Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Heart to Heart With Holly Becker


Just four months ago I had no idea what a blog even was. One afternoon I was doing an online search for the "10 most popular decorating sites" when Holly Becker's blog "decor8" popped up. I spent the next few hours (yes, hours) perusing her beautiful, inspirational site and became hooked. Shortly after that, I registered for Holly's e-course "Blogging Your Way" and discovered what a dedicated teacher and caring person she is.

This interview will give you a candid look into Holly's life and heart. I asked her some fairly personal questions and she was so honest and genuine.....the only way I think Holly Becker knows how to be. Here goes!


Vicki: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and Decor8.

Holly: Oh wow, now that's a loaded question! Have a few years? I love to talk, as you have already experienced full force in my podcasts over at Blogging Your Way. So! I guess I can start by saying that I grew up in South Carolina on the beach, relocated to Boston as a teenager where I lived until I got married in 2001. I met my husband, Thorsten, on the internet. He read something online that I wrote back in 1998 and responded to it and an email conversation turned into a phone call and then into a flight to Germany where we met in person for the first time after a full year of talking daily on the phone and through emails. My gut told me he was the one from the first conversation we had on the phone. After meeting, we got engaged quickly and continued to fly back and forth, him to Boston, me to Germany, until May of 2001 when the INS finally issued him a fiance visa allowing him to relocate to America under one condition, we needed to get married within 90 days in America.


We quickly pulled together a beautiful handmade wedding which took place in the backyard of my aunt's gorgeous (and massive) home on a hill overlooking the Boston skyline, and she has a fabulous English garden that was in full bloom. We had about 75 guests and I did all of the flowers alongside of my mother, made the favors, handmade the invitations, I decoupaged the vases for the centerpieces on each table, made a book of 'us' that we passed around to all of our guests so they could get to know Thorsten better since most of my friends didn't know him that well, and I made my headpiece and veil and also helped design my wedding gown which I had made by this little old Italian lady who insisted on feeding me whenever I went to her studio for a fitting!

The wedding was held outdoors and was perfect. The colors were cantaloupe and watermelon and a hint of sky blue and pale green. It was lovely. We flew to San Francisco the morning after our wedding for two weeks and spent time in Sonoma too. It was heaven. We nearly skipped a honeymoon but I'm so glad we didn't, it was absolutely the best trip I've ever taken. I can't imagine getting married without a honeymoon, I think those who skip one are truly missing out. It's better to save your money on shoes or invitations and use it instead for a lovely getaway.


After we married we moved to New Hampshire and started to go back and forth to Germany each year for a few months staying in a hotel for that time. Over the years it became too expensive to keep doing that so we decided to take a second apartment there which we have had a little over a year already. I love it. :) It's only 600 square feet but directly in the city but 3 minutes by foot to a huge forest so it's the best of both worlds - city life and nature combined.

After 10 years in the corporate world, I left in 2005 and launched my blog in January of 2006 and now I'm writing and blogging full-time and we spend 5-6 months each year in Germany and the rest of the time here in the states. It's a fun life and my husband is amazing. I married my best friend. We're planning to have a baby next year so a new chapter is about to open. I can't wait!




Vicki: How do you define success?

Holly: My life. I feel like my life is a success story for many reasons far too personal to reveal. But in my heart, I know what I've had to overcome and so I view myself as a success story. I'm very proud of my life and that I am who I am. I have no regrets.

Vicki: What do you consider your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?

Holly: My greatest strength is that I genuinely care about people and this is often my greatest weakness, because I care so much I can also feel really hurt when someone turns on me or uses me to get something that they want. But as I get older and mature, I am starting to see these 'types' early on and I've learned to say no before the hurting part can start. :) That's the beauty of blossoming and growing up.


Vicki: What is one thing most people don't know about you?

Holly: That I often feel like those I've met online do not really appreciate me -- that it's more about my popular blog than about me as a person. I know my family loves me, and my close friends are wonderful, but those online -- well sometimes I feel like I'm not really as important as my blog is. The internet moves very quickly and because of this, some forget common courtesy. I was raised down south, I'm a southern girl and we were raised to help everyone and to be friendly and polite and yes, even a little charming. I was raised not to swear or be anything less than a lady. It's the southern way. Online, all of these cultures get thrown in together and we all start to sound the same and fly through the day often overlooking the little joys, those who helped us, being polite. For instance, I sometimes spend hours writing emails to those in need of help and often those same people never bother to write back to thank me for the time I took to assist them. I'm not a drive thru window at Wendy's! You can't drive up to Holly's, order help, I give it to you and you just fly off and I never see you again.


I want something a bit more meaningful sometimes than these drive by friendships. I am a sit down and relax at my table and let's talk for hours kind of girl. I appreciate deep meaningful connections and often online others aren't willing to have them due to time constraints or they just don't feel like bothering since they have what they need and quickly move on to the next person. As a popular blogger, I frequently have to remind myself that I am making a difference and that some just aren't as expressive about this than others are. I try not to dwell on this feeling and instead, I focus on the many lovely friends I HAVE made online that are genuine. For every loss there are more wins for me, so that alone keeps me moving full speed ahead.


Vicki: What's your favorite way to spend a "lazy day"?

Holly: I have a hard time being lazy. This is seriously a problem. I have a very high energy level, I inherited this from my mother who is always moving around and working on projects. I have to force myself to sit down and read but then once I'm into a novel it's fine -- but getting myself to commit to being inactive is quite hard. I clean a lot and organize often. I'm moving furniture and art around frequently, and when there's time I make things, though not much recently. I like to keep going. When I must be lazy, usually per the order of my husband who wants to cuddle on the sofa, I prepare a cheese tray with olives and fresh fruits, make some tea, or bring in a bottle of Riesling and we eat and cuddle and watch DVDs. We love our movies!

Vicki: What do you treasure most in life?

Holly: My husband -- he is very deep, passionate, compassionate, loving, full of wisdom and hope, positive, understanding, hard working, disciplined, artistic, and he is very balanced in all things. He's a great role model and best friend. Plus he loves to travel and really loves to connect with others, help and teach them, and be a true friend. He's great with children and animals, I love how tender he can be with small, fragile things. The fact that he kisses great and loves to cook, well that's nice too!

*******

Thanks so much for letting us into your world, Holly. :)

59 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful, heartfelt interview! I loved hearing about your wedding Holly! I have a friend who has met someone online from the UK and some people have a hard time understanding how a relationship can evolve in this way. I'll have to tell her about your story! I have to laugh about your answer to "your way to spend a lazy day" I am the same way, I have to force myself to relax sometimes. If it weren't for my husband needing attention, I might not relax! Thanks for sharing this heart to heart with us! I really enjoyed it!

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  2. great interview. makes me miss holly's voice. i want to have tea with her. this was nearly the same. wonderful questions vicki. thanks for sharing more of holly with us!

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  3. wow! what a great interview! i enjoyed learning about holly, i always wonder what the famous bloggers are really like. thank you for sharing!

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  4. Wonderful interview, and beautiful photos. Interesting to hear about the "fly-by-night blog friends." Thanks to Holly for sharing that personal pet peeve.

    Excuse me, are you kidding me you didn't know what a blog was until 4 months ago? It doesn't look like a "beginner blog." It looks great.

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  5. Thank you Vicki and I'm with Katie, you are some quick learner! Your blog is gorgeous!

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  6. What a wonderful heartfelt and insightful interview and I love the photos!

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  7. Very lovely interview.

    I'm glad to hear about the fly-by-night blog friends. I've had my feelings hurt by online "friends" too and tend to always blame myself.

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  8. Vicki, what a wonderfully job! Great questions. And you have such a pretty blog. I love it. I'd never been here until today. =)

    And Holly, you are appreciated more than you'll ever know! Just always remember that. ; )

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  9. Great interview. Holly is such an inspiration for me. I often look to her as a great example of what happens when you follow your dreams. Holly if you read this you should know that I definitely value you as person more than your blog. Don't get me wrong I love Decor8 and the beautiful things you feature there and read everyday but it's those moments when you share something very personal that inspire me the most.

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  10. what a lovely interview... I really enjoyed getting to 'know' holly a bit better. I'm jealous of her energy!

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  11. loved reading the interview, but the photos, wow, they take my breath away! now why doesn't my house look like that?

    i just love meeting new people over the internet like this. :)

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  12. Great interview! I can relate to a lot of things Holly talked about and feels.
    Thank you Vicki and Holly for sharing!
    Holly: good things come to good people, you are proof of that :)

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  13. what a wonderful interview. very heartfelt. i enjoyed reading it very much, and i'm so happy to have discovered your blog, vicki. thank you.

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  14. This was such a nice peek into you life Holly, thanks for sharing. I have admired your blog for so long now- so great to learn more about the woman behind it all.

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  15. Holly and Vicki-
    I hope all the BYW bloggers head this way for a great interview and a great blog! Surely we need a graduate course, right!!!
    Congratulations to you both - well done. It makes me miss you both!

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  16. I've been following Holly's blog for some time now. This is great insight into the woman who runs a truly great blog.

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  17. An interesting read, thanks!

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing this all with the internet/world! I was as well excited to read about the wedding and have enjoyed getting to you know Holly through Blogging Your Way and through Decor8. It takes a lot to be open and share like this out in the open and I def. appriciate that!

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful interview, and thank you Holly for being so open, as always.

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  20. Really lovely interview...thank you for such honest replys. Your husband sounds as lovely as mine :O)
    Take care
    Lorna x

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  21. What a great interview! So glad to get a chance to know Holly better. Hugs to all! :)

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  22. Lovely interview! I love getting to know more about the people behind my favourite blogs :)

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  23. Awesome interview! It is so great to read more about the person behind the blog.

    Thanks for sharing!

    { Lindsey }
    http://greatfullday.blogspot.com

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  24. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. Wow Vicki, amazing interview! I love that it felt so personal....much more unique than the usual "businessy" questions people ask! Did you two speak on the phone or did you email the questions? I'm always curious how interviews come about and this one was so good! Holly really is so generous, its pretty crazy.

    Also, KUDOS to you on your blog!! I'm a newbie too (started it when I took BYW) and yours is just so polished and perty!
    : )
    alex

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  26. whata lovely, very touching interview. Congratulations to both of you :)

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  27. Awesome interview! I'm very new to decor8, but it's still great to get to know the person behind the blog! Thanks!

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  28. Such a lovely interview, thanks so much for sharing.

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  29. Wonderful interview! So inspiring and heartfelt.

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  30. such a nice interview!! lovely to get more of one of my faves!

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  31. Great job on the interview Vicki and thank you for being so honest Holly - there are a lot of people out there who may not comment but value what you do and how you do it. Thank you to you both.

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  32. Lovely interview, such a refreshing read. Both yours and Holly's are beautiful blogs!

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  33. How refreshing to come across some genuine honesty on the internet of all places.

    Thanks for being so candid Holly! Your ability and willingness to put yourself out there really blows my mind. :)

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  34. My comment seems to keep disappearing into cyber space... apologies if it appears more than once.

    Thanks for this lovely interview. Like Heather I can almost hear Holly's voice as i read it, after listening to her warm and fun podcasts during the course.

    Congratulations on your blog Vicki - you've done a great job!

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  35. Vicki, you have a beautiful blog. You could have easily fooled me into thinking you've done this for much longer than four months!

    This was a fantastic interview with Holly. I go to her blog for inspiration on a regular basis. It was great to get to know the lady behind the blog. Very heartfelt, too.

    Thank you!

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  36. Such a great interview with a sweet person! thanks for sharing!

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  37. What a beautiful interview hun! I am so glad to learn more about you and thank you for sharing and being so honest! I love all of the photos, they look absolutely gorgeous!
    xo
    Melis

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  38. Wow....I came home after grocery shopping to find all of your kind comments! Thanks for your sweet encouragement and enthusiasm concerning Holly's interview. :)

    Btw, I just e-mailed the questions to Holly and she kindly sent her responses back. ;)

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  39. Vicki,
    Great interview with Holly. She does an amazing job. Your blog is amazing, I will be back. Best to you, Sondra

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  40. What a stunning interview! Holly has such a beautiful soul and it shines in everything she does.

    Thanks Vicki and Holly for sharing this with us!

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  41. Vicki this interview is wonderful! Holly is an amazing and inspiring individual! I miss her class!!!

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  42. This is one of the best interviews I've read in years ... and I'm a writer! Holly has always facinated me - Holly the woman, not Holly the writer of decor8. She reminds me a lot of myself as far as her desire to connect with people personally and finding that hard to do online - I struggle with that a lot on my own site.

    We love you, Holly. Keep being yourself and we'll support as both friends and fans.

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  43. Holly deserves respect and praise. It's true that she is one of the most successful design bloggers but she's also one of the most accessible, kind, and genuine. If she gives everyone as much of her time as she gave me when I was testing the waters of surface pattern design for the first time then she truly is a saint.

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  44. This is a great interview Vicki, good questions!

    And I feel ya Holly, on expelling energy to people online, spending hours composing thoughtful emails to help people out and not hearing so much as a thank you after. It can be really discouraging, but like you said, there are a lot of genuine and wonderful people online too and real relationships can be formed. It's nice to get insight into how you think, I love how open you are and I still credit you to giving me a great start when I first started Modish. And in case I didn't say it enough way back then, THANK YOU Holly! :)
    -jena

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  45. Vicki,
    What a wonderful interview! Great questions that I'm sure many people were dying to hear the answers to. Holly is an amazing person. I'm happy to have been able to experience her Blogging Your Way course, and hope there will be a part 2!
    xxo
    Rachel

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  46. Such a great glimpse into the awesome Holly. I took her Blogging Your Way class and it has positively impacted my daily routines in so many ways offline and online. She is a kind, creative soul.

    And what a gorgeous sepia photo!!!

    I'm going to browse my classmates blog now, I never did make it to everyone's blogs.

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  47. how lovely to read this interview and get a glimpse into holly's personal life. i am a new reader of decor8 in the past couple months [how i made it so long i don't know] and i've very much enjoyed what she has to share. i'd love to take her 'blogging' class. anyhow, thanks for sharing, it's been super lovely

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  48. What a great interview, Vicki! Thanks for sharing, and including the wonderful photos too.

    PS. Love your site!

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  49. What a wonderful interview, Vicki! I can see why you speak so highly of Holly. And it was really fun reading about her wedding. I completely agree about the honeymoon. That's what we put our money toward as well and it was absolutely worth it! It sounds like she has such a wonderful life with her husband, and I send them lots of good wishes for a baby :-).

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  50. lovely interview! so nice to get to know another side of you! hope we can meet one day!

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  51. Wow, great interview! Holly sounds like such a thoughtful, interesting person. Can't wait to read more interviews!

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  52. What a beautiful interview! She's such an inspiration to us here in blogworld. I really enjoyed what she had to say about "Drive-by" blog friends. It makes me stop and think about how I want to impact the world and move forward!

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  53. I loved this interview! I love that Holly opened up and you get to know her better. I especiallly loved hearing about her handmade wedding. I hope someday I can have a handmade wedding, too. My good friend is getting married and I have been helping her and it's so much fun. Thanks so much for sharing this interview.

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  54. What a friendly, thoughtful interview ( a friendly, thoughtful blog too!). I also was in the BYW class, I missed those podcasts so much I went back and listened to a few this past week:) Thanks for the post.

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  55. This was an interesting and very revealing interview. I especially loved the "I am not a drive-up window" sentiment, this is often how I feel IRL although obviously not in Blogland :-)

    I feel Decor8 is one of the most compelling shelter/style blogs out there and it is because Holly's character shines through. Even so, this interview takes it to the next level. Well done Vicki. And glad to know you a little better, Holly!

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  56. Thank you everyone, I can't believe all of these comments -- you've all made me feel so good. I needed that, I'm at a place in my life where so much is going on that my head is spinning! It helps to know so many are in my corner, it keeps me going. I rely and value the friends I've made online - thank you all for being who you are, each of you are gems to me.

    Thank you Vicki for this interview, I'm honored!

    xo

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  57. You're welcome, Holly. :) It was a huge honor for me and an inspiration for readers. You are very appreciated!

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  58. "How do you define success?" "My life." So powerful! That resonated so much with me. I think that should be what everyone aims for - to have success on their own terms, to make it what be what they mean.

    I also thank you for having Holly share what her wedding was like. So descriptive & beautiful - I feel like I was there!

    Also (also), I love Holly's take on "users". I know how tough it is to give everyone the benefit of the doubt & then get trampled on, or put out so much & not get as much (or anything) back in return. Her comments really opened up my eyes.

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  59. that is too bad that you feel like a drive-in sometimes:( I am always so interested to hear the personal things about bloggers. this interview was so intimate really captured Holly. I loved hearing about your husband and wedding. I get very personal on my blog, but i feel this is the best way to capture readers. I can now relate to not only the good style on decor8, but Hollys life experiences. thanks for sharing!

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Thanks so much for your comments. Your thoughts, opinions, and ideas are important to me!

~ Vicki