Friday, July 24, 2009

Your Love Life with Clutter Affects

Clutter in the Relationship Area

The feng shui "ba gua" is a map of the energetic influences of a space. Some people use the ba gua according to the compass directions; with this method, the Relationship Area is the southwest sector of your home or of a specific room. Western feng shui orients the ba gua to the entry to a space; with this method, the Relationship area is the back right corner of the home or of a room. Instead of wondering which method to use, why not check out them both? Look around the SW sector of your home, and in the SW part of your bedroom. Now check the room(s) in the right-rear corner of the house, and look at the far right corner of your bedroom. Like a wet blanket thrown over a fire, clutter in any of these areas can smother the passion and intensity in your romance. You aren't much fun to be around when you feel depressed, indecisive, ineffective, creatively blocked, overly emotional, or too lethargic to care - which is how you are likely to feel about your love life if your Relationship areas are filled with clutter! Find these areas within your home and bedroom, and make them your top priority for clutter-clearing attention.

Clutter in the Bedroom
Your bedroom is strongly associated with the intimacy of a romantic relationship. Clutter in the bedroom can contribute to fatigue, irritability, lack of focus, and difficulty sleeping. When you and your partner are tired, cranky, and distracted much of the time, your relationship is probably not getting the quality attention it needs and deserves. If you are single, a cluttered bedroom will make it more difficult for a new relationship to get started; all that stuck energy literally makes it hard for you to meet someone new. And that's before a potential partner gets a good look at the mess you are living in! Decluttering your bedroom is an excellent way to shake all that stuck energy loose and make room for a new relationship.

Clutter Around the Front Door
The third major factor is the area around your front door. The main entrance is called "the Mouth of Chi" in feng shui, because it has the strongest influence on how chi (energy) flows into your home. You can't nourish your body without opening your mouth to eat. Similarly, your home can't benefit from fresh, vital chi if the front door is blocked with clutter or rarely used. Go take a look at your front door. Does it open all the way, or have you stored things behind it? Is your foyer or front hall clean and welcoming, or is it filled with stuff you haven't gotten around to putting away or getting rid of? When was the last time you used your front door?

The front door is associated with opportunities. If you've been trying to meet someone new without success, getting rid of clutter around the front door and using that entry more often are a good way to shift that stuck energy. You may find that opportunities to connect with someone new come to your attention more often, and that you are more likely to take advantage of them instead of feeling so tired you'd rather stay home. If you are in a relationship, a cluttered front entry can contribute to feelings of boredom and being stuck in a rut with each other. Opening the front door more widely and frequently is a good way to breathe new life into a less-than-exciting romantic connection.

When you have cleared the clutter from important areas of your home, you should see a shift for the better in your love life. For those who are single and looking for love, making space in your home literally creates space for a new relationship to come in. That new partner may manifest for you right away, or it may take time for the energy shifts to result in a new connection. Either way, the space you create by getting rid of clutter will help to lift your spirits, improve your mood, and increase your energy -- which will make you more enjoyable and attractive to everyone you meet, old friends and new.

If you are in a partnership that has not been going well, clutter-clearing alone is unlikely to solve all of your relationship problems. However, by clearing out key spaces you create mental and emotional space for greater clarity about the issues and behavior patterns that contribute to difficulties in your marriage or partnership. With greater clarity comes a greater capacity for wise decisions and appropriate action. You may even find that releasing clutter results in releasing a foundering relationship as well. Accept that it's all for the best, and focus on the new space you have created - in your heart as well as in your home - for a new and better love to come along.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

How Much Is Enough?

Deciding whether or not we truly need something can be one of our greatest clutter-clearing challenges. When it comes to making those important keep-or-toss decisions, "need" can be discouragingly difficult to define.

Be realistic about how soon you can reasonably expect to use or use up what you've got. Having a little extra on hand is not a bad thing, especially if you live where bad weather might make getting out to do errands difficult or even dangerous for a few days from time to time. There's a huge difference, however, between having a few days' worth of bottled water, paper goods, and canned food on hand should a major storm strike, and filling the garage with enough cases of stuff to survive a nuclear winter.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a huge fan of warehouse stores, and love the great deals I get at Costco. Do weigh the cost savings against your available storage space; if bringing home all those bargains is cramping your lifestyle in other ways, the money you're save may not be worth it. Put a value on your quality of life, and pay attention to what effect your bulk buying habit is having on it.

Re-using something is the purest form of recycling, but holding on to things just because they might come in handy "someday" is a direct route to clutterdom. Sure, all those old mayonnaise jars and margarine tubs are handy for storing leftovers, organizing crafts supplies, and probably a thousand and one other household uses. That doesn't mean you need to keep 1,001 of them in your pantry. Chances are pretty good that the ones that you'll find useful are already in use, so the empty ones can be recycled. There will always be more.

It can be very enlightening to actually do an inventory of your suspected worst forms of "just in case" clutter. Pick one type of excess: canned goods, or potentially useful items like margarine tubs, grocery bags, or rubber bands, or whatever it is that you keep sticking a few more of in the drawer or cupboard because they're potentially useful. Go take a good hard look at what you've got. Get a piece of paper and a pencil and count them all and then write it down. You'll probably be surprised at how much is in there. You think you've got four or five days of food in the cupboard (a reasonable supply), but when you count up all those boxes and cans, you realize you and your hubby could live on that stuff for weeks without letting a fresh fruit or vegetable past your lips. "Let's see," you think, "I've probably got five or six grocery bags under the kitchen sink," only to count them up and discover that there are 25 of them lurking down there.

The question to ask yourself is, "Do I have a use for this now?," not "Might I possibly find a use for this someday?"

Preparedness is not the only reason we keep too much stuff. Life is short, and most of us have a lengthy list of things we'd love to do if we ever have the time, which we probably won't -- at least not for more than a small number of items on that list. Are you really ever going to use that set of miniature tart pans to bake individual quiches for a garden party, or do you just like thinking that maybe someday you'll have the time and inclination to play Martha Stewart for a day? And if you haven't used your waffle iron in so long you've forgotten how it works, perhaps you don't really need it.

It's okay to have a few things around that support your "someday when I have the time" list. The key is to realize that your interests and priorities are probably going to shift between the time you put something on that mental list and the day finally comes that you might actually be able to do it. How much of your "someday" stuff is related to hobbies that you have outgrown or simply lost interest in pursuing? Sure, those first few quilts you made were a blast, but maybe now you find yourself thinking, "been there, done that," and realize that if you ever have time to be creative again you'd rather take a painting class. Box up your collection of fabric and give it to a friend, or see if a local women's shelter would like to have it.

Stuff that's no longer new but not entirely worn out can be very tempting to a clutterbug. But how many old T-shirts do you really need to keep for washing the car? Keep two or three and dump the rest.

Don't be shy about asking, "Do I really need to keep this?" about larger things as well; we decided to sell one of our cars after we took a serious look at how often we used it and how much it would cost to inspect, register, and insure it.

Clutter's Side Effects:

How the State of Your Home Affects Your Life
by Stephanie Roberts

Each area of your home has a symbolic meaning with which you resonate on a subconscious level. Clutter and untidiness within each of these areas causes constriction and inertia in the corresponding aspects of your life.

The kitchen has been called the "heart of the home," and with good reason. Here we are nourished and provided for, even if we are dining on a frozen entrée zapped in the microwave rather than a homemade meal lovingly presented by Mom. An untidy and disorganized kitchen makes it hard to nourish yourself and others, on both physical and metaphysical levels. How you care for your kitchen is a clue about whether you are giving proper attention to your own nourishment and sources of abundance. Cleaning up and de-cluttering your kitchen opens up space for you to receive the support and comfort that you need in life.

These are spaces where you mingle with and honor your relationships with family and friends. Here you engage with the world while being at home through watching television, reading the paper, or arguing politics with old friends over dinner. Clutter can turn these social spaces into dens of isolation, especially if the mess is so bad that it has been years since you've invited people over. Look around your living and dining rooms to see what they say about your relationship with the rest of the world. Are you hiding your true self from others, burying it in clutter, or putting it on display here?

Hallways are the arteries and highways of your home. Think of clutter in your hallways as a traffic jam that prevents important connections between different areas of your home and your life. Look at your hallways to see how you feel about your life's path: are they well lit and easily navigable, or do they trip you up? If you feel a disconnect between work and family, self and others, what you need and your obligations, it may be time to give your hallways a good clearing out.

Bathing and anointing the body is a preparatory ritual for many religious rites both ancient and contemporary. On a daily basis we use this space to prepare ourselves to meet the world. Clutter in the bathroom can indicate a devaluation of self-worth, a lack of attention to self that goes beyond the physical. A clean, well-decorated bathroom can become a tranquil sanctuary for rejuvenation and self-care. Scented soaps, attractive accessories, and fragrant candles have a place here. Beautifying your bathroom by eliminating clutter and disorder and transforming it into a place of refuge will bring a sense of the sacred into your morning and evening personal-care rituals.

Adults' bedrooms are for sleeping and intimacy, and they should function as places of renewal for self and relationships. Clutter in the bedroom is enervating without being restful. If you feel "wired and tired," creating order out of chaos in this most personal space can help you relax and let go of the stress of the day. Then you can get a good night's sleep or enjoy some special time with your partner.

Closets represent things that are hidden, unknown, or unrecognized. When we fill our closets with clutter, we stifle our ability to be intuitive and insightful. Cluttered closets can indicate problems that you may not be consciously aware of but which impede your progress through life, work, and relationships nonetheless. Keeping the closet door closed is not an effective solution.

A cluttered attic creates a feeling of being under pressure. It's hard to feel optimistic about the future when there's so much stuff "hanging over your head." Ancestor issues reside up there, along with all those boxes and chests holding the detritus of generations. And the basement and other below-ground storage areas are considered abodes of the subconscious, so watch your step and get that clutter cleaned up!

Think of your car as a symbol of your mobility, independence, and ability to be self-directed in life. If there's so much stuff piled up in your garage that you can barely fit the car in there, you may be hampered or overly cautious moving forward in life as well.

Stop thinking of clutter-clearing as a tremendous chore, and start thinking of it as one of the most effective self-improvement tactics available to you. Every magazine and piece of paper you recycle, every book you give to the library, every knick-knack and item of clothing you release to a new owner creates space in your life for new insight, energy, joy, and experiences to come in!

Feng Shui for the Heart of Your Home

by Stephanie Roberts

The kitchen is sometimes called "the heart of the home," and with good reason; in ancient cultures the hearth was a sacred place representing the life-giving sustenance of Earth's bounty. Feng shui recognizes the kitchen as one of the most important rooms in the house because it is where we connect with the energies that nourish us physically (food), financially (money), and emotionally (family). It reminds us to see the kitchen not just as where we put the groceries away and dish up dinner, but also as a place where we receive blessings and express gratitude for the gifts of life, health, and prosperity.

The kitchen should be bright and sunny in feeling, evoking the warmth of the sun and hearth. Reds and earth tones are good here, while green accents add wood energy to feed the stove's fire, and touches of purple help to support prosperity. Dark, cramped kitchens can be transformed with warm white or pale yellow paint, brighter light fixtures, and cheerful accessories that bring reds and yellows into the room. A kitchen with lots of black and chrome appliances and fixtures will benefit from touches of green, purple, and red to support health and prosperity.

When you come home from the store and put your groceries away, think about the health and vitality these foods will bring to you and your family. As you reach for a snack or prepare a meal, take a moment to focus on how fortunate you are to have this nourishment at your fingertips. Visualize your kitchen always filled with nature's bounty, and say a quiet "thank you" for the food that sustains you and your family. This moment of awareness and gratitude will help to keep the chi of your kitchen supportive and strong.

One easy way to improve the chi of the kitchen is to make sure that everything involved in food preparation and serving is attractive and pleasant to work with. If you are cooking with pots that you don't like, eating from dishes that you do not love, or using paper towels for napkins because the good ones are put away in the back of a closet, each seemingly minor incident is detracting from your ability to enjoy and benefit from your meals.

Get rid of the stuff you never use, start using the things you love, and fill your kitchen with accessories that you really enjoy. This is feng shui in action, and it's a wonderful way to transform the energy of your kitchen so you can receive the support and comfort that the heart of your home should provide.

Feng shui reminds us that in order to prosper, we need to be healthy. The feng shui of your kitchen - especially the stove - can have a big influence on your financial situation, even if you rarely or never cook.

In feng shui, the stove is your "wealth generator." It is the most important symbolic factor in your ability to prosper financially, so make sure it works the way it should. Any problems with the stove can indicate problems with money or limitations to your ability to bring home a good income. A burner that doesn't heat could be a sign of fruitless effort, and an oven that runs too hot could be burning up your money. Dirt and grime are also signs of negative energy, so be sure to keep your stovetop and oven clean.

One easy way to activate money chi is to use your stovetop at least once a day, rather than always relying on the microwave to boil water for tea or heat up a cup of soup. Vary which burner you use, so that all are used regularly. If you don’t use your stove, or use the same one burner all the time, symbolically you are limiting your ability to benefit from financial resources.

When the stovetop is not in use, put all pots and pans away. Unused pots stored on top of the stove can squash prosperity chi, especially when they cover the rear left burner; if you visualize the ba gua over the stovetop, with career in the center front, the rear left burner is in the Wealth position.

To support prosperity, place something that symbolizes wealth or abundance in the Wealth area of your kitchen [the back left corner of the room if you are standing in the doorway], such as a basket or bowl of fresh fruit. Purple and green grapes are especially good abundance symbols for the wealth area.

Another good feng shui tactic is to keep kitchen canisters and other containers more than half-full as much as possible. Every time you see these containers, your subconscious mind will register plenty rather than the implied lack created by an almost empty jar. Get in the habit of restocking your food supplies before you run low, and you will fill your kitchen with the energy of abundance.

Feng Shui and the Command Position

One of the most important feng shui guidelines is to place your bed and desk in what is called the "Command Position." In this position, you face the door from the far side of the room but are not directly in front of the door; usually the part of the room diagonally farthest from the entry offers the best Command Position.

In the Command Position, you are able to benefit from the chi that enters and flows through the space, while being far enough removed from the doorway that you are not exposed to chi that is too strong. A true Command Position also provides a solid wall behind you for support. Using this position puts you in visual command of the space, and allows you to face life directly, both literally and symbolically.

If you can't see the door from where you sleep or work, this implies that life can sneak up on you, that you tend not to face issues directly, and that you are easily startled and constantly dealing with unexpected events. Sleeping or working directly in line with the door also exposes you to excessive chi, which can contribute to stress, irritability, health problems, and feelings of overwhelm. Use of the Command Position removes you from these negative influences and puts you in control of your space and of your life.

The objective of using the Command Position for the bed and desk is a key factor as well in the feng shui guideline that says not to have your home office in the bedroom. While the main reason for this is that the energy of work (desk) and that of rest (bed) are incompatible and should not be housed in the same space, it is also highly unlikely that you will be able to place both the desk and the bed in the Command Position if you try to use both these important pieces of furniture in the same room.

These are fairly straightforward guidelines, but as so often happens, in any particular space there may be other factors involved that need to be taken into account. Although there are often several potential places to put a bed or desk that will meet the Command Position criteria (the larger the space, the more options you will have), usually one or more of these will be less than optimal for some reason. For example, placing your desk with a good view of the door may require sitting with your back to a large window. Not only does this imply lack of support in your career, but if you work at a computer (as most people with desk jobs do) glare from the window can also be a problem.

Other potential problems to be avoided include overhead beams, the low side of a slanted ceiling, sharp angles from interior corners, and an overhead fan in a room with a low ceiling - to name just a few. Any one of these factors may make a potential Command Position less than desirable. You should also keep in mind what is going on in the neighboring rooms as well as outside the building. For example, what may seem like the perfect Command Position location for your bed is not so perfect if your bedroom shares a wall with your kitchen or bathroom, and the toilet, shower, stove or refrigerator is right on the other side of the wall behind the bed. Another example would be a bedroom in the front of a house very close to the road. Here the Command Position might indicate placing the head of the bed against the exterior wall, where nighttime traffic may sound like it's driving right over your pillow and make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. In this case, you may find that placing your bed so it is in the Command Position relative to the road, rather than the doorway, is the better option. In many cases a review of the pros and cons of a space may indicate that the best location for your desk or bed may be one that is not in the Command Position, but that protects you from other influences.

The best possible furniture placement in any room in your home often involves a compromise between several different feng shui guidelines. The more you know about how the different features of your home affect your space, the better able you will be to make the placement choices that are best for you.