Posts in Business
Essay: I Was Scared Of 4-Year-Olds Today But Learned Something Valuable

I want to write something personal here again because I’ve not done so in months… I guess it’s because something “personal” usually has to be inspired by a certain mood and then, I imagine if it’s really that interesting to belong on my blog or not. Well, I’m not sure how interesting this post will be, but I definitely got inspired by something funny that happened to me today and felt like sharing because I wonder if some of you are out there and can relate in some way to how I feel. Today’s experience was nice though, it resulted in me getting a big invisible hug - a hug that I really, really needed right now, a hug that I’ve craved for months.

Annie Spratt

First of all, I had a great day. It began with a smoothie and rewarding work in my office, then I met a friend and had coffee, and later, I went shopping in the city and got distracted by goddamn Gucci bags again (I can’t explain my sudden interest in Gucci, I’m not even a brand-y person, I blame Instagram), but then… An emergency text arrived.

My son’s pre-K needed me to watch the kids to fill in for my husband since he couldn’t do it. (There was a teacher’s meeting and parents volunteer to help at the school we belong to.) Anyway, I was feeling tired and not so keen on going in, mostly because I hadn’t planned on it and had a 4pm conference call with a brand I freelance for, so I knew being with kids from 3-4pm would be tough.

Thing is, I care about my son and I want the school and the kids to like me, because then he is treated well too. I also reasoned that if I timed it right, I could do the call on the way home from the school anyway, so everyone wins. The school, my client, me.

I rushed in panting a bit from running up 3 flights of subway stairs (which made me very aware that I have to work out more), literally dropped my shopping bags on the floor (H&M, not Gucci), and said hello to all of the cute little 4-year-old faces greeting me. They didn’t really know what to expect from me because this was my first time watching them. I usually go in and out of the school quickly to pick up my little boy, so they know me but they have no clue what my personality is like.

BUT I had a strange first thought when I saw them.

I’m embarrassed to admit this.

I was worried they wouldn’t LIKE ME. (I want to not publish this post after writing that.)

I was actually SCARED they wouldn’t like me.

Had my son been there, I wouldn’t have given it much thought, but he was already home with his father. So it was just me and 12 kids and another parent volunteering whom all of the kids seemed to know and love. But yeah, I was scared of these kids.

I didn’t know why I was scared and even intimidated by them, but I turned that mental switch off and smiled, delivered a good time to them, was totally myself and got them cracking up and some were even on my lap by the time I left. We danced and later, played on the floor with plastic animals. When their parents came to collect them, they didn’t jump up and run off, instead they made their parents WAIT until they were finished with me. Some asked what certain German words were in English and also taught me some new German animal names when I got stuck on a few of them (like Chimpanzee / Schimpanse - more or less the same word!). It was cute and very special.

When I walked home, I had my conference call and by the time I turned my key in the front door, I felt DAMN GOOD. No, actually, I felt GREAT.

After getting home and sorting through a few emails along with the dinner and bedtime routine for my little boy, I thought more about my feelings and tried to get to the heart of WHY I was initially so scared of a pack of kids. What was at the root of this?

The more I thought, the more I realized something. 1. You can’t bullshit kids. You can bullshit adults and they can bullshit you right back. With kids, they see YOU. It’s intimate. You cannot pretend to be happy or feel good if you don’t. You can’t pretend much of anything with kids because they see through it all and even call you out on it. 2. I often second-guess what people’s reasons are when they REALLY like me. Like, I think it’s because they need something FROM me, not because they just like me for me.

I didn’t realize the 2nd part of that until today, but when I think about it, I really, truly do get worn out by this - not ever knowing if people like you for you.

I never did this before I was in a position in my career where I was able to really influence and help other people as I can and do in my current role. When you have a job with a certain measure of fame and success, you sometimes DO wonder if people like you for YOU or do they like you for what you are able to give to them. Whether it’s in your company, your position in another company, or on the internet, sometimes a job can make you feel that way.

Even family. My little boy doesn’t mean to, but every day he asks that I buy him toys, or give him candy, or let him please please please watch a show on television… And when I say no, which I do a lot of, he gets so pissed and suddenly mama is no longer cool or special - mama is the bad one. This goes on all day and ranges in intensity, but I heard this continues for as long as your kids live at home with you, so this is something I need to learn how to manage emotionally (any tips?). I guess this is just normal family dynamics and a case of being married for a long time, because I often feel my husband doesn’t even “see” me anymore. Like what I do is just expected.

I hear a lot of women feel this way, especially mothers but few people talk about this stuff on the internet - because on the internet, your home has to look perfect, you have to look perfect, and your family life has to look like The Stepford Wives Instagram edition.

During my hour spent with kids who needed NOTHING from me but to give them a warm, happy feeling and to be playful - not to buy them something, manage something, sell something, hustle something for them… well it was BEAUTIFUL.

It made my heart feel bigger and fuller than it has in a really long time, to sit on the floor with those cute kids today. It was a wonderfully warm feeling to really experience unconditional love and I wondered about how to get this more in my life - not just sporadically but regularly.

Anyway, I wanted to write this because I had no idea how much it affected me, how much it was draining me, to not feel needed for just me being me. It reminded me of how basic humans really are, how at the end of the day, we really just want to feel needed. To make someone laugh. That’s it.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When Everyone Goes Right, Go Left

Hey, hey everyone! How are you doing out there??? I'm good, just getting my groove and focus back after a long hot summer that had a lot of beach vacations and country drives on my agenda! In fact, I really lingered and spoiled myself this summer because we had the best summer weather in all of the 9 years I've lived here in Europe and I had to take advantage of it. It was like 4-5 months of non-stop sun and beauty. Even today, it's September 4th and 82 degrees and sunny. I feel like it's been a never-ending dream to have these sunny skies and beautiful, long days.

Minted Art decor8

I've also been working a TON on some secret projects - I'll reveal them later this year - but you really won't believe what I'm up to behind the scenes and fortunately, all of you will be (hopefully) happy when I make my big reveals. Let's just say that I have some big stuff brewing and I'm very excited to explore some new, uncharted territory for myself.

I've also decided to change DECOR8. I have some aesthetic changes to apply later this year, but for now, I needed to get back to my roots and just author the blog (mostly) alone. I'll have Anke Illner and her tabletop stories still, because they are infrequent enough to not feel like extra work for me but also they really inspire all of you (and me too) and I can't imagine not having those stories on my blog right now. I love all of my writers, but I really want to just write decor8 by myself again as I once did many, many years ago. I feel like blogs have evolved so much that most you barely recognize as a blog (they are more like magazines or websites), mine included, and I honestly MISS the times when blogs looked (and read) like blogs and were more imperfect and warm and where the author was truly present. 

I have this expression, "When everyone else goes right, I go left", and I really do live this way. Right now, everyone is on Instagram and, if they have a blog, are making them super gorgeous and full of perfect photos and amazing content. And I love that. But I also know I cannot deliver it and also that some diversity is nice and so why not take this as my opportunity to do something else and try a new approach - the approach that always feels the most authentic to me - to just write stuff here as I once did, regularly, and share what I love, what inspires me and to make is as non-commercial as humanly possible. I want to take a very organic and inspired approach to decor8 now. I don't have ads here and I don't use affiliate links and when a post is sponsored (which is not so common) it is clearly labeled as such.  But that's about the extent of how commercial I get on decor8. "I want to go left", I want to still have a blog and share a bulk of my content and creativity on here, not solely on Instagram.

So yeah, that's what I'm thinking about lately - getting back to my blog roots, saying goodbye to my beautiful team on the blog, and moving decor8 into a more personal space once again.

How are you lately? What's new for you? Are you blogging and if so, what is your blog URL so I can check it out? Any thoughts on blogging - do you still read them? Do you see value?

Love,

Holly

Is Your Business In a Slump? Or Are You? This Method Can Help...

Do you currently feel like your business, your ideas, YOUR LIFE, IN GENERAL, is in a slump? I totally can relate as a business owner/entrepreneur who has been working independently for 13 years - I get into these slump periods too. I have decided that they are healthy and good - we can hibernate and go inward for a short time, only to emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. That's okay.

However, slumps can last sometimes for longer than is productive. A bear cannot hibernate until summer. There is a period of rest, then there is a period for action. If you have felt like your slump period has lasted beyond what you feel is healthy or productive, then I have the perfect solution for you. But first...

  Photos: Unsplash, Collage, Holly Becker

Photos: Unsplash, Collage, Holly Becker

A little background... I started this blog in January 2006, nearly 13 years ago. I had NO CLUE what blogging was, so little of them existed and we didn't have this term, "Social Media", and we didn't have iPhones and apps and Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Back then, you started a blog as a passion project, you couldn't yet earn money from it. I started my blog because I was working in design and wanted to segway into writing for design magazines and constantly got rejected by editors since I lacked sufficient experience. I started my blog to write about my passions and to hopefully, get in front of some editors and show them that I could write and that I had opinions.

Needless to say, it worked. :) I've done a lot of things I'm proud of, and some things I regret (decisions, mostly monetary ones because I always thought money wasn't important until I made decisions that showed me the truth!)... And I have had periods when I felt really sick of blogging and tired in general of showing up consistently, daily, on my blog or somewhere on social media, to "perform". 

Despite the down days, or the moments of mumbling swear words beneath my breath, I've maintained a consistent positive vibe. I've maintained a lot of good energy for my profession and the field I'm in overall. I still am really amazed by what people have accomplished - my peers and even new ones who are starting in this field daily. I am so curious by nature, so I just love the design that I'm consistently seeing and meeting - all of the new designers, the ones who are known as the trendsetters, the leaders... It's all interesting to me to watch and to actively participate in. 

Yet there are still phases where I want to pull the plug and open a design shop/cafe on the beach in the south of France and just BE DONE WITH IT. You know? Like just wear flipflops all day and white linen dresses with spaghetti straps, listen to great tunes, and sell pretty things and make coffees. Meet travelers and watch my son surf. I have these visions and think that maybe it's common for people so deeply involved in online media like me - to imagine these scenarios of unplugging and living life as it was when I was a little girl in the 80s - wild, free and not an iPhone in sight.

THEN REALITY CALLS. And the reality is - I LOVE FAIRS, PUBLISHING MY THOUGHTS, SHARING, BLOGS, MEET UPS, TRAVEL, SOCIAL MEDIA, COMMUNICATING, CONNECTING, MY BUSINESS and my LIFE in the city here in northern Germany. And I am super motivated to keep going in this forward motion and pursue my dreams in this industry because, well, why not?

However, slumps and down times and feelings of OMG I WANT OUT lurk in the hearts of all creatives and all who are making a living doing what they love because it's only human. You can also bet that even me as the shop/cafe on the beach owner would have days when I didn't want to be there, I wouldn't want to open up and make 100 coffees, or I'd feel sick or bored with being a shop owner. No matter what we are doing in life, there are always greener pastures. There is always MORE.

  Photo: Susanne Irmer, Shown: Holly Becker

Photo: Susanne Irmer, Shown: Holly Becker

That is why I decided to teach my RISE Method to others because it's how I've stayed sane and inspired and how I've kept going, stayed profitable and accomplished all that I have in the past 13 years. I'd never really realized that I had a method to my madness, but I do and I sat down over the summer and really thought it through and imagined how I could help others and RISE was born, which stands for R= Reassess, I= Invigorate, S= Strategize, and E= Execute your plans and goals.

Now, for the GOOD PART. You can join me and a small group of students online where, for 3 weeks, from September 14 - October 8, 2018, you can get into a new groove - a new, positive, "I CAN DO THIS" state of mind. Our fun, self-paced online class will teach you the RISE Method.

R: With Reassess, we will teach you how to tap in to your energy, take care of yourself first, identify your strong points, and find the weak places in your business to stabilize and strengthen them. We will also cover how self-care is not selfish and why. This will be a super positive series that will jump start you right away.

I: With Invigorate, we will show you concrete ways in which you can organize your workflow, computer and office along with ways to get more positivity in your life, how to deal with downtimes and creative ruts, the importance of developing a strong support network (and how), and ways to develop courage and strength to rise up and power through. Self-confidence is key, so we'll help you with that before moving on to the next step...

S: For Strategize, it's time to set a plan. How will you do the things you want to do? We'll show you how to put together a solid plan of action, how other business owners do it with interviews and case studies, how we do it and lots of tips and ideas for planning using Milanote, basic organization, and follow through.

E: And finally, Execute. No more worries, no more excuses. This is where you will learn how to execute your plans fearlessly and with courage, how to market effectively on social media platforms, understanding SEO and how to use it to boost your business and get more eyes on your website/blog, various apps we love and our favorite things from the best newsletter apps to invoicing software, Instagram Stories apps we love, and more!

Bottom line: I want to help you to get the courage and energy to climb out of your current rut (or if you're just beginning a new business endeavor, this class will help you, too!) and work on your business and goals with tons of support from us, encouragement, tools and help along the way. The magic is inside of you already - we are going to show you how to tap into it, pull it out and use it.

You can register easily below. Hope to see you in class, it will be nice to work with you personally and you can also make new friends and network in our private student-only forum - which I encourage.

 

See you!

Love,

Holly

 

My New Column in FLOW Magazine Germany

Hello friends, how are you? I'm feeling so happy today because I've been working on some creative projects that are lots of fun for me (and challenging), but also because my column in the German edition of FLOW magazine is doing well and lots of German readers are writing to me because they are so happy to read me in their own language now. I'm proud of this too. So if you are a subscriber already, or you pick it up regularly at the newsstand, please grab FLOW magazine and look for my column, "Hollys Welt", each month. The first one kicked off in the issue shown below, currently on newsstands or you can buy it online right here - it's issue 33. In my columns, I talk about my position on everything from being an entrepreneur and running a business, mom life, living in Germany as an expat and the crazy world of social media and sharing.

Holly Becker FLOW Germany Column "Hollys Welt"
FLOW Germany new columnist Holly Becker

On a different note, I was so touched to read your responses to my recent post, A letter from Holly. Thank you for that. It was really interesting to read your comments - so many of you absolutely feel the same as I do and I really enjoyed all of your feedback and to hear your overall "concerns" about our online community as well. There is so much work to be done, so much good to be had, but we all need to collectively work very hard to evolve our brands and blogs in ways that go beyond the ho-hum generic, and even the boring "accepted" ways... There is so much a creative, innovative and imaginative community can dream up, none of us need to be slaves to algorithms and apps - eff that, right!?

Tomorrow morning, I'm flying to Poland, yippee!!! I can't wait for many reasons, but naturally, I'm so excited to spend time with my friends and to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Agata and Felice. This is her "hen" weekend in Warsaw, so it's a really big tradition and a big deal to her and all of us too. I won't be sharing it online anywhere, it's private of course, but I will definitely be sharing my favorite views of Warsaw all weekend on my Instagram (@decor8) so please follow me over there starting tomorrow (Friday).

Before the end of the week, Allan Torp will be visiting you with his monthly column sharing his favorites, and next week, I'll be back on Monday with highlights from Warsaw and all new content for the week that I've been saving - also a column from Mel (shop tour!), and home tour from Alison (Scottish city apartment), and much more. Next week will be a 5-day week of content on decor8, so stay tuned.

Love,

Holly