I love watching the Fine Living Network. Some of my favorite shows on FLN are those by interior designer Sarah Richardson. Her demeanor is so calm. And I love the way that she finds inspiration for her work in nature and in life. Each episode she selects a few items that are inspiration for her color palette and textures. Things like, leaves, coffee beans, fresh flowers, twine and a multitude of other everyday items that many of us never even take the time to notice. Though I am sure Sarah experiences the same high stress that others in our creative industry do, she seems to have done a really good job of balancing her work and her life and she seems to take the time to find the beauty in the simple things. She is an inspiration to me and I am sure many others that strive to find this same type of balance.
We, as Americans, spend a lot of time searching for balance. This especially holds true for women. We are on this constant journey to find the perfect mix of work and family and that leaves very little time for ourselves. I have to admit that I am no different.
No too long ago, I had the enlightening revelation with help from my friend and business consultant Mary who has been in the interior design business for over 30 years. She helped me understand that this “so-called” balance we are all looking for does not have to necessarily be divided in equal parts, as long as the sum of the parts is 100. So striving for 50% work and 50% family is not only unnecessary, it is almost impossible to achieve. At different times in our lives, the scales will tip to either one side or the other. And that is ok. I also came to the realization that it is not only ok but can even be healthy to embrace my passion and love for work and that I should allow myself to be free of guilt while spending my time focused on my business which also happens to be my hobby. Mary also helped me realize that I have a creative gift and talent and that I should take advantage of this while I have the energy and the desire to use it, because I might not always have that option.
Another amazing woman, my yoga teacher Holly, has had a great effect on my work-life balance and certainly my stress level. Just being in her presence calms me and centers me. She recently helped me realize something very important about my journey towards balance. She helped me to understand that this balance that we are “searching” for is something that we already have. It is always present, we just don’t take the time to realize it and to enjoy it. We don’t find peace and beauty in the simple things in life…those very things that Sarah Richardson uses to create her inspired interiors.
Last weekend I had the most wonderful opportunity to reflect on these profound ideas from my advisors and mentors while spending time with 30 other fantastic women from around the country, communing with nature, embracing our similarities and differences, and nurturing ourselves. We spent 3 glorious days at Lake Ouachita just outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas chatting in front of roaring fires, getting pampered at the Turtle Cove Spa, eating delicious organic meals, practicing yoga with views of the Lake and hiking through the Ouachita National Park. We even hugged a couple of trees…no kidding!!
The weekend was all about balance. And I am happy to say that it was a great success!! I feel more balanced and at peace than I have in a long, long time. And the really exciting part for me is that I not only feel rested and relaxed, I was completely inspired by the environment to be creative, in a way that I have not been in a really long time. I felt like a child again getting out in the woods on the hike, and with my IPOD providing the background music, I was transported into a euphoric state where I could absorb the colors and textures of the forest, the lake, the sky; where I could study the shadows and the streams of sunlight through the trees. I smelled the fresh scents of the moss and the creeks and I saw the falling leaves and heard them crunch under our feet. It was a true delight to all the senses and I cannot wait to translate all of these experiences into designs for my clients’ homes.
During the retreat we had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Stephen Altschulers, author of The Mindful Hiker. Stephen has spent a lifetime falling in love with walking, and he taught us all how to become one with nature as we were hiking on the beautiful Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. Thanks to Stephen, I will never look at a tree the same way again…and I will probably even have the urge to give it a little squeeze! He helped us truly see all the beauty that lies around us each and every day that we are too busy to stop and notice.
And to top off what was otherwise a perfect weekend, my spa experiences at Turtle Cove were some of the best that I have ever had. Featured in many magazines including Day Spa Magazine in the June 2007 issue praising their outdoor and seasonal spa services, Turtle Cove was named in the top five spas in the country for catering to women because of their annual Women in Balance Retreat by Healing Lifestyles and Spas.com. I had the pleasure of having a custom massage in an outdoor pavilion that overlooks the lake. It was a delight to the senses, because I not only had the pleasure of touch, but I was able to feel the cool and crisp wind on my skin, and hear the rustle of the leaves, the crickets chirping, the birds singing…talk about relaxation!!! And if that were not enough, I followed that up with a seasonal treat, the pumpkin skin renewal facial complete with a pumpkin and yam enzyme peel, a chamomile toner, finished with a pumpkin latte and chocolate mask. All organic, these products felt wonderful and smelled good enough to eat!!
So a thank you is in order for all those that helped remind me this weekend of my place of peace. That helped me remember that what I have been searching for was always right before my eyes…and my ears, and nose and skin. And that it truly is important to stop and smell the roses, or in this case the yam and pumpkin facial. I appreciate the opportunity to take this inspiration back to my family, my office, and my clients. It will be these experiences and the love I found in my many new friendships that were developed over the weekend that will inspire me and my work over the coming weeks and months. I have already planned more hikes with my new found friends and I am planning to re-visit the spa in the winter for their winter quince facial and again in February for the champagne pedicure and fireside hot stone massage. I think this retreat may really have changed my life for the better long term. I think this newly rediscovered love of nature and nurture is something I can carry with me for the rest of my life.
And in the tradition of Sarah Richardson I plan to use nature and life as cues for my color palettes and textures in my interior design. Look for the following themes coming soon in my projects to a magazine near you! Peace be with you all and may you have the opportunity if only for a moment to find balance in your life!!!