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Purge for the New Year – Begin with a Fresh Start

clutter free kitchenBy Jessica Hoelzel

Clutter: it drags us down, holds us back and blocks new opportunities from coming into our lives. Knowing Feng Shui, we know this – but inevitably – clutter accumulates.

Being on the brink of the new year offers a chance to shift the energy in our homes, and our lives, in alignment with new possibilities. But we’ve got to get the old out of the way first.

No doubt, this is a busy time of year with the holidays. Who has the time to clear clutter? What if you could both prep for the new year, and prep your home for the holidays? You can!

Here are four quick clutter-clearing tasks that (bonus!) help you get ready for holiday guests:

1. Purge the Entry

Make the entranceway for chi open and inviting by clearing off tables and benches, and purging anything worn out from the closet. Create space for guests’ things and add some extra hangers.

2. Purge the Piles

These can crop up anywhere, but the unsightly things typically appear on counters, dressers and desktops, stairs, and tops of washers/dryers. Enlist everyone in the family to help put things where they go, or assign them a new home if they don’t have one. Shelve books and recycle old periodicals.

3. Purge the Papers

Paper can be the #1 contributor to piles piling up. Get control by doing a quick sort: Recycle, Shred, Keep. From there, sort further through the Keep pile if you have time. Get a jump start on tax prep by separating those doc’s. Label everything with bright-colored sticky notes so you know what’s what.

4. Purge the Kitchen

Clear some extra space in your cupboards and refrigerator for hosting holiday festivities. Toss expireds and donate multiples of canned goods to a food shelf. Give the front of the fridge a facelift by clearing notes/quotes/photos/artwork that have lost their vibrancy.

Clutter-clearing can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Use these specifics to eliminate the burden and negative impacts of clutter, and enter the new year feeling free, energetic and optimistic.

Read more about clearing clutter and prepping for the new year here.

A Time for Thank You: Appreciating Your Home

Thank You NoteBy Carole Hyder

During this season of giving thanks for the beautiful and abundant life that we have, I remind students, clients, friends, and myself that it’s also the time to give thanks to your home.

If you have no issues with your home and have, in fact, had a nice connection with it, writing a thank-you will solidify this positive relationship.

Writing a thank-you to your home, however, can go a long way in bringing some relief to a troubled and ailing space.  It’s helpful when you’re unhappy with your home for whatever reason.  Rather than looking to move or harboring resentments, a cheaper and easier action to take is to write your home a thank-you note.

Here’s how to write a thank-you to your home:

  1. Use an actual thank-you note or special stationery to write your letter.  Due to the small size of a typical thank-you, you will have to keep your message short and succinct.
  2. Start with “Dear___________.”  If you have a name for your home, you can insert here.  If not “Dear Home” is fine.
  3. List two reasons you are thankful for your home.  Examples:  I want to thank you for making me feel safe.  I appreciate how you keep me warm all winter long.
  4. Outline two actions you will take regarding your home.  Examples:  I promise to get the back door fixed before winter.  I promise to finish painting the bathroom.  I promise to clear out the clutter in the basement.
  5. Sign off with your name.  Love, __________.  All the best, ___________.
  6. Place the thank-you note in a special place in your home—-in your nightstand drawer, under a plant near the front door, under your pillow.

Writing a thank-you does not take the place of cleaning your home or making needed repairs or beautifying it.  But perhaps coming from a grateful heart will make the actions to which you committed more meaningful and healing.

About That Clutter You Don’t See – How to Deal with Virtual Clutter

computer and tabletBy Lisa Janusz

It’s a technological world we live in. You can access information within seconds by using a few keystrokes. Although the world is far more “paperless” than it was several years ago, it didn’t stop the clutter. Instead of having piles of papers on your desk, they’re now electronic files on your desktop. Or buried away as emails in your inbox.

Even though you can’t physically see it, it’s still affecting your energy. Take for instance an unsorted inbox. When you open it in the morning and see there are 603 messages (even if only 45 of them are new), it’s immediately overwhelming. These are reminders of things to do, follow up on, sort and file.

From a Feng Shui perspective, that energy could be dragging you down. It could be contributing to feelings of being stressed, burnt out and overwhelmed. In much the same way that you deal with physical clutter, you have to deal with the unseen, technological clutter as well.

Here are a few ideas on how you can start the process.

  1. Utilize the number 9. (It’s an auspicious number.) Deal with 9 things a day for 9 days. File or delete 9 emails, sort and file 9 photos or re-evaluate 9 files.
  2. Get your inbox under control. Set an end-of-day limit for the number of emails. I’m committed to 99. If there are more, start scrolling to see what can be filed, responded to and deleted before you log out.
  3. There’s no time like the present. If you can respond to something immediately, do so. Especially if it takes less than 2 minutes.
  4. Look at what you’ve invited. If you have a bunch of subscriptions, it’s time to evaluate! If you’ve fallen behind, don’t review each one, sort by sender and delete all but the most recent email.
  5. Organize your photos. Put a reminder in your calendar to download your photos each month. Set aside some time after to create folders and sort them.
  6. Customize a process for you. Figure out your own personal system to deal with technological clutter and stick to it.

No matter where we turn, there’s the potential for clutter! If you are feeling the effects, prioritize dealing with it. You never know what awaits you once you have the room to receive it, email or otherwise.

If the Car Fits…that’s a Feng Shui Win

house and carBy Lisa Janusz

We’re often asked about garages in Feng Shui. People want to know if they count and what can be done about them. They do, indeed, count! And if you are familiar with the bagua, sometimes they take up several guas.

Regardless if they are attached or not, you still need to pay attention to them. They are part of your overall space and, if you are parking in there, are affecting you on a daily basis. Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure your Feng Shui is revved up (see what I did there?)!

Ensure your car can fit. We like spaces that function for their intended purpose. A garage is meant to house a car, so we want a car to fit in there.

Be knowledgeable and organized with your storage. If you store things in the garage, that’s okay! There is an issue when you don’t know what’s there and can’t get to it. So as long as you are organized, know what you have and can access it, store away. However, do release things you are just storing and not using.

Make it pleasant to come home. You can decorate your garage! You don’t have to go overboard (you can if you want to). This is your first “welcome home” (especially if it’s attached), so have something there that evokes positive feelings.

On the flip side, here are some things to avoid.

Don’t compete with the front door. If your garage can be seen from the street, make sure your front door is more prominent. Down play your garage and put the spotlight on the main door.

Use your front door! If your garage is attached OR if it’s not but you enter through a side/back door, switch it up occasionally and go through the front. That keeps your chi flowing through this key area.

Don’t make it something it’s not. I get it, you need more space. But try to carve it out somewhere else. Garages do not make good converted bedrooms (people usually don’t sleep well) and are tough to spend time in.

Remember that every piece of your space has an effect on your overall Feng Shui. Garages are no exception. They can be another positive, pleasant experience in your daily routine. Make it worth the drive.

Selling a House with Feng Shui

Open HouseBy Lisa Janusz

Springtime is upon us and that usually means an increase in the real estate market. It’s a prime time to buy and sell. The weather is getting nicer and as we move into the wood element of spring, it’s a great time to start something new.

Selling a house can often be a sweet – or bittersweet – time. Whether you are selling to move forward on your next chapter, or aren’t ready (or don’t want) to leave, both come with their own benefits and challenges.

However you are feeling, if you are in a position that your house is going on the market, use these tips to get started. They can help you gain clarity and make the process smoother.

  1. “Lift the anchor.” Start to clean out the basement. Go through what’s there and release (toss or donate) things that you don’t need to take with you. This helps metaphorically start to lift the energy of the house, while also being practical in getting you prepared.
  2. Depersonalize. Remove photos of you, your family and friends, and other items that are personal mementos. If people walk in feeling like they are in “your” space, they can’t connect with the house and picture themselves there.
  3. Declutter. This not only lifts the energy in the house, but it also allows people to see the potential of the space. It appears larger and open, and won’t overwhelm.
  4. Communicate with the house. Write a letter letting the house know what’s happening, what you hope for it and thanking it for all the support it’s given you. Even if you don’t feel on great terms with the space, still thank it for what you can – like providing a roof and a place to sleep.

You don’t have to make your space stark. And you shouldn’t. Even with staging the purpose is to provide some eye candy for people to look at and see the potential. It’s similar to relationships. You start to “see” yourself more with someone that’s available and that energy is apparent. It’s the same with a space; people can feel it. Make it a welcoming and inviting energy.

Back to School Feng Shui Style

Back to School

By Lisa Janusz

It’s that time of the year: back to school! This is a time for families to transition from the ease of summer to the more structured time of the school year.

From a Feng Shui perspective, you can help your kids create a supportive environment at home to help them ease back into school and set them up for success.

  1. Clear the clutter. Look at every item in their room (toys, furniture, clothes). Reduce the “noise” by clearing out clothes that no longer fit, toys that are no longer relevant and furniture that is no longer needed.
  2. Look at decor. Is it age appropriate? Does it meet their needs? (For example, adding a desk for an older child.) Whatever changes do occur, be sure that they have significant input. It’s their room after all.
  3. Set up a system. Mornings can be hectic and can set the day off with challenging energy. Create places for things to go: a bin for papers (homework, permission slips), a hook for coats and backpacks, baskets for shoes, a place for sports equipment. Don’t get caught up in what others are doing – design one that works for your family. This will enable you all to start the day with a more relaxed, focused energy.
  4. A place for homework. Have a proper place for school work. If it’s in their room, try to set it up so they can see the door. If elsewhere, make it a place that promotes studying (large enough for books and papers). Designate a space that is quiet and has enough room to spread out while they are working. Also make it a daily habit to clear off that space to enhance their ability to have clear vision in the morning and each night as they sit down to work.

There is usually so much enthusiasm at the beginning of the school year that this is a perfect time to create a space that supports their endeavors and is open for growth and possibilities.

Bereavement Organizing with Feng Shui

clothes closet (2)

By Su-Yoon Ko

On Sunday, Sarah and her husband went to the doctor since he had been under the weather for a while. “Pneumonia,” the doctor said, giving him some medication, “don’t go to work for a few days.” On Thursday, she called home from work to see how he was feeling. He didn’t answer. On her lunch break she went home to check on him. He was already dead.

When someone passes away, someone else inherits their belongings. In these kinds of situations, there are a lot of emotions, a lot of questions, and often, a lot of stuff. Bereavement organizing is helping with situations like this, helping the inheritor with the things they have received.

Personally, I’m comfortable with death in a way that not everyone is. My comfort with death, along with seeing the need within my own life, has made my work in bereavement organizing a natural fit for me.

In Feng Shui, an important principle is that everything is energy. I’ve come to understand that our things affect us energetically on a conscious and subconscious level.

A few months after the funeral, I visited Sarah. All of her husband’s belongings were exactly the way it had been the day he passed. She was still in shock, grieving. But when she was ready to deal with his things, she had a lot of questions: What do I keep for our young son, for me? What do I donate, sell, or just throw?

Bereavement Organizing Tips

  • Find a few things to save that you love – that really represent your loved one to you and have wonderful memories attached
  • Let go of things that have a bad memory for you (in Feng Shui, things with a negative memory attached can lower your energy, consciously or subconsciously)
  • Take a photo of an object to honor the person, their memory, or that of an event to help you let go of the physical object
  • Give yourself permission to let things go that you do not love or do not fit your life

These tips may help when organizing or decluttering a loved one’s belongings after their death, but know that there is no right or wrong way to do this – only what is best for you and your family. Honor the person and honor the process.

Su-Yoon KoSu-Yoon Ko is a WWC Feng Shui Master, professional organizer, and elemental jewelry maker based in the Twin Cities. As a professional organizer, she specializes in bereavement organizing, working with clients who are attending to belongings they have inherited when they’ve lost someone. More at www.declutteringkey.com

Best Moving-Out Practices: Saying Goodbye with Feng Shui

Couple Moving Boxes Between HomesBy Lisa Janusz

There’s a lot that happens prior to leaving a home: preparing, negotiating and finally agreeing. When that “sold” sign goes up, it brings with it all sorts of emotions. It also means more work: sorting, packing, cleaning.

Last month we talked about moving into a new home. This month we’re talking about moving out, and how to approach leaving your home.

Start early. Remember, we’re all about energy around here! Set a reasonable time table for packing and follow it. Moving is hard enough without adding to the chaotic energy that comes with it. By taking your time and being thoughtful, you can ease the energy into shifting.

Don’t take it all with you. As you are packing, be realistic. Take only what you love and will need. Leave behind things that won’t support your next step in your journey. This is the time to break free from guilt of keeping gifts and décor that no longer suit you.

Feng Shui can travel. Take any Feng Shui adjustments you’ve implemented (if they are portable). You can use them in your new space if they are serving the same intention. For example a crystal marking the center can do so at the new place. Otherwise retire them by gifting them, clearing them or letting them return to “normal.” A mirror can become just a mirror.

Cleanse the space. No matter the circumstances, give the home a good cleaning. Not only is this good karma, but also it’s respectful of the home. I have been on both sides – moving into someplace immaculate and entering a new home that needed a major wash down. Hopefully the transition is positive, but if not, remember it’s not the home’s fault.

Get Closure. As Carole mentioned last month, thank the home prior to leaving it. This could be through a letter or just speaking to the house for the last time. Even if you are moving because it drove you crazy, it still provided you some support while you were there. Thank it as best you can before you move on.

The act of moving isn’t much fun. But the energy around it can be quite exciting. It can mark a new stage in life (upsizing or downsizing), a new adventure (relocating) or just a better fit. Either way, feel good about moving on by saying a proper goodbye.

Desk-ology: Feng Shui for Your Desk

ID-100202415By Lisa Janusz

One of the most important pieces of furniture in your office – work or home – is your desk. This single piece of furniture has more impact beyond just being a surface for computers and paper. It can help you reflect your message about your career and your future to clients, bosses and coworkers.

You might be limited in a corporate environment, but the Feng Shui considerations are the same.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about where you sit to get work done.

  1. Have the right size. Think Goldilocks: not too big, not too small – but just right! It should fit your frame and what you need to do. For example, enough room for a computer, as well as space to place a folder or pad of paper.
  2. Make sure it aligns with your goals. Your desk is a message about your career. It should be solid, sturdy and supportive. Skip the card table. Pick something that reflects you.
  3. Keep it as clear as possible. This is a metaphor about vision and being able to see what’s next. Arriving to a clear desk – full of potential – can give you room to breathe. It can help you feel more inspired and less overwhelmed. Think about putting items in a box at the end of the day so that you can start fresh.
  4. Position it well. The most powerful place for your desk is in the command position – which is the farthest corner of the room, while facing the door. This enables you to “see what’s coming” and welcome opportunities.
  5. Complement it with the right chair. Choosing a high back chair will offer you support, stability and comfort.

As you take a fresh look at your desk; what is the message you are sending? Does it say CEO? And/or does it reflect your aspirations?

Even if a new purchase it not possible right now, do what you can with what you have. Paint it, cover it, style it. You are your own CEO. Now get to work.

P.S. You can read more about your office here.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Heating Up the Refrigerator with a Feng Shui Approach

refrigerator in kitchen

By Carole Hyder

The refrigerator is a formidable kitchen appliance, not only because it is necessary for food storage but also because it typically has a large presence in the kitchen. When Feng Shui was first applied to homes, there were no refrigerators. Addressing the impact of this new, convenient appliance on the Feng Shui of the space had to be factored in as people modernized—-much like the situation of bathrooms which were originally not inside the home.

Refrigerators not only keep food fresh but also impact the health of those who live there. When the refrigerator is filled with stale, outdated and unused food, it isn’t a strong message about well-being. Cleaning it out from time-to-time is necessary, which includes throwing out old food as well as keeping the shelves and drawers immaculate.

Here are some other ideas for integrating the refrigerator with good Feng Shui principles:

  1. Keep the refrigerator clear of extraneous items on the front and sides. The refrigerator is not a bulletin board, photo album, nor a game surface. All of this creates Feng Shui “noise” which disrupts the intention of creating healthy and wholesome food.
  2. Don’t burden the refrigerator with unnecessary clutter on top. Unless the items on the top are decorative eye-candy, that surface should not become a storage area. Keep it clear and clean.
  3. Avoid placing the refrigerator next to the stove. This arrangement is a recipe for arguments—-between family members, friends, neighbors and/or co-workers. This is because the stove, which is a fire appliance, and the refrigerator, which is a water appliance, clash—thereby reflecting that conflict to the occupants. Place a plant on the top of that clean and cleared-off refrigerator (see #2!) to resolve the issue (even a silk one).

We certainly don’t want to be without refrigeration so this appliance is definitely here to stay. Giving it some consideration as it relates to the kitchen will assure that your refrigerator complies to good Feng Shui. In fact, done right, it will be very cool.

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