1. Tell me a little bit about who you are and where you live.
I am Stuart W. Leigh, the author of The House and the Hedge – Life, Hedge Management and You. I was born in 1955, in Johannesburg, South Africa into a typical middle class family and am the oldest of four children. I spent most of his youth in Johannesburg, South Africa with 3 years between the ages of 7 and 10, in Kitwe, Zambia. Home life was turbulent during my teens when my parents split and my dad moved into an apartment in the city. In my early 20’s my father committed suicide leaving the family in significant financial and emotional distress. Each of my siblings was significantly affected and I lived with a significant amount of self-doubt and anxiety. I went on to earn a degree in mechanical engineering and two post-graduate degrees. I immigrated to the USA at the age of 42 and in 2005 became divorced from my first wife. After a wonderful epiphany, I realized that God loved me for who I am and I started to rebuild my life. I met and married my second wife Teri and now live in Newport Beach, California. I have 2 children and 2 step-children, 2 of which are married, and a granddaughter and grandson.
2. Are there any favorite local spots you like to visit, ones that inspire your creativity?
I love to sail on the ocean and walk in the mountains and wilderness.
The inspiration to start writing the book came when I was living in a beautiful and very peaceful house in Silverado Canyon, surrounded by nature. The tranquility and feeling of space allowed me to conceptualize the book. After my marriage and move down to Newport Beach, the busy, congested surroundings made it difficult to become creative, but God was working in my life and I became involved with a fantastic Bible study, which inspired me to resume writing again and finish the book.
3. What did you decide to write this book?
The inspiration to write The House and the Hedge came from an amazing realization of God’s infinite love at the age of 55, after living a lifetime filled with doubt, a poor self-image and anxiety.
After experiencing this epiphany and sharing the experience with others, there was a realization that a significant number of people yearn for acceptance and who experience significant self-doubt, which inhibits the joy of living a purpose filled life. I shared my story with quite a few people and the response I got was quite encouraging. It also identified a huge need within the vast majority to feel accepted and love for exactly who they are as a person.
This book takes its readers on a journey to firstly reflect the true miracle that God created them to be, and that He loves them regardless of their history or current circumstances. It then brings into focus the infinite love, power, superior intelligence and creativity of God.
Throughout the book there are self-help sections and techniques that enable the reader to identify those “Hedge” events and people in their lives, which contributed to their barriers to a good self-image and happiness. True and complete forgiveness is a gift that God has given us and there is a chapter focusing on teaching us to forgive and the amazing release that gives us to move forward unencumbered by history.
4. If you could spend a day with any author, living or dead – who would it be and why?
I would like to spend the day with CS Lewis because of his profound gift of story-telling and his incredible faith
Hedges are really interesting entities which are totally manmade. They are comprised of individual plants and are each very unique. Hedges were all planted; they were purposefully created from plants of their owners’ choosing. Every hedge that I have scrutinized was made up of individual plants, placed and spaced in such a way as to create a continuous barrier of variable density. Once in place, they seemed to take on a life of their own, seeding and reproducing to further reinforce themselves. Another profound thought struck me: hedges simply don’t occur in nature. Thickets and randomly located and spaced groups of bushes do occur naturally because of the way plants propagate, seed, and spread. But a purposeful and concerted effort must be made to arrange plants in such a manner that they form a hedge.
Not only are hedges physical barriers, but they also metaphorically represent psychological and emotional barriers. These barriers can be constructed by our responses to life’s circumstances and by the actions of others and the ways we perceive them. We build these hedges ourselves as self-defense mechanisms through our anger, lack of confidence, judgementalism, self-righteousness, shame, perceived inadequacies, self-pity, and a whole myriad of reasons that are constructed as a response to life in general. How we build them is personality driven and as unique and different as we are.
I arrived at the title in order to draw attention to the house in two ways namely:
Us as individuals, surrounded by the metaphorical hedge created by our complexes and also the House if the Lord, in which he dwells and how he wants us to open the doors of our heart and let Him in.
6. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
My website is www.thehouseandthehedge.com. You can also find me on my blog, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.