Letting go of What No Longer Serves You with Feng Shui

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This article is taken from my December 2016 Newsletter. To read the newsletter, please click here.

Many years ago I had a client who had moved five times in two years. She made a joke saying, “Moving five times in two years was as good as a fire”, meaning that moving that often had given her many opportunities to get rid of lots of stuff. Many times when we think of letting go of items in our homes we think of cleaning out our closets, but real letting go involves reevaluating everything in our homes, not just the things we have tucked away.

     When I moved from California to Hawaii, I moved out of a rather large home that I’d lived in for 17 years. Prior to moving into that home my mother had passed away, so not only did I have 17 years of my own stuff I had a lot of her things too. Moving over the ocean is a completely different experience than moving over land. I had to evaluate each item I owned; determining whether or not it was worth the expense of shipping it thousands of miles away. In the end, I managed to get rid of about 90 percent of what I owned; shipping only the items that were small enough and/or meaningful enough to warrant the hassle and expense of doing so. The process was emotional, exhausting, and ultimately freeing.
     Feng Shui is about living and working in spaces that feel as good as they look. Part of having those spaces feel good has to do with the emotional connections we have with the things we choose to surround ourselves. Our homes are our sanctuaries, and we need to treat them as such. When the items in our homes lose their purpose and meaning, the energy in our homes and in turn in our lives can start to feel like dull, ordinary, and burdensome. Letting go of what no longer serves an emotional or practical purpose is very liberating, and that fresh new feeling can transfer over to other aspects of our life as well.
      You don’t need to wait for a move to get started. Here are ten tips to get you going right  now.
     1. Go through each room in your home with a box and force yourself to get rid of five things in each room. If you don’t want it, need it, love it, or use it, get rid of it!
     2. When you bring in something new, get rid of something old.
     3. Take photos of items that you no longer wish to keep or store, but that may have sentimental meaning. For example, I got rid of a box of childhood toys that I’d kept for decades. Taking a photo of those items before letting them go helped me to give them up.
     4. Remember that you are under no obligation to keep something that someone gives you. It’s your home and you need to be the one who decides what goes and what stays.

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Creating an Optimal Dining Experience with Feng Shui

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This article is taken from my November 2016 Newsletter. To read the newsletter, please click here.

Thanksgiving time and on that day most Americans will be sitting around a table sharing a wonderful meal and giving thanks for all their blessings. When you’ve been lovingly cooking all day long, you want the meal to not only taste good, but be a wonderful experience for everyone there. While feng shui can’t do much to change whether or not you’re a great cook, it can help create an ambience that will make the meal even better. Feng Shui goes beyond how things look (and taste), and addresses how things feel. So with that knowledge in mind, here are some quick and easy ways to make your Thanksgiving meal (or any meal for that matter) as excellent as possible.

Table Shape
Most of the time a formal meal takes place around a rectangular-shaped table. While this may be a more traditional setting, it isn’t the best for actually relaxing and sharing a meal. Around a rectangle table, many of the guests will not be able to see or converse with each other. You’ll end up with a party at one end and a party at the other end. People sitting on the same side of the table at opposite ends must lean around others in order to see or talk to guests at the other end of the table, making conversation awkward. Furthermore, the people sitting at the ends of the table (usually the patriarch) are the only ones who can see and converse with everyone, thus giving them command of the meal (in feng shui, we call this seat the “Command Position”), creating an inequality in the authority of people during the meal.
From a feng shui perspective, a round table is highly preferable to a rectangle-shaped table for a pleasant dining experience. Around a round table, all guests can see and converse with each other, there is no “head” of the table, and everyone there is energetically equal. Studies show that when guests are seated around a round table for a meal, they say that the food tasted better, they lingered around the table longer, and they felt that their all-around dining experience was more positive. A rectangle table tends to hurry the meal. People will sit down, eat, and get up shortly after the meal to go into the other room.  Around a round table however, guests will linger over the meal, talk, laugh, eat dinner or have coffee and desert, and still be sitting there talking or even play an after-dinner game at the table.

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Creating an Optimal Study Environment with Feng Shui

This article appears in my October 2016 newsletter. No portion may be copied or duplicated without permission. To read the newsletter, please click here.

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Whether you are going to school yourself or have a child beginning a new school year, finding the right environment to study in can have an effect on studying success.  Below I have given you ten great tips on how you can use Feng Shui to create a more optimal study area.
1. Add nature or images of nature to the setting.  Studies at Washington State University found that when plants were added to a work and study area, productivity went up 28%.  The theory is that people are soothed by images of nature and the plants create a less stressful environment.
2. Make sure the door to the room can be seen while studying.  When we need to focus on a task it is important that we feel as safe as possible.  Being able to see the door assures us that we will not be startled by someone while we are concentrating on our studies.
3. Good lighting is a must.  Full-spectrum task lighting is a preferred alternative to regular incandescent lighting.  Full-spectrum lighting lessens eye strain.  The photograph to the left illustrates the difference between regular partial-spectrum lighting on the left and the same lamp using a full spectrum bulb on the right.
 4. Find a place that is free from as many distractions as possible.  Many children are allowed to do homework while watching TV.  It is obvious why this is not the best choice for distraction-free studying.
 5. Consider aromatherapy.  Peppermint essential oil is known for improving concentration and enables us to focus better on tasks.  You can diffuse the oil into the air using a non-heating ultrasonic diffuser, inhale it right out of the bottle,  or try dabbing a few drops on a ribbon and tying it to a blowing fan to help improve mental clarity.  Studies have also shown that when students inhale pure essential oils while studying, they are able to recall the information again while taking a test if they smell that same scent during the test. In other words, if you study while inhaling peppermint essential oil and then inhale it again while taking a test on that same material, you may recall the information more easily. This is because the brain makes associations and ties memories to scent.  Be sure to always only purchase therapeutic-grade essential oils!  Synthetic oils often include toxic chemicals.  Oils such as Young Living brand (available on the shopping page of my web site and on the right hand side of this newsletter) are pure essential oils that are safe and healthy to use.
 6. Place items made of rock or stone in the Northeast section of the home.  The northeast is the location related to study.  The element associated with the Northeast is earth and the supporting element is fire.  Salt lamps, ceramic items, things made of stone, tile, pottery, etc. are all good in the Northeast.  Avoid large indoor plants in the Northeast area of the home as growing wood is not optimal in that location.
7. Eliminate clutter from the study area.  Clutter is distracting and can make us feel nervous and overwhelmed.
8. If you sit at a desk, be sure you have a comfortable, ergonomically correct desk and chair.  If you are sitting for long periods of time in an uncomfortable position it will impair your ability to concentrate.
9. Make sure the surrounding area is as quiet as possible.  If noise is an issue and you can’t do anything about it (such as in a dorm situation), consider the use of an inexpensive white noise machine or fan.  Both can be purchased at many stores and online.  The whooshing noise from the fan or white noise machine helps drown out other sounds without being distracting. There are even apps that create white noise!
10. If you study with your laptop literally on your lap, purchase a laptop pad from the office supply store.  It will help protect you from any electromagnetic fields the lap top may be giving off, and it will help the laptop (and you) stay cooler.
These are just some quick tips to help you create a great study area.  Of course there is no sure cure way to actually get someone to automatically absorb all the information they are trying to learn, but having a space that is nurturing and comfortable can certainly help.
Copyright 2016 Cathleen McCandless, All Rights Reserved
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Copyright protected c. 2016 Cathleen McCandless http://www.fengshuimauihawaii.com

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Creating an Optimal Entryway/Foyer with Feng Shui

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This article appears in my September 2016 newsletter. No portion may be copied or duplicated without permission. To read the newsletter, please  click here.

For most people, the entry/foyer of a home is not thought to be an important part of the home, yet from a Feng Shui perspective it is one of the very most important areas we need to consider. The entry is not only the first impression of your living space, it is also a key component in whether or not you will experience comfort, safety and happiness while you live there. the most important consideration in Feng Shui is whether or not a space allows us to feel “safe”. If we do not feel 100% safe in our environment, we will not relax, and if we cannot relax we certainly aren’t going to enjoy the time we spend in our living and working spaces.

 Our basic need for survival is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week and determines whether or not we will relax in a space or feel stress and unease. The entryway can play an important role in establishing the comfort and safety and in turn, the pleasure and relaxation we feel in our homes.
First let’s look at the purpose for the entry/foyer. In addition to providing a way into the home, the entry is a “decompression zone” between the outdoors and the indoors. Having a designated entry helps our survival instinct adjust from scoping the outdoor environment we have just left and allows us a couple of moments to shift our attention to an indoor setting.

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Easy Ways to Uplift the Look and Feel of Your Home with Feng Shui

The  article below is taken from my August 2016 Newsletter. All information in this article and the newsletter is copyright protected. NO information may be copied without written consent. To read the entire newsletter, please click here.

Try these simple, inexpensive ideas to bring new life into your spaces!
flwnd23    Does your house ever leave you feeling blah, or uninspired? Often we get used to the things in our homes that we don’t even notice them any more, yet it is often the very things that we have gotten used to that need to be changed or spruced up in order to give our homes (and us) a lift. Here are some easy, inexpensive tips and inspiring photos that can help you freshen up the look and feel of your home.

Slipcovers are better than ever. Stretchy fabrics cover couches and chairs in ways that make them look brand new without looking like they are slip covered. It will look like you splurged on new furniture without the cost.
Artwork can become boring and uninspiring, and may not reflect the interests or tastes we have as they change over time. Go on sites like art.com for a huge selection of inexpensive art. You can shop from the comfort of your home and be sure you’ll find a piece that fits your taste, your wall, and your budget!
 
Area rugs are great ways to give a room a new color scheme and a fresh look. You can use the colors in the rug to add accents to the room with pillows, candles, and accessories to tie the room together. Don’t be afraid to put an area rug over a carpet. It is a much less expensive alternative to replacing an old carpet and will give a tired room new vibrance.
New Hardware and Fixtures can bring fresh life to a kitchen or bathroom. Door handles, drawer pulls, and even inexpensive light fixtures will update the look of these rooms in no time.

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Texture and Feng Shui

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This article is taken from my July 2016 newsletter. All information in this article and the newsletter are copyright protected and may not be copied without written permission. To read the July Newsletter, please click here. 

Most likely texture isn’t a subject you’ve thought a lot about, but can you imagine life without it? Nature is rich in texture. From the crevices and grooves of tree bark to the soft fur of a kitten, texture adds depth, interest, and variety to our lives.

       I once worked with a client who was trying to sell her house and having no success. She had smooth marble floors, no rugs, leather furniture, glass tables with metal legs, and wood window blinds. There was not one surface in the main rooms of the house that was not smooth and sleek. Buyers were telling my client that the thing they didn’t like about the house is that it felt “cold”. My client didn’t understand why they were saying that or what to do about it.  When I saw the way she chose to decorate her home, I could see immediately why it wasn’t selling. The explanation was simple. When there is an abundance of very smooth surfaces in a room (marble, glass, metal, leather), the room lacks texture and will often feel cold and unfriendly.
       Remember that Feng Shui goes beyond how a space looks and focuses on how a space feels. If you’ve read my book, Feng Shui that Makes Sense, you’ll know that one of the most important aspects of creating good feng shui is to add materials, shapes, and images from nature to your living and working environments. By including a variety of textures indoors, you’ll be creating a space that will instinctively feel more relaxed and nurturing because texture is such an important aspect of the natural world.
      To illustrate the role texture plays in creating a relaxing space, look at the living rooms pictured above. Both rooms are stark white, but evoke completely different feelings. The main difference between the two is that the living room on the bottom has a variety of textures, and the room on top does not. Completely smooth surfaces rarely exist in nature. Even bodies of water usually have ripples upon them. When a room has nothing but completely smooth surfaces it will tend to feel cold and uncomfortable because these conditions are simply not found abundantly in a natural setting.  When texture is added to balance all the smooth surfaces, the room will instinctively feel better.
How can you bring more texture into your home and work spaces?
Here are ten easy tips to help you out.
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1. Area rugs
Area rugs are a great way to balance the feeling in rooms with smooth floors. Textured rugs will warm up a space and have the added benefit of noise reduction.
 2. Plantsflinvas39
     Plants add texture to a room while at the same time creating a soothing presence. In fact, many varieties of houseplants have been shown to purify the air and reduce the effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.
3. Pillows
    Throw pillows are an easy and inexpensive way to add texture and color to a room. Pillows with textured fabric can also be used to help balance the smooth surfaces of leather furniture, which sometimes feels cold.
4. Baskets
    Baskets add a lot of texture and warmth to a room. They make great storage options and some can even be used for wall decorations.

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Feng Shui for Children

This article was taken from my June 2016 newsletter. All material is copyright protected and may not be copied without written consent. To read the newsletter, please click here.

In addition to this article, more information on feng shui can be found in my #1 best-selling book, Feng Shui that Makes Sense.

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Ten Ways to Help You Create an Optimal Environment for Your Child

While most feng shui information pertains to adult living and working environments, children can also benefit by applying feng shui principles to their sleeping, studying, and playing areas. Below you’ll find great feng shui tips for making your child’s room a nurturing place of happiness and comfort.

1. Wall Color
Color choices are highly subjective, but one study shows that rooms that are painted bright yellow tend to increase tension. Babies cry louder, longer, and more often in bright lemon yellow rooms and adults tend to argue more often in rooms painted that color.  Soft neutral wall colors are calming. Accent with brighter colors in bedding and artwork.
2. Bed Position
I’m always surprised at the odd ways adults position children’s beds in their rooms and then wonder why their child has trouble sleeping. Just as in an adult bedroom, a child’s bed needs to be positioned so that they can see the door but not be in direct line with the door while lying down. Children under the age of ten often feel more comfortable when one side of the bed is pushed up against a wall rather than open on both sides.
3. Children’s Beds
Adults and children alike often sleep better in a bed that has a solid headboard with no holes or slats in the headboard. A headboard creates a feeling of comfort and security does not exist when the bed is pushed up against the wall without a headboard. Avoid beds made entirely out of plastic (like a plastic bed that looks like a car for example). Plastic off-gasses toxins which can be unhealthy for children.
4. Avoid Artificial Scent in the Home
There is a growing body of evidence that artificial air fresheners (think plug-ins, sprays, candles, potpourri, and reed scented sticks) have unhealthy side effects, especially in children. They have been linked to asthma, headaches, and immune deficiencies. If you like scent in your home, opt for diffusing therapeutic-grade essential oils like the ones I suggest in my newsletters. These products are anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial and actually increase health and well-being when diffused in a room.
5. Provide Easy-to-Access Closed Storage Options
Very few children enjoy cleaning up after themselves. To make tidying easier for them (and you), provide plenty of storage choices. Kid’s toys are brightly colored and even when placed neatly can make a room look messy. Cabinets, shelves with a solid fabric draped over them, wicker baskets with lids and ottomans are great storage ideas for toys and books. A storage area under the stairs can easily be converted into a fun, cozy play area and a place for toys  and games.

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Intuition & Feng Shui

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This article is taken from my May 2016 newsletter. To read the entire newsletter, click here. Please note that all information in this article and in my newsletters is copyright protected and may not be copied without written permission. Thank you!

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Darn, I wish I HADN’T listened to my intuition?” Probably not. In fact, it’s much more likely that at one time or another you, or someone you know has said, “Gee, I really wish I HAD listened to my intuition.” Intuition is defined as The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. Intuition is the inner voice that speaks from the heart, often in a whisper, gently guiding us to what is best for our highest good. It’s up to us to hear it, trust it, and listen to it. Listening to your intuition can be one of your best assets when identifying good feng shui.
   Studies prove that people make up their minds within 10 seconds whether or not they are going to purchase a home. They may set out with a laundry list of things that they are looking for, but ultimately they will make their decision about a place based on their intuition and emotional response to it. That initial intuitive/emotional response is almost always correct. It’s when we get in our heads and try to rationalize reasons to NOT listen to our intuition that we get ourselves into trouble.

    I’ve worked with many clients who’ve regretted purchasing their home saying that they intuitively didn’t feel right about it in the beginning. Ignoring their intuition, they went ahead with the purchase because it was a great deal, someone talked them into it, or they thought they’d learn to like it better over time. The truth of the matter is whatever you don’t like about a home in the beginning will only amplify the longer you live there, especially if it is something that is impossible to change (like living next to a freeway). It’s like walking around with a rock in your shoe and being unable to take it out.

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Color & Feng Shui

This article is taken from my April 2016 newsletter. To read the entire newsletter, click here. Please note that all information in this article and in my newsletters is copyright protected and may not be copied without written permission. Thank you!

In my many years as a feng shui consultant I’m often asked, “What color should I paint this room?” My response is always the same, “Any colors that make you feel happy and comfortable.” The client is often surprised by my answer because often people mistakenly think that if they paint their home some special “feng shui colors” they will make more money, fall in love, or get a better job. Of course this simply isn’t true or everyone would be doing it all the time.

    Painting or decorating your home in specific colors hoping to change your destiny is as silly as it sounds. This is another one of the myths and misunderstandings that is often promoted by feng shui practitioners and authors alike. The truth is, while there are colors associated with the elements of feng shui, they were never meant to be the colors you needed to decorate your home. The real relationship color has to feng shui is how the colors you use make you feel. The reactions and feelings people have towards colors are as unique as the individual perceiving them.
    We choose colors based on personal preference, cultural influences, trends, and often, by what looks good on us. Even our childhood experiences with certain colors will have an impact on how we feel when confronted with them. For example, when I was little my mother made me where a LOT of navy blue because she thought it looked good on me. To this day I hate the color navy blue. Even though it is a good color on me, I don’t own even one navy blue piece of clothing and you won’t find it decorating my home either. I simply don’t like it because I was forced to wear it so often in childhood.

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Feng Shui Interview with Hawaii Healing Network