Q&A Sunday: Five Common Feng Shui Mistakes

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What are five common mistakes people make with feng shui?

Jacqueline R., Cleveland, OH

1.  There are mistakes in feng shui! 

I would not necessarily call these mistakes, but rather misinterpretations of feng shui. And sometimes the misinterpretations lead you to what you really needed! My point is: everything you do is right and correct if you do it with the best intentions. But this is a great question, because I always like to share with my clients the meaning and reason for the feng shui concept. If possible, we should strive to do things in the proper way. But mistakes happen and sometimes for a good reason!

2.  Feng shui is simply about moving furniture around

Feng shui is not just about moving furniture around! It’s about creating harmony in our lives by unifying our inner and outer environments. The inner and outer are not separate, because everything that we do to our spaces – positive and negative – affects our daily experience. In BTB feng shui we incorporate many personal chi adjustments (meditations and rituals to change your personal energy), adjusting objects to your space (such as adding plants, mirrors, or crystals), in addition to re-arranging your furniture.

3.  Using items made out of wood for the wood element

The wood element is about new beginnings, family and kindness in feng shui. Sometimes people misinterpret wood as the dead material of wood, like a wood desk. But in fact, objects made of wood do not embody the wood element. To add wood element you can add green plants or objects that are green/teal or tall and expansive. Brown wood objects are actually earth element!

4.  Fountains flowing wealth away from the home

Fountains can be used as feng shui adjustments to bring more wealth into the home. The best way to do this is to position the fountain so that the water flows into the home, rather than right out the door. So just turn that fountain around.

5.  What direction your door faces is very important

In BTB feng shui, it is not critical if your door faces north, south, east or west. We look at the relationship of the space to the formal entry to the room, home or property. We call this the “mouth of chi,” where the energy comes into the space. There are other schools of feng shui that use the compass directions. The other schools are as valid and equal to BTB feng shui. But the feng shui I practice does not follow this particular discipline. We care more about where the energy enters the environment, and how to look at the flow of chi. 

by Anjie Cho


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


9 Amazeballs Ways to Fit In All Your Teen Needs in the Bedroom

featured this month on Houzz by Eva Byrne 

A teen bedroom is a place of refuge, a private retreat from family life. You’ll need to provide somewhere to sleep, somewhere to study and somewhere to store clothes. With clever planning, you can accommodate these needs in even the tiniest of spaces. Think in terms of a ship’s cabin to squeeze the most out of every available centimetre.

8. Max the make-up

A teen girl will always appreciate even the tiniest of dressing tables. Your bathroom will thank you, too, with one less demand on its use.

Slip a narrow table within the run of wardrobes, perhaps near the window to maximise that all-important light. Add strong artificial light for night-time use, and, of course, a large mirror. A drawer beneath the dressing table would be handy for lotions and potions.

...read full article


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Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for Love?

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A friend of mine is not having any success in finding love and has been down about it lately. Is there any Feng Shui that can help her?

Kristina O., New York City, NY

I’m sorry to hear about your friend, and it’s kind of you to ask for her. Feng shui can definitely help with finding love, but I need to know more about the situation. Based on my intuition about this given situation, and as a general suggestion, take a look at KUN which is the Relationship area of the feng shui bagua map. Then look diagonally across from it, you will find GEN which represents KNOWLEDGE, specifically self-cultivation. The first suggestion I would make is that if she works on improving the GEN/self-cultivation area, it indirectly improves KUN/relationships. This is actually more effective than going directly to KUN/relationships.  

Feng shui is not a magic pill, but it can help improve areas like love, relationships, and “feeling down." It requires some work! My suggestion in this case is to work on self-cultivation by placing a feng shui crystal in the GEN/Knowledge area of her home to enhance, clarify and focus self-love and self-care. 

In addition the what I’ve mentioned above, there are some other basic feng shui adjustments your friend can do in her bedroom. I was actually single when I started learning about Feng Shui, and it absolutely helped me to bag my husband! The first thing I did was make sure I had open space on both sides of my bed. It’s also important to have a nightstand and lamp on each side, if she has the room.  This tells the universe that she’s ready to create some space for an equal partner to come into her life.  

Good luck to your friend!

by Anjie Cho


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Note:  To locate the KNOWLEDGE or RELATIONSHIPS areas of your home, please refer to the Feng Shui Bagua Map here.  New blog post to come soon discussing the Feng Shui Bagua Map!


Feng Shui and Mother's Day

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Mother’s Day is an annually and widely celebrated holiday in America and in other countries as well, but few of us know when or why we began this celebration.

Though ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated their “mother goddesses” with festivals and parties, and European Catholics celebrated “Mothering Sunday,” a specific Sunday during Lent dedicated to “mother churches,” the American version of Mother’s Day originated in the 1900’s as the brainchild of Anna Jarvis. Anna created Mother’s Day in tribute to her deceased mother and as a way to praise the act of motherhood in general.

Originally, Mother’s Day was an intimate celebration between a family with no gifts or monetary focus. Individuals simply visited their mothers or church in honor of all that moms do. After Mother’s Day was added to the official holiday calendar at Anna’s insistence, Mother’s Day gradually picked up the traditions of gifting and celebration we observe today.

So where does feng shui fit into Mother’s Day? There's actually an area of the feng shui bagua map that's related to the mother. This area is related to relationships, partnerships, the mother, marriage, the color pink, the number two, square and flat shapes, and the element of yin earth. This area is probably the second most popular because it can also activate attracting a primary relationship.  

BUT you can also use the Relationship area to honor, call upon, or heal the relationship with your mother. The element of earth is associated with nourishment and support – just like “mother earth”. To honor or call upon the energy of your mother on Mother’s day in the style of feng shui, you could place something with positive memories of your mother in the Relationship area of your desk or bedroom. If you want to heal the connection, you could place a plant in the same area to represent growth and change for your relationship.

Either way, be sure to recognize the nourishment and support that your mother has provided today! Happy Mother’s Day!

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Herbal Plants

I am interested in purchasing herb plants to put in my window sill, which is sort of in between Prosperity and Health guas. My local farmer's market sells them in small round plant pots. I also have another window sill located in my prosperity corner. Would you suggest plants instead? If the herb plants are ok, could you offer suggestions on which ones I should buy? Also, what is the minimum or maximum should I place on the window sill, which is 42 in. L and 5 in. W?

Cynthia H., Chicago, IL

Dear Cynthia,

What a lovely idea to have edible plants as a feng shui adjustment! I think herbs from the local farmer’s market are great.

I would select the herbs that you would most likely use, and that will survive with the natural light that’s available. You can also look at the meanings behind the plants and see what is most relevant to you.

Basil: Good wishes

Rosemary: Remembrance 

Thyme: Courage, Strength

Italian parsley: Festivity

Mint: Virtue

Chives: Usefulness

From http://www.almanac.com/content/meaning-flowers

For the size of your windows, I would suggest 3 on one sill and 2 on the other, for a total of 5. And 5 is a great number because it relates to the five elements!

Send us a photo of how it turns out!

by Anjie Cho


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Change Your Color, Change Your Life

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Your home environment has a huge impact on your mood and your life. In order for your space to truly nourish you, you need to consider all the details in your interior design. And among the most important elements of design is color.

Color has the power to transform not only spaces, but also the people in them, by changing the flow of energy, evoking specific emotions and producing physiological changes in the body. Color has a profound influence on our mood, perceptions and actions.

If you make conscious decisions on the colors you choose to surround yourself with in your home, you can deliberately create a healthy and balanced environment and life for you and your family.

How do you want to live? How do you want to FEEL? Choose your colors accordingly.

This article reveals the emotional power of five popular colors:

1. Red

Red is a powerful color that evokes strong emotions.  It stimulates the body and mind.  Red increases your metabolism and your blood pressure and makes you more alert. Because red stimulates appetite, food tastes better when surrounded by red (so it is a popular color for dining rooms). Red can make a person feel passionate and excited.  But beware – too much red can evoke anger and lead to anxiety.

2. Blue

Blue acts as red’s opposite. It is serene and mentally calming. It decreases the pulse rate, lowers body temperature, and reduces appetite. Strong blues stimulate clear thought, and lighter blues calm the mind, aiding concentration. Thus, people are often more productive in blue rooms. If you need a little kick in the pants, try blue for your home office.

3. Yellow

Yellow is emotionally energizing and uplifting. It has been proven to stimulate the brain. This stimulation can make you more alert and decisive. It helps memory and promotes clear thinking. With a yellow kitchen, you just might not need that extra cup of coffee in the morning!

4. Green

Green is often used in decorating for its calming effect. It helps balance and soothe emotions. Green relaxes our muscles and helps us breathe deeper and slower. Studies show that those who have a green work environment experience fewer stomachaches. But watch out! Although green creates feelings of comfort, it can also cause laziness.

5. Purple

Purple is a mysterious color. It is the combination of two complete opposites – red and blue. Purple can be invigorating or calming, depending on how much red or blue is in the shade. Pure purple takes awareness to a higher spiritual level of thought. It encourages deep contemplation or meditation. Consider bringing purple into rooms where you want to feel creative or spiritual.

Remember that color has a far-reaching effect on emotion and behavior. Decide how you want to feel and the actions you want to take in a specific space, and use color to achieve your goal.

To read more about colors and feng shui, read here!

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Are Fake Plants Good Feng Shui?


 

Are fake plants good feng shui?

DeeJay A., Brooklyn, NY

Hi DeeJay, thanks for your question!

Green plants are used for many feng shui adjustments. They represent growth and new beginning and cultivate human kindness and compassion. They are related to the wood element and the area of New Beginnings on the feng shui bagua map.

While it is preferable to use living green plants for feng shui applications, my teachers have taught me that faux green plants are also acceptable. The faux plants should be of high quality and as realistic as possible. It is fairly easy now to find good looking fake plants. I believe it is much better to have a realistic fake plant over a dying real one. There are often locations where a plant could improve the feng shui of a space, however the natural light is lacking. In this case, I think it is good feng shui to use a fake plant.

On the other hand, a friend recently asked me about getting some colored orbs for her kitchen. She wanted to know what color was better feng shui-wise. We discussed her intentions, and then I suggested real fruit rather than orbs. She said it was too much of a hassle because fruit spoils and needs frequent replacement. That seems very practical, but you can also be mindful that if the intention for the colored orbs is to add more growth and wood element for example, then it would be all the more powerful to use something like real fruit that needs refreshing. The attention and care involved in replenishing fresh fruit, or caring for a living green plant, cultivates the desired qualities and only strengthens the intention and effects of the feng shui adjustment.

That said, a fake plant is okay for low light locations or for seriously black thumbs. But, there is something to gain from the care and nurturing you give to a living green plant that makes your feng shui adjustment more effective.

by Anjie Cho


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Why Compost?

The benefits of composting, combining a variety of kitchen scraps and organic materials, are numerous, whether or not you garden or have a yard. From enriching the soil without harmful chemicals to reducing a trash collection bill, time looking into composting is not time wasted. See below for a few examples of how composting can benefit you, no matter where you are.

Enriches Soil

Composting creates humus. The process required to transform scraps and other materials into organic fertilizer involves the production of positive “micro-organisms.” These guys make a job out of creating humus from broken down organic matter. In this case, humus is, rather than a savory dip for celery and pita, a gardening material filled with nutrients that add to soil and assist in retaining moisture.

Adding compost to soil also balances PH and improves soil CEC, which makes it easier for the earth to hold tight to nutrients. These nutrients are vital for growth of many plants, from food plants to pretty plants. Essentially, when soil isn't an ideal consistency and texture, it will be difficult to grow any kind of plant. Compost helps to ensure that soil is crumbly and open enough for water and nutrients to move through.

Cleans Up Contaminated Soil

Not only does it absorb odors, composting counteracts VOCs and other semivolatile compounds. Examples? Heating fuels, PAHs, and explosives. Yup, explosives. Not impressed yet? Composting also prevents heavy metals in soil from being absorbed by plants or other water sources, thus helping to keep our water sources cleaner. Plus, composting actually degrades lots of chemicals that have no business in our earthy soil anyway, including pesticides and wood preservatives.

Helps Prevent Pollution and Save the Planet

When you compost organic materials, instead of dooming them to landfills or other trash collections, you prevent production of harmful gases like methane and leachate formulation.

Composting is among the top options for reducing your carbon footprint, thus doing your part to save our planet.

It's sustainable too! Instead of using precious natural resources that we will not have forever, composting uses scraps from already eaten food and other natural products to produce the same effect without depleting our supply of non-sustainable materials.

Saves Money!

There is tons of energy in organic waste like vegetable scraps. Composting easily collects that energy and directs it back into the ecosystem, whether you apply it directly to the soil or donate it for application.

If you apply directly, this in turn also saves on gardening expenses like fertilizer, pesticides and the like, as you can use the scraps of food your family has already eaten as repurposed compost.

Using chemical fertilizers often leaves behind a wealth of  heavy metals (lead, arsenic?! and cadmium) that can build up over time. Overuse of chemical fertilizers can actually bring death to the very soil itself, which only requires dependent use of these same fertilizers, thus costing even more money over time. Composting skirts this issue entirely, as it is composed only of organic materials.

If you pay for disposal of garbage, especially by weight, composting will immediately reduce that bill, as you'll be using a significant amount of previously dubbed "garbage" to garden and enrich your soil.

Supports Our Economy

Composting reduces our dependence on oil from overseas, as it reduces the need to purchase chemical fertilizer often made using petroleum.

by Anjie Cho


5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, and the start of Earth Week. I encourage each of you to incorporate one green living change into your daily life. Below are five simple, yet impactful changes you can make.

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1.  Adopt or Donate an Indoor Plant

I have a Golden Pothos from when I first moved to New York City in 2003. I can't even remember who gave it to me, but it was a housewarming gift. This plant is so hardy, it's survived and flourished through weeks of forgetful watering and even a dark ground floor apartment. In feng shui, house plants bring life energy into a indoor space. They can create a softer and more vibrant energy in a home or office.  Living plants are wonderful for improving overall indoor air quality. The Goldon Pothos is said to be particularly good for removing formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.  

What I love about the Golden Pothos is that they are easy to propagate. Simply cut off a 3" or longer piece, just below a leaf or a node (or joint). I like to take cuttings and place them in a glass of water. Alternatively, you can plant them, or you can wrap them in a wet paper towel and give them as gifts.

Orchids are also very common houseplants. What most people don't know is that after the flowers die, the remaining plant is still alive! The plant is dormant, and you can keep it. It's such a reward to see my orchids bloom every year.  

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2.  Switch to a Renewable Energy Provider

An easy way to minimize your carbon footprint is to switch to a renewable energy provider. There are many different companies, and it really depends on where you live. It can be overwhelming to weed through all the companies, but it's worth it. The EPA gives some information on where you can find renewable energy companies for residential and commercial locations.  

Switching to Green Power does not typically mean that you need to install solar panels or a windmill on your roof. Although that is sometimes an option, in most urban areas this simply means that you can call your electricity provider and request you switch to a Green or Renewable energy source. In New York City, there are a handful of Energy Supply Companies (ESCOs) that provide a green option. You may see a small increase in your monthly bill, but in my experience it's very minimal. Probably around $10/month for a one bedroom apartment. You can also look into Renewable Energy Certificates RECS to offset your DIRTY electricity usage.

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3.  Reduce Bottled Water Usage

Contrary to popular belief, the National Resources Defense Council NRDC says that bottled water is “subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water.”  If health is a concern, plastics are terrible to eat and drink from.  There may be Bisphenol A (BPA)s or other toxic chemicals and substances in plastic containers that will affect water quality.

In New York City, we have excellent quality tap water. I recommend those outside of NYC use a high quality water filter and drink tap water whenever possible. I use reusable glass bottles and my Soda Stream seltzer machine as much as possible at home.

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4.  Buy Post Consumer Recycled Products

Most of us know by now, we need to recycle.  Reduce, reuse and recycle!  Note, recycle is last on that list.  

We put our glass bottles, metal cans, plastic bottles and paper/cardboard in the bins and out on the curb.  But what happens when we recycle? Sadly, not everything gets recycled. The recycling carter or your municipal recycler picks up the waste-- but if no one wants to buy the recyclables, they can put the unsellable material into the landfill. Glass, metals, cardboard and paper are typically easy to recycle. There is a market for these materials. Plastic is another story. Not all plastics are recyclable. The plastics that can be recycled have a shorter lifecycle, require more energy to recycle, and are not as valuable.

So.. what can we do? Purchase more Post Consumer Recycled products! "Recycled" typically means that the content is made from pre-consumer materials, such as the leftover waste from manufacturing. It's good, but not the same as Post Consumer. "Post Consumer Recycled" indicates that the recycled portion is from the recycled waste that you and I have put into our recycling bins. If we make an effort to purchase more post consumer recycled plastics, we in turn create a demand for the recyclable plastics. This will also cut down the creation of new plastics. 

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5.  DIY Water Saving Toilet

My final tip is for those of us with a tank toilet. This is a toilet where there is a tank behind, rather than in the wall or with a flush-o-meter. It's super simple to make your own water saving toilet. Take an old plastic bottle (the ones you're no longer using!), and fill it up with water. Open the toilet tank cover, and place the plastic bottle inside. Be sure to avoid and not obstruct the toilet flap, ball, handles, etc., inside the tank. Voila! The water filled bottle will displace water in the toilet tank and reduce the water usage each time you flush.

As a final feng shui tip - be sure to keep your toilet bowl cover shut. The bathroom is a place where water is always coming in and out of the home. In feng shui, water represents wealth and money flow. Make sure you keep the toilet seat closed, as well as the bathroom door. This will keep the wealth from flowing away from you!

by Anjie Cho