In talking about the interior design work that I do, I often use the word shelter — interchangeably with haven and sanctuary. I also always talk about how design is a vehicle for creating nourishing and soul-filled spaces that are an invitation to #comehometoyourSelf.

Over the last few weeks, by necessity, we have all become deeply intimate with our spaces, as we now shelter-in-place, working from home or furloughed and sent home as the case may be. (Of course I hope for all of us that this time outside-of-normal goes as smoothly as possible.)

As a business owner, my goal has been to keep my team employed during this time, especially so we can hit the ground running again when the order lifts. To do this, we are turning to new and inventive ways of doing business.

Thrice-weekly Zoom call with my team

Notably, our Zoom call skills have improved tremendously. Not only for having meetings with each other, but also for meeting with current and potential clients. We have become facile at sharing screens, doing virtual walk-throughs, and gathering, sanitizing, and delivering materials samples to clients in advance of our online meetings — with those who feel comfortable conferring via video-calls.

Materials assembled for a virtual design presentation for a home in Piedmont

We are finding that people seem to like it. It’s fun! It’s a creative way to interface about design without having to get in our cars. Which leads me to think that even after the stay lifts, we will continue to offer the option of Zoom calls to clients. Especially for meeting with potential clients. If people don’t have to get in cars and drive (and search for parking) to do our initial meet-and-greets, this frees up time and energy, and is better for the environment.

I’m noticing that as a company our overall efficiency has improved, because we are all spending less time driving to and dressing up for the office, and so we have more time for meditating and walking in nature, which is giving us more space to be connected to ourselves.

Thus, we have more creative energy to bring to designing for our clients.

Now that people in all industries had a taste of what it’s like to work from home, many are saying, “I don’t think I want to go back.” Myself, included!

I am liking this new, slower pace. I’m seeing that it’s allowing me more access to my creativity, more access to my Self which allows me to be more present for clients, and also for my team, not to mention my family.

Walking in the rain with my daughter, Jett

This experience may lead us all to a permanent lifestyle shift. A positive unintended benefit of what was an unimaginable set of conditions, not that long ago.

What we are all choosing now, taking the opportunity to get more sunshine, go on more walks, spend more time with family, doing things which give us more joy, more happiness, more health, all of these things keep our bodies strong and feed our souls.

What if we come out on the other side of this with more capacity to do our work even better? Four hours of productivity a day, if used extremely well, maybe that’s just what the body is designed to do? Not those 8-, 10-, 12-hour days that we’ve been so committed to before, slaving for “The Man” — even if The Man is myself.

Remember the climactic moment in Jerry Maguire? (No, not “You complete me” scene, the other climactic moment.) Tom Cruise’s character is having an existential crisis, and he delivers this manifesto on working from the heart, asking, essentially, whatever happened to doing work in a very personal and connected way? When work is just done for the dollar, we lose touch with why we are doing that work in the first place.

I’m also finding today that I am even more committed than ever to my desire to simplify, to go without. Not having access to every little thing I want, right when I want it, is making me so appreciate every cup of tea, because there might not be tea on the shelves tomorrow. This is also making me even more grateful for everything I do have.

Nourishing bone broth bowl

My message has always been self care first and your home is your sanctuary. Now, I’m even feeling more fortified in that perspective as I’ve had all of this yin/downtime energy to reflect on the things that truly matter. Heart, breath, simplicity, nature, gratitude, good food, and connection.

Coming home to your Self is something that we choose, every day. What this unintended social experiment has taught me during this time in isolation is that I have to come home to myself more than ever before. This is the key to both surviving, and thriving.

A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post