“Feng Shui is like acupuncture for your home, unblocking the flow of positive energy, removing negative energy, and allowing you to achieve your goals — without using any needles.” ~ Carol Olmstead, Feng Shui Quick Guide for Home and Office
Welcome to the fourth and final installment of my Feng Shui February series.
Many of you have shared your stories about cleaner closets and clearer desk spaces this month. I love hearing about your space clearing experiences (“I like counting to 27!”) and seeing the pictures of pets tip toeing between your “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away” piles.
My personal focus this month has been on Feng Shui fixes to set the stage for career development. I did the hardest work first, clearing out my wardrobe (getting rid of clothes that don’t make me feel authentic, empowered, and comfortable) and overhauling my home office space after a few of years of neglect.
My husband and I are enjoying the new artwork in the office. The images I chose to symbolize my career objectives make him feel good as well (the rooster may be questionable, but the hot air balloons have a surprisingly uplifting effect — see last week’s post on Feng Shui-friendly artwork if you missed it).
I’ve saved the core of the woo wooy part of Feng Shui for last, since I know this can be either fun for some people or a total turn-off for others.
It’s All About the Bagua
The bagua is a mapping chart that assists with Feng Shui design and placement. It frightened me a little when I first started reading about Feng Shui, so I avoided the chart for a couple of years and just focused on clutter clearing.
The traditional bagua diagram is shaped like an octagon, but Carol and other contemporary practitioners use a much simpler rectangular grid version. This user-friendly bagua consists of nine evenly sized rectangles labeled with the critical aspects of daily life. By superimposing the chart over your house’s floor plan, you can see which areas of your home represent the following areas:
- Compassion/Travel/Helpful People
You can download a free bagua map from Carol’s website at http://bit.ly/FSBasics. (I am not a paid advertiser, just a fan.)
The next step is to choose colors, artwork, and elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood) that support each of the bagua areas according to Feng Shui principles.
Rather than buying in fully to the woo woo, I use the system as a short-cut since I have neither talent nor patience for home decorating. And I only do the easy, mainstream stuff–no crystals, incense, altars, or red tassels.
But if my design choices might serve double duty to support my happiness, health, wealth, and relationships, what have I got to lose? It’s not like I’m just sitting around waiting for magic to happen. I follow up with real, concerted action to meet my objectives.
What I know without a doubt is that Feng Shui has cleared sources of negative chi (energy) from my living space. My surroundings feel more balanced, and so do I. By eliminating objects that distract me, Feng Shui fixes leave me with more energy for positive action.
That’s how shit gets done.
So here’s how I used the bagua for my Feng Shui February finishing touches…
Plants, Color, and Other Feng Shui Flourishes
Carol’s Feng Shui Quick Guide for Home and Office was my one-stop shopping center for decorating ideas that might support my career goals.
Last week I focused on artwork for the office. This week I looked at the bagua as a whole to see what areas I might tweak.
The “Self/Career/Work” area of my house is basically my front foyer. The bagua says that water elements and the colors blue and black support career energy. I had already hung a waterfall image on the foyer wall a couple of years ago and the area rug has some black and blue in it. Not too much else to do there.
But the “Power/Wealth/Abundance” area, my dining room, was another story.
Let me say for the record that I’m a little uncomfortable with acknowledging that I would like to boost my power, wealth, and abundance. It sounds really ego-driven and greedy, and I’ve spent the past few years trying to dissolve the greedy ego voice in my head.
The timing feels right, though, to start earning money of my own again after taking a break from paychecks to raise my kids. To have had that choice is a luxury that I will never take for granted. But with one kid in college and the other one soon to have his driver’s license, I’ve got more time for other pursuits. Translating my writing and photography passions into actual income (and college tuition contributions) would be a dream come true.
But my “Power/Wealth/Abundance” area (aka dining room) had some issues. The furniture and artwork on the walls are fine, but the space in front of the big, south-facing bay window had been annoying me for months. The plants were the problem.
Despite the fact that I am a master gardener, I suck at taking care of houseplants. If you are confined to a pot inside my house, you drew the short straw. A little water every two weeks and fertilizer once every six months or so (if you’re lucky) is the best you can hope for.
A friend made the mistake of asking me to babysit her large palm plant during her family’s three-year posting in Europe. The palm kicked the bucket about six months ago (our bunny chewing on the base of it didn’t help) and the empty pot had remained in the same spot ever since.
That pot was a beacon of my negligence. On top of that, its location in the wealth area of my house made me associate it with my empty personal bank account. The other plants flanking the window were alive but overgrown, covered in dust, and root-bound in the same containers they’d occupied for six years.
Icky chi all around.
The Action Plan
Feng Shui tells us that plants, flowers and animals add active chi to our environment. Bringing the natural world inside is said to bring peace and harmony to your life (unless it’s my husband’s African Gray parrot).
Certain plants are considered to be particularly auspicious. To read more about Feng Shui-friendly house plants, check out this article on Carol Olmstead’s website.
I decided that a trip to the garden center would serve three important purposes:
- I’d get a gardening fix while my yard is still covered in snow;
- The right plant would provide a boost to the “Power/Wealth/Abundance” area of my house; and
- One of Carol’s recommendations in her Quick Guide‘s “Calendar of 366 Feng Shui Tips” is to “Buy yourself a gift today as a symbol to affirm that you will have continuing prosperity and be able to afford whatever you want.” (I’m sure she meant to add, “but don’t be stupid about it.”
Perusing the hundreds of choices on display in the steamy tropical plants section of Merrifield Garden Center, I remembered that spiky plants were frowned upon in Feng Shui. Pokey plant parts produce bad chi.
Plants with rounded leaves, on the other hand, symbolize good fortune, abundance, and wealth.
I finally settled on a jade plant. It had good street cred in Feng Shui philosophy, but, even more importantly, I just liked the looks of it and didn’t have any plants with that leaf shape in the dining room. (See photo above.)
The color purple represents wealth in Feng Shui, so using it in your “Power/Wealth/Abundance” area is recommended. That’s convenient, since purple is my favorite color and always has been. I chose an elegant purple pot to hold my new jade plant. While I was at it, I picked out a smaller purple pot and a soft draping succulent to add some fresh chi to my office space.
Back at home, I planted the new additions in their wealth-enhancing pots. On a roll, I repotted all of the other plants in the dining room as well. The empty pot (the brown one in the photo) is now filled with new soil and a healthy inhabitant. I trimmed away dead leaves, gave a particularly overgrown fellow (the guy in the blue pot) a major pruning, and wiped years’ worth of dust and grime from the leaves. Light streamed through the cleared window space, reflecting off the gleaming greenery.
I could practically hear the who crew exhale “Thank you!”
“No…thank YOU! And sorry it took so long,” I replied.
I hope you’ve enjoyed Feng Shui February as much as I have. The project reaffirmed to me that de-cluttering my home and office helps to de-clutter my head. It’s an active form of meditation.
Now that I’ve got my chi in order, I’ll be moving on to a range of mindfulness topics in the coming weeks. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
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