This is a post that comes from a very deep spot in my heart and though most of my friends advised me not to write this, I can’t listen to them. I have to listen to me. Yes, I had a few moments when I thought it may not be a good idea so I’ve slept on it for the past three weeks… But then I thought about what it means to be a good writer and blogger, one who writes from the heart and seeks to encourage, heal and even transform others through their voice – that’s how I would define one anyway. Some of the best pieces I’ve ever written or read from others were those that didn’t aspire to be something fluffy or superficial, showing only the “best”, but were those that shared how coal was made into a diamond. The birth story of my son brings an inspiring message of hope that anyone can draw strength from, with or without children. That is why I’ve decided to share the story of how my little diamond came to be. But first, meet my son who is shown throughout this post as photographed by the talented photographer Christin Lange during our newborn photoshoot at my home when he was only 10 days old. This is little Aidan Benjamin Becker and the story of how he came to be on February 9, 2014.
Background: I wanted a family for as long as I can remember. Raised an only child, I often dreamt of having a brother and carried that dream into my adult life as I contemplated marriage and family reasoning since I didn’t have a brother that I could always have a baby boy since I’d always wanted a boy in the house. Years rolled on. I got married, worked really hard, held down a corporate job for nearly ten years, went back to college, changed my career, relocated from Boston to Germany, traveled extensively, wrote books, went on book tours, and time just ticked on. Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? You think you have all the time in the world and then one day you realize that for some things, you’re actually running out of it…
Wakeup Call (that I answered): A few years ago, as I was writing my second book, I shared a meal with three good friends, all from three different parts of the world and on three separate occasions. In fact, none of these ladies have met but all are an important part of my story. With each, I shared deep parts of my heart, those that I don’t share freely, and each asked what was the most important thing to me and I said, “Family – I want to have a child”. These ladies have children themselves so they understood what was involved in parenting. They asked what I plan to do to have a family and encouraged me to really consider it because time is limited for women – the longer you wait, the harder is becomes. It’s tough when friends deliver the message that you’re “running out of time”, but they were right! I needed to MAKE time to include a baby in my life. I wouldn’t be able to have a baby forever, but career stuff can be easily put on hold because you can have a successful career at any age. So I thought about my friends and our lengthy yet loving conversations, and I spoke from my heart to my husband about it later on. We both felt that if it was “to be”, it would “be” but we vowed not to stress over getting pregnant or bother with fertility tests or anything that books tell you to do when you’re over 35 and want a baby. Instead, we simply stopped using birth control in January 2013 let nature take its course.
Getting Help – A few months later in March, I had another birthday and I suddenly felt like I really needed to take control of my desire to have a baby. I started to feel stressed and second guess myself as a result of the control I sought. Honestly though, I was stressed for a long time but didn’t fess up to it – in fact, I was stressed since talking to my friends the summer before about baby making and family planning (and even before that). I began to wonder if I needed to talk to someone and seek professional help from a therapist who deals with anxiety and stress disorders. I decided to call my life coach, who is also a therapist, and we spoke about my anxiety issues. During our sessions it was revealed that my anxiety issues were rooted to something much deeper than I thought and together, we worked it out like a splinter exiting the skin. It was painful, but once pulled the healing began. Anxiety is a bit like a weed, you can’t keep clipping the top expecting it not to grow back again. You have to grab it from its root. And so with this issue that I had, I finally extracted it from my mind and heart through a few sessions, and this was after living with it (unknown to me) for most of my life. I identified and dealt with it and felt ready to finally move forward with my plans to have a baby… Minus the splinter.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about inspiration and creativity and how to regain it. I’ve thought about the importance of refueling and recharging so we have something left to give. Not only to ourselves but to others. Especially to others. I’ve also been thinking about how we typically go about it. We surf the internet, pin on Pinterest, buy stuff, zone out on fluff television. But are those things really going to help or add any value to our life? Hmmm. What do you think?
Growing up in the south, I heard lots of advice from friends, family and neighbors over the years. I remember being told often as a child, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back”. This is not just a biblical teaching but also happens to be a common belief in Buddhism and many other cultures have shared similar advice. No matter how religion seems to divide people these days, such very basic teachings often unite and are handed down from generation to generation. They hold so much truth and weight. I was thinking about this the other day, the idea of giving, because I haven’t felt that inspired in a few months. I had a really hard pregnancy the first 18-20 weeks which left me bed-ridden and sick all summer. It’s hard to feel anything when your body isn’t responding to food, a good film, a sunny day… I felt nailed to the bed. This really hurt my creativity. The world seemed to be passing me by as I stared at the bedroom ceiling and in a way, it was.
Which gets back to the thought on practicing a giving spirit. I’m currently teaching my online class about blogging, styling and photography, which began on November 1st. We have hundreds of students and a very vibrant, lovely classroom filled with eager students who work hard and want to blog their best. They want to inspire themselves and others just as much as the next blogger. I wondered, when I started teaching at the beginning of the month if I was biting off more than I could chew. I have so much going on in my life, I was feeling rather selfish. Like I just wanted to conserve my energy and withdraw and not bother teaching until next Spring. As emails kept rolling in asking me, “When is your next class, I’ve been waiting for you to announce the dates”, and “Holly you have to teach again, I need my Holly fix!”, my first thought was to take care of ME first and postpone until after the baby arrives. I didn’t want to give. I wanted to save my energy and even go out and find friends and family members who could give me some of their energy and encouragement.
But I didn’t.
I thought about each email that came in and though I felt exhausted, I pushed myself to just do it. You may say, “Of course you did it, you earn a living this way”, but honestly, that’s not entirely the motivation. I teach a few classes a year and can schedule them anytime I want. So whether I did this class in November or April wouldn’t matter financially. It’s the same money. What mattered was my intention.
I intended to stop feeling sorry for myself and to go teach.
That’s where the giving and receiving took place. This Friday ends the class and I feel like a completely different person than I did this time last month. My personality is back, my energy is back and I am ready to take on the world. I want to learn more about Photoshop, Lightroom and photography in general thanks to my students and co-teachers. They all became like medicine to me. They didn’t realize it, but by encouraging them by hosting the class and motivating myself to give, they in turn encouraged me and my cup became full once again. Reading through their comments in the forum, interacting with them through the materials, etc. put aside my feeling of being so self-absorbed and turned my direction to others. Giving. Receiving.
I know that lots of people suffer during periods when no creativity or joy seems to be found. Let me reassure you that there is hope during times when you have hit a creative rut and feel there’s nothing left in your heart to give.
Give what little you have. Give anyway.
Because what you give may seem so small to you but to the next person, it can be so great. And through this interaction alone, things change. Clouds part. Sunshine and light stream back in and before you know it, you are glowing, radiant.
And then you can decorate, work better than ever, whip up a beautiful meal, arrange a stunning bouquet and enjoy your life, your home, your job, your kids all over again. The veil lifts.
So when you feel like giving up, don’t.
Instead of giving up, just give.
Find someone who needs you and give.
How have you dealt with periods when you felt like your creativity was at an all time low? I’d love to know your tips!
(image: holly becker)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about serenity, peace, simplicity and uncomplicated, mindful living. As much as I crave those things in my own life, I can never seem to get to that “place” because I am constantly seeking new territories and adventures; it’s very hard for me to sit still. My mind is constantly onto the next thing. Can you relate?
I am fueled by others, fueled by my own mind and constantly fueled by imagery online. Yet, through all of the colors, sounds, shapes and the drive I have to do more, I still go back to serenity, peace, simplicity and uncomplicated living. And I still love blogs that give me this feeling of being mentally clutter-free. So I’ve been thinking lately – how can I get these things that I desire so much, despite how big my life is? How can someone who can’t sit still have space enough to think, breath, reflect and enjoy the moment? My friend is a mindful living coach and has consistently been trying to help me to learn how to really get into the moment. I’ve tried so many times to listen to her wisdom, apply her practicies and breath in… breath out… Yet I am an unstoppable force. What can be done?
via woon blog
Recently my husband said something that made me think. He said, “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”, the classic irresistible force paradox. I thought about it and my conclusion was that one had to give up, or destroy, the other. I see this in society a lot lately. One person has an immovable opinion and the other, an unstoppable opinion – in other words – both feel strongly about their beliefs and neither will stop until they overtake the other or covert them totally.
So I asked my husband, “Ok, so what should happen when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”. His answer was completely opposite of mine. I wondered if it was because I am American and as a culture, we tend to be right or wrong, left or right, black or white. I notice in Europe there is a lot more gray, and not just in the weather! His answer was much less threatening. It made sense. It actually warmed my heart and made me feel quite eager to explore this topic, this classic paradox, even further. He said,
“It’s simple: when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, they surrender.” He also said that you need to know when you need to be unstoppable and when you need to be immovable, within reason.
What a beautiful statement. Isn’t it? So I then applied it to me and my need for serenity, peace, simplicity and uncomplicated living when I am, by nature, such an unstoppable force. I simply need to surrender. I simply need to cease resistance and just go with the flow. I need to respect the need I have to run fast yet feel at peace and live slow. But how?
I thought more about this for days and days and I then I thought to take out my recent book, Decorate Workshop, and I went through my own words line by line. I don’t know how many authors out there read their own books months after they’ve been published, but I do. I am a big believer in, “Practicing what you preach”, so this was my way of doing just that. As I read, I started to think more about my home, my personal style, my systems of organization (and lack of), my “clutter” problems around the house and after some time my own book made me realize that this was exactly how I could have the simple life I crave while still being me.
I need to redecorate.
I need to view my home in a fresh, new, uncomplicated way. I need to scale back, sell things, move things around, and get rid of things that I simply don’t use because I may use them “someday”. I need to reconsider my color palette. I need to think about the floor plan, the flow, the focal points. As I started to think more about my home and how I live in it, I started to see why I’m often stressed at home. I have, for my personality anyway, too much visual clutter. Too many “stories” going on around me with my objects. I am easily distracted anyway so I certainly don’t need help with my wandering mind. Do I really need magazines that are 8 years old? Do I really need design books that I don’t even feel a connection to? Do I need to keep all of the sewing books that I own because I never use them anyway? As for my clothing and shoes, that’s a completely different area of concern altogether. Do I still need size 7/8 jeans because I’m not a size 8 anymore and once I am again, will I really want THOSE jeans anyway because aren’t “mom jeans” with zippers at the ankles terribly outdated anyway?
And so I’ve been thinking about SO much over the past few weeks and I wanted to share these thoughts with you. I’m going to work on my home this summer, scale back on stuff I don’t need, I’m even thinking to throw a sale in my home (by invitation only) to sell the many gorgeous things that I have that I no longer need. This is the one part of my life that I can simplify – my home/work environment. I’m confident that once I do, then I’ll feel more balance and peace. Your home is so integral to professional and personal growth. I wish more people believed in this fact.
via: aya goa
Do you have any thoughts to add on this topic? I’d love for you to chime in! I find your comments so encouraging. And please, visit all of the links below the lovely photography above – they are all people and sites whom I admire deeply and find much inspiration from.
Have a lovely weekend! – Holly xo
I’ve been thinking a lot about redecorating lately. Pinterest doesn’t help and neither do my bloggy friends (Ahem ladies Steffi, Bri, Victoria). With so much inspiration around me, the dominos are leaning in my direction and I’m about to fall into the whole redecorating trend too. In fact, it started this morning when I ordered this minty green desk lamp. Now I’m thinking to host a big yard sale in early May so if I do, I’ll let you know so you can come help remove things so I can add things again. Ya know, a decorating support buddy system.
My home (sitting area shown above, shot by my husband for Decorate Workshop) is in my own book now, and has appeared in magazines and around the web, which gives me that added boost to redecorate again so I can show some new ideas. I love to inspire people and I LOVE to decorate so why not. Plus, I want to paint and wallpaper and buy a new rug and experiment with a new palette and and and AND. Always and.
When I think about changing up everything, I can’t help but think back to my childhood and teen years as I ran from home store to garden shop to flea market with my mom picking out things for our home, yard, garden and patio. I remember being in my twenties decorating my apartments in Boston. I constantly moved around trying out new apartments, new roommates, new arrangements of things… I loved the thrill of moving and setting up all over again. It was somehow a kooky hobby of mine. I think I lived in 10 different apartments in 10 years. Each new place held promise of a new decor. A clean slate. And now, several years later, here I am with my husband in northern Germany with a full schedule and very little time to decorate and “play” in my home. I guess when you get older you kinda realize you’re a little nuts to move so frequently because it’s expensive and a little draining after awhile… though since I got married, I’ve lived in 5 different addresses so I guess I’m still unsettled. I live in this super gorgeous rental apartment and I still dream of moving to another one and starting all over again.
But today something happened that scared me a little. I wonder what you will think.
This morning my husband woke me up with a one year plan. He always does this to me… ‘heavy talk’ first thing in the morning. By this time next year he wants to buy a home or a big city apartment with space for work studios. I sat in my bed thinking, “Honey, can I first shower and get a cup of coffee?”. Seriously. A one year plan with my eyes half shut. Yippee.
Then I thought in the shower, OMG. Now that I have saved up and thought about this moment for years I’m anxious. “Do I WANT to buy a home?”.
What if I move and find that I just can’t stay in the same house for the rest of my life? I worry about this. I moved around a lot as a child and as a young woman – and the pattern seems to work for me. It’s not like the real estate market is the same in Germany as it is in America – house flipping and people moving in and out just doesn’t work the same here. Plus, my husband would never buy a home only to move out – he’d want that home to be ours for life.
OK so the decorating queen here needs you to help me out this time. Do you guys understand when I talk about settling into a home and the feelings of OMG that accompany that? How many of you are homeowners? Or do you rent? I wonder if you think about moving as much as I do? Does anyone have the redecorating bug right now?
Loads of love to you today – hope to hear from you in my comments section, I’d love to connect.
(image: top Thorsten Becker, bottom Holly Becker)