International Women’s Day: Holly’s Empowerment Shoot

“We need to be more like the lotus flower and focus on our journey and carve our own path. We can support each other but be aware that we all travel through life differently, with our own scars.”

What Holly hoped to receive from this shoot

To pause and reflect on my journey through life.

To know that no matter what I have been through I am no longer controlled by my past or others behaviours or thoughts of me.

To be confident in my body with all of its scars both physical and mental. I would love to be able to help and support others to get through their own problems no matter how big or small.

To let them know help is there and they are not alone. They can get through and come out strong.

What Holly’s love note to herself…

“Soften, Perfection is not required.”

Holly’s Story

Take a moment to pause now and notice where you are and how you feel?

Are you going through a rough time? Feeling on top of the world? Feeling numb? All of these feeling can change in an instant.

Life is a rollercoaster with its twists and turns. Here is an example of mine… I was born into a household with two parents who were married. At the age of two my parents separated so I never really knew anything else. From then on I was split between my mum who worked long hours and studied for her degree in the evenings so I went to my nans.

My dad worked Saturdays so off to my other grandparents then with him and later with his partner as well. It was what it was. I grew very good at packing! Most of my early childhood is seemed like I was being raised by my nan.

Different houses, different rules. I was always in trouble at school. Child psychologists blamed it on my parents separation (separation is something which is a lot more common today!). I never seemed to have any friends and the people I felt were my friends slowly disappeared. I passed two 11+ exams in two counties and had my pick of schools. I went on my own to a posh all girls school where I didn’t fit in at all.

As time went on we moved, I turned 13 and we moved from Slough to Southampton, away from my Nan but closer to the boat my mums partner had since I was 5. No friends, new place. I became good friends with my next door neighbours daughter. We had so much fun together. She was my best friend.

Before I even realised her step dad was buying us cigarettes. Then coercing us to do things to get more. How did those amazing times with my only real friend turn out so wrong. Having to go to court to try and prosecute a man who changed my childhood so much at 14. The pressure of going through a court case at 14, and for something you didn’t do wrong leaves its marks.

The next summer I met a guy at Air Cadets. I never really fitted in at school, but I loved all of my Air Cadet friends. That guy became my everything. He was two years older, just leaving school for the Air Force. It was cool being with someone who had a car. I believed I loved him and he loved me.

He asked if it was ok for us to keep going no out but for him to sleep with other people. I said no and he split up with me. I later found out he had cheated on me. I still wanted and felt I needed to be with him. We ended up getting back together 6 months later. I was depressed and went onto antidepressants. He was away all week and I slept, to go out and spend every second with him at weekends.

At 18 we got married. He had always drank a lot. Got aggressive if I tried to slow or stop his drinking. Peed the bed each night after drinking, or over the tv blowing it up. I used to have to move furniture to lock him out of the bedroom and stop him from repeatedly hitting me in the head. But somehow I thought all of this was normal and ok.

I was 18, had an amazing house in a beautiful part of the country, 2 gorgeous dogs, went out loads, had a nice car and motorbike as well as a husband who “said” he loved me.

Two children later and we split up after he was arrested for domestic violence. I was left with my two small children (my youngest just two same as I was when my mum and dad split up!)and my dogs. History was repeating itself. I was determined to continue with becoming a primary school teacher and did my PGCE whilst being made homeless as a single mum.

So many highs and lows. But I used all of my inner strength and I did it!!! I think one thing I have become very good at is setting a goal and getting it, but this means being strong and squashing my emotions, my me. Scared of what damage was already done to my children from staying with my husband with all of the abuse. Worried about what damage being made homeless and me living in uni halls whilst they lived with my dad for a few months whilst I finished my teacher training and setting us all up again. I am a huge worrier, with an extra dose of mum guilt.

I often worry what others think of me and if I upset them with being me, I need to work on that one! One massive perfectionist streak which again is a work in progress. I tried dating for a while until finally I met my now husband. He was a teacher and had a daughter similar age to my two.

We spent every moment together and seemed to get each other. It seemed magical. A beautiful family of 5. He then moved in and it started to fall apart. His daughter didn’t like it and neither did his ex partner. Sadly since then things have been strained.

We have good times and we have bad times but never ever as bad as before. But I am always wary and wondering if I have those magical but dangerous rose tinted glasses on. I work hard to try and clear away the dirt and grime from my life that is tarnishing my heart. Trying to find the authentic me. My husband and dad have supported me through everything, my highs and lows with my sometimes crippling and ever changing depression and anxiety.

All this support has meant that now I am a yoga teacher and ayurvedic practitioner, supporting others with their mind, body and soul. My husband and I now have my two children, his daughter and two of our own.

We sadly lost my old dog Chloe, and live with my old girl Wanda, but have space to add in the love and excitement for more. I look back on my life and I am proud of what I have achieved and astonished at what I have overcome for someone who is only 35.

I know others have it a lot worse and I am very lucky indeed. But I just want people to know no matter how bleak everything becomes, no matter how stormy and cloudy the skies may become, there is always blue skies above the clouds, waiting to reemerge.

Holly’s advice to you lovely reader

We are just like the lotus flower. It grows through the dirty, polluted waters to reach the surface pure and clean. It is not a straight forward journey, lots of twists and turns but we emerge on top pure. We need to be more like the lotus flower and focus on our own journey and carve our own path. We can support each other but be aware that we all travel through life differently, with our own scars.

Try not to judge another, you do not know where they have been or what is burdening them that day. Try not to compare yourself to others.

Different things will make you tick and authentically you. You don’t want to look back and wish you lived your life rather than someone else’s. Be grateful in the moment, no matter how hard you grasp you will never get it back. Just enjoy.


If you’d like to know more about Holly, her story and her business then do reach out to her. If you’ve been inspired by her story then I’m sure she would love to hear from you.

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Flowers for the shoot were provided by the beautiful, talented Nia of Luv Shifting Flowers:

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