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What Is Country Style To You?

I wrote a little introduction today over at Real Simple to an online shop called Patchwork Harmony (based in England) where they stock things that are very typical “English” country style. And after writing the post I sat here with my green tea staring into space thinking, “well wait… how does English country style differ from say, American country style”.

Country Style

And then I thought of Swedish country style, and German, and French and Irish and it suddenly made me realize just how many country styles there are out there that are really country-specific and so if you say on a blog that has international readers that you like country style, they may interpret it to mean the style they are accustomed to associating country style with in their land. I also thought about this style and how it differs per country because of the landscape, language, culture, even religious beliefs and the various arts and crafts movements of the past. It also made me wonder what Japanese country style looks like, and what elements define Russian country style. It’s a pretty neat topic to ponder.

Country Style

Now I will put this topic on the floor and ask for your opinion. Can you comment with where you live and what elements define country style in your part of the world. Maybe you can write about the most popular country styles, colors, old-fashioned customs that influence your local country style, etc. Also do other cultures influence country style where you live (I see a lot of “New England” country style here in Germany along with Scandinavian country, French country, and a more folksy country style that is more local I think), etc. Of course in the states we have a variety of country styles influenced by craft movements from the past, but there is also retro country that is very “American” specific. And of course, in American we have shops that carry only French country products. Then there is this New England country style which has a more coastal vibe. Another idea is that you can post all about this topic on your blog and then leave the link to your post below so we can all pop over to visit you and read about your impressions – maybe you can post photos or something to support your impressions?

(images: patchwork harmony)

Posted in Decorating Tips, real talk on September 16, 2009

Leading Ladies: Who Are Yours?

Country Living has this thing they do each year where they shine the spotlight on a handful of inspirational women who have turned their passion into profits. This year, they’ve selected 6 and posted them some time ago now but I stumbled upon it again today and thought about how important it is to tell those who have inspired us that they have in fact done so. Many of us do this through blogging, I write about those who have touched my life on a daily basis and honoring in this small way means a lot to me. I thought that for a moment we could all pause for a moment and reflect on those who are currently on our radar, who are inspiring us to live the best life possible, and who either directly or indirectly helped us to rise up and meet a challenge, personal or otherwise.

Are you ready? Would you like to participate? You can either shout them out on your blog and leave the link to your post below in the comments section or comment below with those who inspire you – you may or may not include links to their site/blog – that’s up to you. This is not a popularity contest or meant to be anything like it, but I would like to know who you find to be helpful, caring, sincere, talented and all those good things — who you think really leads in the sense that they inspire you personally to do great things. My leading ladies number into the thousands, but I will participate in the comments section below with a few I’ve chosen to honor.

So tell me, who are your leading ladies?

(image: country living magazine)

Posted in real talk on July 20, 2009

Let’s Talk About Balance

Hello? Is it me your looking for? Sorry, I’m having a Lionel Richie moment. Cheesy I know, but good cheese. So, I’m a little late in posting today but can I just say that I had such a great morning!? I did. Totally. I’ve had a lot to do lately since I’m preparing for something pretty big in my life that I’ll tell you more about on Monday because then I can actually say something but in my preparations I’ve been busy, busy, busy! I’m not trying to lead anyone on by telling you I have good news to post about but frankly, telling you this and putting it out there that I must tell you is keeping me on track with “it” so it’s in no way meant to tease people. I’m not one who likes tease and I quite hate being teased (asked my husband) myself. But on my Monday I’ll tell you about this news. Believe me, you most likely won’t care so much but I totally do and can’t wait to tell you. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about finding balance which I’ll get to now.


So where have I been all day? Well nothing life changing or anything but gosh this morning I had a lovely breakfast date and it felt so good to go out to breakfast during the week — something I try to do every so often and if you haven’t had a stack of french toast at a greasy spoon lately then I highly suggest going for it because all work and no play makes Jane a very dull girl. Lingering at breakfast for a few hours felt like having a massage on an exotic island complete with boozy fruity drinks being served by a cabana boy named Marcelo, who has a swimmer’s body and eyes the color of the sea. And an accent. Must have an accent. Okay, breakfast wasn’t really that good but it still felt like luxury. I’ve been driving myself quite hard during the week and not really enjoying what it means to be a freelancer — can you relate to this? Yes, you say? I almost feel like I could write a commercial for antidepressants, sleep aids or memory loss.

Hello. Do you suffer from total frustration? Do you sleep between the hours of 4am-7am only to press repeat and work another 18 hour day? Do you leave the house in two different pairs of shoes? Do you forget to shower some mornings, putting it off until after lunch? Do you think about work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Then you need Freelance-free, a new drug that helps you get a life!”

We laugh but it’s kind of sad. I say I keep normal business hours, and I do, but then I have to factor in the additional 6 hours each night on top of that and though I unplug on the weekends, I often wonder what I left corporate for, you know? Like what was really the point of saying goodbye to the fat paycheck and benefits if I maintain the same stress level and frustration on my own?

April 1st I decided to change things in my own life, one of which was to unplug on the weekends. I mention how I am able to do in an interview over at Ink on my Fingers. During the week, I’ve been trying to show more flexibility in my schedule and to not burn myself out by over-committing. I think we women (and ok, sometimes men though I think the boys do better in this department than the girls), but I think we ladies tend to commit to more than we can sometimes follow through on. I see this often in the circle in which I run and I’m sure in your own circles you have observed this yourself. Running, running, running yet being totally unaware. That’s not such a great way to run a business! My goal, starting April 1st, was to be more “aware” – more in the moment, and I found that by giving myself mini breaks during the week and by unplugging during the weekends, I’ve reclaimed my sanity and my inspiration is overflowing once again. I had thought that balance wasn’t important, it was more vital to just get things done already… and over the past few years I’ve been learning a lot more about balance and schedule and my own personal goals and I guess just coming full circle with all of this which has helped me personally to start blossoming and to feel more in tune with myself, in control, and on my game. Now this is why I left corporate, this is the freedom and direction I was hoping for.

I remember waking up on my birthday this past March thinking, “It’s time”.

features & pears

I didn’t know what my head and my heart were trying to tell me, but intuitively I felt like something shifted inside of me in a big way which lead to my April 1st change. Life isn’t some race to the finish line nor about who is faster or better or who has more money or talent, like my grandmother always said, “There is always someone smarter, prettier and richer than you are so be your best because it’s impossible to be the world’s best” and you know, I didn’t beleive that when I was young but I really get it now. Life is about balancing all the things you need to be and do and manage so that each of those things gets the right amount of attention that they deserve. Working only to neglect those you love is not balance. Working to neglect yourself is a really bad decision. Working towards goals others are setting for you is kind of stupid. Working on projects you don’t truly like, just because you sort of ‘fell into it’ is also kind of a waste. In the end, it’s all about balance for me and continuing to live an authentic life that feels right for me personally. Not right for you or your friends or some group of people. And being balanced and finding the right fit is absolutely the most important thing and it doesn’t always come in your twenties, for me it comes now in my thirties, but I’m happy to be more balanced and aware of this now. Sure, my closet still needs organized and as I type my sink has some dishes calling out to me to be washed (Holly, Miss Hollllyyyy – do you hear them? I’m blocking them out), but in my heart, head, emotionally, spiritually, in every way I feel very aware, balanced and on track.

How about you? How are you doing in this regard? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Burnt out? Are you constantly working and not really feeling any better for it?

All of my feelings I think many of you are dealing with on a regular basis, am I right? I can tell you this — please examine what things you are saying yes to and what you are taking on and make sure these things line up with the goals you have for yourself. When I was teaching the Blogging Your Way class online, which I’ll teach again starting in October (the announcement and enrollment link will be posted on decor8 on August 10th), I realized just how many wonderful, talented and very eager people there are who want to blog from the heart and who really want to be authentic and one-of-a-kind and this gave me so much pleasure because I loved learning about each student and their goals for their blogs, even career goals. All of this learning was a joy to me because as a blogger, I don’t always get to jump into the heads of fellow bloggers. I mean, I could never just go up to another blog author and ask them about their goals, dreams, etc. because they’d wonder about my motives. But in the class environment, as a teacher, the barriers were down and conversation flowed — I was able to freely speak to my students through podcasts and listen to their fears, dreams, issues and the experience was so encouraging and enlightening for me. And I learned that we all are in the same boat, we all get frustrated because we all get out of balance and lose our direction at times and usually it’s because we start saying yes before we think about what we are saying yes to.

To wrap up I simply want to say that I had a nice morning and I’m glad that I allowed myself the freedom to just have breakfast out. It felt balanced and special. And well, I guess I should reveal that I ended up in Nordstrom (you have to pick up the new Trina Turk designed Clinique bag free with a $25 purchase, it’s floral and lovely for Trina fans like me) and then I went to Anthropologie but honestly, Anthro during sales season is somewhat depressing because everything is thrown everywhere, but I still had a good time checking out the store displays and smelling all of the candles. :)

Okay so talk to me people. I really want to connect with you guys on this topic and see what you think about freelancing and finding balance, do you have it? Do you need it? Do you seek it? What are you doing to be more balanced?

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk on May 28, 2009

Creativity Series: Just Do It! {10}

Thank you. You have been so gracious to give me the space to go off on a tangent each Thursday to write the 10 week series on creativity, a topic I’m so passionate about. This series really ties in nicely to the overall content and vibe on decor8, don’t you think? I’ve grown quite attached and find it hard to imagine giving it up but I did tell you this would only run for 10 weeks and today well…we’re at week 10. Now I’m wondering if this should really be the end of the road. I’ll think about it and let you know.

Are you ready for our final topic in this series? It’s a good one and I even have a very special podcast and guest sharing with us today.

Trust yourself.

Allow for some trial and error and nip negative thinking in the bud while you are capturing. Imagine that you are painting. While you are capturing, or creating, be careful to not become overly critical of your work or to allow what others may think to come into play. That’s the fastest way to shut yourself down. It’s fine to evaluate your work as you go along, but it’s best to not over-analyze while you’re in “the zone”. Trust your creativity, believe in what you are doing. Avoid allowing the opinions of others to form the one that you have of yourself. Trust your inner compass because it WILL lead you if you tap into it, listen, and obey. It also keeps you on track when others start to throw darts or challenge the authenticity of your work. Trust in your unique voice will help you to stay on track, focused and forward moving.

“When I first started working creatively, my former manager told me that there really are no new ideas in the world,” says Marisa Haedike of Creative Thursday, a successful artist living and working in Los Angeles, California. “Though I tend to agree, there is originality in this world and that originality stems from each one of us.”

Haedike continues, “We can trust that what makes something unique can be as simple as our interpretation, our expression of an idea.” She not only coaches people wanting to live more creative lives through a series of podcasts on her website, but has thousands of devoted customers who love her artwork. Through expressing herself without judgment, not allowing negative comments to penetrate, and by embracing her originality, Haedike has learned to trust her creative voice. For this reason, I’ve decided to wrap up this series with a very special podcast from Marisa herself, a gift from me to all of you for following this series. You can click below to listen, it’s just under 15 minutes so enjoy!

Now it’s your turn to comment on trust. You may also comment on the future of this series with any tips you may have. I’m interested in hearing how trust in yourself is helping you during these economic times and how it helps you to deal with other fears outside of money.

(image from creative thursday)

Posted in real talk on March 19, 2009


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