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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

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!  ♥

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!

A Feng Shui’d College Bedroom

Inspiration on the walls

Inspiration on the walls

Two weeks ago, our daughter, Kim, returned to college to begin her junior year.  She was excited to get back, and enjoy the experience of sharing her campus apartment with three new roommates.  Although her apartment looks identical to the one she had last year, it does have different energy.  It is in the same building, but on the second floor, instead of the third as was last year’s.  There was also a different student living in that space for the past 12 months, which meant her energy imprint still lingered.  No matter whether this energy was positive or not, it was important that Kim’s bedroom space be cleared so she could start fresh.  I am so proud of my daughter for doing this on her own, with only a few texts and phone calls to her mom for support!  This is what she did to create a new space to begin a new year:

Energy Clearing  – Kim space cleared her bedroom, with the door open, by playing her favorite music while burning incense and a favorite scented candle.  She used a feather to circulate the energy throughout the room, with the intent of dissipating the old energy and welcoming positive energy into the space.  Space clearing works because of the intention behind the actions, no matter how you choose to do it.  Kim felt lighter and happier afterwards, so the clearing was a success!

Decorating with Intention Everyone should have something wonderful to see upon awakening, and before going to sleep. Respecting the contraints of a student’s budget, (and no nails allowed), Kim chose a favorite scarf  (the dark blue color was deliberate –  to bring in the Water element of her Career area), and pinned it on the wall in front of her bed, then placed index cards with clothes pins on vertical strings on either side.  On each of these cards she wrote a positive or inspirational statement.  Her favorite has always been from Ghandi:  Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.  You can see in the photo above, she also has a wall hanging of this quote, which she placed next to her desk.

A view from the bed with a favorite scarf and inspiring words!

It is important for students to use the desk as the place to study, which is included in all college abodes, .  As comfortable as the bed seems for reading and doing homework, all of the stress from studying for exams and pulling late night cram sessions accumulates and energizes the bed too much for a good night’s sleep.  It also is terrible for your back!  

Once Kim understood this, she was committed to having her desk be a comfortable and inspiring study spot.  She surrounded herself with her vision boards, a handmade quilt from a favorite aunt, a clean desk top and, of course, a picture of her longtime fantasy crush, Leonardo DiCaprio, (hey, a girl’s gotta have something nice to rest her eyes upon occasionally)!   Although her desk did not have an ideal feng shui location, she is next to the only window in the room and can look out onto the grass courtyard below, to give her energy a lift.  She is also able to see her door to the side (but it is not in direct line with the chair).  When she is ready for bed, Kim can drape a blanket over it, to cover any unfinished homework assignments, her laptop and her printer.  Out of sight, out of mind!

kim's room

An inspirational study area

Kim’s bed was already in the power position of the room – she can see her door, but is not in line with it.  Above her bed, she hung favorite pictures she has been collecting over the past few years.  Her bed is dressed in yellow sheets and a comfy duvee cover, to keep her feeling cozy and grounded while she sleeps.  A Himilayan salt lamp stays on during the day, to help cleanse the air near her bed, and her dreamcatcher hangs nearby, to collect any bad dreams.  The next step in her process is to find another beautiful scarf, or piece of fabric, to cover the bookshelf contents while sleeping.

Kim's Fame and Reputation area with bed

My daughter’s decor is a wonderful reflection of her ingenuity, intuition and style, and she is proud of what she has accomplished on her own.    

Here’s to an AWESOME school year, Sweetie!  

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!

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!   

Your Art Speaks Volumes

I still love my daughter’s paintings from elementary school which were given to me as a gift.

The art in your home is always talking to you.  What is it saying?  This includes hanging artwork, photos, sculptures, ceramic pieces, or a vignette combining several items.

There is a reason why you chose what is on display in your home.   If you  have recently acquired a piece, or have had it for years, take another look and really see what it’s saying to and about you.  You might discover that it  may not be making that positive statement  it once did.  To find out, ask yourself these questions:

When I look at it, how does it make me feel?  Does it lift my spirit, drag me down or not affect me at all?

How did I acquire it?   If it was a gift, how do I feel about the person who gave it to me?

Does it conjure up any specific memories?  If so, how do they make me feel now?

Does it represent or support a positive aspect of who I am or who I am striving to become?

If you answer any of these questions with a negative response, chances are it has outlived its benefit to you.   

When I do feng shui consultations, I always ask about the significance of the art in my clients’ rooms.  What surrounds you holds a strong clue into what may be triggering unhappiness, anxiety, sadness or an inability to move forward out of a stuck situation. Look at those items as outdated energy in your space and your life.

Don’t underestimate the power visual cues have on you.  We have conditioned ourselves to adapt to almost any situation and numb ourselves to our emotion,  but over time, it does have an affect on us.  Every day you receive a hit of negative energy that drains you little by little.  Are you holding on to something from your ex, even though you went through a nasty divorce several years ago?  When you see it, does it still give you a pang of regret, sadness or even anger?  Do you have an heirloom family portrait, or landscape painting done by Aunt Esther, that you didn’t want but felt obligated to take?  Every time you walk past it, you may feel some resentment towards the person who gave it to you for invading your private space.

Negative feelings related to things in your home cause stagnant energy and an inability to move out of the past.  It is especially important to understand this if you are currently going through a rough time, such as divorce or a major family conflict.  I’m not saying that you should just chuck it all out of the house, but I do suggest that you remove what may be holding less than positive, happy feelings from your space and see if you notice a shift in your energy level.  Here are a few guidelines to follow to help clear your space:

1.  Pack it away for 6 months, away from your location, and see if you miss it in your space.

2. Can you return it to the person who gave it to you?  Tell them it no longer works in your home.  Who knows, they may want it back or suggest someone else who would love to have it.

3.  If you truly don’t want the item, sell, donate or give it to a family member or friend who really does like it.  This occurs frequently with family heirlooms that are handed down.  The recipient may not like the piece, but another family member would love to have it.  Holding onto something in your home out of guilt is one of the worst energies you can have around you.  You have given your power away, in your own home, to someone else.  This can hold you back from stepping fully into your present life.

My parents have both passed (my dad 6 years ago, my mom 2 years ago).  They had collected a lot of unique pieces during our international travels as a military family.  In the trust disbursement, my parents listed some things they thought each of us wanted. It ended up being different than what we wanted, so we re-negotiated with each other.  In the end, we each received what meant the most to us, and it all worked out.  We did draw straws when we divided up jewelry, but the rest was either sold to an auction dealer or donated.  We received what we loved and honored as family mementos and would use or display  in our homes.  I feel our parents would have been proud of the way we honored the process of dividing their possessions.

Be conscious of where certain art pieces are displayed in your home.  The dining room or kitchen (where people gather to share food and visit) may not be the best location to display that war mask you bought as a souvenir from your travels. The energy it represents could instigate arguments.  A better place may be in a den or library, where it can ward off unwanted interruptions.

I’ve  mentioned before that family photos and religious artwork or statues are best removed from the master bedroom, unless you like all of them watching while you are engaged in other activities in bed besides sleeping!    If you are wanting a relationship, having artwork displaying lonely, single people in your personal space sends a contradictory message to the Universe.  Pieces should reflect being in a pair, preferably an equal pair.

Make deliberate and conscious decisions when you buy artwork for your home.  The feeling you get when you look at it is literally what it will be saying to you for a long time to come.  Make sure you are having a wonderful conversation, but also revisit that relationship when changes occur in your life.

Clutter and Its Affect on Ch’i

A transformed bedroom in our California home.

My first introduction to Feng Shui was over 12 years ago, because I was stressed and frustrated.  I always figured my life was chaotic because of my Type A personality – my mind was always going in 5 different directions, and always thinking 3 steps ahead (OK, so I still do that on occasion).  It wasn’t until I read an article about Feng Shui in a local paper that I understood the real reason for my stressful lifestyle.  My mind and physical surroundings were full of clutter, which caused me to have chaotic life energy (ch’i).  My personal ch’i and the ch’i in my physical environment needed help.  We can discuss mental clutter another time, but this post addresses the physical clutter.

Living with clutter was costing me time,  money and peace of mind.  I was always searching for the car keys, getting angry when I had to pay a late fee on a bill I had misplaced, or purchasing a duplicate of something because I couldn’t find it when I needed it.  When we had company over, I would have the whole family scrambling to pick up and hide all the stuff lying around.  We used to joke that having people over was the only time the house ever looked clean.  In reality, it was no laughing matter. 

Feng Shui is all about consciously arranging your physical environment to enhance the quality of your life.  I came to the realization that I couldn’t arrange all of the stuff we had because we had too much!  My urge to purge was awakened. The process became less painful and more enlightening  when I learned to ask some basic Feng Shui questions as I held or looked at each item.    

1.  Do I love it? 

2.  Do I need it? 

3.  Does it reflect who I am now in my life? 

4.  Does it act as an environmental affirmation to me? 

5.  What positive and/or negative thoughts, memories, or emotions do I associate with it? 

6.  Does it need to be fixed or repaired, and am I willing to do so now? 

7.  If I moved tomorrow, would I choose to take it with me? 

8.  If it is time to let it go, am I going to sell, lend or give it away, and when? 

As my husband, two kids and I went through our stuff, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to sell, donate or toss the things that no longer worked or served a purpose in our current lives – old dishes given to us by my husband’s late mother (we never used them and never would, so why not give someone else a chance to enjoy them?); the entire set of our wedding glassware (it was too ornate for our current tastes); broken items that could not be repaired; clothes that were outdated or didn’t fit anymore; craft supplies for projects that would never be completed; furniture we didn’t have room for; kids’ clothes and toys that weren’t used – the list went on and on. 

Everything was now in its place.

After going through this process, what remained were the items we really loved and wanted.  Clearing out the clutter really did re-energize my spirit.  I felt lighter and happier immediately!  We loved and used what we kept and could now honor it in our home.    Everything in the kitchen had its own spot where it could be found when needed, and returned after  using.  Our decor was simplified, calming and beautiful now.  Stuff was no longer crammed into our small 1200 sq.ft. home.  We finally had some breathing room. When friends came over, they would comment on how relaxing the house felt and asked me to help them with their homes.  That was the beginning of my Feng Shui career and I now look at spaces all the time through Feng Shui eyes.

We now live in Georgia and what an adventure it has been moving across the country and setting up another home.  We just recently moved again, so I am still re-arranging.   Each house has its own energy and special challenges, but we take our time and see what works and feels right, then go through our evaluation questions again.  We’ve released older furniture and purchased new pieces that are a better fit.  We always keep in mind that everything should be honored and have its own place.

Our new home is a new energy.

Now, I’m not saying that we always have a well-organized and calming home (paper clutter is still my challenge), but I can say that I love living in an energetically uplifting house.  That energy comes from letting go of the things that no longer work, consciously decorating with things that do, and staying on top of the accumulation of more stuff.

Life is good when you love what surrounds you!

In the Heat of the Summer

Summer has officially arrived!

Most of us here in The States will have extremely hot weather to deal with sometime during the next few months.

Being outside gives you freedom, fun, and connection to community and to nature…….all of which improve the quality of our lives.  We also get more natural Vitamin D from the sun, which decreases feelings of depression.

We are a ‘Goldilocks’ species.  We want things just right…..not too hot, not too cold, not too bright, not too dark, not too hard, not too soft, etc.  So, when we get too much of a good thing, in this case very yang sun and heat, we naturally follow the Feng Shui principle of balancing those with the following yin energies:

1.  Cool It Down –  How great does an ice-cold drink taste when you’ve been out in the sun!  It cools the body down quickly, without causing cramping.  Add a cold compress on the back of the neck and you have another quick way to cool off.  Other avenues of using the yin quality of cold…..fans & air conditioning.  Right now, it is 104 degrees here in metro Atlanta, GA, and believe me….those two  are lifesavers!  And let’s not forget the popsicle.  Yes, ice cream works well too, but popsicles are the ultimate traditional summer cooler.

2.  Get Wet –  Swimming or relaxing in a cool body of water, or at least having the spray of water on you, is the most fun way to cool off.  Did you have a Slip ‘N Slide growing up or remember running through the sprinklers?  What a quick & inexpensive way to cool off a bunch of hot kids (OK, adults too)!

3.  Go to the Dark Side – Shade is a welcoming yin element, whether poolside, on the deck or front porch, or with an umbrella strolling down the street.  Were you ever told to close the drapes and keep the lights turned off to keep the house cool?  Growing up in a house without A/C, this was a mantra used by my parents.  Darker areas are a welcomed relief from the brightness and heat outside.

4.  Nap Time –  This is my favorite yin remedy and encompasses a whole lot of yin for your buck – a quiet location, soft chair, bed or hammock, more horizontally positioned, in a shaded area with a cool breeze, and maybe a cold drink at the ready…sheer perfection!

So, the next time the heat of Summer gets to be a bit too yang for you, decide what yin qualities you want to add to your spaces to keep you balanced and happy.  I think I’m going to go take a nap!

The Lucky Bamboo

Bamboo is being used more and more in our western society in building products, such as flooring and cabinets.  We are also seeing sheets and clothing made out of this readily renewable resource.  To welcome in Spring,  I wanted to talk about the benefits of using Lucky Bamboo in your home, as a way of energizing growth and abundance into your spaces.  Imagine my surprise when I did my research on the plant and found out that it is not actually in the bamboo family.

The Lucky Bamboo is a Dracaena sanderiana, and is a species of the genus Dracaena.  It is a member of the lily family that grows in the dark, tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and Africa.  It has become popular as a household plant because it can survive in many indoor conditions and requires little regular maintenance.  Keeping it in indirect light is best as direct sunlight can cause the leaves to turn yellow and burn.  Lucky Bamboo also does very well when its roots are kept in clean, de-chlorinated water.  For more information on the care of lucky bamboo, check out this article: http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/newsletter-july-2003/

Although not a true bamboo, in Feng Shui, the resilient Lucky Bamboo  represents the Wood and Water elements, which relate to growth, success and prosperity, yet also demonstrate flexibility.  If you add a red ribbon tied around the stalks, you have added the Fire element, and further increase the positive flow of energy or chi in the room. Other ways to add Fire is to use a red pot or one with an animal motif.  You can find many Asian stores selling Lucky Bamboo in pots decorated with frogs, turtles, elephants and dragons.  When planted in a round (Metal), ceramic (Earth) pot, you have incorporated all five Feng Shui elements – a perfect addition to any space for elemental balance.

Lucky Bamboo is a wonderful addition in most areas of a home, particularly in the Health & Family and Wealth & Prosperity guas.  I have several Lucky Bamboo plants throughout my home.  The plant, pictured below, is in the Health & Family area of our dining room.  It is in a place of honor, along with two beloved family heirlooms – the hand-carved wooden bar it is sitting on, which my mother won playing Bingo when we were stationed in the Philippines, and the porcelain Buddha on the right, which was a gift to my dad that symbolized our family (my dad was bald and there are five kids in our family). The other Buddha was a gift to me from my mother.  Having the Lucky Bamboo there brings a wonderful balanced energy to those memories, now that both of my parents have passed.

There are many good locations for a Lucky Bamboo because it brings in nature and a balance to most spaces. Living and family rooms are great locations.  Consider placing one on your office desk – in the Wealth & Prosperity area (the far left corner), with the intent to bring in more financial success to your business, or in the Health & Family area (left side in the center), to bring in new growth and opportunities.  Just be careful not to go crazy and place them everywhere, or you may become overwhelmed with too much new activity all at once!  Intentionally place one and see how the energy responds.  The one room I wouldn’t suggest putting a plant in is a bedroom.  It could produce more yang energy than you want for sleep, especially when near the bed or in a small size bedroom.

A Lucky Bamboo plant makes a great gift.  Offer it with the intention of it bringing wonderful new energy, growth and success to the recipient’s life – perfect for a housewarming or birthday!  You can also give one to someone who is recovering from an illness, surgery or accident, with the intention that it represents healing and new strength.  Be sure the one you purchase is healthy, has room for water in the pot, and that the roots aren’t dry.  I recently went to a large home improvement store and found that the pot was too small and the rocks on top were actually glued together so you couldn’t water the plant – not good Feng Shui for the poor plant!  Just because they sell Lucky Bamboo does not mean that they are treated well.  A florist shop or grocery store may have the healthiest ones around.

If you don’t own a Lucky Bamboo yet, buy one.  If you honor it by treating it well, you will be blessed with many years of beauty and wonderful energy!

A Romantic, Restful Bedroom

To honor Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a great time to talk about the importance of Feng Shuing your bedroom to promote not only romantic love, but also to love and honor yourself.  Whether you are looking for that one perfect partner, re-vitalizing an existing relationship, or creating an oasis of serenity & support for yourself, having a calm and inviting bedroom is the first step.  Of course, using Feng Shui is only part of the equation – you need to set your intention on what it is you want in a relationship, then do your part to develop that relationship.  I can, at least, help you set the stage!

For your bedroom to support a secure and intimate relationship, everything you see, feel, smell and touch in the room should promote relaxation, security and intimacy.  Yin energy should be dominant in the room to create the coziness and comfort, while the addition of yang energy (see yin/yang for more info) adds the heat for amorous activities.   If it is too bright with too much to capture your attention (TV, computer, work desk or exercise equipment), you will have too many distractions to focus on intimacy or sleep.  Below are some Feng Shui suggestions to create balance and harmony for both to co-exist in the bedroom.

♥ Remove all clutter in the room.   This includes under the bed and in the closets.  It all counts because clutter causes stress in the form of confusion, irritation, overwhelm and frustration, which does not bode well for romance or a good night’s sleep.  Ignoring clutter does not mean it doesn’t affect you.  If you absolutely have to use your bedroom for storage, keep things neat and protected in containers made for storage.  Cardboard boxes and laundry baskets don’t count!  Keeping items under the bed should be the last resort, because beneficial energy (ch’i) cannot circulate freely around the bed.  It is difficult to get a good night’s sleep with stagnant energy around you!

♥ Use flesh-toned colors on your bedroom walls.   There is a wide-range of skin colors from people around the world including cream, pink, peach, yellow, lavender, beige, caramel, coral, raspberry, gold, terra-cotta and brown.  The general response to these colors is friendly, which is important in a room where you let your guard down.   Blue or green walls have more yang energy, since they represent the Wood element (the element for growth and activity).  White, gray, or even black walls tend to make the room feel cooler and less cozy.  If you do have white walls and cannot repaint, balance them with flesh tones in bed covers & linens, art, pillows, area rugs, and other decor.

♥ Keep the bed as the focal point of the room.   Giving the TV a commanding position in your bedroom can cause a definite drop in intimacy.  If you absolutely must have a TV in the room, put it behind closed doors at night, or cover it with a beautiful piece of cloth before going to bed – you don’t need this big black eye watching you while you sleep, or are otherwise engaged.  This also applies to computers, work desks, exercise equipment and all forms of paperwork and laundry.  These are all constant reminders of work, not rest, and do not belong in the bedroom at all!

The bed itself is important.  A good mattress is critical because if it doesn’t support your back, you will not feel supported in your life.  And as much as we think bigger beds are better, king size beds can leave too much space between people and reduce closeness for most couples.

Bed positioning is important to creating a safe haven for the most vulnerable time you spend in this room – during sleep.  Good quality sleep is critical for a good quality of life and great relationships. You should have the largest view of the room and see the entrance door from where you lie in bed, without being in direct line with the door.  If this is not possible, place a mirror on the opposite wall from the door to see it better from the bed. If the head of your bed is under a window, add a headboard or window treatments.  If the foot of the bed can only be positioned to face the door, add a footboard or chest there for a feeling of protection from the incoming energy of the hallway.

If your desire is to have a long-term relationship:  Be able to get out of bed on both sides and avoid having just one night stand next to the bed – use two.  Keep some closet space open, and remove stuffed animals and excess pillows.  All of these signal the universe that there is no room for another in your space – your space is already filled!

♥ Remove or cover all mirrors at night.   In Feng Shui, mirrors reflect yang activity.  The bigger and the closer a mirror is to the bed, the more it will disturb your sleep.  It is better to have no mirrors, or one that is not facing the bed (such as mentioned above).  The other option is to cover them with a beautiful cloth at night.  Our home in California had mirrored closet doors that reflected the entire length of the bed on my side.  Not long after we installed a curtain rod and curtains to cover them (which we opened during the day and closed at night),  the quality of my sleep improved and I fell back asleep quicker if I awoke during the night.  Eventually, we replaced the mirrored doors with louvered ones and eliminated the situation altogether.

♥ Use good quality bed linens.  Splurge on the best you can afford.  Considering how much of your time is spent in bed, a higher thread count and luxurious fabrics really do make a difference.  Textures, patterns and darker colors  promote more yin energy.  There are new fabrics out there that have an amazing sensual feel to them and are reasonably priced.

♥ Display photos and decor that honor your personal relationship.   You, as a couple, are the focus, rather than you as parents or part of a community.  Religious, family & group photos serve you better in other areas of the house.  Just remember…all eyes are on you while you sleep and enjoy other activities – do you really want everyone watching?!  Place your happy couple photos throughout the bedroom, especially in the Love & Relationship Bagua area of the room (far right corner from the door).  Items that you received as gifts from your loved one, or to honor your relationship, are wonderful to display anywhere in the room.  On our dresser, we have our framed wedding announcement (which was given to us as a gift) next to a wedding photo and a vacation photo we took in Hawaii.   I pass by the dresser each morning and am reminded of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful relationship!

If you are not yet in a relationship, in lieu of photos, use any objects that represent an equal pair – two flowers, two candles (red or pink are great color choices), statues of 2 birds (preferably facing each other or relating positively) or even 2 crystals or stones of equal size (to represent a rock solid pairing).  Equal proportion supports the idea of a balanced relationship.  Choosing 2 items that are disproportionate to each other can bring you a relationship where one person is dominant over the other.  Having photos or other artwork depicting a single person creates the energy of ‘one’, which is counterproductive to a couple status so watch what you display in your bedroom.  The Universe tends to take things literally!

Treat your sense of smell.  Years ago, I read that the scent of vanilla is a sensual scent for men (I guess it relates to: “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”).  Vanilla is used in a lot of desserts, and desserts are the epitome of decadence and comfort.  If vanilla doesn’t do it for you or your partner, find a scent that does and use it in subtle ways with candles or essential oils.  Lavender creates a relaxing atmosphere condusive for sleep and general well-being.  Keeping bowls of potpourri around does not promote positive energy.  Potpourri is made out of dried, dead items.

♥  Spark Passion with Red and Pink.    Red and pink are the colors that represent love & marriage, so feel free to accessorize with whatever shades you love.  Be careful not to go crazy with red everything in the bedroom though, because too much Fire can trigger arguments or cause restless sleep.  When you walk into the room, your eyes should be able to quickly pick out those pops of Fire, not be burned by it.

♥  Strengthen all of the Love & Relationship areas of your home.  If your master bedroom is located in the far right corner of your home, then you’re off to a great start!  If not, focus on cleaning up this area of all rooms in the house (all floors).  You can add paired items in these rooms to support the couple vibe.  The important thing is to get rid of clutter and unnecessary items!

Wishing you a Happy and Romantic Valentine’s Day!

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