A room hung with pictures is a room hung with thoughts. ~ Joshua Reynolds
Welcome to Installment 3 of Feng Shui February!
Clearing the clutter from my office last week transformed the energy in my workspace (see How to Use Feng Shui to Recharge Your Work Space if you missed the post).
Instead of grinding my teeth and feeling anxiety levels rise when looking at the piles of paper and miscellaneous junk filling every nook and cranny of my half of the office, I now enter the space and hear angelic voices singing Laaaaahhhhhh!
Now the fun part of Feng Shui can really begin.
Artwork is one of eight categories in the Feng Shui toolbox used to attract positive energy and to fix negative situations in your home or office. (Some people call these fixes “cures”, but that word is a little too woo-woo for me.)
Whether Feng Shui resonates with you or not, I think we all agree that artwork evokes a range of feelings in us. Depending on the piece, art can either conjure up positive thoughts and sensations or negative ones.
I’ll never forget the time a former colleague received a huge painting as a wedding gift depicting the L.A. riots that erupted in 1992 after the Rodney King beating. We all looked at the thing and thought, “What the ….?” The bloody, violent energy of the riots spewed right out from the canvas.
Bad Feng Shui, people. Bad Feng Shui.
It didn’t matter that the wedding guest had painted it himself. My colleague and his wife never hung the gift in their home. And they were absolutely right from a Feng Shui standpoint. Just because it’s a gift, if an item doesn’t bring you joy, it isn’t earning its keep.
I’m not arguing that all art should be limited to beautiful, non-controversial images. But we should be aware of the impact of art in our home and office environments.
Power Art for Work Spaces
The fun part about Feng Shui is that if you suck at making decorating decisions like I do, you can draw on Feng Shui recommendations to help you out. Not only that, choosing artwork that symbolizes your goals and contributes to positive energy (which helps you reach those goals) appeals to my former economist sense of efficiency.
I don’t go overboard though. For example, a classic Feng Shui symbol of wealth is a golden ship. I’m not going to buy a cheesy golden ship to display just because a trinket-selling website tells me to. A golden ship means nothing to me. In fact, it would make me seasick just looking at it.
But I can relate to some of the career-related symbolism that Carol Olmstead writes about in her Feng Shui Quick Guide for Home and Office (my go-to source for all things Feng Shui). For example:
A picture of mountains hanging on the wall behind your desk is said to give support to your career. I tapped into my Grand Tetons photos from our RV trip last summer and found the perfect shot.
A picture of hot air balloons rising (or birds in flight or other objects taking off) in your office is said to help your career soar. I remembered I had photos from a hot air balloon ride we took in Egypt several years ago. Even better, I was able to find them!
A picture of a waterfall or river symbolizes a prosperous career and increasing income. Last year in Hawaii, a photography teacher took me to some gorgeous falls to practice with different water effects. This shot served the purpose well.
A picture of a rooster is recommended to reduce office gossip and enhance your reputation. This one doesn’t really apply to me since I don’t have employees, but I used it as an excuse to photograph this impressive fellow at the farm where our new golden retriever puppy was born about ten days ago.
Clearing Out Old and Yucky Bad Chi Sources
Before I could hang my new Feng Shui-friendly art, I had one final step of clutter clearing to take care of.
When the last piece of paper from my inbox was filed and the desk shelves were wiped clean, I took in my cleared spaces with great satisfaction. My gaze then shifted up the wall to the display shelf above the furniture and it suddenly felt like someone had stuck a finger in my eye.
It wasn’t my husband’s high school and college soccer trophies. Those could be moved to his side of the office.
A pair of Chinese Fu dogs that had belonged to his grandmother should technically have been a Feng Shui plus (they’re supposed to safeguard homes and bring nourishing energy into the house), but one of ours had a broken head. The truth is, we have no connection to these objects, so displaying them felt forced and inauthentic. But the dogs weren’t the main source of the painful eye poke.
It was the tusks, no doubt about it.
Let me back up a minute to explain that when I met my husband over 20 years ago, his condo was stuffed to the gills with mementos from his two postings in Africa before we met, including an African Grey parrot (a loud companion to the Amazon parrot in another large cage).
But we each had an office in the house during our early years together, so if I didn’t like something, it went to his study. Even after we moved into one shared office a few years ago, the display shelf was used for “his” stuff since a few of the pieces were too tall to fit anywhere else in the room.
The tusks–our personal version of the LA riots painting–were a prime example. I had insisted years ago that the gleaming ivory pieces were a no go in our common living space. Though it might not have been the case when he bought them 25 years ago (opinions on this may differ), sawed off tusks have come to symbolize the brutal murder of elephants and other endangered animals to supply foreign demand for trinkets and delicacies produced from animal parts. The compromise was that the tusks would live in his office.
With my own bad chi sources now swept away from the floor and desk shelves, the tusks couldn’t hide anymore. It was clear that if I were going to maintain this space as a haven of positive energy and creative inspiration, the tusks would have to go.
This is where you find out if your partner is merely humoring your Feng Shui efforts or really gets it. It wasn’t that I just wanted to move the tusks to his side of the office. I could still feel–practically hear–them over there. I wanted them out of the house completely.
We learned during this discussion that my husband is stuck somewhere between humoring me and getting it. The new negotiated settlement is that the tusks are in the basement, permanent location still to be determined. Another compromise, which is how our marriage has stayed in tact for twenty years.
So what do you think of my Feng Shui art results? (The hot air balloons photo is on an adjoining wall.)
Whether the symbolism really “works” to boost my career or not, the project motivated me to get some of my own photography printed and framed. Maybe I’ll eventually have a line of Feng Shui photography to market along with my garden photography, both of which are in alignment with my book, Whispers From My Garden, which will be published later this year.
Now see? My Feng Shui fixes are already sparking new ideas…
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