Change your space, improve your life!

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!

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!

2012 - The Year of The Dragon

January 23, 2012 begins the Year of The Dragon (more specifically the Year of The Water Dragon).  The dragon is the mightiest of all the Chinese zodiac signs and the only mythical one.  Originally, the dragon represented the emperor & power.  In modern times, it is the ultimate auspicious symbol signifying success & happiness!   This year holds the potential to breathe life-shaping fire into it – a year full of energy & vitality, which may prove to invigorate some and be a bit exhausting to others.  Lots of continued changes are in store!  Have you made room in your home to welcome in this auspicious energy yet?   Yes, we are getting back to the discussion of getting rid of clutter – the unnecessary stuff in your life right now!

Clutter is the biggest obstacle to achieving ANYTHING positive in a person’s life.  I love Feng Shui guru & Soul Coach, Denise Linn‘s description of clutter as being ‘an accumulation of things that impede the flow of energy in your home’.   Positive intention is also an important part of achieving what you want, so be aware of your mental and emotional clutter as well.  Negative self-talk, feelings of scarcity, living in the past, or holding onto resentment toward someone all count!

You can use the Bagua map to find out where stuck or stagnant energy may be in your home (thereby affecting you) by choosing an area in your life you would like to improve and checking for clutter in the corresponding area of the bagua.  For example, the wealth/prosperity area of your home footprint is located in the rear left corner as you walk in the front door.  If this area is cluttered or dirty, it is a good bet that you are having financial challenges as well.  By clearing out and cleaning up those spaces, you should have a clearer vision of your finances. You may even get ideas flowing to you of how to improve them!  Another suggestions is to also check each room individually (line each room’s door up to the bottom of the bagua map).  Do you see any clutter claiming the far left corners?  If you do…..clear it out and clean it up.  Everything counts in Feng Shui – every nook & cranny!

After  clutter clearing, you can decorate your home with symbols of good fortune to usher in the Chinese New Year such as:

– Adding bright colors such as red (happiness) or gold/orange (wealth/happiness).     Note: Chinese brides wear red.

– Putting fruit out such as oranges and tangerines (good health/long life); tangerines with attached leaves (long lasting friendships that are fruitful and multiply as in having children); and persimmons (happiness/wealth)

– Displaying a circular candy tray (candy is the sweet and circular signifies togetherness)

– Putting out a bouquet of flowers (tradition states that if the flowers bloom on New Year’s Day, it will be a prosperous year!  Just make sure you dispose of them as soon as they start losing their freshness.

Starting the Year of The Dragon off with clean and clear spaces decorated with happiness and prosperity in mind will allow wonderful new opportunities and things (such as money) into your life this year!

Gung Hey Fat Choy!     translation:   “Wishing You Prosperity and Wealth”

New Year’s Day 2012 is only a hop, skip and jump away (can you detect the movement of energy?) and many of us are preparing to start at least one, and usually more, New Year’s resolutions.  The problem most of us have with resolutions is that our ‘resolve’ is short-lived.  Were we really serious about committing to a successful outcome, or were they just wishful thoughts?  I believe that we all have the best intentions of having them come true, but maybe we didn’t surround ourselves with the correct support to see them through.  Here are a few suggestions to help support your 2012 goals:

1.  State your desire in the positive, rather than the negative.  For example, probably the most popular New Year’s resolution is losing weight –  I want to lose 20 lbs. in the next 3 months.  In this statement, you”re wanting to lose something, rather than gain something.  Rewording your desire by stating it as a positive affirmation, such as – I am becoming fit and healthy everyday by eating healthy foods and keeping active  can give you the feeling of adding to your life rather than losing something through sacrifice.  Post your positive affirmation where you see it daily, such as a bathroom mirror or refrigerator, and you will be reminded of your intentions on a regular basis.   Repetition, over time, creates a habit!

2.  Clear the clutter to make room for the new to come into your life.  This cannot be overstated!  Clutter can include physical, emotional, computer or people clutter.  An old Chinese proverb states that you can change the energy around you quickly by moving 27 things in your home.  This re-energizes the life force (ch’i) around you.  One way to do this is to replace or remove pictures, art work or other decor that does not make you happy.  Only keep items in your space that brings you a positive feeling.

You can also clear out items in your closet that you truly do not love to wear (rationalizing about its cost or that you might wear it someday is holding stagnant energy in place).  Be grateful for the time you did enjoy it, then donate or sell it so someone else who needs it will find it!  Most of us only wear 10 – 20% of what’s hanging in our closet anyway!  If you haven’t worn something in a full year, you probably won’t.

Go through your computer files and e-mails to delete what is no longer needed.  This is one of my 2012 goals – keep only what’s important to keep.   You will allow more room for new information and opportunities to come along!   Are you holding on to emotional baggage from past situations that no longer serve you?  Maybe this is the year to learn a new technique or find help to allow you to release the hold it has on you.

3.  Use physical affirmations in your space to support your goals.  If one of your resolutions is to become more fit and healthy, give your refrigerator and pantry a good cleaning and re-stock with foods that will support healthier eating.  The kitchen represents abundance & prosperity, so keep it clean & clear of clutter.  It’s where the body is nourished.   If you want to become more active, have your workout clothes and gear more accessible so you can grab them and go.   If you want to write more, keep your desk clear with writing materials out and available – maybe even purchase a beautiful new pen and journal to write with.

Another great physical affirmation is a Vision Board.  It is a dream board made up of words, pictures and drawings representing what you want in your life.  This can be made out of almost anything, but poster board is the most common.  You can create an amazing visual using old magazines, photos, colored pencils, markers, glue sticks or tape you can create an amazing  visual.  A Vision Board get-together with a few friends can be just the ticket to bring additional positive energy to its creation!   Make sure you place it where you see it daily.

We believe each new year offers the opportunity to make positive changes to our lives.  Whatever you desire to have in the coming year, I wish you the best success!

Energy is building as we decorate our homes for the holidays.   Our living room has been in disarray as tubs of Christmas decorations are brought up from the basement and gone through to decide what gets used and what stays in storage.  We moved to a new home 3 months ago and are deciding where the decor from the other home fits into a different floor plan and yard.  Fortunately, I am blessed with a very patient and talented husband, who adapted and modified!  As we’re putting things out, I’m drawing upon feng shui principles to maintain balance and harmony in our home during this busy time and throughout the upcoming winter months.

The 5 elements we strive to balance in feng shui are wood, fire, earth, metal and water.  Although all of these elements do not need to have equal standing in a room, all need to be present to create a supportive, balanced, and welcoming environment.

The wood element comes into play with greenery (real or faux trees, wreaths and boughs) and supports the fire energy (think of wood being added to a fire to keep it fed). It is important to us, as humans, to bring the energy of wood into our living spaces so we can keep the feeling of new beginnings that comes with the promise of Spring, especially during the ebb of life energy that comes during Winter.

The fire element brings warmth and energy to a space, especially important during the cold, dormant winter months when there is not a lot of activity or growth going on.  Fire includes people and animals (including art and photos), anything red or shades of red (burgundy, maroon and even orange) not to mention lighting, candles, fires and anything that is triangular or pyramid in shape.

To complement the fire and wood energies, add metal with accessories & decor that are made of, or imitate the look of gold, silver, bronze, etc.  including ornaments, garland, oval, circular or arched items, and white or pastel colors.  Black, Navy or other dark colors, mirrors, glass and wavy patterns cover the water element, as well as all water features such as fountains and aquariums.  The earth element is anything ceramic or brick, earth-toned colors such as terra cotta, rust, browns or yellow and all square or rectangular items.

Practice viewing your home through ‘feng shui eyes’ to see where all 5 elements are represented and how the rooms feel to you.  Does each room honor the items you choose to display or is there too much to take in and no place for eyes to rest?  I enjoy looking at my collections when they are grouped together, such as my Santas on the fireplace mantle.   They make more of a statement than spreading them throughout the rooms.

When it is time to take down the holiday decorations, which can sometimes be a downer, consider keeping more fire and wood elements around through the cold winter days to keep your energy and mood uplifted.  Red candles and greenery may be just what the doctors would order, if they looked through feng shui eyes!

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!

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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