Sleeping in? Cleaning up after a party?
I was busy falling in love with the garbage man.
There were three of them, actually, but the target of my affection was the operator of the lifting claw scooping up the mountain of brush and tree branches from my curb to whisk away to the municipal compost pile. I restrained myself from running down the driveway to embrace him. I might even have kissed him, which would not have been cool if my sons and husband, not to mention the group of teenagers who had spent the night, woke up and found us like that.
I’ve got some issues with patriotism in the traditional and sometimes blind sense (don’t get me wrong–I love my country and am deeply grateful to live here, but that whole “We are #1” thing goes against my belief that all of creation is connected). When it comes to our waste management infrastructure, though, I am immensely proud to be an American.
Special brush pick-up by the county on New Year’s Day? It brings a tear to my eye.
And what better way to start the year than by clearing dead wood away from your life?
It started with the two dead dogwood trees in my front yard, both of which were well over 25 years old. After a slow decline over many years, they finally succumbed to dogwood anthracnose. I mourned the loss but accepted the fact that trees, like human bodies, have a lifespan.
And since we already had a brush pile started with the tree branches, it was a good time to give the wise but overgrown forsythia shrubs on the back slope a hard pruning, even though we’ll have to forgo the slightly garish yellow blossoms this spring since the buds had already formed. The benefits of space clearing far outweigh that cost.
The claw lifted the mess of tree and shrub branches like a pile of teased hair and dropped it into the back holding area. As the truck pulled away, I could feel positive chi fill the vacuum where dead and unsightly wood had blocked it before.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Feng Shui fixes, so here’s a brief refresher on chi, as explained by Feng Shui expert Carol Olmstead in Feng Shui Quick Guide for Home and Office:
“Chi (pronounced chee) is the vital energy that comes from nature. It is the constantly moving and changing force around you, making you feel either good or bad in a certain location.”
Dead wood is dead energy. Think about how you feel looking at a vibrant living tree compared to a brittle dead tree. You don’t want to spend any time around the dead tree, do you? But the living tree, even in the winter when its leaves have fallen, is still beautiful to us. We are not repelled by the bare branches of dormancy, because we sense the positive life force of the tree.
Bringing it Inside
The same goes for Christmas trees. When we first bring a fresh tree into our house, it’s a little like bringing a new puppy home. We give it water, stroke its supple needles, inhale its woodsy fragrance as we hang our ornaments. You might, as I do, add fresh evergreen boughs and sprigs to centerpieces and other holiday décor.
But by the end of the holiday season, the tree has stopped taking in water, the needles start to drop, and those greens you decorated with are a mess of sharp, browning, crumbling twigs. Their life force is gone.
Whereas the beginning of the holiday season feels magical and full of extra energy in the house, by the time New Year’s Day rolls around our decorations feel draining and dusty, sapping our energy. At least that’s how it is for me.
Clearing the Way for New Beginnings
According to Feng Shui philosophy, clearing dead wood from your environment, both literally and figuratively, creates space for new growth and opportunity. Clutter represents postponed decisions and the inability to move forward.
In other words, if you want to attract new energy and fresh prospects into your life–a pretty common goal at the start of a new year–you have to move dead stuff out of the way.
But although it’s easy to say goodbye to the spent Christmas tree or a slimy flower arrangement, many of us have difficulty letting go of things that add to clutter and don’t serve us well. And when I say clutter, I mean in every aspect of our life: home, garden, relationships, business, and even mental clutter. But let’s not bite off more than we can chew in one post.
How do you overcome resistance to clearing away dead wood?
7 Permission Slips for Letting Go
What I love about Carol Olmstead’s Feng Shui for Real Life approach is her practical focus and straight-forward explanation of the ancient art’s principles.
In her most recent e-zine edition, Carol offers these permission slips to those of us interested in, but a little fearful of, clearing away dead wood in our lives that’s blocking the inflow of positive, transformative energy:
- If something reminds you of how much weight you gained or lost (unplanned), you have permission to get rid of it.
- If something makes you sad or unhappy, you have permission to get rid of it.
- If something brings back bad memories, you have permission to get rid of it.
- If something makes you feel out-of-date, you have permission to get rid of it.
- If something is broken and it costs more to fix then replace, you have permission to get rid of it.
- If something from your past would embarrass your loved ones after you’re gone, you have permission to get rid of it.
- If something doesn’t mean anything to you any longer, you have permission to get rid of it.
Now that my dead trees have been removed and my holiday decorations are put away, I can turn my attention to clearing the rest of the clutter that accumulated during my very busy 2014.
Stay tuned for more Feng Shui fixes that I’ll be implementing to set the stage for a growth-filled 2015.
What about you? What dead wood do you need to clear away to attract positive chi and new opportunities for growth? Which permission slips will you need to draw on? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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