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Ramblings

An Honest Cup of Coffee

June 29, 2016

I’m in the office today, for the first time in a long time, and it feels right. It’s good to be outside of my home office so I can think more clearly without my little son frequenting my space, “Mama, mammmaaaaa”… And to be with others who are inspired by aesthetics and design is very nice, and to be surrounded by the beautiful things because adjacent to where I sit are showrooms with the latest collections from several Danish brands.

An Honest Cup of Coffee

But there is more to this office today than some pretty things and nice co-workers. There was an honest cup of coffee with a dear friend who surprised me with a text to stop by, and we talked from the heart, and it was enough to push me forward and onward and ahead. We shared where we are in life, for we’ve not talked in awhile, and spoke in a warmth and honestly that I genuinely valued. So much that I felt a lightness and joy that I hadn’t felt in months.

Life is so short, so full, but so short. And it’s the honest cups of coffee with people who know us and accept us exactly as we are, that makes living our short, full lives so enriching and meaningful. I type with tears in my eyes and a happy skipping feeling in my heart because I, for the first time in a long time, spoke with my friend in a way I’d not done before. I was present, I was there, I made eye contact, I really listened.

My retreat in Sweden with Dietlind Wolf was to explore photography and styling but it ended up becoming a deeper exploration of self – because ultimately our photography IS who we are, revealing our inner world. And since that week away, I have come in contact with my unique voice and authenticity in a way that feels so natural. Finally. I hadn’t realized for how long I stuffed all of this. I can’t believe how open I always thought I was (my whole life is online!), but I learned that I’m not as open as it seems. I am selective in what I reveal and with friends, I’m always trying to stay positive and “super happy” even in times when I want to run and hide. And it’s draining to maintain that strength when it’s not really a strength, when it’s an act. It’s a defense – like when a cat arches it back. You try to pretend you are so big and can handle everything when inside you feel like you are on the verge of tears.

Release, breathe, reveal what you conceal. You will draw in the right people and those who cannot relate will retreat. Maybe they aren’t ready for a “real” connection yet or perhaps they aren’t interested in knowing the real you. And that’s okay. Share more coffees with people who are looking to make a connection. I don’t mean selfie shots and food shots and geeking out over shoes. Sometimes that’s fine but why not use every opportunity you have with your good friends to make a connection that goes beyond the superficial. So many of us are just longing to be heard.

Listen.

Try to pause today if you can, find someone you love, and share an honest cup of coffee. Peel back those layers. Allow yourself to be truly seen. Don’t worry if a tear gently rolls down your face, please don’t quickly wipe it away so your friend can’t see. Who you are, what you feel, that single tear in its fragility —  it’s beautiful.

(Photo: Anoluck, Inspiration: Sara & Nanna ::kiss girls::)






Ramblings

Be Present In Your Creativity

June 28, 2016

Hello friends, how are you today? I’m sitting alone by the window, sunlight on my face, reflecting on my recent journey to Gotland, Sweden. What was only to be a photography and styling retreat (at least in my mind) turned out to be one of the greatest, most personal journeys of my life that took me far beyond my work – quite unexpected! I learned that the magic of styling and photography goes much more deeply than our personal taste, our placement of objects, the lighting or angles… Styling and photography comes alive when YOU are present in the work.

Be Present In Your Creativity

In order to get to that place of presence, you have to allow yourself to be seen and for your deepest expressions to come to the surface. It was such an awakening for me, I always saw myself as so open and very honest with everyone about who I really am. In my eyes, I was. As we explored some deep topics in this workshop, I learned that I’m just scratching the surface and for me to be able to marry my photography and styling with words, I need to peel back many layers, and then see how much my work evolves.

It makes me think about how we are quick to say we are in a creative rut at certain points in our process. I finally know what this means. We are emotionally blocked. We need to pull out the emotion and then the creativity can flow again. It’s really that simple. Work on the emotion and the creativity will return.

Our retreat was beautiful. Our teacher/guide Dietlind Wolf was transporting at times, uplifting during others, a real light, magical, sensitive, caring, altogether a beautiful human being. I was more or less away from the modern world for 5 nights and it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on. I was allowed, and even encouraged, to be raw, open, freely myself. It took courage! It was hard! I cried!

It’s amazing how so many of us just put our heads down and go through the day-to-day with the goal to get what we need done and not much more, isn’t it? Or, some of us pride ourselves on being so free, courageous, strong or open and we are not fully any of those things – we want to believe we are, but at our core, we’re not. And this is what we need to see, admit and work out. Then our art, craft, design work or whatever else we pursue becomes SO MUCH STRONGER. And better. More meaningful too.

I won’t write much about the retreat, to protect the feelings of the others involved, and also to preserve the time capsule my teacher so lovingly handed to me that I want to store away for now… But I will tell you this. If you sense anything about yourself that needs work, begin that journey. Please. Find the right people to guide you. Some good friends. Save the money you need to get the best care that you can. Our life is so precious and meaningful, we each have gifts, explore what yours is and have the courage to make your gift known to the world. Don’t wait.

I have nothing else to blog about today. I’m still so caught up in the magic of my retreat in Sweden. I need the fairy dust to settle a bit so I can get back into writing in this space again… I am sitting with so many feelings right now, stirring and swirling in my mind down to my core and back up again… So much to process and more than that, so much to DO! Because knowing and doing are two separate things.

See you tomorrow. xo

Holly

(Photography: Holly Becker)






Ramblings

Fresh + New For 2016!

January 13, 2016

Hello dear friends and readers, I have a lot of good news to share for my 2016 plans for decor8, some of which I’ll share now! I can’t wait to tell you. First, I have a new literary agent, Maria, from Stonesong in New York City. I’m thrilled to be represented by them for my 5th book and hopefully, beyond as I would love to write more books and even branch into novel writing and I believe that Stonesong can get me there. Plus, it’s a well-respected and growing firm that represents a lot of top talent on the web so they really get it – they understand the way new media works and how influencers and our businesses work, and that is vital for any author who goes from web to print. Working with agents who don’t really understand the blogger world is seriously a waste of time, so I’m with Stonesong because they know the biz and at the end of the day, that’s all you really want right?!

Fresh + New For 2016!

The next big news is that I’ve hired a team of writers (woo hoo!) to work with me so I can travel frequently and also vary the topics more with a team of 8 globetrotting reporters, all talented professionals working in the food and interiors industry. I also have a new Relationship Manager consulting on our team, Toni (Morten), who will help me with contracts and international clients – he speaks 5 languages and is excellent with people – it’s such an honor to have him even if only for a short period. He is incredibly talented and everyone loves him – he fills a room with light when he walks in. You really want someone like that representing your business.

Last year in October, I hired another consultant who is still with us, Amelie, who is my Sponsored Content + Marketing Manager. She is just great, in fact I’m going to Paris for a week all thanks to her great work in France for me. She is pregnant at the moment, due in May, but I imagine she’ll be consulting with me again later after the baby arrives too.

And the third chunk of good news is that editorial content on decor8 will now be managed by my assistant, Jessy, with the help Amelie and I. I decided last November that it was time to continue growing and reaching higher and I couldn’t do it with a team of 2 writers and a part-time ad sales person. Especially since I’m no longer in the business of selling ads on the blog. Now I have staff and it feels good. And Jessy has been with me for several years already, so she’ll be working with my team to organize their columns, editing, etc.

All of this means that we will have content that runs on specific days as outlined below. I’m so excited about this! It will begin slowly in February but be a regular feature from March onward. We will look at the model again in December to see what we can tweak and change for 2017, but for now, this is our plan.

HOME (Monday)
Each Monday, you can expect something produced for you from one of our columnists centered on the home. One week, a home tour. Another week, a DIY project. I’ve hired a wonderful lady to give us floral inspiration once a month and Anke will stay on for the year to share more fantastic tabletop ideas. So creating a cozy home with heart will become our Monday topic. What a nice way to begin the week.

OPEN (Tuesday)
On Tuesday, I will post something centered on my travels, a fair I’ve been to, a decorating project at home I’ve worked on, special products I’ve found, etc. Tuesday will always be authored by me, no matter which topic I’ve chosen. And it will always be centered on decorating and design or travel.

EAT (Wednesday)
Our food column will run on Wednesday so you have a few days to plan your weekend menu with maybe one of our delicious cakes, meals or other sweet and savory recipes. The first food writer I’ve hired is Emma Duckworth. She is a prop stylist, interior decorator and mother of two (with another on the way!) living in Sydney. She covers all areas of styling including product, still life, lifestyle, food and interiors. Emma’s work is wide and varied including the styling for music sensation Passenger’s music video, styling ex-Masterchef contestant Courtney Roulston’s latest cookbook and her work has also been seen on Houzz and Yahoo. If you look at her work, you’ll quickly see that she is talented and knows her stuff. Today Emma joins us for the first time with her recipe creation (Lemon & Thyme Syrup Cake, yum!) that you will love so stay tuned for that. I’ll tell you about the other ladies I’ve hired soon too in the weeks ahead.

FROM THE HEART (Thursday)
I will lead a weekly column on Thursdays which will be a heart topic. Sometimes I’ll interview another woman. Maybe I’ll surprise you with a podcast or video. I’ll talk about things that are on my mind about parenting as a working mom, or maybe blogging, or perhaps sex (!), struggles in business, or anything that I’m thinking about that you may be thinking about too. You can expect that each week on Thursdays, from my heart to yours.

EDITOR’S LETTER (Friday)
On Friday, I will post a weekly letter from me to you covering what I’ve seen and loved, links to special places online, books I’m in love with, etc. It will also be my sign off and wrap up for the week. I miss posting on Fridays when I used to wish everyone a happy weekend so I’ve decided to get back to that, but with more value to you so I can leave you with interesting things to see and think about.

WEEKEND (Saturday and/or Sunday)
Some weekends may include posts where I pop in and share something, but weekend content will be sporadic and not always happening each and every weekend. But you can expect it from time-to-time. The weekly content will stick to the format outlined above, however.

So! Those are just some of the great things for decor8 that I’ve put into play in the past 13 DAYS since the new year began. I’ve been busy! But very energized to get into the new schedule and make decor8 even more valuable and interesting because my first love and passion will always be this blog. I’ve just celebrated my 10th year anniversary as a blogger and when I read this post (the first post I wrote here a decade ago) I cannot believe how far I’ve come and I have each and every one of you to thank from the bottom of my heart. Here’s to another 10 years! Cheers my dears!

xo, Holly

(Photography: Holly Becker)






Ramblings

Wishing You Peace + Joy

December 23, 2015

Hello dear readers. It’s so lovely to sit here with some time, to be uninterrupted, to say hello and to write to you. How have you been? Are you and your families doing well this holiday season? I’m still based in Germany, yet I have finally felt a bit of “homesick” fever lately… I guess it’s just that despite living abroad for over 6 years, you still remember your roots, your childhood memories of what certain seasons felt like, and there are always bits of you that you feel like you’d left behind in your former life. I remember reading once that it’s one thing to move from one state to another in the same country – difficult and exciting of course, but the writer had said that moving from one country and one culture to another, an ocean apart (not even on the same continent) and you will have a whole new reality to face each day and it never will feel exactly like the life you once knew. And that you would never be “that” person again, if you did move back to your homeland. Wow. I discredited this when I first read it years ago, but today I feel like that writer knew something I had yet to learn.

Wishing You Peace + Joy

I wonder about the importance humans place on the physical location of where we live. Yet it isn’t really just physical, is it? Memories, language, religion, the people who influence us, the light, the natural surroundings, the energy in the air… It’s so much more than just a spot in which you sit – there is so much emotion in where we live or have lived that connects us.

I often feel like I have no real home. Yet I have the ability to quickly adjust and see the best in every place I’ve ever lived. I’ve moved a lot in the states (over 35 times, not Continue Reading…






From The Heart, Ramblings

From The Heart: Give Yourself The Permission To Grow

October 15, 2015

I love this time of the year when you wake up and it’s suddenly Autumn. It happens literally overnight – the air turns crisp, the ground becomes a blanket of burnt ember, caramel and gold and wood burning in someone’s stove conjures up imagines of log cabins, mountain holidays and foggy lakes… (I buy a candle to mark this time of year, every year, called Feu de Bois by Diptyque because it gives you your very own roaring fireplace at home.) I also love flowers in early Autumn… Rich, jewel-like colors and textures that melt your heart.
From The Heart: Give Yourself The Permission To Grow

I have a photoshoot this weekend so in preparation, I’ve ordered the most beautiful flower bunches to create a lovely scene with. I can hardly wait to go pick them up and get creative with my bundles. I had a photoshoot earlier this week on Monday outdoors, and I was lucky because it happened to be on one of those perfect October days when the air is perfect and the sunlight trickles
through the trees… I had no team with me, no photographer, but I had props and an open mind and my Canon 5D Mark III with two lenses, my trusty 50mm and my 35mm. I shot what I needed for over three hours, for my book (!), and walked away feeling better than ever. It was a real moment for me to not depend on anyone else and just do the work myself.

Have you ever felt an inner shift occur, out of the blue, that forever changed you?

That day was epic because I stopped being so damn hard on myself. I gave myself permission to not be perfect and to have fun. I allowed myself to extend the same compassion to me as I give to others who are unsure. It was when I found my voice and my confidence taking photos and now, I only want to advance and push myself in new directions so I can become better. I no longer have this negative voice in my head telling me that my photos are crap. When I sent my shots to my publisher in London, and my co-author Leslie, the replies were Continue Reading…






Bloggers, Blogging, From The Heart, Ramblings

From The Heart: A Blog Is Only Dead When You Are

September 23, 2015

Call me dramatic but I believe this strongly — your blog is only dead when you, your content, your zeal for it, dies. It’s a strong statement but it’s worth chatting about for a moment because there is lots of talk online about the future of blogs. I see many of my favorite blogs changing, stagnating or simply selling out (I define this as when a blogger does things for fame and/or money that others find questionable or that they hide because they know readers wouldn’t support them). Due to some of these things, I often wonder if the practice of writing a blog purely out of pleasure has become a lost art. Other times I see certain bloggers who make me proud  – they are full of fire and life, they say what they want, their words aren’t diluted or disingenuous so as to please sponsors and clients, they are unfeigned and they don’t give a damn.

From The Heart: A Blog Is Only Dead When You Are

Those are the bloggers that convince me to carry on — they astonish with words, ideas, photography – some or all.  I rely on their voices and go to them when I need a dose of humor, reality or to really think and feel something again. I don’t look to Facebook updates or random photos posted here and there on apps and websites. These blogging voices remind me that having a blog can still be relevant, fresh and invigorating when the people authoring them are. Blogs can still electrify.

I’ve been busy and unfocused lately when it comes to blogging and truthfully, even ambivalent. A colleague told me that my blog has become boring over the past few months. I was mildly offended at first but then realized the truth in her words because it even bores me, which has lead to my highly irregular posts. Many bloggers are struggling currently, have you noticed? Content is boring, posts are few and far between, content is constantly sponsored, passionate opinions are few (or gone)… Many bloggers feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of social platforms that exist now. Others are struggling to make money since blog ads aren’t pulling in the cash that they were years ago. How do you maintain a blog and find enough time to produce engaging content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn? How can you also make money blogging when the entire revenue structure has changed?

I guess this is why I’m writing this post. To say that all of us can fall into the boring rut but whether we remain in it is up to only us. And I have decided to get out, and I’m starting with this post because it’s been awhile since I really said anything here.

It can be soul-crushing to stay fresh on every social channel while also trying to reply to those who want to network with you via these platforms, too. It can be hard to turn down a company with products that don’t interest you when they’re offering you thousands for a blog post. Blogging becomes all about survival, all about numbers – number of fans, number of dollars, number of page views, number of followers on other platforms. While some massive blogs thrive on numbers and love the push, the rest of us just don’t function that way. I personally have to believe in and love a product before I’ll take on a sponsored post but I have other ways to generate income that have nothing to do with my blog so I don’t feel pushed to accept every offer I get. I can’t judge those who do and who have families to support. I get it. But this all has changed blogging and how we once felt about it. .

Blogging, for many, gets pushed in the background because posts take time, in fact more time than posting a quick photo on IG or an update on Facebook. I loved blogging before massive online communities where everyone seems to throw out whatever pops into their mind without a single edit. All day you are bombarded with streaming random thoughts from “friends” which amounts to a lot of information that you really didn’t need (or care) to know about.

Then there are places where you only post and share imagery. And those places end up just showing the most edited, perfect, beautiful scenes imaginable. And they are at first inspiring but later, end up making you feel like you have to pump out equal or better content and if you don’t, you’re lame. In my opinion, there are two negative extremes online within these communities –  unedited oversharing and massive role playing (portraying your life as perfect).

Okay, maybe there is another negative and it’s called content overload. There is so much happening online making it impossible to focus and truly appreciate the hard work bloggers are pouring into their content. You find one great post and a second later, you’re reading ten more or liking ten more and so on. Same goes for the beautiful photography produced and shared on Instagram and Pinterest. In this sense, staying in a constant state of feeling oversaturated can be negative since studies have proven that too much choice stamps out creativity, causes depression, creates family stress and even alters our personality – we go from being humble sharers to hungry attention seekers at the cost of even our very own family life.

Limitation breeds creativity. My husband says this often. Being selective in what we’re taking in matters because it impacts our own work and voice. Which leads me to talk about this thing called power editing – not perfection, not role playing, not oversharing – power editing. Using a measure of self control in what we share to maintain both joy and sanity.

I sat in a bar recently in Amsterdam across from Leslie Shewring having a good chat. Her firm belief in power editing is quite inspirational. She believes that you have to power edit your life and not allow excuses or people or anything else to hold you back from doing what needs to get done. Leslie is all about power editing. And some of the book authors I read are into mindfulness, slow living and creating value. All good things.

With power editing, you ask yourself who are you the spending the most time with? Are they good for you? What are you doing for a living? Is it fulfilling you? Stuff like that. You really make your life choices intentional. For things that won’t work for you, that drain you, that aren’t rewarding – those are the deal breakers. You have to root them out or put your focus elsewhere if you can’t make them go away. And as for blogging, maybe we can all work to do the same. Only share what is left over when you’ve filtered out the loads of content you have taken in during the day – share what mattered the most to you personally. It’s a lesson in editing, that’s for sure – a lesson in holding back, in having self control. But that’s the good stuff and that’s why I will continue reading blogs – if I can tap into gems like that.

Power editing is also about making better choices for yourself quicker and with less emotion attached to the process. We crave intimacy, a sense of belonging and the motivation that only others can give through sharing how they’ve navigated their own struggles. You don’t get that by looking at pretty photos all day. You get that from conversations. You also don’t get that from overthinking everything to the point of paralyzing yourself. Blogging could easily become more creative, meaningful and special again if we all worked on this approach. Even therapeutic for us and others.

Power editing isn’t about being fake and presenting only the good, it’s about being genuine and presenting what matters most to you personally even if it ruffles some feathers. In fact, that is the only way blogs have a future in my opinion – if we start blowing minds again. If we break ourselves off from what’s comfortable, popular or trending… If we individually rise up and use our voice to create emotion, stir thoughts, stimulate creative thinking… Then blogs aren’t dead at all because we are very much alive.

What do you think, has blogging lost value? Will blogs eventually fade and die? Do you still read blogs? How do you think power editing can apply to bloggers in general?

(photography: holly becker for decor8. That is my little boy in the top photo examining the mushroom he found last week. Isn’t this something to do more as adults, to inspect what we are finding and value it? Maybe the same can be applied to the content our friends are sharing online. Take a moment to appreciate what treasures you find before you move quickly to the next thing.)






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