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Celebrating Life During the Holidays, After Loss

Autumn leaves

November is the beginning of the holiday season when we make more of an effort to be with family and friends. We reminisce about past family gatherings, and even joke about events that didn’t seem so funny back when they happened.  New memories are made while old ones are shared with the next generation. Traditions continue and new ones begin.

For some, however, these upcoming holidays may be sad or bittersweet.   Those of you who have lost a family member, or close friend recently, may not feel like celebrating or may even feel guilty about being happy during this time.

My husband and I have lost both of our parents, my mom being the most recent three years ago.  During the holiday season, I do feel sad that our two kids no longer have grandparents to send ‘Merry Christmas’ cards to, or to call them up on Christmas morning to hear their voices and tell them how much they love them.  As I put up our tree and pull out stockings and special handmade decorations each year, I am reminded of past holidays with both of my parents.

For several years, my husband, our two kids and I would pack up our minivan and drive ten hours to spend a few days with my parents for Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, we would all pile into the van and drive around neighborhoods looking at the lights and decorations, then come home and drink hot chocolate topped with lots of whipped cream! Another tradition, I vividly remember, was my dad banging on all of our bedroom doors early in the morning yelling “Merry Christmas!  I’m Up…Everybody Up!!”   Recalling these memories now still cause me to tear up, because I know they will never happen again.  But, then I remind myself that I’d rather have those happy memories than to never have had them at all.  These are the memories that shaped the traditions we now share in our own home.  We still drive around on Christmas Eve, looking at holiday lights, and come home to hot chocolate topped with lots of whipped cream. And, when we can wake up before our kids do, we bang on their bedroom doors too!

Grieving is a necessary and natural process, and I am not at all suggesting that this be done quickly.  I just wanted to offer a few suggestions, that helped me through the first Christmas after my mom passed, that may help lighten your heart a bit during these upcoming holidays.

I believe that celebrating life is the best way to honor our departed loved ones. And, knowing my parents the way I did,  I feel they would want to see me happy and smiling when I think of them, especially during this time of the year.  I still shed a few tears, especially on my November birthday, but the happy feelings I have when I remember them now outweigh the heavy heart I used to have.

Display feel good photos of your loved ones.  These represent the best of who they were in the physical, and what a wonderful way to include them in your current life happenings.  As time passes, children often worry that they will forget what their loved ones looked like.  Keeping their positive energy in a photo, displayed in the family or main living area, is a perfect way to have all of you still feel connected. Keep stoic or stern looking photos packed away (or even toss them).  I believe that only happy expressions are worth honoring.

I love this picture of my parents, sitting in front of our Christmas tree, from back in the 1970’s.  This is how I think of them every Christmas.  I smile whenever I look at this photo, and feel them close to me as our family celebrates together.

Howard & Clem Humphrey 1970's 001

My parents, Howard & Clem Humphrey

Honor the family traditions that you loved doing together.  If your family had a tradition of going to the movies on Christmas Day, then go to the movies on Christmas Day.  If you used to drive around looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve, drive around and look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. Traditions give a sense of continuity and offer comfort.  They honor what was important to you in the past.  You will feel a stronger connection during the holidays by celebrating those traditions you enjoyed together.  You may even find a new tradition to honor their memory.

Bring more light into your space.  The inward Yin energy of Winter can increase feelings of lethargy and depression.  We spend more time indoors and lose the benefit of sunlight to boost our Vitamin D levels, which contribute to our sense of well-being.   Expose yourself to brighter Yang energy by allowing as much light into your house as possible each day, or bundle up and go outside, even if for only 20-30 minutes.  If neither of these options work, invest in a light box or lamp for your home, which simulates sunlight.  These have been used successfully to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well.

Keep clutter to a minimum to allow for more breathing space for you and your home, and deep breathing is one of the best ways I know to relax your mind and body.  If you need an energy boost, try removing at least 9 things from your home.  I modified an old feng shui cure for shifting energy (which recommends moving 27 things) because I didn’t want to just move things, I wanted to release some stuff. By starting with just 9 items, I felt better and was inspired to release more unwanted energy out of my personal space, which helped me feel not only physically, but emotionally lighter.  

Add pops of a favorite bright color to your Winter decor.  Earth colors such as brown, tan and rust, tend to be the general choice for creating a cocooning effect, but if overused can significantly drop the energy of the home’s residents.  Brighter colors, such as orange and yellow, can do wonders to lift spirits.  Consider using these friendly colors in small doses with candles, a throw or toss pillows.  Adding metallics such as silver or gold, will also do the same to boost your energy quotient. 

Bring nature inside. This is a simple and inexpensive way to feel connected to the outside world.  Special rocks, interesting looking bare branches, sprigs of greenery and pinecones all work, just make sure they are clean and bug free before bringing them indoors.  Artificial also counts if you cannot readily find the real deal. 

Spend some private time with your feelings.  This can be during prayer, meditation, a visit to a memorial site or favorite place, or just a walk out in nature. However you feel connected with your loved one and God, Universal Spirit, or another name you may use to address the eternal life energy, spend time with your feelings.  Talk with your loved one, in your thoughts or out loud, and say what is in your heart.  Be honest and don’t judge how you respond.  Sometimes, we need to sob, vent, curse or apologize to express how we feel, and get it out into the light of day so healing can begin.  Afterwards, take a very deep breath (or two or five), and continue on with your day.  This will allow you to release some of the pain and remember more of the joy and love.

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!  ♥

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Fall Cleaning And A Lesson From My Dyson

front door photo 1

It’s the first week of October and time for my Fall Cleaning ritual.  As we head into the mostly yin (colder, darker, cocooning, inward energy) part of the year (Fall and Winter), I find that giving our home a good dose of yang (brighter, active, expanding) energy gets me better prepared to face less daylight hours and more time spent indoors.  

Whenever we give our home a thorough cleaning, there is an automatic lifting of our spirits.  I feel more at ease and relaxed.  It is as if my home is smiling and saying Thank You!  This is not to say that I look forward to the tasks, and I even procrastinate starting cleaning projects.  But today, I discovered that there is one chore I now enjoy as a meditative activity.

This morning, while vacuuming our family room, moving forward and back, forward and back, forward and back, I looked down at the clear canister of my Dyson and saw an amazing amount of dirt, fur and debris swirling around.  How could this be? I made only three passes at a section of the room, and the carpet didn’t look that dirty!  After completing the room, I had the urge to re-vacuum and see if there was anything left to pick up.   I did and…There was!  From this seemingly boring act of vacuuming, I fully realized how much debris we become clueless to in our homes. Even seasoned Feng Shui consultants cannot always see what is lurking in their own spaces!  

My Teacher

My Teacher

In Feng Shui, what you don’t see still affects you. Most of the time, the reason we feel stuck in our lives is because we have this residual gunk hanging around.  It needs to be cleaned up to continue moving forward. If it hangs around too long, it will likely cause dis-ease in the forms of anxiety, frustration, depression, weight gain, and general malaise.  After having our carpets professionally deep cleaned today, I felt lighter and happier. This has given me the inspiration to get to the rest of my projects!

Doing a deep Fall cleaning of your home gives you a fresh perspective on life and renews your energy for the upcoming months.  From a Feng Shui perspective, I have listed the priority areas that I focus on first.  

The Front Entrance.  This is where ch’i (or life energy) enters your home. Welcome it in with a clean and clear pathway (leaves and weeds be-gone). Make sure all windows are sparkling, inside and out.  Clear all cobwebs, dead bugs and clutter from the front door.  Have a beautiful Welcome mat out.  Make sure the door handle and doorbell are in good working order and that the address numbers are visible for ch’i (and visitors) to find you.  The door needs to open fully with no obstructions.

The Kitchen.  The stove is the most important appliance in your home.  It represents wealth and abundance in Feng Shui.  Keep it clean at all times.  Have all burners in good working order and use all of them regularly. This sets the intention that prosperity and abundance continuously flows and won’t become stagnant. Treat the refrigerator with the same respect.  After all, this is where a large portion of your abundance is stored!  Toss outdated food, wash down the shelves and drawers and organize what is left.  Only purchase what you know will be consumed in a short period of time.  Bulk purchasing of perishables often wastes more of your money than it saves.

Clean the kitchen floors and wiped down cabinets.  Give your countertops a thorough cleaning and simplify what you have on display.  Cull the excess appliances and gadgets in your cabinets as well.  Only keep what you regularly use and love.  If you don’t use the waffle maker, now that you’re on a gluten-free diet, donate it.   If you still have the cookie press you received as a gift, but have never used it, donate or give it away.  A clean kitchen gives you room to breathe in a place that is meant to nourish and revitalize the body and spirit. 

The floors, window coverings and furniture.  These take the most abuse throughout the year and fabric holds in more dust, grime and negative energy than hard surfaces.  Clean carpets and window coverings make a significant shift in a room’s feel.  This is especially true if it has been closed up or the occupants have recently gone through a hardship.  You can actually feel how much happier the space feels!  If professional upholstery cleaning is not feasible, a good vacuuming will also do wonders.

The Bedrooms.  You function better in your life when you sleep well, especially during the potentially stressful holiday season. Open the windows and bring fresh air in.  Give the bed a good airing as well.  I won’t get into the details that most of us have heard, about the importance of having a good quality mattress, but make sure it is clean and in good condition.  Refresh your decor by changing out anything that you no longer absolutely love.  Resist the urge to decorate your bedroom for the holidays.  Too many add-ins, especially greenery (real or artificial), Santas or other figurines, increases the activity energy in the room and most likely will affect your sleep.   It is better to keep the holiday decor in more active areas of your home.  

Keep the holiday decorations in active areas of your home

Keep the holiday decorations in active areas of your home, such as the front entry.

Well, it’s time to give my kitchen some love and well deserved re-energizing.  What area in your home will be first on your Fall Cleaning list?

Happy October!

Feng Shui And Your Vehicle Part I

License plate brackets can be good Feng Shui!

License plate brackets can be good Feng Shui!

You can improve the energy flow of any space using Feng Shui principles, and that includes the vehicles you drive.  

Now that summertime travel is upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to address a space where we spend a lot of time  – our motor vehicles.  I have lived, and driven, in two of the most auto populated areas in the US:  Los Angeles and Atlanta.  I can honestly say that having good Feng Shui in and around my cars has kept me safe and (mostly) calm in both areas as I drive!  Hopefully my suggestions will be helpful to you as well.

1.  Keep it Clean!  What applies to your home applies to your car.   Empty water bottles or coffee cups, fast food bags, dried french fries, loose Cheerios on the floor, or papers strewn across the back seat does nothing to help you feel confident and in control of your driving (or your life).  If you unexpectedly need to drive a friend, relative or co-worker somewhere, you won’t need to fumble around to clean a place off for them to sit, let alone have to apologize for the mess.  I’ve been there, done that, and it is embarrassing!  

In addition, keeping a messy car sends a signal to the Universe that you do not appreciate and respect what you have.  You may collect more dings and dents, have more technical problems or even tend to drive more disrespectfully around others.  You won’t have the tendency to feel envious of others if you keep your vehicle clean inside and out.  This does not mean you cannot admire newer, sexier vehicles –  just remember who you are driving home at the end of the day! 

2.  Have a positive reminder in view.  This can be a guardian angel charm, a small item given to you by someone special, a written affirmation posted on the dashboard, a window decal or photo.  I always get a kick out of the dash vase the newer VW bugs have.  OK, it’s a bit too cutesy for most, but I love the idea!  It’s about having something uplifting in a space where you spend a lot of time.  I have clear window clings with the words JOY and GRATITUDE on the bottom of each side of my windshield.  It is my reminder to be thankful for having a great vehicle to take me where I want and need to go.  Our son’s car has one that says PROTECTION.  Our daughter has a Guardian Angel medallion on her dash.  It doesn’t need to be big –  just a visual reminder to start your drive on a positive note. 

3.  Send out a Blessing before you drive.  Yes, I believe in angels and especially my driving angels!  I ask them to watch over me, my car, and everyone else I am around every time I get behind the wheel.  I visualize a protective white light surrounding me and whatever vehicle I am driving.  If I’m running late, which occurs much less now, I ask that I arrive at my destination safely and on time.  I then take a deep breath, relax and trust the traffic will cooperate.  I can honestly say that I find I do arrive in time or there were delays on the other end which kept me from being the late one.  I drive in the faster moving lane, get mostly green lights, and avoid erratic drivers the majority of the time.  

I don’t leave home without sending my blessing out!  On long trips, I repeat my blessing every time I stop for food or fuel.  I do the same for friends and family members that I know are driving home late or long distances.  

4.  Utilize the Fame/Reputation and Career areas of your vehicle.

The front license plate bracket is in the Fame/Reputation and the back bracket is in the Career guas of the Bagua.  These are great locations to advertise your business contact information or something else that represents you!  On the front of my minivan, I have the Yin/Yang symbol and my rear license bracket has a reference to Feng Shui.  I have energized both of these brackets with the intention that they send out positive energy while I drive.  The rear window and back of the vehicle work well too, so long as it doesn’t look cluttered or obstruct your view.  

Be conscious about displaying anything that may irritate or cause another driver to be distracted around you, such as highly reflective finishes or derogatory stickers. If that is your intent, however, be prepared to attract drivers around you that are irritated or distracted.  

5.  Regular Maintenance = A Happier Car  

My dad always told me that if I keep my car looking good and running well, I will keep it longer and enjoy it more, plus save money and headaches.  How right he was!  We currently own 4 vehicles and three of them have over 135k miles each.   They all receive regular oil changes, and get the necessary repairs which have been minor given their use.  Our mechanic shared with me that most people do not keep up with regular oil changes and check-ups, which cause most of the mechanical problems he sees.  If something breaks, do what you can to repair it as soon as possible.  As with your home, so with your vehicle – a grateful heart for what you have is always good Feng Shui!

6.  Motorcycles need good Feng Shui too!

My husband is back riding a motorcycle after a 25 year hiatus while raising our kids. As with most bikers, I know there is no problem with keeping them clean and in good repair – I wish my car was babied as much as his bike is!  

Because motorcycles can get easily lost in a blind spot, Wes also visualizes a protective white light around him every time he rides.  His bike has the traditional Guardian Bell attached to the bottom of the bike chassis, to protect against road ‘gremlins’ (aka hazards).  He also keeps a piece of Hematite, a wonderful grounding stone, in his front bike pouch to help him stay grounded and focused while riding.  As with all Feng Shui enhancements, the intention behind them gives them energy and power.  Medallions, crosses and the like can do the same thing.

To some, all of this may sound Hokey or too ritualistic, which is OK by me.  I know I am calmer and more relaxed when I drive and worry less about others.  I keep sending my blessings out to all the drivers around me and hope they will feel as calm and relaxed as I am. 

Look for Part II of Feng Shui and Your Vehicle, where I will share my insights on car colors.

Safe Travels Everyone!

Your Vibration Does Matter

logomancer_Atom_Model

When I first began studying Feng Shui, one of the first basic rules I learned was:  Everything is energy.   

This rule brought me back to my college days in Chemistry class, many, many moons ago.  The condensed version of what I learned:  Everything surrounding us, seen and unseen, is a combination of molecules made up of vibrating atom particles.  These molecules vibrate at certain frequencies – the slower the vibration of  molecules, the more solid and heavy the mass – the higher the vibration, the lighter the mass.  This includes light and sound waves (what we see and hear), and even our thoughts.   

What does this mean to us in terms of improving the quality of life?  Plenty! It means that everything around us is alive with energy, and therefore sends out a vibration that we can see, hear, smell, taste or feel.  The challenge for us is to pay attention to how we are responding to that vibration.  Does it make us feel good, bad or indifferent?  What was pleasant a few months, or even years, ago may not be true now.   What is a positive affirmation for one person may bring feelings of unhappiness to another.  It is all about personal choices, which is a good thing.  Can you imagine how boring life would be if all we saw were the same colored houses with identical cars parked in every driveway?

Feng Shui’s goal is to create balance and harmony in our spaces so we can live better.  Balancing the energy of a space means changing its vibration to support you.  

Clutter creates a very low vibration.  The energy of clutter feels heavy and stagnant.  Spending too much time in a cluttered space will cause your own vibration to drop and become lethargic, even to the point of depression.   That is why Feng Shui practitioners talk so much about de-cluttering spaces before changing anything else. You will be amazed at the energy shift just from performing this one activity!

Change your thoughts to improve the energy surrounding you.   Negative thoughts = lower vibration, Positive thoughts = higher vibration!

Changing your focus from what isn’t working in your life to what you appreciate about your life raises your vibration and improves your outlook.  Imagine if you did this right before your clutter cleared or re-decorated a room.  Your positive vibration will be imbued into that space and raise the overall feel of that room.  Creating vision or dream boards, or decorating with photos and artwork that send you positive vibrations are quick ways to raise the vibration of a space as well.

The energy you surround yourself with is what you tend to vibrate back into the world. The point is to live with what you love and love what you live with.  This also applies to people, but that’s a whole other topic for another day!

 

 

2013, The Year of the Water Snake

HAPPY NEW YEAR (Again)!  

February 10th marks the official beginning of the Chinese New Year (the second new moon after the Winter Solstice).  We are getting ready to enter the Year of the Water Snake – another year of changes and transitions.

Year of the Snake 2013 clip art 003

In the Chinese culture, the snake represents wisdom and knowledge – not quite the same frame of reference we have for the snake in our Western society.  The snake is all about shedding its skin and starting fresh.  What a great focus to have this year as a lot of us continue to shed old habits, attitudes, situations and beliefs that no longer serve us.  

What have you decided to release from your life this year?  What new choices are you making?   Consider all areas of your life – financial, health, relationships, business/career, spiritual.  This is the year to finally clear things up and let things go.

Here are a few suggestions to implement before February 10th, in order to fully enjoy this second New Year:

Take time to get focused and develop a plan.  Be cautious and deliberate, rather than impulsive, about your choices this year.  Water Snake energy brings with it deep, personal reflection and transformation.  It is time to be still and really listen to your intuition, and then follow it.

Get your house in order.  Wash, dust and vacuum old, stale energy away (or any bad luck energy from the prior year), so you can welcome in fresh, new vibrant energy.  Pay particular attention to your kitchen, which is the heart of your home’s prosperity, and where your family receives its nourishment.   Make sure all burners are clean, working well, and ALL are used regularly.  Keep counter tops clean and uncluttered.  Check your refrigerator and toss or use up all leftovers (including the last bits of condiments and salad dressings), then  give it a good cleaning.  

All areas of your home count in the organizing process. True, it may not be seen often, but clutter is clutter and closets, garages, attics and basements do affect your energy flow.  Release the excess or it will continue to drag you down in 2013!

Energize your front entrance and kitchen.  Place a new colorful WELCOME mat outside the front door.  Put out a bowl of fresh oranges or tangerines on your kitchen table or counter – these hold the energy of  prosperity since the Chinese words for orange and tangerine sound like wealth and luck, respectively.  Place a fresh bouquet of a combination of white, orange and yellow flowers on your dining table, a living display of all 5 elements in Feng Shui.  Keep them only as long as they look fresh and healthy.

Energize your personal finances.  Every New Year, I change out my old wallet for a new red or purple one.  A fresh, new wallet re-energizes the thought of financial prosperity.  This is a wonderful tradition I have shared with clients and friends with positive results!  This year, you can add gold to the choices – a color that always represents wealth – and the Metal element supports Water!  As an additional affirmation of abundance – keep a $20, $50 or $100 bill tucked away in your new wallet, as a reminder that you always have extra funds.  Use the highest denomination possible and if it happens to get used, replace it quickly. 

Consider the Chinese New Year a do-over bonus!   If you’re frustrated because you’ve already fallen down on your January 1st New Year’s resolution(s), re-focus, re-energize and consider this your second chance.  You still have a whole new year ahead of you! 

 

Gung Hey Fat Choy!       “Wishing you Prosperity and Wealth!”

 

New Year, New Energy, New Life!

What I love about celebrating a New Year is that we can celebrate it twice!  There is January 1st, from the Gregorian calendar, which we use here in the West.  Then there is the Chinese New Year, the first New Moon of the year, which will be February 10th in 2013.  I especially love celebrating the Chinese New Year because, energetically, it connects us to our physical surroundings.  Since we focus on changes we want to make in our lives in the coming year, it is important we also clean up our personal spaces to support these changes.

If your goal is to eat healthier, then your kitchen should support those choices.  After giving the kitchen a good cleaning, remove what does not support your goals, such as the deep fryer and the highly processed snacks, and replace them with maybe a juicer and fresh fruits and vegetables.  If you want to improve the success of your home business, create a successful and organized office area with a desk facing the door so you can see opportunities coming.   Although these seem like small changes to make, the positive shift you will feel in your home will inspire you to keep your focus.

What changes do you want to make in your life for 2013?  What improvements can you make in your home to support those changes?

Happy New Year!!

Preparing for Thanksgiving Guests

Can it be the middle of November already?  It seems like yesterday when we were enjoying the hot Summer weather.  The temperature outside has dropped into the 40’s and the trees are showing off their last bold colors before going to sleep for the Winter.  It is now time to plan for Thanksgiving.

While many of us are doing major house cleaning, food planning and decorating in anticipation of big family gatherings, I’d like to share some Feng Shui tips to help fill your home with more gratitude and balanced energy and less frustration and drama.

Set your intention for everyone to have a wonderful time.  True, you can’t control how anyone else acts or reacts while visiting, but you can set the tone for your own energy and attitude.  Write down a blessing or affirmation on a piece of paper, such as: “May all who dine here be blessed with good health, happy and loving hearts and prosperity in all areas of their lives.”  Place this blessing in the room where you will be dining, either under a beloved piece of china in the hutch or on the buffet, or under the tablecloth or runner.  No one else needs to know it’s there.  Remembering this blessing will lighten your energy and spread out to the others.  You could also choose to place this blessing in your entryway and re-word it to ‘all who enter’.   

See your home as a guest would.  Is the path leading up to your front door well lit and free of all dried leaves and debris?  Is your front door welcoming?  I love keeping things simple.  A brightly colored Welcome mat and colorful wreath on the door, decorated with Fire and Earth colors (reds, oranges, yellows) invites not only visitors, but vital Ch’i energy into your home.   Another excellent choice is to flank pots of cheerful chrysanthemums on either side of the door.  If your front door is already painted red, decorate with greenery and yellows, browns and dark tones to balance all of the Fire energy.  Make sure your doorbell is working, the door handles are tight, and squeaky hinges are oiled.  You want your front door to be strong, secure and ready to greet your guests!

During the Fall season, I love welcoming guests with sunflowers on the door!

When you enter your home, is it clear of any clutter, especially on the floor?  If you can smell food cooking when you enter, you have included a wonderful sense of smell to the atmosphere, or you can light a mildly scented, seasonal candle near the entrance.  This is where I love to use the small votive or tealite candles rather than larger scented pillars or jar candles, which can be overwhelming to guests with sensitive noses.  I also burn one in each bathroom as well.  Tealites add more ambiance than using plug-in fresheners.   Festive music, playing quietly in the background, will add a pleasant sound without being a distraction to conversation. 

Set the stage for dining.  Although a round or oval dining room table is the ideal shape for equal conversation, most of us probably have either a square or rectangular table that gets extended for large gatherings.  The preferred, command position is the chair that is farthest from the entrance of the room yet facing it, usually with a solid wall behind it.  The weakest energy position is the chair with its back to the room’s entrance.  We can talk about power positioning (the host usually sits in the command position) , but I’d rather talk about making everyone feel as comfortable as possible.  A tablecloth that drapes over all corners of a square or rectangular table reduces the sharpness of the edges and softens the overall feel of the room.  You can soften edges of a hutch or sideboard, that may be  pointing towards someone, by draping greenery over the corners.  Find this out, in advance, by sitting in each dining chair.       

Mirrors multiply the abundance of food, which represents wealth and abundance in Feng Shui.  Prop a large mirror up behind the buffet, place them under serving dishes or use as a runner down the center of the table.  

If your dining room is painted red or burgundy (which is common here in the South), hold back from adding too much fire, which will  increase the chance of heated arguments.  Also be sparing with wood elements, since most rooms already have a lot of wood furniture and Wood feeds the Fire energy.  Instead, put the focus on glassware, light colored plates and metallics.  

Thanksgiving reminds us to express gratitude and appreciation for what we have and who we have in our lives.  Decorate your home with gratitude, prepare your meals with love and welcome all who enter with appreciation, and this holiday will bring you joy and peace.    

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!   

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