Feng Shui to the Rescue Ezine
November - December 2018
From My Feng Shui Window
Trouble, Chaos, and Toxicity
A Facebook friend posted this question: When is it too early to start decorating for the holidays? For me, the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving, so my knee-jerk answer would have been that you don't sta
rt decorating until you've finished eating the turkey. However, these days we're surrounded by so much chaos and we're dealing with such troubling times, that my new answer is this: If it brings you joy
and happiness, go for it!
This morning I read that Oxford Dictionaries announced that
toxic is its international word of the year for 2018. Oxford says they chose a word to reflect "...the ethos, mood, or preoccupations" of a particular year." Oh my, did we really need this reinforcement of the trouble we're already feeling?
I first started offering Feng Shui recommendations for dealing with troubled times in response to the questions I was receiving after 9/11. Eventually, I was happy to phase out that topic. Now, I'm again getting questions about dealing with trouble, anxiety, and yes - toxic issues. In fact, I get so many requests for tips to create family harmony, that I'm including a chapter on
Trouble, Chaos, and Clutter in my forthcoming book,
Feng Shui to the Rescue (you knew I had to include clutter, didn't you?). I've reviewed the hundreds of questions I've answered during the 20 years of my Feng Shui practice, and I'm fascinated that most of them that fall into either the "Harmony" or "Trouble" chapters have to do with holidays. People want to know how to arrange their holiday table to avoid arguments, what colors to use and not use to keep their family happy, or where to seat people so they don't bring up controversial topics. I could go on (and I do in the book!). That's why I'm including some tips for holiday family harmony in this issue so you can enjoy the holidays rather than dread them.
Happy Un-toxic Holidays! No matter which or how many holidays you celebrate, I'm sending warm wishes for a peaceful season and a wonderful and bright New Year!
Feng Shui Master Practitioner
Feng Shui For All Seasons
Feng Shui Tip: Add Feng Shui to Your Holidays
For my new readers, and as a refresher for my long-time subscribers, the sections that follow include updates of my annual guide to Feng Shui-friendly holidays. And, if you want even more Feng Shui tips for stress-free celebrations, check out these articles from my website, www.FengShuiForRealLife.com.
Giving Feng Shui Friendly Gifts
When you're shopping for gifts for your family or friends, be on the lookout for the hidden Feng Shui meaning in what you buy. Here are my top five Feng Shui holiday gift giving "dos and don'ts," plus five gifts to give yourself to take into the New Year.
#1: Don't give an empty wallet, purse, or backpack, because it represents the lack of prosperity. Instead, do give these items filled with cash to send the message that your gift will always be overflowing with wealth for the recipient.
#2: Don't give sharp objects or knives, because these represent cutting a relationship. Instead, do give a picture of the object and a gift card so the recipient can purchase it. If you receive a sharp object as a gift, hand over a small amount of money to the giver - even a coin will do - to symbolize that you "bought" the object. That action will restore the bond between you.
#3: Don't give cactus, spiky plants, or roses with thorns still on the stems because they symbolize piercing a relationship. Instead, do give a living plant, especially one with rounded leaves in a red pot to symbolize prosperity. If you receive roses with thorns, remove them before displaying to symbolize a smooth romance or relationship.
#4: Don't give bonsai trees or other miniature plants because they symbolize stunted growth. Instead, give full-size healthy, growing plants to attract
positive energy to any location. If you want to give a plant to someone who already has a stunted-growth plant they want to keep, choose a flowering plant to keep near it to balance the sharpness.
#5: Don't give clocks, watches, and other gifts that show time because this symbolizes stealing time and a limited life span. Instead, do give gifts of precious stones to help attract longevity and health, like turquoise for its healing power, amber to protect health, or hematite to enhance memory, focus, and to improve concentration.
Gifts to Take With Your Into the New Year
After you finish your holiday shopping for others, buy at least one of these five gifts for yourself to assure your start the New Year off on a positive note:
- Large tote bag or backpack to carry all the good things you expect this year.
- New shoes of any heel height to stomp out any frustrations in the new year.
- Gold or silver jewelry to signify that you can afford fine things.
- Red clothes or accessories to attract good fortune in the days ahead.
- Fresh fruit and flowers, especially a bowl of nine oranges, to represent good fortune.
Decorating Around the Bagua
Many of my clients, students, and readers ask how they can use Feng Shui principles to decide where to place specific Christmas and Hanukkah decorations, including family heirloom ornaments or menorahs. I tell them to use the bagua to decide. When you decorate your home around to the nine areas of the bagua, you activate the energy of the aspects of life that each area represents. To find these areas in your home, download a bagua from the "Basics" section at FengShuiForRealLife.com. Choose the bagua that matches the shape of your space.
Want to increase your wealth? Display Fire Element items in the Wealth area that represent abundance and money, such as the Christmas or Hanukkah gifts you are giving.
Want people to think highly of you? Display items in the Future area that represent the Fire Element, including candles, stars, lights, poinsettias, or the menorah.
Want to bring romance into your life or enhance your relationship? Add pairs of Fire Element items to the Love area, and items that represent love, or sweet items like cookies, cake, or chocolate.
Want to improve your relationships with children, conceive a child, or unblock your creativity? Display items in your Creativity area that represent the Metal Element, including shiny ornaments, a toy train set, dolls, musical instruments, or a metal dreidel.
Need more help in your life? Display Metal Element items in the Helpful People area that represent people helping you, especially images of Santa or angels, and gifts you have received.
Time for a career change? Display blue and black items in your Career Area, or objects that represent the Water Element, like snowmen, snowflakes, or icicles.
Need more harmony in your life? Display Water Element items, books, or images that represent peace and tranquility in your Harmony area.
Need to encourage good family relationships? Display the Wood Element in the Family area, including the Christmas tree or pine branches, holly, or wooden decorations.
Need to feel balanced? Display Earth Element items in the Grounding area at the center of your home that represent nature, such as a new plant or a bowl of fresh fruit.
Sustaining Family Harmony
Dealing with Divorce During the Holidays
The holidays can be harder on families than we like to admit. On one hand, this season is a happy time full of gifts and cards from far-away friends and family. But on the other, holidays add social, monetary, and emotional pressure for families. This is especially true when you're also finding your way through a divorce or separation. That's why I've been collaborating with Divorce Coach Kelly Chisholm on her From Splitsville to Sanity program for women going through divorce. I'm offering Feng Shui guidance for Kelly's clients.
I was amazed when Kelly told me that most divorcing or separating couples start the process in January. That's why we'll launch our new initiative in January 2019. I'll share more about the program in my next ezine, but in the meantime, here are three suggestions from Kelly
to help you relieve some of the pressure, while you keep the wonder, of the holidays:
Be compassionate to yourself.
Begin the holidays by giving yourself a gift of kindness. Yes, life has been difficult. Separating from your spouse is terrible. However, you need a break. Allow yourself to be who you are. Don't beat yourself up for not being perfect! Smile at yourself in the mirror, and then take some time to do an old favorite holiday activity. Put up decorations. Read a holiday-themed book you've always loved. Permit yourself to have a little fun.
Reach out to friends.
Divorce and separation sometimes makes old friendships awkward, but if your friends truly care about you, they will welcome and comfort you. You might need to be the one to reach out since your friends don't know how to approach you. The holidays force you to be around lots of people. Make the most of it by surrounding yourself with caring hearts. This will help you build a support system that will carry you through the new year.
Choose simplicity over lavishness.
It's easy to go overboard with gifts, food, and commitments. Plus, you may be dealing with guilt-feelings from the divorce or separation. Guilt can cause you to spend more than is necessary. Take a vow to spend less this year. Your friends and family care about you, and they know you're in an uncertain time of life. They don't expect expensive gifts or big feasts. Be kind to yourself and others by allowing others to bless you richly this year.
Kelly and I did an interview as a bonus for her clients going through the From Splitsville to Sanity program. As a holiday gift for those of you dealing with a divorce or separation at this time of year - and for anyone else I can help - I'm happy to share the link.
Five Secrets for Clutter-Free Holidays
Does the mere mention of decking the halls and shopping for gifts feels overwhelming? Do your holiday gift-giving traditions contribute to clutter rather than reduce it? This year as you start your holiday preparations, try these five tips from organizer Peter Walsh for handling the process with a lot less stress:
If you collect new decorations each year but rarely filter out what you no longer use or love, it's overwhelming when you open the box. This year after you finish decorating, drop off any unused ornaments at places like community centers and hospitals, and throw out decorations that are broken or have seen better days.
Pass on rather than hold on. If you have sentimental holiday objects that you've been planning to pass on to your family one day, today is that day. Giving these gifts to loved ones breathes new life into the objects and lets you enjoy them in a new way.
Share the wealth and warmth. If your closet is crammed to capacity, it probably holds a few nonessential coats and boots that you can donate. Donating symbolizes opening up space for new things to flow into your life, and also opens your heart.
Talk now, buy later. Rather than stressing over how much to spend on each gift, talk with family and friends and set the ground rules. Deciding how much you'll spend and who you'll shop for - like only giving presents to the kids or drawing names for a gift exchange - frees up your creativity and your time.
Give the gift of time. And speaking of time, instead of handing everyone a package, instead spend time with some of your favorite family and friends: treat them to a dinner, buy theater tickets, or give tickets to a sports event. The shared memory will last a lifetime.
Do your holiday gift-giving traditions contribute to clutter?
The Rewards of Keeping the Lid Down
For 20 years as a Feng Shui practitioner, I've been meeting great people and getting to see their homes, offices, and businesses. I give them advice, they make changes, and then they send me the most amazing stories of how simple Feng Shui changes yielded unexpected results.
I met Kevin when I gave a workshop at a business incubator. His company's team occupied a small suite in the building, compete with their own bathroom. When it comes to bathrooms, I recommend keeping the toilet lid closed. The Feng Shui reason is so your wealth doesn't symbolically get flushed away. Less than a
week after that workshop, I received a se
ries of e-mails from Kevin.
Here's what Kevin wrote:
Monday: We implemented the "keep the toilet seat closed" rule and
we made an unexpected $4,000 this week! It was great! Besides the toilet seat change, we threw out a couple of dead or near-dead plants. I have not even tackled my clutter yet, so I am excited to see what else happens.
We just got another good contract that has been stalled for about 4 months... total is now $9,000 since we met you a week ago! I can't prove this is all related to the toilet seat, but it obviously didn't hurt. Hope you are giving this tip to everyone.
|Ask the Feng Shui Maven
Q: My kitchen is in the wealth corner of my home. Since wealth colors relate to the fire element and know I don't want too much fire energy in the kitchen, what colors would be best to use in this area?
A: You're correct that you don't want to add too much Fire Element to your kitchen. It already have enough fire because of the stove. But, sometimes the function of the room is more important than the location of the room in the bagua, and that's the case with a kitchen. The usual recommendation is to choose the color white for a kitchen, which represents the Metal Element. Since your kitchen is in the Wealth area you could include just a few accents of red, or objects that represent wealth to you but aren't necessarily red.
We are in the process of downsizing and building a new home. Any suggestions on ceiling fans? We were planning on having one in the small screen porch area outside, in the great room, and in each bedroom - not sure on the office yet.
A: My major concern about a ceiling fan is when it's directly over your bed. The fan's cutting Metal Element energy and its "corkscrew" effect can cause health and sleep problems when it's right on top of you while you sleep. If possible, locate the ceiling fan where it isn't directly over the bed. If that's not possible, I recommend one of these two "cures:" This first option is to hang a round, faceted crystal from the center of the fan. This represents the Water Element and reduces the metal energy. You can use a small crystal hung with fishing line or similar invisib
le filament so it doesn't show, or buy a pull chain with a crystal at the end. Another option is to place a red dot on the top side of each of the blades where it won't show. You get these stick-on dots at an office supply store. The red represent the Fire Element, which symbolically melts some of the metal energy and therefore reduces its hardness. If you are going to spend a lot of time sitting under the fan in your home office, I recommend you use one of these cures for that fan as well.
Q: I have invited my entire family for Thanksgiving dinner, which is something I don't always do because they don't always get along. Any suggestions for promoting family harmony and reducing conflict around the table?
A: If your family is prone to arguments, reduce the yang (or active) energy by keeping the lights low and decorating with soothing earth and wood tones like gold, green, and brown. Keep shiny surfaces to a minimum and stow the carving knife out of sight to avoid sharp words at the table. Avoid displaying plants with sharp or pointed leaves, and if you choose roses for your centerpiece be sure to remove any thorns. If all else fails, keep this in mind: whoever is seated nearest to the door will be the first one to leave. So you might want to consider a seating plan if you anticipate any especially troublesome relatives.
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All sessions include 30 days of free Feng Shui coaching by phone and email to help you continue to make changes and move forward.
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I followed your suggestions and cleared out everything that didn't remind me of success. Thank you for helping me to enjoy going to work again and for helping me to triple my income. --JP
Yesterday, a person came who worked for me a couple of years ago. When she walked in, she said, "Your house feels so good. It always was lovely, but it feels even better now." How about that? I have only started to make the Feng Shui changes you recommended during the consultation and already everything feels so much better!
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It's the first time in years that I carry a book with me just in case I can read another page or two at a stoplight or wherever! When I read it at home, I read a bit and then start scouting for places in our little loft that I can declutter!
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Beyond Feng Shui
How to Apologize
December is the month when we send thank you notes, but sometimes we also need to apologize to someone at the end of the year. The ways we avoid apologies are so common they've been given names like "nopology," "unpology," and "fauxpology" along with the hashtag #sorrynotsorry.
" Even if you've been waiting to apologize, it's not too late for a thoughtfully-worded apology to go a long way toward healing hurt feelings.
Here are some suggestions from Samantha Enslen, writing for grammar expert Mignon Fogarty's
Quick and Dirty Tips
The "If" Apology.
This non-apology can suggest over-sensitivity ("I'm sorry if you were offended"), imply that others weren't smart enough to understand your intentions ("I'm sorry if my remarks were taken out of context"), or suggest that a perceived wrong might not have even occurred ("I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings.").
The Fix: Drop the "if" and simply admit what you did. Instead of saying, "I'm sorry
if I hurt your feelings," try "I'm sorry
that I hurt your feelings."
The Passive Voice Apology.
When it's hard to admit we're wrong,
we can subconsciously slip into the passive voice to give ourselves an out. "I'm sorry I lost your keys," becomes "I'm sorry your keys got lost." and "I'm sorry I backed into your car," becomes "I'm sorry your car got hit." This phrasing lets you acknowledge an offense, while softening the fact that you're the one who did it.
The Fix: Use active voice to say clearly what you did. "Mistakes were made" becomes "I made mistakes."
The Reverse Apology.
takes a wrong and lays the blame for it on the accuser. Instead of saying "I'm sorry I sneezed on you," the reverse apologist says, defensively, "I'm sorry you're so sensitive to germs." Or, "I'm sorry I ate all of it" becomes, "I'm sorry you're not very good at sharing." In the first case, you're admitting that what you did was wrong. In the second case, you're admitting what you did, but saying that the other person had no reason to take offense.
The Fix: Re-frame a reverse apology by focusing on what you did, rather than on how the other person reacted. "I'm sorry you're so sensitive to cold," becomes "I'm sorry I left the window open all night." And "I'm sorry your allergies are so bad," becomes "I'm sorry I brought my dog to your house without asking."
The Florid Fauxpology.
These non-apologies use language steeped in emotion that may initially sound earnest, but the overheated language makes you wonder if the speaker is sincere or is just trying really hard to sound sincere. Examples include "I offer you my sincerest apologies" or "I deeply regret the events of that day to the core of my soul."
The Fix: If your apology sounds like soap opera dialogue, rethink it and cut unnecessary words that dilute the real intention of your apology. For example, "I offer you my sincerest apologies for mowing over your flowers," would become "I'm sorry I mowed over your flowers."
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Carol M. Olmstead, FSIA,
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Feng Shui for Real Life, LLC, and the Feng Shui To The Rescue newsletter serve as a reference and guide for the principles of Feng Shui and as such bear no responsibility for results that a client or reader experiences. Individual results may vary based on the client's participation and intent.
©2018, Carol M. Olmstead
Carol M. Olmstead, FSIA
Feng Shui For Real Life, LLC