What makes your house or apartment a home to you? Is it the furniture, the items on the shelves that you have collected for years, or the people you share it with? Think for a moment about how your living space makes you feel. Your home is a multi-sensory experiential environment and it takes effort to make it a positive one.
The sound of a child’s laughter – whether current or a lingering memory – the smell of cinnamon wafting from the kitchen, the softness of the quilt your grandmother made, or the emotional warmth you feel when you look at a beloved gift someone gave you can make all the difference in your contentment.
As we move into springtime, take the time to reassess your environment and don’t just clean your home – spruce it up and clean it out. If you don’t love what you see, change it. If stacks and piles overwhelm you, honor yourself by organizing what you love and donating what doesn’t serve you. Our lives are forever evolving, ebbing and flowing, and our environment needs to reflect that and mirror back the best parts, not the old, stagnant parts.
For most of my adult life, I have rearranged furniture and reassessed my home environment about every six months. I always thought perhaps I was just diving deeply, somewhat obsessively, into “spring cleaning” or “winter nesting.” It wasn’t until I began to study Feng Shui extensively that I understood why. What you surround yourself with can be a direct reflection of how you feel, and vice versa.
Feng Shui, pronounced fung schway, is the ancient Chinese art of placement. Literally translated, it means “Wind and Water,” and symbolically it helps us manage the flow of life energy, also called chi. It examines how energy moves through a particular space; if this flow is blocked or stagnant we can begin to face obstacles in our lives. Feng Shui teaches how to create harmony and balance to support our physical and emotional well-being.
I have studied many schools of Feng Shui and the commonality of all of them is that everything has energy. When you think of the flow of energy in your home, imagine it symbolically as a child running through your house and consider what may be “in the way,” blocking or even dangerous for that child to run into. The flow of energy in many areas of your life, such as career, relationships and health, can be blocked if there is too much clutter in your life. Imagine how slowly this life energy moves when it has to dodge sharp edges or stop at each item in your home to study it like an inquisitive child – getting distracted before moving on.
Take a good look: Look at your surroundings as if you were having an important guest come to stay with you. What would you change or try to stuff into a closet? Well, that important person to tidy up your space for should be YOU! If you haven’t felt motivated to declutter or rearrange or even dust, it could be because you haven’t decluttered, rearranged or dusted. If you are feeling sad or down, take a look around – what do you see?
Your space symbolizes many areas of your life, and every room has the potential to support your life energy or diminish it. What do you surround yourself with? Does it give you joy, or make you grumble in frustration that it’s not what you want? Are you displaying items out of obligation to the gift-giver? Haven’t had time to put away piles of papers, laundry or unused items? Do you feel guilty or discouraged when you see the clutter? How would you like to feel? Imagine that in the movie theater of your mind.
Start with your front door: Literally go outside your home and from the street or end of your driveway walk slowly toward your front door as if you are seeing it for the first time. Do you feel invited to continue? Realtors call this curb appeal, but in Feng Shui your entrance and how well it looks, flows and functions is key to inviting success into your home. Consider solar lights for the path to your front door. Make it as inviting as possible to attract good energy and invoke a welcoming first impression.
Can you easily see the house number? Your house number should be in good condition and highly visible. Do you have a working doorbell and an attractive mailbox? Does the door work properly and does it open completely? Build.com has some great options for cost-effective upgrades that would be money well spent on this area of your home.
Think about your work life. How is that going? Your front door energy is symbolic of your career. Is your door in need of repair or fresh paint? Does it open fully? This is all a reflection of your career – if its moving forward, or if you feel stuck. If the doorjam sticks and you can’t enter easily, or if there are shoes and a coat rack preventing you from opening the door fully, traditionally this symbolizes that your career can’t move forward with ease. Allow opportunity to come find you, open and receptive.
There are many books and systems out there for organizing, but before you find a place for everything and put everything in its place, rethink it all. Touch everything. When you pick it up are you grateful you have it? Does it bring you joy? Does it serve a purpose? If not, put it in a box for donations and let it give someone else joy.
Arrange your bed so that the headboard is against a solid wall with no windows above it. For a good night’s sleep be sure there are no visible beams or shelving above your head. Try to keep the space under your bed clean and clear of clutter so the energy and air can flow through it. You spend a lot of time in this room, so do a thorough spring cleaning to keep the dust at a minimum. Look in your closet and reconsider items that you never wear and let your wardrobe reflect who you are now. Make room for future new items and feel what allowing that extra space can do for you. You may even find yourself breathing more deeply.
Do you use everything that is out on your counter? If not, tuck it away or consider donating it. Be sure everything is in working order, especially your appliances and your faucet. Changing the hardware on your cabinets can make you feel like you have a new space. Add an inspirational saying on your backsplash, or something that makes you feel good to look at while doing the dishes. Feeling joyful while you prepare food will enhance the whole family dining experience.
It is important to feel well supported while working or taking care of finances. You should feel in command in your home office even if that space is just a desk to pay your bills. Be sure there is a solid wall behind you. This is symbolic of other kinds of support, and considered a position of power. It is more relaxing when you can see your door than if you have your back to someone walking in; you can accomplish tasks at hand without the subconscious feeling of vulnerability to surprises.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor pollution as one of the top five threats to our health. Living plants can bring life to your space, and many are considered clean air machines, working hard to detoxify the air. Choose plant varieties that are safe for young children and pets. We have been spending more time indoors due to an abundance of electronic entertainment, so keep the dust down and use non-toxic cleaners. You will be happier at home if you keep your lungs healthy.
No matter what your age, you should have a corner or dedicated space to do what you love most, whether it be reading in a cozy chair with a great lamp, or your child having a desk with fun markers and creative tools at the ready for when inspiration strikes. It could be a space for your hobbies, an altar, or anything you feel passionate about. Even the tiniest homes can have room for you. If you love being surrounded by art, arranging flowers, or have a rock collection, display these proudly. What brings you joy? Surround yourself with that. This is what feeds your soul and recharges you. Even if you don’t think you have time to sit in your corner or use the creative space, just knowing it is there and seeing it can help you you feel like you have a home.
Everything has energy, so surround yourself with what you LOVE! Honor your space and it will honor you.
Books to Learn More:
- Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Karen Rauch Carter
- Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston
- Naturally Clean by Jeffrey Hollender
- How to Grow Fresh Air by Dr. B.C. Wolverton
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Feng Shui and Health by Nancy SantoPietro