Holiday Feng Shui

Happy Holidays!!  Have you ever wondered why these holidays – the season of Christmas and Hanukkah – feel so special?

Here is one reason. Whichever holiday(s) you celebrate, the décor that you add to your homes is a Feng Shui enhancement. Impossible you say – I don’t have any of that in my house. Well, yes you do. Feng Shui is about energy and from this perspective the lights, trees, decorations, symbols and color are additional energy, or chi, that we add to our lives. This additional energy increases our enjoyment of our homes and enhances our lives during a celebratory time of year.

Lights are fire, literally and symbolically, and fire is transforming according to Five Element theory. The five elements or transformative powers – water, wood, fire, earth and metal – are used in Chinese medicine and acupuncture as well as Feng Shui. Putting lights on a Christmas tree represents the creative element cycle because wood (the tree) creates fire (the lights). For myself, I love candles and use them on my Christmas tree in addition to lights. The fire element relates to our fame and reputation; on a spiritual plane it symbolizes enlightenment.

Wood is the element that relates to our families. Be as expansive as you wish and include friends, community, or universal oneness in your family circle. Wood additionally represents the gua (area) of abundance and blessings of all kinds.

The Hanukkah menorah brings light to homes as the symbol of a miracle. The tradition is to light the Shamash or helper candle (raised candle in the center) each night of Hanukkah and to use it in lighting the other eight – one the first night, two the second, and so forth. This symbolizes increasing light through the eight days of Hanukkah. Here too fire symbolizes enlightenment.

Traditional Christmas colors of red and green also represent the elements fire and wood. Trees decorated in lights, bows and balls of a single color could be interpreted as representing a specific gua. For example, pink symbolizes the Marriage gua and I have seen pink trees.

Traditional Hanukkah colors – silver and blue – represent metal and water in feng shui. Metal creates water in the creative cycle of elements. Metal is the element relating to the gua for our Children and our Creativity – both gifts from the universe and sources of joy. It likewise represents the Helpful People gua – philanthropy and being of service as well as receiving assistance and blessings from others. Blue also represents the Wisdom and Spirituality gua.

Holidays and our homes are full of myriad symbols. Seen through Feng Shui eyes, with gratitude, these symbols, colors, and décor all present a creative flow of joy and blessings in our lives.

 

 

Peggy Cross is a Virginia based Feng Shui professional with decades of experience.

Selecting Colors for your Holiday Decor

Shelley Nordlund of Transformations for Interiors, discusses how to incorporate and maximize the use of color when decorating for the holidays.  No matter your preference, she has an idea for you.

There are a lot of emotional responses to the holidays: some people love it and look forward to it returning every year.  Some people, however, have many memories of family arguments, experiencing feelings of deficit (lacking money, energy, time, etc.) being lonely, and feeling some sense of despair. 

In the northern hemisphere, Christmas and Channukah, for example, occur very near Winter Solstice: the darkest days of the year. Many people include candles – that warm glow that brings a bit of cheer to each of us. In terms of feng shui, because it’s dark, cold and damp weather in the U.S., it’s considered the most Yin time. It makes sense that we combine the Yin time of winter with bright colors, celebration, and soccer or football games. No surprise that for some, it’s a contradiction, and for others it’s a welcome relief. 

Colors

 The traditional colors used in the Christmas season are a combination of red and green. Both are more Yang colors:  green being more springtime and wood element color, and red being an active and fire element color. For some, it may bring up feelings of anger and frustration, or even depression. Let’s think about using some alternatives to the “traditional” colors; you can always celebrate using colors that better match your temperament, or the nature of those with whom you’ll celebrate these days.  There are no hard or fast rules.

Using Color in Your Decorations

You could bring in white and metallics if you wish to bring a bit of calm and decorum to a gathering. It feels a bit more formal one might say, and is beautiful with the use of candles and white lights. These are the colors of the metal element in feng shui, and you just might find there is more harmony and less arguments when you sit down at dinner.

You could bring in aqua and turquoise to lighten the feeling of water, cold temperatures and the moisture of winter. Add a bit of the metal element (white and silver, for instance) with these colors for a spiritual yet calming influence.

Christians use purple (or blue) and pink in their Advent candles, symbolizing wealth,(or knowledge and wisdom for blue) and harmony for partnerships in feng shui.

If you love green, then consider a lime green combined with the metallic combinations to create an energetic yet sophisticated affect.  Using pears, limes and green apples amongst your decorations can help to calm it down a bit with an earth element. The earth element helps us achieve harmony by serving others. You can add purple for a nice combination and more abundance in your life.

If you can’t live without red at Christmas, then you can ground it with black or grey and add some white, silver or gold to give it sparkle.  You may find it causes a higher level of energy for everyone at your gatherings, however, so be prepared. 

If you love the next two months, then by all means enjoy the social gatherings and fun that the season brings. If you don’t, then pare down your “gotta do” list and concentrate on the positive. The holidays, which are upon us, can be a bit calmer and restful if that’s the way you’d like them to be. One way or another, may the days ahead help you remember that those you love are as unique as you are.

Happy holidays, one and all!

 

About the Author, Shelley Nordlund

Shelley is the only award winning Seattle-based interior designer who expertly uses feng shui the art of placement in her designs. Her company Transformations for Interiors works with home & business owners to update remodel and/or build their spaces.

Decorating for the Holidays – Shifting Perspective and Leaning in

Hear from Angela Vernola, how to transform your holiday season and decorating, through perspective and Feng Shui, into a season of empowerment and careful intention.

I used to work with a woman, who in her sixties and nearly retired, had given up on decorating for Christmas in her own home.  She was divorced, her kids were grown, and she lived alone. Her life was mostly work and not much time for anything else.

She worked long hours at her job and was too tired and exhausted by the time she got home to even think about anything other than sleep.  “It’s too much work,” she said, “to go into the attic, and drag out the tree, and pull all the ornaments out, and make space for everything, and rearrange furniture, and my kids are all grown and why bother, and and and..…”

It wasn’t even my home, but it literally hurt my heart to hear her go on and on about how she “just wasn’t going to do it.”  As a Feng Shui Consultant, part of me wondered though, if it was too painful for her to pull out all the memories of the past.

Decorating for the holidays is for sure nostalgic for most of us, but for others, the pain of the memories and the process of taking everything out itself is unbearable.

I can totally relate to those feelings as well on a multitude of levels.   The first Christmas after I was separated from my now ex husband, was probably one of the hardest for me.  Even I didn’t want to unpack all of the Christmas memories.  Why, would I want to voluntarily evoke those painful memories and be reminded of a time in my life that didn’t exist anymore.  I get it.  I TOTALLY get it.  But then there is my daughter who was only 9 years old at the time.  I had to keep the magic alive for her.  It was one of her favorite times of the year, and I couldn’t let my pain rob her of her happiness.

I drudged through it, box after box.  I literally had to push myself through, pick myself up off the floor, maybe even with a scraper at times.   While pulling out the ornaments, I would  secretly run to the bathroom to cry sometimes, not wanting her to see me, then come back out, and feel the raw emotions; ornament, after ornament, after ornament.  I needed what felt hard to hurry up and move through me in order to be able move on from the pain.

But I slowed the hurrying and felt what was hard.  I allowed the memories to sink in.  I was setting time aside to do just this.  Not only was it was sacred, but it was an important part of my healing.  I was grieving and I was releasing.  I didn’t just “let go.”  I was letting go.  This allowing of my emotions didn’t (and still doesn’t) always come easily.  But without me going through the motions, I knew there was no moving forward.

Around the same time I was processing all of this, my sister talked me into attending a workshop at Omega up in Rhinebeck, NY, given by a man named Panache Desai.  “It will change you,” she said.

She was right.  My biggest takeaway, and there were MANY, was that our emotions are just energy in motion wanting to be expressed.  When we don’t allow them to move through us fluidly, they cement themselves deep within our bodies creating sickness and dis-ease.  Hmmmmmm…..feeling and releasing? (Healthy)  Or neglecting and cementing? (Disease.)

Easy to see how powerful this lesson is right?

Now enter the Feng Shui part.

Feng Shui isn’t just about moving a piece of furniture and feeling better, or setting up the Christmas tree and feeling the magic in the air.  (Although it can be!).

It’s about looking at things differently through the eyes of energy, and EVERYTHING is energy.  The things we own are energy, the thoughts we think are energy, and the emotions we feel are all energy.

When you look at something in your space, does it uplift you?  That is the ultimate Feng Shui goal, to uplift you.   When you feel better in your space, it can be life changing, on a multitude of levels.  Unfortunately though, many of us hold onto things that energetically, quite honestly, deplete and drain the life out of us.  If there was an energy sucking vampire, we’d all be goners, but I’ll save that for another article.

When was the last time you took a good look around you and truly paid attention to the things you own?  Is your basement or garage full of stuff?  Are you closets and attics jam packed?  Yes?  With what?  Are you at the point where you need to ask yourself if you are living in a home or a storage unit?  (Thank one of my teachers, Tisha Morris, for that jewel of wisdom.). I don’t know about you, but I like living in my home.  Forget the storage unit!

Out of sight may be out of mind for some people, but out of sight is never out of your energy field.  And that’s where we need to start paying attention.  If our homes are a mirror of ourselves, and this is a cardinal rule of Feng Shui, then what are we reflecting out into the world?  What is our home reflecting onto us?  Are we able to become who we want to be if much of what we hold onto is from a time in our life that we are trying to move on from?  (Thank you both Karen Rauch Carter and Tisha Morris again for opening my eyes to this.)

But what if what we are trying to move on from is heavier than a bunch of ornaments that remind someone of a marriage gone bad?  And I’m not making light of what divorce feels like, because that shit is hard.  But there is harder.  Wayyyyyy harder.  I’m talking unfathomable hard.

I asked my friends through a Facebook post to share with me what it was they were dreading about this holiday season and why.  It was specifically for the purpose of this article and to learn how people felt while unpacking the memories of their pasts.  My initial thought was that everyone experiences a range of emotions when they hold an item from the past.  How great would it be, if by sharing some of these answers,  that other people who read this, could know that they are not alone in what they feel and face in their own lives.  What if these answers could help facilitate other peoples healing when they pull out their own decorations, or recipe boxes, or holiday tablecloths?  

The first answer I received was, “My mom died in early December, so that adds a layer of sadness to the holidays. She loved Christmas time and always decorated, made cookies and hosted the holiday dinners. I often stress myself out trying to live up to the holidays she created for my sister and I.”

And this next one I’m sure many people can relate to. “I have a personalized ornament with a photo of my dog, Marley, who passed last year, that will be tough.”

But then there are things we can’t all relate to.  Bonnie, a friend I grew up with, lost everything when her house burned down two years ago. “Not having all my handmade ornaments and all the special ornaments the kids have made and collected over the years makes me really sad. I dread pulling out what little I have but we will work on making new memories.” 

Another friend Lynn, who also went through a divorce wrote, “I miss not having my family together, especially during the holidays! It’s also hard not having the two most amazingly awesome supportive giving parents a girl could ask for around during the holidays.”

I was left speechless when I read what my childhood friend Tracy, mother of three beautiful sons, wrote.  Before sharing what she wrote, I should mention that her first born, Cole, died by suicide just shy of his twenty first birthday two years ago.   This will be her third Christmas without him. 

She wrote, “For me, the holidays will never be the same.  I used to love the songs.  I’d start playing Christmas music in my car as soon as Thanksgiving was over.  I can’t listen to it anymore.  It’s way too painful.  Instead of invoking sweet memories of Christmas past, it’s a stabbing reminder that the happy holidays enjoyed with my family will never be.  That I no longer have an intact family, and that my sweet Coley will never celebrate another Christmas on this earth.”  Tracy goes on to tell how she will never cut down another tree because Cole used to be the one who did that.  She bought her first fake tree for her other two boys after Cole died.  She goes on to say, “My tree used to be dressed in ornaments collected over the years – consisting primarily of ornaments the boys made and ornaments I bought for them or bought on our travels.  I haven’t been able to take those out.  Instead I bought a bunch of generic ornaments.  I’m thinking of opening the old box this year.  Feeling stronger than the past two Christmases.”

It would be wildly unfair for me, not only as a Feng Shui Consultant, but as a human being, to expect that a blanket “remedy” of doing something in your home could help everyone heal equally.   

If the holidays for you are hard, and holding an object from a time in your life, that ceases to exist anymore, evokes your own “layer of sadness,” or causes a “pang,” or feels “tough,” or even resonates as your own  “stabbing reminder,” then I offer you this;

Before pulling out your box of decorations, create a space for yourself that feels sacred.  Set yourself up for success. Help yourself tune into the present moment.  Breathe.  It’s important for us to ground ourselves before doing this to anchor our own energy into the here and now.  Objects from the past can pull you backwards, and if not careful, send you into a tailspin. (And for some,  the tailspin happens just at the thought of taking the box out, and, that’s OKAY.)  Even that is progress in my opinion. 

If it all feels like too much, then stop.  All I can ask is that you do is your best.  Like Don Miguel Ruiz says in one of my favorite books, The Four Agreements,  “Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, sef-abuse, and regret.”

Try awakening your senses by adding life to your surroundings with plants, or fresh cut flowers.  Do you have a favorite blanket you can open up and sit on for this process that feels soft to the touch?  Lay it out.  Do you have a favorite playlist you could listen to help you along?  Listen to it.  How about a candle to honor what you are doing.  Light it with intention to honor yourself and your loved ones whom you are missing.  Go slow.   Surrender to your feelings and allow yourself to cry.  Melt and release the cement inside of you.  Heal and repeat.  Ornament, after ornament, after ornament.

About the Author, Angela Vernola

Founder of Loving Karma, Feng Shui Consultant and Reiki Master Teacher. Member of the International Association of Reiki Professionals and the International Feng Shui Guild. Since 2018, I have been helping people create harmonious and healthy living spaces both internally and externally through the use of Feng Shui and Reiki principles.

Easing Your Holidays

It’s the holidays again! Time for getting together with family, enjoying the season, winding down from a busy year and taking time to reflect on one’s blessings. Right?

But the holidays can be an extremely stressful time fraught with big emotions, financial worries, and many other things that make the period between thanksgiving and the New Year uncomfortable or downright sad for many. We are fed a litany of picture-perfect expectations through advertising, social media and social pressure. And to say self-care is important at this time can sound trite when the issues around the holidays demand more than what a facial or a bubble bath can offer.

 

Easing Your Holidays from Charmaine Buskas

So here are a few feng shui suggestions to potentially ease the bumps one might experience during the holidays.

Let’s start with family. Where there is tension, disagreements or anything that makes a family gathering uncomfortable, the first place to look is in the family gua. Check for clutter is always my first suggestion. Clutter can confuse, complicate and undermine even the best of intentions. Clearing the clutter offers a metaphorical opening for clearing pathways of communication, openness and clarity with regard to family relations.

Second, I’d suggest putting up some art. If there isn’t a picture of your family all looking happy and engaged, try art. The family gua is represented by the color green and the element of wood. Look for a picture of a lush forest or a piece of art made from wood. It offers the motif of growth, abundance and strength. If green isn’t your thing, try to support the wood element in this gua with art that features the water element where blues, and blacks and wavy styles are present.

Lastly, intention is key. Set an intention for calm and peaceful interaction. Write your intention down on a piece of paper and give it up to the universe or higher powers to help and then place that intention in your helpful people gua. That is one way to manifest easier interactions with one’s family or in-laws.

Good luck and may your holiday season be happy and peaceful!

 

Article contributed by Charmaine Buskas, IFSG Board Member
Charmaine is a graduate of the Advanced Re-Nature Feng Shui program and started her feng shui studies at the Metropolitan Institute of Design in 2014. She worked previously as an economist for nearly 15 years in both the public and private sector Read more about Charmaine.

Yay, it’s the Holidays?

Yay, it’s the holidays…hip hip hooray…
Yay, it’s the holidayssigh…

The commercialism of all the holidays this time of year can bring about a sense of child-like wonder.  The joy and perfection shared on social media, television, and print gets us thinking.

But it’s not always the happy-happy-joy-joy you see portrayed.  Many don’t have the experience, that history; or they want to feel that way but the reality doesn’t hold up to the expectation.  Cue the letdown.

Whether you are anticipating the joy or dreading the doom, we have tips and ideas to help you manage your energy, your inner and outer Feng Shui, and make the most of this time of year.  Yes, it really is possible.  No matter where you are on the excitement spectrum.

We asked our members to share with us, what is your favorite Feng Shui tip for getting through the holiday season – including but not limited to family relationships, self care, decorating, travel, etc.  On everything from décor to time to expectations, we got some great advice!

Décor

“To save money and reduce the need for storage, I like to use pines and twigs from my garden. Then when the season is over, I can return them to mother nature. No storage is necessary. I also appreciate useful decorations, so I switch out pillows, throw blankets, placemats.  Hint: switch out pillowcases rather than the whole pillow, as it takes up less space when storing.”
Michele Heisler, Riverway Consulting

“The lights are my favorite, hanging on my balcony and inside my home, and candles on my tree, along with the traditional lights.   Above all else this fire energy raises the energy of an environment which is the intention.”
Peggy Cross, Transforming by Design

Simplification and Planning

“With everything from gifting to party planning to decorations, a minimalist “less is more” approach can ensure you maintain your sanity and focus on celebrating the season with inner peace and positivity.
Erin Bowers, The Happiest Camper Home

“Planning works well, a little every day.”
Carmel Malone-Quane, Create with Carmel

Intention and Self Care

“Take time for yourself, take time to stop and be still. Even if it’s a five-minute meditation or a full hour of yoga or anything else where you find peace. Find time to rest whether it’s daily or weekly but make sure it’s a dedicated time that’s added to your calendar along with your other tasks and to do lists to help you get through the busy holiday season.”
Marina Umali, Marina V Design Studio

“Simplify and Intention and lots and lots of meditation. Keeping one’s expectations in check is also helpful.”
Charmaine Buskas, Five Elements Feng Shui

“Don’t forget to rest and rejuvenate in this busy holiday season – maintain a meditative space to escape to, and don’t be afraid to say “no” when your body feels taxed, or say your goodbyes (“see you laters”) earlier in the evening than you would have previously. Winters are for hibernating and resting our bodies, take it slow and nourish your health.

“I [also] love the idea to highlight music’s influence during the holidays. I always reconnect with the benefits of music in the winter, and then I seem to forget about it in the summer when I’m out and about more. It’s definitely a time for inward connection.”
Lisa M. Alban, Cloud 9 Feng Shui

“My favorite holiday tip is to rethink the ‘should.’ A lot of stress is created by all of the pressure we put on ourselves. Instead ask is this something that I’d like to do or I could do if I find I have the time.”
Lisa Law, Lisa Law Feng Shui

Gratitude and Love

“Be thankful for what you DO have, and for the people who have supported and loved you through the years.”
Charmaine Buskas, Five Elements Feng Shui

“Practice and share in personal gratitude practices with your friends and family members. Pay attention to friends, family members and neighbors who may be struggling in the winter (depression, lack of heat, difficulty getting out and about). Pay a visit to those who have hidden away – open their blinds, awaken qi, and welcome in nourishing energy.”
Lisa M. Alban, Cloud 9 Feng Shui

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