Tag Archives: chi

Here Comes the Winter Solstice

Amidst the holiday fervor comes the Winter Solstice, a different sort of celebration, one that encourages time for reflection and pause.

The word “solstice” is Latin for “sun-stand still,” and marks both the shortest day and the longestWinter Solstice Pictures3 night of the year. It welcomes the official beginning of winter. This year, the solstice falls on Friday, the 21st of December. We usually  acknowledge this transition by gathering with friends, lighting candles to bring light on this darkest day and enjoying a special dinner. Our acknowledgment of the evening joins the energy of others around the world also celebrating the solstice with dance, song and special foods.

ChristmasTree2The Winter Solstice is a lovely time that affords us an opportunity to take time to pause and acknowledge the transition to a new season and to appreciate nature’s celestial beauty and wisdom. I love the sight of the glowing holiday lights that brighten and twinkle against the quiet beauty of a blanket of snow. But I also love this encouraging reminder that nature’s Chi, or energy, has begun to ascend, bringing us closer to spring.

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember,
We are nearer to spring
Than we were in September.
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
Oliver Herford

A Burst of Garden Chi

Following our trip to Texas, I returned home to experience an unexpected burst of garden Chi! It’s not that my garden suddenly burst forth, rather my energy for adding to and re-creating sections of my garden took over!

As you are aware from my blogs about gardening, this creative activity is a passion for me. However, you also need to know that, while spring sets that passion in full force, when August rolls around my Chi for gardening is winding way down. That’s why this unusual burst of energy took me by surprise.

It is a fact that we become complacent in our environments and lose our “Feng Shui eyes” for assessing areas that develop stagnant or stuck energy. A tenet of Feng Shui is “your space reflects your life.” Our lives are constantly changing and in order to make sure our indoor and outdoor spaces are supporting our journey, it is useful to periodically assess them. One of the best times to do this is immediately after returning from a trip – whether a weekend or a month away. We call this “seeing with fresh, or Feng Shui, eyes.”

That’s what happened to me upon our return from Texas! I “saw” my gardensFlowers
with fresh eyes and suddenly became aware of areas that were overgrown (cluttered), areas that no longer appealed (didn’t lift my energy when I looked at them) and areas that could benefit from more energy (an opportunity to add more plants.)

WheelBIntentions were set and I began making the changes with an enthusiasm usually reserved for spring! I ruthlessly removed overgrown or crowded plants. I pulled out plants that no longer pleased me and gave them to friends to provide new energy for their gardens. I purchased 26 new perennials and one flowering tree and set to work! Each perennial was planted in its new space with intention.  I was a gardener on fire!

Now, when I step back and view the garden, it is apparent that my burst ofGarden02
garden Chi definitely elevated the energy around our home during these waning days of summer! I think I’m done until next spring!

High School Reunion Chi

I just returned from Lubbock,Texas where I attended my high school class reunion. There is a certain reunion Chi that is inherent in this activity. The personal Chi, or energy of it, varies, I think, depending on your high school experience. For me, and I think for most of those who attended, it was a wonderful trip down memory lane as we renewed friendships with the people we graduated with, some of whom I’ve known since first grade. After all, these people went through the “formative” teen age years together, when we were all just finding out about life, friendship and love. Aspects of ourselves no one else can ever know about us.

A reunion highlight is the opportunity to tour our high school. I must tell you the Hschoolarchitecture of this building is awesome! My classmates and I loved it dearly when we attended and have continued to talk about how lucky we were to have had such an amazing building in which to learn. Even as teenagers, we seemed to relate to the special environment that supported our learning and socializing during those important years. We definitely had a relationship with the building and felt its grounded and nourishing presence in our lives. It was Feng Shui working at its best, but who knew?

RiderOur high school, the first in Lubbock, was founded in 1891 as a one room school named after Thomas S. Lubbock, a Confederate Colonel, Texas Ranger and brother to the governor of Texas during the time of the Civil War. The original announcement of the school’s opening read: “Schooling for all who could reach it by pony, wagon, buggy or on foot.” In the fall of 1929, city planners began planning for a new high school. Construction began in 1930, and the current building was completed in 1931.Over the years, and even since our last reunion 10 years ago, the campus continues to expand to meet the needs of an ever growing population.

During the planning stages, some of the city founders felt the proposed building was too expensiveHallWay and elaborate for a “high school,” especially since it was the beginning of economic hardship from the onset of the Great Depression. I am grateful to the farsighted leaders who disagreed. They were the ones who felt this high school should be more than just a school but rather a tribute to learning for generations to come. Despite the Great Depression and a population of only about 5,000, a local architectural firm designed the richly ornamented northern Italian Romanesque style structure featuring two and three story classroom wings, offices, a gym and auditorium all constructed around two open courtyards.The school featured decorative brickwork, terra cotta ornamentation, a bell tower and gorgeous three dimensional tiles throughout. Due to its distinctive architecture, it is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

BhollyLubbock High School is known for its academic program and, I might mention, also for the fact that it has produced a number of talented musicians and vocalists over the years including Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Mac Davis and Natalie Maines.

The students who served as our tour guides spoke with tremendous pride about the school. Like every generation of students who have graduated from there, they, too, are aware the building was built with the intention of honoring the education of the youth who would be the citizens and leaders of tomorrow. It is as if the building respects the young people who enter, and its beauty and strength set a high expectation for academic excellence. All these years later, the accumulated energy of generations of students who graduated with pride from this school was palpable as we walked the halls. Positive Chi is still alive and well there after 87 years!

Adornments for the Soul

A number of years ago, while on a road trip, I drove passed a little shop called “Adornments for the Soul.” Unfortunately, there was no time to stop and explore what treasures it might hold, but the name has since intrigued me. What did those shop owners consider adornments for the soul? I don’t know the answer, but I do know the name brings a flood of thoughts to my mind. What might we consider adornments for the soul?

03StudioThe word adornment means something that beautifies; a decoration or embellishment. When I think of the word adornment I think of objects or items that lift one’s Chi. Our choice of decor and color in our homes are obvious forms of adornment. Certainly the practice of Feng Shui encourages us to have only what we love when adorning our homes and our bodies, that is, items that support our spirit as well as our body.

Clothing and jewelry are other types of embellishment, however, I would suggest that true 06Necklaceadornments for the soul refers to those specific articles of clothing and special pieces of jewelry that make us feel more confident, happy and balanced when we wear them. They nourish our soul. The closer to your body an item is, the greater the effect its energy has on you. A number of years ago, I purchased a jade lotus necklace when I was on a trip to China. It doesn’t go with a lot of my clothes, so I don’t wear it often, but when I do, I feel a dramatic shift in my Chi. The necklace is unique and I feel wonderful wearing it; it is a very special adornment. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to feel fabulous with everything you wear? An intention, for sure!

05FairyTreeConsidering adornments for the soul, my garden comes to mind. Choosing special garden ornamentation has become as important to me as choosing just the right perennial for just the right place in the garden. I love my whimsical faerie house tree, my Buddha statue that resides amidst the ferns, and the Foo Dogs who sit stately protecting our home.These adornments sing to my soul.

Traveling creates wonderful opportunities to bring back special items that nourish us. Each time we gaze upon those “treasures,” we are taken back to that time and place, like my jade lotus necklace from China.They are adornments for the soul.

02KidsTreeAnd then there are “annual” adornments, exemplified in December by special holiday decorations. These traditional embellishments are brought out each year and combined with new items to freshen, update and enhance the spirit of the holiday season! The delight in tradition, combined with the energy of glowing lights that brighten and twinkle, personify adornments that lift our Chi!

As we celebrate this season of light, my wish is that your life is embellished with Love, Friendship, Grace, Peace, Prosperity and Good Health!

01MayYour

A River Cruise

I have never been able to take an ocean cruise because of my penchant for motion sickness, but when the possibility of a river cruise presented itself, I decided to take a chance! It turned out to be a good decision.

36746077 - five elements, creation and destructive circlesIn the Feng Shui Five Element Theory, I am a Water; the other Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. The Chinese believe the Five Elements govern our physical, emotional and spiritual existence, just as they regulate the cycles of growth and change in the external world. Each Element has a color, shape, season, direction, virtue, and emotion. They also represent internal organs, body shape and personality traits, as well as areas in our homes.

While we each carry traits of all the Elements in our personalities, one, or perhaps two, will be dominant and one barely visible. So, how interesting that Water is my dominant Element; I never learned to swim because of a fear of having my head under water and I get motion sick on moving water! On the other hand, I love to be by the water; I can walk on a beach for hours. I can even enjoy short boating excursions on calm waters, but traveling for days on a ship in unpredictable waters is not possible; I even get motion sick while traveling in a car! And, yes, I’ve tried a variety of motion sickness remedies. They don’t work for me!

Water types learn that their power resides in remaining flexible and adaptable, always yielding to01ArialView current conditions, like the fluidity and flow of rivers. So I took a river cruise! And I was fine!

We traveled the Danube River, visiting Germany, Austria and Hungary. The following is a sampling of our glorious trip through the lens of the Five Elements.

04NuremOur first stop was Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second largest city. Surrounded by massive walls, it is filled with gates, towers, medieval churches and a grand castle. In this beautiful Water reflection are trees (Wood), the long, flat roof line (Earth), the building’s peak, shaped like a triangle (Fire) and the graceful archway under the building (Metal).06StPeters

Regensburg is considered to be the best preserved medieval city in Germany and the oldest city on the Danube. Its picturesque atmosphere is enhanced by Wood and Water! Located on four rivers and with gorgeous greenery in well-kept parks and a mediterranean ambience, Regensburg is nicknamed “the northernmost city in Italy!” The Gothic architecture of the stunning Regensburg Cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter, is Regensburg’s most important landmark. These cathedral arches represent the elegance of the Metal Element.

05Gingerbread

Passau is a German city on the Austrian border; it is known as the Three Rivers City as it lies at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and llz rivers. With its jumble of cobbled lanes, underpasses and archways leading off the main thoroughfares, it was beyond charming and our favorite place. We loved the gingerbread demonstration and tasting – a very nurturing (Earth) experience!03Gottweig

Krems, our entrance to Austria, has a rich history of wine production. We were treated to a wine tasting in the 900-year-old Gottwieg Abbey, served by Benedictine monks. The Abbey boasts 260 acres of vineyards and wine has been produced there continuously since 1083! Wow! The architectural pillars of the Abbey stand like strong, sturdy trees (Wood).

07ChrisMarketAh Vienna! It is like a crown jewel! Once the seat of the Hapsburg Dynasty and the center of the Holy Roman Empire, it is a one of the world’s greatest centers of art, music and architecture. Because we were there in November, it was Christmas Market time! We toured the stunning Shonbrunn Palace,  and had the opportunity to visit Vienna’s most scenic and cozy Christmas Market. Held directly in front of the Palace, the scent of mulled wine and gingerbread, the throngs of browsing people and the festive decorations created a Fire energy, uplifting our Chi and creating a mood of excitement and enthusiasm!

02BudapestCastOur last destination was Budapest. The capital of Hungary and home to 1.7 million people, Budapest spans both sides of the Danube River – historic Buda on the east bank and cosmopolitan Pest on the west. It is filled with baroque, neoclassical and Art Nouveau architecture. We were fascinated with Fisherman’s Bastion, a 19th-century fortress with 7 turreted lookout towers, viewing terraces, many stairs and walking paths, and panoramic views! It was breathtaking and a fine example of all Five Elements. Can you identify them?

The sole purpose of Feng Shui and the Five Elements is for creating harmony and balance in our lives – our homes, our health, our possessions, clothing, emotions, and experiences.Travel can be a powerful way to rebalance and harmonize. When we travel with alertness and awareness, we are better able to connect to the energies of the world. Understanding the inter-connectedness of everything around us helps balance the Elements and regulate our personal Chi.  A river cruise provided an opportunity for me to connect with my Water Element in a way that I had not been able to before.

“Water never waits. It changes shape and flows around things, and finds the secret paths no one else thought about – the tiny hole through the roof or the bottom of a box. There’s no doubt it’s the most versatile of the five elements. It can wash away earth, it can put out fire; it can wear a piece of metal down and can sweep it away. Even wood, which is its natural complement, can’t survive without being nurtured by water.”
Arthur Golden 

How I Become Interested in Feng Shui

I am frequently asked how I became interested in Feng Shui. I certainly recall the trigger: it happened when I came upon a little article on Feng Shui in a woman’s home decorating magazine. It resonated to something familiar inside of me. I immediately called a friend of mine to inquire if she had ever heard of it. Indeed she had and, in fact, knew that classes on Feng Shui were beginning to be taught locally. Wow! I checked into it, signed up for my first class, and I was hooked! I was immediately captivated by this ancient system of living in harmony with our environment. It seemed so practical to me, and yet there was a powerful intuitive aspect to it as well.

I learned that Feng Shui evaluates the interaction of humans and their environments and views ourWomanSnow homes and workplaces as living entities in which we are either in harmony or in discord. Is there a room in your home in which you love to be? Now think if there is a room or area in your home you tend to avoid or ignore? What are the messages from those two spaces?

I learned that Feng Shui is more than furniture arrangement or decorating, although those are certainly important aspects of it. I was introduced to the concept of Chi, or energy, including predecessor energy. Understanding these concepts allows us to make informed choices when building, purchasing, remodeling or decorating. This information provides us with knowledge and an awareness of ways to intentionally enhance our relationship with the energies of our homes or offices. The ultimate goal is always to create spaces that nurture, protect and support our growth and journey through life. Feng Shui teaches us how to accomplish this goal! It is empowering!

As my studies continued, I learned about the Eight Stems of Traditional Chinese Medicine of which Feng Shui is one; the others include Astrology, Exercise, Food Energetics, Herbalism, Acupuncture, Meditation, and Massage.

36746077 - five elements, creation and destructive circlesI learned the concept of Yin and Yang and the Five Element Theory. Yin and Yang represents the belief that everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary. These dynamic forces keep the universe in balance at every level; it represents completeness. The Yin and Yang symbol illustrates how everything is connected and nothing exists by itself.

The Five Element Theory, according to Chinese philosophy, believes everything and everyone is influenced by five elements that make up all matter. These elements are Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. They are thought of as modifiers because of their power to subtly alter the quality or nature of whatever or whomever they represent. This is a powerful theory to apply to pattern, color, and shape when making home decor and clothing choices.

And I learned Feng Shui is a Heaven, Earth and Human relationship. The Chinese believe there are 3 kinds of luck: Heaven Luck, your situation of birth; Human luck which relates to your choices and behaviors and Earth Luck, the condition of living and working in environments that support your physical and emotional health.

As my study of Feng Shui proceeded, a childhood memory returned. As a little girl, riding in the50635777 - colorful drawings: a country house and happy men back seat of my parents’ car, I recalled intently looking at the houses in the neighborhoods we drove through. I saw what I called “happy houses.” Happy houses looked well cared for. Their lawns and landscaping were attended to and there was usually a pot of flowers on the step by the front door. Sometimes the front doors were painted a bright color, different from the rest of the house. I would think how the people inside those houses must be nice; I felt like knocking on their front door to meet them.

And then there were the other houses; the “unhappy ones!” They were the ones that looked neglected: blinds drawn, grass unmowed and no cheerful flowers out front. Even at a young age, I was aware of “energy;” I just didn’t have the words. All I knew at that time was I didn’t want to knock on the front doors of those sad houses!

When I grew up and went to college, I initially majored in theatre. One of my classes was entitled Stagecraft and Scene Design. My childhood memories of how I felt about certain houses and how they made me feel resurfaced as I learned to create scenes to affect and support the period and mood of a particular play. To this day, I find it exciting to watch the curtain rise on a play in anticipation of what “energy” will be conveyed and how it will make me feel.

Ah, energy! No one was using that specific word as a stage set was being created, but implicit in the design was the intention of influencing the audience’s mood through scenery and lighting; think Chi, Yin/Yang and the Five Elements.

In my Stagecraft and Scene Design class, I learned the four principles of designing a theatre set: suggest the style and tone of the whole production; create mood and atmosphere; give clues as to the specific time and place of the action; and offer creative possibilities for the movement and grouping of the actors. Years later when learned the four principles of Feng Shui, I recognized a similarity to those theatre principles.

The first Feng Shui Principle declares Nature is the Model: This influence is achieved by positioning and designing our surroundings in harmony with principles of natural energy flow. When it’s in harmony, we feel relaxed and supported; when the natural energy flow feels disrupted or discordant, tension is created. The next time you go to a play, bring your awareness to your mood before the curtain opens and then notice the shift in mood as the curtain opens. What feeling(s) does the stage design evoke? Apply that observation to your home and office.

Second, Everything is Energy: learning how to understand those energies allows us to manipulate our environments to uplift and support our own energy. In set design, this offers creative possibilities for how the actors interact on stage which impacts our understanding of their message.

Your Space Reflects Your Life: Your choices of furniture, possessions, color, shape, design and arrangement create a mood and an atmosphere that is unique to you, your family, your beliefs and life-style. Clutter can be a telling message here.

Intention01aAnd the fourth and most important Feng Shui Principle states The Power of Feng Shui is in your Intention: Setting specific intentions supports the mindful creation of possibilities for how to proceed toward your goal(s). The process for setting these objectives can include a time frame for accomplishing your desires and, perhaps, where your goals may be best accomplished. Intentions change as life circumstances change.

The question of how I became interested in Feng Shui, started me on an unexpected journey back in time. I realized, in reflecting on both my childhood and my initial choice of study in college, I was already interested in Feng Shui on an intuitive level. I had no awareness I was waiting for the language of it to show up. And show up it did when I recognized something that felt very familiar in a little Feng Shui article so many years later!

An Organic Farm Tour

We recently devoted a Saturday to an organic farm tour, sponsored by our local co-ops. When I saw the flyer, I immediately knew this was a timely and must-do adventure. On the designated day, we began with a local urban mushroom farm and ended with a small, family owned organic farm located a little over an hour south of the cities.

My earliest awareness of the connection of the food we eat and its potential impact on our health came when I was a young child. My sister and I fondly remember our Father reiterating, “Your body is a temple and you must honor it by eating healthy!”

2412965 - green alfalfa sprouts growing in a glass on white background My father’s advice took on additional meaning when I was a young mother and read a nutrition book entitled, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit” by Adelle Davis. It made me aware of the high salt content, refined sugars, pesticides, growth hormones, preservatives and other additives present in the excessive processing of our foods. I began to change how I shopped for groceries and prepared meals for my young family. My first food co-op experience was going to the home of nearby neighbor who started a co-op in their garage. The only thing I remember of that experience is bringing sterilized glass jars to fill with natural peanut butter. At that time, I was sprouting my own bean sprouts and making yogurt from scratch. We had also planted a large vegetable garden in our back yard. During that period, a nearby church opened a food co-op in a small red house on their property. As a member, I wrapped cheese every Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. That little co-op is what we now know as Lakewinds.

When I began reading Adelle Davis, my study of Feng Shui was many years in the future. When 73932498 - chinese farmer weeding in the been  field with hoethat time did come, I learned our kitchen, after our entryway, is the second most important room in the house. The Chinese attach great importance to the kitchen and revere the cook. The kitchen is the room in which the cook prepares the food that fuels our energy (Chi) and nourishes us spiritually and emotionally. Of course, in an ancient agrarian culture, the food was raised, grown and prepared by the people who owned the land; there were no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Food was inherently healthy! And to keep it healthy from land to table, the ancient practice of Feng Shui advises us to be mindful of our personal energy during food preparation. Why? It is believed the energy of your mood is absorbed by the food you are preparing and affects everyone who partakes of it!  If you are upset, angry or sad, avoid preparing food for yourself or for your family! Now that is food for thought!

42039528 - gas burning from a kitchen gas stoveOf course that ancient wisdom was based on food preparation from scratch at home and over an open fire. Since, we’ve moved from open fire to gas stoves to electric ranges to microwaves. We moved from locally grown food to grocery stores where packaged and frozen foods became available. We became accustomed to the “convenience” of pre-prepared, fast foods and supermarkets, where almost anything we desire to eat is available from almost anywhere in the world, prepared by unknown people in unknown environments. Many of us have been eager participants in this “luxury” until, that is, our awareness of the connection of the food we eat and its impact on the health of our bodies and our environment began to filter back in.

 “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”–Brillat-Savarin

  Two blogs from modernpioneermom.com. provide fascinating reading on the history of processed foods from the 1910s to the 1950s and from the 1960s to today.

Recently,  when talking with a local butcher at a major grocery store, I expressed concern about what humanely raised and cage free labels really mean and if we can trust them. Unfortunately, he reinforced that concern! But, as luck would have it, the opportunity to tour the organic farms presented itself, affording the opportunity to learn first hand what organic, humanely raised and cage free look like.

MushroomsWe began our tour at Mississippi Mushrooms.This urban farm is fascinating and, fortunately, they are open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 2:00. If you love mushrooms, this is a must visit!

From there we visited two additional farms and were absolutely delighted to meet young farm families committed to growing and raising healthy, sustainable food. We saw chickens Chickenprovided with lots of room to free range, not on gravel, but on vegetation. We were introduced to hogs that have their own names. Touring the farms and hearing the passion of the farmers for creating “real food” reinforced our intention to support our local food co-ops and farmer’s markets. For specific information, check out TC Farm.

Having an opportunity for a behind the scenes tour of what sustainable, humane, organic farming actually looks like was both eye opening and encouraging. I am grateful to all small farmers who are committed to providing us a powerful source of energy to fuel and nourish our Chi! Please support them! The quality of our lives, and our planet, depends on it!

Creating a Garden Environment

03GardenEnvironment is defined as the circumstances, objects or conditions by which one is surrounded. Creating a garden environment provides an opportunity to be in harmony with the natural world. Whether it is a pot of flowers on your deck, a full-blown perennial garden or the surprise of a blue garden door, both the design and planting begin a partnership with nature. And just looking out your window onto flowers or woods, offers a visual connection that provides stress relieving moments.

I have loved gardening for as long as I can recall. My Mother loved to garden so, perhaps, that was the influence. I began serious flower gardening after I was newly married and we moved into our home. There was lots of yard and an existing large garden that had not been attended to. It became my laboratory for learning about different soils, annuals, perennials, colors, shapes, mulch and “zones.” It remained a source of creative pleasure until, twenty years later, I moved into a townhome. I was newly divorced and working full time. No time to garden. My townhome was landscaped with rock and shrubs and the absence of maintenance was a relief. For the first summer! The second summer I realized something was definitely missing in my life – I “needed” to get my hands in the soil!

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.  Mohandas K. Gandhi

It wasn’t until my third summer in the townhome that I was able to act on that WheelB“need.” I slowly and laboriously removed the rocks and shrubs that surrounded my townhome. I started amending the soil. The following summer, a garden was born. Six years later, I began my study of Feng Shui and a new perspective to gardening was introduced.

While the practice of Feng Shui is more commonly associated with buildings and their interiors, the outside world (nature) remains its original focus. The Feng Shui of your house is believed to influence your life from a personal point of view. The Feng Shui of your landscaping influences the more public aspects of your life.

Your space reflects your life is a basic Feng Shui principle. When you decide to change the color of a room or engage in a major redecorating project, something is either shifting or is about to shift in your life. When change happens in your physical environment, your life is affected in some small or big way. These may be intentional changes to call in a partner, enhance an existing relationship, create an opportunity for a new job or career, and so on; however, be aware that, even without intention, when you modify something in your physical environment, a change in your life will present itself.

garden-2And what about the outer aspect of your environment, the landscape? The health and appeal of your outer environment must be well tended to create and attract healthy Chi and it matters not whether you have a large or small garden, a container garden, a window box, or shrubs and trees! Think of driving by a home that has a well-cared for landscape with healthy shrubs, a lovely garden or pots of flowers. Now think of driving by a home where the shrubs are dead and flowers uncared for. That’s the difference between healthy and unhealthy Chi! And it gives us insight into the lives of the inhabitants.

Feng Shui taught me to garden with a different intention. I was able to more deeply tap into my inspiration and creativity as I became more in harmony with the natural world. It focused my attention on optimizing the Chi of my outside space to welcome new opportunities and experiences in my life.

 The garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature. –Jeff Cox

 The gardens in our culture are typically a yang experience, that is, we often see the entire garden as one large burst of color. No surprise there! The Feng Shui garden, on the other hand, intentionally creates a balance of yin and yang, encouraging more of a “journey” of the eye, allowing the garden to more slowly reveal itself.

garden2Instead of straight borders, I began to curve the garden beds to create a gentle flow of Chi. Balancing active energy with still energy, I incorporated large rocks to anchor and define the garden. I added fountains and birdbaths to bring auspicious water to the property. Sound is an important component of the Chi of a garden and is present in the gentle gurgle of my water fountains, the melodious sounds of an added wind chime and the songbirds attracted to the birdfeeders. I added garden benches and sculptures to provide focal points for quiet thought and contemplation.

A charming fairy statue stands as a sentinel among the hosta at the entry of my patio. BuddhaBall
statues sit among the flowers and contribute to a sense of stillness. A gazing ball stands at one end of the patio and its mirrored reflection serves two purposes: it “doubles” the garden and allows me to see who might be entering the patio.

GdnHomeComing upon something unexpected and delightful definitely lifts your Chi. A little elf house is tucked in the front garden, seen only by those who take the time to look. Throughout the gardens, fairy houses add a sense of playfulness.

Both the approach to your home and to FtDoorthe front door are critically important areas to attract positive Chi. Two Foo Dogs protect the approach to our home and potted rose trees flank our front door, welcoming all who enter.

I continue to translate the concepts I’ve learned from my Feng Shui practice to balance the yin and yang in my garden. I’ve integrated the Five Elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water for added balance. I’ve made significant headway with choosing colors, textures and varying heights and bloom times of plantings in my ongoing goal to create a perennial garden that blooms throughout spring, summer and fall. And the inspiration derived from my visits to ancient gardens in China continues to motivate. Creating a garden environment is a work in progress; a labor of love!

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. –Alfred Austin

Unplanned De-Cluttering

My unplanned de-cluttering began with an email. The Feng Shui Institute of the Midwest was organizing a fundraiser in memory of two spouses and one member who had passed from cancer. All members were invited to bring any Feng Shui books and related items no longer wanted to exchange for donations to cancer research.

Spring de-cluttering had not yet entered my mind and, if it had, my home office bookcase would not have been on the list! Interesting how quickly one’s attention can be focused where it had not before. I took a look at the bookcase housing my Feng Shui books and decided to dig in – one shelf at a time!

Because, like many of us, I’m not one who is able to casually discard an item – clothing, household goods, books, etc. I find the Feng Shui method of approaching clutter clearing tremendously helpful! First, review its function in your life, discerning if it continues to have a valid purpose: Does it still fit? Do you still use it? Does it continue to bring you pleasure? Books are tough! They are old friends! So, I sat on the floor with my old friends piled around me. As I picked up each one, lovingly looking at its cover before slowly flipping through the pages, memories flooded back of my excitement when I first began the study of Feng Shui! It was an incredibly rich time in my life – access to “new” ancient knowledge and the formation of new lifelong friendships!

Many of the books were filled with underlining and notes in the margins, as I was voraciously trying to absorb all I was learning at the time. And now, 20 years later, the time had come to bless and release. I don’t know how many Feng Shui books I have, but, suffice it to say, my bookcase remains mostly full after saying farewell to 38 of them!

TibetanAltar02aIt was fun to attend the fundraiser and see what each person had brought. There were lots of books and other wonderful Feng Shui related items! While tempting, I stayed true to my intention of not bringing anything home. Oh, except for one – a beautiful pop-up book of Tibetan Buddhist Altars! Thank you to the person who released it!

 If you keep something that you’re not using…then no one else can use it, either. Author unknown

After returning home, I spent the remainder of the day organizing that particular bookcase. IBookcase01 cleaned and re-arranged the remaining books.The next day, I purchased a new floor lamp which I placed next to the bookcase. Clearing out releases old energy and allows clarity to the area in question. In fact, my Feng Shui bookcase sits, intentionally, in the Knowledge, Wisdom and Self-Improvement area of my office. Clutter in this area of the Bagua can limit your ability to learn, make wise decisions, and improve yourself. That must have needed attention, thus the FSIM email!

Clutter is a weight that has built on top of you so gradually, you don’t even realize anymore that it is holding you down. Mary Johanson, maryorganizes.com

I wasn’t done! That office project led to another interesting area of de-cluttering – my computer emails. During the time of my injury, my ability to be on my computer for any length of time was severely restricted for the better part of a year. As a result, emails accumulated – 16,400 of them! Talk about electronic clutter! So I decided to tackle the unseen clutter in my computer, which is located in the Family and Community area of my office. This area represents our family of origin: parents, ancestors and siblings. It also represents any group that comes together for a common cause: people with whom you work, your church, a book club, etc. Clutter here can cause problems with superiors, authority figures and parents, as well as within your family or community as a whole. While I’m not experiencing any difficulties in this realm of my life, as so often is the case in Feng Shui, attention to this area may have prevented any potential complications.

I am happy to report I brought those 16,400 emails down to zero! Part of this huge undertaking included unsubscribing to resources that provide instruction and support for spiritual enlightenment. In my ongoing quest for spiritual growth, I had been accumulating them for years. Again, I applied the Feng Shui process of reviewing whether these resources still have purpose in my life and discerning if they continue to provide meaningful information for my continuing personal growth and development. These questions speak to a seldom-identified subliminal reason for clutter: Identity. We often hold on to items that remind us of who we used to be. The important question, of course, is “Am I still that same person?”

 Self-reflection is the first step to decluttering because it’s not about the stuff. Author unknown

 Perhaps clearing the energy in my area of self-wisdom and adding additional light enabled me toDancer recognize and own the wisdom I have gained through the years. This recognition freed me to bless and unsubscribe from many of those sites, making space for other higher conscious information to show up! Now, when I look at my emails, I see four or five rather than thousands! A huge weight has been lifted! My Chi is significantly lighter! We never know what might show up to motivate a shift in our energy. A casual email invitation turned out to be a powerful motivator for unplanned de-cluttering!

Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff

44319818 - frozen chicken in the frost on the tableThe mantra, don’t sweat the big stuff, might be one to take to heart, especially this Thanksgiving. Remember the scene in the movie adaptation of the book, “Eat, Pray, Love” when it was discovered the turkey was not only not done, it wasn’t even thawed? A Thanksgiving nightmare! But, hey, don’t sweat the big stuff! Right? Unphased by what the majority of us would consider a catastrophe, the characters laughed (I suspect many of us would cry) and with good humor, joy and gratitude, sat down and feasted on the wonderful side dishes. P.S the turkey was eaten for breakfast the next morning!

The varied responses to our divisive 2016 post-election results suggest another type of Thanksgiving nightmare –   conflicting political views! Under normal circumstances, Thanksgiving gatherings traditionally bring their own set of stressors; this year suggests a potential for increased rancor. But, hey, don’t sweat the big stuff! Right?

Many ask how is that possible? Perhaps it is worth taking a step back to try for a little perspective. First, consider why many of us celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition? I like to think at some point during cooking, eating and watching football, we use this day to take at least a moment to reflect on our many blessings.

Second, we love the foods we traditionally associate with Thanksgiving. Food is a 46731368 - thanksgiving roast turkey dinnerpowerful source of Chi (energy), fueling and nourishing us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Feng Shui belief reminds us the energy in the kitchen strongly influences the food that is being prepared. If the Chi of the kitchen becomes unbalanced because the cook is tired, stressed or upset, then everyone at the table will ingest that adverse energy. It’s not difficult to imagine what would happen to the Chi of the dining room should any family member or friend make the unfortunate decision to air their differing personal political views at the table. It’s a sure set up for bringing a pall of negative energy over the entire occasion. Being respectful allows everyone to enjoy these traditional dishes.

babyThird, and most important, consider how our lives have all been touched, to a greater or lesser degree, by personal events of 2016. There are those of us who have experienced the loss of a spouse or a parent; those who have joyfully welcomed the birth of a child or grandchild; a new reality has set in for some as a terminal illness makes for a last Thanksgiving; others are in recovery from cancer or surgery; loved ones may not be joining us because they’ve relocated; others will welcome a new family member to their table. We never know from one Thanksgiving to the next what life will bring.

Can we afford, for even a moment, to alienate friends or family members? Can we, instead, be thankful for and respectful of our differences, and celebrate our connections? Knowing the holidays can bring extraordinary pressures, can we consciously try for patience, and above all, a sense of humor?

After all, life is too short to sweat the big stuff!

VegI am thankful for life’s abundance, our connection to the earth, and to one another. This is an auspicious time to gather with those we hold dear, set aside our differences and practice harvesting love. Let us lovingly remember those who are no longer with us and hold very dear those who remain. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie