Partnering With Others

April 1, 2015

Ready for a creative boost and a fun way to grow as a blogger? To continue with my blog trends column (#20blogtrends), for this 5th installment I want to talk about partnering with others and why it’s so valuable to more than just a small business, but to our mental health/emotional well-being too.

Partnering With Others

I had such a positive and wonderful experience lately and want to share it with all of you. (That’s me above working on Monday with local photographer, Susanne Irmer.) You know how sometimes you wonder if you are meant to be living where you live? I moved a lot in my life which has resulted in always feeling at home no matter where I am because I don’t attach “home” to a specific space or location. It’s always inside of me and with my family and friends. I’ve had homes all over and I never complained when my family moved, I felt excited and couldn’t wait for the next adventure. Some kids have no problem with moving around a lot and lucky for me, I was one of those kids and continue to love the new adventures that come with relocating to this day. Because I love to move, I am always up for trying something new, especially if the current location is no longer working for whatever reason.

If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you know I’m American and we relocated here to northern Germany from Boston in August 2009. Lately I’ve been starting to wonder if this is the place for me to stay ultimately. As in, until I die. My husband has said he wouldn’t mind living in southern California, especially since it appears as though I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and I often wonder if I’d feel better being in a sunny place despite my love for four seasons. I also have a lot of friends in California and the west coast in general and am a beach fanatic so I could absolutely get into living somewhere in the OC near the coast. My husband is also happy to relocate to the UK because we both adore London. But that almost makes me scared as the weather there is much worse than in Germany – it rains about twice as much in London…

So all of this wondering lately about where to live, or if we should just stay in Germany,  has also made me think about why. As in WHY am I even thinking about moving and it mostly comes down to weather, the general energy where I live (how ambitious and creative people are, or not) and feeling like I cannot find others like me who want to work together on fun, creative projects. Then I thought about if where I live is really SO BAD. Because there is so much good here, my husband loves this city (he was born and raised here) and his family is here, I have lovely friends, the cost of living is great and my work is really respected and valued here – my books sell extremely well and I have a lot of great opportunities offered to me on a regular basis because of my books and online presence. Which is why I did what I always do when I’m having a hard time sorting ideas and embarked on some mind mapping and list making, both of which are critical when my brain feels like it cannot find the right answer.

After filling many pages, I discovered that the most important thing right now, since I cannot move today, is to take positive action on what I can change. My mindfulness professional life coach Laurie Cameron, is helping me with this too so I cannot take all of the credit. She is an amazing resource and I love our weekly sessions via Skype. What could I do in my own local area to improve my mood and feel more creative despite the fact that we’ve had hailstorms for several days now?

All of the writing and listing and mapping made me think about a project that I needed to do for work and how, instead of working alone or with my husband to produce the photos that I need for the assignment, that I’d hire help to see if the creativity of others could somehow brighten my day and bring in sunshine to a place where there is currently none. So I hired a photographer, two models and a makeup artist. I started to brainstorm on how I wanted the photos to look and how I’d be using them. This past Sunday was day one and on Monday, was day two – the final day – and I am now flying high! I’m happy with the work, I’m excited to work with Susanne to do more work in the future together, and everyone involved was also inspired and felt the magic in return, so the goal was met – good work was produced and a positive, happy vibe for all!

I took control and feel better because of it!

When you are feeling down or affected by the weather, or people, or whatever else or you just need a creative boost, think of partnering with others and see what comes from it. Lots of bloggers are doing this and it makes a huge difference. It may also help you to get your mojo back like it has always done for me in the past, including the most recent past just a few days ago.

If you’ve missed my other Blog Trends post in this series of 20, here are the ones we’ve discussed so far:

What do you think, have your partnered with others? What has been your personal experience? Do you have any questions for me or anyone else about how to partner with others or tips to share?

(Photograph: Susanne Irmer)




  • Reply Colleen Welsch April 1, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I have partnered with a few local bloggers and really enjoyed the experience…but I too suffer from SAD and decided to go in the other direction – I am moving to Southern California in 2 months! Of course, I don’t have a husband to take into account in my decision-making process :)

  • Reply Sage @ Plaster&Disaster April 1, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! I used to have my own blog, and then recently I teamed up with a friend to run a DIY/home improvement blog together. It makes such a difference in my energy and creativity to have a partner in it all. It takes finding the right partners to work with, but I think it’s so great if you can find them.

  • Reply Tina April 1, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Holly, I’m so glad you are back with this column which I always find very inspirational! I agree with you that the weather plays such an importand role in how you feel, how much energy you have or if you are creative or not. I know a lot of people who moved back to Germany from sunny and warm Tennessee and struggle really hard with their new life. And the weather plays a big part in all that. I’m going to try to schedule our own move for a date between April and September to avoid miserable rainy gray days – although you can never be sure with the weather, right?
    I love the idea of partnering up with other bloggers, photographers etc., not only online but in real life. This is something I need in my blogging life, too. It’s always just me and my blog and sometimes a creative block.

  • Reply studio na.hili April 1, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    thanks a lot for your inspirational words! It helps a lot to see, that people you think they are perfekt (& their books might be in your home ;)) are having doupts about all those things too. THANK YOU.

    also, I think, you hired a great photographer. found here trough a friend at instagram and she has an awesome eye for very special moments. i think you too are a match made in heaven. cheers to great work!

  • Reply Judi April 1, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you for this, Holly. I have been feeling “stuck”, too, after a VERY long and hard winter, and am also trying new partnerships to see whether that will get me unstuck in my work.

    We moved to Vermont from Brooklyn in 2012 and I’m not sure either that this is my forever place. I’m not ashamed to say that when things get really bad, I hit Zillow and fantasize about where we might go next.

    As a fellow expat (US parents, non-military, born in Bonn, grew up in Koeln and Duesseldorf, know what you mean about the weather, 6 hours of sun total in January when I was growing up!) I can tell you that you are taking absolutely the right tack. Friends, partnerships, walks, daily Kaffee u. Kuchen, big dinner parties with your son on your lap (my parents did this twice a week when I was small), anything you can do to make home where you are feel more comfy–even if you know you are trained by your lifestyle never to have a permanent home–is great. But it’s also good to remember that as an expat you know how to move when you have to.

    Hang in there.

  • Reply linda April 1, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Very interesting topic and one that I can relate to working from home. It’s funny how we start out thinking being our own boss is just roses… but then we get lonely and miss the watercooler days. I also think it does make a difference to have hired professional help. It’s completely different than working with your family/friends even if they have the expertise.

    I think that when we are lost in our own creative bubbles and have a lot of online connections, sometimes we lose the real people connections. It’s not easy to find someone to partner with that is local. Not to mention it usually takes an investment of some sort…

    BTW, I’m also American, now living in Italy and love it here for so many things… but I am originally from Southern California, so miss the sun and warmth oh so much! Reading about your feelings regarding the weather, made me think about how much our environment really does affect our productivity and general state of mind!

  • Reply Sandra Harris April 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    I have done quite a few collaborations related to my blog/journal in the past few years. Some have been when I needed people who had expertise that I didn’t have (I did a series each about modern art fundamentals and 20th century fashion). I also collaborated on a series called “Talking About Creativity” where Jennifer Cooper of Classic Play and I talked about things like envy, inspiration, etc.

    I’ve always loved collaborating and find it energizing. I love how different people from varied backgrounds/fields bring new thoughts and ideas that I may never have considered. And my ideas end up being better by bumping up against someone else’s ideas/opinions.

    In my previous career (I’m now a food/lifestyle photographer and used to be in psychology) I even wrote my master’s thesis on creative collaboration. We’re social people and we’re meant to work together.

    Tips? Know why you want to collaborate. Set clear expectations about who is going to do what/when. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Have an end point (a project deadline or series deadline).

    Don’t be shy about contacting people – all they can do is say “no”. And if you don’t contact them at all, it’s a “no” for sure!

  • Reply Kara April 1, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    I think trying something new is always a good way to get out of a funk. I’m from the Seattle area and my husband and son have SAD. The two easiest things we’ve done to help them is exercise and light therapy. We make sure my son and husband are outside and in the fresh air everyday day and in the mornings they use a blue light. I can really tell the difference in their demeanor when using light therapy. It’s not a cure-all, it just helps take the edge off.

  • Reply Uli April 1, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    One of my most favourite posts of yours! Probably because I can relate so much. I moved a lot in my life too (most of it was my own choice). I’m originally from Germany, Berlin, moved to Munich, then Vienna, then London, Singapore, and now I’m back in London again. By the way the weather isn’t that bad. I can’t second it’s worse than in Germany ;)

    I also just recently started to partner up with other bloggers. I can’t wait to put creative projects into practice together. You blog post was very inspirational and I’m happy this is going to be a trend (I totally trust you here). Keep up the great work and maybe one day we could do something together! Let me know if you ever have any questions about the Germans x

  • Reply Cate Lawrence April 1, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I can so relate, I’m an Australian living in Germany and I’ve been trying to finish my ‘soup and salad’ recipe book but the bad weather and general darkness keeps quashing my photo shoots. So frustrating. I’ve never thought much about SAD before moving here, but I can definitely understand how it would effect people…

  • Reply Juju Sprinkles April 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    I can totally relate with you about living abroad and adapting to a new environment. I think it’s all about perspective. When I was living in Taiwan for work, I longed for California because Taiwan is a tropical country, which means summers are scorching hot and winters are cold and damp. However, once I started to embrace these climate changes and the amazing culture there, I began to fall in love with it.
    Anyways, back to your topic about partnering with another person. I am a newbie to the blogging world, so your articles on Blogging Trends are extremely helpful. I hope to be able to do a guest post someday, because apparently that is one of the best ways to share your voice when you are new to the playground.
    Thank you for this inspirational post, keep up your positive spirit! Have some pretzel and beer!!
    Juju Sprinkles

  • Reply Martina April 1, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    I was born in Austria and grew up in Germany but since being a grown-up I lived in Australia, England and Belgium and recently moved back to Germany. Even though I missed things from Germany while living in foreign countries I also always found it very hard moving back to Germany. Compared to the three other countries I experienced I must say Germany is not especially “creative” unless you live in Berlin perhaps. I find it also very hard to find other creative people who are interested in exchanging or cooperating. But, of course, you just have to keep looking and eventually you can find some creativity everywhere!

    Concerning the weather I think most people have less energy and feel a little bit down in winter sometimes. Obviously some seem to suffer more than others and that can be a problem. But I think the lack of light and the long winter months are not really good for anybody! Studies have confirmed that in countries like e.g. Scandinavia are more people who suffer from depression due to the weather conditions than in other places. BTW the weather in London has improved over the years. It is not really true anymore that it rains all the time, that was the case maybe 30 years ago. We lived in London for 7 1/2 years and had nice sunny summers over there too!

    Matching the topic I found the following in “Flow Magazine”: “Ziehe an den Ort deiner Träume! Dein Wohnort-das hat eine Untersuchung ergeben-ist nämlich ein sehr wichtiger Glücksfaktor. Der “World Happiness Report” hat Dänemark als Land mit der höchsten Lebensqualität ausgemacht (obviously not due to the weather!). Deutschland landet auf Rang 26.”

    • Reply Jan December 1, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Hello Martina, can you translate my short note (this on my blog site) from english to german ?

  • Reply mel April 2, 2015 at 1:01 am

    I think partnering up is a great idea. I dream of having my own studio and collaborating with others on fun subjects. Our industry can be really lonely even though we are always “connected”. I always feel energised after attending events with other bloggers or people in the industry and realise that it’s probably something that I should search more of. I can’t wait to see what you came up with in your collaboration.

  • Reply LV April 2, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Love this post. I have relocated to Ireland & not it’s so much the weather (as I only moved from the UK) but collaboration I miss. Leaving friends & family behind is the hardest part, so it’s good to read that there’s a whole lot of others out there who feel the same. I can feel my creativity slowly ebbing away but tonight I made a conscious effort to be active in my efforts & it feels great :-)
    PS I was a log time follower of your blog, from what feels like YEARS ago but life seemed to get in the way there for a while & I am so happy to be back! Thank you!

  • Reply Maria April 2, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Holly, you are not alone on this. You have inspired me to do a lot of things lately. It is funny because you even dont know me, or you dont even know you inspired me! So I thought I need to tell Holly one of these days how much inspiration she has been to me. Some other day i will tell you in detail how and why you inspire me.. but in short you are possitive, you introduced me to great contacts and I admire you for moving to Germany and still having all this energy and inspiration. Germany is a lovely place in many senses, but is also a hard country to adapt as a foreigner. The cutlture is very individual, so germans tend to be reserve, specially in Hannover! I have lived in Hannover, Berlin, Dresden and now Cologne, and things are way “easier” here. I have a 2 and a 4 years old, and work full time + run a small business… so I am quite busy, but I would love to get together with you some day!

    • Reply decor8 April 2, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      @Maria – What a nice note you’ve left for me – thank you!!!

  • Reply kquotes April 2, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    thanks a lot for your inspirational words! It helps a lot to see, that people you think they are perfekt (& their books might be in your home ;)) are having doubts about all those things too.

  • Reply dawn April 2, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    i have been thinking a lot about this lately … i don’t think i am at the ‘ready’ point yet, but have been seeing so many little workshops taking place as i follow on instagram … but i am the middle of the midwest, usa and think there is so much space between everything … it does not make it easily conducive to gather together easily … i’m from here, lived in england and then dubai … what i miss most about england is the history … we just don’t have that here … taking online classes helps connect, as i have very minimal readership, but i will be thinking of collaboration more seriously … do you have a ‘process’ that you go through before contacting someone, or is it more informal and talk it through with the other person and it evolves??

  • Reply emma lamb April 4, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Another really interesting post Holly. I am in exactly the same place right now… after a long winter of book writing and crochet sampling (which thankfully kept me distracted from the weather and dark day issues!) I have been so greatful to work with some really great people this last month who have inspired me in ways that I didn’t know I could be inspired. My energy levels are soaring and my mind is constantly running with ideas and possibilities. It’s like a blnaket of creariness has been lifted and I love it! I want more too! You are absolutely right, we need to reach out and find people and places that give us the positivity we need to feed our creativity.
    The UK would love to have you if you want to try London for while, but considering your SAD I would strongly advise against staying here for the foreseable future. It is hard going at times.
    Emma, x

  • Reply Antonella April 7, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    How about a while in the sun during winter? Like relocating for a month or 2 in Italy, Spain, Greece etc? I guess it could help a bit and since Aidan is little it doesn’t matter a lot (as for school etc). Your husband could come for the weekend :-)

  • Reply Karolina April 11, 2015 at 10:45 am

    i can totally relate to that. We lived in Germany for 4 years, my older daughter was born there. We lived in other European countries afterwards and even though at that time we didn’t want to move as we got used to the German lifestyle, we had to due to my husbands work. We’ve been in the UK for over 12 years now, we’re both English, and the weather is killing me. In winter I have headaches everyday! My both girls are at school so we’re not planning to relocate but I dream about California as my ideal location. My health would be better, I feel much better on the sun. But must say we lived in Zurich for 2 years and loved it. Switzerland is such a beautiful country! The good thing is that you can work nowadays anywhere if you’re online based. I’m building my brand up to do just that!

  • Reply Lucy Chen April 12, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Partnering with others in creative projects has always been a fun idea, and there are many fruitful examples, too.

    I guess if we really think about it, and brain storm, we’ll come up with many ways we can partner wither others.

  • Reply Jacki April 17, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Working to grow my blog, and I just discovered your awe-inspiring blog. Glad to be a follower. I totally plan on adding this to my blog plans. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply Rory April 18, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I too have asked myself the question of “Where do I belong?” and suffer from SAD as a result of a decade in beautiful Portland, Oregon. The hubs and I are planning on relocating to Southern Oregon with 300+ days of sunshine.

    I’m just starting to get more involved with my blog as I personalize it more to me, and not just my work. I think it’s great to branch out and collaborate with other bloggers. I’m always looking for new opportunities too!

  • Reply Corina April 28, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I haven’t partnered with other bloggers yet that often, but partnered with many artists that helped me e.g. creating mix sets or short films. It’s always such a mind opening and inspiring experience!

  • Reply Kathrin May 15, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I have not partnered with other bloggers yet, but i think it would be a great chance to get new influences on both sides. I’m an Photoartist and I have only cooperated with other artists to realize exhibitions, I have also a great obsession with decorating and homeinterior and sometimes I would like to combine these things. Thangs for the inspirations, greetings from Hennef (Near Cologne)

  • Reply Jan December 1, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Hello Martina, can you translate my short note (this on my blog site) from english to german ?

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