, at 38, I’m ok with everything me.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My husband has to be my biggest inspiration. I know it says growing up, but we have been together since I was 16 and I knew him years before we started going out. We really have done life together. He is an awesome guy and I am so lucky to have him. He has helped me to grow into the person I am today by supporting, encouraging and guiding me through life. He is definitely wise beyond his years and has a strong heart for God.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty would be high on the list. I just love it when my friends are real.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

I think my best attribute is that I care deeply about many things and people. I also think this is my worst attribute, as it leads me to worry too much about things that are out of my control. It can also snatch precious time in which I could be doing other constructive things.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

I hope my friends would say I’m genuine and real. What you see is what you get. I also hope they would say I care and I’m loving.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

Right where I am. I love everything about life at the moment and I think I am so blessed to live in such a beautiful county. Most days I take it all for granted, but when you start thinking about all the opportunities little old Aotearoa has to offer, it really is a little slice of heaven.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

I want to keep doing what I’m doing but love more, care more, be more generous and be the change I wish to see in the world. Maybe even write a book?

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: The Bible has it all.
  • Movie: A Wonderful Life. An oldie but a goodie, especially at Christmas time.
  • Song: Jaime Lawson - “I wasn’t expecting that”. Sad but lovely.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

I just want to say Thank you Holly for your amazing blog. You truly are a lovely person and I am so blessed to know you. And to everyone else “Fake it until you make it” is a mantra that will see you through. Be confident in all you do and really know who you are.

Blessings Rebecca

Michael Bublé concert in Auckland... I agree with you Rebecca, best night out ever! x

Michael Bublé concert in Auckland... I agree with you Rebecca, best night out ever! x


WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Anne Scott


Anne is one of those people that I have known my entire life. Not a family member, but obviously a close early friend of my parents, who then naturally became a sort of surrogate Aunty to me. She was their next door neighbour when they were first married and Anne’s daughter and my older brother were little baby buddies. My parents moved away before I was born, but they always remained a part of the extended friends and family list and the friendship that they formed has endured to this day. That is how lovely she is!

Growing up we didn’t see them that often, but I remember the times we did share as being very happy times… I think the most prolific memory I have of Anne is her standing in our kitchen teaching me all about yeast, the simplicity of bread making and the art of the scone. She made it seem so simple and fun! I was thoroughly engaged and learned many a lesson from her that I will in turn pass on to my daughters.

When I think of the wonderful friends that we ourselves have made since getting married and having children, I truly hope that our daughters grow up thinking of them as highly as I always have done of Anne. She is kind, loving, friendly, fun, thoughtful, an absolutely amazing mother and a wonderful friend to those that are lucky enough to know her. She has touched so many people with her wonderful home baking and simply spreads love wherever she goes.

Dear Anne, I am extremely grateful for the distant but distinctive role you have played in my life and for the friend you have always been to my parents. Thank you for the lessons and thank you for the love… x

Now over to you: 

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

Everyday is filled with things I love to do, whether it is being with my family, walking in the sunshine or baking in my kitchen.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

Being with my family and having special mummy daughter times together.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

Being healthy, for my family looking after me after I broke my knee and for my husband proving he is a good cook after all.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

Health, happiness and family.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

No one, as I am grateful for all the people who have crossed my path and helped me along the way.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

My daughter, as she is finally settled and getting married to a wonderful man who loves her and makes her laugh - although they are in Sweden!

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

English through and through.

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Cooking (I love making cakes), knitting, reading and walking when the weather is right in Cumbria.

Just a few amazing creations from Anne's Kitchen!

Just a few amazing creations from Anne's Kitchen!

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

Live life to the full!

Found of Etsy

Found of Etsy

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Home.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Spring... Winter is over and life is opening up again with longer days and warmer weather.

12. Do you have a signature style?

No, I just like to look nice and feel comfortable.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My biggest inspiration was my mother. She was a very independent lady who I love and miss every day... she always said how it was and there was no messing, I can see her when I look in the mirror every day.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty, kindness and people being themselves.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Best : I am a friendly person and find people talk to me.

Worst: I can be a bit short tempered with those I love at times.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Happy, caring and loving.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

Cumbria, after 30 years away living in the Midlands ‘There is no place like home’.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

To be happy and healthy. I also look forward to spending time in Sweden with my daughter Deborah and her husband Herbert.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: Anything historical (I love them and the history)
  • Movie: An old film, ‘An affair to Remember’  with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr... tears every time.
  • Song: The song in the above film.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

Be happy, healthy and look after each other ALWAYS.

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Arthi Amaravathisamy


Happy Wednesday Lovely Readers! This week I'm delighted to feature the first Wonderful Woman who has come highly recommended from others, rather than someone I have had the pleasure of getting to know myself... 

According to those that know her, Arthi is extremely lovely, friendly and conscientious. She is a very caring person who is always smiling and she brightens up people's days just by being around them. 

She is a very talented woman and a marvellous seamstress, who makes a lot of her own clothes that could rival those made professionally. When asked to mend a client's medal ribbon, she did so happily and the client was most impressed.

Arthi and her husband Karthic are also both wonderful cooks and have impressed people with their culinary skills... She has inspired me to try some new recipes and expand my cultural horizons.

They have just moved to Wellington from Hamilton and people were very sad to see her leave, but no doubt many of the friends they've made will keep in touch. 

Arthi, I wish you both every joy and happiness on your next adventure and hope you enjoy exploring your new city. Wellington is a fantastic city - so full of art, culture and design so there is plenty to keep you busy. I'm sure you will touch many people's lives there and have a wonderful time... x

Now over to you: 

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

The clear blue sky, the raindrops, the flowers, the ocean….. anything that is simple is lovely. 

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

Waking up after a good night's sleep; after eating home cooked food, with a full stomach and no space even for water; upon finishing my craft projects; having morning and evening coffee with my husband.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

For such a lovely husband, for my Mom and Dad for making me the strong woman that I am today.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. Live life to the fullest.
  2. Be happy and peaceful.
  3. Never hurt anyone.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I have no role models so far in my life. I believe in “Your life is your own footsteps.”

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

Kids. Kids are always lovely without any expectations.

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

I live and die for “Biryani” – a traditional food. 

Recipe on tarladalal.com

Recipe on tarladalal.com

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Here goes the list:

  1. Sleeping
  2. Cooking, obviously a close second.
  3. Crafts
  4. I can’t be a techie without wasting time online
  5. Mobile games
  6. Shopping – shouldn’t it be the first on the list? Hmmm… :P

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

Thirukural # 616 By ThiruValluvar.

Thirukural # 616 By ThiruValluvar.

Translation: "Determined efforts result in prosperity; idleness will bring nothing."

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Home, wherever that is.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Being from a tropical country where there is no seasonal difference, I am just experiencing seasons now after a very, very long time without.

12. Do you have a signature style?

I and my home are lookalikes... Pretty and tidy sometimes, haywire and messy sometimes! Yeah yeah… I am lazy…

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My cousin, Priya. She is a strong and powerful woman, with great character. From her I learnt how to face life as it comes and take bold decisions, which happens every now and then.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Truth and honesty.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

I'll admit it… I can be easily bribed with a teeny tiny piece of chocolate. 

I am a bit short tempered. But I have learnt to my maintain calm and not turn into a witch.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

A funny, caring person to go to.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

It's New Zealand, because that is where I live now. I love where I live!

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

I am trying to reduce the usage of my gadgets. I'd love to give up my mobile phone some day.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Song: 

             “Putham Puthu Boomi Vendum
               Nitham Oru Vannam Vendum
               Thanga Mazhai Peyya Vendum
               Tamilil Kuyil Paada Vendum” – By A. R. Rehman 

    Translation: "Need a new earth, Need a new sky everyday, Need golden showers, Need a Cuckoo to sing in Tamil" (My mother tongue)

  • Movie: 3 Idiots – Hindi (An Indian Movie)
  • Book: Preachings of Swami Vivekananda

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

Let your thoughts be always great & progressive, even if success eludes you.

DSC_0083.JPG

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: The Silent Supporters


Wonder Women print available on Etsy

Wonder Women print available on Etsy

Happy Wednesday Everybody!!

I have several amazing women in the pipeline to feature here, but for this week I wanted to send out some special love to all of my Silent Supporters. Wonderful, lovely, creative women who prefer to stay out of the spotlight and would rather not be profiled, but who are extremely genuine and generous with their love, support, feedback and friendship.

Occasionally in life you come across people who completely touch your heart. People who change your world with their goodness and kindness and inspire you to become a better person. Regardless of what comes your way, they are there in the background supporting you and cheering you on... Always ready to pick you up when you fall, without question or judgement.  

I count myself extremely lucky to have met numerous such wonderful women... 

Dear Silent Supporters, my behind-the-scenes Beauties, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the love, support, encouragement, friendship and words of wisdom. You are all true Wonder Women! I am so grateful for your presence in my life and I wouldn't be where I am without you. Thank you.

Love Holly x

Question: Who are the Silent Supporters in your life? Who are your Wonder Women? Send this on to them to let them know how much they are appreciated. x

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Audrey Hepburn


Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face

For my first celebrity addition to this Wonderful Women Wednesdays feature, there could be nobody better to start with than Audrey Hepburn. She epitomised Loveliness in all she said and did, and it is this legacy that for me almost outshines her style icon status. There's no doubt she forever changed the way women dressed and that her inimitable style continues to inspire women and fashion designers today... But it is the way that she treated people with kindness and respect regardless of their backgrounds or age, the graceful, elegant way in which she lived her life and her ability to alter how women view themselves still to this day that will keep her legacy alive forever.

Audrey Hepburn will of course always be remembered for the famous roles she portrayed in movies that have become timeless classics: From the princess in Roman Holiday, the girl next door in Sabrina, the model in Funny Face and the socialite Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's to my personal favourite, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and many more...

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

However, to her it was the role of mother to her two sons Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti that she saw as her biggest achievement. It was this role that taught her the biggest lessons and inspired her to become a UNICEF ambassador in later life. She went on to help those children in the greatest of need and worked at changing the world one act of goodness at a time.  

Instead of my usual 20 questions, I thought I'd share 20 pieces of wisdom I've learned from Audrey Hepburn over the years. She has been a part of my life for 25 years now and I think it is so lovely that long after her passing she continues to have such a positive effect on people all around the world. She has inspired me to live a better life, to be true to myself, to be grateful for the life I have, to appreciate family above all else, to hold my head up high and to always treat others with kindness... I am extremely grateful for the wonderful movies she has left behind, for all of the many books and articles that have been inspired by her life & style and for her wise words that echo through time, continuing to influence generations of women to come. I for one will always love her! x

20 LESSONS FOR A LOVELY LIFE:

1. Happiness comes from being grateful for the life you have.

"If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough." A.H.

Time and again it has been proven that money can't buy happiness. Like Loveliness, it is not something you can fully define as it means something different to each of us... It is so easy to fall into a pattern of blaming the world for our misfortunes, envying other people what they have or wishing for something more, to always be striving for something better. But I firmly believe that happiness comes from within and is a state of mind that you choose. If you truly appreciate all that you already have and seek out those small beauties and simple pleasures of everyday life, you will be fulfilled. Your life is the whole sum of all your experiences, good and bad. Who knows how long we all have on this earth? By being grateful here and now we are taking responsibility for making this the best possible life we can. And by finding your own happiness, you will spread it wherever you go!

2. Today is the day.

"Pick the day. Enjoy it - to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come..." A.H.

Not every day can be a perfect day, but by taking things for what they are and making the most out of whatever situation presents itself, you will find happiness. Your past doesn't have to define you and your future holds endless possibilities... Whatever will be will be! So enjoy today for what it is, discover what simple pleasures bring you joy and be at peace with yourself. In the end it's the small everyday things that fill up a lifetime so take a walk, smell the flowers, surround yourself with family and loved ones, laugh out loud, read a good book, cook a nice meal, make some jam - whatever feeds your soul and fills you up!

Found on Huffington Post

3. Family matters above all else.

"I want to be home with my family. Now, how does that look in print? But I really do! I am quite a simple person... I may not always be offered work, but I'll always have my family... For me there's nothing more pleasant or exciting or lovely or rewarding than seeing my children grow up... and they only grow up once, remember." A.H.

Dear Audrey, I could not agree with you more! The joy I get from watching my daughters, seeing the world through their eyes and witnessing the journey they are on surpasses everything else. I could spend forever at home just being with my family and enjoying the simple joys of everyday life.

"She loved just being home with her family. We'd have dinner in the kitchen and she loved sour apples for dessert. She certainly loved and respected her career, but her family came first..." - Connie Wald, a close friend

Photo by Holly Potter

Photo by Holly Potter

4. Treat everyone with kindness.

"I think, in retrospect, it was that Audrey was such a lady herself. You knew she wasn't a real princess, but you still gave her deferential treatment. She had class the average young American girl never had. And, you know, she never changed all her life. All the years that I knew her and worked with her. Wherever she was, in Europe or America, people respected her. I can't think of anybody else that I have worked with that would have such devotion from her friends." - Bob Willoughby, photographer

Audrey was an extremely thoughtful person and treated everyone with kindness, regardless of their age, background or position. She is remembered for having been kind and respectful towards everybody she worked with and came into contact with. Whether a director, photographer, fellow actor, gaffer or anyone she met during her UNICEF years, she treated them all the same and simply spread love wherever she went.... She was openly grateful towards all of the people involved in any of her successes and always said that she was just a product of all their combined talents. Her mother had always taught her to be kind, to be thoughtful, to give love and to be useful, so writing thank you notes, sending thoughtful gifts and helping out wherever she could was just part of her nature. What a lovely way to be!

"She had the rare capacity to listen to people and come up with the right advice, by instinct as much as anything." - Christa Roth, UNICEF 

Found on quoteforest

Found on quoteforest

5. You are stronger than you realise.

Audrey to me resembles a pillar of strength and was the living proof that you can indeed get through anything with grace, class and style. She survived Nazi occupation, scraped for years to find food during the war and had to take whatever jobs she could to help support herself and her family. She suffered several miscarriages, had two failed marriages, endured infidelity and struggled with insecurities her whole life... Yet through it all she dreamed of a better life and knew that she could get through anything. She never lost sight of who she was or where she'd come from and regardless of her situation, she always conducted herself with grace and elegance, which earned her the respect of everyone around her. This strength is truly inspiring!

On the set of My Fair Lady with her terrier, Mr Famous 

On the set of My Fair Lady with her terrier, Mr Famous 

6. Believe in yourself, BE yourself...

"I've never believed in this God-given talent. I adored my work and I did my best... I had experience in working, working hard. Ballet is hard. Discipline. Those were the things I could contribute." A.H.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Audrey never studied acting, never went to drama school and was a complete novice when she first stepped on a sound stage. But she worked through her nerves, acted from the heart and brought the life she'd lived through to her work. She believed in herself and believed that what she had was enough... 

"Audrey was so impish and yet so simply beautiful. A lot of other celebrities depended on other things, physically - on their breasts and their shape. She didn't make a big thing of that, and for that reason, I thought she was wonderful. Because you didn't have to be conscious of the physique, you were only conscious of the persona." - Sid Avery, Photographer  

"She has lots of flaws that make her Audrey Hepburn. Thick eyebrows, uneven teeth. She doesn't mind if her hair is disheveled or she falls into a pot of soup. She's a real girl." - Franz Planer, Cameraman

7. Insecurity can be overcome.

"As a little girl I had a terrible complex about my big feet - I wear eight and a half - and I'd grown up with ballerinas who were little things. I was always too tall and if I wore white socks, people were going to see what big feet I had, compared to the girls I always admired with pretty little feet and pretty shoulders and a bosom and everything I didn't have." - A.H. filming Funny Face

Like so many women, Audrey thought she was "funny looking". She had body issues and insecurities just like the rest of us which only adds to her charm. She was always surprised and genuinely grateful for the compliments she received and never understood the fascination people had with her. But she learned to accept herself, love herself, make the most of her particular features and in so doing inspired women all around the world to do the same. Almost every woman I know struggles in some way with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy - Audrey serves as a great reminder to us all that we are in fact enough, exactly the way we are.

Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

8. Seize opportunities when they present themselves.

"This is how I got into movies: not because I thought it was so wonderful to be in one and, gosh, here's my dream coming true, but because I needed money to live. And so when another opportunity was offered to me, I took it. Gratefully." A.H.

Audrey's somewhat fairytale life seemed to be a series of perfect opportunities seized... Of being at the right place at the right time, with the proper attitude. She proved that hard work and perseverance pay off if you are open to new things. Her mother encouraged her to "Just get on with with it!" and she did. She didn't set out to become a movie star, in fact all she ever wanted to be as a young woman was a ballet dancer. But she took opportunities as they came and the rest is history. If you are open to things, luck will find you!

9. Believe in Fairytales.

While I've decided that "Happily Ever After" is a myth, Audrey Hepburn - through her movie roles and her life - has always inspired me to keep believing in Fairytales, to believe that anyone is capable of transforming themselves and their life... To have faith that anything is possible and nothing is final, that times of misfortune and sadness come to an end and that there is always something wonderful just around the corner.   

In the same way as many of the characters she played went through fairytale like transformations, Audrey's life too was a fairytale. She'd gone from rags to riches, from famished to famous and so she understood the way the characters she played felt, the uncertainty they had, and the hope and yearning for beauty that burned within them. This was the story of her life and so she played them effortlessly.   

10. Good manners will get you a long way.

"Audrey was known for something which has disappeared, and that is elegance, grace and manners... God kissed her on the cheek, and there she was." - Billy Wilder

"Audrey, like Hubert [Givenchy], behaved so well at every moment of life" - Dreda Mele, former Givenchy directrice

"We were about the same age and she was just charming, with beautiful manners. But we were all brought up like that then, we had to be. We were raised that way, it was a different milieu, when graciousness and manners mattered." - Polly Mellen

Audrey was living proof that good manners will get you a very long way. Just like her mother did, both of our mothers taught us the same thing and we are in turn trying to pass on this vitally important lesson to our two girls. Regardless of where you find yourself or who you are with, good manners will always keep you one step ahead.  

Found on Etsy

Found on Etsy

11. Eat well, live well and never stop learning.

"My life isn't theories and formulae. It's part instinct, part common sense. Logic is as good a word as any, and I've absorbed what logic I have from everything and everyone... From my mother, from training as a ballet dancer, from Vogue magazine, from the laws of life and health and nature." A.H.

Eat Well... Audrey always looked after herself, ate well and led a healthy, disciplined life which gave her great energy and no doubt added to her beauty. After struggling to find food for years during the war and then making herself sick by binge eating afterwards, she was forever changed about the way she viewed food. She appreciated what she ate and loved food (cooking as well as eating), but had what she called an in-built shut off valve so she just knew when she'd had enough. 

Live Well... She much preferred her life in the country to the times she spent in cities and loved being outdoors. She went to bed early, surrounded herself with people and things that she loved, laughed a lot and didn't take life too seriously. She knew what was good for her but also knew the importance of allowing yourself a treat now and then!

"You have to be as relaxed as possible about food and fitness and the rest of it, or you'll be a slave to your beauty habits... You may have great skin, but you'll be a robot... I love to walk, so I do get lots of air... lots and lots of oxygen. And I sleep marvellously well... I'm very relaxed and unmethodical about myself. I do what I have to do and let it go at that." - A.H. 

"She always followed the program and her life was very continuous. She tried to get up and eat and take her walks and go to sleep at the same hour." - Sean Ferrer, Son

And never stop learning... Audrey was fluent in five languages - English, Dutch, French, Spanish & Italian - which stood her in great stead through both stages of her life. She went through life with her eyes, heart and mind wide open and never stopped learning. We are never too old to learn new things, to improve ourselves, to grow as human beings... We live in such an amazing time with endless learning opportunities right at our fingertips, so open your eyes and take it all in!

12. Style is a personal journey - Know who you are and who you are not.

"You see people imitating her, and they are Audrey Hepburn clones - it becomes laughable because they are trying too hard. Imitation is not what she would have wanted. She would have wanted women to develop their own style. She just happened to have a propensity of style." - Pamela Fiori, Town & Country magazine

Audrey's exceptional sense of style stemmed from the fact that she knew exactly who she was, what her assets and flaws were and how to make the most of what she had. She knew what suited her and what didn't work. She was always very specific about what she would and wouldn't wear and it is this self confidence and self awareness that defined her style - a style that would become an adjective in itself, so Audrey! She didn't see herself as an icon, she just did her own thing and it worked beautifully. When talking about individual style, she said: "When you have found it, you should stick to it."

Poster on Etsy

Poster on Etsy

13. Less is more.

"I prefer an unmade-up look, simply because it is better for me." - A.H.

Audrey was very restraint in what she bought, what she would wear and always chose minimal make up when not working. She came from the European school of quality over quantity and so chose her outfits and accessories very carefully. Her longterm partner Rob Wolders said that "she felt strongly that elegance is in simplicity, not in opulence or sumptuousness." In terms of the way she conducted herself, she also believed that subtlety was far more preferable and attractive than outright obvious sex appeal. A lot of today's generation could learn a lot from the wise Audrey!

"Sex appeal is something that you feel deep down inside. It's suggested rather than shown. I'm not as well stacked as Sophia Loren, but there is more to sex appeal than just measurements. I don't need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much appeal fully clothed, picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain." - A.H.

"I would look at some of the other stars like Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe, and I would think - there's just no way, I could never be like them. That was a man's idea of beauty, and Audrey was more like a woman's idea of beauty. It was something that was attainable, that I could identify with." - Cynthia Rowley

14. Do what you can with what you have.

"I'm the sort of person who has done the best with what I've had." - A.H.

This particular phrase seems to be the thread that has woven its way through my life, something my own mother taught me so well and always lived by. Remembering Audrey and thinking about her life just reminds me to persevere when I might be struggling... Even when she had nothing, she had courage, she had strength, she had resilience, she had dreams. She refused to be broken and endured the hardships and heartaches that permeated her life with dignity and grace. She chose to live her life with joy despite everything that was thrown at her and used the talents she had to do whatever she could... which ultimately opened up the doors to a wonderful life.

During her film career she often felt very nervous as she lacked training, but by making sure the costumes were perfect - by using what was available - she said she found it much easier to step into whatever role she was playing. "Clothes, like they say, make the man, but in my case, they also gave me the confidence I often needed."

Later in her life, she once again decided to make the most of what she had to do something meaningful. She used her name and celebrity status to make a difference in the world working with UNICEF. She said: "Fame creates a certain curiosity. I'm using that curiosity for the children."

15. Your Home is your Haven.

"As you get older, it's nice to feel you belong somewhere - having lived a rather circus life." - A.H.

Audrey found her true calling when she discovered the house that was to become her home for the rest of her life, La Paisible in Switzerland. It was her happy place, her haven and where she was more at peace than anywhere else.

"It's everything I long for. All my life, what I wanted to earn money for was to have a house of my own. I dreamed of having a house in the country with a garden and fruit trees. I've lived in Switzerland for more than half my life. I love it. I love the country. I love our little town. The shops. I love going to the open market twice a week with all the fruit and vegetables and flowers. There is no place in the world where I feel so much at peace. It's my private stomping ground." - A.H. 

Audrey's home, La Paisible in Tolochenaz, Switzerland

Audrey's home, La Paisible in Tolochenaz, Switzerland

She decorated for herself, using all the things that made her happy. It was a house filled with love, laughter, sunlight, happy colours and treasured memories she'd collected throughout her life... She loved cooking, gardening, having friends over for dinner and nothing made her happier than being surrounded by her family at home.

"You go back, you search for what made you happy when you were smaller. We are all grown-up children really... So one should go back and search for what was loved and found to be real... It's the flowers you choose, the music you play, the smile you have waiting. I want it to be gay and cheerful, a haven in this troubled world. What I always wanted, what I still want, is to create a warm and loving atmosphere for those I care about - my family and friends." - A.H.

My thoughts exactly Audrey on what a home should be and what I inspire to create wherever we find ourselves living... Decorate for yourself and fill your home with the things that make you happy. Styles and trends come and go but there is no substitute for a home that is a true reflection of your own personality, a place that you truly love coming back to at the end of the day. 

"I cannot look back on a movie with the nostalgia I would have for a house where I have lived and been happy or sad, or a place I have been with my child... Those are the things that effect me emotionally." - A.H.

16. Appreciate and enjoy nature.

"The more there is, the less I want. The more man flies to the moon, the more I want to look at a tree." - A.H.

"I'm not a city person... I'm very bored by cement. I always wanted the countryside." - A.H. 

I feel exactly the same was as Audrey about cities and the countryside. I love being surrounded by nature, watching the seasons come and go, picking flower and fruits, lying on the grass with the children and just breathing the clean air. Being outdoors surrounded by all that life makes you appreciate your own more and instills a sense of peace and tranquillity. Growing your own garden is also great for learning the art of patience and acceptance... Everything takes time but is unfolding exactly as it should.

"I'm grateful for everything that's green. When I didn't have a dime, I held to the dream of one day having my own orchard with fruit trees and a place to grow vegetables." - A.H.

Photo by Holly Potter

Photo by Holly Potter

17. Friends are the family we choose.

There is nothing better than a great friend that will lift you up and make you laugh, even when you perhaps feel like crying. Appreciate these friends and make sure they are a regular feature in your life. Audrey knew the value of great friendship and cherished the family she'd chosen for herself till the day she died.

In 1953 when she was cast as Sabrina, she met the man with whom she would have her most famous friendship of all, Hubert de Givenchy. They came from a very similar background, had similar personality types, were both intelligent, organised, dedicated to hard work, disciplined and posessed exceptional manners. Of him she said:  "There are few people I love more than Hubert [Givenchy]. He is the single person I know with greatest integrity."

"Audrey was always very definite in her taste and look. She came to him because she was attracted by the image he could give her. And she entered that dream totally. She entered into his dream too. They were made for each other." - Dreda Mele

To her friend Ralph Lauren she said: "You conjure up all the things I most care about. The country, misty mornings, summer afternoons, great open spaces, horses, cornfields, vegetable gardens, fireplaces, and Jack Russell terriers. As a man, I respect your total lack of pretension."

Gregory Peck always considered Audrey's sense of humour one of her greatest assets: 

"Most people think of Audrey as regal. I like to think of her as spunky... She was a cutup, she was a clown. I think that would surprise people who didn't know her. She could always make me laugh between scenes."

18. Growing old gracefully is a thing of beauty.

Many people would agree that Audrey Hepburn was at her most luminous and beautiful stage in her later years whilst working as a humanitarian. Far from the glamour of Hollywood, she dressed simply, travelled light and avoided much make up. She was growing old gracefully and her beauty shone through from her caring heart more than ever. As she so eloquently put it: 

"You know, one would love to be younger, to have more time. Yet, there's a big advantage in being older... It's an excuse in a way to get rid of a lot of the tension you have when you are young... If I were twenty years old, I doubt I'd be able to say that so serenely since I'd have to get out and prove things to myself, make a living and still see the world. I couldn't just relax under my apple tree in Switzerland." - A.H.

When she died, an editorial in the New York Times summed her up beautifully: 

"Nearly forty years later Audrey Hepburn's face was that of someone who'd squinted into the sun, laughed a few laughs, shed a few tears. The forehead showed some wrinkles, the eyes showed some more, and the strong jawline was softening around the edges. As unwilling to fake youth as she'd been to fake voluptuousness, she looked like the 63-year-old woman she was. Which is to say, better than any 63-year-old woman who's pretending she isn't. Would that she were going to be around longer, to teach us all how to grow old."

Audrey Hepburn, still beautiful at 63 - Found on Huffington Post

Audrey Hepburn, still beautiful at 63 - Found on Huffington Post

19. We can all do something to make a difference.

"The question I am most frequently asked is 'What do you really do for UNICEF?' To fully understand the problems of the world's children, it would be nice to be an expert on education, economics, politics, religions, traditions and cultures. I am none of these things, but I am a mother... Children are our most vital resource, our hope for the future. Until they can be assured of not only physically surviving the first fragile years of life, but are free of emotional, social and physical abuse, it is impossible to envisage a world that is free of tension and violence. But it is up to us to make it possible." - A.H

For the last five years of her life Audrey worked as a UNICEF ambassador, using her status to highlight some of the problems in the world. She had been a UNICEF recipient when relief came to Holland after the war and so she was keen to give back to the organisation as well as help children in any way she could. She travelled to the poorest war-torn countries on fifty humanitarian trips in those five years, putting herself in dangerous circumstances with no concern for her own safety in order to visit the children. She rolled up her sleeves, showed she cared and made an amazing difference in the world.

"Since the world has existed, there has been injustice. But it is one world, the more so as it becomes smaller, more accessible. There is just no question that there is more obligation that those who have should give to those who have nothing." - A.H.

"Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanization of politics." - A.H.

20. Be remembered for how you make people feel.

Having appeared on uncountable magazine covers and at the top of various polls over the years, there is no doubt that Audrey will forever be remembered by people all around the world. But it is the effect that she had on people that is inspiring and proves that it is how you treat people that makes all the difference. Perhaps it is those that worked with her, knew her best and were most touched by her life that best qualify to summarise how she made them feel... 

"Audrey had a angelic quality about her. She didn't act like she was better than everyone, she just had a presence, an energy, a sort of light coming from within her that was overwhelming." - Kevin Aucoin

"She was the dearest soul I ever met or worked with. She has that quality of 'recognizing' you even when meeting you for the first time. She looked at you in those first seconds with a delicious surprise - as if, 'My dearest friend, you've suddenly appeared, how wonderful to see you again!' She made you feel there was some special secret you shared with her, some beautiful melody playing that perhaps the two of you could hear." - Michael Tilson Thomas   

"She is a marvellous, lovely, and charming lady! Yes, she's wonderful!" - Albert Finney  

"She was the best that we could possibly be; she was perfectly charming and perfectly loving. She was a dream. And she was the kind of dream that you remember when you wake up smiling." - Richard Dreyfuss

"She believed love could heal, fix, mend, and make everything fine and good in the end. I still carry her every day in my heart, she is still my best friend." - Sean Ferrer, Son

"What I have come to realize is that the memory of Audrey is with us today, as it will remain with us, not because she died but because she lived a life too short, that was distinguished by its humanity, long enough to leave us a message of hope, trust, with love... If there is anything she would have wished for, it is that her work be continued." - Robert Wolders, partner & soulmate

www.audreyhepburn.com   www.unicef.org

Dear Audrey, I thank you for these lessons!

Love Holly x

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Lynsey Hackett


Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

This week's Wonderful Woman hails from beautiful North Wales and is one of my desert island friends... Those people that, if I were stranded or had the money to fly them all together, I would have there with me to enjoy it. Lynsey Hackett is an outstandingly fabulous friend, a wonderful inspiration and help to people all around her and one of the most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She lights up any room with her effervescent personality and to be in her presence is to be in the presence of happiness - I'm convinced she passed this on as her fairy godmother gift to our second daughter Lucy!

I met Lynsey seven years ago when we moved to North Wales to be close to some of my family before starting our own. I needed somebody to help me in designing business cards and a website for my first interior design venture and she fit the bill perfectly. I instantly loved her and even after the first drafts weren't quite as I expected, she persisted until it was perfect. We formed a friendship, got our husbands together who hit it off just as well and before we knew it they'd become part of our lives. We did feel that we weren't anywhere near cool enough for them, but for some reason they loved us anyway! (Perhaps it was because we were one of the only other young couples in the area without kids at the time.) During my first pregnancy - in the middle of dark, cold Welsh winter - they popped round one evening without warning bearing wine and ice cream. I panicked, ran upstairs and told Simon to tell whoever it was that I was unwell, because I was already in my pjs and dressing gown at 8pm... They wouldn't take no for an answer, accepted me just the way I was and it was from that moment onwards I knew we'd be lifelong friends!

Lynsey saw me through both pregnancies and was a complete blessing as a friend. During my first we formed the Sunday Club, taking it in turns to have dinner at each other's houses every week - it was her & Paul who got me eating red meat when my midwife instructed it and Paul's legendary burgers that I'm convinced finally kicked me into labour after being 13 days overdue! Armed with numerous gifts and pink champagne, they were amongst the first people to see both of our daughters within hours of them each being born. Little Lucy arrived unexpectedly early on the day Lynsey was going to take maternity photos of me, so it ended up being a newborn shoot instead.

We are wildly different women but I guess sometimes it is true what they say, opposites attract! Whilst we are at opposite ends of the spectrum on some things, we are also very alike on a human level, sharing the same values, morals, sense of humour and love of good fun & friendship.

Dear Dear Lynsey, my life wouldn't be nearly as sweet without you in it. Thank you for the years worth of love, for a fabulous friendship, for great times and for fond fond memories... We will love you always! x 

Now over to you:

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

Lovelyness is anything that you experience, see, feel, hear or taste that leaves a positive memory, warm fuzzy feeling and makes an improvement to your life.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

My family bring me so much joy.  Daily, my son Dexter (two and a half) and my daughter Coco (15 months) fill my heart with joy. You could have had the worst news ever or be ill in bed but with these two in my life it is impossible not to smile and laugh daily and for that I am so grateful.

My husband Paul makes my heart fill with joy when I see him playing with our children, rolling around on the floor with them or reading stories to them with interesting voices for the characters in the books.

Lynsey and Family

Lynsey and Family

I am happiest when my creative cravings are being satisfied and they are satisfied in many ways...

Going to festivals and listening to live music, reading a good book, visiting galleries, going for a walk to the beach and soaking up the view, dressing up for a night out, a new pair of shoes, riding horses, eating a fabulous homemade meal, designing brand identities for new businesses, photographing family and friends. I could go on... 

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

Apart from the obvious answer of being grateful for my family and friends, I am so grateful for my health and high level of energy. We all take our health for granted at times and it only takes a bad cold or a nasty stomach bug to make you realise, how being healthy makes life so much better. 

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. As a Jehovah’s Witness it is important for me to read the Bible daily and to follow the example Jesus made on the earth by being the best person I can be, to love my neighbour and to show my gratitude in prayer to Jehovah every day.
  2. That I am trying my hardest to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and person I can be and to be happy.
  3. To do something that satisfies my creative need every day.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I don’t have one role model but rather take inspiration from many different people who come into my life, whether that be through the media, business or everyday life.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

Without a doubt the sweetest, most caring, genuine and thoughtful person I have ever met is Holly Potter. I remember meeting Holly for the first time and being so impressed by her friendliness. She was so happy and positive and was full of excitement with her future plans. I found her company refreshing and it inspired me to want to be a better friend and thoughtful person. I can genuinely say that I am a more thoughtful person as a result of meeting Holly and having her in my life. For this I thank you Holly. xx

(Lovely Lynsey, I thank you!!! X)

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

I love food! And drink for that matter. To pick a favourite is difficult for me but if I was to be pushed for an answer I would have to say Thai.

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

  • I love spending time with my two children and hearing them giggle and smile with every inch of their bodies.
  • I love going to concerts with my husband and jumping around in the mosh pit like we are teenagers.
  • I love to watch a good film or to be captivated in a great book.
  • I love to go horse riding, although I don’t get to go that often these days.
  • I love to cook for friends and family.
  • I love to go camping with friends and to sit around a campfire drinking red wine and looking up at the stars.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

10. Where’s your favourite place?

North Wales will always hold the key to my heart.

Menai Bridge, Anglesey - Photo by Eifion Williams

Menai Bridge, Anglesey - Photo by Eifion Williams

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Autumn is by far my favourite season. I love the colours of autumn and find walking in my wellies through the fallen leaves of the trees breath taking.

12. Do you have a signature style?

I’m not sure how to describe my style, perhaps a mix of quirky, gothic and arty.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

Both my parents worked hard to provide for us children when we where growing up and I am very grateful for that. I was brought up on a hill farm in North Wales and am very grateful for the work ethic and resourcefulness that has been instilled in me as a result.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Genuineness, loyalty and to be fun loving.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

I like to consider myself to be a thoughtful person and like I mentioned above have been inspired to be thoughtful in many different ways by the lovely Holly Potter. I have found that having children has opened up so many more opportunities to be thoughtful. I love to create hand printed cards and paintings with the children as thank you cards etc which are very well received.

 "There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving” Acts 20 v 35

I am very hard working but can be a bit of a workaholic. Having a family certainly has helped me be a more balanced person when it comes to work, and I am grateful for that. The only thing in school that I always got grade A’s for was art and design. Creativity comes so naturally to me. I feel very blessed to have creativity as one of my attributes and just love the way creativity is knitted into everyday aspects of my life.

Now for the dark side ;-)

I do at times find myself being impatient, although I am also a very patient person in some situations. I am very patient when it comes to work and never lose my temper when it comes to being stuck in traffic etc but I do find myself feeling very impatient when I feel that my husband Paul isn’t moving fast enough on a task or not quick enough to respond when I call for assistance with the kids etc. Poor Paul really does get the worst of me sometimes and for that I am very sorry. 

I don’t suffer fools gladly... There are times in life when you meet the odd person that comes across as a bit of an idiot and unfortunately I find that I can’t hide my annoyance from my face.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Fun to be with, positive, creative and reliable.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

Considering myself not to be as well travelled as I would one day like to be, I'm not sure how to answer this question. For the moment I am very happy living in North Wales even if it does rain a lot.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

It’s amazing how having a family really changes what’s important to you in life. If you had asked me this question 5 years ago you would have got a very different answer. My aspirations for the future are to be the best role model, support and mother I can be for my children.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: "The Slight Edge" - Jeff Olson. This inspirational book shows that how making the best choices in life daily will lead to a successful, more fulfilled future you desire.
  • Movie: "The Book Thief" - This film is a wonderful tail of loyalty, friendship and love.                      "500 days of Summer" - I love this film so much. It’s funny, realistic and not what you would expect from a romantic comedy. And it has a fantastic soundtrack too.
  • Song:  "Great Expectations" - ELBOW. This Manchester based band ELBOW are by far my favourite band. I have seen them in concert so many times over the years I have actually lost count. But this song ‘Great Expectations’ never fails to give me goose bumps each time I listen to it. Guy Garvey really is a wordsmith.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

At the beginning of each day ask yourself... "What can I do today that will get me closer to my goals?"

Thank you for reading my answers.

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Carole Dornauer


Photo by Simon Bailey

Photo by Simon Bailey

Seeing as she spent a small fortune and 30 hours travelling to New Zealand to help out my lovely sister with her gorgeous newborn for 3 weeks, as well as to spend some quality time with her two NZ granddaughters, I decided that this would be the perfect week to feature my wonderful mother... 

She has had an extremely interesting and varied life that has come with its own set of trials and tribulations, but through it all she has survived and continues to inspire people all around her. She is extremely kind, completely selfless and immensely generous - she will give everything she has to help others out and this makes her truly wonderful. Living in Austria and teaching English to students of all ages & backgrounds, unemployed people, medical professionals, business executives, financial leaders, politicians and even a Saudi Arabian princess, she has earned herself the title of the "Crazy English Teacher" that everybody loves. For as long as I can remember she has been making a massive difference in these people's lives with her outgoing personality, friendly nature, excellent tips & tricks for mastering our complex language and her down to earth, creative approach to her lessons. She is extremely well respected in her field, has been profiled in several local newspapers and despite recently 'retiring', she keeps being asked to resume running her courses.

As for me, her eldest daughter, there simply aren't enough words to express the deep, sincere gratitude and respect I feel towards her for everything she has ever done for me and for the person I am today because of her! She was my very first role model and it was by watching her that I first learned about Lovelyness. She dedicated 25+ years to putting her four children first and always did whatever she could to make sure we had the best possible life and the best possible opportunities for the future. She definitely struggled but we always felt like a team and for the most part, our childhood was happy, fun and adventurous. Becoming a mother myself was a profound awakening for me in realising the extent of the personal sacrifices she made for us and the hardships she must have endured along the way... Now that we are all grown up it is finally her turn to start living her life!

Dear Mummy, I thank you for always being my biggest supporter, for being my very first best friend, for encouraging me to fly and for loving me even when I pushed you to the very edge of your limits! Above all else, I thank you for the gift of life... I love you x

Now over to you:

I know this is 10 years ago now but it's still my favourite mother-daughter photo that sits on my desk  

I know this is 10 years ago now but it's still my favourite mother-daughter photo that sits on my desk  

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

To me, being a lovely person is someone who …

  1. adheres to the rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  2. Also brings joy, love and light into someone’s life through their very ‘being’.
  3. Leaves everyone they meet feeling happier and more fulfilled than if they had not been there in their life at that moment.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

I’m happiest when I feel I have achieved something worthwhile and of lasting importance to someone else. I think at this stage in my life, having successfully brought up four very wonderful offspring and seen them flower, grow and develop into amazing adults and parents themselves, I am now beginning to focus on how I can help a wider ‘developing’ audience through my books and teaching.

As well as the rewards from successfully influencing those I come into contact with through coaching or through my books, I feel immense joy in the natural environment around me, especially in the magical mountains of Austria, my chosen homeland now for 25 years.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

I believe gratitude should be one of the most important things in one’s life… Every single day, even when things are all going pear-shaped, one should look for the things around oneself to be grateful for. As a result, I am most grateful for the hugely varied life experiences I’ve had during my eventful life so far… The positive experiences of life ARE the things you can take with you when you move on to the next phase either in life or death… They are of course so much better when they are shared experiences with those you love. Everything from toasted cheese sandwiches on the bed with all 4 children, watching family movies on a cold dark evening, to dodging pirates, sailing in a little 16m sailboat across the Indian Ocean with my husband Dieter, or taking daily turns with him driving across 1100km of sanddunes offroad all around Libya’s deserts.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. Experiencing and seeing things that can be taken with you as memories and thoughts… so making sure they are good ones.
  2. Once a person becomes a parent, caring about your children and their families. It doesn't seem to matter how old and independent they become, you never stop worrying and caring.
  3. My current main priority is getting my book marketing going and somehow activating and motivating my 20,000 fans into buying my books so I can help all those around me a lot more financially.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

Dieter, my husband, because he constantly sets goals and achieves them and always has projects on the go in all areas of his life and now ours together.

Photo by Simon Bailey

Photo by Simon Bailey

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

Julie Andrews who made a big impression on me when I saw her live in Drury Lane in My Fair Lady and then in everything else she has done ever since. She is the embodyment of a lovely person.

Princess Diana when she was alive showed many lovely qualities in all that she strived to do for others, despite being thrust into the royal limelight at an early age… she showed great love, courage and compassion to all regardless of creed, race or colour.

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

I’m a chocoholic… sorry to admit it and I like salty crunchy foods that can go with a dip… avocado being one of my favourites!

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Naturally all things connected with mountaineering and snow sports, particularly ski-touring where we walk up mountains in winter when they are deep in snow, which is absolutely wonderful.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

Charles Kingsley who wrote “The Water Babies” invented a character called “Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by” That has been my motto ever since.

There are also great quotes from Jane Austen “One coughs when one must” which tickles my sense of humour.

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Schwarzenbach, Austria… home! It’s hot and sunny in summer and cold with snow on the ground in winter, but cosy and warm in the "gingerbread house" where I brought up my children.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Autumn… There’s a promise of the nights drawing in so home becomes a cosy place to be… Plus it’s the season for my birthday. In Austria the air becomes crystal clear with that special light that is wonderful in the mountains in autumn.

12. Do you have a signature style?

I love wearing Austrian style of clothing and whether it’s modern or traditional, I always feel comfortable in it. My hair has always been long so braiding my hair and wrapping it around my head or putting it up into a braided bun is probably the most noticable thing about me.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

Probably my father, but definitely my big sister Sue, both with very down to earth attitudes and strong opinions… Hmm that seems to be rather a trend in our family generally I’ve noticed, whether siblings or offspring!

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty, but tactfully done if it’s negative. Having an open mind with a sense of humour about things.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

I’m loving and loyal, and always try to find the best in people. On the bad side, although I fight it I can sometimes be too critical of others. I suppose I NEVER give up, which can be good or it can be bad.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

I don’t know, it’s up to them…. I am who I am, and I am comfortable with who I am. If I wanted to stand out in someone’s mind, I’d like it to be for being inspirational in their lives in some way.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

Having visited around 100 different countries, I am exactly where I want to be in Austria. It is a neutral country like Switzerland, so nobody holds stereotypical grudges against Austrians. It’s environmentally sound, has a complete rubbish separation system, not much landfill at all, green energy… My energy supplies come from 99.6% water power in Salzburgerland. Foods are mainly organically grown in our pollution-free environment, with strict laws about artificial food colourings and flavourings as well as absolutely no GM products allowed to be imported. The health systems are in place so that they are readily available, there are no real waiting lists and you get free treatments and therapies as Austrians. 

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

To become a world famous author and to be able to help my family as a result! Also to help with input into the next generations as they come to know the truths of life, hidden and apparent.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: A lovely classic book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, a lovely fantasy book is “Pawn of Prophecy” by David Eddings from the Belgariad series.
  • Movie: This has got to be "The Sound of Music".
  • Song: "Bright Eyes" by Simon & Garfunkel. It was number one when my first son was born.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

Never forget that to be lovely one must show and have love, courage and compassion in equal measure so that the truth is never hidden, but transparent.

4 children, all grown up!

4 children, all grown up!

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Nicola Rankine


Nicola Rankine

Nicola Rankine

This week's Wonderful Woman changes the world by making a difference in children's lives every single day! Regardless of the day of the week, the weather or her particular mood that day, she sits in front of her Year One class at Hukanui Primary School and captures their avid attention. She has a fabulously friendly, firm but fair manner with which she encourages them, supports them and inspires them to greatness. That alone is reason enough to celebrate the amazing Mrs Nicola Rankine! Teachers are often not recognised or appreciated nearly as much as they should be and are such wonderful role models for our children, so I am delighted that Nicola was happy for me to honour her here. She is admired by her peers, extremely well respected amongst parents and completely adored by her little students. Being a first year teacher is a huge responsibility that takes a lot of patience, hard work and hand holding. (both of the children and the parents sometimes!) However, it is also hugely rewarding teaching kids the basic fundamentals of reading, writing and maths, starting them out on their education path, guiding them and setting them up for a lifelong adventure of learning. We felt extremely lucky and privileged to have "Mrs Rankine" as our eldest daughter's amazing Year One teacher. Like so many others that have gone through her classrooms, Arabella had the most fabulously rewarding first year, the memories of which she will always treasure... For that we are eternally grateful.   

So Nicola, we thank you, more than I can adequately express, for supporting and guiding our daughter on her learning adventure and for the inspiring work you do every single day with all your students at Hukanui School... x

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

Lovelyness means being true to yourself, kind to the people around you and thinking about others. It may not necessarily mean spending money but just a thought, having an interest and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

My family and my friends bring me the most joy in my life, spending time with these people makes me a better person. Another thing that comes very close to this is inspiring children and seeing the joy in their eyes when they understand something.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

My amazing husband and son. They are my tower of support and are always there for me when I need them.

Nicola Rankine & Family

Nicola Rankine & Family

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. Having fun in life, don’t take it so seriously. 
  2. Having empathy for others.
  3. Looking at the ‘bigger picture in life’ – is it going to matter in a day? Week? Or Year?

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I don’t have a role model, but I do try to surround myself with people that have the same values as me and inspire me.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

My twin sister Sarah. She has the biggest heart in the world. She is the type of person who would answer the phone at 3am to make sure you were okay or turns up at your doorstep with a casserole to make sure you don’t go hungry. 

Nicola Rankine with her twin sister

Nicola Rankine with her twin sister

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

Ohh, this one is a hard one. I like most foods! Mainly savoury things!

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Laying in the grass looking into the clouds and having no cares or worries in the world. I love watching time go past and knowing that it's okay.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Home, I’m a homebody at heart!

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

I love Autumn. The skies are blue but the air is crisp. The trees change colour and look stunning.

12. Do you have a signature style?

Nope

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My parents. They have brought me up to be the person who I am today. They are an amazing inspiration that still continues to this day.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty and love.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

I am a person that for whomever needs help or support, I will be there 100%. Sometimes I ‘give’ too much to others and I don’t realise that sometimes the people closest to me may need me most, luckily my husband kindly reminds me. ☺

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Friendly, kind, caring and honest.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

I’m quite happy where I am right now! I just wish my sisters were closer to me!

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

I want to continue to be a great mother and wife who strives to do her best for the family, and someone that inspires children to take on learning with both hands running.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: This is tricky as I don’t often find time to read!! I like magazines!
  • Movie: I love easy to watch movies, nothing too serious! Something like Pitch Perfect.
  • Song: “I gotta feelin'” by the Black Eyed Peas. This song always gets me up dancing.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

Be kind and treat others how you would like to be treated ☺ simple.

Love & Thanks from one adoring student, Arabella x

Love & Thanks from one adoring student, Arabella x

TUESDAY'S 10: 10 Favourite Children's Book Authors


In no particular order and in honour of International Literacy Day, here are the authors and collections that have made their way into our home and become a lovely part of our lives. Some are ones that we are continually adding to, and some are full collections. These authors are making a difference in millions of children's lives every day and for their contributions to childhood literacy we will always be grateful.

1. Julia Donaldson

The first book we read over and over was The Gruffalo. We have videos of our eldest giggling hysterically at the silly voices we'd make up when she was only a few months old - precious! Next came Room on the Broom and from there we soon discovered the rest of the Axel Scheffler collection. We have a collection of 6 of those stories on CD and daughter Nr.1 actually learned her days of the week by which story she'd be listening to before going to sleep. She could 'read' all of these books to her younger sister long before she could actually read, as she'd heard them so many times she'd memorised them! The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child and Room on the Broom were made into fabulous short movies that were aired at Christmas time in the UK and we have those on DVD too. Both girls love the sparkly additions to the Lydia Monks collaboration books, they know Superworm by heart and I've given most of these as gifts to similar age kids at some point. (We also recently gave The Scarecrow Wedding to friends getting married!) You can't go wrong with Julia Donaldson, we love her x

Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson

2. Dr Seuss

Who doesn't love Dr Seuss?! His wonderfully whimsical drawings, silly rhymes and clever use of simple words makes them perfect starter books and easy readers for young ones to get into. We used to read these whilst the girls were learning to feed themselves to keep them entertained and people of all ages enjoyed taking on this task. Green Eggs and Ham was the second book our eldest learned to read before she started school, our youngest is currently into the ABC books and we had a joint Dr Seuss birthday party for their 3rd & 5th birthdays - brilliant fun. The longer stories are perfect for pre-bedtime reading and these timeless books will be enjoyed for years to come I'm sure. 

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss

3. Lynley Dodd

Until we moved to NZ I actually had no idea Lynley Dodd was from here - I foolishly assumed she was Scottish. Her first book that we must have read a million times (we have another hilarious series of videos of our eldest jumping with fright every single time we turned the page to reveal Scarface Claw!) was just the beginning of discovering all of her other treasures. These are all wonderful short books and her repetitive, rhyming, fabulous use of language makes them a joy to read over and over again. We've learned a lot more about her at an exhibition in our local museum and we are so excited to be moving to Tauranga this month where she actually lives... (Pictures to follow soon of the sculptures that were still under construction the last time we were there)  

Lynley Dodd

Lynley Dodd

4. Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter is timeless. There is a whole museum dedicated to the woman she was and the world she created, her work has inspired spin off merchandise of every conceivable item and she has been delighting children with her wonderful animal tales since 1902! Her life story was even made into a movie. Some of her language is slightly outdated nowadays but we don't mind and the girls simply adore these books. My grandparents gave this set to us for their first great-grandchild, quite fittingly a Little Miss Potter - who incidentally is amazed that a lot of kids in her class sadly have no idea who Beatrix Potter is. We have the whole collection on CD too and these are always favourite choices for post story-time bedtime listening.

Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter

5. Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton was one of my most favourite authors as a child. Years of my childhood were consumed reading The Faraway Tree series, The Wishing Chair and other magical tales (my lovely Mum has just brought some of these over for us to share with the girls). When I first went to boarding school the Mallory Towers books were my go-to books for reading under the duvet by torchlight when I couldn't sleep and we had numerous Famous Five and Secret Seven books on the bookshelf. When the girls were little the one story they always requested I make up and tell them was the "Magical Tree" story. They had no idea yet that it was all based on The Faraway Tree, so when we found the CD box set of the series read by Kate Winslet and put it on in the car, they were absolutely delighted that they had been primed their whole short lives for those magical tales! For her 6th birthday we bought our daughter The Faraway Tree Collection and she is now halfway through the second book. We've been reading various chapter books at bedtime that we found at a second hand bookshop and although some of the language needs to be altered slightly, the wonderful stories remain as appealing as ever.  

Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton

6. A.A.Milne

There's a reason some books become classics and these are just as appealing and widespread as the Beatrix Potter books. Growing up I went through a very long Winnie The Pooh phase and still have some pencil cases etc. from those years. Even my best friend that I made at University and I got given the nicknames Pooh & Piglet because of our size difference and inseparable nature! The characters seem to be a part of everyone's childhood and wherever you go you'll find Winnie the Pooh merchandise, stationary and books of all shapes and sizes. We've had several early books over the years and have yet to read the actual tales to the girls, but they are now the perfect age to enjoy these one chapter at a time. Simply Lovely! 

A.A. Milne

A.A. Milne

7. Roald Dahl

Who didn't grow up with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Twits, The Witches and James and the Giant Peach? He has to this day remained one of the world's favourite and most famous authors and both teachers and parents recommend some of his books as the top books for children to read. We have recently bought the Roald Dahl CD case and the library book set to start enjoying. The girls are loving listening to the stories on long car journeys and our 6 year old is onto her 3rd book already! We can't wait to sit and read these before bedtime. Roald Dahl truly is phizz-whizzingly, super-spectacularly great! X 

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

8. Roger Hargreaves

The Mr Men and Little Miss books have been part of popular culture since well before I was born and we had lots of them as kids. These simple, funny little books, boldly illustrated with bright coloured drawings are perfect for the very young and are just as good for reading to them or for them to sit and look through on their own. It is inevitable for them to identify with a certain character or to attribute certain books to people they know. The list of characters available has also been very useful for us in talking to the girls about desirable behaviour and for discussing aspirational attributes  - do they want to be know as helpful, fun and friendly little girls or naughty, bossy, or greedy? We don't have the whole collection but it's one that will grow I'm sure. In the meantime, our two are pretty spot on being Little Miss Chatterbox and Little Miss Sunshine! 

Roger Hargreaves

Roger Hargreaves

9. Giles Andrae

These books are big, bright, bold, colourful, fun rhyming stories that introduce children to all manner of creatures and animals in short poems that they can remember. Our girls have discovered a joy for and developed a fascination with bugs, creatures, dinosaurs and all kinds of animals partly through these books, so they will always be treasured ones we are happy to read often. 

Giles Andrae

Giles Andrae

10. Spencer & Ann Johnson

Last but by no means least are these Value Tales written in the late 70s/80s. As a child they were one of my favourite collections of books and because they were so much bigger than our other story books they seemed very grown up. Each tale is based on the inspiring true story of a famous person's life and is illustrated with simple colourful drawings. The title on each spine is a different colour and even when I was little I loved the look of these on the shelves. My lovely Mum has just brought these over from Austria which I am extremely grateful for as they are out of print and impossible to find! I am hugely excited about now being able to share these with the girls. X

Spencer & Ann Johnson

Spencer & Ann Johnson

Great storytellers will always be appreciated and the mark of a truly wonderful book is whether it gets passed on from generation to generation. By choosing to share the same authors and books you read as a child with your own children, you get to rediscover and enjoy them all over again. We look forward to discovering more authors and their collections in the years to come as our children and library grow together... 

You can see a few lists of 10 of our favourite children's books that might further inspire you here.

And if you ever needed an excuse to get your kids away from the TV and into books instead, you can read Roald Dahl's amusing poem about the matter here. 

Happy Reading!

Love Holly x

QUESTION: Who are your favourite children's author's? What are your favourite book collections? Do you have any recommendations for us to read?

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Claire Moffatt


      Claire Moffat

      Claire Moffat

I am both delighted and excited this week to feature one of the loveliest people I have ever had the privilege of meeting and someone who, despite the thousands of miles between us, I am lucky enough to count amongst my very best friends. Claire and I met at a local music group we both attended here in Hamilton with our little girls and as we were both foreigners in a new country, we instantly had something in common - as well as the fact that we each had a daughter the same age and almost share the same birthday. We happened to live off the same street so it was a friendship that easily and quickly developed into a very strong bond, not just for us but for our daughters too who became tiny best friends. We bonded over play dates, park visits, paddling pools, picnics, days at the Gardens, baking & crafting sessions, cups of tea, kiddie dinners, weekend barbeques, occasional meltdowns and far too infrequent grown up evenings with a glass of wine. 

I remember before starting our family always being told that you form some of your closest friendships when you have children and in this case it certainly turned out to be true. Although I don’t necessarily agree that just having children in common guarantees lifelong friendships, I do believe that it puts you in a position to meet like-minded women with similar values and gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with wonderful people you may have otherwise not met. Whether through a playgroup, a music group, a kindergarten or years spent at the same school gates, just being there opens the doors to starting a conversation and building up a marvellous friendship with someone new…

For any of you out there who knows Claire, I’m sure you already know how blessed you are to have her in your life, whether as a friend or the person helping you with all things pregnancy and baby related. For those of you who don’t, I hope you enjoy reading her words and I wish you all a similarly wonderful friend! Claire is exceptionally kind, sincere, thoughtful, brave, warm, friendly, fun, creative and as my 6 year old Arabella would say, “entirely lovely!”  

My darling Clara, my soul sister, I miss you always and we all miss your family in our lives. I thank you - more than my heart can fully express - for your friendship and for the far too short but oh so sweet time we shared together in NZ. I thank you for the memories, I thank you for the laughter, I thank you for the tears and I thank you for the love… X 

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

"Lovelyness" is when a person/object has the ability to leave you feeling all the better for having been in their presence. It's warm and radiant and wholesome... a hug, fits of laughter, a cup of tea. 

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

I am happiest when my family is happy. What brings me joy? To put a smile on someone's face! And good music!

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

For health, for my husband and children, for good friends.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  • To raise my girls the way they deserve to be raised.
  • To be the kind of person that people are better off for having known.
  • To "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God" Micah 6:8

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

A lady in my family. The reason she's my role model is because she is a "see the good in everyone" type of person. She has had trials in her life and she has dealt with them with perseverance and gentleness and those are qualities I would strive to have. That, and she's an amazing mum and I strive for that too.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

These are two women who became friends of mine through our children.

The first is a friend who's daughter was born on the same day as my youngest. She is lovely because she remembers everything about what's going on in peoples lives, in a good way. She's thoughtful and she follows up!

The other friend, who will always be lovely to me, has a little girl the same age as my oldest. This friend embodies loveliness in her style and in the way she is with others. She's comfortable with who she is and loves to make others happy, and that's lovely! 

Famous: Reese Witherspoon and The Dutchess of Cambridge, because they just are, aren't they?

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

It's more about favourite flavours than a type of food... ginger and coriander top it. I'm a Durban girl so I love a good curry. I have a serious weakness for salted dark chocolate but can't do a lot at a time fortunately!

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Anything I can put my hand to that's a creative outlet: baking, cooking, painting, furniture projects and more recently, building lego with my 4 year old! I also love to read.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

10. Where’s your favourite place?

The African Bush... there's something so soulful about it, especially the rivers. I love the quiet, and the smell. It's like breathing in goodness. The Kruger Park holds a particularly special place in my heart. I grew up going there on family vacations and it's taught me such an appreciation for nature and I feel very close to God there.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Summer! Sunshine makes me happy and I just don't cope in the cold! Summer also brings the Christmas season here in South Africa, and that is my "most wonderful time of the year".

12. Do you have a signature style?

My Havaiana's are my best friend... I'm a flip flop girl by day but love nothing better than throwing on heels that are probably a bit too high and getting all dressed up for an occasion or a night out!

In terms of my home, it's a mix of stuff we've collected along the way and the overall look is now a bit afro-coastal. Most pieces have a story, like the studio chairs we bought on the side of the road in Kenya that my darling indulging husband carried back on the flight home for me. Another is our console table made from the wood of a Dhow boat that we designed as our first baby's changing table.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My late Gran, Alice. This little lady (in stature not character) was graciousness personified! She out-lived four young children and a husband and had every right to be angry but she was anything but. She saw the good in pretty much everyone and had a sense of humour second to none.  She taught me that there's something to catch onto in this life, and that is to look for the rainbows and not the storm clouds, to rise above whatever gets thrown at you. Not only to rise above, but rise above and fly.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty is paramount. I really value loyalty and trust, and I do best with "what you see is what you get" people, people who are comfortable enough in their own skin to allow me to be me.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Ok, let's start with the worst... I have the ability to take things personally and I care a lot about what others think. But I'm learning that sometimes what other people think doesn't matter, and when it does matter then I must learn from it!

Best attributes... I cannot lie (even if I want to, not even the small white kind) and I care a whole lot, so if I can help I will go out of my way to.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

LOVELY! Loyal, consistant.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

I am most at home in Africa and I love Umdloti where we live now. It's a small coastal town with wildlife that visit the garden most days but it's close enough to convenience if I need it! If I had to choose somewhere else in South Africa it would probably be Cape Town because it's just beautiful and well run. If I had to choose a city outside of Africa, I loved Boston, it's got a great culture and is also so pretty... but I haven't been to Paris yet ;)

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

To be a good wife and mother. To grow my baby clinic and lactation consulting practice, and be a blessing to young moms in my community.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Song: "The way you look tonight" by Frank Sinatra. I danced with my Dad to this at my wedding and it makes me smile.
  • Movie: I have two. "The Family Stone" which I watch (with a box of tissues) every Christmas. It just ticks all the boxes for me! The other is "The Polar Express" which I watch with my girls at Christmas time too!
  • Book: There are many but I have read "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks many times and can still get lost in it every time.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

In the words of Edward Monkton: "Let us be lovely, let us be kind, let us be silly and free. It won't make us famous, it won't make us rich but dammit how happy we'll be."

And I have to say I love this blog... "Lovelyness" is a good thing to pursue!

Claire x  - Grow Perinatal Care

New Year's Eve 2012 

New Year's Eve 2012 

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Gay Greer


Gay Greer

Gay Greer

At a time in our early New Zealand life where I was ready to put out an ad in the local paper saying "Grandparents and/or extended family wanted!", Gay came to us like a beacon of hope. Initially she was just going to babysit our girls for an evening, but within no time we'd all fallen in love with her and adopted her into our little family. She inspires me with her joie de vivre, her unwavering zest for life and her unshakably positive outlook. She never just feels "fine", she's always "wonderful" and when asked about her weekends or days off they always seem to be "brilliant" or "fabulous"... Now that is definitely a sunny attitude to aspire to! Gay fills the room with laughter, treats everyone she meets with kindness, leaves people feeling good about themselves and is just a complete joy to be around. She also has that certain wisdom that only comes with a certain age and for the stories and lessons she has shared with me, I am extremely grateful.

Dear Gay, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness, for the joy you've added to our little family and for the many nights you've made it possible for us to join the adult world... X

Now over to you: 

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

Watching the sun set from Muri Beach, Rarotonga. In truth, any sunset from anywhere is always lovely. 

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

Waking up! Particularly on a warm summers morning, birds singing and the start of a new day- a new start. Feeding the pukekos gathering at my front door waiting for their breakfast. An exciting game of All Blacks and/or Mooloos rugby. Last, but by no means least, being pain free. Winter brings aches and pains so roll on spring and summer.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

To be physically active.  I am grateful for the ability to ride the “biscuit” behind the boat and ride my bike, albeit sedately. Family and friends and to be financially secure.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

Now I am concerned that I sound repetitive:- 

  1. Security, both financial and emotional. It has taken a while to be both and many lessons have been learned.
  2. Family, of course.  When my children were old enough to leave home, one doing his OE, it was a matter of letting them go. Our children are only loaned to us, so I needed strength to allow them to learn their own lessons in life.
  3. Friends. If you haven’t heard from a friend for a while, give them a call. I have friends all over the country, because I have lived in many places in New Zealand. A friend from Napier Facebooked me the other day saying our friendship is 45 years in the making. Friends will come and go in our life, each giving us a lesson or maybe they needed one from us.

5. Who’s your current role model and why? 

The Dalai Llama. A Buddhist and vegetarian. He once said of the meat served on his plate at an invitation dinner “I ate it because it was served to me.” Such a humble being. Although I don’t follow the Buddhist regime, I do find inspiration in their teachings.

Found on picklebums.com

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

 My daughter, Vivianne. Kindness shines from her like a beacon. She is a very down to earth and generous soul. Judi Dench, because she is teaching us to grow old gracefully. And I’ll take as many lessons as possible on that subject.

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

In the winter – home made soups with crusty bread, lavishly spread with soft butter. In summer – salads.

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

I enjoyed my Nissan NX but now just love my Suzuki Swift. We travel round the upper North Island at every opportunity, without any thoughts of the petrol cost. Her rego is HLF and a friend suggested she will be a Hellova Lotta Fun. True to form. A petrol head at heart – V8’s, stockcars. I have been driven around Bathurst Circuit and have been in a pit crew for a stock car. Nothing like getting my hands dirty. Lovely!

Dining out with friends, the occasional game of cards and taking the opportunity to join any spontaneous outing.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

"Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions." by Will Smith - I LOVE THIS QUOTE.

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Rarotonga. Warm days in the pool or ocean, balmy evenings drinking cocktails. Always in the company of beautiful people.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Again, I am sounding repetitive... Summer – camping at Lake Whakamaru – here we come! Boating, hopefully. And family time. Christmas in Wellington with Vivanne and her boys.

12. Do you have a signature style?

Twinsets and pearls. Just kidding!  I don’t have any particular style in my home other than everything has its place and I like to keep it tidy.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My parents.  My Mum, because she was the least egotistical person in my life.  I was never given anything that would be discarded in the short term, so I always received gifts that would be useful or educational in my life. My Dad, because he was firm but kind. He was more my caregiver as Mum worked long hours. He was a very understanding man and taught me to be an independent person.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Truthfulness, integrity, sincerity and spontaneity, not necessarily in that order.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Best - Love of life and respect of others. Worst - My anger overwhelms me sometimes

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Funloving, enjoys life. Bubbly.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

New Zealand...

There are pros and cons for any country we choose to live, but in New Zealand we don’t have to travel far to attend any enjoyable event. We are reasonably financially strong. There is no war, famine or disease (to any large extent.) There are no dangerous animals or insects. Yes, we do have unsafe areas, where we need to be sensible and keep safe. But we have the most beautiful scenery in the world.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

I aspire to keep happy in hopes that it is contagious.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. A great reference book for most ailments.
  • Movie: “Out on a Limb” starring Shirley MacLaine. Her life experiences are quite parallel to my own.
  • Song: “I Believe in Angels” by ABBA. There is something good in everything I see.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

Live every day being kind to all living things. Never go to sleep with anger in your heart.

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Jennifer Myers


Jennifer Myers

Jennifer Myers

This week I am choosing to feature another wonderful lady who has been a key player in helping me get this blog up and running - Jennifer Myers, a very well respected local Business Coach, Trainer and Keynote Speaker. Without her amazing help and guidance it would still be just a vague idea swimming around in my head, waiting for someday – which more often than not means never. She came by word of mouth recommendation which always seems promising. I love a great referral and as you may have gathered by now, I'm a firm believer in people and things finding me if they are meant to or vice versa. I did a little bit of research before contacting her and was inspired by the notion that she gets her clients focused, gets them into action, and gets them results. This was exactly what I needed – a good kick up the behind to set me on my way! To be honest, I was a little nervous about contacting her as I thought she may well laugh me out of the room. I was slightly worried that she'd find my idea of wanting to build a "Happy Place for Happy People" silly and that my aspirations of spreading joy, love and simple pleasures would seem trivial if I explained them out loud... As it turned out though, I had nothing to be worried about  because she is an extraordinarily kind, approachable, warm and lovely person who's mission in life it is to positively impact as many people as she possibly can.  She feels blessed to be able to do this every day through her wonderful work and so she totally got where I was coming from wanting to do a similar thing – what a relief! Within no time she had emptied my confuddled brain of all the thoughts, ideas, plans and options I had in mind and from all of that (eventually) this blog was born. 

So Jen, I thank you for your guidance, I thank you for your patience and I thank you for steering me in the right direction... x  

Now over to you:   

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you?

Whatever makes me smile.

2. When are you happiest?

I am definitely happiest when I’m hanging out with my little family – my husband and daughter are just the best things ever. Josh and I have been married for 22 years, now, which just blows my mind (we must be getting ‘old’!) and Erin, our daughter, just turned 13 this year. Even though we’ve started down the ‘teenager’ path, she’s such a sweet kid! We feel really fortunate that she still wants to hug us and be around us.

3. What brings you joy?

I naturally tend to notice small things throughout my day that make me happy – the brilliant blue of the sky on a fine day, the sound of the many birds around our house, the smell of cut grass coming in through the car window as I’m out and about. I really love being in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not someone who enjoys camping, but I absolutely respect nature and enjoy being outdoors.

4. What are you most grateful for in your life?

My family. Moving here 5 years ago with nothing but them and very little ‘stuff’ to set up a new life, I realised that ‘stuff’ doesn’t matter at all – it’s having those you love around you that makes a home and a life.

5. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life?

OK – at the risk of sounding repetitive…first would be my immediate family. Second would be ensuring I do whatever I can every day to make a positive difference in the world. Third would be staying connected to my friends. I’m social by nature, so feeling connected to people is really important to me.

6. Who’s your current role model and why?

My husband Josh has to be one of them. His determination and work ethic are really admirable. I think he thrives on people telling him he “can’t” do something! I guess I really don’t have many ‘role models’, per se, but I admire plenty of people for things they’ve accomplished or for who they are.

7. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

I have a client at the moment – not famous yet – who I consider lovely. She’s a local business-woman in the prime of her life who is comfortable with herself and appreciates the small but important things in life. She’s adventurous, cultured, educated and kind. That’s an awesome combination. I also have a male client who I like to think is ‘lovely’ in his own way. He’s kind of like a loaf of good bread – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside! Lovely.

8. What's your favourite type of food?

I LOVE Italian food. Pizza is my absolute favourite. AND besides being a great husband, Josh can cook some mean Italian dishes! BONUS!

9. What are your favourite pastimes?

Definitely reading. When I have time on the weekends, I devour books. And I love REAL books, by the way. There’s just something satisfying about holding a book and flipping pages that an e-reader just can’t hold a candle to.

10. Do you have a favourite quote?

I’m going to paraphrase here, because I can’t remember it word for word, but it’s by Maya Angelou: People won’t remember what you said; they won’t remember what you did; but they will remember how you made them feel. I love that one.

11. Where’s your favourite place?

I went back to the States with Josh and Erin in 2012 for a visit, and we went to a place in southern Utah called Zion National Park. WOW. It was unbelievably beautiful, and the feeling I got there while in the lodge at the bottom of the canyon was of being very much at peace and protected by the enormous golden-red canyon walls. I know that sounds kind of weird, but it definitely made a big impact on me. If you get a chance to go – you should!

12. Which is your favourite season and why?

Definitely Autumn. I grew up in Michigan and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the States – two places with beautiful seasons. I miss really bright autumn colours, but love the chill in the air and the crisp mornings. Specifically the smell of oak leaves on the ground brings back very clear memories of being a kid!

13. Do you have a signature style?

Not really. Next question…

14. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My “aunt” Kay Grauer (not an actual relative) was my biggest inspiration as a kid. I met her at age 6 and we were fast friends until she died when I was 26. She was like a mother to me and taught me to embrace life, get a great education and not settle! She was rafting down the Colorado River and traveling the world well into her late 70’s, so I hope I have as much energy and zest for life as she did. I will never forget her.

15. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

My husband Josh’s logical mind. My daughter’s ability to get in front of a crowd of people and SING beautifully.

16. What are your best attributes?

I’m a really good communicator. I have a positive outlook on life. I like to think I’m genuine and kind. What are your worst? Self-doubt strikes every so often. And I’m not the most disciplined when it comes to taking care of my health with regular exercise – it takes a lot of effort.

17. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

As someone they admire for being genuinely caring and comfortable in my own skin.

18. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

I have romantic visions of living in Italy with my hubby at some point in our lives. I love really old cities with lots of stories and character, and there are certainly plenty of those in Italy! (AND it’s the birthplace of pizza – how could I go wrong?!)

19. What are your aspirations for the future?

Family-wise, I just want to contribute to raising a well-adjusted teenager who makes good decisions. Business-wise, I can see myself scaling my coaching practice up over the next 5-10 years to include online programs that anyone in the world can access as well as building my brand to the point where I am running highly-sought-after business retreats for large groups and speaking internationally at conferences. I just want to add value to as many people as I possibly can. I also want to have published several books within the next 10 years.

20. Can you recommend: a lovely book, a lovely movie, a lovely song?

  • Hmmm… a lovely book that I’ve read this year is called “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye” and its follow-up “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Henessey.” They follow the lives of some really great characters and their friends.
  • A lovely movie would have to be War Horse (I’m a sucker for a good movie about a horse);
  • And a lovely song – ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane.

21. Any Lovely Last Words?

Take a deep breath and look around you. There’s loveliness everywhere.

Jennifer Myers - www.jennifermyers.co.nz

Jennifer Myers - www.jennifermyers.co.nz




WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Nicola Inglis


Welcome to the very first of my Wonderful Women profiles, that I am personally very excited about and hope will be a great feature on this blog!

Nicola Inglis

Nicola Inglis

It was an easy decision about who to bring you first, as she has been instrumental in helping get this blog up and running with her beautiful photography of yours truly and of our little family. Far more than simply being my boss for the past 15 months, she has inspired me in so many ways, taught me numerous lessons - both on photography and life - and become a very dear friend in the time that I have known her. I have absolutely loved watching her work, inspired by the way she handles people and diffuses tension with her effortless humour and good nature. It has often amazed me how she manages to capture timeless moments every single time - she definitely deserves all of those photography awards she's won. I have observed her as a photographer both in front of the camera and hard at work behind the scenes, as a well respected member of NZIPP amongst her peers, as a business owner, as a mentor, as a speaker at a women's networking group, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter and as a friend. She has enlightened me with her calm, kind motherhood manner and dazzled me with numerous bits of parenting wizardry. She has proven that with hard work, dedication and a clear focus in mind you can achieve greatness. And she has reminded me that things don't have to be perfect to be beautiful. More than anything, however, she has made me laugh! At a stage in my life where that was not always a daily guarantee, she found a way and for that I will be forever grateful. 

 So Nicola, I thank you for the lessons, I thank you for the laughter and I thank you for the love... x

Now over to you:

Nicola Inglis

Nicola Inglis

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

Lovelyness is the sun coming up on a foggy morning revealing layers of hills and trees that look like they’re straight from a painting. It’s sitting with the sun on my back in a moment of solitude. It’s my kids laughter when I crack a joke (usually a terrible pun). Lovelyness is the moments when I look up and notice that an ordinary miracle is happening right in front of me.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

I’m happiest when I remember to be happy. I believe it’s a conscious choice to look for and find the happy wherever I am.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue my passions and to make mistakes and change my mind. I have had choices and I know that I have been very fortunate. And I appreciate that every single day.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life?

My number one priority is that I need to feel that I have made a difference…that I altered the course of the river ever so slightly for the better. This priority affects everything else I do. Second priority is generosity…I want to be able to be generous with my time and resources and I get resentful of circumstances that prevent me from doing this. Third priority is optimism…I need to find the upside or the silver lining or the bad pun in every situation. I firmly believe that nothing is ever a waste of time if you learn something …as Jason Mraz says “I reckon it’s again my turn to win some or learn some” so I’m always looking for the learning or the win.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I am inspired by lots of different people at different times but the most consistent has been my husband, Stuart. I really admire his ability to have really good conversations with people. He asks great questions and listens really well. In that way I want to be more like him.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

My Mum is lovely, she’s beautiful in a way that you can only be when you’ve spent your whole life smiling. Her face is this living record of 65 years of smiles and I think that’s the most lovely thing.

7. What's your favourite type of food?

My favourite food is pizza because it’s passionate, hands on, unpretentious and delicious. It’s a social food; eaten with your hands and shared with friends. And you have to eat until your pants need loosening because holding back and restricting yourself is like rationing the lovelyness and that would be crazy!

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

My favourite way to spend time is to hang with my kids one on one…not that they’re not lovely all together…but there’s something special about really hanging out and just going with whatever they want to talk about or do. I always end up being reminded that they’re actually pretty awesome people.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

I have so many favourite quotes! At the moment my very favourites are about embracing change and trusting my intuition. If I had to pick I would choose this bit from Steve Jobs' Stanford Graduation speech “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Photo by Nicola Inglis

Photo by Nicola Inglis

10. Where’s your favourite place?

My favourite place is wherever my people are…my family or my friends…my tribe. Failing that it is wherever I can sit with the sun on my back and write in a notebook or read a book.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

My favourite season is honestly whichever one we are just moving in to…in the depths of winter my favourite season is early spring. I get very emotionally attached to the first daffodils! In summer I look forward to the last long days and the beginnings of Autumn. I think it would be good to be completely in the now but I am always looking forward a bit knowing that good things are coming.

12. Do you have a signature style?

I love old things with some story to them and so I guess that influences my style. I like a dining room table with the imprint of long-forgotten homework pressed into it and I like quirky, vintage clothes that have lived a bit before they find me. I like the unexpected treasure.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

I hope my parents don’t read this because they might be sad that I’m not saying them but actually the people who influenced me most were book characters. Jess and Leslie in "Bridge to Terabithia" taught me that you can love something so much it is all consuming (and that’s a wonderful thing), that reality is merely a starting point…and that it can all be snatched away in an instant. Oh, and that one amazing teacher can change everything.  "Anne of Green Gables" taught me that there is always something really great just around the corner, that mistakes are just things to learn from… and again the difference that one really caring person can make. There are so many others… I was such a bookworm as a kid. I used to walk home from school and stop at the town library and read until they shut before finishing my trip home… and sometimes I read as I walked too!

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

I love it when the people around me make me laugh, I love it when they are kind and generous with their time and energy. And I love it when they’re smart, when they challenge me to see things in different ways.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

I have decided that my worst attribute is my inability to notice when people are acting like douches. I am so tolerant and I’m always giving people a second chance…when I was teaching it was an excellent attribute because it meant I never gave up on a kid, I always believed they could do/be better. But in business it hasn’t served me quite so well! I wish I were a better judge of character, and quicker to make those judgments. Meanwhile I want to claim optimism as my best attribute… and I know I can’t have it both ways! So I choose optimism and I’ll figure out the douchebags eventually.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

I want my friends to say that I’m funny and smart and kind. And that I made the world a better place.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

I actually quite like Hamilton as a place to live, possibly because I’m an optimist and possibly because I know I can be happy anywhere. But if I could live anywhere I would love to live in New York…maybe just for little while. The minute I set foot in New York the very first time (I’ve been back three times) I felt like I was home. I love the excitement, the bustle, the honking and the sirens and the sass that only New Yorkers can do (I want to live there long enough to develop a little bit of NYC sass). There is so much to see, so many people to watch… it’s my kind of heaven.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

My business is about to change again and I’m looking forward to gaining some more creative freedom. I’m ready for a new challenge and there’s something really great just around the corner.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Song: “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds…makes me cry with lovelyness.
  • Movies: “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith…just makes me so grateful. “Inside Out”…it’s been the beginning of some amazing conversations with the kids.
  • Book: “Danny Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl. He was such a talented author. I had forgotten after not reading any of his books for years, but they are quite lovely and you get the feeling they were written to be read aloud – there’s a great rhythm to the sentences. Danny is probably the most ‘real’ of all his books, the villains seem believable, they’re not flesh eating Giants for example!

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

The thing about loveliness is that the more you look for it, the more you find it.

Now I’m done :)

"WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS" - Coming Soon...


I will shortly be starting my “Wonderful Women Wednesdays” series on my blog. Every week I will be featuring someone new who I feel is truly lovely, an inspiration to those around her and who makes a difference in our small world one act of goodness at a time.

Life and the media seem consumed by celebrity gossip and those in the public eye, so instead I am choosing to profile real people, with real lives and real stories that other like minded women can relate to and be inspired by. I think we can find loveliness and great role models all around us if we but take the time to look. I've been looking, and I've certainly found a lot! Over the years and throughout my travels I have collected wonderful women from all walks of life to add to the list of people I treasure and will always remember fondly. I hope this will be a great way of honouring each of them, as well as the new people who cross my path in the future. I will write a short (ish) paragraph introducing them and explaining why I've chosen them, then follow with my 20 questions that will hopefully inspire or entertain you in some way. 

I will also be working on one lovely celebrity to feature each month, starting with Audrey Hepburn in September, so watch this space...

If you know of anyone you think is particularly lovely and would enjoy being profiled here, let me know!

Thanks for stopping by & have a LOVELY day,

Love Holly x