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Waves of Change

Waves of Change [vimeo_video id=”5583554″]

I’ve been receiving a lot of emails and comments over the past couple of months asking where the updates are, if I’m OK, what’s going to be happening to Hygge House? And I haven’t had a full concept of where I was going to give anyone any answers. I had ideas but nothing was forming into something solid and, if you’ve been reading any of my sites for any length of time, you’ll know that I don’t really like to talk about ideas – I like action.

So I had been waiting until I had not just an action plan but actual personal movement before getting back to online life. I wanted to be clear about my purpose here rather than just post online for the sake of it (something I think is a danger to anyone with a blog, especially if, like me, you’ve had a site for over 10 years!). I spent a good deal of December and most of this month changing a lot of my sites and working on new ideas, seeing what was working, what was feeling right, and what should and should not stick.

I also had a lot of quiet, private time in which some days I did nothing or I did things solely for my enjoyment and that was really good. That solitude that I desperately needed helped quiet all of the things that had created too much noise and confusion. Then when I was ready I came out of hibernation and spent a lot of time talking with friends, going out to new venues and testing new waters. During this time I began to have an inkling of the direction I wanted to go but it wasn’t really until this week that I began walking confidently in it and today I was finally moved to say something about it.

Like so many of you – American or not, Republican or Democratic, Religious or Atheist – I was truly inspired and motivated by Obama’s inaugural speech. The past couple of months of reflection combined with his speech of action, determination, compassion and hope helped me to succintly say what I needed to be clear on and do:

Be of Service.

I know that phrase has been tossed around but I actually first wrote those words in my journal when I was 9 years old and from that moment on I began the act of volunteering. I taught swimming to young, underprivileged children, at 12 I taught horseback riding to mentally and physically handicapped children. In my late teens and early twenties I worked in senior housing and answered phones at womens clinics. I even volunteered with Obama before the election because I couldn’t vote and needed to do more than just talk about wanting change – I wanted to help make it happen.

I’ve also been a huge believer in financially giving back to people I was personally invested in or bigger ideas I believed in – even when I had very little money to give. Years ago I read the book, “The 10 Percent Solution” which really changed my views on giving and began donating at least 10% of my income. When online ads became available I started running them, giving all the income from Google Adsense and Amazon to charities (this site gave away $647 last year to charities listed on the right sidebar- thank you!).

In addition to physically volunteering and donating money, I’ve worked hard to create sites that encouraged others to do instead of just thinking about doing. And I have over 47,000 emails from people who have shared their stories of exactly what they did! I have always been so proud of all of that – even if I’ve been quiet about it. Service isn’t about being loud, it’s just simple about doing.

But last year, well, last year was hard. There were a lot of things going on that I had to deal with and it seems like one thing kept coming after another without a break inbetween. I know so many people who had a bad 2008 so I know I’m not alone but I can say it was the worst year I’ve ever had because it was the first year I can remember that I wasn’t of service. I was so wrapped up in things that were happening only in my own world that I didn’t do anything for anyone else. Oh sure, I gave the 10% but that doesn’t count so much in my books because I didn’t give of myself.

My time spent being quiet here was time reflecting on what is it that I believe in and need to do so that I can be useful to both myself and to others both in real life and on the web. I have been thinking so long and hard about this – especially about what to do on the web – because I don’t want to be a bad habit for internet surfers. I don’t want to waste your time. I don’t want you to come here and go away without feeling changed, inspired or able. I don’t want to tack up more decorating ideas that just stay ideas, rehash magazine images that stay just dreams or talk about me in a way that isn’t useful to you.

And although I love frivolity and feel that sharing just regular things and loves are important (I’m a sucker for a pretty photograph and home idea any day and I love the help we give each other (like the chalkboard – thanks!)), I don’t want to be 100% about that. The concept of Hygge House is more about lifestyle than things yet I feel as though I have sometimes not been successful at reflecting that. That’s often when I remove posts; if I feel they are too much about me, too pitiful, or just down right useless I think we should both be spared having to read them. We all need to be selective about what goes into our brains and make sure what goes in is either beneficial or joyful. We shouldn’t settle for anything less because I don’t want you to be blase about life – mine or yours. I don’t want our life to be just about pretty pictures on the web or you coveting ideas – I want our life to be amazing. Full-on rock star amazing.

Don’t you?

I think you do because when I wrote the post “Living Well isn’t just about Organic Fruit” the response was overwhelming. But I’ve often wondered since then how many live by what we were inspired by? Did it really change us or was it just rhetoric? It’s like Obama’s speech today – a speech that changed not just a nation but the world. A speech that filled so many of us with pride and hope and courage. I just don’t want something as amazing as his speech and vision to go to waste. I want to live up to the feelings I had when I hear it, just as I hope people in a smaller way live up to the comments they felt after what I wrote.

So I am getting back to being of service and this will spill out into many different forms, some of which have already been going on. I’m excited, energised and hopeful about 2009 and beyond. I’m also excited, energised and hopeful about our community, our friendships, our ability to connect here and beyond despite whatever situation we’re in.

Because we all have challenges. It doesn’t matter what they are; a challenge is a challenge that can be overwhelming or scary. But I think if we step outside ourselves, if we do something to be useful to someone else, if we change our own lives, if we make our dreams real, if we start reaching big, if we let go of 2008 (!!), the fear, the snark, the ‘can’t’, the selfishness, the pity, and break out into something BIG and BOLD this year, I think our challenges will become our triumphs.

So with that, I give you my pledge that in between decor posts and ideas, loves and links that I will share useful information about truly being hygge – how to live well not just in our own homes but out in life. How to help others, how to look outside ourselves, how to do instead of just think. And I would like to propose that if you have a blog, that at least 10% of your blog posts do the same. That we all give back and give to each other and that this is the year we stop putting wishes on the web or in books and start making them real. That we think big and make everything the best we can, not just for ourselves, but for each other.

Because we can. And we will.



  1. jaimeNo Gravatar
    January 20, 2009 / 5:46 PM


    Wonderfully put, Alex. To 2009 and all its tomorrows – cheers!

  2. January 20, 2009 / 5:52 PM

    Thank you so much for this lovely inspiration. Your words are always inspirational, whether they remind me to slow down and savor life a little more or encourage me to get out and explore what we HAVE and not think of what we WANT. We should make 2009 not just a year of service, but of simply BEING. Thank you!

  3. January 20, 2009 / 8:35 PM

    “ahhhh!” That’s my yoga sigh letting 2008 out and breathing in the excitement and possibility of 2009. I’m consistently inspired by your thoughts and/or lack of thoughts, even. Thank you for sharing and serving your readers while also taking the time to serve your own self.

  4. JenniferNo Gravatar
    January 21, 2009 / 12:25 AM

    Dear Alex,
    I really enjoyed this post. You have a talent for living well, that I’m sure others would love to learn.

  5. January 21, 2009 / 5:31 AM

    Alex, I enjoy all your words – whether they’re as uplifting and inspirational as this, or just a pondering about the whys and what-ifs of life. I would never put anything I’ve ever read of yours in the “useless” category! I always look forward to hearing what you have to say. I always come away feeling inspired and ready to do something.

    While I’m sorry to hear that 2008 was a hard year for you, I’m comforted at the same time, because it was the worst year I’ve had for a while too! But I feel so positive about 2009, it is just brimming with hope and possibility.

    You inspire me to live well. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  6. January 21, 2009 / 9:19 AM

    I think 2008 was tough for many people. Here’s to a really great 2009! Isn’t it great to have hope for America and to actually be proud of our president?

  7. January 21, 2009 / 9:54 AM

    I think you just summarised many of my own thoughts about 2008, the inauguration and the year ahead. Spooky.

    I look forward to watching your new resolve unfurl as the year continues (and invite you to watch mine too, should you wish!).

  8. January 21, 2009 / 4:44 PM

    What a moving and thought provoking post! I look forward to checking in here this year for more inspiration and will resolve to ‘giving’ more via my blog too!!!!

  9. January 22, 2009 / 3:32 PM

    Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I had a rough 2008 too, and an even rougher 2009 so far! But there is still plenty of time to turn things around.

    I want my 2009 to be spent focusing on quality of life…my life, life with family and friends, and the life all around me. And I hope that in between the “fun” and “entertaining” posts on my blog, I can post some words to inspire and motivate and to get people thinking.

  10. January 22, 2009 / 3:56 PM

    Wow. Thanks for all of that. Yes, this was another worried reader, for my favorite part of your hygge blog really is the “how to” portion. Maybe it’s the Dane in me…:)…the part of me I want to be more like.

    I’ve been worrying lately because all I’ve been doing is recording projects, and I want to do more of helping others to do their own…to make time for themselves. But as you’ve pointed out, making sure that a purposeful percentage of that giving to yourself involves giving to others, and that will bring the most joy for everyone. As always, thanks for committing me!

  11. A CommentatorNo Gravatar
    January 23, 2009 / 12:45 AM

    Dear Rock Star Alex, the reason why I wanted to comment here and now was to say Thank You. I’ve never had a positive mentor in my life but your blogs are the ones I read everytime when I need a simple pick-me-up.

    I intensely abhor so much of the excess my generation preys upon, particularly stewing in negativity and inertia. It frightens me that many of us are becoming too comfortable with idleness and living without purpose. If only people could wake up and begin living, and start by being of service to others.

    I just wanted to say -THANK YOU- for being of service to everyone even if their life path isn’t business, travel writing or within your age group. Speaking of age, I am 23. This is further proof of how your message reaches someone like me.

    Thank you for writing material that is easy to digest, not sarcastic, relevant, and most importantly– can relate to almost anyone.

    Thank you for being a positive source of humanity. I only hope that someone will be able to provide the same enrichment as you have done here for us for many years.

    Here’s to 2009,

  12. RebeccaNo Gravatar
    January 25, 2009 / 8:03 AM

    While a new year always brings hope for the better, I am totally baffled by people saying things like “now we have a president we can be proud of.” Why? He did almost nothing as a freshman Illinois Senator, has not sponsored a single bill, etc. In fact, when questioned, none of his supporters could come up with one thing he has done! I do not put any faith in him for a better 2009, but certainly do hope that people evaluate their own lives and how they can personally improve themselves and the world. I enjoy your site!

  13. Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    January 25, 2009 / 9:28 AM

    Wow – that’s all I can say about everyone’s comments and notes. I really appreciate everything everyone’s said and the continuous feedback and the continuous desire to do better. Makes me so hopeful.

    And with that, Rebecca I’d offer that for some, they feel Obama is “something the can be proud of” I think because he brings the idea of change and the idea of involvement. I think even if you disagree with his politics or didn’t vote for him, if the majority of the people seem excited, hopeful and involved for the first time in many, many, years, that’s something to be proud of in a President. It’s up to him now to follow through and continue a sense of pride to people and people who didn’t vote for him just as it’s up to those of us who were inspired to follow-through in our own life.

    Sometimes people are a catalyst for ideas and change that spur a great many people on to doing bigger and better things. And sometimes that’s enough.

    I’m not saying that’s enough for Obama but I sure welcome having the majority of people excited about working together in the same country and moving forward than the majority of people feeling angry, stuck and hopeless.

    I couldn’t vote because I’m not American and I’m not loyal to either the Democratic or Republican Party. I’m loyal to change, action, and people working together. And in the 10 years that I’ve been in America, this is the first time I’ve seen that. So regardless of past politics, I’m loving the hope of the direction of the new politics.

  14. January 26, 2009 / 9:32 AM

    Alex, this was a lovley and inspiration post (as always!). I really appreciate your insight on change and involvement and couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to what is to come in 2009! Wishing you well!