Tag Archives: feng shui practitioner

Good Feng Shui Following the Death of a Pet

Last week we said good-bye to Jake, our beloved terrier mutt. He had been part of our lives for 11 years and 3 months. It was time. He was 15-17 years old. He had had a good life with us. His little body wore out, though his devotion to me never did. It was a very difficult decision to let him go.

What did I do in the aftermath of his death? I took up all the beds he slept on, threw several away because they were not in good shape, and washed the rest. I was driven to change the environment to reflect the fact that Jake was no longer with us. Otherwise, every time I’d look at one of those beds I’d picture him curled up in it and my broken heart would crack open again. I put his food bowl away in a cabinet. Seeing it would keep my heart wounds raw. I also took all his dog food and bagged it to donate to the SPCA.

Why did I act so quickly to remove his things? Those things associated with his daily activities held his energy that once was so alive and vibrant but now is gone. They held the sadness about his decline and death in place, making it hard for me to grieve his death and move beyond it.  Feng shui teaches that it is important that your space reflect your current self, your current reality. By clearing out things that would cause pain whenever I saw them, I was signaling to the Universe that I choose to let go of the energy of death and decline and instead focus on good memories of Jake when he was alive and thriving.

As so often happens when I clear my space of things that don’t reflect my current reality, my mind cleared and I noticed that I have no photos of Jake displayed in our house. I have photos on my computer, but none that I can enjoy seeing every day. With that new awareness I began planning ways to hold his energy in our space. I will print out a photo to frame. I also plan to make a photo book of him to hold his sweet energy in place.

When you lose a loved one, you have a choice. Keep things that hold the energies of death, decline and sadness in place or release them in favor of things that hold positive memories and good feelings. It’s a choice to stay stuck in grief or move through it.

Productivity: Where You Sit Matters

Yesterday I watched myself carefully choose a seat in Starbucks. I was between meetings and

I didn’t choose to sit at this table because none of the chairs put me in the Power Position. One chair had its back to the main door, one chair had its back to the flow of traffic going to and from the bathroom and exiting the building, and the third chair had its back to the flow of traffic entering by the back door. In all positions my nervous system would be on high alert, and I would feel vulnerable.

needed a place where I could get work done on my computer. I noticed that not just any seat would do. It had to be the most comfortable seat in the restaurant.

I’m not talking about the comfort of the chair I would sit in. All the chairs were the same. I’m referring to the location of the chair in the restaurant. I passed chairs that had their backs to glass walls and chairs that faced outside with their backs to the flow of customer traffic. I was searching for a seat where I could have a solid wall behind me and a full view of the front door.

Why would I be so deliberate about my choice of seating? In my feng shui training I learned that I can be most productive and successful if I position myself in the Power Position when I am working. The Power Position is a location where I have a solid wall behind me and a full view of the door. My nervous systems is programmed for survival. A solid wall behind me ensures that I won’t be surprised from behind. A view of the door makes it possible to know what’s coming at me so I can prepare to defend myself if needed.

The chair where you see the computer was my choice because it put me in the Power Position. I had a solid wall behind me and a full view of both doors.

When I don’t have a solid wall behind me, my nervous system is on high alert for possible threats and therefore can’t settle down to focus my full attention on my work. If I don’t have a view of the door, a part of me feels unsettled, again making it impossible to be fully present to my work. The Power Position is the most comfortable place to sit, a place where my nervous system can settle down and I can focus on important things other than safety. Putting myself in the Power Position is a choice for personal empowerment and productivity.

It has become a habit to position myself in the Power Position whenever I sit down. Yesterday I really wanted to get work done at my computer. I knew if I could find a comfortable place to seat myself, I’d be able to get a lot done. If I couldn’t do that, I would be less productive.

Fortunately the best seat in the house was available with a solid wall behind me and a full view

My view of both doors (one at the end and one just off to the right) and most of the activity in the space plus a solid wall behind me made it possible for me to relax and focus on my work.

of both doors into the coffee shop. It was interesting to note that there were only two seats in the whole restaurant that put customers in the Power Position. Perhaps Starbucks unconsciously wants customers to be a little unsettled and not too comfortable, so they won’t linger, thereby making space for other customers. Or, the interior designers for Starbucks aren’t aware of feng shui principles and the effect that seating can have on the comfort and productivity of clients.

With awareness of the importance of sitting in the Power Position, you too can make seating decisions that lead to having the best focus, brainpower, and productivity.

Artists: Improve Your Studios for Success

Artists need inspiration and motivation to keep producing art. Years ago I visited a number of

A studio housed in a garage.

artists’ studios to get a sense of the environments in which artists work. As a feng shui practitioner who appreciates the feng shui principal that what you have in your space and how it’s arranged affects what happens in the space, it was interesting to see that many artists work in very utilitarian spaces that are cluttered, disorganized, and not very inviting. The priority in many studios seems to have been to expend creative energy on art pieces rather than on the space itself.

Feng shui teaches that if you make a space a personal paradise, an attractive space with many sources of positive energy (light, color, plants, treasures, useful supplies, etc.) and few sources of negative energy (clutter, piles of paper, trash, supplies you no longer use, etc.) and utterly comfortable, you will attract more good into your life (motivation to create, increased productivity, commissions, ideas, opportunities to show your work, resources, etc.). Given that reality, it would behoove artists to invest more time, energy, and creativity into transforming their utilitarian studios into luscious places to work.

I recently had the opportunity to do a feng shui consultation for Kymberly Keniston-Pond, an artist and wellness consultant whose studio was in a small shed in her backyard. As most sheds are, it was unpainted on the inside and had no windows, a pretty grim, utilitarian space much better suited for storing yard tools than for creating art.

I initially questioned Kymberly about the idea of trying to make that space her center of creativity. It was so small, dark and uninviting. When it became apparent that the shed was her only option for a studio, we began brainstorming ways to make the space work for her. We identified areas of the space for specific activities and discussed furnishings, shelving and storage options. I made recommendations for color on the walls, for softening hard edges, for bringing a sense of the outside into the space, and for my client making the space her own. When I left that day, Kymberly had a long list of steps to take to create a studio that she’d love to come to every day.

As happens when I do a feng shui consultation, months passed with no word from Kymberly. I

The beginning — adding color to the walls and fabric in the eaves to soften the hard edges of the rafters.

often never hear from feng shui clients and wonder if they followed my recommendations but never let me know the results of their efforts, or if they never took action at all. In this case, I was lucky to receive an email from my Kymberly eight months after our consultation sharing her progress once she got a majority of the work done.

I share the following photos to show you an example of what can be done if you turn your creative energies to making your studio a personal paradise for your work. What you see may not appeal to you, but remember, it is an expression of Kymberly’s personal tastes and choices. Your expression of YOUR personal paradise will be very different.

Using fabric for visual interest, to balance the hard edges of the walls and shelving, and to screen art supplies stored below.

The specific color and content choices are not as important as the fact that Kymberly created a space she loves, one that inspires her engage in creative activities. Here’s what she had to say about the space,

“I love going into my ‘korner’. . . it makes me smile, and I feel instantly relaxed, happy, nurtured. I am looking for a beautiful chandelier to hang above my table. I will know it when I see it. I painted the covers of the florescent lights, hung some awesome Edison ones, and when I get back I will be taking down the florescent ones and hanging two more strings of Edison. . . that’s the lighting I’m most comfortable with.”

As you can see, her studio is a work in progress, one that she has enjoyed creating and now

A framed outdoor scene creates the sense of a window. A work table is transformed into an object of visual interest by covering it with with colorful fabric.

enjoys working in.

What can you do to make your studio a place that draws you in and motivate you to create more art?

A sign with the name of Kymberly’s business and a swinging chair with colorful pillows add whimsy and a lighthearted, warm energy to the space.

Good Feng Shui in Your Home Office Is Possible!

Feng shui teaches that creating a personal paradise is your goal when you
feng-shui-officearrange
a space. No room needs that approach more than a home office. As one of the most neglected and most dumped-on rooms in the house, it really needs some thoughtful attention and positive energy to make it an appealing place to work.

But, where to start? How exciting are filing cabinets, bookcases, desks and computer equipment?

TIP #1: Start with the wall color. It will set the tone and serve as the foundation for all other enhancements you make. Painting the walls a color is imperative. White walls very quickly become dingy, scarred and dirty. It is also easy to feel anxious and depressed in rooms with white walls because the colors of prints, photographs and paintings on the walls just won’t show up. We need color to feel good. It nurtures us with its energy. So paint your home office walls a color. Colors I recommend for home offices are a buttery yellow, sage green, and my new favorite, an earthy turquoise blue. Blues and greens are associated with the wood element. The wood element is associated with growth and expansion and a positive, upward energy. Yellow is an optimistic earth element.

TIP #2: Eliminate any furniture that is broken, ugly or doesn’t work well. You want all your furnishings to have good energy. It’s likely that you’ll be using odds and ends in this room, i.e., furniture that isn’t needed elsewhere. Just make sure that you actually like each piece and that all the pieces look good together.

TIP #3: Eliminate fluorescent lighting and be sure you have multiple incandescent light sources. It’s a good idea to have some uplighting as well, light that is directed up toward the ceiling. Light is energy. You’ll need plenty of energy to face the types of tasks typically done in a home office.

TIP #4: Place the desk in the power position with a solid wall behind it and a full view of the door. From that position your nervous system will relax and you will feel empowered and ready to tackle whatever awaits you on the desk.

TIP #5: Place other furniture around the desk, both to accommodate the convenient completion of the tasks to be done at the desk and to look attractive.

TIP #6: Add plants to bring the outdoors inside. Green is an optimistic color, and live or silk plants can immediately change the feel of a room that has lots of hard edges and electrical equipment. They provide a soft, soothing energy. Make sure they are healthy and have round shapes. Avoid dried plants and those with thorns and pointed shapes. Dried plants have a dead energy, especially when their color fades, and thorns and pointed leaves have negative energies because of their potential to do physical harm.

TIP #7: Add art, photographs, and special mementoes you love, anything that makes your heart sing and that empowers you. For example, I have a photograph of me that was taken with Jack Canfield at a conference years ago. Jack is one of my mentors. He doesn’t know it, but I want to do the kind of work he’s been so successful doing, and I want to be able to share my message with the world like he has. I also framed a print of the Chinese letters for “feng shui” since feng shui is a focus of all the work I do. And, when I recently re-decorated my office, I deliberately chose to limit almost all other art on the walls to original art by artists I know.

Invest in making your home office a personal paradise, and you’ll want to spend more time there.

You’ll also be more motivated to treat it with the respect it deserves! Wouldn’t it be nice to LOVE your home office instead of dreading it or avoiding it? You can! Make it so!

Clear Kid Photo Clutter: Who Are You Sleeping With?

“I recommend that you remove all photos of your children from your

Remove all photos of your children from your bedroom.

Remove all photos of your children from your bedroom.

bedroom.” The woman who had hired me to do a feng shui consultation looked at me with a shocked expression on her face. “Really? Why?” “Well,” I responded, “those photos hold the energy of your children. It’s as though you are sleeping with your children. Do you want to be sleeping with your children? And, how romantic can it be with your husband when your children are looking on while the two of you are having sex?”

Once you have children, an enormous amount of energy naturally shifts to meet the legitimate needs of the children. Tending the needs of the couple can easily slip by the wayside in the busyness of childrearing and making ends meet. Even the bedroom can become all about the children.

Ideally the bedroom of a couple should be treated as a love nest, a place to honor and enjoy your relationship. 

Given that the health of the couple assures the health of the family unit, doesn’t it make sense that you devote one room to being all about the couple? Make sure that you have at least one photo of you and your spouse/partner in the bedroom. Remove all photos of people other than the two of you. Not only will your bedroom feel more peaceful once the crowd has exited the room, but, hopefully you’ll find it easier to focus on your relationship.

In the 18+ years I’ve been of helping people clear clutter and improve their lives and marriages, I’ve found that the couples with the most photos of their children in the bedroom often have no pictures of the two of them in that room! They aren’t even conscious that they’ve left themselves out of the picture.

Like my client, you may be skeptical, but I challenge you to remove all photos from your bedroom except those of you and your spouse/partner.* Make the bedroom all about just the two of you energetically. Then, look for the energy in your marriage/relationship to shift in a positive direction. Eliminating the visible energy of your children will make it easier for you to relax and be more present in your relationship.

*Most people want to know what to do with all the photos that were removed, as if the actual children were asked to leave. I recommend that those photos be displayed in any of the public areas of the home. Public areas are any other room in the house except the bedrooms.

Clear Shoe Clutter from the Bedroom

Your goal in setting up your bedroom is to create a space that is completely

How peaceful is this?

How peaceful is this?

conducive to sleep. The energy of smelly feet can only be distracting. Why is it that I so often find pairs of shoes strewn over bedroom floors?

I’m fairly certain that part of the problem is not having adequate storage for the number of shoes that people own these days.

Also, sometimes shoes just don’t make it to the closet. You may be thinking, “Why put them away? I’m just going to put them on again tomorrow. . .”  or “I’ll put them away later.” Sweaty, smelly feet and

Are you sleeping with smelly feet?

Are you sleeping with smelly feet?

rest just don’t go well together. Ideally it’s best to reduce the number of shoes you own to those that can fit in your closet. Then make a commitment to yourself to get them back there every night.

For one thing, you’ll find your bedroom is more peaceful because there will be fewer items out and visible in the room. You’ll also find that your focus can shift away from the energy chatter of pairs of shoes to more important things like gentle reading, reflecting about your day, conversation with a partner or spouse and/or sex.

Energy chatter. What chatter? Everything is alive with energy. Positive or negative. Everything!  This may sound silly or “woo woo” to you, but stick with me.

What do shoes say? Here are some of the conversations I’ve heard:

  • Those shoes really are too tight, but they are the only ones that really look professional.
  • I really should polish that pair. Look how scuffed they are!
  • The bottoms are really worn on that pair. Is it time to bite the bullet and get another pair?
  • I look like such a dork in those shoes! But, they are so comfortable!
  • Those shoes really stink. I wonder what’s going on with my feet that they stink so badly.

With all those conversations going on, is it any wonder that you don’t get great sleep anymore? Yes, when your eyes are closed you can’t see all those shoes, but you are affected by their negative energy when you are sleeping. That negative presence interferes with peaceful sleep.

 Set your shoes free. Clear out shoes that you no longer love or use at least once a year. Banish the remaining shoes from the bedroom to the closet, and find a storage solution that will work in your closet. Then enjoy sweet dreams and the peace that results from your efforts.  

Books Are Fire in the Bedroom

Do you want to sleep peacefully?  Do you want to have sweet dreams? 

Are you sleeping with a bonfire?

Are you sleeping with a bonfire?

If so, it’s a good idea to become very conscious of what can influence you while you sleep.  Let’s look at the impact of books in the bedroom. Most people have books and other reading material on their bedside tables. Some have a book or two and others have the equivalent of a whole library.

Let me describe for you what a book is in terms of the FIVE ELEMENTS of feng shui.  The five elements are: wood, fire, metal, water and earth. 

The hottest, most energetic of those elements is fire.  Books are fire elements.  The words on the pages are fire.  The pages themselves are wood because they are made from wood. Wood feeds fire. In other words, if you have many books in your bedroom, you are sleeping with a bonfire. Sound restful?

What I’m saying is that books are high energy things. Their energy will affect you while you are sleeping. That’s why it’s good to limit the books in your bedroom to one or two per person. Store your books elsewhere and bring them in as you read them.

I was working with a client who loves to read in bed. She had her current reads on the bedside table. On the floor on the other side of the bed she had a four foot row of books lined up that she was interested in reading. I urged her to move the books to a bookshelf in her office that she could designate as the holding place for books she really wants to read.  She was willing and we got to work. 

As I was moving the books I noticed the titles.  She had a whole series of books by one author who writes about vampires and death. It seemed like every book I looked at had death and dying in the title. That alarmed me because not only is it a good idea to limit the number of books in a bedroom, it is also a good idea to make sure the content is peaceful and pleasant.  When you sleep, your subconscious has access to the content of books. I could only imagine what my client’s subconscious was doing with all those death books.

In another situation I was working with a woman who was a physician and was married to a physician. Guess what I found in their bedside tables?  Medical journals! How romantic! Work and romance really do not go together! And, she and her husband were both working right up until they closed their eyes at night! Sleeping with those journals in the room kept both of them focused on medicine as they slept. I suggested that if she wanted more intimacy with her husband as well as more restful sleep, the journals should be banned from the bedroom. She was thrilled to have permission to remove them and later reported that her husband was also very happy with the arrangement.

My advice: reduce the number of books and reading material you keep in your bedroom to a small number and make sure they are about topics that are positive, pleasant and NOT work-related.

Good Bedroom Feng Shui Includes Art

What hangs on the walls of your bedroom? What kind of energy surroundsScan 14 you when you sleep? The energy of each painting, print, and photograph affect the quality of your sleep and the quality of your relationships. In fact, the feng shui of any art in your bedroom is also directly related to your overall health and general well-being. So it’s important to check out each piece of art to make sure that its energy is in keeping with the primary energy you want to achieve in the space.

Remember, bedrooms are primarily about rest, changing your clothes and intimacy (sex).

So, ideally the art should have a restful, peaceful and/or sensual energy. Landscapes, beach and garden scenes are good choices for a peaceful bedroom. Scenes with people should be avoided because people have the energy of fire. Fire is the highest energy element and therefore not restful.  Violent or troubling scenes can affect your interactions with a spouse and can disrupt your sleep. Definitely avoid depictions of war and anything disturbing.  You also want to avoid art in the bedroom that conveys sad or lonely images. So what are some important feng shui factors to consider when choosing bedroom art?

Check out the subject matter of each art piece.

What is going on in the scene? You are sleeping with the content.  The best feng shui advice for bedroom art is to choose images that you want to experience in your life. Remember, what you put on your walls is alive with energy. To ensure peace in the bedroom, good sleeping and intimacy, remove anything that has a negative association or a busy, frenetic energy.

If you want to attract romance, choose art that feels romantic

If you are part of a couple and want to add some spark to your love life, add prints of couples embracing, sensual subjects that you both find appealing and pairs of prints, candles, or objects of any kind. Or, to make the bedroom all about the two of you, enlarge photographs from your honeymoon or a special trip you enjoyed together, and frame them. Avoid art depicting single women or single men. They hold the energy of being single and could affect the strength of your relationship.

Remember the functions of your bedroom: rest, changing your clothes, and intimacy (sex). Make sure your art is compatible with those functions and you will have good feng shui in your bedroom.

China Cabinet: A Haven for Treasures or Trash?

Have you ever noticed who you’ve got living in your corner cupboard or chinaliving-room-670237__340 (1) cabinet?

In my work as a feng shui practitioner who works with people to clear clutter I help people identify and evaluate the energies throughout their homes and offices to make those energies conscious and ensure that they were positive and supportive. Positive and supportive energies attract more positive experiences and good into your life.

I once worked with a man who had been divorced for many years. His feelings about his ex-wife could best be described as hostile. When we reached the dining room he was startled to realize that his wedding china, which was prominently displayed both inside and outside of his corner cupboard, held the energy of his marriage and of his ex-wife. Needless to say, we discussed the significance of those pieces and removed them from their prominent location.

Items that are stored in china cabinets, buffets, and corner cupboards in dining rooms are often loaded with associations with family members and past events. It’s where we store our “good stuff.”

Take a look at your dining room storage cabinet. I’ll bet you find china that belonged to your mother or grandmother. Or, perhaps you have crystal you got when you got married. Or, there may be candle holders from a dear friend. Rarely does a dining room storage cabinet hold things devoid of associations.

When an item brings back the memory of a family member, it holds the energy of that person. It’s as if that person has taken up residence in your space. If the item holds the energy of a significant event, the event will replay in your mind when you see the item. If you are not in good relationship with the person whose energy is held in place by an object, or if your memory of a significant event is not positive, those objects are holding negative energies associated with the person or event.

Check out each item in your china cabinet, buffet or corner cupboard. Pay attention to the thoughts that immediately pop into your mind. If an item has a strong positive association you could hear, “Oh, I love that! It’s the gravy boat we used every year for Christmas,” or “That’s Nana’s salt and pepper shaker. She was so special.”

When an item holds a strong negative association or has no significant association at all you might hear, “That ugly thing was so important to Mom. It belonged to Aunt Thelma. And, she was not a nice woman!” or “I don’t know where that came from. It isn’t nearly as nice as some of my other pieces.”

Also pay attention to your energy. Items with good energy are likely to lift your spirits and elicit a warm feeling inside. They often bring a smile to your face. Items that hold memories of painful times or stressed relationships are likely cause your energy to drop and can register as a groan, a frown, or as an uneasy feeling.

Make your dining room storage cabinets a repository of treasures, not trash. Save items with the best associations, the best energy. Donate the rest!

Post-Christmas Clutter Clearing for a Great New Year!

The days following the hoopla of Christmas can be a let down. Or, they can be a greatsmiley-798856_1280 opportunity to clear clutter to prepare for a great new year. No doubt you are sitting there with an array of gifts, some that you love and will use, and others that don’t love and wish you didn’t have to deal with.

What will you do with unwanted gifts, gifts that are the wrong size, that you dislike, that you don’t need, that you will never use? You now have the opportunity to practice living with what you love. Feng shui teaches that you will have the best life if you live exclusively with what you love or use. When you love and/or use things, they have positive energy. That positive energy attracts more positive into your life.

But, you may be thinking that you must keep gifts given to you by people that you love. You couldn’t possibly give them away or, God forbid, throw them away. When you hold onto things you don’t love or use or never will use, you are cluttering your home with items that have negative energy. Negative energy attracts more negative into your life.

What are your options?

  1. Keep unwanted items and clutter your house. You will feel burdened by the sense of obligation you feel to keep the items. You will then attract more negative into your life going into a new year.
  2. Re-gift items to people who would really enjoy having them, thereby clearing clutter and preventing the accumulation of negative energy.
  3. Donate items to a charity. That will clear clutter, help people in your community, and prevent the accumulation of negative energy.
  4. Throw items away which will clear clutter, but will also be wasteful, thereby attracting more negative energy.

Any gifts that are re-gifted or donated will lighten your load as you move into the new year. The act of clearing out things that don’t fit with who you are today sets the stage for attracting more of what does fit in the new year.

You have choices to make about what do do with unwanted gifts. Remember, whatever you choose will set the tone for your life in the new year. Will you passively allow unwanted things into your life or will you choose a lighter, more positive path?

Removing Energy Blocks Starts Clutter Clearing Avalanche

“I don’t know what I want,” said a new client in response to my question about her expectations for our feng shui organizing session. “I just knew I need to do something!” This client contacted me because she hated her house, which previously had been owned by her husband’s parents. And, she and her husband had been having significant health problems.

Over the next two hours we moved through the whole house while I made suggestions for improving the feng shui of the space. When we got to the last room, the guest room, I recommended that my client claim it as her own, to house her projects, books, her favorite art, anything that lifts her spirits. As is the case with many guest rooms, it had become a dumping spot for things associated with tasks that she didn’t want to do. At my urging we began the “Love It, Use It or Lose It” clutter clearing method to get her rolling on making the space her own. If she didn’t love or use an object, I recommended she lose it.

We cleared a significant number of books, discovered two beautiful silk paintings that had been buried behind linens, and unearthed her beading supplies. One bag held children’s clothing she had been given by a well-meaning family member that she’d been ignoring because she didn’t want it and felt she should. I gave her permission to release the clothing and anything else that had been given to her by others that she did not love and would not use. We also cleared out old papers associated with a past job and a past life. By clearing out stagnant items that no longer served her, we removed significant energy blocks.

As we worked, my client became more and more excited. When I left after two hours I had no doubt that she would continue to work to make her home feel more comfortable. However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call just two days later telling me that she’d been clearing ever since I left, and had cleared all but one closet in her home. She had been on a roll, and was so excited about her progress. She was especially thrilled that a friend who was visiting remarked, “Your house feels so light!” She was amazed that her friend could feel the energy shift she’d created despite the fact that all the clearing had occurred behind closed doors.

This client’s stagnant belongings were a barrier to her being able to make significant headway in the process of creating a home she could love. When she improved the energy in her closets by eliminating stagnant objects, things she no longer loved or used, she unknowingly improved the overall feel of her whole house. Everything is connected! And, better yet, the positive energy she created gave her the motivation to keep moving forward to improve the feel of her house. Her plans include painting significant parts of her home and removing several pieces of furniture that she hates.

Want to get your life moving? Want your house to feel lighter? See if you can find the energy blocks in your home. A good place to start is with anything you’ve been avoiding. Just tackle it one obstacle at a time. Then notice what opens up in your life!

Staying Organized: A Mother’s Legacy

It has been a quiet week here in Kilmarnock, Virginia, in the aftermath of my step-father’s death. I’ve been here to make funeral arrangements and support my mother as she comes to grips with the biggest loss of her life.

As is my habit, I’ve watched my mother move through her days both with curiosity and concern. Mom is not only grieving the loss of the love of her life, she is showing signs of dementia. The most obvious sign is poor short-term memory. I’ve been preparing myself for further decline by reading The 36 Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins, a book about dealing with dementia. I know it’s possible that over time she will eventually forget how to do even the simplest of tasks. I dread that time.

My mom has always been very organized. At the moment, for the most part, she still is. It has been comforting to watch her move through her days maintaining order in her lovely home. When she opens mail, she routinely throws away the opened envelopes and junk mail. As she moves from the den to the kitchen, she picks up used glasses and plates to put in the dishwasher. She regularly clears cluttered surfaces, stating that she just doesn’t like to have too much stuff around. Maintaining order is a way of life for her. I am so grateful to have learned the lessons of how to get and stay organized from her. I feel sad when I think about the possibility of her losing that ability to the ravages of dementia.

For now, I take comfort in Mom’s commitment to maintaining order and her ability to tend to her space. What a blessing it is to be her daughter!

The Urge to Purge Following a Death

Missing John Arrix

My step-father died this week. I observed his struggle to let go of life. When it was over, the first step was to notify Hospice of Virginia who would call the funeral home to remove the body. Once John’s spirit was gone, his body was a shell and we needed the body taken away as soon as possible. It was just a reminder of his struggle, of his dying, of the horror of death.

Once John’s body had been taken away, I looked around the room where he spent his last hours and saw the empty hospital bed and all the supplies that had been used while he had spent his final days at home: the bandages, the gloves, the creams and ointments, the chucks and diapers. They were all reminders of the care he had received, the care that was just palliative, not life saving. They had to go.

First I asked Hospice of Virginia to make arrangements to have the bed removed as soon as possible. Then I took a quick look at the supplies. My first urge was to dump them all in the trash. We would not have them had John not been deathly ill. Yes, some of them could be useful at a later date. I kept the moisture lotion and bandaids and gave Portia Bea from Visiting Angels permission to take whatever she thought she or Visiting Angels could use. The rest went into the trash. Once I’d made my decision about what to keep, Portia cleared everything from the room that reminded us of John’s struggle.

All of this activity occurred in the first hour following John’s death. It seemed imperative to return the bedroom back to its pre-sickroom state. Because I’d been up all night with John, it was a blessing to have Portia’s assistance with the clean up. She even vacuumed the room.

Once the bed was taken away and the room returned to its previous appearance, I found myself clearing out John’s medications, corralling all reminders of the previous five weeks of assessing John’s condition and providing help. I wanted my mother, who had lost the love of her life, to be able to grieve the loss of John rather than be distracted by the signs of his illness.

Every item associated with John’s illness and death held the energy of death. I felt compelled to remove those items whose energy screamed death and loss. I kept some medical records, papers that later could help my Mom make sense of this terrible time. I kept the baby monitor because it is possible we might need it in the future for my Mom, but I stored it in a drawer out of sight. I kept the lotion because it could easily blend in with other skin lotions and lose its association with death.

The next step is to clear the energy of death from the room by burning sage.

All that clearing gave me a much needed focus in the first two days after John left us. It also relieved my Mom’s lovely house of the signs of struggle, reminders of the horror we had all experienced while watching John leave us. And, last night my Mom, though very sad, was able to retrieve the photo albums of her life with John and shift her focus from the dying that had just occurred to the joys and pleasures of the life she had lived with him
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Clutter Clearing Can Be Comforting

I’m sitting in McDonald’s in Kilmarnock, VA, taking a break from watching the process of my step-father’s death. I’m attempting to take care of myself in the midst of a very painful phase of life–helping parents at the end of life.

Because it’s hard for me to write and work on aspects of my business, I’ve been doing what I teach clients to do when they can’t do what they think they should be doing. I’ve been clearing easy stuff. Today the easy stuff is emails that just aren’t important given what is going on right now. It’s amazing how easy it is to clear out emails that I usually pause over. I just don’t have the time or energy to consider all the discussion group emails, the networking emails, the offers of products to buy. And, I certainly don’t need them cluttering up my inbox!

I’m saving all the kind notes of support from friends and people who read my newsletters and blog posts. I want to thank each person for their kindness. I’m responding to emails regarding appointments, speaking engagements and other aspects of my business. Nothing else really matters right now.

Somehow clearing out the non-essential emails has helped me feel more in control of my life at this moment. I am certainly not in control of what is happening with my step-father. The hospice nurse said the timing of his death depends on his will, that it’s between him and God. I’m just an observer of a process that is so much bigger than me.

Clutter clearing can be comforting in difficult times.

Feng Shui Organizer Missing In Action

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent for the past four or five weeks from my weekly blog, newsletter and emails.  During the holiday season, it is common for most of us to become blitzed with too many obligations, with too much to do.  I suppose I’m no different; however I have been unable to keep up my usual posts and communications, not because of the holiday, but for what I believe to be a normal stage of life.  Normal, but utterly lonely and overwhelming.

My priorities shifted abruptly at the beginning of December and much of my normal life is on hold. On the 4th of December my step-father’s mental status took a turn for the worse, landing him first in the ER, then the hospital, then a rehabilitation and nursing facility, then the healthcare unit of a continuing care facility and finally home.

During that journey I learned that not only my step-father, but also my mother have dementia. Since Mom and John live 90 minutes away, my step-sister and I had to determine the best way to provide them both the care and safety they now need. My step-father’s dementia keeps him primarily unaware of the changes in his life. My mother’s cognitive impairment, however, is more challenging. Because she is more aware of what is going on, she has felt threatened at every turn by the our attempts to make sure she’s safe and has what she needs to stay happy and healthy. Dealing with dementia has been an education in patience, creativity and asking for help.

After spending time in almost all levels of care available to senior citizens, we discovered that a company called Visiting Angels could provide 24-hour in-home care for Mom and John. And, we have enlisted the services of Hospice of Virginia to help John make a peaceful transition from this life to the next. Mom and John are now able to be together in their peaceful home by the water with their cat, Harley.

I have had to do things I had hoped I’d never have to do, like take my mother’s car keys, request her doctor to officially determine that she is not competent to manage her affairs, drive and live independently. My life has felt like a tragic game of chess. Every time I think I’ve made the best plans and life will fall back in order, I’m led down a new path with a new problem to solve.

When exhaustion has threatened to take me under, I have somehow found the strength, guidance and assistance to keep going, guided by love and a commitment to do the right thing for Mom and John, whether they like it or not. There have been many lessons and many blessings.

I’ve learned that what I thought was best for my mother wasn’t. I’ve been blessed with a positive connection with a step-sister I hardly knew. She came to my rescue a number of times when I needed a kick-butt approach to make something happen. We’ve been blessed with help from Mom and John’s neighbors and friends, and the home care of the Visiting Angels and Hospice personnel has been outstanding. So many of my friends have taken time from their busy lives to let me know they miss me and send their supportive prayers. And, I’ve been blessed with an outpouring of love from Bob, my husband of 21 years. His appreciation of what I’ve been going through and how I’ve handled this trip through aging parent hell and his willingness to walk beside me through the difficult parts of this journey have kept me afloat numerous times when my little boat was at risk of going down from the weight of responsibility and turbulent emotions.

This is a journey I would never have willingly chosen. It has derailed me from my life and my business. I had the worst Christmas of my life. My feelings have ricocheted between profound sadness, fear, impotence, frustration, rage and numbness. I’m weary not only from the intensity of feelings I’ve been flying through and the physical demands of many trips back and forth to Kilmarnock, Virginia, but also from having to be the healthy, functioning “good brain” for Mom and John through this difficult transition.

This is my life right now.  I recall meaningful sayings from important places, such as, “One Day at a Time,” “This, Too Shall Pass,” and “Let Go, and Let God.”  I remember these sayings as I’m taking over management of Mom’s life and while I’m coordinating with my step-sister to arrange and maintain the best care for Mom and John.  We’re working hard to help them live with as much serenity and dignity as possible.

All this is to say that, for me, family is first.  I will not be able to be consistent with my online communications for some time.  But I will return when I can.  I long to return now.

Transform Christmas Clutter Clearing Into Community Service

In response to my recent post about Christmas clutter clearing, one reader shared two great ideas for clutter clearing that can help nursing home residents have a happier holiday. She gave me permission to share her ideas with you.

  1. Instead of recycling or tossing extra unused Christmas cards, offer them to the residents of a local nursing home to save them the expense and the hassle of buying cards. You might even consider including stamps with the cards to make it easy to write a note and mail the card. Nursing home residents have limited space, so saving unused cards from year to year is probably not possible. They are likely to welcome your offering of cards.
  2. If you decide to discard ornaments because you no longer use them, purchase a Rosemary Tree or Norfolk Island Pine, often available at your grocery store during the holiday season, to decorate with those ornaments and ribbon remnants. Then, offer the tree to a nursing facility. Those live trees and your ornaments can then bring smiles to the faces of the residents.

What wonderful ideas for transforming clutter clearing into meaningful community service! Clutter clearing doesn’t have to be an onerous task if it results in helping you reduce stress and in lifting the spirits of some often forgotten members of your community.

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

10 Tips to Make Christmas a Clutter Free Event

 

 

‘Tis the season to be giving, receiving, and decorating. That means that you will be giving and getting “stuff.” You will also be pulling decorations from their storage places. When “stuff” is moving you have an excellent opportunity to commit to 1) not creating clutter in your home and the homes of those who receive your gifts and to 2) clearing clutter every step of the way.

Following are 10 tips to help you make your Christmas a completely clutter free experience:

  1. Pull out ALL your decorations and evaluate each one. Toss every item that you no longer display EVERY year.
  2. When doing your Christmas cards, either send all the left over cards from previous years to eliminate your supply, or just pitch or donate the extra cards.
  3. Throw away small bits of wrapping paper you have been saving to use for just the right tiny package, but never seem to use, especially the pieces that have gotten scrunched.
  4. Clear out cruddy Christmas bags: those that have taken a beating; those that don’t reflect your taste, and those that are just plain ugly.
  5. Clear crushed bows and snarled ribbons. And, clear out ribbons altogether if you’re like me and, despite your best intentions, you never make or take the time to add ribbons to your packages.
  6. Make your gifts to others items that can be consumed and/or that are perishable, like candles, candies, fruit and baked goods. Consumption or time will assure that those gifts don’t linger long enough to become clutter.
  7. Give gift cards freely. People love to do their own shopping or enjoy a free coffee or meal out. Besides, gift card clutter is smaller and less annoying than ugly sweater or useless knick knack clutter.
  8. Evaluate each gift you get with the Love It, Use It or Lose It method. If you don’t love it or use it, lose it! Express appropriate thanks to the giver and then either regift it, donate it or pitch it. It’s the thought that counts and unwanted gifts only hold negative energy in place.
  9. When it’s time to put new gifts away, take the time to clear clutter in the area where the new gift will be stored. Release the old to make room for the new.
  10. When you put decorations away, take a good look at each item and consider the time it takes and the process involved in putting it out and taking it down. Pitch anything whose significance or beauty do not outweigh annoyance factor.

If you do any of the above actions, you will be doing your part to make the holidays a joyous, peaceful time instead of an overwhelming event to survive. Make clutter clearing a new focus of your holiday activities. It’s the best way I know to feel in control at this busy time of year.

 

Want Clarity About Your Goals? Wash Your Windows!

How clear is your view of the new year?

Are you struggling with making an important decision? Want clarity? Wash your windows! I’m not kidding! The windows are the eyes of the home. If your windows are clean you can see clearly. When you can see clearly, you can think clearly. I am living proof!

For months I have been struggling to get clarity about the direction to take with my business. My coach has made several suggestions. They were good suggestions, but they didn’t resonate with me. I ran numerous options through my head, over and over. Still, I couldn’t get clear.

Then one day, while flopping around in my “not knowing” state, I looked at the windows in our home and shuttered. They were filthy. They hadn’t been cleaned since we moved into the house seven years ago. Every time the sun shone through them I was reminded that they needed to be washed. My thoughts also went to, “But, we can’t afford to have it done.” Talk about scarcity thinking! Yes, they were large expanses of negative energy.

Both Bob and I HATE doing windows. And, the cost to get them washed always seemed to be more than we could manage. That day, as the sun streamed through the accumulated grime of too many seasons of pollen and dust, I made the decision to call a window cleaning company to get an estimate. To my surprise the cost was reasonable! I immediately scheduled the window washing. That simple action cemented my commitment to clarity.

My car windows were also filthy. Smudged with dog nose prints, I felt irritated every time I got into my car. One day I couldn’t stand it anymore. I drove to the closest grocery store and bought window cleaning wipes. I cleaned my windows right there in the grocery store parking lot. I couldn’t tolerate the lack of clarity a moment longer.

The day after I washed the car windows I met with a woman who helps me with marketing my programs. As we talked I was amazed to find that I knew exactly how I wanted to change my business and what projects I want to pursue in 2012. It was as if a dam had burst and the ideas came pouring out. After my marketing friend left, the ideas kept streaming out into a mind map and outline of my plan. I also felt a physiological rush of energy that couldn’t be explained by caffeine. The coffee I had that day was decaffeinated!

It’s the perfect time to get clarity about where you want to go in the new year. And, it’s also a great time to get your windows washed, since we’re about to head into the season of cold temperatures, gray days and challenging weather. You don’t need the irritant of dirty windows. Commit to clarity! Get your windows cleaned and watch your vision of the new year crystalize!

Clutter Clearing: The Importance of Accountability

You’ve decided that this weekend you’ll tackle the clutter in your bedroom. You know it’s affecting your ability to sleep peacefully. When you wake to it every morning you feel like such a slacker for allowing it to sit there and grow day by day. What a great way to start each day!

The weekend comes and once more you wake to your personal clutter nightmare. You tell yourself you’ll do it, but first you’ll have a cup of coffee and read the paper. Then you get a phone call from a friend asking you to go to a craft fair. The bedroom is waiting. You told yourself you’d do it this weekend. But, there’s always Sunday to get to the bedroom clutter. And, after all, you do want to have more work/life balance! Off you go with your friend. The bedroom clutter goes untouched for one more day.

Sunday arrives. You groan as you crawl out of bed and again look at the clutter. Today is the day. But, first you must go to church and then have brunch with friends. When you get home your husband wants you to help him with a project in the garage. To keep the peace and make progress in the garage you table the bedroom clutter clearing project for later in the day. Then the children need your help with a school project. The next thing you know, it’s time to make dinner. Once again, the bedroom clutter remains untouched. You tell yourself, “It’s gone this long. It can wait one more week.”

Sound familiar? Other than doing taxes or going to the dentist, almost anything is more appealing than clearing clutter. Clutter that has been sitting for any length of time has a static energy that makes addressing it seem like moving a block of cement. It’s energy is so negative. Moving it requires making so many decisions. That takes energy and focus, both of which are hard to come by in lives filled to the brim with activities and obligations. No wonder clutter clearing seems so overwhelming!

So, how do you make yourself do it? One way I get myself to follow through with onerous tasks is to tell another person what I intend to do and ask them to hold me accountable. What does “hold me accountable” mean? The way they hold me accountable is to check back with me to see if I did the task, to remind me that I thought doing it was important for my well-being and peace of mind. Holding me accountable is not nagging me, berating me or shaming me into doing the task. It is simply to ask the question and remind me of my intention.

For some reason when I tell another person I am going to do something, I am less likely to blow off the task. Who can you ask to hold you accountable for tackling a clutter clearing project in your home? Make sure whomever you choose is a supportive, loving person, not someone who will give you a hard time. It’s even better if that person also wants to make progress in some area of his/her life and also needs help with accountability. You can then be accountability buddies.

If you find you have difficulty identifying a good candidate for an accountability buddy, I will be offering a new accountability opportunity in the new year. Look for future posts outlining the details of The 12 Months of Clutter Clearing Challenge, a special program designed to help people get clutter clearing done.

Transform Trophy Clutter: Create A Trophy Garden

Trophies: The New Yard Art

Trophies hold the energy of the accomplishments associated with them. Some people find it very hard to let go of trophies, even when they get old and ugly. I’ve recommended that clients reduce their quantity by only keeping only those that hold memories of the most significant achievements. I’ve suggested that clients take photos of their trophies and then discard them. But, today learned of a creative way to deal with the trophy dilemma.

Charlyne Meinhard, whose husband, died within this last year, was left with boxes of her husband’s chess trophies in her crawl space. The trophies had been awarded for chess victories in the years prior to starting a family and mark his having achieved a master’s level. They were prized possessions. Getting rid of them was never a question while her husband was alive. After his death, while in the process of regrouping after her loss, however, Charlyne unearthed the trophies and had a decision to make–keep the trophies or get rid of them.

Charlyne knew she didn’t want the trophies displayed in her home, but throwing them in the trash just didn’t seem right. They held the energy of her husband’s mastery in chess. They also held the energy of the early years of their marriage. She also knew her children might be upset if she got rid of them.

Her solution was to create a trophy garden. She carefully placed the trophies in the garden beside the driveway at the front of the house. That way she can see them when on her way in and out of the house. She told me that seeing them is a comfort to her. They remind her of her husband and make her smile. And, she told me,“They were a whole lot less expensive than other yard art!”

Charlyne also removed the engraved plates on the most significant trophies and plans to make bookmarks from them by attaching them to strips of fabric. They will become Christmas gifts for family members.

Got trophies? Transform them from a pile of junk into something that will hold only good energies of accomplishment and positive memories!

Attend Introduction to Enneagram Workshop to Improve Relationships And Your Space

You might be wondering why a feng shui and clutter clearing expert is sponsoring a workshop about the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a system of personality that describes nine fundamentally different patterns of thinking, feeling and being in the world. Feng shui teaches that everything is connected. Your understanding of yourself and others affects the quality of your relationships. The quality of your relationships in turn affects your energy. Your energy affects how well you tend to the condition of your space. So, there really is a connection!

I was first exposed to the Enneagram by Fred Boykin and Jack Killen, friends who were looking for volunteers to work with when they were completing an Enneagram certification program. It was unsettling to learn that in Enneagram language I am a 1, a Perfectionist. However, when I read about the typical feelings, themes and approach to life of a Perfectionist, and compared it to descriptions of other types, it was clear that I am a 1. With that information I was able to come to a new level of self-acceptance. I also became more conscious about what I do and expect of myself and others and was able to slowly make changes in behavior that improved both the quality of my relationships and my life.

I tell people that the Enneagram helped save my marriage. My husband, Bob, and I are very different types. Learning about his type helped me better understand him and accept him as he is. It also helped me become more conscious of his gifts and learn to appreciate the unique person that he is.

One of the best things I learned from the Enneagram training is that the best thing that Perfectionists can do for themselves is to play hooky. If you are a 1, a Perfectionist, you know that playing hooky is rarely if ever an option. There is always something that must be done, fixed, tended to. Stopping is a major challenge for a 1. I was given permission to stop and allow things in my life to be less than perfect. I have a hunch that that one piece of information may help me extend my life by a few years!

If you are curious about your Enneagram type, I urge you to join us on November 12 for a day-long Introduction to the Enneagram. Fred and Jack are enthusiastic, experienced Enneagram trainers. You will leave the day with information that can open doors to self-understanding, self-acceptance and self-love. From that foundation it is possible to improve all your relationships.

For more information and to register for the Enneagram workshop, go to http://web.me.com/debbierocks/Site/Enneagram_Training.html or www.RockScissorsPaperInstitute.com. If you register by October 30, you will save $20!

Stay Organized Even When Hit By a Hurricane!

There is still much external chaos here in Richmond, VA, the remnants of Hurricane Irene’s wrath. The damage done by high winds and fallen trees is visible everywhere. Some people still have no power, phone or cable service.

It is impossible not to be affected by that chaos, those disruptions to day to day functioning. The energy of brokenness abounds. Most of us are unconscious of the effect of that negative energy. We are too busy trying to get back to normal in our homes, with our work, with public schools opening soon. There is also the uncertainty of when services will be restored, when school will start given the delays caused by the storm.

When things feel so out of sync, when the negative energy of brokenness is everywhere, it’s very easy to let your day to day maintenance activities slide. After all, you have no hot water, why bother washing dishes. Those dominant negative and unsettled energies attract more of the same. They stress us and make us less likely to attend to cleaning up, putting things away, maintaining order. It takes extra energy to make yourself do the things that you would normally do to maintain order in your home.

If you follow the lead of those negative, chaotic energies, you’ll find yourself inclined to ignore tasks you know you should do. Do them anyway. Consider them an investment in restoring order. So, you can’t make the power come back on any sooner. You can’t get cable up and running. You can’t get the tree branches hauled away soon enough. You can maintain order inside your home. You can process your mail. You can hang up your clothes even if you can’t do a load of laundry. Resist the urge to stop because the power is out or your yard is torn up by a fallen tree. You’ll be glad you did when you are enjoying a calm order in your home environment instead of a nightmare of your own making!