A couple of weeks ago, my clients, Alissa Brownrigg Small and Rad Small, proud owners of one of my all-time favorite interior design projects in Piedmont, graciously opened the doors to their beautiful home for a very special event: a fundraiser for Thornhill Elementary school featuring an evening of expansion, education and empowerment for women.

“Why a fundraiser for public school?” some of you (who do not live in the Bay Area) may be asking. In Oakland, due to our budget crisis, funding has long been cut for such “non-essential” programs as Art, Music, and P.E.—you know, the stuff we loved, and took for granted, as kids?

Fortunately, parents have responded by raising money ourselves to pay for staff and supplies to keep these programs running for our community’s children.

“Why expansion, education and empowerment for women?” you, dear readers who have not yet met me in person (or have yet not read my blog posts about green smoothies, perfectionism and meditative spaces), may be asking.

In my daily life, even people who know me well often ask me how I do it: How do I manage to grow a successful business, maintain a thriving marriage and family—and stay so happy (most of the time)?

It is definitely not by accident.

I am the queen of seeking—and sharing—pathways to personal growth; or, as my dear friend Michael calls me, I am “Guru Girlfriend.” I have a deep yearning, not only to create beautiful home interiors, but also to help other women discover their beautiful heart interiors.

Thus, it makes sense that my two worlds would merge in this way: with a heart-centered and community-enriching event in my clients’ home, which is filled with design elements selected to reflect and inspire the interior beauty of the people who own it.

Like many people who take on the world, I am never short on things to do and tasks to complete. I used to run myself ragged. I used to feel victimized, tired and resentful a lot of the time about all the busy-ness, the things I had to do. My propensity for self-sacrifice ran deep. I routinely skipped over my own self-care in order to take care of everyone else’s needs. Not because they asked me to—but because I was trained from an early age to believe that I had to be doing, pleasing, accomplishing at all times. This belief exhausted me and left me running on fumes. I really felt like I was the general manager of the universe.

Not anymore.

Thanks to authors and coaches like Amy Ahlers, Christine Arylo and Kris Carlson I have learned—and experienced—that putting myself first isn’t selfish at all! In fact it is the most loving thing I can do for the people in my life. When I invest the time in my self-care practice, I am empowered to give from a place of joy and free will, rather than obligation and duty. In fact, I have even more energy and attention available than I did before.

My goal in bringing these authors together was to help other women deepen their own awareness of how investing in oneself leads to more freedom and joy.

(And to do so while raising money for Thornhill School—now that’s some serious multitasking!)

I couldn’t have been more delighted, fulfilled and energized by the gathering of so many righteous women. As Christine Arylo says, “When women come together shift happens.”

That’s exactly what we did.

Me, Christine Arylo, Amy Ahlers, Kris Carlson

The author’s books, displayed on a Thomas Featherston console table; Mottega lamps and Nomi Fabric ottomans.

The Maven of Piedmont—Debbi DiMaggio, me and Barbara Dryden of Rue Atelier

Kris Carlson, Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo having a moment

Women and wine, now we just need a little song

The tribe

Gracious hostess, and my soul-sister, Alissa Brownrigg Small with her daughter, Colby

Guests Wanda Cole Frieman and Rebecca Whittaker purchasing books after the event

I will be organizing more events like this in the future. If you’d like to be included on the invitation list, drop me a line!

(Thank you to the incredible Mrs. Fox for chronicling our event with her photos!)