Jazzing up the Feng Shui Scene


Marjorie sharing her passion and energy with humankind. image above: uptowncollective.com, below: flickr.com

Marjorie sharing her passion and energy with humankind. image above: uptowncollective.com, below: flickr.com

Quite often, I get prospects who come to me freaking out about the Feng Shui of their spaces. “Omg, I’m in big trouble. My bedroom is (fill adjective in here), my stuff is (fill your personal word here), and my door is facing (noun here) and I know it’s bad. Really baaaad.”

Let me tell you, I usually don’t like to prescribe to the panic. I will calm my clients by letting them know that although they can read about Feng Shui in books and learn the basics, it’s important to know that we don’t, and can’t, all fall into Feng Shui cookie-cutter categories (you knew that right?)

I just visited a home in Morningside Heights in Manhattan. The layout was far from perfect. There were actually some Feng Shui no-no’s that I saw. But taking into consideration the situation, I didn’t worry.

What I have learned living in NY is that no space is perfect but far from it and all we can do is make the best of what we have by adding and enhancing what we can and subtracting the not-so-great elements.

Take Marjorie for example. This talented, generous and beautiful spirit opens her doors to visitors every Sunday and treats them to a jazz performance that is as spirited and uplifting as the musicians. There’s even a granola bar and OJ break served with a smile. And if anyone knows Marjorie’s story, it’s not a very happy one but she consciously chooses to change the energy of her home which translated to changing the energy of her life.

And she does that with music. Marjorie shows us that the vibrational energy of music can profoundly change the energy of a space in mere seconds. With Feng Shui, we tend to think that our situation can only be changed with things we can only see with the naked eye. But the truth is, sometimes Feng Shui vibrational “other” remedies like music can pack as much of a punch as finally chucking your inherited grandma’s crochet collection.

Yes this happens every Sunday in a NYC apartment. image: bigapplejazz

Yes this happens every Sunday in a NYC apartment. image: bigapplejazz

So the next time you or your space is needing a shift, take a cue from Marjorie’s Parlor, crank up the tunes and NOT SEE but FEEL your space energetically lift and brighten. 

The Reason You’re Feeling “Off”

Sometimes it's necessary to be here but don't stay too long. image: fierceinthecity

Sometimes it’s necessary to be here but don’t stay too long. image: fierceinthecity

Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving. That’s been my mantra this past week and let me tell you, it’s hasn’t been working. I’ve had projects to complete, calls to make, places to be but I realized that the more I kept myself in action, the less I was getting done. I kept trying to tackle things on my to-do list and was experiencing paralyzing resistance, hitting walls at each turn.

Frustration was setting in. It was getting serious.

After terrorizing a few of those close to me (you know who you are), I sat down to think about what was going on and why I was feeling so “off.” The Super moon last week may have added to the drama but I knew there was more.

What was going on? I had a plan of what I needed to do but couldn’t get started. I had time in my schedule but ended the day not having completed what was important. And then it hit me. My self-care routine had broken down. To add more time in my schedule (or so I thought), I skipped yoga, shrugged off meditation and mindlessly devoured “fast” foods. When a self-care routine breaks down, the rest of your world starts slowly and quietly unraveling.

When self-care rituals don’t exist or start breaking down, you feel more tired, isolated and disconnected. Bad moods set in for no reason. Arguments ensue. You forget appointments and where you left your keys. Clutter piles up. When that connection to yourself is gone, disconnection to everything is inevitable. Adding back a self-care routine is vital and fortunately, easy enough to do.

Here are some self-care tips to start making today:

  • Agua por favor - Drink 3x more water than you are drinking now because you know you are dehydrated
  • Work those lungs - If you live alone, as soon as you wake up, scream out loud how you want your day to make you feel – happy, relaxed, supported. If you live with someone or have close quarter neighbors, you can also whisper them with conviction! In Feng Shui, your level of joy is connected to your lungs so take a deep breath and let it out!
  • Be your own cheerleader - Before you go to bed, write a happy message to yourself on a post-it note and stick it on your front door. You just made yourself smile before you leave your home the following day
  • Eat something unprocessed and/or uncooked during the day. Whole, simple foods will make your body feel like a million bucks
  • Get moving - Because physical activity resets EVERYTHING
  • Make your bed - You won’t believe the effects this small gesture will have on your bedroom and life. If you don’t believe me, download my ebook for Feng Shui Tips for a Sexy and Harmonious Bedroom.

Start integrating some of these self-care tips today to get back on track. Take that small first step and start humming at a higher, more beautiful vibration and watch your connections instantly re-appear.

Time for Some Bright Ideas

lightbulb FengShuiCreative

Bright ideas sometimes need our help to appear. image: pickthebrain.com

On a recent visit to The Container Store (yup Feng Shui consultants need to organize their stuff too), one of the employees struck up a pleasant conversation. I’ve changed her name to Linda for storytelling purposes. I encourage you to read the post to the end to find out the importance of cultivating your personal knowledge today.

Me: You really do a great job at packing (as she adeptly bags several items with astonishing ability)
Linda: You should see my deep freezer (I kid you not, these were her EXACT words)
Me: I’m envious. Everything in my home has a place, although my fridge is always a bit messy but I’m ok with it (acceptance is key)
Linda: We all have one spot, don’t we? For me it’s my shoes.
Me: Is that so? (Feng Shui ears perking up) And where do you keep your shoes?
Linda: In my closet
Me: And where is your closet?
Linda: In my bedroom (eyeing me suspiciously)
Me: I’m only asking because I’m a Feng Shui Consultant. Can you draw me a quick sketch of where that closet is in your room? (one of my fave things to do – sprinkle Feng Shui nuggets to unsuspecting yet willing bystanders….)
Linda: I would love to!

She proceeds to sketch her bedroom on the back of a receipt and hands it to me. I take a quick glance first at the line behind me – good, no grumbling customers waiting to pay – then glance at her sketch. I see where her aforementioned troubled shoes are living.

Me: In your work and/or personal life, is there something that you need to work on, study for or get more training? Is there something that you want to get more knowledge about in your life?
She brightens up. Yes absolutely! I’ve been wanting to take sketching classes for years. Interior design sketching, like what I just did for you but I just can’t seem to get myself to look for a class. It’s been really bugging me. For years.

Bingo. The floorplan gives it all away again. 

I tell her about an interiors sketching summer class at the local art school. She is brimming with excitement and decides to register (and clean out her shoe closet) that evening. Why am I telling this story? Because often, we don’t take the time to consider how we can improve our personal and professional situations by looking at where we need to get more training/knowledge/introspection.

On the Feng Shui Bagua, there is a section that is dedicated to “Knowledge or Spirituality/Self Reflection.” It’s located at the bottom left corner of the Feng Shui Bagua or compass. Follow the directions to find your Knowledge section in your space. Don’t be scared off by the words “Spirituality” or “Self Reflection.” This just means how well you know yourself and how much time you take to develop personal and professional skills.

How well are you doing in this area of your life? image: Feng Shui Creative

Align the bottom of this Bagua with the door of your space. The Knowledge section is the bottom left hand corner of your space. How well are you doing in this area of your life? image: Feng Shui Creative

Once you find the area, see what is physically going on. Many clients will surprisingly find that this is the area they dump alot of their “junk” and wonder why they can’t seem to focus or advance on projects. Or they have a leak that they put off fixing and it so happens that they are having a challenging time studying for an exam. Or it’s a dark corner that never gets looked at and they feel stuck and unmotivated. Do any of these scenarios resonate with you? If so, it’s time to clean out those cobwebs, get out of the dark and shine a light very brightly in your Knowledge area. And I mean literally. If that area is dark, get a lamp!

I admit, it’s a very un-Western way to achieve goals – “encouraging and allowing” as opposed to “doing.”  But you’ll see that examining your Knowledge area along with energizing your “Helpful People” area of your space will have an enormous impact on moving toward your goals. So go on, be a Know-it-All for once. You never know what surprises it will bring!


Men are to Mars as Women are to Venus Yet…

Asking for help should not be an ancient secret . image: panicdoctor.com

Asking for help should not be an ancient secret. image: panicdoctor.com

This past weekend, I went on an all women retreat. I was showered with support and inspiration and I came home feeling like a million bucks, ready to take on the world. But let me be clear about something. I’m not normally one to go on these kinds of things but what Feng Shui has brought to my attention as a Westerner is that we don’t ask for help as much as we could or should. If you think about it, Asian and various other cultures create their communities around extended family and friends. Need someone to watch your kid? Covered. Need some advice? Got it. Run out of salt? Just ask.

As a woman, it may be easier to ask for advice or to rely on our friends for support. Personally, I find it more challenging to ask for help in my professional life than in my personal life. Who wants to look “incompetent” or “weak” in the work arena? I’m sure this rings even truer for men. They’re told: Be self sufficient. Suck it up. Figure it out. Don’t let them see you sweat.

When is all this madness going to stop? Well, as usual, I have some ideas about it.

In Feng Shui, there is a section of the Bagua (a.k.a. the Feng Shui compass, see image below) called the “Helpful People” or “Benefactors” section. I know, hard to believe since we are not a society conditioned to ask for help. But let me repeat this, the Chinese have a WHOLE section of the Bagua dedicated to Helpful People/Benefactors. That’s right, whether you are a man or a woman, it is not frowned upon the ask for help. When I reveal this to clients, there are varied reactions. Confusion. Amusement. Disbelief. Relief.

Asking for help is like developing a muscle. It may not be easy at first but with repeated effort, it will become second nature, allowing you to reap great benefits and create a supportive community where you need it. You may even find out that others were looking for the same but were not willing or able to take that first step.

Align this with the door to the room to find your Benefactors area. Image: Feng Shui Creative

Align the bottom of  this Bagua with the door of your space. The Benefactors section is the bottom right hand corner of your space. Image: Feng Shui Creative

Here are some tips for bringing more Helpful People into your life where you may need it:

1. Clean it up! If your Helpful People/Benefactors section is a mess, you gotta take care of it. Nobody’s gonna help you if you can’t get your ahem, stuff together. So start tossing, shredding, packing. You need to make room to allow the help to come in.

2. Set it up. If you lean toward the spiritual and have an altar, think about setting up your altar in your Benefactors section of the room. If an altar is not your thing, think about putting up an image of someone who has supported or inspired you in the past such as a parent, mentor, etc. You can also put an image of a person you don’t know personally. I won’t tell you how many times I have seen images of Steve Jobs in the Benefactors area. It runs the gamut folks.

3. Be creative. You can apply the Bagua to any area. Therefore, your Benefactors section can be where you choose - in your bedroom, your cubicle, even your desk. Find the lower right hand corner of any of those spaces and put something that represents Helpful People there. Be inventive. If it’s your desk, you can tape an inspirational quote in that area from someone you admire. The point is that when you see what you have set up, you will be reminded that you are not alone, opening up the path for help to come your way.

4. Organize a Mentoring/Buddy community. At work, organize a mentoring event then set up the brainstorming activities in what section of the room? Yup you guessed it, the Helpful People section. In your personal life, gather a group of friends to help each other out. Are you good at organizing? Help someone clean out their garage. Are you a tech geek? Help them set up their Pinterest account. Helpful People goes two ways.

So the next time you feel discouraged, alone or just don’t know where to start, look up and look around because help is closer than you think. It just takes breaking out of social norms while sprinkling in a bit of creativity and organization.

Seeing With Your Feng Shui Eyes

Is this how you walk around every day without realizing it? photo: deviantart.com

Is this how you walk around every day without realizing it? photo: deviantart.com

I’ll admit, I’m one of them. I am addicted to my mobile device. I mean, they do so much now – play great music, remind you to do things and even find that awesome little coffee shop just around the corner. Information can be as addictive as sugar. I feel like I’m constantly checking email or my schedule to see what’s next on my to do list. I’m sure you can relate. When was the last time you were in an elevator, subway car or doctor’s office where someone was actually having a conversation with a live person? It’s pretty rare these days.

So I decided to challenge myself. I usually walk around with my earbuds in, with crazy NYC set to my own soundtracks. But on this sunny day, I walked down Fifth Avenue in tune with the city, unattached to any device and I didn’t expect to see what I did.

The walk was divine. I noticed stores and people and heard so many different languages – Chinese, Greek, Spanish, Russian (or at least I think it was!) and in the corner of my eye, I spotted a blind man with a walking stick. He was maneuvering around quite well until someone on his cell phone almost bumped into him. I suddenly looked around and saw about every other person doing the same, looking down, checking emails, sending texts, chatting on the phone, all while walking. Which made me think, who is blinder, the blind man or us, the chosen blind?

The same applies to our spaces. We put things in corners or piles and say, “I’ll get to it later” but later never happens. We robotically turn on the TV, or obsessively check our emails or Facebook until we are exhausted. The piles and clutter we were going to “get to later” become part of the norm, what our eyes get used to seeing. We become blind to the stuff that is right in front of us. We wonder why we are overwhelmed, tired or irritable each time we “see” this stuff. It affects our energy without us knowing it. 

This week, challenge yourself and try putting your mobile devices away. In Feng Shui, we say we put on our Feng Shui glasses to see the things we wouldn’t normally see. How accurately are you seeing your home, your world? What are you choosing not to see? Pay attention, be fully present and watch the energy of your space and the people who use it magically change.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, watch this video now (seriously watch it, it’s really good), then turn your devices off and enjoy your world. In person.

Moving into Your New Space


Declutter BEFORE you move in! image: matchmadeonhudson.com

The papers are signed, the movers are scheduled and now it’s Mama’s (or Papa’s) Movin’ In Day! No need to hyperventilate, the worst is behind you. This is the fun part and it’s all about setting your intention and getting close and personal with the space that will support and nourish you for many months and years to come.

Before unpacking those boxes, it’s important to lay down a strong Feng Shui foundation to ensure a smooth and happy transition into your new space.

Some tips for creating great energy in your new space:
  • Stop to Smell the Oranges - Hopefully your predecessor left your new space’s energy spotless (read about predecessor energy here). Just to be sure, it’s always a good idea to energetically clear a space by infusing it with a citrus scent. Citrus scents naturally uplift the energy of a space as well as the energy of the occupants. In Chinese tradition, oranges symbolize good luck. Buy a bowl of oranges and peel one to release the healing scent or buy a citrus room spray. In my childhood home, I have fond memories of orange peels in every corner, symbolizing luck at every turn!
  • Introduce yourself! Take some time to run your hands over the walls to get acquainted with the energy of the rooms. It may sound a bit new age-y but believe me, so much can be learned when taking the time to do this. You may discover very cold or hot spots or areas that need some extra TLC. Treat your home as someone you are meeting for the first time and take care of issues as soon as you can. In return, your space’s clear and grateful energy will thank you by nurturing your spirit and supporting your goals.
  • Be In Command – Set up the rooms where you spend the most time – such as your bedroom, office or living room – so you are “in command.” In Feng Shui, being in the Command Position means to be able to see the room’s entry door from where you are sitting or laying down. 4000 years ago, Chinese warriors situated themselves in the Command Position so that they could see enemies arriving and not be in a vulnerable situation. In modern times, we no longer fear constant attack but being in the Command Position allows one’s energy to be calm and not easily startled - one of the keys to being balanced. If you can’t be in the Command Position, one solution is to hang a mirror so you can see the door in the reflection.
A common sighting in my childhood home. image: bohemianpages.blogspot.com

A common sighting in my childhood home. image: bohemianpages.blogspot.com

An office where you can see the door, puts you in the Command Position. image: decorology.blogspot.com/

An office where you can see the door puts you in the Command Position. image: decorology.blogspot.com

Lastly, I can’t stress the importance of the bedroom in Feng Shui. If you are going to perform any Feng Shui remedies, do them in the bedroom as it is the most powerful room of your home. If you haven’t downloaded 9 Feng Shui Tips for a Sexy and Harmonious Bedroom, go to www.FengShuiCreative.com and sign up for your free copy!

Moving out of a Space, Feng Shui Style

Some other things to think about before you pack your bags. image: www.proprofs.com

Some other things to think about before you pack your bags. image: www.proprofs.com

Congratulations! All that hard work has paid off. You found your new space. Time to create that To-Do List – pack boxes, change your address, order a new sofa. But hold on a sec! Before you do any of that, you want to think about what you need to do in your existing space before you close your door for the last time.

After offering Feng Shui suggestions to clients, often their response is, “I’m not going make any changes because I’ll be moving soon” or “I want to move and don’t want to invest in this space.” Sure, I can understand that theory, but only up until a point. This is what I have to say to that, so listen up – you always want to make Feng Shui changes to your existing space *before* you move. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, and here’s the reason. When we leave a space, we want to leave it in the best possible energetic situation as possible. There is something in Feng Shui called “predecessor chi” meaning the energy left in a space by the past occupants. You so know what I am talking about. You walk into a room and you know something’s gone down in there. It feels off, maybe even icky. Or you may not even notice anything at first, but after you move in, you begin losing clients or you start arguing with your girlfriend. Predecessor chi is important to recognize and can be easily transformed.

Wouldn’t you prefer to live in a space where the prior occupants were happy and fulfilled? In a space whose energy was of a growing family who left because there wasn’t enough room? What about a space where the prior tenant left because they were relocating for a better, higher paying job? That’s what we are aiming for.

Even if the person moved due to less desirable circumstances, don’t fret, it’s not a desperate situation. With intention and a little elbow grease, spaces can be energetically cleared, allowing a healthier and lighter energy for the next occupants and that’s what we all want right? There is a wonderful peace of mind knowing that you are leaving a space as airy and energetically spotless as possible. It’s also a darn good feeling knowing that the people who moved out of your new space did the same for you before you move in.

A symbolic offering. image: alya.com.au

A symbolic offering. image: alya.com.au

3 Very important things to do before you leave your existing space:

  • Repair or embellish This is a difficult concept to grasp for most people. Who would want to fix something in their current space if they are planning to move next week? You do. When you repair or make something better and more beautiful, it uplifts the energy of the space and the people who use the space. Energy is malleable and transportable. That great feeling and energy you create will not only be left in your existing space but will also follow you into your new one. It’s a win-win situation. So get out that hammer.
  • Physically clean the space – Everyone appreciates a clean space. It doesn’t have to be sparkling but try not to leave your dusty bunnies behind. Remember, you want someone to feel amazing when they first walk through the door. While you’re cleaning the space, take the time to run your hands across the walls and thank the space for the time you spent together. Everything is made of energy, even your walls.
  • Leave a love letter – If you loved the space, write a little note stating the reasons why. If it was something specific and you are comfortable sharing it, do so. Even if your time there was not the best, write what you would like to happen for the next occupants. For example, imagine you’re leaving a space because the rent is no longer affordable. You could write, “May the future occupants of this space have a happy life, be financially solvent and joyful.” Then leave it somewhere they will find it unexpectedly like the cupboard or fridge. If you were the new occupant, wouldn’t finding that note make you grin from ear to ear? I thought so.

Although we are programmed to be “out with the old and in with the new” as quickly as possible, I would greatly encourage you to act differently in this situation. Your space has kept you safe and warm for the X amount of time you have spent there. Ruminate on that, feel it, thank it. Leave on the best energetic terms with your existing space and carry that wonderful, uplifting energy in your pocket like a four-leaf clover.

Next week we’ll be discussing Phase 3: Moving into your New Space! - how to bring the best energy into your new space using Feng Shui. Stay tuned!

Finding Your Nest, Feng Shui Style

Make moving smooth sailing

Make moving smooth sailing. image: bendependent.com

New York is a city of movers and shakers. Especially this time of year. It seems like everyone is either dreaming of moving, actively looking for a new home or just changed residences. That’s alot of chi movement. In Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophy of balance or yin/yang is of utmost importance. We don’t want anything to be too hot or cold, too bright or dark, too masculine or feminine. Chi or energy should also move a proper pace – not so slow that energy is stagnant and not too fast that things quickly burn out or move through before enjoying them. These concepts also apply to real estate.Many moons ago, I lived in a tiny, bizarrely shaped apartment in New York City. While often very charming, “cozy” spaces may also create stagnant or confusing energy. Or the opposite may happen – a sprawling loft space has 20 foot vaulted ceilings and huge windows. Beautiful in theory but can be challenging for the occupants, especially if their personal chi is not particularly strong or grounded. Due to these real estate challenges, many homes require alot of Feng Shui love. So let’s serve it up!

The Feng Shui process for real estate (aka movin’ and shakin’) can be broken down into 3 phases:

Phase 1: Looking for a new space
Phase 2: Leaving your existing space
Phase 3: Moving into your new space

This week, let’s start with Phase 1: Looking for a new space. Many people come to me to either fix where they currently live or to make sure things are right once they move into a new space. All great ways to use Feng Shui, but the most beneficial way to use Feng Shui is before you move. Using Feng Shui can help you find the best space to support your personal goals and make sure the energy of the space matches your personal energy. Floorplans come in really handy when looking at these prospective spaces. Want to improve your career? Look at how opportunities are presenting themselves in the new space. Want to meet that perfect someone? Make sure that the relationship section of the home is intact and even overflowing! Here are 3 basic yet important tips that you can always keep in your back pocket when scouting out a new home:

  • Look for a spacious and bright entryway – Feng Shui is all about feeling happy and expansive in your space, especially when you first walk in. Make sure it’s bright and there is enough room to move around once you are in your doorway.
  • Inspect the doors -  Doors signify the mouths of the adults of the occupants. Imagine the havoc in communication if those doors were banging up against each other, not closely correctly or incessantly squeaky!
  • Look beyond the surface – Check for issues such as non-working stove top burners, burnt out light sockets and water leaks. Negotiate getting them fixed before moving in.

Lastly, pay attention to how you feel when you first walk through the front door. We often ignore our instincts but they tell us everything. If something about the space makes you hesitate, consider going back to the drawing board because that perfect space is out there with your name on it. Stay tuned for next week when we’ll be discussing Phase 2: Leaving an existing space - what to do after you have found your new place and learn how Feng Shui can help you make a smooth and harmonious transition.

This need some work. photo: thesingingrunner.com

Challenging scenario but don’t fret! It can be rectified using Feng Shui remedies. photo: thesingingrunner.com

We got a couple of Phoenixes in the House

An amazing sculpture of the ethereal phoenix. You won’t believe what it’s made of. All images: feng shui creative

Fast! Run over to St. John the Divine in upper Manhattan to get a glimpse of the amazing work by Chinese artist, Xu Bing.

Ok you don’t really have to run. I was just so enthralled by the installation when I saw it that I want everyone to run over there too. Two phoenix sculptures were installed last February (aptly selected for the Chinese New Year I am almost certain) and will be on display until February 2015.

Stunning detail of Feng’s wing.

The phoenix is very symbolic in Feng Shui as it is one of the powerful and emblematic celestial animals. It joins the black tortoise, azure dragon and white tiger. If you visit the sculpture, you will notice that there is not just one, but two phoenixes. In Chinese philosophy, Yin/Yang, describes how everything in life has a counterpart. Dark/light, Moon/sun, Woman/Man. Xu had this in mind when he created the phoenixes. He created a larger male phoenix named Feng, and a smaller (in no way less spectacular) Huang, the female. Two gorgeously complementary sculptures that seem to shimmer in the majestic halls of the cathedral.

So get on over there. No, you don’t have to run but remember you have 9 more months to go see it. You have no excuse to miss it. Well, unless you don’t live in NY. In that case, see the beautiful slide show and read more about it here.

A visitor post-it wall in many languages and filled with many wishes and sentiments.

Sorry couldn’t resist. Apparently the staff at St. Johns has a good sense of humor.

Enter Here

Just like in the Price is Right. Well, almost. photo: decorasia.wordpress.com

I’ve always loved doors – colorful doors, quirky doors, classic doors. It doesn’t matter. Doors have a big significance in Feng Shui. Your front door is where energy enters your space (ideally) and where potential opportunities come in. It is also said that the doors of the home represent the mouths of the individuals who use the space. That being said, it makes you wanna clean up your doors alittle bit eh?

If you were opportunity, wouldn’t you want to knock on this handsome door? photo: nobswall.com

Here are some general door rules:

Use your front door as much as possible. Yes, even if you use the side/back door to unload groceries and the grimy kids. Use your front door enough to let opportunities know that this is where they should find you and will be welcomed.

Make sure you can open your doors at least 90 degrees. If not, you’re energetically blocking your chi or energy. Don’t do that.

Doors should open and close properly. Have a door that sticks? Or one that squeaks each time you open it? Besides it being annoying, think back to what we said about doors in general in Feng Shui: Doors represent the mouths of the adults who use the space. Avoid miscommunications with doors that open easily and avoid gossip or whining and oil those hinges!

So the next time you notice the numbers on your front door falling off, or the paint peeling, think about what this signifies and get busy to fix it up. Not only will you find more opportunities coming your way but also smoother communication between you and your loved ones.