Tag Archives: intention

Working and Living in a Windmill, Part 1

After a two-month break from blogging, I’m back to share what I consider a challenge, especially01XtraWindmill from a Feng Shui perspective – working and living in a windmill! To be honest, I never knew people actually lived in windmills! I found out differently when we traveled this August to Kinderdijk, a village in the Netherlands and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site since 1997.

Located 15 miles east of Rotterdam, Kinderdijk has suffered floods since the 13th century. The story goes that after one such devastating flood, the Saint Elizabeth Flood of 1421, a wooden cradle was spotted floating in a canal. As the cradle approached the dry land of the dyke, the locals observed a cat jumping from side to side, keeping the cradle balanced. Upon closer inspection, they discovered a baby inside. From that time on, this area was called Kinderdijk, Dutch for “children’s dyke, and a fairy tale, “The Cat and the Cradle,” was born.

I was excited to visit the 19 remaining windmills, which still work much as they did in the mid-18th century when they were built.

05XtraWindmillWe arrived by bus to the visitor center where we then followed a maze of walkways through the nutrient rich wetlands to view the windmills, sharing the walkways with both pedestrians and bicyclists. I loved the topography. Almost a third of the Netherlands is below sea level and I found walking “in the marshes” a unique and breathtaking experience. I was surrounded by tall grasses and reeds, continuously dancing in the breeze along side swampy water full of beautiful water lilies. The grand expansiveness of the area was spectacular!

For nearly a thousand years, the Dutch have been clever in dealing with the water that surrounds them, keeping the land dry with this ingenious system of windmills and pumping stations. These windmills harness the power of wind to pump water out of what are called polders, swampy areas reclaimed from the water and turned into arable farmland. The water is pumped out of the low-lying ground to prevent flooding and keep crops from drowning.

Once, there were more than 10,000 fully operational windmills in the Netherlands, but they’ve been gradually replaced, first by steam pumps and subsequently by diesel powered pumping stations. The remaining mills are kept in working order, in the event of a power outage or calamities that can put the pumping stations out of action.

All the Kinderdijk windmills are watermills, which means they are only used for draining. Every 04XtraWindmillwindmill has four blades. The function of the blades is to convert the energy of the wind into power to lift the water. In order to catch the wind a sail is stretched over the blade. The amount of sail depends on the actual wind speed and the estimated wind speed later that day.

Normally the blade is fully covered with sail, but in a strong wind only half the blade will be covered. In case of a storm, the windmill can even run without any sails. To prevent the windmill from burning down from a lightening strike, a thick copper cable connects the iron part of the blade to the ground. The windmills are the highest buildings in a wide flat area and therefore the chances of being hit by lightening are quite high. Another chain is attached to the blade and the ground to block the blades when the brake might malfunction.

Before setting the windmill off, the blades must be turned into the wind. This is done with the tail of the mill. The tail of the mill consists of a triangle shaped set of bars connected to the cap of the windmill. A wheel is attached to the tail and a chain is connected to posts that are surrounding the windmill. By turning this wheel, which looks like the steering wheel of a ship, the chain winds around the axle of the wheel.

The top floor of the windmill will start moving, because the cap is not fixed. It rests on big rollers and is kept on top of the brick walls by the weight of the blades and the tail of the windmill. The windmill can make a full 360-degree turn both clockwise and counter clockwise.

When the sails are set and the blades are facing the wind the brake can be released. This is done at the tail of the mill by pulling a thick rope. Pulling the rope causes a post on the top floor to move down on the outside and up on the inside. The post pushes the braking blocks up and away from the tooth wheel, called upperwheel, which is connected to the blades.

Watching the owner go through the complicated process of determining wind direction and speed, manually adjusting the sails on the blades and pulling the rope to begin the process is beyond impressive! It is an amazing feat of hard labor, dedication and determination! It’s the Feng Shui process of intention on full display!

And that’s the working aspect of a windmill. Next month, the windmill as home.

Ten Year Retirement Anniversary

year10June 12 marks my ten year retirement anniversary as a Speech Language Pathologist after 22 years of practice. Those years were a continuous source of pleasure and learning. I had the privilage to work with hundreds of amazing survivors of stroke and traumatic head injury and their families. But, after 22 years, it was time to transition to retirement.

In preparation to retire, I incorporated Feng Shui to set my first intention: the right time to leave. To support that intention, I selected a date: June 12, 2007. The numbers add up to the significant Feng Shui number nine, representing power and completion.

As the time grew closer, my eager anticipation of leaving was mixed with a hugeTyou sense of gratitude. I was acutely aware of how many wonderful people I had met along the way, both patients and staff from whom I learned so much. I had always felt badly when a therapist or staff member left and I did not get the chance to say goodbye and wish him or her well. Often there was an assumption that the person was on vacation, only to learn a month later that they were gone for good. I did not want that to happen. I like closure and warm goodbyes. So, my second intention: a graceful departure and closure. To that end, I made a point to seek out everyone I had worked with or had any interaction with – staff, physicians, mail delivery, schedulers, cleaning crew and volunteers – to let them know I was retiring and thank them for the opportunity to work with them. I also wrote Thank You notes and brought treats.

ShoeIntention number three: stop buying any clothing or accessories related to work. So I created a little ceremony. For weeks leading up to the June 12 deadline, I would come home from work and place the clothes I had worn that day in a farewell pile to be donated to Goodwill. Each article of clothing was blessed and folded neatly as it was “released.” Needless to say, my closet became very bare. During that time, I rewarded myself by purchasing a fabulous pair of red heels. No mistaking those for work shoes!

And then, the day arrived! On June 12, 2007, my husband drove me to doorwork, planning to pick me up afterward for a celebratory dinner. I brought to work a piece of red cloth. In Feng Shui, there is a lovely ceremony called the Red Carpet Adjustment. A length of red fabric is placed across a doorway so that half of it is in the room and half on the other side of the threshold. Walking over it represents a personal journey from one place to the next. A transition, if you will. I was leaving the familiar and crossing the threshold to the unknown. Our past serves as a bridge to our future and walking the red carpet represented that bridge, leading me to a new stage of life. On my final day of work, I walked the red carpet, expressing words of gratitude while visualizing a smooth journey.

As June 12, 2017 approaches and I realize ten years have passed since I retired, I wonder how that could be? While the time has gone unbelievably quickly, I am grateful the journey has been exciting, revealing and instructive. I’m setting the intention that the next ten years will be more of the same!

A Wake-Up Year

Rooster01blogJanuary 28 ushers in the Year of the Rooster, a wake-up year! The only bird included in the Chinese zodiac, the Rooster is number ten of the twelve animals. Roosters wake up early in the morning to rouse everyone into action with their enthusiasm – not just for one person but everyone – so the call to action is for a group effort. Collaboration, Precision and Clarity are fundamental characteristics of a Rooster year.

Those born in the Year of the Rooster have many exemplary characteristics, including honesty, ambition, and intelligence. Rooster people make loyal and devoted friends. They are communicative and independent and don’t like to rely on others. While enthusiastic about new things, Rooster people can soon become indifferent. This means they need to practice faith, perseverance and patience to follow through with their plans. People born in the Year of the Rooster are deep thinkers and very observant. They tend to see things in black and white – which can make them perfectionists and, thus, appear arrogant.

In this Rooster Year – no matter which Chinese animal you are – you can benefit by tapping into these Rooster traits: precision, clarity, independence, capability, warm-heartedness, self-respect, and quick mindedness. However, you must also avoid its weaknesses: impatience, criticism, eccentricity, narrow-mindedness and selfishness.

2017 is the year to create yourself! It has never been more critical to follow the perennial wisdom that life is not about discovering yourself, it’s really about creating yourself! To that end, it is important to use this wake-up year energy to clarify what it is you want to manifest in 2017.

We usually begin by creating specific intentions/resolutions. For example: “I will go to the gym three times a week!” The pitfall, unfortunately, is that the resolution typically becomes a command to which our inner voice tends to resist: “How I’m going to work THAT into my schedule!” Or the intention begins with enthusiasm but loses momentum in the third month and the excuses and self-sabotaging begin! I recently read an interesting article presenting research proposing it’s better to ask yourself a question instead of telling yourself to change your behavior to achieve a goal.  “Will I exercise in 2017? If the answer is “Yes” then ask, “How can I make that happen?” “Well, maybe I can start by signing up for a yoga class, or an aerobics class once a week.” “Will I sign up this week?” “Yes!” And so on. You now have begun a respectful dialogue with yourself that can lead to reasonable and realistic outcomes.

bagua3Using the Feng Shui Bagua map as a guide to create your vision board for 2017 brings greater focus. Write your intentions or find images that represent them and then find their locations on the Bagua. If your intent is to have a loving relationship, for example, then that written intention or symbolic image can be placed in the upper right hand corner of the vision board, which represents love and relationships. If it’s about traveling more, than an image of a dream destination can be placed in the lower right hand corner, the area representing helpful people and travel; going to the gym is symbolized by the Health area, and so on. Because the Bagua embodies all areas of our lives, it is a powerful and intentional tool for setting intentions!

The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar, rich in traditions, folklore and rituals. It is not exaggerating to say that its importance is equivalent to our Western Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year holidays combined. Preparations begin a month before when people start cleaning, buying presents, decorations, specific foods and new clothing.

Special foods represent happiness, good luck, prosperity, and long life: fish to increase prosperity,66086531 - tasty chinese spring rolls with yellow noodles. selective focus. dumplings and/or spring rolls for wealth, sweet rice balls for family togetherness, and long noodles for happiness and longevity. It is an auspicious time!

And there is much meaning and preparation associated with the energy of each Chinese New Year in the practice of Feng Shui, as well. In Feng Shui philosophy, cleaning one’s home is considered a ritual that honors our sacred space and its inhabitants. Cleaning metaphorically clears out any negative energy or bad luck that found its way in during the year and makes way for incoming good luck. This is cleaning with intention!

My wish for you is that this wake-up year brings new reasons to celebrate, exciting adventures to explore and the ability to embrace any challenges! It is a year to crow with clarity, conviction and creativity!

44848936 - 2017 new year with chinese symbol of  rooster.year of rooster

A New Awareness

12652703 - mayan calendarDecember 21, 2012 marked the last day of the Mayan calendar – the end-date of a 5125-year-long cycle. A new awareness was emerging. Four years ago this December, I wrote about the much talked-about fears of Dec. 21, 2012: some believed it to be a harbinger of a global catastrophe, if not the end of the world. But Mayan elders did not prophesy that everything would come to an end. Rather, they believed it to be a time of transition from one World Age into another; Dec. 21, 2012 would mark the beginning of a new era, the start of a time in which Earth and its inhabitants would undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation. This extraordinary spiritual awakening or “consciousness shift” for planet earth and humanity called “The Great Shift,” had been prophesied for ages. It was all about change!

If there has been a slow awakening over the past four years since the end of Mayan calendar, it appears to have culminated in a rude awakening in the 2016 election. Where love and inclusivity were anticipated, hatred and separation came roaring in – not to replace but to challenge!

Those indigenous visionaries reminded us we always have choices. And we can choose to move through this particular time in our history with either resistance, acceptance or a combination of both. These choices will determine whether this transition will create lasting negative and harmful changes or promote gradual personal and global peace and tranquility. Many of us believe we can move toward peace and tranquility if we choose love and respect as our guides. And while I continue to hold this premise dear, I also recognize that, as humans, we inherently resist change.

Everything is both simpler than we can imagine, and more complicated that we can conceive. – Goethe

Attempts to let go of what no longer appears to serve us can trigger fears, reluctance, heightened emotions, tensions, and unease. What we see happening in our world around us gives pause, at the very least; I feel a pall over the typically joyful energy of this season of light. I hear fear and concern in people’s voices at holiday functions. There is a new awareness of the fragility of freedom and choice.

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 I believe we have an opportunity to create a greater humanity, even when everything appears to indicate the opposite. Each of us must be vigilant about making daily choices through thoughts, actions, and behaviors that will contribute to a more positive world.

Feng Shui encourages us to set powerful, personal intentions and then trust we are in the right place at the right time and that events, no matter how difficult, are a part of our ongoing journey to self-discovery and balance. We can only start from within and then, with intentions for the highest good for ourselves and for mankind, proceed on the journey to which we are being called.

 The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wishing you the strength of action, gratitude, trust, reverence and love during this holiday season and in the months to come.

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Creating Space for Love, Conclusion

In the summer of 2003, a journey began, creating space for love, initially without my awareness. Nine months later, on a beautiful Saturday in April, little did I suspect that I was about to give birth to my new life.

Tom was picking me up the evening of April 3rd to attend the birthday party my acupuncturist was having for her husband. It was an uneventful week, but when I woke up that Saturday morning, I felt very different! It was as if I was 16 again and had a special date to the prom! I was excited, anxious and nervous! I was excited for Tom to pick me up, I was excited to attend the party and I was most excited to have him and my older daughter meet! She had been asked to assist with kitchen duties, keeping food replenished, etc. I hadn’t introduced them prior to that, as I wasn’t planning on anything serious developing in Tom’s and my relationship.

FullMoonI don’t know if he noticed, but when I got into Tom’s car that evening, I felt giddy! I recall it was a gorgeous evening. As we were driving, I called his attention to the full moon that was coming up! Now, Tom is always aware of the moon and its stages. He told me it was not yet a full moon. “It looks full to me,” I said. He answered, “Well, it must be an Abrahamson full moon.” I loved that accommodation!

What a pleasure it was to observe Tom and my daughter meet for the first time upon our arrival. I stood back and watched the energy exchange. Warm in their greeting, Tom was ready to love Kira because she was my daughter; Kira wanting to make sure Tom was a good person for her mom. I felt like the teenage daughter introducing her date to her mother. It was an interesting and strange role reversal that transpired in the blink of an eye.

Shortly thereafter, I unexpectedly heard a whisper in my ear. “I love you,” it said. I froze and then experienced a bit of a panic attack. “Why are you saying that?” I asked. “Because it’s true,” I heard Tom’s voice respond. A flood of emotions rushed through me. Could I admit that I had also fallen in love with him? Could I trust the emotions, both his and mine?

I’m not sure how I got through the rest of the evening. I do know we had fun and I was very happy! I remember my daughter telling Tom as we left the party, “Take good care of my mom.” Who was the parent? It was a magical evening, if not a bit overwhelming!

 Everything was different from that evening on! We were in love! While I was ultimately able to connect with that emotion, I initially found myself very pragmatic. My concept of myself as a romantic was challenged! I know this was fear. I had been single for over 13 years and quite happy, I might reiterate, playing it safe! Now I was vulnerable. However, amazingly, in that vulnerability, I felt safe!

Over the next several months, we discussed his moving in with me. No small feat for, as you recall, I had filled every inch of my home. While I had cleared out a drawer and a section of my closet to create space for a partner, the reality of another person actually moving in was a bit mind-boggling, to say the least. But I began clearing in earnest and we made adjustments along the way. Before thatHouse01 transition, I communicated with my home about the energy shift to come with Tom joining the household. This is an important aspect of traditional Feng Shui thought: you treat your home as a separate entity and respect its energy and effect on your life. I could almost feel my home smiling in response and knew it was happy as well.

Tom and I were always in agreement about our commitment to one another and neither of us felt the need to get married. However, synchronicity was about to intervene again when, in May 2006, we traveled to China and Tibet on a Feng Shui-focused tour. And, it just so happened, three of my original four Feng Shui
GateGilrsLove Divas were a part of our group of 21 travelers. It started almost immediately. “Why don’t you and Tom get married on this trip?” At first we took it lightly, but as the tour progressed, the question continued to be lovingly asked. Everyone seemed to be conspiring to make it happen. After about a week of this persistence, Tom and I decided we should take the question seriously. After all, some of these same friends had encouraged me to set the intention back in 2003 to make room, emotionally and physically, for a life partner. Evidently, this journey wasn’t over!

Tom and I looked at each other one evening and, almost simultaneously, said, “Let’s do it!” My only request was that we marry in Tibet. I had traveled there previously and had fallen in love with the area and its people. Tom was definitely agreeable. The next day at lunch, we announced we were getting married in Tibet!

Mind you, we had no idea how this ceremony would take place, where it would take place or when! We had only four days in Tibet and every day was already planned out for us. But we set that intention and shared it with our fellow travelers. The excitement meter maxed out; the energy level was palpable!

PotolaSeveral days later, we entered Lhasa, Tibet. Located at the bottom of a small basin surrounded by the Himalaya Mountains, Lhasa has an elevation of over 14,000 feet and lies in the center of the Tibetan Plateau with the surrounding mountains rising to 18,000 feet. The air only contains 68% of the oxygen compared to sea level. It was impossible to determine the effects of thin air versus our over-the-top happiness?

Our intention was immediately shared with our Tibetan tour guide. He enthusiastically responded heTemple had been a Tibetan monk in the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred temple in Tibet. When his father died, Tibetan tradition required he return home to assist his mother and go to work to support the family. He left the monastery and became a tour guide. With his connection to the temple, our new friend could arrange for us to have our wedding ceremony in that sacred place!

Suddenly, our wedding was a reality and our fellow travelers excitedly took on the role of wedding party. Each had a job to do: finding a bottle of wine, buying wine cups, locating two long stem red roses, purchasing a wedding bowl for the rings, planning the wedding dinner! Tom and I shopped the market area to find something for me to wear. I purchased a beautiful brocade jacket from a vendor who took pride in being the one who sold me my wedding outfit. Our happiness and the excitement of our group’s energy were contagious. It seemed everyone there, tourist and vendor, knew about it!

Tom and I wrote our vows and Tom Hyder, an ordained minister, and his wife, Carole, one of my first Feng Shui teachers, wrote the wedding ceremony. On a beautiful afternoon, our wedding procession was led into an area of the Jokhang Temple where tourists were not allowed. Just prior to entering, each of us purchased a Tibetan Scarf called a ‘Khata’. It is usually made of white silk, symbolizing the pure heart of the giver. It is often given as a gift at special Tibetan ceremonies, such as weddings, funerals, births, and graduations.

 The Tibetan monks invited us to participate in a special blessing before escorting us to the beautiful Ceremonyceremonial room where our tour guide had arranged to have the monks chanting and drumming. During this 20-minute ceremony, our loving friends and colleagues came, one by one, to share well wishes and blessings as they each placed their Khata around our necks.

Following the chanting, Tom and I presented the monks with traditional red envelopes containing donations to the Temple. And then, with our friends standing as witnesses, Tom Hyder spoke of our spiritual union, blending East and West, ancient with modern. This amazing wedding ceremony, taking place over seven thousand miles from home and in one of the highest cities in the world, was stunningly rich with intention and love.

cake2Following our procession from the temple, a wedding feast awaited us at a traditional Tibetan restaurant. At its conclusion we were presented with a wedding cake – Tibetan style. While unsure how to decorate a wedding cake for westerners, they made it as festive and meaningful as possible with what they had. Our wonderful cake was decorated with frosting flowers, two cat figures, and a lotus candle that, when lighted, opened and spun around, playing “Happy Birthday.” It was perfect! And though Tibet is not a region not known for desserts, the cake was delicious!

Tom and I could not have dreamed of this day, let alone planned it! Our wedding was an inspiring example of the power of setting a pure and focused intention, then letting go of questioning how it might happen! From that moment on, the age-old process carried us along effortlessly as it evolved to culminate in our extraordinary wedding ceremony. This intentional journey was complete!

Monks

 “An intention synchronistically organizes its own fulfillment.” – Deepak Chopra

 

Creating Space for Love

Temple01Eight years ago this month, Tom and I were married in the sacred Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet, surrounded by loving friends and colleagues. Little could I have imagined that a variety of events set in motion three years prior were creating space for love in my life that would culminate in this spontaneous and beautiful wedding ceremony.

My story began in the summer of 2003 when I suddenly began experiencing unusual physical symptoms. When laying down, my arms and legs felt like lead, requiring tremendous effort to get back up. Once up, I moved around easily and otherwise felt fine! When these strange symptoms persisted beyond a week, I made an appointment to see my doctor.

In the meantime, I happened to be having dinner with a close Feng Shui friend who posed a question to me out of the blue: “Don’t you think it’s time you call in a partner?” The question took me by surprise! I had been happily single for 13 years. I had a satisfying career, a Feng Shui practice I loved, a wonderful family and terrific group of friends. I was proud of my accomplishments and content with my life. I casually said I would think about it.

A month later, while having dinner with other mutual Feng Shui friends, I shared the question I had been asked. They thought it was a fabulous idea and were immediately excited about the prospect! This time I promised I would give it serious thought and let them know my answer at a later date.

“Calling in” is a Feng Shui term referring to the process of creating space for love. It uses the two-step Feng Shui process of setting an intention. The first step is making a thoughtful and clear decision about what you want to change or have happen in a certain area of your life. Inhand_shell02 this instance, the intention to be in a loving relationship. The second step involves using the energy of your environment to support that intention. A physical object that is meaningful to you (a special shell, wind chime, vase, crystal, and so on) is selected and designated to “hold” that intention on your behalf. It serves as a powerful energetic reminder for what you have set in motion. It represents another type of partnership – a partnership with your space.

It is easy to entertain a romantic notion of calling in a partner; however, serious consideration must be given to this potentially life-changing action which involves making room for one! To help, a series of questions must be answered:

Table01Am I willing to make the time necessary to devote to a relationship? How easily could I imagine a partner fitting into my community of friends and family? How comfortable would another person feel in my home? Am I willing to make room for that person in my closet, bathroom and kitchen? Is my bed big enough for two? Is there space at my breakfast room table to share a meal?

While these are practical questions, they are also emotional ones. Thus, if you can imagine yourself creating space physically for another person in your life, you will be able to create space for them emotionally as well.

While I was busy asking myself these questions to gain clarity on the subject of partnership, I continued to go through tests for my ongoing physical symptoms. Thankfully, the results were coming in negative for a variety of possible ailments, but the symptoms persisted.

I decided to see an acupuncturist. I had been to an excellent one several years before and was aware of several other well-qualified acupuncturists. The strange thing was, however, I knew I didn’t wish to go to any of them. I had no good reason, just an inner voice telling me, “No, not that one.” I was learning to listen to that seemingly irrational voice. So I waited while continuing to participate in the variety of tests my primary physician offered.

It was now late summer and I needed to register for a continuing education workshop in my field of Speech Language Pathology. When I learned I had to give up a precious Saturday to attend, I felt resentful. However, while reading the workshop choices, I came across one entitled Acupuncture and Stroke. I was excited and intrigued. My resentment dissolved and I eagerly signed up!

Walking into the workshop, I saw a lovely woman standing in the front of the room. She was the presenter. After introducing myself I immediately knew I had found the acupuncturist I had been waiting for.

To be continued. . .

The Drawer of Life

I received a call from a potential client who attended one of my classes several years prior. So as not to lose my contact information, she placed it in her “Drawer of Life.”  She had been waiting for the right time to call me and it was now. Wait, she placed my information in her what?

She went on to explain that she has a special drawer in which she keeps information about things that she wants to do, topics she wants to learn about and changes she wants to make. She is both sensitive to what or who shows up in her life and realistic about her ability to respond to them, given her busy schedule. So she places notes to herself, articles, contact information etc. in her “Drawer of Life.” She goes to this drawer when “called” to do so and pays attention to what speaks to her when the drawer is opened.  Her agreement with herself is to act on it. Feng Shui called to her on that particular day and she phoned me. Needless to say, I was quite humbled and honored to learn I was in someone’s “Drawer of Life.”

Messy02I’ve since been reflecting about that drawer. Most of us, I suspect, have a similar drawer filled with things – unidentified keys, newspaper clippings, broken jewelry, miscellaneous odds and ends, you name it – stuff we, for some reason, are unable to let go of. We refer to it as our clutter drawer. And it is, in a way, a drawer of our life. A clutter drawer, however, requires no action; it can be easily dismissed, closed with a shrug and ignored. But, what if you intentionally cleared out that drawer and designated it your “Intention Drawer,” your own personal “Drawer of Life?”

House01It’s not unlike naming your car or your plants or your home. Naming something makes it more personal and something more personal requires a different kind of attention. There is an immediate energy shift. One of my Feng Shui colleagues named her home “Joy.” She and her family are always coming home to Joy. When a family member returns home after a difficult day, Joy greets them! You can imagine the positive effect that has on the family as well as every visitor to their home!

Many of us have so many things we want to do – both big and small. Take a class, finish a project, clean out a closet, learn a new language, paint a room – pursue, complete, shift, change, clear! What if we, like my client, placed representational reminders in an Intention Drawer: a class brochure, the review of a new restaurant to try, a paint sample, a special business card, the picture of a kitchen remodel. And then created an Intention Drawer “opening ceremony” once a month, on our birthday, every Tuesday, or what ever seems realistic. The discipline is that the act of opening it would require immediate action on one of the items inside. As our life path changes, some of the contents might be up for periodic review to determine if they remain viable intentions or not. Discarding as appropriate helps to prevent a clutter risk.

I have also given thought to what my Intention Drawer, might hold. Certainly Drawerthere is my intention to resume a regular exercise routine so it would hold my Snap membership card. I would include the names of books I want to read and some favorite meditation CDs I would like to get in the habit of listening to on a regular basis. A travel brochure to Bali would surely be tucked in. The names of people I’ve lost touch with and desire to contact would be there. Opening the drawer with the specific intention of activating any one of these items would have a dramatic impact on my life.

In Feng Shui, we are accustomed to creating ceremony around selecting and infusing a physical item to hold a specific intention – a promotion, a life partner, optimal health, increased financial gain. How intriguing to consider a holding place for future intentions and ceremoniously opening that designated holding place with the purpose of activating one of the intentions tucked inside. In our busy lives, intentions can easily be forgotten along the way. The idea of creating a “Drawer of Life” was one woman’s brilliant way of making sure that didn’t happen.Wordl02

 

Shoes Off!

Years ago, few people were expected to take their shoes off when visiting someone’s home. In fact, I think it would have probably been viewed as unclean and disrespectful. It also never occurred to anyone to take off their shoes when entering their own home. It wasn’t until I moved to Minnesota and experienced winter, that I learned the ritual of carrying shoes to put on after removing boots during the winter months. But that was as far as it went.

06MultiShoeI don’t recall exactly when it began: my ritual of deliberately removing my shoes year round when visiting friends and family. “No need to take off your shoes” some would say; others were a bit curious and asked why. I would give a mundane response such as “Oh, I don’t want to track in dirt.” I was aware there was something much more to it I was yet unable to express.

05DoorThen I began traveling to sacred sites around the world where taking one’s shoes off was expected before entering as a sign of respect. That felt familiar. Years later, I began my Feng Shui studies and a concept, new to me, was introduced: our homes as sacred places where entryways are recognized as energetic transitions from the outside world. Taking one’s shoes off acknowledges that transition into the sacred space we call home. I finally had the answer to why the ritual of removing my shoes had become as important to me when I entered one’s home, including my own, as when I entered a sacred temple.

As sacred spaces, our homes are expected to support our health as well as our psyche. Information is increasingly coming to light about the adverse effects of certain building products and materials on one’s health. It is believed 20% of our health issues are related to genetics while 80% are related to life style choices and our environment.

So what, if anything, does this have to do with the subject of whether or not to walk into homes with our shoes on? Actually, quite a bit, as it turns out! I learned an important environmental issue of concern is related to the amount of salt, petroleum (from filling our gas tanks) and pesticides tracked into our homes on the bottom of our shoes. And lawn chemicals, which require sunlight to break down, remain chemically active when carried into our homes on our shoes, out of direct sunlight. And if that doesn’t make you a believer in removing your shoes, a 2008 study conducted by the University of Arizona looked into the question of our shoes as carriers of bacteria. In their study, a pair of new shoes was given to each participant. After the shoes were worn for 2 weeks, researchers examined them for bacteria. They found that the outside of each shoe was covered by an average of 421,000 units of bacteria, including E Coli. In fact, the E Coli bacteria were found on 96% of the shoes! This information is from an excellent blog by Annabel Grey who addresses the subject of why you should take your shoes off at the door.

Feng Shui supports effective change on both a mundane and an energetic level. From a mundane perspective, it would appear removing shoes upon entering helps keep your home, and subsequently you and your family, healthier. At the same time, removing shoes energetically acknowledges respect for the sacredness of the home you have created for you and your family.

Enhancing the Feng Shui of our homes is a life-style choice and an ongoing process. Adjustments are made as our lives change. We re-decorate, re-model, change paint color, and replace furniture and appliances when they no longer function or otherwise serve our needs. We make sure our homes are clean, that everything is working as it should and that clutter is kept to a minimum. Any attention we give our home, by choice or need, supports the intention of taking care of our very own sacred space. And as we do, we are taking care of ourselves and everyone who lives there. “Shoes off” fits right in.03Cottage

Chi, Intention and Water Molecules

As a Feng Shui Practitioner, I learned about and continue to practice the power of intention and the effects of seen and unseen energy (Chi) in our environments. These concepts, while ancient, continue to appear new to our culture. As science attempts to determine how best to “prove” the existence of these kinds of energies and their impact on us and the world around us, controversy abounds. And no more so than the dispute over the work and claims of Dr. Masaru Emoto.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Emoto, who was recently in the Twin Cities, speak a few years ago. There is great interest in his hypothesis: “Molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings.” This hypothesis speaks directly to the Feng Shui principle that “Everything is energy and we are all affected by it”

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, and even the bones are watery: 31%. Water helps digest our food so it can provide us with energy, it helps to transport waste out of the body, and it is important in controlling body temperature.

hiddenbWhen we consider 60-70% of the human adult body is water, Dr. Emoto’s implications are profound. I was intrigued and inspired and immediately purchased his book, The Hidden Messages in Water.

Dr. Emoto’s book contains stunning photos of water crystals taken after the water samples had been exposed to a variety of stimuli including a printed or spoken word, music or a picture.

This photo the effects of a water crystal after exposure to the words Love or GratitudeLoveGratitudea

Another photo of a water crystal following exposure to the words hate or kill.

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If this is true, how might thoughts and words be affecting our body? And can we, in fact, alter the water we drink with our words and thoughts? Dr. Emoto’s claims may be controversial, but not to those of us who believe that a positive thought has a positive affect on how we live our lives on a daily basis. Likewise, a negative thought has a negative effect. And therein lies the controversy. Many in the scientific community debunk Dr. Emoto’s findings because they feel his studies were, well, not sufficiently scientific.

 “It is a scientifically proven fact that all scientifically proven facts have originated from original and thereby unproven theories.”Silvia Hartmann

 While the debate continues, my personal observations of the effects of positive versus negative thinking and/or words in my life and how my body feels in response serve as “proof enough” to me. But I am open to others’ viewpoints and in reviewing the subject of Dr. Emoto’s work I came across several commentaries I’d like to share with you.

This first review takes a very gentle loving approach, explaining Emoto’s research experiments and purpose are based on the premise that everyone should be treated with love and gratitude.

The second claims to be an open minded critical analysis of Dr. Emoto and his work is entitled Is Masaru Emoto For Real? The author reviews Dr. Emoto’s procedures and results for scientific validity. His conclusion: My findings have grounded my opinion of Dr. Emoto’s work in a concrete of scientific rigor and skepticism. I think that means he remains doubtful and uncertain of the conclusions of Dr. Emoto’s work.

I found the many responses that follow Setchfield’s essay to be more revealing and informative than the article itself. People have lots to say on the topic, as you can imagine! The comments, including some shared videos, provide fascinating and powerful insights on current notions about the controversial issues of “Chi,” alternative healing and the power of thoughts and their affects on matter. Diverse opinions challenge me to fine-tune and further define my own opinions, feelings and belief system. I invite you to read those remarks. I believe they furnish another tool for gaining insight as we navigate this journey we call life.

You might also consider reading this independent critique of Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research.  Among other things, it says, “Fringe topics are often scary because so little is known about them. However, if scientists hadn’t explored fringe topics then the Wright brothers may not have found a machine that could actually carry a human in flight. And there are those scientists who dealt with forces that can’t be seen by the naked eye. They include Marie Curie who received a Nobel Prize in Physics for furthering research on radiation started by Henri Becquerel (she coined the term radioactivity) and therewith discovered the elements radium and polonium which garnered her another Nobel Prize in Chemistry.”

Most enjoyable, in my opinion, is to actually read The Hidden Messages in Water for yourself. Dr. Emoto’s message is at the very least inspiring and thought provoking.  I would love to hear your perspective.

 “I think that the thing I most want you to remember is that research is a ceremony. And so is life. Everything that we do shares in the ongoing creation of our universe.” Shawn Wilson 

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21-Day Cleanse

It was a spontaneous decision. I would embark on a 21-day dietary cleanse/detoxification. While Cleanses were not new to me, I had never committed to one for this length of time.

My first experience with a cleanse/fast was in 2003-4 during my study of  Food Energetics with Roger Green and, subsequently, with one of Roger’s graduates, Karla Walter. Among other things, Karla is a nutritionist, classical Homeopath and Feng Shui Practitioner. As part of her Five Seasons to Wellness  program, I  was introduced to a spring fast/cleanse of consuming only miso soup, short grain rice and Bancha Tea (a Japanese green tea). The timing was very specific: between April 12-19th. I followed it every April for about four years, appreciating the opportunity to participate in an “internal” spring-cleaning.

Fast forward to Spring 2013.  While visiting a friend, she mentioned a cleanse she was doing. Her comments triggered the memory of those past April cleanses, which had since fallen from my routine. I was excited to re-introduce a healthy, intentional spring body cleanse into my life.

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What is a cleanse and why do one?

Body cleanse diets, also referred to as body purification or detoxification, claim to remove toxins from our organs, blood and digestive system and help maintain a healthy weight. While our body is designed to rid itself of toxins naturally, our daily exposure to pollutants, pesticides and chemicals can overburden that ability.

Cleansing diets, especially versions of fasting, are disciplined withdrawals from habitual eating practices. Interrupting the normal diet or foregoing food has been used throughout history for religious purposes and for healing. Cleansing the body was thought to open the way to enlightenment in some Eastern cultures. Early physicians used a variety of mono-diets, herb concoctions and simple fasts to give the body a rest and help cure disease.

In addition to an internal “spring-cleaning,” I wanted to modify some of my eating habits and, if losing weight occurred as well, all the better! I contacted my chiropractor who recommended this particular 21-day cleanse.

Why 21 days? It seems there is an ongoing belief that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Well, I was willing to try it and see what new habits I kept and what old habits returned after 21 days. More on that later.

The cleanse consisted of several supplements and all the organic fruits and vegetables I could eat for the first 10 days. Beginning day 11, I could add 2-4 servings (3 oz. cooked) of protein in the form of deep sea fish and lean organic chicken and turkey that was baked, broiled, roasted or poached.

I was motivated so I found this plan relatively easy to follow. However, the challenge was to eat twice as many vegetables as fruits. It is easy for me to eat fruit, but I quickly realized that, while I believed I ate a lot of vegetables, I was actually eating less than I thought.  The first few days were spent discovering unique ways to significantly increase my vegetable intake, especially since they were a mainstay for 10 days.Veg01a

Also recommended as part of cleansing is to get to as much fresh air and physical and emotional rest as possible and to stay well hydrated.

In 2004, I saw the movie “Super Size Me,” an interesting experiment in fast food consumption, that called special attention to the increase in obesity in our country and  the diseases associated with it. While I take responsibility for the foods I eat and the calories I consume, I was amazed at a fact I had never considered: the vast increase in food portion sizes over the last 20 years! And not just at fast food places but all restaurants in general. Those increased portions also found their way into our homes.

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“Between 1977 and 1996, food portion sizes increased both inside and outside the home for all categories except pizza,” wrote the study’s authors, Samara Joy Nielsen and Barry M. Popkin. “The sizes of the increase are substantial.”

The data revealed that over the past 20 years: Hamburgers have expanded by 23 percent; A plate of Mexican food is 27 percent bigger; Soft drinks have increased in size by 52 percent; Snacks, whether they be potato chips, pretzels or crackers, are 60 percent larger. Wow! Who knew?

To make this information more personal, read this post by divine caroline.

After watching that movie, I never used a dinner plate again when eating meals at home. Instead, I use a salad plate to control both portions and calories. And, interestingly, I rarely find myself going back for seconds, supporting the notion that my body can be satisfied with less.

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I had no difficulty following this 21-day cleanse. I even had a number of lunches and birthday dinner celebrations in restaurants during that time and, by reviewing the menus of the respective restaurants in advance, I was able to make choices that allowed me to stay true to the cleanse. The only deprivation I felt was not being able to participate in alcoholic toasts with my dinner companions!

It has been three weeks since I concluded my cleanse. Did I lose weight? Minimally. I suspect that may be because my typical diet is not too far removed from this cleanse diet. However I feel lighter and have more energy.

Did I change any habits? A few: I have been able to give up my favorite between-meal snacks of chips or crackers with cheese or peanut butter. I hope this translates over time to a decrease in my waistline. I am also more mindful of eating as a sole activity. I am slowly creating a new habit of avoiding extraneous activities, such as texting or reading emails during meals in order to focus on and better appreciate my food.

And what, in fact, is the time frame for breaking a habit? Can it be done in 21 days? While some believe this is more myth than fact, current research seems to indicate the answer is both Yes and No. Some say sixty-six days is more realistic. Obviously there is a great deal of variation, both among people and among habits! Some people are more habit-resistant than others, and some habits are harder to pick up than others. What seems obvious, however is that the most important basis for breaking a habit is a true desire to change.

 “We become what we repeatedly do.” ~Sean Covey

Interestingly, when I talk with people about my doing a cleanse, the most often asked question is, “What did you learn?” Initially, I was stymied by this unexpected question. I have since given it some thought.  It isn’t so much about what I learned, but, rather, how this cleanse maintained my connection to basic Feng Shui principles:

  1. Nature is our model. To support balance and harmony in our lives, a daily affinity with nature is essential. Choosing locally grown food whenever possible is one way to maintain a healthy relationship with the earth.
  1. Your space reflects your life. In Feng Shui, we assess the affects of all the items in a home (furniture, artwork, etc.) on its inhabitants. Do those items reflect healthy chi, supporting the energies of who we are and where we are going in life? Or are some of them creating clutter and thus blocking our flow? Too much stuff in our home is not unlike force-feeding our home with too much stuff, creating an uncomfortable feeling of  bloat and stagnation. Likewise, if our most personal environment – our body – is not reflecting optimal health then we may be over-consuming or filling ourselves with less than healthy choices. A seasonal body cleanse will benefit our health, flow and chi just as will a thorough seasonal house cleaning.
  1. Everything is energy. If, indeed, everything around us holds a certain energy that has either a positive or negative effect on us, consider the innate energy of our food and its influence on our over-all health and well-being!
  1. Intention is the power of Feng Shui. Choosing how we fuel our bodies on a daily basis is one of the most powerful intentions we can set.Intention01a

“Our intention creates our reality.” ~ Wayne Dyer