Last month I traveled to Thailand with one of my best friends, Vanessa. I was turning forty and reviving a tradition of getting away to mark a special occasion. I went seeking rest and relaxation, a break from my constantly ticking mind. When I’m at home it’s hard for me to stop thinking about work, because it’s really like another baby, something I own and care about deeply. I realized that having some time away from the office to rejuvenate is key to my ongoing sustainability at work. When I have time to rest and reflect there are always “aha’’ moments, I’m able to think about the big picture and to revisit my co-existing personal and professional goals.
We spent half our time in the vibrant city of Bangkok, packed with mouth-watering food and culture, and the rest of our trip on the small island of Koh Kood, with equally delicious food, but a much slower pace of life – think tranquil beaches and simple cabanas. Beforehand I thought my time in Bangkok would be about looking for inspiration to share with Mitzi and the design team. When we went to the textile market in Bangkok, I kind of struck out. But the beach ended up being the place that filled the void. In retrospect, I’m not surprised. I love the beach – it’s part of my identity. I grew up in Southern California and being near the ocean has always been an important thing for me and my family – walking and lying on the sand, listening to waves, looking for shells.
One day on Koh Kood I was doing yoga outside of our cabana. I could see the coconut palms, hear the break of waves, I could feel the breeze, and smell the ocean air. I sat there and meditated, taking it all in. I felt both inspired and renewed. Being in the outdoors and nature is where I find myself the most alive, whether it’s hiking in the redwoods with my family or in this case on a remote beach in Thailand. I felt so thankful for those moments; it made the whole trip worthwhile.
You can see the shells I collected on the beach on Koh Kood. Twenty years ago I went on budget backpacking trip in Southeast Asia. I recently found my collection of shells from that trip and they had the exact same pattern as those I was most drawn to on this recent adventure. The pattern on one reminds me of being in a museum looking at prehistoric art or naturally-colored Native American pottery. Another shell reminds me of a beautiful sarong. This hunting for shells, driftwood and coral to take back to my kids, ended up being where I found the most design inspiration to share back with the team.
On any trip I take, I look for opportunities to give away our shoes. A former retailer who moved to Bangkok shared a few recommendations for charities. I chose a wonderful organization called Gift of Happiness because I liked their message – to bring positive experiences and basic necessities children in need. It reminded me of our mission of spreading joy. It was an easy task to bring our shoes to their offices in Bangkok. I was grateful to be able to do that and for the opportunity to get away, reflect, recharge and be inspired by our natural world.