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Thoughts On Being Honestly Happy

Well hello there! I thought I’d pop in quickly to see how you’re doing. This post is a bit personal but I’m just going to go there because I really miss you guys and want to talk and what better place? I’ve been writing a bit on my personal blog, Haus Maus, in case you feel like checking out some of my more recent posts so we can play catch up. I listed a bunch of things that I’ve been up to over the past few months here because it’s nice to be open and give mini updates so I can connect with you. But today I’m thinking to just spill some feelings here on decor8 to see what comes back. Maybe some of you need to hear this, feel the same, or simply have comments to leave. Encouragement and support would be nice.

pretty things

Lately I’ve been really stressed because despite taking a month off, I don’t feel much more refreshed or better than I did when I began. This concerns me. I eat well, I exercise regularly, I do things that I love, I have friends and go dancing, shopping, paint my nails neon pink(!)… You know, all of the things that usually perk a girl up. But this summer has been different.

It’s not been a normal summer. It’s not been much of anything really, just time passing. And this concerns me.

I wonder if I need new projects or quite possibly a vacation away from home, as in faraway for several weeks? I keep wanting to go to India or Bali, I think those places would be most restorative for my soul and heart. In the end, I think it’s really my heart and soul that needs a safe place to rest right now. I need new experiences, new sounds, sights, things to capture with my lens, colors, patterns and most of all, I need to feel alive again because this has been a hard and challenging year for me in ways I cannot begin to describe. I don’t feel ‘dead’ or clinically depressed, but I do feel like there has to be something more for me – that I need to identify what it is and somehow capture it, place it into my nearly complete puzzle, and finally feel like that space has been filled.

I didn’t feel like I was missing anything for years but suddenly I do and I’m not sure where this springs from. Or maybe I’ve been missing it for years and used my workaholic/over-achiever-ness to mask it and now that I’ve paused a bit, I have had enough quiet in my life to hear that little hollow space that I had no clue ever existed. I just thought I was all cool and “A” type and that it was something to be proud of. Perhaps in some ways working hard and trying to prove our talent and value is how we avoid thinking about the real stuff. I have many workaholic girlfriends who, the minute they really stop and think, feel like stuff is missing in their life but they quickly wash that feeling down with wine and a ‘girls night out’ thinking that will cure it. For the moment it does. I am ready to face whatever this empty spot is and finally heal it. I’m ready.

But how do I get started? This is what I will explore in the next month of my life. I have a new journal, a sharpened pencil, and a park behind my house where me and my blanket will spend the final days of this beautiful summer to write stuff. Lots of stuff. And to think.

It’s scary to think about those ugly bits, isn’t it? But it’s exhilarating because change is in the wind. I smell it stronger than ever before. This is good.

I am thinking more and more lately about the importance of being happy. How you really have to be happy in your heart and with yourself and in your skin and well, just honestly happy. Maybe age does this to us. We stop trying to fit the form that others want us to be and instead, work at being really, truly, 100% true to self. I often think about, “To Thine Own Self Be True”, which when really considered is quite a strong statement not to be swiftly uttered but to be sifted, felt, the sands of the truth from those words falling gracefully upon the floor leaving traces of glimmering hope on our fingertips.

I don’t always write so openly on decor8 because this is a design blog, a place of pretty things and inspiration. But then I thought that it can be quite inspirational to read about how others feel because we can sometimes relate to those feelings and be somehow inspired that someone else ‘gets’ us. Well if you understand any of what I’ve written above, then hopefully my words have inspired you to consider your feelings too, take them seriously, examine them and evaluate next steps. This is what I’m currently doing.

I wonder what you are thinking about lately? I wonder if you often think about the puzzle of your life and whether there is a piece that needs to be refit elsewhere or perhaps one that is missing altogether? I wonder if you have ever gone through a time when you felt an authentic shifting inside, a need to truly find your ‘happy’ place like never before and then grab it and hold onto it for awhile?

Love,
Holly

Photos: Holly Becker

Posted in real talk, uncategorized on August 29, 2012

End of Year Ritual: List Your Accomplishments!

It’s that magic time again. Do you know what I’m referring to? It’s that mini gap between Christmas and the new year when most are starting to come down from the high of carbs and cocktails to prepare for more of the same on NYE. However you celebrate it, no doubt you view the beginning of 2012 as a most exciting time of hope and happiness, things to do, resolutions to make, a fresh start. I welcome a new year though the reality of getting older is the least exciting part of it but there’s nothing to do to stop the passing of time except to be happy and live your life! There is no future date in which you can allow yourself the “right” to do something, this is your life – this is your time as Snow Patrol so cleverly puts it.

What are your end of the year rituals?

Sadly,  some get rather down over a year ending because they feel another year has escaped them, they somehow didn’t manage all they had hoped to, they’re getting older, life is passing them by, etc. Do you feel this way right now? If you have the end of the year blues try to turn things around…  Rather than think about what you didn’t accomplish in 2011, make a list of all that you managed to do this year that you are proud of. In fact, that is my end of year ritual and I think we should share it together on decor8. It can be a real mood booster!

So! In the comments section below we can each write down what we accomplished in 2011. Not what we HOPE to do for 2012, this isn’t a list about resolutions, but what we DID that made THIS year good. It never ceases to amaze me as to how BIG the list really is on paper compared to how it looks in my head (usually a lot smaller as I struggle with my inner critic/over achiever leanings), which is why I always encourage list making to sort things out, peel back layers and to expose the truth.

As 2o11 comes to an end, corks will be popped, wishes will be made and parties will be thrown around the world only this time you will clink your glasses remember all that you wrote down on your list below that made 2011 good for you. It’s important for our self confidence as we march into a new year to end it this way so are you ready to join me with my end of year ritual? Good, I’ll go first in the comments section and hope that you will join me there.

Lots of love to everyone! Kiss! – Holly

(images: holly becker)

Posted in real talk on December 29, 2011

You’ve Got To Find What You Love

It’s no secret that Apple founder, Steve Jobs, passed away. It’s a trending topic on Twitter, bloggers are busily tapping on keys to express their condolences and newspapers have plastered the sad news all over websites and on their printed pages. I wondered before writing this post what the point would be for me to chime in, just another voice, why would it matter?

Have a nice weekend!

Sure, I use Apple products daily but have always been equally loyal to the PC and never understood the need to pick one over the other because both have their place. That’s why this post isn’t about Apple (the product) or how much I love and rely on my iPhone, rather it’s about how important I think it is to find what you love, have courage, possess talent and then act on it just like the brilliant man the world just lost to cancer.

Have you ever read the text of Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford University? I watched the video years ago and was so touched and inspired by his words and thought that if you’ve not watched it already that now is a good time to do so. Here is the link, it’s a really good way to spend just over 14 minutes of your life. Some points from it that I’d like to share and discuss are below. Perhaps you feel the same or would like to chime in…

* “None of this (taking a random calligraphy class in school) had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.” – Steve Jobs.

My takeaway from his words above is that you have to experiment, get out there, and try new things. Take classes that often feel very unrelated to what you do and that seem to have no practical application, but that simply sound like fun or interest you in some way. An artist may try an astronomy course for kicks and several years later, translate some of that into a body of work that receives an incredible response. You just never know, do you? When I took a random writing workshop one snowy night in January 2006 (in Boston), my teacher said, “If you are not on the internet these days, you don’t exist”.  I immediately went home and started writing my first post on decor8 and I’ve been writing ever since. All because of something I heard from a class that I nearly missed due to heavy snow. Again, you never know where certain “moments” in time can lead.

Another thought from Mr. Jobs that stuck with me is,

* “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs.

I believe in this wholeheartedly. I’ve often tried to figure out the intentions of others, my own goals, put together a five year business plan (to the advice of friends in the business world)… but in the end I had and still have to ultimately trust my gut. I’d rather experience fear than regret. I may be scared to take a risk but I’ll do it because I’m more concerned to miss out or regret not taking the risk. None of this is based on what looks good on paper or even what is always the best action to take. If it feels like the right thing to do, if my gut drives me in that direction, I often leap trusting that my instincts will not let me down. I also trust in the circle of life and how, “What comes around goes around”, always applies to everything we do whether we want it to or not! It’s something my mother and grandmother always told me and it stuck, and so I tell the same thing to others – if you dish it out expect to receive it back in return! When it comes to connecting the dots by looking backwards — yes, always. That’s why you have to create the dots in the first place and that takes courage.

I really see the wisdom in these words also spoken by Jobs at the same address,

*”Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose… There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

How beautifully said is that?! Having lost my talented and lovely aunt to cancer when she was only 40-years-old, I know how it feels to lose someone who was aware of how temporary life really is. In her final days, she was brave and told me to be happy and follow my heart – all this from her death bed weighing only 85 pounds. As a fine artist, art teacher and world traveler (she spoke several languages and taught at prestigious schools), her love for me and for others was proof that she valued life. I remember her making me bears, smocks for painting, dollhouses from wood and other beautiful things when I was a child. Her love of handmade craft and art influenced my life, look at what I do for a living! My mother’s love of making also had a strong influence on me. My aunt never feared death or anything – she was a fighter, a creator of joy, she followed her heart while also embracing others around her helping them to follow their hearts… I think it’s true, we have to step back and think that if we had only a few months left to live would we do anything differently today.  Most of us would answer YES. Now the question is, why aren’t we doing it then?

And finally, these words touched me as I’m sure they’ll touch you,

*”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I can’t add anything to this – it’s so perfectly stated. When I first heard this I wanted to high five everyone around me.

In the end, we have to find what we love, who we love, what works for us because life is so precious, realized even more the moment someone disappears from this planet. Live for yourself, then others – this is not at all selfish. If you try living for others first denying your own happiness, you are ultimately denying others of happiness too because no one is inspired by a person who is trying to fix everyone else but hasn’t bothered to first be an example and fix their own life.

I hope this post has inspired you today, provided some encouragement, and helped you in even a small way. I know this is a design blog but I have to veer off at times and talk about things that matter most to me because it refuels my creativity and helps me to think outside of design for a moment, which in return inspires my work – being deep at times feeds me and allows me to enjoy my job even more.

To wrap up, I have to share the words from a greeting card I once gave someone when they lost their parent. It stuck with me for years and I refer to it whenever someone dies because it reminds me that the only way to look at death, since there is nothing positive about it in all honesty, is to remember what the person gave us while they were alive to breath some sense into it all and then to think of what they left behind — to take away something beautiful from their passing that will never die – what they taught us.

“The tide recedes, but leaves behind bright seashells on the sand. The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land. The music stops, yet echoes on in sweet, soulful refrains. For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.” – unknown.

Your thoughts?

(image: holly becker)

Posted in real talk on October 06, 2011

Being Proud And Owning Who You Are

Oh yes, this is a long post and somewhat emotional so you’ll need a cup of tea and some time to read through it so hang in there. :) I’m hoping that by pouring out my heart that you’ll be encouraged somehow. And since I’m feeling a bit better (my cold is almost gone), I also feel chatty. I have a lot of work ahead of me between Monday and the end of July so this weekend I plan to be lazy and spend a lot of time in the sunshine since I have to get my energy up — I’m going on a book tour this summer! My next stop is Amsterdam on June 25 (info here) and then I’ll be back in London this summer and then over to my beautiful home country, the USA baby! I can’t wait to go home for a few weeks — I’ll definitely be in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco but the other 3-4 cities are yet to be confirmed. I love living in Europe but there’s no place like home and of course, shopping in the states is divine (and so cheap compared to prices here). I will get to see my family and friends, so I’m thrilled. I’ve not been over since last summer so I’m ready!

Pretty is as pretty does

How about you though, are you doing good? How was your week? You know, I was ill but also just exhausted. I have been working so much since the beginning of 2009 into 2010 and never really took time out to even get SICK never mind to rest. I’m not at all burnt out, I still have a lot of motivation and energy, but I definitely needed the pause that having a cold gave me – and an excuse to do nothing for 3 days. I loved doing nothing in particular but watching films and playing games on my iPhone in bed. I left the house once, yesterday, to go to the farmers’ market where I found the beautiful lilacs that you see above. Having fresh flowers around when you are down feels so cozy somehow, don’t you think?

Which brings me to thinking that when you’re sick you somehow need flowers around. They are a requirement. Chicken soup, water, tea, vitamins, cozy pajamas, a soft pillow and flowers. I remember falling once when I was a kid while rollerskating in the street and I broke my leg which kept me in bed for three months straight. It was such a hard time for a bouncy young girl like me! I hated being bedridden for so long. I remember though that my father sent me flowers several times when he left for work and each time my eyes were glued to the arrangement there on my bedside table because they made me feel so special, so loved, and being that I didn’t have a close relationship with him I held on to all of the attention from daddy that I could get. In fact, any small dose felt like a huge showering of affection and I took it, appreciated every drop, and I kept everything my father gave me until they had absolutely nothing left of them — including flower arrangements.

To this day, when I am sick, either I’ll buy myself flowers or my husband will pick them up for me and I associate them with feeling special, receiving love, and though physically I may be ill and flowers can’t help change that, they do lift me emotionally because I have such fond memories associated with bouquets of them growing up. Either my father would give them to me or my mother, I’d pick them on my grandparents’ farm, I’d watch my mother (a trained florist) arrange them for hours, or I’d help her landscape the yard (her passion).

I think that as I get older and more sure of myself that I feel at ease visiting my childhood and extracting the positive things so that my memories are layered, because when I was younger I often saw only the bad parts of growing up and I ignored the good. What about you, do you think about this at times? When you get to be of parenting age and think about how your own parents were your age once, and how you thought 30 or 35 was SOOOO OLLLLDDDD back then, you get a bit of a wake up call that they really were young and inexperienced just as you are today — don’t you think?

I remember my father coming home when I was a toddler and how I would jump up and down trying to leap over the child gate dividing my bedroom from the living room – seeing him excited me so much. I remember him standing there in his bright yellow hard hat with a big smile, coming towards me to lift me up and over the gate for a hug. He’d always look down at me there in my diaper say, “Let me see that Holly smile!” and I’d grin wide and big, exposing the huge gap between my front teeth that, combined with my chipmunk cheeks and massive dimples, was quite sweet though became the source of painful teasing once in school. When I would smile, he would smile and that is how I learned from an early age that being happy made me happy but also made others around me feel joy. I’ve not stopped smiling since. Now when I consider how old he was then, 29, I can’t believe it. He was so old and wise to me back then, my tall (6’3″), slim, handsome papa was so “perfect” and could do no wrong but he was a mere 29-years-old! Hello, right?!

If you’ll notice on my blog today, I’m talking a lot about my childhood. It mostly has to do with some diaries I came across on Tuesday that I’d long forgotten and hadn’t read for over twenty years. In one, I spoke of how I want to someday live in a city, travel around Europe, be a writer and have a book that becomes a best seller. I was 10-years-old. This completely flipped me out because two days after reading that entry, an entry I don’t even recall writing, my book became a Wall Street Journal bestseller (#2!). Also in the journal I saw all of the little floor plans that I remembered drawing as a little kid but didn’t realize I also had them in my diary. I read through years of my own history and it made me really love that once little girl who wrote them with her “big dreams” even more. I also felt the diaries that I kept in my teens and twenties. Whoa. What was that all about?!

Afterwards I felt this shift inside, a reconnection to my self in a sense, and I’ve been thinking about my entire life from the beginning until now and for the first time I really feel like I can be proud of myself. It’s hard to admit this publicly, I know so many people expect me to be “perfect” but no one is perfect and if you think they are then you are right – they are perfect in some way — they are perfect in putting on a grand show of what they want you to believe about them. Deep inside we all have our hang ups, don’t we? Do you know anyone who doesn’t? But I finally, for the first time in my entire life, feel absolutely 100% proud of myself, the life I’ve created, the ways in which I’ve changed or adapted throughout the years to become more true to self, and I am absolutely proud of ME.

I wonder if you are proud of yourself? I mean, truly proud?

I now wonder what is next. I’ve been waiting my entire life to feel this good about myself. I’ve been waiting to wake up one day and look in the mirror and say, “Holly, you have so much to be proud of, you really did it girl!”. And that day was yesterday. I finally said it, I meant it, I owned it and I didn’t even get emotional or apologize for it. I really, truly owned the moment. I’ve always been so hard on myself and though that drove me to do better work, it also drove me into moments when I simply felt no peace inside of myself until I accomplished this or that goal. I am feeling peace inside now and with this peace, I want to continue on my way as a blogger, friend, wife, daughter and maybe now I’m even ready to be a mother. I’ve been so worried about becoming one until yesterday. I think I needed to get to that place emotionally before I could imagine guiding and directing a young life.

I know, heavy stuff for a decorating blog. But you are my friends and I cherish how I have your friendship and how so many of you relate similar experiences to me in return and perhaps now you can share bits of your life that perhaps you share with me in the comments section. And I feel zero regret for posting this on a design blog because honestly, you can’t even begin to make your home an authentic expression of your taste and style if you are completely out of touch with yourself so emotionally, it’s good to be in the right place even when it comes to decorating. Funny how that is.

Have a wonderful weekend dear friends.

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk on May 06, 2011

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