Let it Go, Let it Go, Let it Go

We don’t have to try very hard to find signs that the holidays are fast approaching. Stores are putting up their decorations, many radio stations are playing holiday music and people are already starting to make their holiday “to-do” lists. Read from Kristi Stangeland, the importance of balance and intention in the holidays.

For many of us, these signs of the season are sure-fire stress triggers. Instead of sugar plums, they conjure up visions of lists dancing in their heads: the baking list, the shopping list, the card list, etc.

Do you have a laundry list of things you think you need to do in order to make the holidays “perfect?” For those of us who are guilty of list-overload, I suggest we rethink our holidays.

What would happen if we didn’t:

  • Send holiday cards to people we haven’t seen in 20 years…
  • Try to replicate the picture-perfect centerpiece from that glossy home magazine…
  • Bake 10 different kinds of holiday cookies…
  • Wrap every gift with shiny paper and bows…
  • Host a holiday open house a week before Christmas…

This year I suggest we adopt a Feng Shui approach to the holidays. In an effort to find more serenity in our lives we can do more than de-clutter and re-organize our physical environments. We can also re-evaluate how we manage our time.

Here is a specific technique to help de-clutter our holiday “to-do” lists so we can focus on the things that actually bring us the greatest joy at this time of year.

  • Set aside 30 minutes of time when you will not be interrupted.
  • Take nine minutes to write down all the items on your holiday “to-do” list. You know what I’m talking about: cooking, shopping, wrapping, baking, hosting, etc.
  • Take three deep breaths to clear your mind.  Then set a timer for six minutes and sit in silence, with your eyes downcast or closed. Let your thoughts come and go.
  • When the six minutes are up, review your list with “fresh eyes.” Ask yourself: Does anyone care if this happens? How could I do this differently and with less effort? Can someone else take on this task?
  • Then make a commitment to cross off the items that feel heavy and no longer serve you. Focus instead on those tasks that you truly enjoy.

This kind of mental organizing and decluttering can be very energizing. When we allow ourselves to let go of unrealistic or stressful obligations, we’re apt to discover that those “to dos” that we actually do undertake will be more enjoyable, because we can focus more time on them.

So if you’d rather tap into your inner artist and make your cookies your canvas, then pass on hosting the holiday dinner for 20. Chances are your cookies will be a bigger hit than the green bean casserole anyway.

Here’s to a clutter free holiday. Cheers!


Kristi Stangeland is the founder of Feng Shui Consulting Service.  She holds a certificate from the BTB Feng Shui™ Masters Training Program, begun by Professor Thomas Lin Yun. Read more about Kristi.


The Perfectly Imperfect Feng Shui Life

As I headed outside this morning to try to get the mowing done before impending weekend storms hampered any outdoor clean up, I mentally was going through my long checklist of things to get done.  Emails to send, contacts to make, updates and web pages…phew, you get the gist.  I was actually kind of cursing having to mow. “I have too much to do!”

Then, I rounded the corner to the front of the house where part of our career gua is outside in the yard.  [GASP, I know.  But some of us bought our house decades ago, before we even had a glint of what Feng Shui is all about.]

Checking that mental “work-to-do list,” I looked over and noticed the weeds first.

In. My. Career. Flower bed.

And then, the bird bath.  Crap; empty and dirty.

Was good career Feng Shui going to happen by leaving that and dashing inside for those all-important-emails?  Or was it better to take the time to “tend my own garden” so to speak.


It got me thinking of a conversation from a few days ago, with a dear friend who is also a practitioner and lover of Feng Shui…she felt one of the troubles of our industry, is that none of us want to share our own spaces.  It’s not personal enough; we don’t share enough of ourselves for fear of competition. [Duh, it’s Feng Shui people; stop that!]  Many popular bloggers or instagramers are sharing everything they do in their own house and that’s what makes them so relatable and sharable and watchable [I’m not even sure those are all words, but you get what I am talking about].  How many of us in Feng Shui do that?  Not many.

We seem to be all about: watching the other person, the client, imparting wisdom, and the dang perfect photo or quote to share – the perfect Instagram shot that’s been filtered and lightened and juiced up.  But we aren’t about ourselves.

Afraid to show that you might have something wrong in your space and need to fix it, that sometimes your own Feng Shui eyes get clouded and you need a fresh look…does that mean a potential client might not hire you. Gosh, I hope not. I believe there is an abundance of clients and we all resonate with those who are meant to find us.  [That being said, this is still a business, so get yourself out there and get cracking on your business goals.  It doesn’t happen by sitting on your bum simply loving the magic of Feng Shui.] 

I have thought about this conversation with my friend for a few days, and I actually take it one step further.  And maybe I will shoot myself in the foot and you will all think, “wow, she’s a mess.”  But, here’s where my mind goes…

Maybe it’s also about sharing our vulnerabilities. 

That we are good at what we do BECAUSE of [not in spite of] the things we have going (or not going) in our own “proverbial house.”  So………here’s me:

I tend to think of Feng Shui as not having a lot of shoulds – EXCEPT THE TOILET.  CLOSE THE LID FOR GOODNESS SAKE.  That’s a should. My training at the Western School of Feng Shui taught me a concept that works for me – there aren’t really any bad spaces; just less-than-excellent spaces.  So, I use that phrase a lot.

Yep, my career gua is partially in the yard.  I’ve got a flower bed with bird bath, flowers and evergreens, and a wind chime.  We have plans for some other enhancements in the future.

My wealth gua contains a bathroom.  [Don’t email me.  I know.  Less-than-excellent.  But as a Feng Shui practitioner, I know there are things I can do; and moving this bathroom would be a huge pain and maybe even stupid. And I am not going to move over it.]

Are there beautiful things I would love to have in my house?  Had my eye on a natural crystal or two?  Yes. But I also live with small clumsy people [cough cough kids] so sometimes practicality has to factor in.  How else can I do it?  You gotta be creative sometimes.

I have networking friends who have talked about meditation being really great first thing in the morning.  But with a feisty 6th grader who needs to get on the bus, that’s probably not going to happen at this stage of my life.  But sometime.

Would I love to have a rectangular house to make the bagua that much easier?  You bet.  But I don’t. I can still embrace where I live.

Do I wish the projects in my house were all done. Oh yeah.  But they aren’t…Yet.  It’s a work in progress.

For me, I love my 2 acres.  I love the nature that comes to my door such as deer (my spirit animal), birds, rabbits and squirrels; and just recently, I saw a bald eagle on the lake as I was driving down the block from my house out of the neighborhood.  Swoon. These things make me happy. 

So, today, I’m doing Feng Shui my way.

I am taking a few minutes [after mowing – sigh – and before the emails begin] to clean out that bird bath and weed my career.  I am going to fill the bird feeders that sit outside my Fame and Reputation that I see from my desk; wildlife and animals are terrific fire element enhancements.    And that’s ok.  I will do what I can and what is best for ME and my career, right now, today.

That is good Feng Shui. To me and for me.

Different than yours?  Maybe.

But that’s ok.  It really is.



 Change happens. Embrace it or move with it finding ways to adapt.

Weeds do grow (faster than should be allowed). Pull them out.

Things break. Fix them.

Being vulnerable and messy is ok.

It’s not a one and done…remind your clients of this too! Feng Shui is a living, breathing love of our lives.  You gotta keep working it.

Above all…

Give yourself grace.  Showing your scars demonstrates that you know what you are talking about.  You’ve lived it.  You live it.  You love it.  Tell your story.


Deb Dermyer Lamb is a wife, mother, feng shui practitioner, and still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.  She’s been the office administrator for the IFSG since 2007 and loves, loves, loves that part of her life.  IFSG members are everything to her.  She’s also the current IFSG CEO, since 2017, and previously served on the Board of Directors from 2006 through 2011.

Give her a shout if you have questions about the IFSG, or want to share your messes.

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design: a strange term. Hmmmm, just like feng shui!

So What is Biophilic Design?

And they are related in another way, too. They both are about connecting humanity to the natural world.

First, the word biophilia was a term coined by psychologist Erich Fromm in the 1960’s (and later explored by biologist E.O. Wilson in the 1980’s). It refers to our love of life.

We feel good in nature and many architects and designers started taking note that growing mental illness in modern society may be linked somehow to our soulless modern buildings and environments.

But rather than studying the ancient principles of feng shui, they created a new discipline.

But that’s okay, I’m not that frustrated (smile).

As long as the end goal is the same: that we create environments that not only look good, but feel good!

Biophilic design is backed up by environmental psychology, which studies the impact buildings have on human behavior.

It has been found that healthy human development (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) is contingent upon access to the natural world.

Now, many buildings and communities are being built with biophilic design principles. Hotels, healthcare facilities, even corporate offices and housing developments have incorporated elements of nature into the design of their spaces.

So even if they don’t call it “feng shui”, that’s okay, as long as we are being nourished in our spaces and respect Mother Earth!

Since I’ve been studying biophilic design, I’ve created my own list of principles connected to each of the Five Elements of nature: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. I wrote about this in my book, Creating Luminous Spaces.


Additional reads if you want to learn more:

  • Biophilia Hypothesis, by E.O. Wilson
  • Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, by Stephen Kellert, Judith Heerwagen, Martin Mador

Photo credits: Pixabay.com, WikiImages – Yale University’s Kroon Hall, built with biophilic design and LEED


Maureen Calamia is author of Creating Luminous Spaces: Use the Five Elements for Balance and Harmony in Your Home and in Your Life (Conari Press). She is also founder of the Re-Nature philosophy based on the premise that we need to restore nature back into our lives, our homes, and spirits.


Learn about my NEW Biophilic Design Course that starts October 2019!

It’s a 6-week Live Online Video Class.

Learn more CLICK here. 



Fame and Reputation Gua – A Case Study

Thinking about how the world sees you – your reputation in the world – the growth of your business – your name and visibility? Then consider the Feng Shui gua of Fame and Reputation.  Enhance anytime you want to boost this energy and build your credentials and personal strength. Read a case study, by Feng Shui professional, Carmel Malone-Quane.

The fame and reputation sector of the ba gua is located in the back center of the home. (facing the home at the front door, laying out a tic-tac-toe grid on your building.  Click here to read more about the ba gua.)  It has to do with being your authentic self in the world. When this gua is activated, one can live with clarity and integrity and thus truly live their best life. It is associated with the element of fire, animal energy, the number 9 and triangular shapes.

The Case Study…Fame and Reputation with Windows , by Carmel Malone-Quane

Carmel Malone-Quane had a client who wanted to attract new windows and also mentioned her eyes were gritty. Carmel immediately recognized this was an issue with the Fame gua, as it relates to the eyes, and windows represent our vision.

The Fame and Reputation gua of the home included a bathroom. Fame is represented by the fire element; whereas the bathroom is a strong water element, so having a bathroom here was a bit of a challenge. The client was on a fixed income and didn’t expect any new windows anytime soon. She needed to apply for a grant and had previously received funds, so had little hope she would get new windows. Believing the money will come once the right intentions are places, Carmel suggested to her client to place intentions to get the money for the windows.

Specific recommendations included:

  • Clean her current windows as they were a little dusty.
  • Place some earth elements in the bathroom to dam the water, she liked shells and stones.
  • Add a plant in a red pot, which represents the Wood Element, to feed the fire element of this gua.
  • Bring in some red color, here we added a lovely red floral blind.
  • The client reinforced her intent and the let go of any attachment to the outcome.

All of the adjustments worked seamlessly with her design and were easy to implement.

The Results…

Approximately two months later the client received a letter, out-of-the-blue, stating she was getting new windows.

Her eyes improved almost immediately.

Fame and Reputation Case Study, Carmel Malone-Quane

This is the power of our intent and adding some feng shui adjustments to our space to attract what we want.


Carmel Malone-Quane is a feng shui consultant and wellness coach who works with women to transform their physical environment to create more time and freedom. She is an entrepreneur and mom herself with a background in nursing, so she knows how challenging it can be for women who are juggling it all.  She is also on the IFSG Board of Directors.  Read more about Carmel.  

Energize Self-Knowledge Area to Receive New Insights and Life Guidance

It’s back-to-school time. Get back into learning by activating your knowledge and self-cultivation gua!

Self Knowledge reflection, image by Katy Belcher
The self-knowledge area in the front left corner of the home (facing it from the outside) deepens clarity and insight about life purpose. If balanced, its energy allows for wisdom and insight to flow into life. It also encourages contemplation, which is vital in today’s hectic world. The element of this area is Earth since it brings nourishment as well as grounding into our lives. A specific symbol is mountain as a place where people have been going for ages to still their minds and seek wisdom.

Some easy ways to enhance this gua include:

  1. Remove all clutter from the desk (living room), closet and dresser (bedroom). Things you do not use reduce your clarity in life and might create stagnation or even blockages.
  2. Install a wall light above the desk. Lights are great energizers both in reality as well as symbolically.
  3. Place a fresh planted orchid in a blue pot – a fresh plant brings new vitality and chi into this area. An orchid in particular with its rich blossoms symbolically represents rich and blossoming wisdom and insight. A blue color is associated with the Self-Knowledge and if possible should be prominent in this area.
  4. Knowledge and Self Cultivation, Kelly Brito image sourceDisplay a few inspirational books on a desk – books are great symbols of wisdom. Preferably, display only books which are personally meaningful to you and which you regularly read and/or refer to.
  5. Display photo(s) of a wise person in a blue frame – typical wise people displayed are Buddha, Dalai Lama, Gandhi, motivational speakers as well as grandparents. Ideally on a desk or above the desk.
  6. Display artwork showing an image of a beach and/or water lily – the beach is a symbol of a quiet place and water lilies represent awakening wisdom. Both of these images are great for Self-Knowledge Area.


Blanka Vun Kannon is an Advanced Practitioner of Interior Alignment® the Feng Shui and Space Clearing School founded by Denise Linn. She is owner of Blanka Vun Kannon Feng Shui and founded The School of Harmony in her home country of Czech Republic.  Read more about Blanka.

How to Use Directions in Feng Shui

On a recent site visit with a new client, I pulled out my luo pan and began to take directions. She said, “what is that for?!” Clients are great teachers. They challenge your assumptions, your knowledge and the application of your art. My client’s question about why I use a compass was a seemingly simple one, but the answer required an in-depth, complex and layered understanding of how the bagua, or “energy map” developed over time.  Find out more from Katherine Graham.

Compass Feng Shui, Katherine GrahamYes, you can use the luo pan to find your “wealth corner,” however the overarching reason why a bagua is so powerful in feng shui is that is can accurately determine and depict the type of energy a given space is likely to have. If you know what type of energy you are dealing with you can then manipulate that energy in order to live a full, balanced and harmonious life.

The compass takes feng shui beyond the powerful tools of symbolism and positive intention to a technical level that allows the practitioner to manipulate energy that already exists. Energy based on how the home/lot is situated, how the layout of the home is arranged in relation to the compass direction, which in turn is impacted by surrounding landforms and man-made forms along with seasonal and astrological influences.

Sound complicated? It’s actually quite straightforward but first requires us to go back to the roots of feng shui, to nearly 5,000 years ago when Taoist Masters lived in the mountains of China. There, all things “above” (kan) and “below” (yu) were carefully studied and considered by these ancient observers- the access, flow and quality of water where they lived, the sun’s path over the land, the type of protection available through natural structures such as mountains and hills and how people and their homes were ultimately affected. For many years such observations were compiled without any formal conclusions being drawn. Observations that were then passed down for generations from Master to disciple in order to gain a greater and deeper understanding of the self, the world and beyond.

The information they gathered eventually gave them greater control over their daily lives, offering practical and useful outlines on how to choose the best lots for crops with easy access to fresh, flowing water and where to place their hearth and door based on the morning sun. These observations provided reliable, usable statistics such as hearths placed in the East were also kept warmer longer by the sun, requiring less fuel. Others were applied to the layout of homes and domestic tasks were arranged accordingly, such as having the front doors facing south in order to receive the most abundant light. This then dictated that public areas, where visitors were received and where the most active chores were done, should be placed in the front of the home, with the back part of the home, since it was quieter and dimmer with less direct sunlight, reserved for private uses and rest.

Enhanced livability through proper placement based on these ancient set of statistics is why feng shui is known as the art of placement. It is also why people relate feng shui with increased health, wealth and abundance. Living in accordance with the natural variations of sunlight, wind, water and harnessing readily available resources naturally led to better, easier, more functional work lives and less stress, which fostered deeper human connections and an increasingly well-rounded (or, following the shape of the bagua, we could say a more “well-squared”) and fulfilling existence.

The magnetic compass was then invented for ancient Chinese to more accurately determine directions for proper placement of homes and burial sites. Through the use of this at-the-time revolutionary tool, Compass School feng shui was born. The goals of Compass School are to assess and determine the quality of energy, or chi, based on compass directions along with specialized formulas that locate and predict the impact of known astrological influences over a certain period of time. Compass School took feng shui from a strictly geomantic and somewhat rudimentary art of positioning homes, burial sites and hearths to a clear and concise technical medium that can better predict the quality of energy in a given space.

There are times, however, when the compass can only tell you so much. Formulas cannot account for landforms, trees, walls, buildings, dumpsters, crazy neighbors or many other factors that influence the quality of energy. For instance, you may be shown a floor plan for a south facing home and envision that it has abundant natural light in the front of the home only to visit the lot and discover that all the sunlight coming from the south is blocked by a massive condo building directly across the street. Your South facing home is now cold and dark most of the day, until the light hits the West side of the lot. This is just one example but highlights the importance to take all factors into account and not get stuck on compass directions alone. It is but one piece of the puzzle. It is one layer in the holistic art of Compass School feng shui.

If you do not currently use a compass and are interested in applying compass directions to your practice, I would begin with first simply observing the sun. Then, buy several compasses and keep them on you. Get to know the directions in your own home and compare/observe the quality of light, how it changes throughout the day and throughout the year. Notice whether your layout is conducive to the type of natural lighting available- are your private areas more yin, are your work areas more yang? Could your layout be improved to harness more natural light?

Once you observe your own home, move on to the places you work, eat, the local park, places you travel to. Over time you will develop an internal compass, or what I call inner GPS (“Great Positioning Skill”) and be able to pretty accurately predict the type of lighting/energy you are likely to encounter in any given space. You can then put your observations to work and create feng shui floor plans and baguas based on compass directions that then accurately relate to their ruling elements. There is poetry in the directions of the bagua, a symphony of elemental creation that circles around ever so satisfactorily.

North is watery, dark and cold, asleep for the winter, where the energy moves inward to be wrapped in a blanket of quiet repose, moving on to the NE where quiet contemplation leads to inner strength and personal development, ready to bloom in the spring. Winter then thaws and melts, nourishing the eternal wood element of the East, where the sun rises daily delivering the promise of fresh starts, upward growth and the “rebirth” of spring.

This wood then becomes established, tapping into the deep resources of water beneath the ground, representing wealth and abundance attributed to the SE. This old wood eventually becoming the fuel for the fire that burns deep within- the creative life force that brings life, light, fame and accomplishments of the bright southern sky. This deep, inner fire cooling to create the Earth’s crust, grounding us, nurturing us in the SW, where love and relationships creates the cornerstone of our existence.

Going deeper, within the earth metal is created, bringing strength, precision and clarity of purpose into the west where we cannot let the sun set on humanity before creating the next generation- our children, our legacy, our ideals and creative expression. And this legacy, now nearly coming full circle in the NW, where it is protected by the patriarch, our spiritual protectors and other helpful people in our life, settling back into cooler, autumn days when it is time to once again harvest and protect our assets in order to make it through the upcoming winter.

Through studying the qualities of the feng shui directions, you will uncover the deep and meaningful beauty encapsulated in the bagua- the flow of it, the progression of time and whereby one element creates the other, one season turning into the next, each expression nourished by its neighbor which in turn empowers the next.

So you see, it’s more than just south, east, north or west. The compass directions encompass (pun intended) a feeling, an energy, an emotion, a movement, a season, a quality. Directions determine our specific place within the grander scheme of things, describe an angle of light, place the natural progression of the sun and the seasons that we experience outside, but also speak to the fluctuations of light and darkness we experience within and the season of life we happen to find ourselves in. Progression through time, your life’s legacy, the importance of creating your own path- are all determined by the direction you set yourself out on.


Katherine GrahamKatherine Graham is a Feng Shui consultant trained in several schools of Feng Shui and is also a certified color consultant serving the Atlanta, Georgia area.  Read more about Katherine.

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