Boho Style Inspiration For The Home From The Newest Retail Space of Grace Loves Lace

It’s rather unusual to find an Australian brand in Texas, particularly a bridal shop, but that is exactly what Grace Loves Lace is - with their latest flagship store in Dallas (the third in the United States) that opened recently as part of their global expansion. I don’t share bridal shops typically on this site, for reasons I don’t think we need to elaborate on (but normally they are all following the same format), but this one really caught my attention because of its beauty and the history of their lace which is carefully chosen from select mills in Calais, France. I have always had a thing for delicate French lace, it’s so pretty for a special occasion or even to use to embellish something in the home, like the bottom of linen curtains in a little girl’s bedroom, so this shop really spoke to me. I guess I also just like to see something different for a change. This is a shop that worth seeing whether you are getting married or not - it’s so pretty!

Grace Loves Lace

So let’s talk about this shop for a moment and then I’ll give you a peek around along with my very own CREATE THIS LOOK guide at the bottom. The new Grace Loves Lace showroom in Dallas combines locally sourced furnishings with imported foliage, giving it a bit of a boho coastal vibe, which you’ll soon see in the tour.

Founder + Designer Megan ZIems with her children

Founder + Designer Megan ZIems with her children

Inspired by the design and architecture of the founder’s home, Designer Megan Ziems, this space is, “the perfect blend of Australian décor and Southern charm”. You can find plenty of natural light, soaring ceilings, recycled timber, antiques and pottery, custom-made mirrors, and leather and gold accents in this space which is a perfect contrast to the white floors, walls and of course, the lace dresses. The result? Beautiful, warm and inspiring! I love the dark wood with the delicate lace and pottery most of all. It’s so unique.

When doing some research for this story, I learned quite a lot about the business including a fun fact: Grace Loves Lace has the “Most pinned bridal dress on Pinterest”, a dress that the founder designed that woman all over the world fell in love with - this one. The best part (for me) is that it was called the “Hollie” dress (named after the founder’s sister, not me, but still…) And though Hollie sold out, they now have the “Hollie 2.0” which is nearly identical to the original.

Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
The design brief for my own beach house was for a family space imbued with warmth, comfort and a sense of calm –and I wanted to create a similar look and feel for Grace Loves Lace’s Dallas home too.
— - Megan Ziems
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace
Grace Loves Lace

I hope that you enjoyed the interior of this retail space. I find that it’s nice to see how shops are designed because often I get so many ideas for my home from shopping in all sorts of spaces along with museum and cafe visits. Inspiration for the home can come from the most unlikely spots. Even a bridal shop can be a jumping off point for a new design idea for your interiors. Seek inspiration everywhere, through as many channels as you can soak in! It’s really all about exposure to beautiful, well-designed things. The more you train your eye to good design, the better at design you will become. Really!

DESIGN TIPS TO CREATE THIS LOOK

  1. MIX DELICATE DETAILS WITH RAW, EARTHY PIECES

  2. MIX IN POTTERY

  3. ANTIQUES ARE A MUST

  4. OPEN AND WHITE SPACE WORKS GREAT WITH DARK WOODEN ACCENTS

  5. ADD MATTE GOLD AND BRASS AS AN ACCENT (NOT METALLIC SHINY GOLD)

  6. PLANTS - PLANTS - PLANTS (but more dark green, no light green or lime tones)

  7. TREES in dark green

  8. GROUP LARGE POTS ON THE FLOOR (ANTIQUE OR THAT LOOK OLD AND WORN)

  9. BROWN LEATHER SOFAS AND CHAIRS

  10. BLACK METAL FRAMES FOR CHAIRS

  11. CHUNKY WOODEN SOFA AND DINING TABLES

  12. BLACK AND WHITE ART

  13. CHUNKY FLOATING WOODEN SHELVES THAT ARE RECYCLED FROM A PREVIOUS LIFE AS SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

  14. DRIED FLOWERS IN EARTH TONES

  15. SHEER WHITE DRAPES ON WINDOWS

  16. TABLETOPS WITH BLACK LINEN

  17. DINNERWARE THAT IS OR LOOKS HANDMADE IN EARTH TONES

  18. PILLAR CANDLES, ARRANGE SOME IN OLD PLANTERS ON TABLES

Have a lovely weekend and thank you to Megan at Grace Loves Lace for sharing her new store with us today.

(Store Photographs by Laning Photography, Portrait of Founder by Libby Dodd. All with permission from Grace Loves Lace.)

A "Konmari" Home: Tour a Minimalist Space in Norway

Hello dear friends, I have a lovely home tour to share today - especially good if you’re a diehard Marie Kondo-fan (Book author and founder of the Konmari organizational method), because this home is super organized, pure and magnificently minimal. I really love it!

Katarina Dima's home in Norway

Let’s look at the 700 square foot (70m2) apartment of Greek Architect Katerina Dima (which she shares with her husband and cat) in Oslo (Grünerløkka), Norway.

The neighborhood of Grünerløkka is one of the most lively districts in Oslo, a truly hip area known for its street art, stylish bars, stylish dance clubs and chilled-out cafes. Indie boutiques abound selling design items and vintage fashion, while bustling weekend markets draw crowds in local squares for artisan foods, kitchenware, jewelery and bric-a-brac.

This district also boasts walking trails that follow along the Akerselva River, which is flanked by small quirky parks and cool industrial concert venues. Doesn’t it sound idyllic?

About Katerina: As mentioned, she’s an architect with a masters degree in renovation and restoration, born and raised in Greece. Since relocating to Norway, she works as a freelance stylist and photographer for private clients and brands and creates content for them and for her own channels, along with advertorials, editorial work, and creative consultancy. Katerina also works on side hustles which involve styling, creating new spaces and dabbling in home and portrait photography, which she’s quite good at (her home for this feature was shot by her).

Her goal with all of this? To ultimately integrate architecture into her work style because even though she works a lot with design, she misses being THE designer.

[On social media, you can find Katerina at Only Deco Love and also on instagram, pinterest, twitter and facebook under @onlydecolove.]

For this home story, I’ve asked Katerina for a mini interview, since I always love to ask our guests about their homes and what they enjoy doing there, what’s on their playlist, who inspires them, favorite scents and foods, and more. A home is certainly much more than a space that we make pretty - it also needs to make us happy and support or life. Let’s see what lovely Katerina has to say to my questions below, do follow along!

KITCHEN/DINING

Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway

How would you describe your interior style? 

I would say it is not a style, it is a sense of balance in design I always try to achieve with everything I do. I cannot possibly say I am a pure minimalist when I love Rococo so much for example, an excessively ornamental style, with an abundance of curves, counter-curves and undulations.

Have you ever been inside old embassies or Palaces? How can you not be awed by those views? Balance is the key however as I noted above, so when it comes to translating styles in the modern world, I am always borrowing elements from different styles, bringing them together, allowing them to live together in simplicity.

I guess if anything could describe my style, it would be that. Rococo ceilings painted in one color will work great with a super minimal interior, combining natural wood for a more Scandinavian feel and marble for a more European one. As long as there is balance and a sense of continuity…

LIVING ROOM

Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway

What does HOME mean to you? 

I traveled so much after finishing Uni. Living in different places has taught me that it is important to nest in order to function. To create a home everywhere you go, even if you are staying temporary.  Having a place to rest, to feel safe, to relax and refresh your social batteries is irreplaceable for me, and it is really easy to do.  I find that even my most essential travel belongings will do the trick for me! 

What do you love most about your home? 

The high ceilings, the beautiful original floors that are painted grey, and the location. It is in the middle of a city block, and my apartment is in a building with only three total apartments, one each floor. I would say that it’s idyllic to wake up in the middle of the city, yet have trees and flowers around you as if you were in the middle of the most beautiful garden!  

What would you like to change at home? 

If I owned the apartment I would invest into turning the bedroom into the kitchen and vice versa. Then I would open the two rooms with double doors so they would be naturally connected. I love having friends over and we almost always end up in the kitchen, so this is an ideal way for me to have it both ways while still having separate rooms. 

INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR HALLWAY

Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway

What is your favorite candle or scent?

Anything from Mad et Len. Their aromas are sublime.  

And what do you like to do at home?

It always varies depending on the mood, but playing music and making a hot chocolate to sip on the couch while browsing the latest news online, reading a favorite book, catching up with blogs/inspiration, is probably one of my favorites. I think we can all count binging on the occasional original Netflix content too however right? 

What do you enjoy cooking?

 Lately, anything Thai! I think we have a Tom Kha Gai or Pho at least once per week.  

When you put on the music, what’s usually playing?

 1. Waves - Acoustic by Dean Lewis 

2. Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka 

3. When the party’s over by Billie Eilish 

4. Eyes Closed by Halsey 

5. Don’t Tell Me by Ruel 

Let’s talk about entertaining. When you have people over, how does that usually play out?

For a relaxed evening we end up ordering sushi, though it usually is the case when a gathering was not arranged, or a last minute thing too. I will cook when I’m preparing a meal for festive occasions mostly. We end up drinking wine around the table and depending on the company, games will also be an option! Lately, we have been trying out Munchkin and we love it.  

Tell us what your dream piece is for your space…

I love statement pieces, especially when it comes to lamps, there are a few pieces that are on my “dream” list. One of them is the Cloud by Apparatus Studio

BEDROOM

Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway
Katarina Dima's home in Norway

What’s important to you when you visit someone else’s home? 

I’ve always been so curious to see how others style their spaces, how they live, how the rooms look! The reason to visit others’ homes has always been to satisfy my curiously, if there is a reason to love Instagram it is because I get to see so many homes!  We can always see celebrities houses in magazines, but with Instagram we get to see so many different homes, I love it! 

Fresh flowers or a plant? 

Both! I am also known to say that the more dangerous they look , the more I love them. 

Wine: Red or white? Or something else?

Not a fan of wine, though I love cooking with it.  It is all the way gin and flavored tonic for me. 

Chocolate or vanilla? 

I am a verified chocolate addict. 

When you leave Oslo, what’s your favorite city to shop and roam?

I would say Paris, if there is a city that has mastered of selling you a lifestyle as well as a product and/or a combination, that’s definitely the city of light. 

We all love Instagram, in fact, that’s how I discovered you! What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts at the moment, and can you tell us why?

While I am listing the Instagram accounts, these are mostly blogs that I also follow on Insta. I love to read what they have to say on their blogs and check out their photos in a larger size which is a whole different experience!  

For food:

https://www.instagram.com/themodernproper for recipes you will want to make for when friends come over.

https://www.instagram.com/smittenkitchen for recipes you want to make everyday

https://www.instagram.com/osloraw for super healthy all-raw delicious breakfasts, cakes and candy, trust me you will love it! 

For fashion:

https://www.instagram.com/oliviapalermo no introductions needed I think this is my celebrity crush https://www.instagram.com/inthefrow/ British favorite for chic style but also to follow daily, and https://www.instagram.com/icovetthee because Alix is your everyday girl who is a delight to watch in her youtube channel for everyday fashion and beauty. 

For comedy relief:

https://www.instagram.com/jude_devir he draws his everyday life with his wife in the most adorable and funny way

https://www.instagram.com/catanacomics an even cuter version of drawings of a couples life I just love when one pops up on my feed.  

Thank you so much for this lovely home tour and also for giving us some insights about your home and life. Such a pleasure to welcome you to decor8 today Katerina!

Love,

Holly

(Photography with permission by Katerina Dima)

The Etsy Design Awards - Enter To Win $15,000!

I am so excited to announce something I’ve been holding in as a secret for a few months - that I’m a judge for The Etsy Design Awards (aka The Etsies)! This is Etsy’s first-ever global award program which honors the work of sellers from around the world and across multiple categories. Submit your favorite piece – handcrafted, designed or vintage – for a chance to win $15,000 USD, a dazzling Etsie trophy, and more.

The Etsy Design Awards

The Awards will highlight the highest quality items found on Etsy and celebrate the talented people behind the winning products. With the help of a panel of 7 celebrity judges - including me, Garance Doré and Sophie Robinson, among others, one Etsy seller will be crowned the Etsy Design Award Grand Prize Winner, while five others will be named Etsy Design Award Winners in each featured category.

The Judges

The Judges

The categories are:

  • Inventive Decor (Furniture, home decor and accessories, kitchen & dining, art & illustrations)

  • Signature Style (Clothing, fashion accessories, Jewellery, bags & purses, shoes, swimwear)

  • Festive Celebrations (Wedding attire, wedding jewellery & accessories, decorations & party supplies, Invitations, paper goods)

  • Earth-Friendly (Items made using sustainably produced materials, items made using sustainable processes, products that encourage sustainable habits & lifestyle, items that are recyclable or biodegradable)

  • Creative Collaborations (Any handmade or upcycled item that contains a personalized, customized or made-to-order element)

To qualify for entry, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your shop is not on holiday mode, and won’t be for the duration of the campaign.

  • Your shop has at least 5 listings.

  • Your submitted item has at least 5 photos.

  • You are the owner of the shop and are submitting yourself (please do not enter on another shop’s behalf).

  • You are only submitting one entry per shop.

  • Your shop and items comply with Etsy Guidelines and Etsy Seller Guidelines.

  • If your item is vintage or one-of-a-kind, we require that you put this item on hold from the time you enter until finalists are announced in August. If your vintage or one-of-a-kind item sells during this period, your submission becomes void.

  • Sellers in the following countries may enter: United States, District of Columbia, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN until 28th May 2019, at 11:59 pm ET (29th May at 4.59 am UK time). Finalists will be notified no later than 1st August 2019 and winners will be announced in September 2019.

Etsy will narrow down all the applicants to a maximum of 175 total finalists across the five categories. After the initial review, the Etsy Design Awards judging panel (my job along with the others!) will be reviewing and selecting finalists to determine the five Category Winners and the Grand Prize Winner.

Read More IN German

German interview with me about The Etsy Design Awards in COUCH magazine

I wish all of you lots of luck, I’m so happy to be part of this wonderful competition!

#TheEtsies

(This post is sponsored by Etsy.)

Colorful Bohemian Modern Brooklyn Apartment + How To Get The Look

Let’s visit a beautiful bohemian apartment today in Brooklyn, meet the homeowner, and see if there are any decorating ideas that we can apply to our own living space. In fact, I’ll make a little “Get the Look” list at the end of the home tour as a guide. But first, how are you? I’m good, I’m off my juice fast now and feel so nice but the bad side of coming off of a fast is how many cravings you have for things like bread and chocolate. Does anyone have any tips for me to curb these cravings? It isn’t a good feeling to have especially when you want to become more fit! Thinking about ice cream doesn’t help!

So, it’s time to share something special that I love and found on Instagram over a year ago - the Brooklyn home of Mallory Fletchall who runs a small textiles business, Reserve Home, and works as a product stylist.  Her Brooklyn rental is approximately 700 square feet, with 4 rooms plus a kitchen and bath. She shares her home with her fiancé David and their cats Michael and Kiki and describes her personal decor style as, “Modern Bohemian, with a splash of California cool and Mid Century Modern.” Yes, that’s exactly what I see here in her home too… Wanna see it? And then do you want to know more about Mallory and the things she loves (there is a little interview below the photos)? And finally, we’ll wrap this up with a quick guide on how to get this look. (You can even shop her home HERE.) Okay… Here we go!

Living Room

Living Room

Living room

Living room

Living room

Living room

Living room

Living room

View of dining room from living area

View of dining room from living area

Dining room

Dining room

Dining room detail

Dining room detail

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Kitchen eating nook

Kitchen eating nook

What does home mean to you?

I’ve always been a homebody, but now that my work is so home-centered, I have to say that home means everything to me.  It’s another family member. 

What do you love most about your home?  

I love the historic detailing in our apartment.  I’m a sucker for decorative moldings, original wood plank floors, and tall ceilings. 

What would you like to change?

We would love a bit more space, as my fiancé is an artist and would love a big painting studio in our home. I also wish our small kitchen was updated.  I’m hoping for all of the above in our next spot! 

Favorite candle/scent?

I love the Pinon reed diffuser from PF Candle Co. I also love anything and everything, Otherland. 

Favorite flowers and plants?

Ranunculus are my all-time favorite flowers. I love how whimsical they look.  As for plants, Ficus Audrey trees are my favorite. They are so much easier to care for than Fiddle Figs and they have such a simplistic beauty to them. 

Favorite thing to do at home?

Re-arrange our rooms! I also love to curl up on the sofa with a book or put a movie on the projector. 

Favorite meal to cook and why?

My Grandma’s lasagna! It takes 7 hours total when making the sauce homemade and every minute of that time is worth it.  It helps me feel connected to my Italian roots and it’s SO delicious. 

What’s on your playlist?  

Joni Mitchell - All I Want

Harry Nilsson - Gotta Get Up 

Jenny Lewis - Do Si Do 

Perfume Genius - Queen 

Middle Kids - Your Love

When you have people over, how do you entertain them?

We usually order in dinner, make cocktails and play board games before putting a movie on in the evening. 

How do you hope your guests feel when they visit your home?

I hope they feel comfortable to be themselves, get cozy and stay awhile. 

What is your dream piece or the home?

The Pop and Scott Dreamer sofa.

What is important to you when you visit someone else’s home?

I like to see their personality shine through in their home. 

Favorite city to shop and why?

I’m biased, but NYC all the way! Although, Paris is high up there. 

Your favorite Instagram accounts are…

@sarahshermansamuel - my favorite interior designer hands down.

@kate.lavie - her aesthetic speaks to me and her home is to die for.

@bleubird - for my fashion and beauty needs. She’s also the coolest.

@sabinasocol - The epitome of Parisian cool.

@designlovefest - I’ve followed her for years and years. She has an incredible eye for design. 

Thank you so much for this lovely home tour Mallory and I wish you a lovely week!

How to get the look

1. Add plants and not just small ones, try to mix in a few large pot plants too. And fresh flowers, always add in those!

2. Pottery and ceramics

3. Warm colors and materials

4. Layering, go for tactile and cozy things - velvet, linen, sheepskin rugs

5. Mix old with new, a new sofa with a vintage Moroccan rug, for instance.

6. Pay attention to details - make sure everything that you display matches the decor and that you truly need/like it.

7. Statement pendant lighting in gold

Readers, did you like this home? Are there any ideas you’d love to try?

(Photography with permission by Mallory Fletchall.)

Lovely Danish Apartment of Designer Nina Bruun + 16 Questions

Hello dear friends, how are you today? I’m great because I’m fasting at the moment (feed me, will somebody feed me!?) and today is day 7. I can’t believe it, a whole week on a juice fast. I’ve never done this before, so it’s a real accomplishment. It’s been a very spiritually uplifting journey over the course of 7 days, and emotionally transformative in many ways. A juice fast really puts you in touch with your emotions and allows you to easily re-frame things so you can begin to look at your world a little different. It’s been a ride, but a good one. Have you ever been on a fast before? What were your results?

Kitchen nook for eating breakfast in Nina’s apartment

Kitchen nook for eating breakfast in Nina’s apartment

Today on decor8, after my rather heavy post yesterday about Fame, Imposter Syndrome and Fear of Intimacy (what a loaded gun!), I thought I’d lift things up and get back on topic with design for today. So how about a quaint little city apartment tour, and a chance to meet Designer Nina Bruun who runs Nina Bruun Creative Consultancy, a multidisciplinary creative consultancy in Denmark. Below the tour is a series of flash questions that I asked her so you can learn who she loves to follow on Instagram and what’s on her playlist, among other things. But first…

Nina owns an 80m2 (approximately 861 sq ft) in the lovely district of Nørrebro in Copenhagen. As mentioned, she’s a designer and runs a company of ten, her consultancy is a leading source on Nordic interior trends, specifically color and design forecasting. Nina has a Master's degree in Furniture and Spatial Design from the esteemed Royal Danish Academy of Design and has received a Red Dot Design Award and has work shown in the permanent collection at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. What an accomplished, amazing woman!


Let’s look at her living, dining, kitchen and bedroom now.

Living Rooom

Living Rooom

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Kitchen and balcony view

Kitchen and balcony view

Kitchen detail

Kitchen detail

View from the balcony

View from the balcony

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom

Ok, so you’ve seen her home… Now let’s talk to her about it… HOME - The foundation where everything else can begin each day. Here are 16 questions with Nina Bruun.

1 // Who lives with you?

Nina: It’s just me. 

2 // What does home mean to you? 

It means so much to me. It’s where I live, relax and recharge. 

3 // What do you love most about your home? 

The natural light. I live on the 4th floor and the light is always amazing.

4 // What would you like to change at home? 

I would love a little more space in the kitchen. It’s a bit too small when you really love cooking like I do.

5 // Favorite candle/scent? 

Aesop room spray (I use it as perfume as well!!!)

6 // Favorite thing to do at home? 

Either cook, be on my balcony or relax on the sofa. 

7 // Favorite meal to cook? 

Anything by Ottolenghi, but a favorite is his Chicken with arak and citrus.

8 // What is on your playlist?

Fame by David Bowie, Crush by Yuna, Feather by Little Dragon, Help me loose my mind by Disclosure (feat. Little Grammar), You & Me Disclosure (feat. Eliza Doolittle)

9 // When you have people over, how does that usually play out? Do you cook, order out, play games, watch films, etc.? 

I prefer to cook, but my everyday life is super hectic and I often end up buying something simple or buy takeout as I don't have the time.

10 // Your dream piece for the home? 

Clerici Bench by Konstantin Gcric

11 // What is important to you when you visit someone else’s home? 

Always to bring flowers, respect the rules of the house, observe and be inspired by the owner’s style.

12 // Fresh flowers or a plant? 

Fresh flowers during winter, my balcony plants during summer.

13 // Red wine or white? 

White

14 // Chocolate or vanilla? 

Vanilla 

15 // Favorite city to shop and why? 

I have so many favorite cities but I especially love to shop in Milan, London, Stockholm and New York for many different reasons! I like to buy things locally when it comes to ingredients, design and fashion. 

16 // Your favorite Instagram accounts are…

@nicole_franzen - US photographer and friend. I just love to follow along, it's a pleasure to see everything she sees and captures.

@Kvadrattextiles - I love their products and visual universe.

@elledecoration_nl - Great inspiration for colorful homes and a great mix of art and design.  

@majesticdisorder - You feel like you're on a trip around the world when you follow this account. It’s just an endless source of inspiration.

@wedopatterns - A new site that we just started in the company, for a upcoming project.

Note: Readers, you can follow Nina Bruun on Instagram here: @nina_bruun

Thank you so much Nina, was a pleasure to have you here today on decor8!

See you tomorrow readers, I’m off to be a podcast guest on a show so I need to run!.

Love,

Holly

(Photography: With permission by Nina Bruun)

Personal Essay: Fame, Imposter Syndrome + Fear of Intimacy

I often don’t come here anymore, to my own blog, to just talk about stuff from my heart. In fact, I’m not present much at all on my blog and I’m sorry for that. I felt a bit emotionally removed from everything the past few years, still a bit in a bubble with my growing little boy and family life - in a bubble with some big projects I’ve been working on, just in a bubble in general. But recently I thought that I need to break the silence, pop the bubble that I’ve willingly placed myself inside of, and just write without editing or watering down a single sentence.

Me and my son, a photo I didn’t know was being taken, but I love how it portrays an honest view of life, at my son’s birthday party a few years ago.

Me and my son, a photo I didn’t know was being taken, but I love how it portrays an honest view of life, at my son’s birthday party a few years ago.

I remember years ago that I said I wouldn’t allow popularity or “fame” to change me. I would never become materialistic or a show off. I wouldn’t run around showing my brand name things and pretending to be more than I am. I would keep the same circle of friends, be the same Holly. And I am.

Yet, I noticed something was “off” with me about 3 years ago. I have intimacy issues. Relocating abroad really challenged me with the language difference and often not feeling fully understood. But there is more of course that I’ll try to get into in a moment as I know my intimacy issues go back way further. But I’ve known about mine “consciously” for around 3 years.

It all happened during a summer that I spent in Gotland on a photography retreat, I never imagined how being close to others was a problem for me until then. I am always the life of the party, love people, love to know everyone, smiling always, happy. But the retreat I went on left me in tears for weeks after. Emotionally, I had to reveal myself through my photography and it was painful and hard. This artistic expression was a genuine challenge for me. I still remember showing the instructor my work that I shot in nature, accompanied by my poetic writings, and her reaction to it - so beautiful - was pure joy. She encouraged me to combine my writing with my photography, that my readers would love it, that the world needed more of this raw material.

After the retreat, days turned into months, and I started to forget the feelings that came up during the retreat. I went back to mom life, work life, wife life. I tried here and there to work on the issues with intimacy that I had, but then as I started to talk to people more about my life, I saw the results and did not like it. I realized that people look to me to only be happy, positive and warm. They don’t want to hear the hard stuff or be there for the tears. They run. Especially in my new culture where feelings aren’t so open as where I grew up, around my friends and family.

But was it really others, or my new culture, that was the problem? Or was I just shifting the blame? Regardless, I tried to ignore the problem that I had, and just mom’d and worked. I left all I had learned on the retreat in a box buried inside.

Last year, something shifted inside of me. I accessed this “box” again. It started when I began to write for a German magazine called FLOW for a one year assignment (which ends with the next issue). Have you heard of it? For the monthly column, “Hollys Welt” (or Holly’s World), I was asked to just write on topics that I had on my mind at the moment. Intimate thoughts. And it was the moment I put pen to paper to write my first column that I froze.

Not stage fright. I love the stage. It was different. I was asked to go on the stage wearing a string bikini. (The bikini represents my emotions.) I couldn’t just go up in a nice dress, I had to show a lot more. And this stage, my new column, suddenly freaked me the hell out.

My editor kept writing back, with each new column I wrote, asking me to be more revealing about MY situation, my relationship to the story I was trying to tell. I couldn’t do it. I tried so hard. But I was afraid to reveal all. I felt like people expect me to be the happy, positive and warm Holly. That’s all they want. I guess it’s like an actor, who gets typecast in only rom-coms or sci-fi. I’ve been known as the HAPPY person since I was a child. My report cards over the years, since I was in Kindergarten (age 5), all say the same things: I am a very happy child and that I am a bossy one. I guess I was typecast from the start. A happy leader, in charge.

I googled a term I once heard, “Imposter Syndrome”. I wondered if I had this. I don’t fear failure at all though, and I have no problem asking for things, like a raise or to admit publicly that I’m wrong. But I do feel that a lot of people like me, who gained their “fame” online (like most of the bloggers I know who became famous), don’t know how to always deal with it and often we feel like an imposter. Like how do we deserve all of this and what happens if people find out we are just normal people?

A lot of people like me, who gained their “fame” online, don’t know how to always deal with it and often we feel like an imposter. Like how do we deserve all of this and what happens if people find out we are just normal people?

But then I thought that the “normal” is what caused the success in the first place. Being myself was always the lure for my audience, because I am the story of a self-made woman who left a great job for absolutely nothing but a dream I had. I left my country for love and to start a family. I made myself a success in my country and in my new one. This is really the stuff that you dream of a child, but it never happens. For me, it did. It has.

When I started writing this blog in January 2006, I had no clue what was coming for me. If I had known though, I doubt I would have become a success for one simple reason. Fame makes me scared to be myself. The fame makes me edit posts and often delete them. Fame makes me wonder if telling people my weaknesses matters or will just scare them away. I even wonder as I type this if I’ll ever post it. If you are reading this now, wow, I guess I’m trying to put my head above the water and show you more of who I am.

One thing that I have realized about intimacy issues is that it’s not genetic (for me), it was and is, a learned behavior, I didn’t come into this world not craving closeness. Most of us crave that. In fact, you can ask my parents, it was all I ever cared about. Being really close to people and to really know them well, intimately. BUT the other side was that I feared being intimate with others about ME. I often would change the subject because I didn’t want to focus on myself, I thought it was more kind to just listen than to sit around and tell my tales of love and sorrow. But was I just really meek or shy, or maybe scared of being an imposter and being “found out”. Not at all. There was more to it than that. As I dug deeper, I realized that I was scared to show myself because when I showed myself, my emotions, as a child I was normally ignored. And the seed was planted so long ago and the seed became a tree. A strong tree, a tree that shelters others. My first thought always is to listen to everyone, take care of everyone, entertain everyone, and respect and love everyone - but don’t expect anything in return. Just be a tree - just provide for others.

I wonder if you have issues with intimacy? Maybe you do, but don’t even realize it like I did. I guess that’s a strange question, because if you do have issues with it, you most likely will be too worried to leave a comment. I think the internet creates even more issues with intimacy for people, especially in our Instagram and “hook up” culture where you can get free sex from anyone, anytime, without anything more. Where is the intimacy in sex with strangers? Sure, it can be fun but it also creates a bubble where we can shield ourselves from ever getting close emotionally. Intimacy is actually the good stuff, it makes everything (sex, too) much better when you just let go, be open, and reveal your fears, your worries, your doubts. When you have the confidence to say, “Fuck it, this is me, love me or leave me, I’ll find my people regardless.”

Fuck it, this is me, love me or leave me, I’ll find my people regardless

And Instagram with all of the perfection. The best part is the trend of showing a messy room on Instagram among interior and lifestyle bloggers that the Instagrammer actually styled to be messy. So even that is contrived but their audience thinks it is the real mess, and goes along with it, feeling the person is being so authentic. And this is the problem with the internet, in spite of all of the amazing bits, is how we’re daily exposing ourself, hours and hours, to content that is perfect and labored over for hours. To selfies layered in filters. To people trying to sell us something at every corner. I imagine at least 75% of everything I see on Instagram right now is paid content. Either we are trying to hustle our business or we are hustling for someone else’s. I do it. We all do. It’s just “the way”. That is also why a lot of us are on mindfulness retreats, watching Brene Brown on Netflix and doing juice fasts and yoga. Any chance we get to face reality and to feel something real, feels like a gift.

Okay so now I’m at the part of this essay where I’m starting to lose focus. So I’ll end it here. Part of me wonders why I even need to tell the internet all of this, why do I need to tell you, why do my collegues and clients need to read this? But another part of me believes that speaking honestly is cathartic for me. This provides relief on many levels and allows me to channel it into my life and work, in a positive way. It makes me feel like maybe being open is somehow transformative for me, and maybe, for you. To give you something to think about too.

Can you relate to any of this?

Love,

Holly