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Intention in Feng Shui

You hear this all the time: “Set your intention.” Yoga teachers say it before class, meditation teachers suggest it before meditating, and yes, it’s a big deal in BTB Feng Shui as well.

Why?

pexels-photo-65977First, let’s define “intention.” Webster’s says, “an aim” or “a plan.” That’s sort of a lame explanation if you ask me, so I’ll give it a shot.

An intention is where you focus on what you want, even for an instant, knowing that you are moving in that direction.

How’s that?

Therefore, when you dedicate your yoga practice to “gratitude,” you’re stating to yourself that, even if you feel like hell that day, you would like to get more in a place of gratitude.

In meditation, one of my favorite intentions is to state, “My intention is to connect with the Divine.” I’ve found this to be powerful, because in the end, that’s what this whole spiritual gig is all about.

Which brings me to Feng Shui. Professor Lin Yun, who brought Feng Shui to the west in the 1970s, taught the power of intention in a space. He really brought home that many cures in Feng Shui are anchored in intention.

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For example, say you have the classic Feng Shui no-no where you walk in the front door of your home and you can see straight through to the back yard because of a large window or a glass door. This represents an energy leak, because all the good that is coming in can escape straight out the back, quickly.  (i.e. Money can seem to be spent quickly, occupants experience lethargy more often, opportunities come and go too quickly)  Therefore, we would put a cure in place in this situation. (No need to knock down walls and reconstruct the whole house, please!)

In this situation, I would suggest the client hang a round-faceted crystal from the ceiling somewhere between the front door and the back, WITH THE INTENTION of dispersing the energy, slowing it down, so it can be better contained and managed. If my clients don’t like crystals, fine, then I suggest maybe a rug, and under that rug, I have them write on a piece of red paper “CURE” or something of the sort. And, ladies and gentlemen, this does the trick!

So, why o why o why do intentions work?

Well, our will is powerful!!! When we set an intention, we are making a wish, or stating a prayer, and then letting the Universe do it’s thing as a result. We are aligning with an outcome, trusting that it will unfold perfectly.

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Why red, you ask? In Feng Shui, we work with the elements of Nature and Chinese medicine: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. And we love to use Fire when setting intentions, because think of it, the tiniest spark can set an entire forest to flame. Red is the symbolic color for fire, which is why red is considered a lucky color in Feng Shui — it’s THE intention-setting color. Interestingly, in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and other religions and practices, one often lights a candle when saying a prayer or going into meditation. It’s no accident these rituals show up across cultures!

For a fun exercise, try setting an intention every morning for 9 days, either writing it on a red piece of paper and putting it under your bed, or lighting a candle for 9 days straight.

Then get back to me! I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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“Sparks Joy” or “Serves Purpose”?

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A new client and I have had a jolly time decluttering, organizing, and moving her into her new home. She has beautiful things that she treasures, and she has a beautiful home, and I must say, she’s a lovely person herself.

Her adult son was coming home, and we bumped up on some of his items (can anyone say, T-shirts?!), and she asked me, “Would you mind going through his things with him?”

“Of course!” I responded.

Then, she offered, “You may want to ask him, ‘Has this served its purpose?’ rather than ‘Does this spark joy?'”

Considering briefly that maybe she knew her son better than I, I said, “Okay, we can try that!”

But it’s been bugging me. Upon reflection, I realized that these are two VERY different questions.

Here’s a story:
When I was decluttering my jewelry, I came upon a necklace that my mother had handed down to me. It’s good quality, not an heirloom or anything, but pretty. But every time I had tried it on, it just did not work. In all honesty, it’s not my style at all. Logically, I may have told myself that this item did not spark joy. But following Marie Kondo’s advice, I held it in my hand, got quiet, checked in, and oddly enough to me, it sparked joy so it stayed.

Months later, I was invited to a 1920s gala. I was planning on buying a costume – I love the 20s. But nothing I shopped for was what I was wanting, so I decided to browse through my own closet. SURE ENOUGH, I had the entire costume, except for the headpiece. I haven’t been to a 1920s party in forever, mind you. And I had never thought of wearing all these various pieces together until this one event! And this was after decluttering like a mad woman over the years.

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Looking sassy in my black necklace with life coach and friend, Virginia Bunting!

And sure enough, the necklace was an integral part of the look and got to “serve its purpose” and spark a lot of joy.

So here we go, back to the topic at hand.

Had this necklace served its purpose when I was decluttering? “No.” But that doesn’t mean I should have kept it. After all, think of all the items in your space that have not served its purpose AND NEVER WILL because it was never supposed to be in your space in the first place.

That being said, I know what my sweet client was thinking. Some items are just “tired.” They are complete in your particular household. They have done their job and need to move on.

But trust me, a tired item will not spark joy if you are being honest with yourself. So why change the question?

So, I’ll stick with Marie’s brilliant concept for now. Eliminate confusion on the “purpose thing,” and instead ask every item in your home if it sparks joy (yes or no) so that your space will REFLECT JOY.

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PDA in Feng Shui..a.k.a. Post-Declutter Anxiety

anxiety or clarity photoThe other morning, I bumped into a client who had hired me to declutter a few months back, and we had a nice little catch-up over coffee. She’s a thinker and one who likes to observe herself, so I wasn’t surprised when I received a interesting answer to my question, “How’s the house?”

She replied frankly, “It’s good! I’ve really maintained it. And I kept going in the decluttering, especially that one closet in the living area. But I had a few panicky moments too. I mean, strange things. LIke over a book I thought I had gotten rid of. I mean, it was this feeling of real anxiety. I finally had to talk myself down, and come to the terms that if the book was gone, it was gone, and of course, I could replace it. It wasn’t anything…logical.”

“Oh yes, this can happen,” I told her. One client of mine calls it ‘declutter regret.’ I call it ‘PDA.’ Post-Declutter Anxiety.”

“Really? Yeah, it was interesting, I started to freak out about this one book. Like I suddenly couldn’t survive without it. And then, it turned out the book was there all along!”

She also mentioned a T-shirt that she had indeed had let go of, that she suddenly really, really wanted for no reason.

“You know, I was looking for that shirt, and I realized it was as if I wanted to go back to some time that wasn’t exactly positive, but it was like comfort food. And that shirt represented that time. It was weird!”

After some discussion, she admitted: “I wasn’t really in a positive place on those days that this happened. It was as if I was in some negative spiral, and I was looking for reasons to take myself lower, to punish myself for having gotten rid of something that, in the moment, I thought I wanted or needed.”
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Decluttering is such an interesting process. And a PROCESS it is.

There’s Step One: the preparation, and by that, I mean the mental preparation. This, most often, shows up as major resistance to the actual act of declutter (i.e. “I don’t have time.” “I shouldn’t have to do this by myself.” “This is way too much work.” “I’m totally overwhelmed by this.” “Does it really matter if it’s cluttered anyway?” etc.). At some point, something clicks,and the person makes the decision: “I have GOT to do this.” The decision moment is key here.

Step Two is the actual decluttering itself. Which can be simultaneously daunting and freeing. A LOT can come up for folks. And then some people are just so ready, they sail right through it. Everyone’s experience is unique to them.

And then, yes, as this client voiced, Step Three of the decluttering process is the aftermath. There is the obvious freedom of owning less stuff and being able to find everything when you need or want it and living more simply and streamlined for sure. And of course, in a practical sense, ya gotta maintain it!

But sometimes there are these moments of fear, Post-Declutter Anxiety (PDA) or “declutter regret.” It’s kind of like “buyer’s remorse, which I looked up on Wikipedia (where you will find some great psycho-babble, if you’re interested).

Then it hit me! One the biggest reasons people don’t declutter in the first place is that they are AFRAID of Post-Declutter Anxiety (PDA). It’s as paralyzing as the fear of buyer’s remorse. In fact, it IS sort of a delayed buyer’s remorse, in that when one declutters, they must face the decisions of what they have purchased in the past AND make new decisions based on these items!

After all, how many times have you cleaned out your closet to find apparel with the tag still on it?

What about all those well-meaning projects you have spent time and money on, promising to get to? These have now become clutter, representing hope turned sour, excitement turned to burden. Guilt.

And of course, there are the items that come in multiples. Too many coolers. Too many rolls of tape. Too many paint brushes, toothpastes, nerf guns, you name it.

SO WHY DECLUTTER?

Because avoiding it is much, much worse than dealing with it. All the stuff that comes up during the decluttering is already there anyway, lingering on a subconscious and gnawing level.

Would it be fair to say it’s like Stage 4 cancer, that if it were caught earlier, would’ve been a lot easier to “deal with?

Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic of me, but is it?

How many people do you know, overwhelmed in their “stuff,” psychological and otherwise?

A person must start somewhere…and the best place to start is in your own head.

Wrap your mind around how much these items are (secretly) representing to you, and you’ll be 70% there, and the decluttering will go much more smoothly.

In other words, don’t be afraid to let go.

 

Katie’s 27-day online course, Declutter Your Way to Clarity, is happening soon!  Check it out, and sign up!

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“Call In” Your Helpful People with Feng Shui

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Burning Man, Nevada. Photographer unknown.

None of us operate in a vacuum. The farmers grow our food. The grocery store folks sell it. We buy it. Someone designs and creates our cars. Someone sells us those cars. We learn through books, and someone writes those books. We offer services, and someone buys those services.

We make up a beautiful network of PEOPLE.

There is a section in the Feng Shui bagua called the Helpful People gua. Other titles for this gua are Travel and Spirit Guides. It’s sort of the “community” gua, and it represents our connection to that which is larger to us, whether it be locally, globally, or beyond.

I have a favorite cure for this section that is crazy-easy but powerful. So whether you are looking for a nanny, a lawyer, a publisher, an agent, a matchmaker, or someone to mow your lawn, this is the cure for you!

CURE:
Simply write down a description of the Helpful People you’d like to manifest in your life.

It’s best done on red paper and in permanent ink. First light a candle with the intention of allowing the Helpful Person into your life. Get into a feeling place of “it is already done.” If you have a metal container, especially a round one, then place these Helpful People requests in there, happy that these people are coming. Then place the container in the Helpful People section of your home (usually the front right area of your living or work space as you enter).

I encourage you to be general and specific simultaneously. For example, if you are looking for an agent to get a book published, you may write, “My agent is brilliant, kind, and well-connected and superb at her job. He or she believes whole-heartedly in my work and gives perfect advice and insight. He or she is communicative and returns calls quickly and loves her job. We have a wonderful relationship, and he or she has exactly the right knowledge and energy to get the book published and out to its perfect worldwide audience. It is so.”

Have fun with this! And remember, you are worthy of all the helpful people you can conjure up! We are all in this together and win-win situation abound!

 

 

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Loving Where You Are, Even If You Want to Move

I see it all too often.

Artwork unhung.
A room undefined.
Moving boxes unpacked.
Furniture wayyyy too big for a space…

…all in hopes for the “next move.” When I ask the client about this, the response is along the lines of: “Why put energy into the current place, when surely a move is imminent?”

So many people are dissatisfied with their current living space and are “waiting for the day” for that next, better place. But somehow, that move gets pushed back months, then years.

In essence, then, they are living in limbo. And limbo is not ideal for creating the life you want!

I wrote a blog about my personal experience with this. It happened in my early Feng Shui days. In short, when I first moved to Los Angeles, I landed smack in the middle of the city, and the energy was harsh for this nature-lover. I knew I had to find a place near the beach if I was to “survive” city living. Yet nothing was showing up! It wasn’t until my roommate and I went to work painting and spiffing up our little Miracle Mile apartment, that not one week later, a friend wrote asking if I was interested in a house in Venice, just a 5-minute bike ride from the beach.

Powerful Feng Shui lesson!

Painting your front door is a way of giving your space some extra love!

Painting your front door is a way of giving your space some extra love!

 

Moral of the story: Be present. Put a little energy into where you are NOW. In fact, accept where you are now!

So, how did this fast manifestation work?
I surrendered. I made peace with the Miracle Mile space, and we put our love into it, so that the energy of the place got higher, and so did we! My energy soared, and the new place appeared like magic.

This is the Law of Attraction at its best. By appreciating where I was, yet still clear on what I wanted (a place at the beach) but not harboring on it (in fact, I let it go entirely, almost forgetting about it), the Universe took care of the rest.

I had a client recently tell me that they had detailed both their cars. Just a few months later, they found themselves with new cars, unexpectedly.

Another client hired me to declutter with her last year. She called me a couple of weeks ago to clear the energy of her NEW HOME.  I was shocked!  She said, “I didn’t realize it at the time, but the decluttering was preparing us for this move.”  Which happened effortlessly, I might add.

Another client is resistant to hanging art work in her current space.  She wants to move, but she is giving herself a hard time . “Why would I move into another space, when I can’t even get this one where I want it?”

I told her that it’s a fine line, that maybe the resistance in putting the energy into the current space is because deep down she knows she needs and wants to move.

Bottom line:  Do SOMETHING to make peace with where you are.  For that one client, her first step is to declutter and straighten up.  While new furniture and artwork is on the agenda, that’s not the next step…just in case that dream home does show up.  If it’s taking too long, then sure enough, we’ll be doing a bit of interior decorating and furniture purchasing to get this place to feel like home!

So look around — are you living in limbo, hoping for the next great thing?  Or are you creating a space that you can at least appreciate and feel good in?  Now is now!

 

 

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Flower Power in One Client’s Decor

A client called for a tune-up.

It turns out she had just kicked her husband out.

This was not something she had ever done before, and while their relationship had its ups and downs, she was sort of in a state of shock by her own action.

Here’s where the idea to call me came in.  You know what she did next?  She shopped!  Fueled rather than falling into a depression, she decided to channel her heightened energy into updating some spots around the home.

She wanted to make sure that the changes she was making were Feng Shui a-ok.

It was a wonderful session, including a Color Reading to help gain a bit of perspective on where she was on a subconscious level.  It turns out that she is in a place of really being true to herself, tuning into her creative talents and most authentic self-expression.  And yes, it came up that her marriage had a block, surprise, surprise.

So we tweaked her space (over Skype, no doubt!), and I approved of some new items and gave tips and tweaks and commentary for other areas, including Creativity and Self-Knowledge.

Then we got to her bedroom.  She had bought entirely new bedding, one that “sparked joy,” (to reference Marie Kondo), and that brought a Spring-like freshness into the room.

Here’s where it got interesting…and tricky.

This bedding was of peonies!  A gorgeous flower to be sure, and one heralded in traditional Feng Shui as THE flower for love!  So how about that?  Things came to a head with her hubby, and she runs out and buys something for her bedroom that shouts love, love, love!

 

image1The only problem was this:  This is the perfect flower for a woman when she wants to find a mate…but it’s NOT so great for married couples as it may encourage infidelity!!!

We had a good laugh at the irony of her choosing this particularly controversial bedspread of all the bedspreads in the world.

I then read from Doreen Virtue’s book, Flower Therapy, and we found another meaning for peonies, in that they help heal folks from a distance.

I told my client that I like to play it safe in these type of instances.  She and her husband are by no means talking divorce, but she did need her space for a few days to get her head clear.  So they are in an interesting stage.  She wasn’t too keen on the idea of returning the comforter to the store — after all, she really really loves it!  And it is the flower of LOVE.

So symbolically speaking, why o’ why did this lovely lady bring this in?  Sometimes with a client, it is clear as day what the symbolism is, but in this case, there were several ways to read it and can be a mystery!

Maybe this is her psyche’s way of getting to a purer place with her husband, of claiming her identity as a individual, to spark up a renewed romance with him.  Or maybe it’s her way of claiming her singledom in a stronger way, and a sign for where that marriage is headed.

This is where the Feng Shui consultant steps back, and allows the client to let the information  sink in, so they can decide for themselves.

Who knew dainty, sweet peonies could be so powerful in their symbolism!?

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2016: Year of Fire Monkey ~ What to Expect

On February 8th, 2016, the Year of the Fire (Red) Monkey commences.

We are moving away from the Wood Sheep into the more active energy of the Fire Monkey, where we will be inspired to use our ingenuity and intellect to create more fulfilling lives, all while having a good time doing it!

Monkeys relate to mischief, so there is a bit of a warning to be aware of any “monkey business” that may be going on in your life. The Monkey heighten that sort of energy, causing chaos if you’ve been avoiding that aspect!  Much like the Heyoka, or trickster, in Native American lore, the Monkey asks us to take a good look at ourselves. This year we’ll be witnessing where we take ourselves too seriously, and sometimes those lessons can come as a bit of a blow…well, because we are taking ourselves too seriously.   Remember, the trickster’s gift is that we get to pexels-photo-2laugh at ourselves at the end of the day! Monkey reminds us that a life void of play is not much of a life at all. Get ready for some color and fun and liveliness. While last year’s Sheep was a little more slow to act and a bit more responsible, Monkey will remind you that there are plenty of festivities to be had. The flip side of that is that you may spend too much or carry on a bit foolishly, so be sure to find some balance.

The Fire element only fuels Monkey’s antics. Think of a chimp on speed. While this energy can be highly entertaining, it can also be frenetic, so again, temper this year’s energy with discipline (when needed), rest and even retreat, possibly by water in order to douse the Fire when it gets too much.

Of course, harnessing the energy of the Fire Monkey by running with creative ideas and remaining light-hearted on a daily basis could propel you forward in all areas of your life, given that this is a very Yang energy. Monkey encourages us to collaborate and socialize with people with like spirits, in work and outside of work. And while Monkey seems to be all play, they are actually really great at “getting things done,” so don’t let this year’s energy fool you that work will fall by the wayside. The opposite is true. In fact, you may finally have the energy to take some much-desired risks that didn’t feel right up until now.

For the most part, the Year of the Fire Monkey is going to be about people, laughter, and having fun. It will be a high energy year, full of surprises, so my advice is to roll with it, don’t take anything too seriously, let yourself laugh and play, and be wary of anything that seems too good to be true. And, please, schedule in some rest and relaxation to avoid insomnia, burn out, or manic episodes.  There can be too much of a good thing, so be sure to take care of you!

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How One Woman Landed Her Dream Job at Tesla Motors Using Feng Shui

Wendy is a long-time cherished client who came to me a few years ago with a request for me to Feng Shui her home. Since then, we’ve decluttered, Reiki’d, and done several Feng Shui tune-ups. I’ve been able to watch her grow and shift and, well…she recently “evolved” to receive what she calls “the opportunity of a lifetime” as a result of her personal work.

Feng Shui, meditation, journaling, and Reiki are all ways to “tune into yourself,” as Wendy so eloquently puts it. This way, she was able to follow a thread of synchronicities that opened the door to transition from a great job as an immigration lawyer in Alabama to now as Senior Counsel for Global Immigration for the famous Tesla Motors.

Here, we credit the beautiful fountain that I recommended as a big part of this positive life change. Using the bagua map, she placed it in the Career section of her office, and because water is the element associated with Career, this was a powerful, but simple cure.

Watch this video and get inspired!

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Trees in Feng Shui: Importance of Proper Pruning Techniques

Trees add so much life force and beauty to a property, and in Feng Shui, they represent the element of Wood (obviously). Of course, the proper placement of a tree as well as the care its given is extremely important in ensuring positive chi.

Here Katie talks about tree “topping,” which is, in general, a way of “choking” the chi of a tree. Proper pruning is absolutely essential when maintaining the integrity of a tree, so please do your research and hire knowledgeable persons to help you with your landscape needs!

For more on this topic, write “crape” in the Blog search window to more information on best practices with your crape myrtles. The Director of the Birmingham Botanical Garden gives his two cents!

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VIDEO: Author Lanier Isom Declutters Her Books

I love books. If you are reading this, you probably love books too. For some, it represents their identity. For others, it’s a safe haven.  On a whole, books are seen as very positive in Feng Shui, as they represent higher learning, knowledge, and expansion.

But what happens if you are drowning in them? Author Lanier Isom, of Grace and Grit fame, talks about her process of getting rid of boxes and boxes and boxes of her beloved books, and why she did it.

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