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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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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!  

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 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.

Your Front Door – The Mouth of Ch’i

In feng shui, a welcoming front entrance to a home is very important. It allows the ch’i, or life force, to enter and meander around, which positively affects the occupants’ energy.  If the ch’i can’t find the front door or gets stuck once it enters, it can have a negative effect.   If you want to bring more positive ch’i into your home, there are several things you can do.

While most of us probably enter our homes through our garages,  the front door is the main entrance where the ch’i enters, as well as most other guests.  Every so often, walk in and out through your front door, to get a feel of what the rest of the world sees.  Get rid of any clutter on the walkway leading up to the front door.  Trim back bushes that may be obstructing the walkway, deadhead flowers and re-pot any sick or dead plants.  Repair cracked cement, missing bricks, loose handrails, non-working doorbells, squeaky door hinges and loose handles. Your address numbers should also be easily visible.  You may have heard that painting the front door red is a good idea.  It is true that red is an energizing color, but the most important point is to have it well maintained.  Hanging wind chimes near the front door will also beckon the ch’i in!

Now, open the front door and step into the foyer of your home.  What do you see first?  How does it make you feel?  Is it neat and clean, or are there shoes piled up behind the door, boxes in a corner or a pile of laundry that needs to be put away?  Clutter decreases the amount of positive ch’i coming into your home.  If you always run around cleaning up your entrance before company comes, take this as a clue!  It needs to stay uncluttered and clean for you.  If you feel that nobody really sees the mess, remember….you are considering yourself nobody.  If you see it – it matters.  There is no place to hide in feng shui!

Welcome to Feel Good In Your Space!

Do you love your home – every room, every space?  Do you feel comfortable spending time in each room?  Do you feel welcomed walking into your home at the end of the day?  Does it feel like your safe haven – a place to rest, rejuvenate and re-energize yourself?   Is your life going well in all areas (your health, love life, creative endeavors, family relations, financially, reputation-wise, and spiritually)?  If you answered YES to all of these questions, then this blog may not interest you.  If you answered NO to any or all of them, information and suggestions offered here can help change your answers to Yes!

The art & science of Feng Shui has been around for thousands of years, but our western society is just now understanding the relationship of our physical environment to the quality of our lives.   Feng Shui is not a religion or a cult, but a way of looking at your world using a recipe book, if you will.  These recipes include the use of color, furniture arrangement, specific intention, clutter clearing and placement of items in your space that support your lifestyle and dreams.

Take this journey with me and see if changing your space will change your life!

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