• A new year is starting. And up until 2 nights ago, I was feeling hopeful and excited. I felt the same anticipation and excitement as I did when I was a kid and the first day of School was just around the corner. I used to collage all my notebook covers and wrap them in waterproof paper myself, I'd plan a new routine and hang my new uniform right outside my bathroom door–I felt prepared.

    I admit that's not the same sentiment I'm feeling as I write this. The truth is, these last couple of years have been mostly a downer for me. SO much has happened to me, to my loved ones and to my life in general that I cannot help but feel a mixture of excitement and reservations for what 2018 has in store for us this time around.

    While dwelling on this subject last night I started to remember those tidbits of good that I've also had this last year . . . and I realized that the only certainty we can have when starting a new cycle or phase is that we will look back and there will be things that rescue our worst years, things that are relatively small, that cost nothing but have a profound meaning in our lives.

    I looked back to 2017 and was able to savor my successes. I let go of things that once stopped me from feeling at peace. And I also changed. I'm sure I've become a more resilient and more flexible person as a result of all the not-so-positive gremlins that still rummage around in my life.







    Apieceapart and Emily Laye


    So why always the *hope* that the New Year will bring the changes and chances that we so long for? Why leave it to the New Year to somehow, *hopefully* be so much better–when we can actively decide–when we can shift our focus to what is truly important, to what's permanent and meaningful in our lives and forget the added stuff?

    The secret to treating myself to a perfect 2018 will be to live it intentionally and to not be afraid of whatever happens–and when December 30th, 2018 also comes knocking on my door–there I will be, marveling at the good and seeing how all the bad affected me positively in the end.

    If you are also feeling anxious about closing a difficult year, try this instead of scribbling down your New Year’s goals: reflect on the year that has passed. What's been your greatest lost and how do you feel about it now? What has been your biggest success? How did 2017 changed you? ... And lastly, what did you worry about the most in 2017 and how has it turned out?

    Hope is essential. We need it. We need to be hopeful for a new start, for a new chance . . . and when that's difficult, looking back and realizing it was all OK in the end can bring us the peace of mind that we need to rest assured that the next cycle we’re about to embark on can be anything–it can be easy (or maybe not) but in the end, there will be many things to hold onto.

    I wish you a fantastic 2018. May you enjoy every single bit of it.

    Love,
    Ana


  • Ah! How beautiful life is, it is truly a gift, isn't it? I'm sure of that because the past 2 years haven't been even slightly on the easy side . . . and all I can feel as my birthday and the end of the year approaches is overwhelming gratitude and hope.

    Yes, through these ups and downs, "celebratory" hasn't been a word that describes my mood, especially after my father's passing–but life has been "pretty good"–maybe not superb and maybe not awesome all the time–but yes, when it's mattered.




    Bonergent

    These months have taught me invaluable lessons–some that I hope stay with me forever: about seizing moments of closeness with my loved ones, of hugging people tighter and of showing up for them as the best version of myself every day. Then there are some lessons that I'm crossing fingers I have learned so that they don’t need to be stuck on replay next year.

    Birthdays bring out the best in all of us when we let them; when we truly ponder and when we allow ourselves to be taken care of by others, hugged, celebrated and spoiled by the ones who love us. It took me a handful of years to learn that. To give up being an introvert for a day and allow people to care in whichever way they wanted to. Today, I'll let the people that love me do that, to be here for me and to make my life more fun.

    As a celebratory game and because I love to read this kind of threads:

    5 peculiar things you might not know about me

    1. I laugh a lot, even at my own misfortune.
    2. Spicy food is my favorite: I have an unusually high resistance to chilli and I love it like life itself
    3. I love music and I once in a while I put on makeup and go dancing
    4. I swear... a lot in real life and when it feels like I’m not fully expressing myself
    5. To continue to travel is the only thing on my bucket list


    A birthday wish list



    Where I want to be this day next year
    I want to be in a place of zero regrets. I want to be able to look back on an entire year of my life where I can fully say I lived it to the last bit. I want to have opened up myself and dared more. I want to have been truly my unique self without overthinking things or caring about what others think. I want to have learned a something new, something that makes me excited. I want to give myself a pat on the back for loving myself enough to care for myself every single day and I want to have laughed louder and dreamed bigger along with my beautiful little E-P.

    Thank you for sharing my birthday thoughts with me.

    Cheers!

    PRODUCTS   1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8

  • Photography © Evelyn Bencicova

    Last year after I wrote my book I was left with an urgent feeling of wanting to embark on that 30 day journey again, this time taking the place of the reader rather than the writer and experience the rebirth of my own brand.

    Having committed to several projects in the first quarter of the year meant there wasn’t much time left for that . . . and so it was a time to take a step back and take an important decision. That of practicing what I preach and being mindful of my time, my work and myself.

    Going through the process from start to finish was eye-opening. I realized that my blog and my workflow was no longer satisfying to me. I was in a different place emotionally, I had grown to value connection over achievement and no longer craved feeling live like a productive “boss” in any area of my life.

    We live at a point in time where it sounds almost irresponsible to not want to be busy at all times, or not attempt to keep all the plates spinning simultaneously . . . so, giving in to those personal impulses is exactly what I didn't do.

    I realized soon enough that spending hours researching material, publishing posts and working on endless projects that not longer represented me was a waste of my time . . . and that sadly, no-one would benefit from anyways. Don’t get me wrong, the passion for my work is still there — I just decided that something needed to be done now so that I could allow myself to write and work on things that bring me fulfillment in other areas of my life.

    Going through my book's guide for the entire month of June was what opened up endless opportunities in my brain. I had even forgotten a few pieces of advice I'd given you . . . and then I realized how much of what I wrote can be perceived as a contradiction — a fortunate one, that is.

    That entire month I felt like I wasn’t doing anything because I had taken a step back from the blog and social media for so long — but at the same time I was doing it all: I was transforming, I was creating methods and mindfully re-routing my life. I was thinking of myself, I was enriching my experience and my visitors' experience. I was creating something that could reflect who I am and fulfill me.

    These days, not actively partaking of social media, not having an online presence and not forcing ourselves into a thousand commitments is going against the grain . . . but sometimes that's exactly what we need to come out on the other side fully grounded and fully prepared to take on the future with determination.

    I’m ready to get more personal, I’m ready to embark on a new more mindful and more caring season and I thank you for joining me.

    Welcome to my new blog! If you’ve subscribed to be part of the community, you’ll receive a newsletter detailing what has changed and why.
  • Photography © Anna Kubel with thanks It took me more than a while to get into the Holiday spirit this year. It usually takes a little time for me to fall into that frame of mind — with family being miles away from us the excitement for celebrating fades very quickly in this house, although, we always seem to manage have a decent time.

    This year, we’re enjoying a gift-free Christmas. We’re also not hosting a party this year and instead we will play the roll of guests. We’ve never had a Holiday with no presents and I’m hoping this experiment allows us to hug each other tighter and to focus all our energies into loving one another rather than having to divide our emotions with the expectations of material things.

    I won’t lie… I’ve thoroughly enjoyed not feeling the rush to buy presents or the worry that someone would over-spend on a present for me. It’s been lovely to stay at home instead of pushing my way through crowded markets and malls but what I've loved the most is channeling that time into one very important thing: The science behind the perfect Chocolate Cloud Cake — which will be my contribution to the party, so... wish me luck.

    Having said that this will be a gift-free Holiday for us, it doesn’t mean that I will miss the opportunity to thank you* with a gift this Holiday. Each one of you who comes to my blog, leaves a comment, emails me, follows me on social media or that simply lurks around deserves a big virtual hug and an extra one for all your light and the good energy you send our way on the daily.

    Get a 25% discount on non-promotional themes using the code: HOLIDAY25 and the same discount on my book 30 Days To Minimal Blogging using the code: CHANGE at check out. A lot of people have been telling me they are saving the book for this break so they can read it intently and silently. I hope you get to do that as well.

    The biggest gift for me would be that you read my book and send through a review so I can feature you on my book’s landing page. I want to know how the book is changing your vision, how it’s helping you but most importantly how much meaning is adding to your life and blog.

    Enjoy a wonderful, meaningful and love-filled Christmas break with your loved ones.
    Hugs,
    Ana
  • Photography © Sara Medina Lind It’s my birthday today and I cannot help but to go into full introspection mode and think about how the last year for me has been. If you follow me, you know how terrible it was at times... but for the gift of resilience and for the constant love I’ve gotten from my little one all year long, I’m profoundly grateful.

    Clearly, nobody wants to go through loss and hardship the way I did this year - but deep in my heart I know and understand how momentary everything is. So much so that the only way to have no regrets is to learn to embrace people wholeheartedly. To love our families, to make material things secondary, to hug people tight... and to be kinder to ourselves.

    I have 2 birthday wishes: one is cake and... the other one is to be able to pass on some of my happiness and feeling of being celebrated and loved today.

    There's a code for you ready to be used. Use the code: CAKE at checkout to get my book, 30 Days To Minimal Blogging at 25% off today.

  • I’ve been wracking my brain trying to put my thoughts into words and have you somehow know what’s been going on in my life for the past year and more importantly the past week.

    I had decided to come back to blogging as soon as I was ready but I realized just a few minutes ago that most of you have been with me for a long time, through thick and thin and have celebrated with me my achievements and happy moments - so I couldn’t just sweep this one under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen.

    For over a year my dad suffered from cancer, I won’t tell you all the details but as you could imagine, there’s a reason why people refer to it as a “battle”. Being a continent away from home and not being able to be close to him when he was undergoing surgeries, treatment, memory loss and a million other things, was the biggest, most anxiety-inducing roller coaster I’ve been on in my life. Every call, every message, every email caused a panic attack and it continued to be like that for a year.

    Earlier this year the treatments and surgeries took their toll on my father and they discovered that after a long period of chemo, he still had cancer and was sent back home to spend his last days with his loved ones. In a matter of minutes I got the news that he was suffering from pneumonia and then it sunk in that he was going to pass away before I could even try to be there with him.

    He passed away on Sunday evening. I felt a mix of relief that he wasn’t going to suffer the way he had and a deep pain that my father wasn’t going to be with us any longer, that he wasn’t going to enjoy the company of his wife, children and grandchildren that he loved so much. Weirdly enough, I wanted him to be able to comfort us. I needed my father as he was passing away.

    I realized on Monday that we’d gone through so much and I had been trying to push myself above and beyond my limits, blogging on days when I felt torn inside, obsessing over the quality of work I do for my sponsors, writing a book while feeling physically out of breath from all the emotions running through my body and fighting so hard so that my business didn’t go up in flames while my life felt exactly like that.

    Clearly, I understand I’m not the only person who has gone through this and the only person who will ever go through it, but as I write these words, they feel unreal to me - that I won’t see him again and at the same time, liberating. I hope you understand why I’d battle between telling you and keeping this to myself.

    The fact that you know I’m not a slacker, that I do love what I do, that I do want to continue... and I want to launch that book... and the urge to continue designing beautiful blogs is still alive in me. I needed a moment of stillness, a time of silence I haven't had in a long time. I cannot in any way say I'm "recharged" but there's more calmness withing me.

    I want to be able to get through this and make my father proud. I’m sure this black cloud will lift one day but in the meantime, I thank all of you for being kind and understanding, for still giving me the chance to work with you and for your kind and healing words and prayers.

    Photography: Kristofer Johnsson

  • Photography © Mikkel Mortensen The older I get the more I feel like I'm failing at life by killing everything green that comes into my home. I've mastered killing indoor plants in such way that succulents have passed away in my living room. I'm actually a big fan of green so I decided it was time to tackle that horrible habit of buying plants and tossing them in the trash a few days later and learn how not to kill them. I recently bought 4 new plants for my apartment and did a bit of research. This article I found via Apartment Therapy helped me the most. It's simple, to the point and makes all the sense in the world. My hope is that in a few months my home would be a cozy retreat, like shown in the images above taken my Mikkel Mostensen for Elle DK and not plant-slaughter house that is right now.

  • Photography © Mikkel Mortensen It's been more than a while since I've taken the time to simply rant about here on the blog, but as I daily battle the state of the heat and the mess that is my hair I keep considering chopping my locks and the haircut above looks like would do the trick. Only thing is, whenever I go about cutting my hair I start missing it 48-72 hours after it's done. Do you feel the same?
  • Post Christmas Photography © Ana Degenaar How's the most wonderful time of the year treating you? After months of work, deadlines and traveling I finally got to wind-down and indulge in laziness, the sea and good food yesterday e.g. This redcurrant breakfast bowl. As the new year approaches I cannot help but feel excited and grateful for what the last 360 days have been, as usual we've launched a Theme Sale on Christmas eve that will end on January 1st while we work on a new and special collection that our European clients have been requesting to see. I've also partnered with some amazing Artists and Designers recently and their websites are starting to launch. I couldn't be happier for your trust, your wonderful and constant emails and all your views. You've kept me inspired this year and for that I wish I could give you a real hug. Here's to a good Holiday time.

  • Photography © Lauretta Suter I don't know if you'd agree but life on my side of the woods is a constant up and down these days...so I've decided to not fight it and just go with the flow. To be very honest, this is harder for me than just keeping on going but after years and years of doing this I know better (sort of) and if I don't stop now, life and exhaustion will force me to.

    All that to say, lovelies... I'm taking a 2 week break from blogging. I cannot thank you enough for how lovely and patient you are when times out here get rough. In the meantime there are a few things you can do so we can stay connected, you can follow on Facebook and take advantage of the Giveaway closing today, see what we're up to via Upbeet Juice on Instagram, keep in touch via Twitter or just make a mental note that I'll be coming back soon.

    Have a great Summer time and soak up the sun before it's gone. Peace and light.
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