The other day I stepped outside and felt that “Fall feeling.” Sometimes it can be hard to detect here in the Bay Area, given how the smoke keeps settling in. Many of us so recently experienced anxiousness about our beloved wine country being up in flames and the impact that the now-annual fires continue to have on everyone’s lives.

Last month in this space, I shared about a recent trip Darshan and I took to tour the studio of our beloved glass-blowing vendors Bel Vetro in Healdsburg; and earlier this month, I worried about their wellbeing and the safety of their beautiful space. One of our favorite woodworker’s homes was threatened. Bel Vetro’s owners who have put their hearts and souls into their company had to evacuate twice in a year. And two of our clients’ homes were in perilous threat.

All of that hard work, the love, the time, and the living that’s gone into and gone on in their homes and studios. And the heartache of the iconic Meadowwood Resort, burned.

Front entry deco home designed by LMB Interiors

Art Deco entry with sideboard and mirror in a stately Oakland home: A place to pause for a moment, in reflection. Photo credit: Mo Saito. Design by LMB Interiors

We need to get serious about global warming. Since I’m on this tangent already, may I say this? Please go watch “Kiss the Ground” on Netflix for ideas on how we can heal this planet.

Fires, and the heartache of the Presidential debates? The Supreme Court? Heartburn.

So, in light of all of this, am I ever allowed to say if I am having a really great day?

I’m noticing lately how if somebody is doing well, they are afraid to say they are.

I am afraid to say I am because it might sound like I am not concerned about what is going on in politics, institutionalized racism, the fires, COVID, all the things.

And frankly, these days, I have a similar feeling when I talk about creating beautiful spaces for people. If not everyone can live in a beautiful, thoughtfully-curated home, then it’s not okay for me to be an interior designer. Period.

How do I make sense of the Haves and the Have-Nots?

A beautifully-appointed kitchen in a Tahoe vacation home invites community, connection, and nourishment

A beautifully-appointed kitchen in a Tahoe vacation home invites community, connection, and nourishment. Photo credit: Eric Rorer. Design by LMB Interiors

This question takes me back to my time studying and meditating with the Center for Spiritual Living. There is a principle I first heard there, that I am reminding myself of today. “My feeling bad for someone does not do anything to make their situation better.” What do guilt and sadness do for them? Nothing.

However, if I feel great, if I am engaged in self-care, if I am resourced, I’m going to want to help other people.

In light of the needs of the sick, the issues being fought for in the Black Lives Matter movement, the destruction of homes and businesses in the fires, how do we go on and feel okay about what we are doing as beauty-makers?

I am taking a stand for creating beauty and having self-care and self-love — and not feeling shame and guilt about it. Because these can be acts that will fortify us to be a part of the change we want to see in the world.

I can spend time, effort, and energy creating beauty because beauty is the thing that brings us in alignment with our souls, with being human. Beauty inspires us. If we feel good, we naturally want to do good for other people.

Balance, proportion, and ease; beauty can help us feel more refreshed and ready to face the day.

Balance, proportion, and ease; beauty can help us feel more refreshed and ready to face the day. Photo credit: Mo Saito. Design by LMB Interiors

If we feel terrible, then NO. The answer is “No.” Parents, you feel me on this one? If I’m in fatigue, exhausted, and my kid comes to me with a request, any request, I’m a No.

It’s okay, really, in the midst of all that we are facing, to care about surrounding ourselves with quality. The desire to adorn ourselves and our spaces with art is as old as humankind. People are making art, creating beauty at every moment. Even now.

In my industry, we are creating sanctuaries where people can get fortified to go out into the world and help others.

That has always been my intent behind being an interior designer (as you may recall from previous columns; also see posts on my blog, tagged Philanthropy, for reference:

If we decide we are obligated to feel bad about the plight of others, in a way that depletes us and stops us from taking action, this is simply codependency.

What I have seen with my clients is that when they invest time and energy into making their homes support their best selves, they truly do give back. And in many cases, they end up using their homes as a locus for political action.

I invite you, as I invite myself, to turn to beauty. To find comfort and inspiration there, to access your joy! And then use that energy as fuel to keep being, doing, creating, and loving our way to a better world.

A version of this post appeared in the Piedmont Post