When life gets crazy, it generally reflects in the space where you work and live. You need only look around in your physical space to get a quick read on how things are going on other levels—-emotionally, mentally, schedule-wise, energy-wise. In Feng Shui, changing your environment will mirror a change in your inner world. Sometimes that change involves de-cluttering, putting things away, cleaning, getting some kind of order. Often that physical change is the appropriate outer shift to make a corresponding shift inside so that your life begins to settle down. But sometimes it isn’t.
Having recently been in a home where they had a combined family of five children, two dogs and a cat and yet where everything seemed to be in good order, de-cluttering wasn’t necessarily the right action to take. They were overly busy, had hectic schedules, and were in a constant state of mayhem. Somehow they did this without the typical outer chaos. Yet they still wanted help with the inner turmoil that each one was experiencing. I suggested they create a family altar—-a place which would anchor a sense of calm and purpose; a place that was centrally located so everyone would see it every day; a place where every family member had contributed one item; a place that didn’t have to be religious but it had to be sacred.
This altar may be near the front door, in the center of the home, on the fireplace mantel, near a stairway—-the important piece is that everyone would see it regularly and be reminded to breathe, slow down, and bring their focus back to the present moment. Whether you want to put a religious figurine on your altar is your choice. You may have a special rock or crystal that you feel is particularly healing that you’d like to incorporate. Flowers are a good idea as long as you remember to keep them fresh and watered. Above all keep it simple, easy to manage, and enjoyable—–just like you want your life to be
An Excerpt from Carole’s recent book “Conversations with Your Home”
Just as with any organization/structure that holds life, there has to be some system in place that assures your home will maintain its vitality. Certainly general upkeep and care counts for something and should not be minimized, but in addition there should be a level of care that extends past the basics of keeping the floors swept and the windows clean. You might call this nurturing the grace of the home—-those actions that not only keep the place alive but also instill a sense of uniqueness and of beauty. However, it’s not just a decorative approach that is important for vitality, but also a connection with the changes of nature. A home’s life should be coupled with appropriate timing, so that the grace or vitality is not just a design element but a timely design element. Just like some people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or put on costumes at Halloween, your house can also take on this visual market of temporal change.
Holiday decorations are a perfect example of including the home in this temporal dimension. One client has her summer furniture arrangement and her winter furniture arrangement. Another client collected twelve wreaths and on the first of each month placed a new wreath on her front door—-she need only look at her front door to be reminded what month it is. I’ve had another client who accomplished a similar idea using four wreaths, changing them for each season.
A well-traveled couple I worked with did an “artwork exchange” each solstice and equinox when they would change the painting over their fireplace. The idea of a summer bedroom and a winter bed room is not a new one. We change our wardrobe depending on the season. Why wouldn’t you “outfit” your home to reflect what season it is or what month? Your home has an internal clock keeping itself and you in step with nature.
Staging is a relatively new approach to selling a home. The premise is that if the house is in prime shape, it will sell quickly and at the asking price or above. In many cases, the staging decisions are right in line with those of Feng Shui principles: getting rid of clutter, removing personal items, creating a nice flow through the space, having an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of furniture, etc. On the outside, it may look as though the two approaches are the same.
However, there is a strong yet subtle difference between staging and Feng Shui—-that difference is the intention with which the changes were made. When a home has been staged, it is typically set up with a goal of selling it. What is left out is a discussion with the sellers about what they are trying to accomplish with the move and the legacy they want to leave behind. Feng Shui considers these factors as well as the kind of buyers that would be appropriate for the space.
In addition, when implementing Feng Shui, various specific structural challenges would be addressed to offset their influence. For example, adjustments would be made for missing pieces in the layout of the space, minimizing the negative impact on someone who may be considering living there. The center of the space would also be enhanced to emphasize overall harmony. Likewise, the negative impact of bathrooms would be offset with Feng Shui adjustments so that potential buyers would not feel drained.
Although these differences are arguably subtle and hard to discern to the physical eye, Feng Shui takes into consideration the energy of the sellers, the future owners, and the structural aspects of the home itself—-and therein is the difference.