The Holstee manifesto is on my desktop, it is my cover photo on Facebook, it is what keeps me alive when the doubts hit.

Hi there, I am Hella. I am an architect but I can’t bear to work as an architect because I believe that living in more or less toxic boxes that isolate us from others and the world, and with lots of stuff weighing us down, is not the right way to continue living. Occupy architecture!

I am German.  My family moved to Australia when I was 17 and I have lived back and forth a little and travelled much. Throughout the last few years in Melbourne I wanted to make it home, build a base, and have a “normal” life. But I continued to feel that I was in the wrong place; nothing quite gelled. I worked as an architect and taught design at Uni. I discovered how much I enjoy giving Shiatsu massage, not just receiving it, so went back to study and became a Shiatsu Therapist while running a Vegan Restaurant. I have also been painting and writing poetry for many years. One informs the other…

For the last 20 years I have wanted to make it to South America. At the beginning of 2011 I fell in love with Tango: what meditation, what joy, what connection to another human being, what transient beauty. Eight months after I began dancing I finally managed to pack up my life, more or less neatly, and headed to Buenos Aires with frighteningly few funds, seeing I was planning to stay for at least 10 months. There I danced, danced the weeks away.

I cannot stand wearing “normal” new clothes, I find them toxic and stifling, and I don’t want to support the few that get richer on the backs of Chinese workers. In Australia I used to be able to buy up-cycled fashion by my favorite girl-duo “a name is a label” and by “muecke” but well, no chance of that here in Buenos Aires. With a new season coming and a very limited wardrobe, I realized I would have to get creative myself. So off I went and bought a mound of clothes for their fabric, colour and detail and started playing. What is it I can make out of a t-shirt, a shirt, a jacket? I like asymmetry to celebrate the symmetry of my body, best if it can be worn in different ways, and please, a girl’s got to have a pocket somewhere. I never had any patience using a sewing machine, so I thought myself completely crazy, but I started to sew. I found that I loved it and became hooked, and now I get many comments on my clothing. I still have next to no stock, only having set up Facebook pages and having created my own, still somewhat empty, site bellabark.com. “How unprofessional”, many people say, “you should have a site for each thing you do”. I think of the Holstee Manifesto and proudly say, “I don’t care, I don’t want to keep pretending to fit the mold of what is expected, this is MY life, this is how I want to Live My Life and I want to do that to the max.” I would not be as rich a person and would not produce work as rich, if it were not for the variety of skills and insights and perspectives that I have had the fortune to experience and build. And I want other people to be inspired to break out of the mold and live how they want to live. So how could I continue pretending?

I am only just starting out and I have no idea where this is all going to go. And sure, the doubts come: you are 41, you’ve got nothing to show for it, look at your colleagues running successful firms, this is all bullshit, you are just kidding yourself, who do you think you are, you have not put away anything for old age… Fear sure creeps in at times. At that moment I have to remind myself how lucky I am that I am not giving my life away to a job that pains my soul and does not benefit others or the planet. Life is right here, right now. Life is not giving away so many hours of your time on this planet in return for some sum of money.

Each step at a time, moment to moment, this is my life. If I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow, well, my life has been so full, that would be totally ok. However I’d much prefer to see how this crazy life of mine is finally going to bear some fruit and how I might be able to inspire others to break free and follow their dreams by more than spreading smiles and love and wearing my weird and wonderful fashion.

Love to write?

Every month we select at few writers to help us explore what it means to live a life of reflection and intention. Reach out to Helen, our editor at Helen.W@holstee.com to learn more

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