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Diversity, Heritage Day, and the two sides of the same coin.

Uncategorized Aug 22, 2023

Diversity is a word that all South Africans know well. It is a proudly South African fact that we can celebrate many different heritages, as we are known as the “rainbow nation”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu coined this term to accurately describe all the diverse cultures, languages, customs, traditions and so on that constitute South Africa. And Heritage Day, happening on 24 September each year, is a celebration of all this variety.

This day is a national holiday. It’s a day to celebrate your culture and its beliefs and traditions. I imagine that this celebration takes different forms in different parts of south Africa as we are a rainbow nation after all. But for me that celebration translates to having a braai with heaps of red meat, and chicken as the vegetable (according to hubby). And don’t forget the “braaibroodjies” which is basically a tomato, onion and cheese sandwich toasted on an open flame.

On this day, or maybe every day, South...

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How four kinds of women balance work and life

Uncategorized Aug 18, 2023

When you ask women about work-life balance, the air can easily become thick with sadness, regret, overwhelm, guilt or defensiveness. Very few women will raise their hand and say, “My life is as perfectly balanced as an ice-skater in a layback pose. Most of us just cry at the word “layback.”  Wouldn’t it be great to lay back for just a minute in the contented space of feeling that we are enough and do enough both at work and at home?


Is it even truly good and important that we are all perfectly balanced all the time halfway between always working and always living family-focused, free and unfettered? What if the idea of balance is overrated and that you and I should actually be swinging and not standing still, following a work-rest-work-rest rhythm, sometimes being all-in for a season with our family’s needs; at other times buried in the work we’re wired to be fabulous at? And who says we’re all balanced at the 50/50 mark?


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How each woman asks to be loved

Uncategorized Aug 18, 2023

A Boxwood Tree Woman’s Request for Love

  • Please warn me of events or changes in your life so that I know you care that those changes will affect me, too.
  • Please try to understand that my feelings are not broken; the world is. Allow me to feel it at times and to cry about it until I can remember all the good things again. It may take a while.
  • Please don’t tease me about my systems, routines, schedules, watches, or lists. I need to control what I can, and these are my tools of choice.
  • Please point out how well I do, when I do, and give me little notes of love and encouragement to show that you notice my efforts.
  • Please allow me to make it up to you when I have failed or hurt you. You might think it’s best to just move on, but if I can’t set things right, I can’t move on.
  • Please remind me that things tend to work out, that God has never let me down, and that He assures us that this whole story ends well—we win! (But give it to me in writing because I...
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How managers become true leaders and moral influencers

Uncategorized Jul 11, 2023

I stumbled across a social media post today that highlighted the truth that leaders are not managers. Managers manage things; leaders lead people. What I gathered from the post is this: If someone bearing the title of manager is great with people, he is really a leader; if a leader is unable to bring the hearts of people along with him, he is at best a manager.


According to, the word manager has its origin in the 1560s, from Old French manège (horsemanship). The ideas of control, manual training, and technical skills are key. A good manager, then, was someone who could make a horse do what the manager wanted it to. Handling people would be a manager’s main skill. I guess managing people therefore could include being good at shutting down their intrusive needs, manipulating them into thinking they want what you want, using their talents to lace your pockets as a racehorse owner may do, or even spurring them on to greater speed and productivity even...

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Surviving Your Family Jungle

Uncategorized May 29, 2023

If you are familiar with Tall Trees Profiles, Growing Kids with Character, Hettie Brittz, or the tree types, you will know that we talk much about the Rose Bush, the Pine Tree, the Boxwood Tree, and the Palm Tree. We call them our “basic” tree types, although we know that they are not basic at all. We do this to create common ground and provide a basis for understanding the tree types. Truth is, a very small percentage of people can be described as being 100% one tree type. 

Our statistics show that a very small percentage of people in the 13-year history of Tall Trees scored 18 out of 18 on just one Tree Type index, making them 100% one tree. Only 33% of teens and 37% of adults have one prominent Tree Type and can rightly call themselves Pines, Palms, Boxwood, or Roses. The majority of us (53% of adults and 55% of teens) are combinations of two Tree Types. The remaining 14% of teens and 8% of adults are what we call Contra-Trees (a combination of three trees)....

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Looking in the Mom Mirror

Uncategorized May 08, 2023

Looking in the Mom Mirror

  Mother's Day highlights a particular group of precious, vulnerable people—mothers. For one Sunday in May, they are celebrated and hopefully spoiled, but they are also put under such a glaring light that many moms dread the day.

 Perhaps you read this and think, "What are you talking about?! It's a great day. I get flowers, breakfast in bed, a special prayer at church, and a lunch for which I did not even peel the potatoes! What is there to dread?" We're so happy for you! We also would guess that you are the fortunate carrier of some strong Palm Tree genes—the personality type DNA that helps you celebrate all that is good and enables you to enjoy being celebrated. This DNA also helps you forget that you forgot one of those precious kids (the one who will be peeling your potatoes) at a party last week. You don't even feel guilty anymore because you keep short accounts for happiness' sake. If any of your kids ever need therapy on...

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People don’t grow while someone is trying to change them.

Uncategorized Apr 01, 2023

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” - Edith Wharton


Change is a buzzword. Agents of change are our new heroes. Secular culture convinces people that it is good to change everything from their eye color (long live the Instagram filter!) to their gender. The more radical the claim that everything is relative, fluid, and limitless, the louder the applause.

Change is good, right? When it comes to changing ourselves - who we are - it can be good, don’t you think? Isn’t growth just another word for change? My short answer is, “Not really.”

Change has a dark side when it comes to people. I believe there is a part of people we can’t change without breaking them entirely, just as we can’t cut away a ring of bark around a tree without killing it. People have an intricate and original design that is closely linked to their purpose. Messing with the design puts their destiny at...

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All Trees are Tall Trees

Uncategorized Feb 28, 2023

All Trees are Tall Trees!

I don’t know about you, but when I heard the word “leader” I did not think of myself. Instead, I looked around to find people more important, more resourceful, more self-confident, and more self-assured than me. Leaders are people like John Maxwell, Brene Brown, Nelson Mandela, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, your local pastor, or the CEO of the company you work at. People with big platforms that are known worldwide. In my mind leading is directly correlated with education, importance, fame, fortune, and maybe being a huge social media Rockstar.

But leading actually is just performing to the best of your ability using your unique DNA - your inherent leadership strengths. We all have them. When we change our perception of what a leader is and become open to the idea that people can lead in different ways, a whole new world of leadership development opens up to us! You might actually discover that you ARE indeed a leader!


Take the Pine...

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People do come with a manual.

What I, Hettie, love most about living in Tennessee for the past five years is that I can suddenly grow things. It was not the case when I still lived in South Africa. Formerly known for my ability to kill even indoor plastic plants, I can now grow almost enough wineberries, blackberries, and blueberries to provide the whole of England with jam on their morning toast. (For those who don’t know about Tennessee Backyard Berry Farmin’, the art is to just keep clear, let Mother Nature take care of things, occasionally shoo the whitetail deer away, and exaggerate your harvest story. And for those who don’t know what jam is - it’s just chunky jelly for British folks.)

People growing is so much harder than this! People don’t flourish automatically, and letting human nature run its course, is a recipe for chaos. If you have been raising kids, please say this with me in a chorus: They ought to come with a manual!

Well, actually, they do.

When you buy a sapling...

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"Was it something I said?"
Who of you can identify with this scenario? Someone is telling you about a new phase in their life and how excited they are. You're really into the conversation as well. You think about how brave they are. How entrepreneurial, even! They may be writing their first book or planning their engagement. You can hear the hope, the anticipation, and above all the desire to share it with you, their good friend!
You want to know all about it, so you ask a question. Maybe something like, "Wow, so who did the manuscript editing for you?" or "How sure are you she'll say yes?"
Silence... and then a whole new tone of voice from the other end. "You don't believe in me much, do you?"
This time the silence is yours. Your sincere curiosity about the writing project or your fear that your friend's best life moment to date could somehow go wrong got twisted into a question mark that now hangs between the two of you and casts a shadow over...
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