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Positive Energy

Maker Resources, Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Donna and Randall Rollins

February 6, 2017

Randall and Donna Rollins in their Brentwood, NH studio, photos by Cassie Tweten Delaney

Most of us have had those days when we feel stuck in a rut. You know, when you’re sitting at your desk under harsh florescent lights, or walking extra slowly into your office building, or completing the same seemingly unimportant task for the 500th time. For most of us, this feeling creeps in and we start fantasizing about dropping everything and going confidently in the direction of our dreams. While the feeling usually passes, and many weekday warriors just keep fighting that battle against monotony, Donna and Randall Rollins figured that if they had to pour out their time and energy, it was going to be into something they love. 

The couple met while they were both working in corporate America. First they fell in love with each other, and then Donna fell in love with pottery. Then they learned about the healing properties often associated with gemstones from a friend with a PhD in metaphysics, and everything came together: Donna and Randall left the corporate world to start their own clay studio. They slowly grew their business to include family members and employ local artisans, they discovered new ways to incorporate stones and minerals into their designs, and, aside from acknowledging that their business backgrounds gave them the know-how to turn their passion into a career, they don’t do a lot of looking back. 

“We actively made the decision thinking, ‘If we tank, what’s the worst that can happen? We’ll still have each other,'” Randall told me on my recent visit to the couple’s Brentwood, NH studio. “We took that risk and we were willing to lose it all.”  

As you’re about to see in the photos and interview below, Donna and Randall didn’t lose it all, and they’re still hard at work making beautiful pottery and sharing their passion for stones and clay whenever they can. In fact, when our Tabletop Buyer NéQuana and I arrived to the studio over two hours late, thanks to a flat tire, the Rollinses weren’t even fazed. Their team had left for the night, and evidence of a long workday (so many pieces, in all stages of completion!) was all around. Still, they welcomed us like old friends, offered us snacks, and almost immediately started showing us their collections of stones and telling us about the energy in the space.  

Healing Stone Mugs, before the stones are attached

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Three Tips to Achieving a More Holistic Lifestyle

December 15, 2015

Editor’s note: Laura Benko is the maker behind our collection of aromatherapy sets. In this guest post, Laura shares three holistic lifestyle tips from her upcoming book The Holistic Home: Feng Shui For Mind, Body, Spirit, Space, available everywhere books are sold starting January 2016.

The Holistic Home | Laura Benko

In my upcoming book The Holistic Home: Feng Shui For Mind, Body, Spirit, SpaceI update ancient Feng Shui myths while keeping some principles that are still relevant and blend them with my own holistic lifestyle concepts of connecting the mind, body, and spirit to your space.  I include over a decade of my clients transformative stories along with my own personal narrative woven throughout.

I’ve learned that when emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects are addressed as a whole for each individual in their home, the effects of transformation can be quite profound. It’s about connecting the dots between the challenges in your life and how they are physically manifesting in your space. My three tips below will help you to experience a great change within your space and yourself.

1.) A Holistic Home is Not a Magazine Showplace
Guaranteed, you will shine and excel more in a home that bears the traces of real life than one that covers it up. A perfectly designed home where everything has been meticulously curated and placed–however awe-inspiring it may be–creates a subconscious feeling for visitors and occupants of unease. Over time, anxiety, angst, and nervousness will thrive when you are not innately comfortable where you dwell. It doesn’t mean living in a dirty, disorganized mess where a sense of neglect resides. At best, it means having a meaningful, comfortable, clean, relaxed home that supports your goals.

Holistic Home | Laura Benko | Featured Image

This home has soul and warmth. It’s clean and beautiful, filled with meaningful items that are all being used, yet nothing is too precious. “It’s the heart of my home, where everyone gathers,” says homeowner Regina Weishiet.

Start with this: Put systems in place for organizing the basics (recycling, mail, paperwork, keys, kids backpacks, etc.) then choose your high traffic décor items carefully. Pick pillows, duvets and couch cushion covers that can easily zip off and be thrown in the wash because when life happens and throw up, wine, or blood land there, you don’t panic. Put your money into items like artwork or light fixtures that can go up on the walls and not in precious rugs that take a daily pounding of dirt and spills. Surround yourself with items that uplift, inspire, and delight – just be smart about how you are going to use them and how effortlessly you can clean them. Leave the dishes if that means you have more one-on-one time with your kids. Don’t stress about the smudged fingerprints on the white walls when company comes. The bottom line is, a looser, relaxed, more forgiving environment is what makes a house a home and truly supports the best to happen for you and your family. And that is priceless.

2.) Your Fears are Showing Up Very Clearly in Your Home
Fear is the most transparent emotion that I can see clearly manifested in the home. A fear of commitment shows up in unpacked boxes, indifference in decorating and procrastination on big-ticket purchases. A fear of success or low self-esteem is found in artwork or mirrors that are unintentionally hung too high, leaving you subconsciously feeling like you can never measure up. Piles of procrastination and avoidance show up in the form of paper work, clothes, odds and ends or unfinished to-do lists, exposing a fear of failure. An overly-ordered home where anxiety lurks with even the slightest possibility of chaos, disorder or violated house rules reveals a fear of losing control. Stock piling and hoarding display a fear of uncertainty. The first step is to try to identify your own fears and take small steps to counteract it. For example, if you have a tendency to live in the past, haven’t updated your décor in eons, and you realize that your fear of change is holding you back, start small by updating accessories like a welcome mat or throw pillows. Then, move to medium tasks like moving your bed or desk. A new, physical perspective can often kick start a fresh outlook and help you metaphorically see things differently. As you make your adjustments and feel the positive effects of these changes, take a moment to revel in the feeling of progress of tackling your fears and know that you are creating an environment that is truly supportive and empowering.

3.) Mind, Body, Spirit, Space. It’s All Connected.
My life’s work has inspired me to launch a business that creates handmade, luxury products that holistically encourage the support of goals, desires and positivity for the individual user. The key to an effective, long lasting transformation and richer, more meaningful experiences are by uniting all planes of action – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional – together in your space.

The “Mind” portion covers the psychology of how you dwell. For example, if you have trouble sleeping, take a closer look at your bedroom. Is your bedside table stacked with unread books or unfinished to-do lists? Fast moving imagery of crashing waves should be replaced with serene waters and exercise equipment should be removed. Unresolved energy or jarring images can be unknowingly unsettling to the psyche. Besides the symbolism, tackling insomnia on another angle led me to create a “Sleep” spray to be used on your face and sheets at bedtime. The combination of lavender, chamomile and sandalwood are a potent slumbering elixir that UncommonGoods sells in a gift set with three other sprays.

Aromatherapy Deluxe Gift Set | UncommonGoods

The “Body” portion relates to all things physical. It’s the aesthetics of design, positioning of furniture, levels of organization, sustainability, décor choices, the health of your home and the efficiency of the layout. In Feng Shui, a basic tenant of empowerment is to situate yourself in the best possible commanding way. If your desk is positioned so that you cannot see who is entering, it automatically puts you at a disadvantage of being in a vulnerable state because you can’t see what is coming. Make sure that your desk is facing the door but not in direct alignment of it. If that’s impossible, put a mirror in front of you so you can easily look up and see behind you. You will subconsciously feel more empowered and in command. My “Revive” spray helps give you an edge by honing your focus and boosting alertness. It’s the perfect mid-afternoon antidote at your desk for waning energy.

Revive | Aromatherapy Spray Set | UncommonGoods

The “Spirit” covers the soul of the home, the atmosphere and the invisible energies. The prevailing energy that resides there has a significant impact on those who live there. Whether that’s anger and illness or laughter and love (or a mix of both) its crucial that just as you would physically clean your home, you need to spiritually clean it too. This is not some new aged hocus-pocus. It’s a custom that has been around for centuries in nearly every culture and religion and has recently become so mainstream that you can find packets of sage to cleanse the energy of your space at virtually any organic health food and wellness store.

After cleaning your home, open up the windows and light one end of the sage stick. Blow it out and let the smoke waft around as you walk throughout the home. Visualize that you are releasing anything negative that does not serve you well. Pay attention to any pockets of energy where arguments, bad dreams or self doubts occurred and spend some time releasing it all and letting it go out the window. My “Good Juju” aromatherapy spray is made from essential oils of sage, Palo Santo and Frankincense and was created for this reason.

Good Juju | Aromatherapy Spray Set | UncommonGoods

This mighty trifecta of energy shifters helps clear out stale energy and negativity.

As with all actions you do – whether its removing clutter, spraying “Good Juju” or using the salt scrub below – visualize that you are releasing specific emotions or attributes that don’t serve you well and you are envisioning a positive outcome.

Deluxe Aromatherapy Scrub Set | UncommonGoods

While using the “Revive” sea salt scrub in my shower this morning, I also “scrubbed away” some excessive worry I’ve been carrying around. By dovetailing three planes of action together while setting a positive intention, your results can be much more effective and long lasting.

Wishing you all things good for your mind, body, spirit and space!
xo
Laura

Maker Resources

How to Cultivate a Positive Workspace

September 4, 2015

Editor’s note: When we visited jewelry artist Jen Pleasants for a Studio Tour earlier this year, we knew we’d found a special place we wanted to tell everyone about. “I could really feel and see the love she built within her surroundings,” said our contributor, Emily, after spending some time with the artist.

We asked Jen to share her favorite tips for turning a workspace into a place filled with creativity, happy thoughts, and positive energy.

Jen Pleasants | UncommonGoods

I guess something about the showtheLOVE studio feels good to people– which is why I was asked to write this article, even though I am in no way an expert on the topic.

If you walk into work and you feel good just being in that space, then you are more likely to put good energy into whatever you are working on. If you are an artist making things for others to enjoy, this becomes especially important.

Below you will find two lists of ideas for cultivating a positive workspace – one more mainstream and the other more out there. Pick and choose items as you please that might work for improving your space!

Jen Pleasants' Studio | UncommonGoods

10 Basic Ideas for Promoting a Positive Workspace

1. Hire people who are positive, happy, and kind

If for some reason you accidentally get a bad egg, don’t hesitate to let them go and skip to my second set of advice to remove bad energy.

Go into the World and Do Good

2. Hang inspirational posters on the walls

I love inspirational quotes and love to surround myself with them. Some of the ones hanging in my office are:

-Change your thoughts, change your world
-You are looking particularly good today
-Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn
-Somewhere over the rainbow
-If you work really hard and are kind amazing things will happen
-Everything will be okay
-What would you do if you knew you would not fail?
-The only zen you will find at the top of the mountain is the zen you bring up there
-Live what you love
-Give and be happy
She believed she could, so she did

Inspirational Quotes

3. Speak kind words

Try not to gossip or speak ill of people in the space you want to keep clear. One of my favorite quotes is by Hafiz, “The words you speak build the house you live in.”

Be Kind

4. Burn candles

This helps the office smells good without toxins. (Which is why I use beeswax candles with essential oils, not synthetic fragrances.) It also creates a peaceful atmosphere because something about candles is magical. Just don’t forget to blow them out before you leave!

Beeswax Candles

5. Remove clutter

It is so obvious that a clutter-free environment feels better. Having said that, this is the one that I have the hardest time with. I am a pack rat and want to turn everything into an art project and don’t have an organized bone in my body. This one is really challenging, though I always feel better when I finally pick up my messes!

Computer Space

6. Provide good healthy snacks and drinks.

Fresh organic fruits and nuts are good, though I am partial to dark chocolate and tea too.

Jen with Elwood the Rainbow Unicorn Mug

7. Hang a team mission statement or manifesto on the wall

I haven’t done this yet but I think it is good idea! Instead, I have #8 posted on my wall.

8.Keep a copy of the Desiderata–or any poem or sentiment that speaks to you–on hand

I have posted this special poem on my bulletin board and anytime I start getting upset I look at it and it brings me back to what is important “…for you are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, and whether or not it is clear to you now, the universe is unfolding as it should”.

Desiderata

9. Avoid indoor air pollution

Office space can be polluted by plastic off-gassing, asbestos, radon, mold, pesticides, etc. Be acutely aware of any products you bring into your space that might be a culprit. We use natural cleaning products and pesticides. Sick employees don’t foster a positive workplace!

Open Door

10. Surround yourself with live plants

Not only does this create a peaceful feeling of being in nature, but the plants also clean the air! Oh, and they are beautiful decorations too, making the space a happier one to be in just from a pure aesthetic level.

Indoor Plants

10 Things That Only a Half Hocus Pocus/Half Crazy Person Will Do to Create Good Ju Ju in an Office– A.K.A. How to Remove BAD ENERGY from an Office (CAUTION: The list below might not be up your alley, but it has worked for me!)

1.Keep on hand a magic selenite wand

I have one on my desk and I use it to clear negative energy from me or anyone who needs it. I just use it like the security guy at the airport uses the wand to check for metal. I slowly wave or rub it across the person or myself including my head and shoulders until I feel cleansed! Selenite works well to clear people and promotes mental flexibility. Black tourmaline is also said to clear negative energy.
Selenite Wand

2. Post sign at front of office that says “Take responsibility  for the energy you bring into this space”

I love my sign but don’t always have the nerve to put it at the front door, so sometimes it is hidden back by my desk.

You are responsible...

3. Burn white sage

When we need to remove negative energy we do what many cultures before us have done and burn dried white sage to get rid of bad energy! It smells so good and the ritual itself just puts everyone in a better mood as we are being proactive!

4. Combine salt and Saint George’s sword

Cut the leaves of the plant Saint George’s sword  (also known as snake plant) and put them in a jar of half water and half salt (maybe 7 teaspoons salt). Hide the jars behind doors and under desks. This keeps bad spirits at bay, according to my Brazilian friend Ju Ju, who has the best ju ju! We do this a couple times of year.

Change Your Thoughts-Change the World

5. Play new age music

You will feel like you are in spa and all is well. Monk chanting is good too. Both of these choices are only to be done if you are trying to rid negative vibes not if you are in regular work mode. High frequency music is recommended by some too, though it gives me a headache. Most of the time we have on a variety of top 40, reggae, or R&B, just to keep the environment fun and relaxed.

6. Spray essential oils

Take some drops of essential oils and mix with water in a spray bottle, and then spray away (not near computers). Use basil oil to stimulate the conscious mind to invoke happiness or lavender oil to calm and relieve nervous anxiety. Sometimes if I don’t have a spray bottle, I put it on my wrists and rub!

Essential Oils

7. Open windows

Fresh air can make a world of difference; especially in a small office.

Open Window

8. Plant some rue outside your office or studio

On our office deck, we have some rue. It’s supposed to purify the environment and it clears the mind of negative thoughts and energy. And  it smells good! Plant with some rosemary in the same pot for extra potency.

Rue

9. Light a Himalayan salt lamp

I love my lamp and in addition to giving off a warm peaceful light, it gives off negative ions, which supposedly are a really positive thing!

Salt Lamp

10. Wear meditative charms

Like our Tibetan Bell to remind you to think good thoughts! Wear it and do great things!™

Tibetan Bell Necklace by Jen Pleasants | UncommonGoods

If you have tips for making your workspace a happy place, share them in the comments!

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