Feng Shui Chic

Connie calls it wabi sabi, and I call it feng shui, and although you might not be familiar with these terms, everyone reading this knows what’s meant by the “feel” of a house…or home. In some situations, you get the cold pricklies when you cross the threshold, and in another place, you feel that the atmosphere is charged with hostility and underlying negative energy currents. Other places feel boring, sterile, and devoid of life and laughter. You know what I mean, right?


About twenty years ago, I heard an older, wiser woman talk about the importance of one’s bedroom in influencing mood, sleep, and general restfulness (or not). She said that since the décor, including wall color and furnishings, was the last thing a person saw before shutting her eyes and the first things she glimpsed upon opening them the next morning, the sight should be pleasant, beautiful, and calming. Call me dumb, but I’d never thought of this before. Never. And yet it made perfect sense. That weekend I began looking at paint chips and later repainted the room and changed the curtains. That was the beginning of a long term and continuing interest in the power of the environment to affect mood, peace of mind, and energy.


About ten years ago, I was introduced to the Chinese concept of feng shui, two words that literally mean wind and water. By applying some of its principles, I learned that a person could easily add more positive energy (chi) into her environment and lessen the effects of negative energy (sha). This made perfect sense to me, especially when you consider that electromagnetic energy flows around and through us and everything else in the universe.


I’ll have to concur with my friend Connie in that some of the terms can be a bit overwhelming, but learning and applying some of the basics can be fun, easy, and low cost. Although I’m no expert, I do have a few favorite ideas:


  • Color is important, and red is a “fire” color associated with energy. While I don’t want to feel over stimulated and fidgety, having a touch of red or orange in each room is invigorating. 
  • Numbers are important too. Off the top of my head, I recall that the number four is foundational, secure, safe, and stable since it holds the energy pattern of the square. Once we lived in a house in which the kitchen was a little small, and yet we usually ate our meals in there. To free up more space, the kitchen table was usually pushed up against the wall, and my daughter Carrie literally hated that arrangement. Rarely did she walk through the room without commenting on it. Largely to pacify her, I moved the table out a bit and put a chair on each side. The difference that one little move made was amazing! Not only did the room now seem more stable and secure, but also it seemed that chi was freer to move around instead of getting “smushed” up against a wall.
  • Furniture arrangement should be carefully considered as well. Time prohibits me from giving lots of examples, so I’ll just mention one for the bedroom. Never have the foot of a bed aligned with an open door. That’s the “death position,” the spot in which the dearly departed were placed before removing them from the home.
  • Texture and pattern count too. Recently my son remarked that he thought the bedroom that he shares with his bride is a little too feminine. I reminded him that once you get married, there are all sorts of compromises, one being the home décor. While he’s absolutely right in that the furniture and the bedding are of lighter colors (blue, yellow, and white), the living room of the apartment is more masculine in that the furniture is leather. The maps are framed in dark wood. What I’m saying is that the apartment is a good combination of yin and yang.
  • How we use space should also be considered. In the home that we recently moved from, there was a wide hall straight down the middle of the house. In fact, a person standing at the front door could look directly to the back door. Ummm. Not good. Chi could easily come in, but it swished down the hall quickly and was out the door. What did we do? We put a bench at the end of the hall to divert the flow of energy, and most of the time I kept a glass paned door dividing the living room from the hall closed.
  • I’m getting a little carried away here (this stuff is so exciting to consider), but I just have to mention tables before getting back to work (the kind I get paid for). My sweet husband and I bought our cute little oak dining room table at a yard sale, and we both love it. It’s round unless company’s coming, and then we insert the leaf, thus making it a large oval. According to the feng shui experts, round is not good! They say the energy swirls around so quickly that the dining/socializing experience is not as pleasant as it would be with a square or oval table. Well, we LOVE the table, and to calm the swirling chi, we bought four (there’s that stable number again) leather wasabi (great color, great word) with high backs. It’s the coolest room!

More on this later. For now, let’s just say that whatever makes you feel comfortable, supported, secure, and pleasant is what you should incorporate in your home, office, yard, and even car. If you want to know more about the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui, there are beaucoup books on the subject. For now, share some ideas that you have about making your environment more appealing.


Earthquakes, Cyclones, and Wars

Yesterday I read of an aftershock hitting a poor, mountainous region of Sichuan province in central China that toppled thousands of buildings and injured hundreds of people. This follows on the heels of the worst earthquake in three decades with a death toll of over 62,000 people. While everything associated with the situation is tragic, the tiny orphans are the most heartbreaking. Then there’s the Myanmar cyclone and the ongoing loss of life there; at least now it seems that a turning point has been reached that will allow foreign aid workers entry into the area. We’ll see. Closer to home, today’s The State reports that a guardsman from SC was killed in Afghanistan when his unit was attacked.


All that is sad, bad stuff and it makes me think of a conversation I had with some of my lunch buddies last week. We were discussing religion, God, His purposes, the Old Testament vs. the New Testament, whether Job really lived, and so forth. Towards the end of our hour, someone wondered how God could allow such tragedies as those in China and Myanmar to occur…not to mention the thousands on a smaller scale. No one had any answers that day, and I don’t have any today either.


However, yesterday I came across a quote by Howard W. Hunter that I had jotted down on one of my little writing pads. “God knows what we do not know and sees what we cannot see.” It’s about the same as the verse from Isaiah that assures us that “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9


No, that really doesn’t satisfy all of our questioning and seeking, but it does remind us that perhaps our minds are too small to comprehend the events of the world in the same way that God does. After all, He’s God, and I’m Jayne, a mortal who breathes, walks, talks, and enjoys chocolate because it’s His will that I do so.  


I have to remind myself that I “see through a glass darkly.” At the same time, not believing in God because surely He could have stopped such catastrophes and loss of life doesn’t change the situation. In fact, what else is there to believe in? Does not believing in an omnipotent being aid in understanding or grant peace? To me, the answer is no. In fact, not believing is a little scary, and for now I’m content to follow Heber J. Grant’s advice to let the mysteries of heaven wait until I get to heaven.