Recently I had an appointment with a Feng Shui consultant. Feng Shui is the Chinese art of harmonizing yourself with your home and its surroundings. This has been an interest of mine for a long time now and I have studied it a lot, applying what I know to each place that I have lived. But this was the first time I have ever consulted with a professional. I was inspired to deepen my Feng Shui practice when we recently discovered that moving was not an option for our growing family and my daycare business. So I had to make our space work better for us. In comes Alexandra. She is like part interior decorator, part spiritual advisor. From the moment she came in the door she exuded peace and calm. Our puppy usually goes psycho when she meets new people but paid little attention to her.
Lets just say that by Friday my house is usually coming apart at the seams, literally. After five days of five small people opening every cupboard, making various art projects, mud pies, spilling food and getting sand in every nook… disaster ensues. I have actually been through four cleaning ladies before I found one that can handle us. She brings in a team of two extra people to get the job done. The day Alexandra came was not a cleaning day though. I actually planned for this so she could see the reality of our situation. She didn’t bat an eyelash. We went through each room and she simply asked what worked and what wasn’t working. I never felt judged, even in my garage where we stood talking for twenty long minutes surrounded by horror. It really was scary in there that day and yet somehow the conversation was uplifting. My garage also happens to be the prosperity corner of our house. Below is a simple diagram called a bagua which in Feng Shui is like an energy map of your home where each area represents some specific aspect of your life.
I thought the garage was a good starting place because who doesn’t want their life more prosperous. The other areas that are the focus in Feng Shui are Career, Family, Fame, Health, Children, Knowledge and Helpful People. Oh and Romance. Many houses are not perfect squares like the one to the left. Ours is a funny long rectangle with a corner missing where our patio is, which happens to be our Romance area. No wonder this is the last thing I think of.
So the goal of my Feng Shui consultation was to gain better flow and to have more peace in the house. The ironic part is that the six weeks after that initial consultation kicked off the beginning of complete and total upheaval in almost every room in the house. It started with the garage which turned into a weekend project that led into a series of events that went something like this:
1. Declutter garage. Move stuff out into storage shed that is not used regularly. Wait, never mind – get rid of old storage shed which is dilapidated and also harboring rats. Buy new storage shed, build it and set it up on the other side of the house because old storage shed is still there. Collect things from the side yards and roof that husband has been secretly hoarding like six old lobster traps and remove. Create a massive pile of crap and admire before posting on CL under free stuff. Wonder why you just had a interior design consultation and then spend 16 hours cleaning the outside perimeters of your house.
2. Declutter the kitchen. This took only a couple of hours and was the most satisfying of the projects. Alexandra explained that our kitchen was in the Children/Creativity bagua of the house. Then she gave me a brilliant distinction. I looked at my kitchen as the last place that I wanted to be after taking care of kids all day. She said that it was the easel of the house and in order to feel creative and be inspired you had to start with a blank canvas each day. Just as an artist would put away and wash their brushes and paints, I had to do my dishes. I think of this every time now and it amazingly stays clean. Or is cleaned more frequently I should say.
3. Fix the bedroom. Apparently a standard Feng Shui practice is to have matching nightstands and matching lamps in the bedroom. It creates an energy of equal partnership. You also should have a headboard to feel secure when you are sleeping. We had none of these and I swear this change has been the most amazing. We curl in bed early now at night and have time to read. It feels like we are on vacation in a hotel and it is so relaxing now in our bedroom. Also I got permission from my husband to pursue my lifelong dream of a professional closet system. Elfa from the container store changed my life. The Career/Life Path bagua was where our messy closet was. I can’t wait to see where our careers will go.
4. Create a Skills and Knowledge zone. This area was where our driveway was. Completely empty and void of anything. Not a great energy for your knowledge center so I thought of a solution. I made a new freestanding mailbox to the side of the driveway with an oak barrel full of flowers. Now we have something there that is full of possibilities and living energy.
5. Move the kids furniture around. Move the bed away from the window as it makes kids feel insecure. Have matching night stands and a headboard. Declutter and remove as much visual stimulation as possible.
It’s funny because in trying to find peace and balance in my house I created so much work for myself that it zapped my energy and made me off-balance. I think that it is a really intense experience stepping back and looking at each aspect of your life, even if it means rearranging some living room furniture. I know from experience that children are extremely sensitive to clutter and chaos. Even though it was hard I did this for my own kids and for the ones I get to spend my work day with. I am happy I know about this modality and wanted to share. I have seen a noticeable difference in the kids. Mostly they are able to engage fully in creative play and then relax completely in their room.
Feng shui is about adding elements where the energy is missing and removing clutter where energy is stagnant. For the first time I really got that clutter is just visual overstimulation. I am trying to create an environment here for the kids to be inspired yet able to remain calm as well. Or as calm as it can be with six kids under five playing in the same house at once!
If you live in the San Diego area and would like a consultation with Alexandra, here is her info: