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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!

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 II

So many cars - so many colors!

So many cars – so many color choices!Here,

Color Does Matter!  

I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but here, in the United States, we tend to identify strongly with the vehicles we drive.  They have become an extension of our own personalities,or personalities we wish to show others.  The color of your vehicle does have an impact on the way you drive and the energy you project on the road.  Are you driving the best reflection of who you are?

RedOrange and  Bright Yellow are FIRE colors and reflect high energy, passion, assertiveness and aggression – very yang traits.  Fire wants to be noticed! Being a Sagittarius, I am already a Fire sign, and for some reason, whenever I drive a red vehicle, it always drives way over the speed limit.  Go figure!  If you tend to be a highly ‘driven’ individual, a red car may make you more so.  If you are wanting to be more noticed in the world, a FIRE color will definitely help you do that.  Just watch for a shift in your driving energy and attitude!  These colors would be fun for Earth energies, who usually play it safe, but would like to be more noticed in their field of work, or life, in general!

As an aside, I have a confession to make.  Although I absolutely LOVE Bumblebee Yellow Camaros, I probably will never own one.   In my early adulthood, I owned a bright yellow 1976 VW Rabbit, which I enjoyed so much!   I was stopped several times for going over the speed limit and, without getting into the details, I went a bit airborne once while driving too fast getting onto the Coronado Bridge in San Diego (I hope my kids don’t read this)!  Fortunately, my outcomes were uneventful, but I learned that fire-colored cars and I are not a good match.  I prefer the focus and concentration I get when driving a white vehicle.

Blue and Green are WOOD energy colors and represent a flexible and strong energy.   Green has dropped considerably in popularity,  but blue is a color on the rise again.  Blue would be a great color choice if you are wanting to express yourself more, but not flamboyantly.  But, be aware that the brighter the color, the higher the energy level.  Neon green and bright blue have much stronger vibes and therefore stronger driving energy!

Browns, Tans and Pale Yellow represent the grounded EARTH element, which make them some of the safest energy colors to have on the road.  They also happen to be considered the most sedate and are the least purchased – how often do you see tan cars in traffic?   An EARTH energy color would definitely be most attractive to people’s whose first considerations are dependability and reliability – very yin traits.  Earth also represents a feeling of  calmness.  Brown, tan & yellow vehicles were very popular in the 60′s & 70′s – a time when our society was in upheaval and the older generation wanted to keep the status quo.  My mom drove a light yellow 1970 Mercury Montego and my dad a 1965 light yellow Chevy Truck (I forgot to mention that my dad was a California State Driver License Examiner too).  There is definitely a benefit to having these colors on the road – you just might not be able to find as many available for purchase.  The desire today is to drive something with more energy & personality!

White, Gray, Silver, Gold and other metallic colored cars represent METAL energy, which help with concentration and staying on task while driving. These colors also promote a feeling of being in control and are considered by many to be classic, elegant vehicle colors.  I am on my second white vehicle, and I really love white cars.  I confess that I tend to daydream while driving  and having the focused energy of a METAL color around me keeps me paying attention, and calmer than those Fire colors do!

Black and Dark Shades of most other colors represent the mystery and intrigue of the WATER element. It is no wonder that black is a popular choice for people who want to remain anonymous, secretive, or project an air of mystery.  This is the popular choice for limousines, police cars and government transport vehicles. Add to that blacked out windows, and you have the ultimate fortress from prying eyes.  High profile people, continuously surrounded by active FIRE energy, will appreciate the peace and calm they get riding in a blacked out car.  There’s nothing like a large dose of WATER to cool off the intense heat of Fame!  Black has become one of the most popular car colors.  Perhaps it’s the desire to feel mysterious and cool that attracts so many to drive this color vehicle.

No matter how new or old your vehicle is, respect and appreciate it by keeping its interior and exterior a positive reflection of you.  Not only will you feel better, you will tend to have a better driving experience.  And that is always Good Feng Shui!

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!

 

 

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!!

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!

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