Creating a Ripple of Beauty

Recently, my husband Scott and I went to dinner at a former client’s home. It’s fair to say at this point that Alex, while still a client, has become so much more. He is an entrusted friend, and someone who I have grown fond of over the years I have known him. Alex has a separate relationship with Scott, who used to train him when he was moonlighting as a personal trainer. He was fond of Scott’s precision, encouragement, and his wicked spidey sense for the body, so he and Alex found their way to a friendship as well. 

Alex is busy. He runs a wildly successful company, has two kids, is a serious golfer, and is very involved in coaching sports teams. He spends a lot of time involved in politics to improve the lives of people — it is a passion for him. Inevitably, our conversations always turn to what we are doing with our lives, and how well we are taking care of our aging bodies. We talked about Oakland and our shared sadness over the condition of the homeless population, the corruption in the police department, the crumbling condition of our roads, and the excess of garbage and crime. As much as we love Oakland, it wears on us. If this doesn’t sound like my usual joyful message, stick with me for a minute.

A photo from a recent panel during which I, alongside a few other Bay Area designers, connected with ICB artists about how to best support each other in bringing beauty to clients’ homes. Photo by Kristina Islas.

As a person who cares deeply for humanity and maximizing life for joy and gratitude, conversations that explore the shadows of our culture often drain my optimistic spirit. They flood me with feelings of helplessness, but not because I can’t do anything about it. I often do, via donating to, and highlighting people and organizations in the community who do good. However, verbally digging into the world’s darkness makes me wonder how empaths such as myself can ever make a real, consistent difference or impart change from a drained heart and helpless mental state.

My spirit wants to meditate and create beauty. I become alive with time spent walking in nature and writing and cooking and hosting gatherings for women in need of sisterhood. Those things are what empower me energetically. Of course, all that’s wrong in society, in our culture, and in our communities must be acknowledged if change and progress are to happen. But time and energy spent on what makes me lighter — rather than dwelling on the darkness — is what sparks my desire to do and give more.

Alex, Scott, and I were talking about local fundraising events. I found myself beginning to feel emotionally overwhelmed when it comes to attending those things, when Alex stopped the conversation. He said, “Laura, I know you love what you do. Let me remind you of how important it is, and what an impact it has had on my life.”

Curating and hosting events for people in my community fills my cup, and inspires me to give back and do more. Photos by Jeff Straw.

Alex went on to share what a refuge and a sanctuary his home is, and how it is because we created a beautiful escape that inspires him to access his best self. He shared that if he didn’t feel so safe to let go and be still, to enjoy his environment, or to cook meals with his girlfriend, he couldn’t possibly have the desire to be able to do so much good for the world.

As a perfectionist who often struggles with feelings of inadequacy, I’m easily set off into thinking that I am not enough or not doing enough… that I could and should do more. I was grateful for the pattern interrupt. What if what I do IS enough? What if when we are doing what brings us joy, and giving our gifts to the world from a “want” instead of “should,” we could change the world? What if being a Beauty Maker, an interior designer, or a gardener, or a painter, IS changing the world? 

I consider my passion for curating gorgeous interiors a gift, and I love to share the inspiration and prosperity it brings me with my community. Here I am choosing Vaheed Taheri rugs for an upcoming Berkeley home project. Photo by Kristina Islas.

There is growing evidence that suggests being surrounded by beauty not only improves our own well-being, but positively impacts all of humanity. The field of quantum physics is shedding light on the spiritual and emotional impact of beauty.

It states that everything in the universe is made up of energy, including our thoughts and emotions. When we surround ourselves with beauty, we are surrounded by positive energy, which inspires feelings of peace and connection to the world around us. This energy radiates outwards, uplifting those around us and creating a ripple effect. I witness this every time I finish a project and see the look on the faces of my clients. Ditto when they tell me later how much the energy shifted in their home after we created spaces that uplifts them. 

Beauty moments like these from our recent Mill Valley project can transform our homes into sanctuaries, so we can escape and access our best selves. Photos by Mo Saito.

I’ve come to know that people who feel sovereign and inspired are more likely to want to give resources, time, and energy outward to help humanity. This is what Alex was trying to tell me when he shared that the design of his home affected his well-being and his life. A beautiful home environment, as well as investing time in what brings us joy, has a profound impact on our identities and ultimately our communites. Beauty fuels us to share more of our own unique gifts with the world.

Ultimately, the impact of beauty is undeniable. Creating and appreciating beauty slows us down, reminding us of what it means to human. By embracing what we love, we can tap into a powerful source of positivity, giving us the motivation to make a positive impact on the world. As the poet John Keats once wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” I’ll take that over complaining about what is wrong in the world any day of the week.

Written by Laura Martin Bovard.