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From The Heart

Thoughts On Balance

October 11, 2016

Good morning everyone, how are you? I’ve been traveling a lot but I still make time to bring my little boy out to the countryside during the weekends when I’m here, and we have a lot of fun. The landscape around us is so very lovely, and depending on the weather, it can evoke an array of different emotions. Sometimes there is extreme melancholy, which can be rather comforting – like a warm hug on an Autumnal day. Other times, a feeling of light-hearted joy coupled with clarity. Next week I’ll be in London again, so I made it a point to go to the country over the past weekend. I thought you may enjoy some of my photos today from a recent trip we took to Lüneburger Heide – a heath that is just amazing when in bloom with fresh Heather. The Heather had nearly passed, but I caught a few glimpses of it for you, along with my little boy who is suddenly not so little anymore despite being only 2.5 years old. He is very tall, determined and curious. When we take him outside, he doesn’t stay nearby – he is off exploring and collecting. He is very imaginative, sometimes quite feisty, and says the cutest things. I find his friendliness and love of hand holding very endearing. I love how he wakes me up each day with such enthusiasm. There is much work involved in raising a child but to me, it comes so naturally to just go with the flow and let him be himself – his varied, complex and often fiery self. I like seeing a little boy grow up, it’s fascinating to watch.

Thoughts On Balance

Children aside, I find a lot of peace and clarity through my viewfinder, not so much in what I’m seeing but more in how I’m feeling and reacting, and how each photo seems to provide some insight into my own emotional landscape. This is why I love nothing more than to be outdoors, to get in touch with all of my senses, and to cut off from the internet and my phone long enough to feel emotions again that run a bit deeper than “liking” photos and leaving one liner comments on Facebook pages. Letting go of the virtual and cherishing the reality has grown more and more important to me over the past year. I don’t know why, but something shifted inside of me and I learned that life is so multi-faceted and that balance is required to really enjoy as much as you can. Balance your time online and off. Balance your time with your family and alone. Balance self care with caring for others. Balance brings you closer to your core and when you are in touch with yourself, you don’t waste as much time or energy deciding or doing things that ultimately lack value. So in essence, you may think balance takes you away from your family or is selfish, but it’s exactly the opposite. Everyone wins.

Thoughts On Balance

Thoughts On Balance

Thoughts On Balance

Thoughts On Balance

Thoughts On Balance

What are your thoughts on balance today? Have you though to create a little more in your life too?

(Photography: Holly Becker for decor8)






From The Heart

Thoughts On Depression

September 19, 2016

Hello everyone, it’s Monday so we are naturally looking at a new week with plans to set into motion, right? Feels good. I normally face Monday with a bit of hesitation at first but now, it has changed because I’m doing lots of positive events around my new book, I’m on the road meeting friends and fans, making new business contacts, and it’s very, very invigorating. I feel alive again. The last time I felt this good was at the beginning of the year when I went to Paris and then London. After those trips, I hit a very low point in my life – I felt really inspired and happy but returned to a reality that I didn’t really want to face.

Thoughts On Depression

The thing was, I had to be an “adult” in some things that I’d been putting off. I needed to REALLY fix things in my personal life, with my health, with childcare (lack of), with my career (felt a bit directionless), and with a few friends. Most of all, I had to learn to be more kind to myself, to really put myself first which has always been hard for me.

All of this reality put me in a depression period that I didn’t know how to get out of. I kept it hidden from most people and on my blog, but it was really a hard time. Fortunately, my good friends stuck around to help. I confided in them and they’ve lovingly listened, provided a shoulder to literally cry on, and have acted as strong and willing when it comes to jumping in and just caring for me. I didn’t have to beg my good friends to be there through my hard times.

I’m happy to say that the depression period has let up now, the dark shadow passed over. FINALLY. I have new goals and am doing a lot with my life that I don’t think a lot of people will believe or even recognize as coming from me in the months ahead but I’m gonna just go for it. I’m gonna jump and just do things with a sense of “screw it” because really, life is too short and precious to live a fake life or a life that you aren’t really happy with.

I have childcare now (lots of it). My nutrition and self care are on point. I have plans in place to take care of the bigger stuff in time but for now, I’m not feeling held back or scared anymore. I’m not frozen. The depression period has ended. And I’m out again doing events and scheduling workshops and my calendar is full until the end of this year and I love it. With each event, I am allowed to share and receive positive energy in return and that give and take is so healthy and beneficial.

But wow, that depression period. Shit, man. Yuck.

It was horrible.

Thoughts On Depression

Sure, I had felt the blues before, you know, days where you just can’t seem to make progress. Days when you don’t want to get out of bed but you do anyway. Everyone has those. But I’d never known sinking depression on that level since I was in my early twenties and experienced a really big break up with someone I thought I had loved.

I’m always very hopeful and optimistic. With that, you almost become responsible to be a light to everyone. You become known as a light. And then you just shine and shine and shine and even when you have nothing left to shine, you find something and shine anyway. And then you get drained after a long enough time. Then you start to fake or pretend that you are fine, because you don’t want to let anyone down. And of course, your ego is involved at that point. You are known to be shining and encouraging and motivating, you can’t possibly show people that you feel like shit inside and wish you could run away and go live on a secluded island for a year.

For me, it all started in March after my birthday and by end of May, I was hitting bottom. In June, I had a momentary lapse of “I’ve got this!” and then, boom. I didn’t have anything, I was a mess. The dark clouds came in fast and furious. And stayed.

July and August were horrific.

I didn’t want to get out of bed for TWO MONTHS. I have a toddler to care for, so he was my motivation to shower and get up and get the day started. But boy, I didn’t always want to be responsible. I wanted to go to sleep at 8pm and a lot of the time, I did. I felt guilty giving in to my feelings at first. “I’m strong”, I told myself, “why am I giving in to these feelings, I’m a mom for god’s sake, how can I be such a wreck, my son needs me?”.

But after awhile I stopped pretending to be strong and I started to allow myself to be vulnerable. Through the help of friends, I realized that I needed to drop the act and tell people how I was really feeling because I had built a WALL around me and it was not helping my friendships. I needed to learn what I craved the most in my life – intimacy – wasn’t what I myself was giving to others. I wasn’t open and working towards intimacy in my relationships yet I expected this from my friends. How about that?

What I realized is that I always thought I was so open – I have a blog, I write a lot of stuff here that I’d consider pretty revealing at times. I share my life on the internet, in the press, in my books… But this isn’t really being OPEN. Sure, I’m more open than the average person who would never dare write about their child birth experience online like I did, or they’d never show their home online, etc. But I still am open in a way that I am safe with. In other words, and I think a lot of us do this online, I am open when it comes to showing the good stuff in my life. I’m open with all of the positive things. Not to show off, but because I really want to inspire people to be happier and I think that sharing that I’m in a dark place isn’t going to help anyone else. So I stay quiet and I hide.

Yet, one thing I crave more and more, and maybe it’s because I’ve been writing professionally online for over a decade, is greater authenticity. No, I don’t mean showing my ugly disorganized closet or me not wearing makeup. What I do mean is being a bit more open to how I feel and expressing it openly. Sharing that yes, while we enjoyed our trip we also had to deal with a screaming toddler and 100 melt downs and I almost missed my flight because I was too busy texting someone. Or yes, our house looks great but before the photo was taken, it was a giant mess of toys and I decided to clean it to a take a nice photo for the internet. You know, just being more natural and more normal and stop fearing judgement because all of that can ultimately suck our life out and make others feel like crap too.

First world problem. I know. But it’s causing a lot of people to ultimately experience burn out, depression and a lot of other unnecessary problems because all of the perfect we see. It’s nice to hear the stories behind what we see online and to open up about our very human experiences. That is the definition of being open and authentic.

Now that I’m beyond the darkest darks, I’m doing a lot to change my life for the better. When I make my mind up, I really make my mind up. And for many things in my life that I’ve sat idle on for a long time… Well let’s just say I made my mind up to do several things very differently.

How about you, have you ever hit a period of depression? How did you end it? I’m glad my time is over with this but it was NOT FUN. But I learned so much, mostly what I learned is who my real friends really are. That was so revealing… To see who sticks by you when you’re not your best self and need help. Also, I learned what wasn’t working in my life and what needed to change. I’m taking steps each day to change those things and that movement alone, the new flow of energy the movement is creating, has helped tremendously.

Love you all.

xo Holly

(photography Holly Becker)






From The Heart

When You Earn More Money Than Your Man

August 10, 2016

First let me say that if I offend anyone by what I’m about to say, please leave a comment and chime in on the conversation because I’d like to hear your side too. But this is my side, my opinion and I’m basing it on my own conversations with women all over the world – not just Americans or Germans or women you think I’m mostly referring. ALL women from ALL over. So with that being out of the way, I shall begin my essay.

When You Earn More Money Than Your Man

Money. It’s never been a hard topic for me to talk about even though I grew up watching my parents fight over it pretty much daily. I don’t understand why something that can be such a bridge in your life can be so bad or so hard to discuss. I’m married and when we get low on funds my first reaction isn’t to fight, it’s to discuss the situation and get crackin’ – do what we can to make it and make it fast. I always tell my husband that he married the best wife in the world when it comes to this topic – I would flip burgers or clean bathrooms if all the chips were down and we needed to pay the rent. I have been close to broke before, I was broke once, and I will never go there again if I am healthy enough to work. No way. My ego will never stand in the way of me going forth and getting a job, any job… I’d perform nearly any (legal and moral) task on earth to support myself and my family financially. I am that woman who would (and has) worked 2-3 jobs to make it. I’m not lazy and my father gave me one thing that stuck – work ethic. I may not always be realistic about money and earnings, but my crazy strong work ethic means that I won’t go down without a fight.

Yet there is something I have to say about money that may make some of you feel a little awkward after I say this. Please don’t. I have earned quite a bit of it in my lifetime, before blogging and especially after blogging. There is no limit to the amount of money a creative person can earn online these days if you work your ___ off and have a few good ideas and are willing to sweat blood to get it. I remember the first 8 years of my online career very clearly because I worked 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, or more. I remember staying up until 4am to write on my blog and to turn assignments in to magazines and newspapers on time. I worked in my sleep. Then I got pregnant and cut back but I couldn’t take a maternity leave, so I took off two weeks leave after I had my baby. I wish I could have taken 6-12 months like most of my German friends (I live in Germany now in case some of you missed that I relocated overseas from Boston) but I couldn’t because my money keeps our family above water.

I have a real love/hate with that last sentence.

I love it because I never in my life thought I could earn more than, let me just say it, a man. When I was growing up, men were the ones earning all of the money and women had part-time jobs or, if working full-time, were definitely not in leadership roles as they are today. So I’m very proud of myself that women have broken the glass ceiling in some parts of the world and can potentially earn more than a man based on their TALENT not on their GENDER. I never understood and still don’t, why a women can do the same job as a man but earn substantially less. But that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

So I love that I can earn money without my gender being part of that.

Yet I also hate that I earn more than my husband. Mostly because I know that it causes stress in our relationship. I have a lot of pressure to keep earning and sometimes I want to just pull back and go on vacation for a month and blog from the French Riviera. But I can’t because blogging isn’t the only way I earn this living, there is so much more and so many hours are needed to accomplish all that I do.

I believe that the truth is, at their core – men do not like to earn less money than a woman. Do you agree? I know lots of men will say I’m wrong, and I’m sure in some cases I am wrong, but in most cases I’m not wrong. I’ve seen it. I have blogger friends who have divorced over money relating to her earning more than him. I’ve researched this topic ad nauseam and it’s the same across the board. Men don’t like earning less than their woman. I’ve heard it has to do with male pride, I’ve heard it has to do with feeling like they are competing, I’ve heard it has to do with ego. I’ve also heard it has to do with feeling guilty.

But I haven’t really heard WHY THE HELL IT MATTERS so much. I love the idea of pooling cash and both partners dive in and view it as money THEY are making together. Not HER money, not HIS money. THEIR MONEY. If he is helping with the children, and cleaning the house, and doing laundry, and cooking as much as his woman, and he is also being supportive and helping her to be a top performer through his love, then that works, right? Yet, I hear just the opposite. That men don’t want to be known as “house husbands” and they don’t want to stay home and do domestic things while their wife earns the family income. One guy I interviewed when I was writing this article bluntly said to me, “I don’t want to be her bitch!”.

Eek.

I have a male friend, he is working in restaurants mostly until he finds a job in his profession, and he hates it because his partner is some kind of manager at her job and earns more money than he does. And he doesn’t like this at all and has confessed this to me. And to make it worse, she rubs it in his face that he doesn’t have a “real job” and actually declines dinner parties because he isn’t very interesting for her friends and family to be around since he’s not working. It’s not looking to good for appearances you know, that she is the big manager and he is the lowly waiter. This makes me absolutely sick. But there are women who shame their men and I find this disrespectful and a real sign that their isn’t real love in a relationship like that. And when this happens, I get why the man would hate to earn less than their woman.

But I’m not talking about those cases.

I’m talking about female friends that I have who have largely internet-based businesses and they make so much money that their partner could never earn that – even if they were a brain surgeon or a top engineer at some amazing firm – some earn more than half a million a year and up… The ladies I know who aren’t partnered get great dates but never get long term relationships because of the MONEY. Men are intimidated the moment money comes up and they realize their cute girlfriend earns more in one year than he earns in 3 years… And other woman I know are newly divorced and get lots of dates but when it gets serious, and the guy learns of her income, forget it… She hears crickets too. You know the expression ladies… When the crickets come, the man is done.

All of this also leads me to think that some rare couples must exist out there where the woman is making more than the man and the man is cool with it. Right? But I don’t hear those stories. I know Oprah earns more than her man but the media also has had fun at his expense throughout the years letting everyone know it.

So what about a woman who is self made? Who earns several hundred thousand a year in her sleep because she’s an “Influencer”? How do these women get anywhere with men long term? Because all of the men I know are really insecure dating these power women. And how do these women not get used when they do partner up? How are they not becoming burdened with the pressure of being the sole provider? And how are these power women dating men who make less not getting used by these men – how do they know if the man loves them for them or their money?

So this is my essay and now I really need to know what YOU think, all of you, men and women. Because I’m curious if some of you are earning more than your man and if so, how do you deal with this at home? How does HE deal with it? Do you fight over it? And single girls, has your income prevented you from him putting a ring on it? And men, do you have any thoughts on this topic?

(Photography: Holly Becker)

 






From The Heart

Let Us Stay Optimistic

July 19, 2016

Hi friends, sorry I’ve been missing from the blog but I’ve been co-teaching our Instagram, Photography and Styling e-course for Blogging Your Way… I’ve not had much extra head space to think about writing here. This week, another teacher leads our classes for the week and I’m off the hook, so I feel like my head is above water so no more absence from me here! And you know, once my little boy is in school, it will be a manageable again to maintain my blog (and everything else) in addition to e-courses, but right now he is home full-time so it’s a bit of a struggle!

Let Us Stay Optimistic

How are you doing? I’m good, just not so happy with the news lately. It’s draining to wake up to so much hate and anger on the news, isn’t it? When I text my friend after the Nice attack to see if he was okay (he is living in London but is French and so there is always a concern he may be visiting relatives in France) he helped me to regain some perspective. I asked him if he was okay and he said yes, he was in another town celebrating Bastille Day, but not Nice. And then I told him that I thought the attack was horrible and sad and I started to complain a little and he simply said,

“Let us stay optimistic. And enjoy an even better life!”

Maybe when you read that, you can let it sink in a bit.

At first I thought he seemed so incredibly naive! Almost a bit selfish! But then I realized that it’s exactly as we should be living, when bad things happen and we were spared, we should consider ourselves to almost have a right to live an even better life because we are still alive. Why should we live in fear, sadness, in an eternal mourning?

One thing the news and internet does is that it stresses us all the F–k out. Of course we hate what’s happening globally in politics, gun violence, terrorism, etc. Naturally. And Donald Trump. Oh boy, it’s scary as hell.  And to hear about it all day, every day, plus everything else, well it’s stressful. And then there is me, living in northern Germany as an American. So I have equal parts concern over what is happening in Europe and the UK AND in America. Because my family and life is in both. So what happens in America bothers me as much as what happens in Turkey, or in France, which is right over the border, Brexit, etc. It’s kinda overwhelmed me lately.

Yet I almost think that the negative forces at work in the world – the many ugly people out there behind all of this sickness and sorrow – are winning BIG TIME when we pay them so much credit for ruining our day, our week, or more: Drying up our spirit of hope. And once we lose hope …. Well, one word for ya.

SCREWED.

We are screwed.

In my perspective, my French friend has the right attitude. Sure, you mourn a loss but you have to put everything in perspective. I cried when I thought about the children who were killed in Nice or those who are left without parents and had to see a truck plowing over their family. How can you not feel terrible? Yet, you still have your life to manage and deal with, and that has to come before everything else. Our families need us to be strong, proactive and positive. If we want to fight against something we see as injustice, then take up a stand and actively go out and fight for the rights of the group you want to stand behind. Or put your money into some cause. But complaining endlessly, moping around, saying the world is going to hell… I think it’s only going to make everyone’s life even less meaningful if we collectively turn into one big depressed lump online. Instead of choosing a victims standpoint, let us stand strong as a victor, united in our belief that things will get better. They always get worse before they get better, right? So maybe that can be the candle, the carrot, the hope that we chase… That better days are ahead.

While I support fully acknowledging loss and suffering, I also support even more fully to live better, do better and to lead by example so others can rise up stronger too. Negativity breeds negatively. Let us spread light, love and promote peace.

I’ve decided to stay optimistic and maintain hope. I hope you will to.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW ARE YOU COPING?

(Photographer: Copyright Debi Treloar)






From The Heart, Home Tours

Home Tour: Cool, Calm and Collected Bachelor Pad

March 28, 2016

Hey everyone, it’s Holly Marder back again with another beautiful interior to inspire you this spring! Step inside a cool, calm and collected bachelor pad located in Haarlem, the Netherlands, belonging to Alexander Nijmolen, musician, entrepreneur and the owner of a bright blue vintage food truck. Alexander bought the double upstairs 100 square meter apartment – a former cheese warehouse – in the summer of 2013.

Home Tour: Cool, Calm and Collected Bachelor Pad

Holly Marder for decor8

“I fell for the windows, with architectural style elements of the Amsterdam school. It’s nice to have so much natural light.” A city dwelling was high on his search criteria, making the location of this apartment a deciding factor for Alexander. “I really love to live in the city and to be surrounded by other people. Haarlem truly is my city, I have been born and raised here.” Continue Reading…






Blogging, From The Heart

From The Heart: Will Blogs Survive 2016?

January 5, 2016

Hello dear readers and a very Happy New Year to you! I want to talk about blogging and where I see it for 2016 but first… I’m preparing for a trip to Paris in a few weeks so you’ll be seeing lots of French inspiration on the blog very soon as I play roving reporter in one of my favorite cities. I’m also on the cusp of this blog turning TEN years old, I can’t believe it and how so much has changed in my life since I launched decor8. I’m trying to think of something special to do for the big birthday so I think I’ll just celebrate it in Paris, that seems like a great spot to celebrate anything, right?

From The Heart: Will Blogs Survive 2016?

When I thought about my blog turning 10 years old, I felt a bit emotional about it at first, then excitement, and currently a bit mixed. What is next for me? I’m still trying to hammer everything out but for now, I’ve decided: Write more regularly on decor8 from the heart, with personal experiences, feelings, observations. Hire more writers for decor8 so there is one new story here daily. I’ve hired two great food bloggers who begin this month; I’m now looking for a super special DIY/craft blogger who takes gorgeous photos and makes great stuff. Email me if you have experience and are interested. This is a paid position. Expand my topics on decor8 and Rent a large open space locally so I can teach workshops, host pop-up events and creative meet-ups. Actively explore opportunities to expand into radio, video, television, products, something that feels and fits right. I need to test and explore to see what I genuinely like and what I’m good at. I don’t want to do something because everyone else is doing it or because I feel like I have to do them in order to stay on top of my game.

I also wish to Travel regularly and blog about my adventures with my own photography and insights. Expand Blogging Your Way with videos that are inspiring and fun and products for the shop. Diversify coursework and cover even more topics that reach outside of blogging and social media. Maybe move to a new city or country. This is a big thing to put out there publicly, but we’ve been considering it. Find more joy in what I do each day and focus on what I have built, not what I need to build.

These are some of the things I’m thinking about currently for my business. There are more but this is a good start! My blog will always be the heartbeat of my business, I never want to stop blogging, it’s everything to me personally. For anyone who has authored a blog for 10+ years, I’m sure that the big TEN was a major milestone for you too. I don’t know a lot of bloggers who have been blogging this long as a professional choice, but I feel strongly that blogs still have power, are still important tools for effective communication and still matter A LOT.

Maybe we all read fewer blogs and are on Instagram or Facebook more frequently, but I honestly cannot find the quality of writing or the storytelling on Facebook as I can on a blog. Facebook is one big rant for the most part. And on Instagram, it’s only photos that pop up and though they are lovely, I crave to know what people are thinking, not just what they see or want us to think their life looks like.

Blogging is something we shouldn’t allow to become muddy through ads, tons of sponsored content and too much self-promotion because then we are pushing readers away and over to Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels – no one wants to read one post after another that a blogger was paid to write and in so many cases these days, not even sincerely write (sad to say). I personally know bloggers who have confessed to me that they disliked the products they’d written about and dumped them in th trash the next day after the post appeared – they were paid to say they liked it. But they didn’t.

I don’t want blogging to become THAT. You know?

I hope that anyone reading this, as I am also striving to do, will aim to strike a balance. Maybe 10% of content is sponsored and the rest isn’t. Or maybe you write 5 posts in a week, and one is sponsored. Come up with some math that works for you and your finances. But be cautious because the very thing you are trying to do (become more popular and earn a good living) may be the very thing you contribute to killing (blogs in general) because you are pushing too much sponsored stuff in people’s faces.

Readers honestly don’t believe the typical “What I’m writing is from heart and my own experience, regardless of that I was paid to say this stuff” blurb that you toss at the end of sponsored content. We all know that it’s a nice attempt at sincerity but in the end, the fact that you were paid still clouds judgement just a wee bit and that is often what scares readers away. When money is involved, readers suddenly question YOU.

Turn your blog into one big ad about your products, books, and clients… Well that simply can’t last and currently, with more and more people complaining about how they’re not reading blogs as much due to all THAT – beware. You could be phasing out your blog without even realizing it.

I am not just saying this stuff either. Remember, I teach e-courses (for nearly 7 years now) to bloggers and bloggers-to-be and I hear what they are saying in our private forums and even when I outright ask them, I hear ALL of these complaints above. Lots of our homework centers around what they love about blogs and what they dislike. Students even list the blogs they once read that they cannot tolerate nowadays because the content is so fabricated and soulless. I am often surprised by the blogs they’ve stopped reading because to me, their content still felt strong and balanced.

Yet everyone still loves Garance Dore and Emily Henderson. At least right now (blog readers are a picky bunch) and so why is that? These ladies strike a good balance between sponsored and authentic content from the heart. Their voices have remained on the blog and their heartfelt joy for what they do is still there and felt very strongly. I feel like I’m getting something when I read Garance or Emily. I’m learning something or simply having a good time – they can both be entertaining at times. But there are only a handful of these blogs that still exist that my students are still in love with and tune into regularly. A few years ago, students would list maybe 20 blogs. Now they are naming 3 or 4. That’s a massive decline and shows that poorly chosen content is driving people away from blog reading and guess what? We can’t blame Instagram. We can only blame ourselves because content is slipping or becoming entirely about our products or our clients.

BALANCE.

Find balance, or rather CREATE balance, and you’ll notice more readers again and you’ll notice more engagement and even more interest in blogging. I believe that people are bored for the most part with what’s being offered currently online.I don’t see Pinterest nearly as popular as it was. Who is even using Twitter as they once did?  Maybe you won’t notice the same number of readers you had during the big blog explosion of 2008/2009, but you will see people coming back to your blog.

Bring your voice back to blogging, and you’ll bring the right kind of readers back to blogs.

So this is my new year’s message about blogging. Let us all remember WHY we started blogging, and consider what you can bring, but also consider that people love YOU and what YOU are doing and saying. And they want more of that. More of YOU. What you REALLY love, what you are doing, what makes you tick. Sure, some of that can be sponsored but try to balance what you are paid to write and what you are writing from the heart. Be an Emily. Be a Garance. Bring your heart, your expertise, bring value.

That’s my blog goal for 2016. What are some of yours?

(image: holly becker styling, susanne irmer photography)






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