Accepting Natural Pauses + Japan Inspired

January 23, 2012

Good morning friends and happy new week to you! I want to share a little inspiration from Japan and nature today but first I thought I’d talk about something I sense a lot of you are feeling lately – unmotivated! Personally, I finally feel like I’ve come out from under a big blanket that covered me from new year’s until today! I’ve been inspiration-challenged and unmotivated, like my creative fuel tank was at 1/4 and slipping rapidly towards empty! I get this feeling each and every January and attribute it to nature’s way of saying, “Slow down. Rest up, enjoy the silence in your head because it will soon be full speed ahead!”, and well… Nature knows best.

Accepting Natural Pauses + Japan Inspired

Animals hibernate, trees stand naked with exposed limbs, soil freezes over with no signs of life and yet we always-hungry-for-more humans still push with all of our might to fly forward without any rest or reflection. The moment our body tells us to pause we think something is wrong and freak out. More and more, because I’ve noticed this January pattern for several years now and am “on” to it,  I think something is right when I feel like doing a lot of nothing. My January down time is something I expect and roll with these days…  Who cares, I reason, I’ll get back on my feet soon enough. This month, I caught up on a ton of boring administrative work, read some novels, went to museums and lingered a lot, did horrible expense report stuff and tax stuff and tried to prepare for the year before me. I cooked and cleaned and ironed and felt crabby a lot. I ate sweets and drank wine and just did my downhill spiral January thing. After three weeks of a giant TIME OUT, I woke up feeling like Holly 2.0 today which makes me happy because I know that I’ve gotten through it,  my groove is back and now I can begin again. I hope you are feeling energized too or are on your way and if not, you’ll get there. Don’t worry. You’ll soon emerge from your little bear cave, too. You need these natural pauses, I think it’s good for the mental health over all other things. Learn to accept them and yourself, down time is exactly what you need in order to do your best work when your body says that you are ready.

Accepting Natural Pauses + Japan Inspired

Accepting Natural Pauses + Japan Inspired

With that, let’s chat for a moment about pure simple living because this is being highlighted by IKEA’s Livet Hemma blog as one big trend for 2012 and I have to agree with them – though in my opinion, not necessarily only Japanese-inspired for me but nature-inspired from anywhere be it Norway, the California coast, Finland or the Alps… it’s nature that gives us the call to balance and simplicity that centers us. Japanese tend to work with raw concrete, natural woods and light colors in their design and these elements are inspiring rooms in the home in the western world, too. Harmonious natural elements make us happy and for me, these tactile elements help me enormously to connect to my environment as I like to touch a lot – I relate and explore through touch which I am sure annoys every shop I enter because I tend to touch everything. Tactile natural elements are also nice to live around because of their warmth and welcome spirit but for some, the less “busy” an interior is (not a lot of color, clean, simple, etc.), the more inspiration can flow in and around that person.

Do you appreciate this simple, calm style in your interior too? Are you feeling inspired for 2012 yet or still in a creative coma hung over from all of the work you did in 2011? Talk to me people.

(images: Nina Broberg/IKEA Livet Hemma)


  • Reply Tabitha (From Single to Married) January 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Very nice, I yes, am feeling inspired for 2012. Of course it’s only January…


  • Reply Rochelle January 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Oh — I am sooo still in it…..but hadn’t noticed until now that it is perhaps a seasonal pattern for me too. Hmmm….something to think about. Here’s to hoping that I re-find my mojo soon, I hate feeling directionless and like I am spinning with no idea when I will stop and in which direction I will be facing when it ends.

  • Reply Jon January 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Your post is incredible.

  • Reply Laura January 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    it is like you have read my mind and have been sitting perched on the outside of my cave! I am still in my creative hibernation phase and the guilt is only just beginning to pass. I too seem to get this feeling and stagnation every January too, and by the end of the month a fresh spark of creativity just seems to flow in through me, so I know I have just to be patient.
    Thank you for sharing your truth and your wise words!

  • Reply Joanne Palmisano January 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Holly, so happy to hear someone say it out loud! I had a fabulous 2011, one of my busiest years ever! I took a couple weeks off over the holidays and was very slow to get back to creating design ideas. Thankfully, I’m back in full swing — thanks to other talented people like yourself who have keep me going (your 1/4 is still amazing). I’ve decided not to feel guilty about my little break now — thanks!

  • Reply Chez Chouke January 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks for this lovely post, it was SO what I needed right now!
    I’m sort of burned out at the moment and already home from work for five weeks now. But I’m also feeling a tiny little bit of energy coming back to me.
    Keep up your lovely work because it inspires me so much in this difficult time in my life. THANK YOU.

  • Reply tinajo January 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I LOVE the third pic – perfect! :-)

  • Reply Artplay by Vivian Hawker January 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I definitely have had my many moments of what I call Funks but I love your way of describing it as Natures natural pauses. About a week ago I really felt inspired and motivated by the years possibilities of new beginnings, hope that my new creative business will grow and flourish this year and just a jolt of fresh life again. I love the serene feel of the picture highlighted by Livet Hemma’s blog. It feels really fresh and clean!

  • Reply annie January 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I have been the same. And then I had this weekend with no plans at all and only left the house to go to the gym. By yesterday afternoon I was starting to wake up and so I got my camera out. I started taking a few shots around the house and bang, all my creativity returned. I think I needed two days of absolutely nothing, and of not trying to do anything and just relaxing.

  • Reply wendel January 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    What a lovely piece you wrote here! By the end of it, I felt a lot better about myself. Even though I’m definitely still very much in hibernation-mode myself. Next january, I’m gonna be a lot easier on myself and allow myself some down time. Like ou, I’m gonna trust it will all come back to me soon ; )

  • Reply Christin January 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Sounds a lot like me… and I’m still fighting to get out of this year’s hibernation. But when I read all what you have done (tax, paper work, household chores) it seems like you have not done nothing but a lot! I wish my tired moments would be as busy as yours. :)

  • Reply Sarah January 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I think the natural and organic decor is very stylish and comfortable, which is what I think people want to see now. This is reflected in my most recent post about a TV show that has fabulous set decoration that mixes wood, brick, metals and an overall shabby chic decor. It is inspired by nature and is lovely…;-))

  • Reply Nadine January 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I’m feeling very inspired at the moment, especially since my new years resolution is to do more of what I love, which is styling and decorating! I do always feel like I’m kind of hibernating during winter. I tend to go out less, sleep more and spend more time snuggleing up on my sofa to refuel my batteries. I love that time of year as much as I love spring and summer though. It’s refreshing.

    Lots of love from London

  • Reply Lucy January 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I’m slowly hauling myself out of hibernation … I’ve spent the time since New Year hunkered under a blanket in my reading chair, hiding out in novels and hoping that my batteries will recharge soon. I think now it’s getting a bit lighter it helps, and I’ve been able to force myself out of the house for a couple of long walks which has blown away some of the dust. Hoping the upward climb will continue and I can get back to work soon!

  • Reply frauheuberg January 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    oh, yes…i´m a little bit inside this january coma feeling…but also let it flow…you are so right it is so good for our mind…to calm down…think a bit and find again the right direction…i feel i´m on my way…and with your inspirations the rainy monday could begin…and will be a creative start into a hopefully inspiring week…have you also a gret one…big hug…cheers…i…

  • Reply samantha January 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Yes! i feel in a complete state of limbo at the moment, I’m not sure what to blog about, or even if I want to, and my blog is feeling stale at the moment, even thinking of giving a new name so as to give it some new direction..
    though there is the promise of spring to look forward to and all the spring/summer previews to think of.

  • Reply Heather B January 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Still in a coma… but I really appreciate the permission to embrace it. I have so much to do, but what I’ve been doing is reading Sherlock Holmes on Kindle… It’s free, it’s like an engraved invitation to read the whole thing.

    I’ve been thoroughly chastising myself over my inability to find my motivation. Ironically, like you, I KNOW it goes missing at this time of year, but the thought that I should succumb to it (to a point) had never occurred to me. It’s wise advice too because as I get angrier with myself, it has the effect of turning what could be just a natural sleepy and quiet time of the year into the full-out blues.

    I have a lot of goals for the year and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to accomplish them all if I’m not striving all of the time. I know that’s not true and that I will naturally compensate for slower times when I my energy returns. I needed to be reminded that my energy has an ebb and flow rather than expecting a steady-state and being disappointed when that isn’t true. You’re a wise woman, Holly, thank you for that.

    (I also like the hibernating bear analogy, it’s much kinder than the term I had in my head which was “slug”)

  • Reply Paloma January 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    My goodness. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling this month and like you I have realized that when I don’t want to do anything it’s not because I’m lazy- it’s because I really do need a time out. I woke up today feeling right again too!

    Happy creating, dear!

  • Reply sue January 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    So glad to see you back in the director’s chair… we missed you! I think my self-imposed hibernation period normally kicks in around my birthday each year when, like it or not, i tend to do a stocktake of the year’s highs & lows and reflect on everything that has passed and is still to come… i do agree though that it’s a great feeling when the ice starts to thaw and my energy is renewed! enjoy

  • Reply patricia January 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I don’t necessarily just get this in January. For me it’s once every six months. When I feel it coming I’ve learned to slowly put on the breaks. I used to try to plow through but the work that I produced during that timw was invariably mediocre. I know better now and I just roll with it.

  • Reply Susan @ The Kitchen Designer January 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    This is a very beautiful post, visually but in words :) You are so right. This new year, and I don’t know why, has brought me back to basics. The new year has told me to go back to blogging on my own blog, to reading my favorite blogs, really looking at them and reading their contents and to comment and share my thoughts on things that touch me. I feel like I was under a blanket previous to the change in the new year and suddenly awoke! But, yes, simple living and getting back to basics enables one to focus anew, which is how I’m feeling and functioning in my life right now. You really put it into words for me!

  • Reply kalanicut January 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Love all you’ve said about still January months. I like it. I have been so busy (and saw that coming) that I just decided give myself permission not to put too much pressure on myself to organize 2012 until this week. I think I’m ready now and I like that I haven’t made myself miserable by forcing it. It has been nice to ease into this year, get a feel for it and then make friends with it.

    And yes, I am having an intense desire to go uber minimalist in my home. If I had storage space I would take at least half of my belongings and store them away and go very simple with my decorating for a while. Outside of that option, I’m going to start simplifying wherever I can this week.

  • Reply Juliette January 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    oh, I’m totally still hung over from 2011 work…and will be for at least another 2 weeks. I’m seriously looking forward to February and March when I’ll get a chance to breathe and fully recoup!

  • Reply Cristina | Positively Beauty January 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    It sounds like what happens to me too…but every year I still resist this slump, and I just realised that resisting it only makes it last longer…! Although I know perfectly well that we need time to replenish the well, I feel guilty and struggle, because deep down I think that I should always be productive and creative….thanks for sharing :)

  • Reply Emily January 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Yep, 2012 has held a lot of lying under a blanket watching back-to-back episodes of The Office. At least they make me laugh! But I’ve also known that I’m gearing up for big things to come and coming off the hangover from 2011, which wasn’t a great year for me. Even as I’m being kind of a bum, I’m formulating some thoughts and plans for the year, letting things marinate. When I feel ready again, I’m not going to be starting from scratch – I’ll have pre-formulated ideas, just ready for action.

  • Reply Cutelicious January 23, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I had to smile when I read your post. I can relate! Totally. However my “cycle” seems to be alot shorter. I usually go with full force for a few weeks – I am creative, I am doing different things at once, I feel like “it” (whatever it is) is moving … This goes either until I am worn out or something throws me off track. And with two kids there is alot that can throw one off track. ;-) When this happens it usually takes me a couple days – or even 1-2 weeks – until I am back to “energy”. During that time I find it hard to go through with ideas. I still have ideas – but somehow not the drive that I usually have.

    But you are right – it is good to except those breaks! The first few times it freaked me out. But now I know it just takes a few days and it will get better – and I try to “enjoy” them. Do things that I do not get to know during those productive times … watch a movie, sort through things, look at books and magazines … Even those down times in the end usually turn out to be inspiring in some way or another.

    Thanks for this great post!
    Oh, and I also love to touch things. But I usually feel to self-conscious to do it in stores as much as I would like to. :-)



  • Reply Tracy O'Brien January 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    This post really hit home with me. I just had this conversation with my husband yesterday…I have been feeling blah and uninspired and it was making me so sad. You are right, it happens every January and I need to embrace it!

    You make me laugh…even when you are feeling “under your blanket” you still found words to beautifully describe what this time of year is for you.

    Thank you for showing us that you are human and you have the same seasons of creativity and quiet as the rest of us. Thank you for your beautiful blog and book and well, everything! :)

  • Reply Marian January 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    What wise words. This post captured exactly how I have been feeling and what I’ve been doing. I think especially if you live in the northern hemisphere it makes sense to ‘grow’ into the new year slowly. In fact this piece post inspired me to write my own New Year’s post.
    Thanks for the inspiration Holly!

  • Reply Chrystina January 25, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I’m feeling creatively hung over by the fact that I didn’t get through all of the Christmas cards I wanted to get through, and now I have to figure out what to do about it. Hopefully when I figure that out a huge burden will be lifted. I’m excited that you’ve reached Holly 2.0 though, good luck!!

  • Reply Kinga January 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I’m totally with you on this…and I love that you have named it a “natural pause”…that makes it seem more like it has a place that should be honoured and like you said you just have to roll with it. I have been feeling this way since the beginning of the year also which resulted in a small pause from blogging and other daily routine things…then I got stuck in an elevator and finally realized that I’m maybe meant to be taking a time out!

    On another note, I looooove that calm style with lots of neutral and natural elements…I especially love the hanging light in that last photo….is it from Ikea?
    Love your posts….! Seriously!

  • Reply margarita January 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I have been telling my brain to stop for a while, that it is nothing wrong with it, specially in January, but does it listen to me??? oh noooo, my inspiration and ideas don’t seem to dry ye,t and after exhibiting at Home, I have no stopped. But I am very lucky to go home often and slow down and rest more. Thanks for remind me that is only natural to stop and recharge batteries, after all that is what my cat Missi does all the time haha…

  • Reply Punctuation Mark January 27, 2012 at 4:36 am

    they have the most amazing images…. i love the one with the black background!

  • Reply Deepa January 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    This is definitely what I’ve been feeling this month. This is my first full winter ever (I moved to Holland from Singapore/Manila) and what I was feeling was really freaking me out. I felt lazy, unfocused and worst of all GUILTY about feeling that way! Thanks for writing this, Holly! It’s helped me understand what I’m feeling and encourages me to embrace it. *gives natural pause a big hug*

  • Reply Ann January 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Holly, as an Australian my uncreative hibernation time comes in July. Sadly this is not holiday time so I have to soldier on. I love the simplicity of the pictures on this blog – delightful and inspiring and something to look at during unproductive winter days.

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