Sunday, January 19, 2014

Declutter Your Way to a Great New Year

In my last blog, I shared some very practical things that you could do to start the year off right. We talked about fixing the things that need to be fixed in your home and the feng shui significance of making these fixes, even something as simple as changing a light bulb. It was step one of a process I recommend for starting your year off right with feng shui – with no regrets.

Step 2 in this process is clutter clearing. Many in feng shui refer to clutter clearing as modern day alchemy because not only do you feel lighter and generally better after removing clutter but because it becomes a catalyst for bringing new energy and new opportunities in your life.

Before we get into the “magic” of clutter clearing though, we need to define it a bit first. There are obvious examples, such as piles of clothes in a bedroom, the unpacked boxes in the basement or the stacks of paper on your desk. Then there are the less obvious like the collectibles you have on your dresser, the multitude of books on your shelves that you’ll never read again and even all the electronic files on your computer that need to be organized.

Clutter becomes a block for the energy or chi flowing through your home, and not only that but it tends to attract more of the same. You know what I mean if you’ve ever seen the piles of papers seem to grow exponentially on your desk, or a basement that has become over run with boxes of old, unused items that will never see the light of day again.

Everyone has clutter. It’s part of our nature to collect things, but we have seen this go to the extreme in the past several years where hoarding has become the focus of national television shows. Most of us fall somewhere in between the need for psychological help and the pristine Zen clutter-free home that some consider the ideal.

So where to begin? Are you having visions of sorting through boxes filled to the brim with old toys, old files, old dishes or nowadays even just a pile of old electronics? Before you begin to panic, don’t. While those all can be addressed at some point, I wanted to make this three-step process doable, manageable and with no regrets. It’s the New Year after all. So, start small.

I don’t mean single room small or even closet small. I’m talking dresser drawer small, junk drawer small, even car glove compartment small. Or in my case recently – backpack small.

That’s right, I received a new backpack recently that was a gift from a non-profit organization that focuses on educating kids about the environment (the Rob Machado Foundation – check it out). My old backpack was just that, old. Still in good working condition, but I felt I needed a change. So in went my laptop, headphones, wifi-hotspot, various chargers, my personal calendar, my notebook, my ipad, pens, various papers, etc. At first it felt good to have this new backpack with its shiny, clean exterior but as time wore on, I realized I missed all the pockets in my old backpack (this one had one big one and one small one).
I was never sure where my stuff was inside, and it stressed me out to have to go digging through my bag every time I wanted anything from it. 

Finally I broke down and switched back – placing the laptop in its sleeve, along with my ipad and personal calendar, there was a place just for my cords, another for my smaller devices another for all my pens, keys and receipts in need of expensing. Plus there was an extra completely empty pocket that I could fill with snacks or anything else I wanted. I have to admit, I felt a real sense of relief knowing exactly where everything was in my bag so I could quickly and easily get what I needed when I needed it. So maybe this is a sign of my own level of OCD, but frankly that doesn’t matter. I felt better. That’s what matters.

So where would you start? A sock drawer (I recently ditched several old socks that had holes worn through them) or maybe a desk drawer or consider something a little more daunting like the junk drawer – (I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have one of these).

Once you’ve identified your focus, make sure you can address it in a single sitting. It may be a small space, but you will still feel great afterward and even motivated to tackle another small project (another clothes drawer perhaps or maybe a file drawer in your office).

Each time you do this, you’ll make a positive impact on how you feel about your home, and from a feng shui perspective open doors for additional opportunities in many aspects of your life. Each change may seem small but they truly can have a big impact. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Start the New Year without Regret

The New Year brings with it a host of new things – new hopes, new dreams, new resolutions – especially as we look back and consider what we’d like to achieve in the days ahead. Often though, we beat ourselves up for not achieving our goals soon after setting them, which just makes it that much more difficult to achieve them. (This is why I typically skip the whole resolution thing – I always feel like I’m setting myself up for a fall.)

So this year, I’m developing a simple plan. I’m focusing my attention on the practical – those things that I know can make a difference and are not so lofty that I can’t achieve. I’m starting with a simple three-step process using feng shui as my guide.

The first step is what I’m calling feng shui maintenance. What I mean by this is just this: fix what needs to be fixed. Doesn’t sound too sexy I know, but it can have a powerful impact on your life. Feng shui is based on the premise that our homes are extensions of ourselves – which as we look around and see the various objects and styles we’ve selected, makes sense.

When you take this premise a level or two deeper, as we do in feng shui, different aspects of our homes represent different aspects of our lives (e.g., career, relationships, prosperity, etc.), and even the systems (e.g., plumbing and electrical), appliances and various objects in the home can affect our quality of life because of what they represent.

For instance, some feng shui experts focus solely on health and how our homes can reflect our own physical well-being. Our plumbing for instance is more than just a complex set of pipes but a channel for our emotions. In feng shui, the water element represents our emotions, so when there is a block in our plumbing it can represent an emotional block we may be having in our lives. This doesn’t mean you won’t need a plumber if you address the emotional issue but it does show how our homes can be more than mundane physical structures.

Consider too the appliances in your kitchen – a place in your home that represents prosperity because this is where we bring, prepare and cook all our food (a symbol of abundance). If they are not in working order, this can have an effect on the food we serve. In feng shui, the stove represents the element of fire, which is a strong generator of energy or chi. If it is not working, you are limiting the amount of energy or support you need to attract greater abundance into your life.

The fixes don’t need to be big – sometimes it’s simply changing a light bulb (in feng shui, this adds chi to a space) or swapping out the batteries on your smoke detectors (creating a greater sense of security in your home) or adding salt to your water softener (are there some challenging emotional situations that could use a softer touch?).

Each of these fixes, even the small maintenance items, can add up to big changes in how you feel about your home. When these things no longer weigh on you, you can appreciate your home for what it offers and not what you have to do in it. And that’s the crux of it. How you feel about your home. You want to walk into your home feeling uplifted, welcomed and supported. This is good feng shui. Maintenance is a first key step.

Next time, I’ll cover Step 2: Clutter Clearing but right now, I have some light bulbs to change, and a table to wax, and some salt to purchase, oh and a dishwasher that needs repair.