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Behind the Scenes of O's Makeover Issue
Instead, something magical happened. The decrepit building, known as the Fred C. Baldwin Memorial Home, caught Xorin Balbes's eye one day as he surfed real estate listings on the Internet. Balbes, a noted designer, had previously restored other historic buildings to their former grandeur—and beyond. When Balbes looked at the Baldwin Home, he didn't think "teardown." He sensed its former loveliness, and even a hint of its gracious soul. "All I could see was possibility," Balbes says. "I saw what it was, and what it could be reborn as. I could visualize the entire transformation in my mind."
The result of Balbes's vision was unveiled last spring—a spiritual, educational, and health retreat that transforms the people who spend time there: Guests come away feeling deeply restored themselves. Looking at Balbes's before and after photos as we closed this issue made me think about the enduring power of transformation in our lives. "It's about honoring the past and the history that's there, but bringing in the present in a seamless way," Balbes says.
Transformation might mean something as simple as adding a fresh coat of eco-friendly lavender paint to your bedroom walls or adopting a new attitude. For eleven O staffers, it meant letting creative director Adam Glassman and his team bring out their inner best selves. "When someone feels transformed, I can instantly see it in their eyes," Glassman says. "They come alive." Helping Glassman with this lovely task was a deep bench of experts including hairstylist Ken Paves, eyelash specialist Soul Lee, and dermatologist David Colbert, MD.
"Transformation, to me, means working from the inside out," says Colbert, who cleared up staffers' skin problems, from lackluster complexions to rosacea. Colbert also embodies the power of transformation in another way entirely. Volunteering his medical services after Haiti's 2010 earthquake, he was overwhelmed by the number of amputations that had to be performed, especially on children. So he set out to make sure that anyone in Haiti who needed a prosthetic limb could get one. Raising money for prosthetics through his New York Dermatology Group Foundation, Colbert helped transform hundreds of lives.
Large or small, transformation means renewal. Bringing forth the essence—and full potential—of someone (or something) is doing a great big favor to the world. Lights that shine brighter illuminate us all.
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