Chaos of post its, papers, a collage of to do lists, and a dungeon that we in the office call gray cubicles.  Welcome to the life of a non-profit social worker.  If you saw the photographs of my colleagues and me, you’d never guess we lived in the beautiful, tropical, state of Hawaii.  Although or netted black, computer chairs are ergonomically correct, and the steel laptop stand helps our neck stay aligned to prevent poor posture, looking around me, there’s  no life, no love, no culture.  Sure, it’s just a workplace, and any penny out agency has gone to underprivileged children and families, but sitting in a colorless cubicle can make you feel less than alive.

Due to the nature of my job, which requires driving around the island to do home visits, I have the honor of being able to work from the field.  My favorite place to work it, of course, my home, where not only do I have a sense of comfort, but am surrounded by things that give me life.  To the right of my work desk, hangs a hand-painted piece of art I bought from a street vendor in Rome.  He was from Russia, and painted a Venetian gondolier, drifting between iconic buildings above water.  I watched this man paint every stroke, every flower petal and ripple of water has feeling and meaning—has color and life.  This painting sits in the middle of two wooden bookshelves, filled with fantasy, knowledge, and adventure.

Under my feet lies a rug my father brought home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008.  He picked it up in a bazaar, and I don’t know much else about it but I know in every weave and stitch, there was feeling, meaning—color and life. With every item I am surrounded by, I am reminded of why I work and why I do what I do.  Being surrounded by color, beauty, and esthetically calming pieces, I can focus and bring my mind to peace.  When the décor around you fills you with a sense of life, you draw inspiration and motivation from it.  What you surround yourself with matters.