Off on your holidays soon? Or just in need of some book tips? Holidays are the ideal time to catch up on that reading list. It is always helpful to get some book recommendations, so you don’t have to spend too much time browsing the shop – or amazon. I have been reading a couple of great books lately, so I thought I give you a little review of both. They are both very different, but great reads and not too heavy on the brain. Let’s face it, you are on holiday after all.
book recommendations: The Circle. Dave Eggers
This book really gave me a wake-up call about our obsession with the internet. What will it be like in the future? Mae, a young professional gets hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company. She feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity. They are promoting a new age of transparency and want everyone to be on board. Mae can’t believe how lucky she is to work for them. But how dangerous is the Circle really, when even governments are being convinced to buy into their systems? The Circle is a book that is obviously fiction, but is not that far from our current reality and the way we use social media. This is a very topical book that draws you in, making you feel slightly uncomfortable at times, but is also highly enjoyable. A great holiday read.
book recommendations: The Forgetting Time. Sharon Guskin
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly, because I couldn’t put it down. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin is a wonderful and touching story about previous lives, whether or not you believe in it. Four-year old Noah lives with his mother in New York. He keeps having nightmares and calling out for his ‘other mother’ and that he wants to ‘go home’. He says his name is ‘Tommy’, not Noah. His teachers at school can’t handle Noah and his strange stories and behaviour. Doctors suspect schizophrenia. His mother is desperate and one night when she is googling her son’s symptoms, she comes across a researcher whose work is centered around reincarnation. She is obviously sceptical, but decides to find out more, to try and ‘cure’ Noah from his troubled mind. When they go on their mission to delve into Noah’s past life, they find out the gruesome truth… The Forgetting Time is a great book about life, love, motherhood, and loss. Two mothers, two different sons, one soul. It is a story that will definitely stay with me for quite some time.
How to be happy? There’s so much out there about happiness, mindfulness, finding real purpose and joy in life. Endless rows of books, magazines, articles and blog posts (hey, here’s another one!). Today I am stepping away from the interiors and putting the spotlight on my tagline soulful living. I hope you enjoy reading it!
From feeling lost…to being grateful
It seems that many of us are feeling a little bit lost in life. Are you lost? I do have my ‘lost’ moments, but thankfully I knew from a very young age what I wanted to do in life and what makes me happy: art and creativity. I guess I was lucky. Whether it is drawing, dancing, singing, writing, designing or coming up with new ideas, being creative gives me joy, purpose and an unstoppable drive to get up in the morning and get going. I am never bored. Because I chose what I love, I have always loved working. Creating and writing – that is me, that is who I am and I am grateful for that. And I am grateful for my parents to allow me to be who I am.
Very often I find myself in conversations with people who tell me that they are not happy. They’re unsure of what they really want to do in life. They fell into a job, do what is expected of them by their parents or peers or just like the big pay check but have no time for anything else but work.
Are we all pre-programmed to become part of the rat race? Becoming robots and just doing what everyone else does? Are we just trying to keep up with the Joneses?
It seems to drive us mad, that’s for sure. And it keeps self help writers, life coaches and counsellors very busy.
Soulful living…being conscious
Soulful living is the tagline of my blog and I truly believe that life is too precious to live it any other way. So how do we do it, how to be happy? We don’t need to be happy all of the time – there is so much pressure on having the ‘perfect life’ in our culture. Why not try and feel content and value what we’ve got? Being present, conscious and sincere in everything we do. Go outside, breathe in the fresh air.
Do I have the answers to how to happy? No, of course I don’t, but today I would like to share a few thoughts and ideas that have helped me focus lately. Perhaps they’ll help you too in your own quest for happiness – or little daily struggles.
1. Practice daily gratitude
I wasn’t brought up religiously, but over the years I have picked up a thing or two from different spiritual books and practicing gratitude is one of them. Whether you pray to your god of choice at night, meditate in solitude or keep a journal, something shifts in your subconscious when you count your blessings. You have much more to be thankful for than you think.
In our house we have a ritual with our two little boys each night at bedtime. We ask them:”what was your best part of the day?” It is amazing how many things kids can come up with, which for us are normal, but they thought of as fantastic and enjoyable. Playing at break time with their best friend, a tasty lunch, new toys to play with at the childminder’s house, watching a film and eating sausages for dinner. Being mindful seems a natural state of being for kids. They ask us the same question and I admit it is really challenging to come up with equally as many great moments.
Some days all I can think of is that I enjoyed listening to the radio in the car to work in the morning and the snuggles at bedtime with the boys. “What else?” do they say. “I don’t know”, I answer, “nothing else.” They look at me puzzled. But I guess that is OK. I am working on it.
2. Write happy lists
Making lists can be very helpful to focus your mind and see things clearly when written down in front of you on a piece of paper. I recently bought the book 52 lists for Happiness, a great little book prompting you weekly to sit down and think about your life, what you find important and enjoy doing. It helps you to take stock of your past and present, as well as plan ahead and make some positive changes for the future.
What do the happy people do?
One of the lists that was a real light bulb moment for me was the one where I was asked to list the happiest people in my life and what I felt their characteristics are. Looking at the finished list, it struck me that the people I had listed actually had a lot in common:
The people I consider ‘happy’ all:
– listen well (and don’t talk about themselves much) – show an interest in others – don’t judge – smile a lot – are very active in life and involved in their community – don’t sweat the small stuff – are positive in the way they talk – are supportive
I was amazed by the similarities of the people I had listed, even though I’d never have thought of them before as very similar people. It definitely gave me food for thought and made me reflect on whether I do any of these things myself. Do I listen enough? Am I too opinionated and judgemental? Do I give enough of my time to others? Am I supportive? I realised that I probably feel most miserable when I am too focused on myself and my own silly little issues. When looking outward, helping others, life becomes lighter.
Do you feel this is true? Who are the happiest people in your life? What are they like and what characteristics do they have? Please share your findings in the comments below, I would be interested to find out if you see similarities too.
52 lists for Happiness
This undated journal with 52 listing prompts, one for every week of the year, encourages readers to reflect, invest in themselves and ultimately transform their lives by figuring out exactly what makes them happy and how to add more of that into their lives.
I know quite a few people, some very close to me, who make mountains out of moles hills. The smallest things become huge dramas. Now I am not saying that you should be nonchalant about everything and not give a hoot, but fighting life’s obstacles – or worrying about things you cannot change anyway – won’t bring you happiness, just anxiety and frustration.
Like everyone else I’ve had tough times in life, some harder than others; traumatic births and my beautiful vintage shop going up in flames to name a few, but I believe acceptance rather than anger and dwelling on the situation, has helped me get through them. Sometimes life takes over, which can be pretty hard to face up to for a someone who likes to be in control. But it is what it is and it’s up to us how we react.
By accepting, keeping the perspective and being practical (as well as talking about it to people), a bad situation becomes manageable, you can let go and move on, instead of it becoming all consuming and too large to cope with mentally. Nothing is permanent. Now, of course, I can’t speak for others going through hard times, we all deal with things differently. But this is what has worked for me and it has prevented me from going into depression.
4. Take own responsibility
It may be news to you (and I really hope it isn’t), but you will not find happiness in a big home extension, four holidays a year, a six figure salary or a big white wedding. We all know stories of rich celebrities battling with depression or ending up in their umpteenth divorce. It is not rocket science. You can’t buy happiness. Happiness is not an outside thing or a place to go to. At the end of the day, it’s up to you, how you look at things in life and the decisions you make. How to be happy? Happiness is inside of you and you’re the only one who holds the keys. Pointing fingers at people or situations is not going to help. You want to be happy? Look in the mirror. Take responsibility, make positive changes. Or scroll back up to number 2 and read what the happy people do.
5. Be mindful (and give yourself some love)
I am a mother of a three-year old and a five-year old. A business owner, a wife and a part-time marketing manager for an arts organisation. I say yes to too many things, get involved in too many projects and am a singer in a band. My life is good, but it is terribly busy at times and not always fun (but I take full responsibility for it – it is me who does it!). Now I can’t remember how I came across this book, but it’s been a great source of inspiration for me as a parent and it may help some of you too in the same situation.
Most parenting books are about how to look after your children, but this book is mainly about how to look after yourself. It gives inspiration to be more patient, loving and attentive towards your children, your partner, other parents, but most of all, yourself. What I found really helpful in this book were the suggestions of weaving mindfulness and meditation into your daily routines, taking the pressure off yourself a little. It’s all very doable. Only have 5 minutes in the morning for a quick meditation before the kids get up and all hell breaks loose? Amazing! No need to sit in lotus position either, just be mindful while folding the washing or driving to work. Mindfulness is nothing more than being present and in the now, which will ultimately make you enjoy life more and feel happy, even – or especially – during the crazy busy years.
Are you always looking for inspiring interiors? Do you love flicking through a beautiful book full of pretty homes? So do I. There is just something nice and wholesome about an actual printed book on your coffee table, rather than scrolling through millions of images on a screen. I love buying books by interior stylists or about certain topics like midcentury design, to brush up on my knowledge. The nice thing about these books is that they also make rather pretty and thoughtful gifts for fellow design enthusiasts amongst your friends (Christmas anyone?).
inspiring interiors: from boho to Scandinavian minimalism
This month I am recommending a few books by stylists who I have been following on social media for quite a while now and whose style I really like, plus a book on beautiful styling with plants. Enjoy reading!
1. Styled. Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson is a rather charming home and lifestyle blogger based in California (www.stylebyemilyhenderson.com). She seems down to earth, friendly & fun and honest and has a great flair for styling and decorating. I get very inspired by her eclectic but beautiful mixing of vintage and new. ”Perfection is boring. Let’s get weird” she says in her tagline, and I can very much sympathise with that!
Her best-seller book Styled is the ultimate guide to thinking like a stylist. It contains 1,000 design ideas for creating the most beautiful, personal, and liveable rooms. How is that for finding ideas for inspiring interiors? She also uses a lot of vintage in her styling, which of course makes it all the better. The book shows you ten easy steps to styling any space. It also teaches you how to edit out what you don’t love to repurposing what you can’t live without and how to arrange the most eye-catching displays on any surface.
”Even a few little tweaks can transform the way your room feels”… now that is some helpful, practical advice right there.
2. Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants, Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff
House plants have really made a comeback in recent years and they sure make a room look good. I love them, even though it is an upward struggle to keep them alive sometimes. This beautiful thick book from the founders of the Urban Jungle Bloggers community is a fantastic. resource full of stunning inspirational photos. The book shows endless styling ideas, making you want to rush straight out and buy some greenery. It guides the reader through different ‘green’ homes in five European countries and shows how beautiful, unique, creative and even artistic living with plants can be. The book also offers easy help for taking care of the plants, which is a bonus.
3. The Scandinavian Home: Interiors inspired by light, Niki Brantmark
Oh, you can’t beat Scandinavian styling, now can you? Although I find some of the interiors in this book a bit too monochrome (I like colour!), they are absolutely beautiful. Plenty of inspiring interiors here. White or white washed flooring, white walls, blond wood furniture, vintage finds, black and grey accents, contemporary art, you get the idea. And light, plenty of light, which is the main focus in this book by Niki Brantmark. And I guess that’s what the Scandinavians have in common with Scotland, where I currently live: there is not a lot of it half of the year, so we better make the the daylight we do get.
Nature and the weather are major influences in Scandinavia: homes are made warm and cosy for the freezing winter months – not just literally with log burners, but also through incorporating wood and natural materials. In her book, Niki Brantmark, owner of the interior design blogMy Scandinavian Home, presents a wide-ranging collection of these beautiful homes and explores how the Scandinavian lifestyle is reflected in them all.
Midcentury modern sideboards are timeless classic pieces that add sophistication to any interior. Most sideboards are produced in teak and teak veneer, but sometimes you come across some beauties in Rosewood too. The warmth and look of rosewood can look incredible against a minimalist decor.
Midcentury modern sideboards are popular additions to interiors from people who are design-conscious and are looking for something with style as well as a story and a bit of ‘soul’. Well known brands from the 1950s and 1960s are G-plan, McIntosh and the more upmarket manufacturer Troeds of Sweden.
This gorgeously photographed volume features the under-published private spaces of both the icons and unknown vanguards of European mid-century architecture and design. In keeping with the functional beauty of mid-century design, Handcrafted Modern: Europe presents the innovative homes by some of the most compelling and influential European mid-century designers, including Le Corbusier, Robin and Lucienne Day, and Gae Aulenti, to name a few. BUY
The 1950s house was a scientific triumph. It had been designed in a laboratory and tested on inhabitants of all ages before being built for the masses. Never had the home been so contemporary – antiques and period styles were banished for an entire decade as householders concentrated on achieving a complete ‘look’ for the home. Mid-Century Modern explores the interior decor of this time, concentrating on all aspects of a home’s decoration – walls, flooring, surfaces, lighting and, of course, furniture. BUY