Creativity World Forum 2017 by Nelli Arnth

Just returned to a good friend's apartment after attending Creativity World Forum here in Aarhus. While drinking tea and wearing comfortable clothes, I kinda try to digest what I've learned these last two days.

First of all, I must say that the conference exceeded my expectations. There was something about the vibe, the people and the whole set-up that made it really satisfied to be part of. 

The program consisted of free breakfast (always a winner), keynote talks and breakout sessions. Among the keynote speakers were:

  • Stefan Sagmeister talking about why beauty matter. He was pretty much the reason why I bought the ticket in the first place.
  • Steve Vranakis (Google) that made me cry talking about the refugee crisis and how we all are (or can be) creative activists. That talk was pretty amazing.
  • Tom Kelley teaching us to use empathy and storytelling in the design thinking process
  • Indy Johar on how to rethink society and democracy through creativity
  • Jan Gehl on how to design today's cities
  • SNASK being awesome as always

I attended two breakout sessions. One at DesignIt learning about design thinking and one with Innovation Lab about artificial Intelligence.

I really recommend you to go check out some of the names. Most of these people have done TED talks or something similar. They were all really inspiring.

My head is completely bombed. All of this new inspiration, ideas and people I met is almost too much to accommodate. I guess it will take some weeks before my brain grab hold of it all. 

From there it will take months before I know what ideas and what inspiration I can actually implement into my own company. 

Now I will enjoy my tea and finish off the notes in my notebook. After that I will go to bed early. Because tomorrow starts another adventure. I am doing a 50 hour Yin Yoga education at Yoga Collective starting tomorrow at 10 am  <3

We travel to lose ourselves... by Nelli Arnth

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“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

― Pico Iyer

Too busy by Nelli Arnth

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The last month has been a bit heavy/busy. That’s why I haven’t posted much on social media or the blog. I don’t have a SoMe strategy that dictates a certain number of posts each week. It simply doesn’t work for me. I post whenever I feel like it. I don’t like using the word authentic on Instagram. But I guess that’s what I try to achieve. Keeping my profiles as authentic as possible.

First, I want to state that I don’t like being busy. I never aimed for a busy life

But since August so many new and exciting projects and clients occurred. My extremely primitive “project management system” broke down and it left me with total lack of overview and with the feeling of running behind. I feel this kind of tension in my stomach immediately and knew that I had to act on this.

So, I started using a whole new way of managing my clients and assignments. I rate all my tasks after how urgent they are and how important they are. Very simple, but really helpful!
Then I take the most urgent and important tasks and put them into a simple weekly schedule.
I did a couple of other big changes too. But that’s not my point here. The point is what a crazy and educational journey it is being self-employed. It’s only been 1,5 years since I started and I feel that I’m constantly entering new phases in the process. Learning and growing in a pace I didn’t know I was capable of 🙌

Hunting in the muddy meadow by Nelli Arnth

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Went for an afternoon hunt with Søren and the puppy in the Wadden Sea National Park just 3 km from our home.

The air was warm but crisp. The sunset was painting everything golden and the lanscape became more and more hazy.

The brown and yellow autumn colors and the two of us silently walking around in the muddy meadow. Only interrupted by the puppy running around energetic. The birds above us and a hare running away close by.

It is that kind of Sunday afternoon that reminds me how little money and materialism matter 🍂

September Mornings by Nelli Arnth

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Normally I start my working day around 8-9 am.

It depends of course on what time I went to bed. I have no alarm clock and many of you have asked me, if I'm not afraid to sleep all morning away. But that's never a problem. I just sleep until I wake up and that normally happens around 8 am.

The loft were I worked is chilled in the morning in this cold September weather so I put on a warm sweater, light up the wood stove, make my self some coffee or tea and work on my to-do list ☕️

Well there is something very special about autumn 🍁 

Creativity World Forum 2017 by Nelli Arnth

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I have bought a ticket to Creativity World Forum in Aarhus this November 👌

It is a two-day event with speakers like Steve Vranakis, Tom Kelley, Jan Gejl, the guys behind SNASK, Indy Johar – and Stefan Sagmeister. Years back I heard Sagmeister speak in Copenhagen and I got a bit starstrucked ☺️ He is such an inspiration to me and he has been that for years.

If you don't know him you should check out his TED talks. Go see the one called "the power of time off" 🙌

Anyway, I'm super excited about participating in this event. If anyone is interested – buy a ticket and come join me 🙌

Toes in the sand by Nelli Arnth

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"I believe that toes in the sand are grounding my soul" 🙌

I read this quote somewhere a long time ago and came to think of it today. No matter if the ocean is wild or calm. Grey or blue. Windy or windless. It always gets me 🌊 The smell, the view and that feeling of sand between my toes. I feel grateful having the ocean only a 15 min drive from home 👌

Slowing down and being grateful by Nelli Arnth

Some thoughts about living a slower live. About being grateful and to be in the search for stillness and depth.

Well, we live in a high-speed society. Some have even named it The Accelerating Society. Productivity is celebrated by many. And while we strive to stuff as many things as possible into our lives it leaves a great amount of people unhappy and with the feeling of running behind on too many parameters of life. In the western world, we have so many opportunities. For me, I ended up running around blindfolded trying to catch all the opportunities. FOMO. Indeed.

Also, our online presence escalates. The Internet and social media offer new fantastic ways to interact and communicate. While I love this world – this online universe (and also made a career out of it) I fear it too. We spend so much time looking at a screen that real presence becomes something rare.

After living years trying to catch up with all the opportunities life gave me, I finally gave up. I felt that life was rushing by – way too fast. And it occurred to me how much I missed stillness and depth. I secretly wanted to let go of all the possibilities and start living a slower life. A life where I wasn't measured by my productivity and how efficient I was. But instead by what kind of person I was. How I cared about and treated others and stuff like that.

I remember one day sitting at my desk at my full-time job and dreaming about going on a train ride for weeks. So that I could just sit still. Sitting on a train seat looking out the window and really just letting time stand still. I even considered to travel to Moskva, Russia to take the Trans-Siberian railway. Then it hit me how stupid it was. I wanted a slower life and my idea of getting that, was to work really hard for maybe a year so I could earn enough money to take 3 weeks’ vacation and travel 2.000 kilometers away. All so I could sit still...

Problem was that I would return to my normal life after these 3 weeks and it would all be the same. It was a stupid and short-termed solution.

I thought about it for a year. Talked a lot with my husband, friends and family. And in the end, it led me to quitting my full-time job. We moved out of the city and into an old farm house near the Danish West Coast. In the same area where I grew up and in the very same house where my grandparents and great-grandparents had lived.

I started my own small creative studio. And we decided to step out of the hamster wheel and quit this high-speed society. I was fed up. I promised myself that I wouldn't keep telling friends and family that I was SO busy all the time. If you are too busy to see the people you care the most about, are your priorities right then?

So, I stopped filling my calendar with appointments. I wanted time for slow mornings with good coffee. Time to run around barefoot nursing the vegetable garden, enjoying the feeling of warm soil between my toes. And time to lay in the hammock on a sunny day enjoying a good novel.

I focus on being grateful. I am very aware of how lucky I am in life:

  • That the people I love are healthy and healthy
  • That I have a cozy home where I can take a varm shower and lay in a soft bed
  • That I live in a democratic society with a strong social safety net
  • That every day I combine my passion with my working life
  • That I am surrounded by a lovely garden and some raw and stunning nature
  • That I am part of a strong local community
  • That I have no alarm clock and just wake up whenever I feel rested
  • That I have enough money to buy healthy food and even travel to new countries now and then

These are truths I tell myself every day. And I encourage the people around me to make their own list of things they are grateful for.

Oh, this is getting long already... I will end it with this statement:

Live happens here and now. 


So why spend your time rushing through life? Waiting for summer? Or weekend? Or
Why not slow down and enjoy the ride on this amazing planet.

Sit down.
Close your eyes.
Breathe.

 

 

The credit for these amazing images: Camilla Jørvad – a great source of inspiration for me.Go check out her site. And don't forget to read her journal.

by Nelli Arnth

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Like a bee in a flower bed, the human brain naturally flits from one thought to the next. In the high-speed workplace, where data and headlines come thick and fast, we are all under pressure to think quickly. Reaction, rather than reflection, is the order of the day. To make the most of our time, and to avoid boredom, we fill up every spare moment with mental stimulation…Keeping the mind active makes poor use of our most precious resource. True, the brain can work wonders in high gear. But it will do so much more if given the chance to slow down from time to time. Shifting the mind into lower gear can bring better health, inner calm, enhanced concentration and the ability to think more creatively.

– Quote by Carl Honoré, In Praise of Slowness.

My First Blog Post by Nelli Arnth

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Flashback to my first blog post written exactly 2 years ago (in Danish sorry):

Nå. Nu har jeg så oprettet en blog.

Det har jeg fordi, at jeg er nået til et sted i mit liv, hvor jeg er stoppet op for at tænke lidt over hvad det er jeg løber efter - og hvem jeg gør det for?

Hvis jeg skræller lagene af, og forestiller mig hvem jeg egentlig er når ingen andre kigger. Når jeg ikke skal måle mig med andre. Når jeg ikke skal lade som om. Hvad gør mig så glad - sådan dybt dybt ind i hjertet glad? For det er vel det vigtigste. Altså at fylde livet med den slags glæde?

Jeg er bange for et liv med store lån og højglanskøkken. Et liv der gør mig lænket til mit 37-timers job, hvor jeg ligger størstedelen af min energi i at arbejde for en andens drøm. Hvor jeg har sat mig så hårdt i det økonomisk, at der ikke længere er mulighed for at gå ned i tid, læse videre eller springe ud i det som selvstændig.

Et liv hvor jeg i det skjulte allerede er begyndt at glæde mig til, at jeg er færdig på arbejdsmarkedet.

Et liv hvor fredag eftermiddag er forbundet med 60 timers begrænset frihed til at lave de ting jeg brænder for. Men hvor det til gengæld er svært at komme op mandag morgen, fordi tanken om min hverdag (det der fylder mest i vores liv) giver mig lyst til at gemme mig under dynen.

Derfor har jeg taget en række ret store og angstprovokerende beslutninger, som kommer til at vende op og ned på mit liv.
 

Bloggen her bliver min dagbog i processen mod et mere simpelt liv fyldt med de ting som virkelig betyder noget. "Refuse to be that person that, like so many others is still driving down the same road, years down the line, mournfully longing to go back in time to be given just one more chance to take the road that they know they should have taken because they dismissed all possible, extraordinary signs. It'll never get easier to make the leap and this is your chance; so make the change. Take the road now."

– V. Erickson

Summer is almost here by Nelli Arnth

Last week we have had great sunny weather in Denmark. It felt like summer.

My husband and I have spent many hours outside already. Working in the garden. Cutting grass. Painting the dry woodwork around the house. Planting the vegetable garden with our curious hens in our heels. To walk around barefoot in the soil and nurse the newly planted seeds – all while the sun keeps you warm – that is something I love so much. 

Since we live close to the Wadden Sea and have a lot of trees in the garden, we also have lots of birds. These days they are all busy nesting and singing. This is something I have really learnt to appreciate. Especially the swallow both sound and looks beautiful. Right now we have two swallow couples nesting in the old barn.

Yesterday I went hunting with my husband. Sitting in silence in the hochsitz overlooking the forest. Sipping tea and reading books in the evening sun. My husband smoking his pibe while keeping a keen eye at the fields. The sun went down. 

I look forward to summer and many more small moments like these.

Taking care of yourself while running a business by Nelli Arnth

I talked to a friend of mine last week who is also self-employed. Like me, she has no employees. So everything depends on her. She told me that she had been sick on-off for a month now. But she didn't feel that it was okay to let the customers down and tell them she had some days off. So she kept on working and feeling sick. This is something I hear a bit too much. 

Also I red this book about dangerous management (Livsfarlig Ledelse af Christian Ørsted). It is from 2013, so maybe some things have changed since. Even though I am afraid it have not. It had some crazy facts to be told. The most scary one was that it stated that WHO predicts stress to be the greatest threat to the public health of the western world. Furthermore WHO predicted that in 7 years 50% of all deaths will be "stress related" in some way. I mean wtf!

Also the book informed that Danes are some of the most loyal employees in the world. It makes us go to work even when we are sick. We do that, the book says, according to a great sense of community and the fear of letting our colleagues down. When we swallow pain killers and keep on going to work without listening to our bodies, it obviously makes the risk of infecting your co-workers much higher and in that way we keep on infecting each other. 

I did the same thing when I had a full-time job. I wanted to show everyone that I would go really far for this company. Therefore I went to work when I was sick.

It is stupid of course.

 

It got me thinking about how I take care of myself, while running my business.

For me the key word is balance. I definitely want to go really far for my customers. But I also want to be running my own business in 5 or 10 years.

I see so many newly started entrepreneurs that burn out, simply because they work too hard and totally shut down the connection to their body. In many entrepreneur communities it is idolized to work your ass of. Having no sleep, drinking 40 cups of coffee and working 70 hours a week. I am no judge, people can do whatever the fuck they want. 

But one thing is clear. Everyone can become sick of stress.

Too often I hear people with stress saying "I'm shocked, I thought this could never happen to me". As if they were a stronger species and stess only happens to the "weak" ones...

So in the end, "working your ass off" and ignoring your body can be the reason why you have to let go of your entrepreneurial dream. What a shame.

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When I feel the first signs of sickness I postphone appointments and make sure that my calendar is not overbooked (I try to never overbook it). I pamper myself a bit. Maybe I work from the cough with a warm blanket. If I get tired I take a nap. I drink a lot of tea. I listen to my body and I only take painkillers if it is absolutely necessary. I try not to think of the sickness as a bad thing. But more like a opportunity to take good care of myself. It's a way of showing myself that I respect myself. 

Of course sometimes there is a deadline that I have to meet. But most of my assignments can be postponed and my clients always understands this. They just tell me to get well soon.

If I should experience clients that dosen't give a fuck about me being sick, but just want their shit to be done, I would ask them kindly to find another graphic designer to work with. I only want to work with clients that are human and in a customer relationship that foster compassion. If that is not possible, I will go back to cleaning houses for a living. 

Nameste <3

Beauty in the Smallest Things by Nelli Arnth

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🌾🌼🌿

One hour ago I returned home after spending a couple of days in Aarhus.

I quickly grabbed my camera and went around in my garden. The weather was nice and warm. The birds were singing. My cat followed me (like he always does). I tried to capture some of the magic that is going on outside right now. My garden is waking up after it’s hibernation. The colors, the forms, the smell, the excitement and joy when the fruit trees that we planted last year are in full bloom. It is incredible.

Often I think we are too busy in life to realize what a beautiful planet we live on.

And the beauty is in the smallest things. Like this twisted fern slowly lifting its head against the sun ☀️

Yoga + Hönshuset by Nelli Arnth

I started doing yoga 5 years ago. In the beginning, I found it hard. Especially getting hold on all the thoughts in my head. I couldn't just "be with what is" like my yoga teacher was encouraging me to do. My mind kept going in. Standing in warrior pose thinking about how I should handle a certain task at work or what to eat for dinner. When we did Savasana (the relaxation part in the end of a yoga class) my mind fled and I was all over the place - certainly not on my yoga mat.

But through years of practicing it became better and better. My flexibility, my balance and mind slowly started working together. All of a sudden I felt like I could turn on and off my yoga mode. That when I rolled out my yoga mat on the floor, it became easier to cope with my thoughts and be aware of my body. To be with what is. 

I became very happy with yoga. Not only the fact that you were drinking delicious herbal tea before starting the class - or the fact that you had to bring a soft blanket and comfortable clothes for your practice (which is totally my style ;). No, I was happy about doing yoga because of the way it made me feel. It became my breathing space. It was unlike any kind of exercise I had tried before. 

And it felt good. Really good.

It is hard to explain. If you are a yogi too, I guess you know what I mean.

After I started my company last year I kept playing around with the idea that yoga could somehow be part of Hönshuset. Becoming a yoga teacher and maybe selling yoga related products. 

I was afraid though that it could ruin my own practice to shift the focus. But I was so drawn to this world of yoga. Eager to learn more. To dig in deeper.

So last in September 2016, I started a 60-hour yoga teacher program which I finished last weekend. So I am now a fucking yoga teacher!

Also, I started trying out different yoga forms. From Acro yoga to Jivamukti yoga. And from Arial yoga to Yin yoga. It was exciting. And all of a sudden I had made agreements with a suppliers and started selling yoga hammocks, natural scented candles and cork blocks. Now I communicate with suppliers of yoga mats and yoga clothes. 

I can't wait to see where this journey is taking me. 

New York City by Nelli Arnth

Been enjoying 10 amazing days in New York City with my best friend. No other city inspire me as much as New York. The creative vibe is overwhelming. 

Sometimes New York feels like another home to me. But it gets me every time I come back to Denmark and drive towards the west coast - that this, without doubt, is where I belong. While I was gone the eggs hatched and now we have 10 small chickens. They are absolutely adorable 🐣 

B u d a p e s t by Nelli Arnth

Travelling is one of my greatest sources of inspiration. Getting out of office and breathing in new air is always a good idea. Today I returned from Budapest. The city fully lived up to my expectations. It was an inspiring and romantic trip walking around the Hungarian streets with big coats and a coffee to-go. Especially the ruin bars and thermal baths impressed me. 

Also theres quite nothing like eating brunch for two hours at a local jazz cafe.

My entrepreneurial journey by Nelli Arnth

One year has past since I started my life as a full-time entrepreneur. The word entrepreneur sounds really business-like to me. And for sure I have learned a lot about running a business. The first year everything is new and it takes so many hours of researching trying to understand how to do accounting, bookkeeping, invoicing, tax and VAT and so on. 

But what strikes me the most when I look back, is how much I have learned about myself. Being my own boss comes with great responsibility. Having a job you can always blame your boss, the management or the board if you are not satisfied with your work life. 

I have only myself to blame if I am not living my life exactly how I want to. It always come back to myself and if I fuck this up, I know that I have to go back to the 9-5 job which I really didn't fit into.

So I take my role of being my own boss really seriously. I know that now I have the opportunity to really live my dream. To fill my live with the things that makes me happy and to be surrounded by positive people that I love. 

I have learned how to listen to my body. Using my gut feeling and intuition as a compass for where I am going and who I am going with. It certainly sounds like a cliché, but I dosen't really give a fuck about what it sounds like. I have never felt better and more in sync with my mind and heart and that is really awesome.

I don't glorify being busy anymore. I mean - good for you if you manage to complete 300 tasks a day and if that makes you happy on the long term. But its not for me. I get 8 hours a sleep every night and I don't use an alarm clock. I strive to have at least 2-3 days a week without meetings or appointments and I try not to be so hard on myself. I forgive myself when I have days where I didn't do what I was supposed to and I make sure to cherish myself if I have a bad day. I appreciate when I get lost in reverie - that is a beautiful place to be. 

I guard and protect my happiness and my motivation. Making sure not to deal with people and tasks that drain me. When I work with a client, I make sure that we respect each other and try to build an equal and honest relationship. When in doubt I ask my gut. 

Now some of you might think: Well... That is fine for you - but do you make money? Is it possible for you to live of all that "feeling your body" bullshit?

And the answer is an clear yes. I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have contacted me and wants to work with me. It makes me so ready for 2017 and I am excited to find out where this year takes me!

Living without an alarm clock by Nelli Arnth

Some of you have asked me how my no-alarm-clock-project turned out. I started the "experiment" in October. I stopped setting an alarm in the morning. 

At first, it felt a bit strange, which I expected since I was breaking a 15-year-old habit. But soon after I loved it. After years of counting sleeping hours and forcing myself to get up at a certain time, it is liberating not to. 

I often get asked, how many hours of sleep I get now compared to before. The funny thing is, there is almost no difference! 

So - quite fast I decided to keep living without an alarm clock. 

Hönshuset's Christmas Calender by Nelli Arnth



This December I will share with you my favorite quotes. I hope that they will move and inspire you too.

1st of December: 

Because in the end, you won't remember the time spent working in the office or moving your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain. - Jack Kerouac


2nd of December: 

Don't let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big


3rd of December: 

The trouble is, you think you have time - Buddha


4th of December: 

Comparison os the thief of joy – Theodore Roosevelt


5th of December: 

The "what ifs" and "should haves" will eat your brain — John O Callaghan


6th of December: 

Sometimes the people around you won't understand your journey. They don't have to, it's not for them.


7th of December: 

You are confined only by the walls you build yourself


8th of December: 

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will 

– Suzy Kassem


9th of December: 

Just make sure you’re happy in this life


10th of December: 

To the ones who still believe in their dreams;
Chase them. Chase them until you’re out of breath. 

Then, keep running.


11th of December: 

Travel is the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer


12th of December: 

It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. 

There is only now.

– Hugh Laurie


13th of December: 

Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it

14th of December: 

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.

– Mary Anne Radmacher.


15th of December: 

If it’s both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it.

– Érada Svetlana


16th of December: 

Never dim anyone else’s light so that you can shine. Just shine.


17th of December: 

Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them


18th of December: 

The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing
you had.


19th of December: 

You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life.

– Joel Osteen


20th of December: 

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try. 

– Michael Jordan


21th of December: 

Let’s stop the glorification of busy

- Guy Kawasaki


22th of December: 

People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, all life for happiness.


23th of December: 

If your dreams doesn’t scare you, they are not big enough


24th of December: 

You know, all that really matters is that the people around you are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae

- Paul Walker

Enjoy - and Merry Christmas!

Winter time by Nelli Arnth

Winter is really here. It is cold, and I need so much clothes to stay warm when I am outside.

But the raw nature in this area is so damn beautiful no matter what time of the year it is. The forrest stil smells amazing and the ocean is still wild and overwhelming. 

I like winter. I spend more time inside, watch more movies, listen to more audiobooks and need more sleep throughout this months. But that is okay. I feel privileged living in a country with four seasons. They each represent something different. The winter months are silent and introverted. It is a good and necessary (for me) contrast to summer time.

Every time I have been travelling in warm countries for a longer period, I have been longing for that crisp winter air. That smell of coldness. Freezing into my bones. It is part of my dna I guess.