Posts in Business
Thoughts On Depression

Hello everyone, it's Monday so we are naturally looking at a new week with plans to set into motion, right? Feels good. I normally face Monday with a bit of hesitation at first but now, it has changed because I'm doing lots of positive events around my new book, I'm on the road meeting friends and fans, making new business s, and it's very, very invigorating. I feel alive again. The last time I felt this good was at the beginning of the year when I went to Paris and then London. After those trips, I hit a very low point in my life - I felt really inspired and happy but returned to a reality that I didn't really want to face.

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The thing was, I had to be an "adult" in some things that I'd been putting off. I needed to REALLY fix things in my personal life, with my health, with childcare (lack of), with my career (felt a bit directionless), and with a few friends. Most of all, I had to learn to be more kind to myself, to really put myself first which has always been hard for me.

All of this reality put me in a depression period that I didn't know how to get out of. I kept it hidden from most people and on my blog, but it was really a hard time. Fortunately, my good friends stuck around to help. I confided in them and they've lovingly listened, provided a shoulder to literally cry on, and have acted as strong and willing when it comes to jumping in and just caring for me. I didn't have to beg my good friends to be there through my hard times.

I'm happy to say that the depression period has let up now, the dark shadow passed over. FINALLY. I have new goals and am doing a lot with my life that I don't think a lot of people will believe or even recognize as coming from me in the months ahead but I'm gonna just go for it. I'm gonna jump and just do things with a sense of "screw it" because really, life is too short and precious to live a fake life or a life that you aren't really happy with.

I have childcare now (lots of it). My nutrition and self care are on point. I have plans in place to take care of the bigger stuff in time but for now, I'm not feeling held back or scared anymore. I'm not frozen. The depression period has ended. And I'm out again doing events and scheduling workshops and my calendar is full until the end of this year and I love it. With each event, I am allowed to share and receive positive energy in return and that give and take is so healthy and beneficial.

But wow, that depression period. Shit, man. Yuck.

It was horrible.

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Sure, I had felt the blues before, you know, days where you just can't seem to make progress. Days when you don't want to get out of bed but you do anyway. Everyone has those. But I'd never known sinking depression on that level since I was in my early twenties and experienced a really big break up with someone I thought I had loved.

I'm always very hopeful and optimistic. With that, you almost become responsible to be a light to everyone. You become known as a light. And then you just shine and shine and shine and even when you have nothing left to shine, you find something and shine anyway. And then you get drained after a long enough time. Then you start to fake or pretend that you are fine, because you don't want to let anyone down. And of course, your ego is involved at that point. You are known to be shining and encouraging and motivating, you can't possibly show people that you feel like shit inside and wish you could run away and go live on a secluded island for a year.

For me, it all started in March after my birthday and by end of May, I was hitting bottom. In June, I had a momentary lapse of "I've got this!" and then, boom. I didn't have anything, I was a mess. The dark clouds came in fast and furious. And stayed.

July and August were horrific.

I didn't want to get out of bed for TWO MONTHS. I have a toddler to care for, so he was my motivation to shower and get up and get the day started. But boy, I didn't always want to be responsible. I wanted to go to sleep at 8pm and a lot of the time, I did. I felt guilty giving in to my feelings at first. "I'm strong", I told myself, "why am I giving in to these feelings, I'm a mom for god's sake, how can I be such a wreck, my son needs me?".

But after awhile I stopped pretending to be strong and I started to allow myself to be vulnerable. Through the help of friends, I realized that I needed to drop the act and tell people how I was really feeling because I had built a WALL around me and it was not helping my friendships. I needed to learn what I craved the most in my life - intimacy - wasn't what I myself was giving to others. I wasn't open and working towards intimacy in my relationships yet I expected this from my friends. How about that?

What I realized is that I always thought I was so open - I have a blog, I write a lot of stuff here that I'd consider pretty revealing at times. I share my life on the internet, in the press, in my books... But this isn't really being OPEN. Sure, I'm more open than the average person who would never dare write about their child birth experience online like I did, or they'd never show their home online, etc. But I still am open in a way that I am safe with. In other words, and I think a lot of us do this online, I am open when it comes to showing the good stuff in my life. I'm open with all of the positive things. Not to show off, but because I really want to inspire people to be happier and I think that sharing that I'm in a dark place isn't going to help anyone else. So I stay quiet and I hide.

Yet, one thing I crave more and more, and maybe it's because I've been writing professionally online for over a decade, is greater authenticity. No, I don't mean showing my ugly disorganized closet or me not wearing makeup. What I do mean is being a bit more open to how I feel and expressing it openly. Sharing that yes, while we enjoyed our trip we also had to deal with a screaming toddler and 100 melt downs and I almost missed my flight because I was too busy texting someone. Or yes, our house looks great but before the photo was taken, it was a giant mess of toys and I decided to clean it to a take a nice photo for the internet. You know, just being more natural and more normal and stop fearing judgement because all of that can ultimately suck our life out and make others feel like crap too.

First world problem. I know. But it's causing a lot of people to ultimately experience burn out, depression and a lot of other unnecessary problems because all of the perfect we see. It's nice to hear the stories behind what we see online and to open up about our very human experiences. That is the definition of being open and authentic.

Now that I'm beyond the darkest darks, I'm doing a lot to change my life for the better. When I make my mind up, I really make my mind up. And for many things in my life that I've sat idle on for a long time... Well let's just say I made my mind up to do several things very differently.

How about you, have you ever hit a period of depression? How did you end it? I'm glad my time is over with this but it was NOT FUN. But I learned so much, mostly what I learned is who my real friends really are. That was so revealing... To see who sticks by you when you're not your best self and need help. Also, I learned what wasn't working in my life and what needed to change. I'm taking steps each day to change those things and that movement alone, the new flow of energy the movement is creating, has helped tremendously.

Love you all.

xo Holly

(photography Holly Becker)

Create Your Own Creative Space - But How?
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My husband always says I need to work outside of the house with my own studio OR I need to open a big shop. I can't say he's wrong. I have several rooms in our home where I store props, my work, have fixed spaces for workshops and of course, my office... But it's in our home and so I never feel like there is a disconnect from work, ever. I have another office that I use outside of the house where friends work, it's like a shared space where I pop in whenever I need to but only my laptop stays there... The stuff I need to do the more physical part of my job is all at home. light-lab-lounge4

photo: sarah sherman samuel for light lab

Whenever I work on my books (currently, I'm planning my 5th) and shoot for clients, my husband gets stressed because part of the house has days when it turns into a . Last week, several rooms were used for video work so it was upside down again for a few days. As I'm trying to build my business in new ways, I don't see this changing anytime soon.

I know my fellow creative friends like , , , ,  deal with constantly taking their neat creative studios and homes and turn them on their head for shoots and clients... I often wonder how their families deal with it and their colleagues... But more than that, I wonder how to deal with it in my own life -- how I can perhaps find some peace within all of this creative, exciting madness!? Well let me rephrase that... I have plenty of peace with it, but with a little boy and a husband, something has to change when your man isn't enjoying the chaos as much as you do. My toddler stormed into my studio yesterday with a black magic market and immediately grabbed a brand new book and colored all over the cover in mere seconds. It's impossible to work the same way with a little child around, so I have to get a system in place asap.

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photo: sarah sherman samuel for light lab

I've been looking for a creative space here in for nearly 6 years, actively for 4 years. Still nothing. I see a separate work space as the only solution - so if you know of anything in Hannover, Germany that I can transform into a large studio space where I can also invite others in to share the space from the time-to-time, please let me know. Because I would love to create my own and have had a business plan in my hand for this idea for years. I want it so badly and I have faith that someday I will get it but until this happens, I need to create realistic, workable ways to deal with my work at home.

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photo: sarah sherman samuel for light lab

By the way, you can see more photos of the space shown in this post .

So! Do you have tips and ideas on how to manage working from home - I could use some creative suggestions. Specifically, how do you handle prop storage, and management after you no longer need the props... And how do you handle working at home when you have photo shoots and people coming in and out of the house when you also have a husband and toddler at home? How do you manage it all?

(All photography: Sarah Sherman Samuel)

When You Earn More Money Than Your Man

First let me say that if I offend anyone by what I'm about to say, please leave a comment and chime in on the conversation because I'd like to hear your side too. But this is my side, my opinion and I'm basing it on my own conversations with women all over the world - not just Americans or Germans or women you think I'm mostly referring. ALL women from ALL over. So with that being out of the way, I shall begin my essay. moneytalk

Money. It's never been a hard topic for me to talk about even though I grew up watching my parents fight over it pretty much daily. I don't understand why something that can be such a bridge in your life can be so bad or so hard to discuss. I'm married and when we get low on funds my first reaction isn't to fight, it's to discuss the situation and get crackin' - do what we can to make it and make it fast. I always tell my husband that he married the best wife in the world when it comes to this topic - I would flip burgers or clean bathrooms if all the chips were down and we needed to pay the rent. I have been close to broke before, I was broke once, and I will never go there again if I am healthy enough to work. No way. My ego will never stand in the way of me going forth and getting a job, any job... I'd perform nearly any (legal and moral) task on earth to support myself and my family financially. I am that woman who would (and has) worked 2-3 jobs to make it. I'm not lazy and my father gave me one thing that stuck - work ethic. I may not always be realistic about money and earnings, but my crazy strong work ethic means that I won't go down without a fight.

Yet there is something I have to say about money that may make some of you feel a little awkward after I say this. Please don't. I have earned quite a bit of it in my lifetime, before blogging and especially after blogging. There is no limit to the amount of money a creative person can earn online these days if you work your ___ off and have a few good ideas and are willing to sweat blood to get it. I remember the first 8 years of my online career very clearly because I worked 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, or more. I remember staying up until 4am to write on my blog and to turn assignments in to magazines and newspapers on time. I worked in my sleep. Then I got pregnant and cut back but I couldn't take a maternity leave, so I took off two weeks leave after I had my baby. I wish I could have taken 6-12 months like most of my German friends (I live in Germany now in case some of you missed that I relocated overseas from Boston) but I couldn't because my money keeps our family above water.

I have a real love/hate with that last sentence.

I love it because I never in my life thought I could earn more than, let me just say it, a man. When I was growing up, men were the ones earning all of the money and women had part-time jobs or, if working full-time, were definitely not in leadership roles as they are today. So I'm very proud of myself that women have broken the glass ceiling in some parts of the world and can potentially earn more than a man based on their TALENT not on their GENDER. I never understood and still don't, why a women can do the same job as a man but earn substantially less. But that's a whole 'nother conversation.

So I love that I can earn money without my gender being part of that.

Yet I also hate that I earn more than my husband. Mostly because I know that it causes stress in our relationship. I have a lot of pressure to keep earning and sometimes I want to just pull back and go on vacation for a month and blog from the French Riviera. But I can't because blogging isn't the only way I earn this living, there is so much more and so many hours are needed to accomplish all that I do.

I believe that the truth is, at their core - men do not like to earn less money than a woman. Do you agree? I know lots of men will say I'm wrong, and I'm sure in some cases I am wrong, but in most cases I'm not wrong. I've seen it. I have blogger friends who have divorced over money relating to her earning more than him. I've researched this topic ad nauseam and it's the same across the board. Men don't like earning less than their woman. I've heard it has to do with male pride, I've heard it has to do with feeling like they are competing, I've heard it has to do with ego. I've also heard it has to do with feeling guilty.

But I haven't really heard WHY THE HELL IT MATTERS so much. I love the idea of pooling cash and both partners dive in and view it as money THEY are making together. Not HER money, not HIS money. THEIR MONEY. If he is helping with the children, and cleaning the house, and doing laundry, and cooking as much as his woman, and he is also being supportive and helping her to be a top performer through his love, then that works, right? Yet, I hear just the opposite. That men don't want to be known as "house husbands" and they don't want to stay home and do domestic things while their wife earns the family income. One guy I interviewed when I was writing this article bluntly said to me, "I don't want to be her bitch!".

Eek.

I have a male friend, he is working in restaurants mostly until he finds a job in his profession, and he hates it because his partner is some kind of manager at her job and earns more money than he does. And he doesn't like this at all and has confessed this to me. And to make it worse, she rubs it in his face that he doesn't have a "real job" and actually declines dinner parties because he isn't very interesting for her friends and family to be around since he's not working. It's not looking to good for appearances you know, that she is the big manager and he is the lowly waiter. This makes me absolutely sick. But there are women who shame their men and I find this disrespectful and a real sign that their isn't real love in a relationship like that. And when this happens, I get why the man would hate to earn less than their woman.

But I'm not talking about those cases.

I'm talking about female friends that I have who have largely internet-based businesses and they make so much money that their partner could never earn that - even if they were a brain surgeon or a top engineer at some amazing firm - some earn more than half a million a year and up... The ladies I know who aren't partnered get great dates but never get long term relationships because of the MONEY. Men are intimidated the moment money comes up and they realize their cute girlfriend earns more in one year than he earns in 3 years... And other woman I know are newly divorced and get lots of dates but when it gets serious, and the guy learns of her income, forget it... She hears crickets too. You know the expression ladies... When the crickets come, the man is done.

All of this also leads me to think that some rare couples must exist out there where the woman is making more than the man and the man is cool with it. Right? But I don't hear those stories. I know Oprah earns more than her man but the media also has had fun at his expense throughout the years letting everyone know it.

So what about a woman who is self made? Who earns several hundred thousand a year in her sleep because she's an "Influencer"? How do these women get anywhere with men long term? Because all of the men I know are really insecure dating these power women. And how do these women not get used when they do partner up? How are they not becoming burdened with the pressure of being the sole provider? And how are these power women dating men who make less not getting used by these men - how do they know if the man loves them for them or their money?

So this is my essay and now I really need to know what YOU think, all of you, men and women. Because I'm curious if some of you are earning more than your man and if so, how do you deal with this at home? How does HE deal with it? Do you fight over it? And single girls, has your income prevented you from him putting a ring on it? And men, do you have any thoughts on this topic?

(Photography: Holly Becker)

 

Shooting Book Trailer Video + Hello
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Hello dear readers, how are you today? I've been so eager to get back on the blog to really write again. My life has been so hectic between projects, book promotion and lining up events for book signings and parties (exciting!) and on top of it, the most important job of all - caring for my little son who turns 2.5 years old tomorrow! And he's a handful but most of all, the most adorable and sweetest little person I've ever known. VIDEO-KOEN

I have felt so happy to watch him grow and get to spend so much time with him as he hits milestones and flourishes. He understands and speaks English and German fluently, though something tells me his mother tongue is English as it seems to come most natural to him. He knows the alphabet, he sings lots of songs with me, he can count in both languages, he has excellent manners and is very friendly and loving to all whom he meets. Everyone tells me what a beautiful son I have and I must admit - they are right! Looking back on the time I've stayed at home with him since his birth is such a delight for me. We tried to get him into daycare but no schools have spots so I've just been splitting care with his papa and we are making it just fine. It's not easy, but it's also not easy to put him in school if we absolutely don't have too. I freelance, I can work on weekends, at nights, and I do - to make it work.

We don't have childcare yet, he is still home with us full-time, I'm a bit frayed at both ends some days... His schedule eats into my work day for sure, but I honestly can say that I don't regret a moment that I've spent caring for him full-time.

This week, we begin interviewing for a nanny to care for him about 12-15 hours a week, it's honestly all we can afford, right now - but it's a start. Then, next year, he will go to kindergarten full-time at some point depending on when they let him enroll - and I'll be back to working my full-time days just as before his arrival. It will be lovely on one side to have days to devote to my work and creative projects but I will miss him for sure. Yet, I know he'll have fun with other children and his teachers and I also know he is ready for school because I can tell he doesn't have anxiety anymore when we are not around - it naturally faded without any work on our side, so I think the moment I bring him (and leave him) at school, he will be exactly as I was when I was little - I waved bye to my mama and confidently strolled right in and loved school - I was ready and I feel he is too.

Apart from my child, last week was SO MUCH FUN but so busy on the work side. I had Koen here from , a film maker based near Rotterdam who specializes in videos for mainly weddings and events, and we worked together for two days to make a video for my upcoming book with , it's called . It was my first video to organize, I had no clue or real understanding of the process, but Koen seemed to have no problem working on it and I'm willing to bet he will spin some goodness out of the time we spent working...

We did lots of filming on the street, in the forest, in some shops... And then spent a day in the home of my dear friend . It was fun and all came together so nicely. We laughed a lot on the first day but on the second day, we really got down to business and worked so hard. It was exhilarating though I was dead in the evening but very happy to have met all our goals.

I'm eager to see the video - he's busily editing in in his studio all week and it will release next Monday so I'll be sure to post it here along with my partial travel schedule so some of you can visit me on my European book tour and we can spend some nice time together. I hope to head over to America in late November, maybe New York and a few other cities, but we shall see - hope so!

I have some things to write about today but I first had to pop in to say hello and see how you are doing. Above are two photos that I took from the party Koen shot for our video to whet your appetite. It was such a fun day! I'll be back in a flash to talk about a BIG TOPIC - it has to do with men and money! So stay tuned for that because I really need your advice.

xo Holly

(Photography: Holly Becker)

Let Us Stay Optimistic
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Hi friends, sorry I've been missing from the blog but I've been co-teaching our Instagram, Photography and Styling e-course for ... I've not had much extra head space to think about writing here. This week, another teacher leads our classes for the week and I'm off the hook, so I feel like my head is above water so no more absence from me here! And you know, once my little boy is in school, it will be a manageable again to maintain my blog (and everything else) in addition to e-courses, but right now he is home full-time so it's a bit of a struggle! HollyFlowerMarket_debiTreloar

How are you doing? I'm good, just not so happy with the news lately. It's draining to wake up to so much hate and anger on the news, isn't it? When I text my friend after the Nice attack to see if he was okay (he is living in London but is French and so there is always a concern he may be visiting relatives in France) he helped me to regain some perspective. I asked him if he was okay and he said yes, he was in another town celebrating Bastille Day, but not Nice. And then I told him that I thought the attack was horrible and sad and I started to complain a little and he simply said,

"Let us stay optimistic. And enjoy an even better life!"

Maybe when you read that, you can let it sink in a bit.

At first I thought he seemed so incredibly naive! Almost a bit selfish! But then I realized that it's exactly as we should be living, when bad things happen and we were spared, we should consider ourselves to almost have a right to live an even better life because we are still alive. Why should we live in fear, sadness, in an eternal mourning?

One thing the news and internet does is that it stresses us all the F--k out. Of course we hate what's happening globally in politics, gun violence, terrorism, etc. Naturally. And Donald Trump. Oh boy, it's scary as hell.  And to hear about it all day, every day, everything else, well it's stressful. And then there is me, living in northern Germany as an American. So I have equal parts concern over what is happening in Europe and the UK AND in America. Because my family and life is in both. So what happens in America bothers me as much as what happens in Turkey, or in France, which is right over the border, Brexit, etc. It's kinda overwhelmed me lately.

Yet I almost think that the negative forces at work in the world - the many ugly people out there behind all of this sickness and sorrow - are winning BIG TIME when we pay them so much credit for ruining our day, our week, or more: Drying up our spirit of hope. And once we lose hope .... Well, one word for ya.

SCREWED.

We are screwed.

In my perspective, my French friend has the right attitude. Sure, you mourn a loss but you have to put everything in perspective. I cried when I thought about the children who were killed in Nice or those who are left without parents and had to see a truck plowing over their family. How can you not feel terrible? Yet, you still have your life to manage and deal with, and that has to come before everything else. Our families need us to be strong, proactive and positive. If we want to fight against something we see as injustice, then take up a stand and actively go out and fight for the rights of the group you want to stand behind. Or put your money into some cause. But complaining endlessly, moping around, saying the world is going to hell... I think it's only going to make everyone's life even less meaningful if we collectively turn into one big depressed lump online. Instead of choosing a victims standpoint, let us stand strong as a victor, united in our belief that things will get better. They always get worse before they get better, right? So maybe that can be the candle, the carrot, the hope that we chase... That better days are ahead.

While I support fully acknowledging loss and suffering, I also support even more fully to live better, do better and to lead by example so others can rise up stronger too. Negativity breeds negatively. Let us spread light, love and promote peace.

I've decided to stay optimistic and maintain hope. I hope you will to.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW ARE YOU COPING?

(Photographer: Copyright )

Giveaway: Win Instagram + Photography e-course! (Updated)

Our Blogging Your Way e-course for  just kicked off yesterday with lessons going up on Monday morning, running for two weeks until July 25 with class access until August 1st. That's why I simply must host a 48 hour flash GIVEAWAY (winners picked and sent login on Monday) so 5 of you can win seats in our classroom valued at $119. In this class, called #Instapower, we have videos, podcasts and over 22 lessons with all new materials never taught before in previous classes, and three teachers -- me (naturally), Aussie food photographer Rachel Korinek and Dutch travel writer and photographer Pauline Egge.

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YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS CLASS. It's our last Instagram-focused class for 2016!

Here is our course outline if you are curious to see what you will learn. You will walk away with more than you walked in with, that's for sure. Look at this..

* Branding your Instagram * Community building * Branding 101 * How to lose followers, practices to avoid! * How to grow your audience * Working with brands (podcast) * What makes YOU unique? (podcast) * Earning money on Instagram * City guidebook info from Pauline * How to shoot on location, on the street, etc. Including how to shoot in retail spaces * Stay true to yourself * Using hashtags * What makes a photo attract attention on IG? * Using your smart phone to capture images for IG * Using your camera to capture images for IG, including transferring to phone and photo editing * Best practices for shooting with your camera for IG * How to shoot in Aperture Priority or Manuel Mode * How to edit your images in VSCO and A Color Story (video) * Lightroom basics (video) * Photography techniques to get the most out of your shots * Common problems you'll encounter taking photos on location and simple solutions * Styling and styling tips (video) * How to use everyday items for styling when you are out and about * Things to take with you in your handbag to style with when out * Importance of backgrounds and what to use * Case studies of 12 Instagrammers * Curating a gorgeous a IG feed * Tools to help you curate a gorgeous feed * 3 videos from each of our teachers explaining their background, passion and how they work

You don't wanna miss this!

To enter this contest: * Comment below telling us why you'd like to be in this class * Follow us on our new Instagram account: * Join our Blogging Your Way mailing list (form below).

Subscribe to our mailing list

Those are the only 3 steps that you need to take to officially enter. We will draw 5 winners on Monday morning.

Good luck everyone and have a nice weekend!

(Rules: Not transferrable to another e-course, winners will win a spot in current e-course only. One entry per person, per day. Person who wins will be registered, you cannot sell the seat or transfer to someone else unless it is a family member. Value $119. If you have already paid and registered for this e-course, you will receive a full refund for current e-course if you win this contest. Open to all worldwide. This e-course is taught in English only.)

 

UPDATED July 11: We have chosen our 5 winners and they are: , , , ,