Monday, January 11, 2016

The real problem with clutter

Clutter brings up a lot of cringing. The word immediately raises images in the minds of many of overstuffed closets, crawlspaces desperate for our attention and stacks of papers that never seem to diminish despite our best efforts.

The problem with defining clutter in this way is that we don’t get to the real challenge associated with it, and so we overlook clutter that may be affecting us every day.

Everyone can see the big clutter items in their homes. In fact, they’re often so big that we can’t even address it without outside help or a weekend dedicated to trips to Goodwill. So we don’t, because it’s just something we all have and deal with in our lives.

There are a few problems with this.

Clutter begets clutter. Once we’ve identified a space in a room or an entire room as the place to put things we don’t know what to do with in the moment, it acts like a magnet for more clutter. Admit it, you’ve seen it happen in your own place – whether a basement, a closet, a desk or a junk drawer.

It weighs on us. Every time we look at clutter it reminds us that we need to clean it up but either don’t have the time or the will to take care of it in the moment. It’s like a daily dose of regret. Who needs that in their lives?

It’s diversionary. That’s right, when we see the big areas of clutter, we fool ourselves into thinking that clutter only applies to big messes. That just isn’t the case. Clutter can be the grouping of pictures on your piano that prevent you from seeing the good in each photo and only see a mass of photos. It can be the ceramic elephant in your home that you’re hanging onto not because you love it but because someone gave it to you and they might stop by so you want them to see you have it out.  Otherwise they might just JUDGE you. Gasp!
Clearing clutter is like a breath of fresh air for your home.

In feng shui, this means you’re filling your home not only with objects you don’t like but energy that just brings you down!

So, if that resonates with you, and I hope it does, take a look around you and see where you might have some clutter: a vase that held flowers from an ex, a second-hand chair you’ve had for far too long, a family portrait that reminds you of a time when the family wasn’t getting along so well. 

Start with just one thing. It’ll be a relief, and it may feel so good that you’ll find another thing, and another, and another. You may not get to the basement right away, but you'll feel lighter and happier and maybe, just maybe, it'll give you the boost you need to tackle that closet. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A home's center is key to a balanced life

Feng Shui Bagua
If you’re familiar with feng shui, you’ve probably heard of the bagua (pronounced baw-gwa). If you haven’t, just think of it as a map you can place over a layout of your home. It’s comprised of 8 core life aspects (e.g., career, relationships, abundance, etc.) surrounding a central and unifying aspect of life – balance (picture the yin-yang symbol).

The great thing about the bagua is that it allows you to see how different areas of your home represent different aspects of your life. For instance, based on the placement of a room, it can represent your family or your job or the people in your life who offer support.

There are different schools of thought as to how it should be positioned (e.g., cardinal directions or the entry to a home). More traditional schools follow the cardinal directions while the more “modern” schools use the entryway. In the school where I was trained, the International Institute of Interior Alignment (learn more at, we tend to use the entryway, but have also used direction depending on a home’s location (that’s a topic for another blog).

The nice thing about the balance aspect of the bagua is that no matter how you position the map it’s always in the center of your home. Easy, right?

OK, so why is this important? Well in feng shui the goal is to direct the energy within a home so that you have greater success in all areas of your life, and ultimately so you feel more balanced in your life across all those areas. So the center of your home can give you insight into something being off kilter in your life and it also can be adjusted to help realign the home’s energy for greater balance.

You might be asking how you might know if the center of your home is out of balance.

Well first, stand in the center of your home, or look at the center (sometimes it’s a utility closet or a flight of stairs going downward so you can’t actually be in the center), and ask yourself how you feel. Trust me, it’s important.

If you feel good, you smile or generally enjoy the space, great! That’s a good indication that things are in balance. If you do not feel so positive when you look at the space, a feng shui enhancement could probably do you some good.

Ok, so if you have more of a negative feel about the space, here are a couple common feng shui challenges that may be the culprit and how they might affect the balanced energy you’re trying to create:
  1. Stairs. In feng shui, stairs, going up or down, can create some fast moving energy or chi in the space. When you have energy that moves too quickly, then the home, and in this case the center of yor home, doesn’t get a chance to benefit from it. Remember, feng shui is about directing energy to different areas of your home, and as a result different aspects of your life. The goal is to provide more support (energetically) for you to achieve your goals. If the energy doesn’t stick around in an area of your home, that aspect of your life won’t get the energetic support you want. So, stairs in the center of your home can mean you won’t be able to access the energy you need to be more balanced. It’s as if every time you try to create more balance, it eludes you.
  2. No light. Light generates chi, while darkness dampens chi. So if there’s no light, the energy may not flow well in the space. Stagnant chi is a common challenge in feng shui as it creates a feeling of sluggishness and inactivity, and is reflected in our lives when it takes an inordinately long time to achieve a goal. Stagnant chi also tends to attract more stagnant or heavy energy. It’s not unusual, for example, when a room with stagnant chi becomes a dumping ground for clutter (Have you been in your garage lately?).
  3. Bathroom. The bathroom in the center of a home offers challenges because of its connection to the element of water. In feng shui, water represents either emotions or money. When we are constantly “flushing” the water out of the home, this can affect our stress levels, our financial well-being or both. These can be especially frustrating imbalances.   

These are just a couple examples of situations in the center of your home that could affect the balance you are trying to create in your life. Does it mean if you have these situations, it’s the end of the world? Nope. First check your gut. Does your life feel pretty balanced (e.g., work vs. play)? If the answer is yes, great! If not, I’m happy to talk to you further about it, just shoot me an email at

Hopefully now you’ll think a little differently about your home, and the importance of its center. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Vacations don't have to end

Climbing the trails in Sedona
Remember that last really great vacation you had? Why was it so great? What were the best moments of it?

I remember zip-lining in Costa Rica, walking the streets in Paris, eating amazing fruit in Jamaica, performing a ceremony on the beautiful red earth in Sedona, and the list goes on.

Each trip evoked similar feelings of awe, excitement and joy for various reasons. The friends and family we traveled with made these trips even better because of the laughter and the shared experiences that will last a lifetime.

Wouldn’t it be great to tap into these same feelings every day, even while at work? Or, looking out your window at the snow-covered yards? Or being surrounded by people and situations not resembling anything like your vacation?

You can, and it’s simple. When working with my feng shui clients, I’ll often make recommendations to uplift their energy as they walk into their home or a specific room (or even up to their desks). One way to do this is to identify a place they’ve visited that they loved. It can be a cabin in the woods, a beach, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or a bustling city. What’s important is that they loved it.

The Gandhi World Peace Memorial in LA
The first recommendation I make is to find a picture of the place. One in which every time they look at it, they smile or remember a great moment from their trip and place it somewhere they will see everyday. Most people take pictures when they travel, so this is a fairly easy enhancement to create.

Another option is to put out souvenirs from the trip, ones that they love and can associate with a specific positive experience from the trip (so not necessarily an airport trinket you get on the way out of town).

Then there is the option that may take a little more creativity and effort: recreate aspects of the trip in your home. You can start by imagining the feel of the place (e.g., New York City will have a very different feel than Costa Rica). Then identify some key elements that gave it the feel it had (e.g., in NYC, you might remember the bright lights, Broadway or the city never truly “sleeping” – something always happening no matter what time of day).  

A morning view in Costa Rica
Based on the NYC example, you could bring in posters of shows on Broadway, some spotlights that shine on those pictures or another key feature in a room, or incorporate several elements in the room that keep the energy flowing (e.g., a bold piece of art, some mirrors to expand the space and reflect energy back through the room, a large entertainment center, and bright colors through furniture, lamps or pillows).

Once you start adding these elements to your home, you’ll be reminded every day of the feelings you had during those vacations. It’s an opportunity to feel good every single day. I hope you take it.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Remember to look for the beauty

I like to create altars. It helps me stay connected to my own form of Spirit. I also create them on behalf of my clients when I do space clearings. (This is working with the energy of a space to change it -- aligning it with the home owner's goals and aspirations. Think of it as a house blessing.) I've also created altars for healing, meditation and to reinforce my own intentions. This isn't a post about altars though, it's about beauty.

I bring up altars though because one of the ways you can identify the sacred nature of an altar, or know that it is in effect creating the energy you want, is by its beauty. Yes, you need to work from a place of inner calm and honor each step of the process (think of a Japanese tea ceremony), and stay focused on your intention, and select the right objects to be a part of it. But once I'm done, if I look at it and can see the beauty in it, I just know it brings in a sacredness, a connection to Spirit, that will in fact support my clients, myself or my intention.

So beauty to me is an indicator of a higher power at work. And it is all around us, though we often don't stop to recognize it. We forget to look for it --  caught up in the tasks of the day, the worries that can be all-consuming or the days ahead of us or behind us. But it only takes a moment for something to take our breath away. And we never regret it.

If you're struggling with finding the beauty. I'd suggest starting with nature -- the trees, the plants, the snow, the starry night, a sunrise (shown in my picture here), a sunset, it's all around us. Make a point of noticing it every day. Pay attention to how you feel when you do notice it. You'll want to create this feeling again and again, trust me. 

If you forget, that's ok. The nice thing about beauty is that it comes in many forms, through many experiences, and we all define it a little bit differently. So it doesn't go away. You can always find it again. It just takes a moment to recognize it. 

Take a moment.