Monday, September 12, 2011

Feng Shui Adventures: Get the poop out of your relationship corner!

I didn't post much last week because I've been very busy working on a painting for my boyfriend. It's a landscape with a waterfall, part of a Feng Shui cure I'm working on his home office. His career isn't progressing the way he'd like, and this is my way of offering support. Yeah, it sounds weird. And a few years ago, I never would've considered Feng Shui. But two years ago, I moved the litterbox out of my "relationship corner," and it changed my life. I was hooked.

I'll admit it: Hi, I'm Jen, and I'm a Feng Shui believer.

My sister lives Erin in Hong Kong, where Feng Shui is a normal part of life. It isn't just for housewives or interior decorators, either. Entrepreneurs carefully consider the placement of their businesses to bring the most traffic, money, and good fortune. Most notably, HSBC and the Bank of China are engaged in a Feng Shui war. According to the rules of Feng Shui, the angles of the Bank of China building (on the far left) send bad luck and negative energy toward their competitor HSBC (on the right). HSBC retaliates with cannons mounted on the roof. Like, I'M GOING TO FENG SHUI YOU OUT OF BUSINESS!

Image Credit
I've always been interested in interior design, but I thought Feng Shui was some wonky hocus pocus. When Erin told me it was a normal part of life in China, I took an academic interest and began to study its principles. What I found made perfect sense: Feng Shui creates balance and harmony in a space so that the people dwelling there feel good and are receptive to the good things around them. Have you ever been in a house that just felt weird, and you were dying to get out of there? Blame bad Feng Shui. The basic principles make so much sense:

  • Don't position the bed so that your feet point toward the door. This sounds weird until you consider that the dead are carried out feet-first in China. NOT doing something creepy that might make you think of being dead makes sense to me. Creepy is bad feng shui (and sometimes I like creepy things like doll head planters, so I have to be careful with this rule). I think the rule should be applied so that your decor doesn't bring to mind any Western death customs, too.
  • Don't position your desk with you back to the room's entrance. If you can't see who might be sneaking up behind you, you're in a vulnerable position. Let's be scientific and assume that our brains retain some of the primal instincts that helped our ancestors avoid vulnerability and, um, SABER TOOTH TIGERS. If you try to work in a place where you're vulnerable, your attention will be divided. Concentration? What?
  • Sunlight brings in positive energy. Leave curtains open to let in the light. Sunshine keeps plants alive and can even remove bad smells from not-so-fresh upholstery. Of course it's good. THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.
  • Use wood, fire, water, metal, and earth elements throughout every room. Variety is attractive and interesting. Too much of anything is just too much. A room that is all metal will feel cold and inhospitable. A room that is all wood will go up in flames a little too easily (HELLO CHICAGO CIRCA 1871!). Check out this beautiful room that uses a little bit of each element. Ooh, pretty!
Image Credit
The basic principles make sense, but it takes a leap of faith to use Feng Shui to draw goodness into a specific part of your life. I admit, that part does seem like hocus-pocus. But I enjoy doing it, and I think of it as the physical manifestation of a prayer. When you think of it that way, it's sort of sweet.

Here's my Feng Shui story: I moved into my condo and started grad school in 2007. I was the first person in my social circle to buy a home. My friends were weirded out that I was a homeowner, and I was busy with school, so we started to drift apart. My dating life sucked. Like, let's not even talk about it. I stayed tight with my best, oldest friends but I didn't see them as often as I would've liked. And in early 2009, one by one, they all announced that they were moving out of state. I was devastated. Out of boredom and half as a joke, I turned to the Ba Gua.

The Ba Gua is a Feng Shui map. If you want to use Feng Shui to "cure" a specific problem, you use the Ba Gua to figure out which colors and elements and which direction/part of your home are related to that issue. The Western Ba Gua doesn't use directions; you simply align the bottom of the map to your front door and imagine the map laid out over your floor plan. I prefer the Eastern Ba Gua because it's old-school. And I didn't think anything easy would work. I focused my attention on the Relationship part of my home--the southwest corner. That was the corner where I kept the litterbox and a tall screen to block the box from sight. THERE WAS POO AND THEREFORE MY RELATIONSHIPS STANK, YEP. And according to the Feng Shui rules, the screen was blocking energy from entering that corner--thus, blocking new relationships from entering my life. This is a picture of the offending corner, circa January 2009...

Grrrrrrrrrr! Bad feng shui. Too red. Too dark. No good.
I took down the screen and placed it in storage, moved the litterbox, and hung a pretty picture on the wall behind the chair. A week later, I went to a show by myself and ran into a person I'd met at my museum internship, who introduced me to a few people that night, who became my new friends and introduced me to more people. A month after implementing the Feng Shui cure, I threw a potluck party. A dozen people attended, none of whom I'd known a month before, including one who became the boyfriend. Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm a believer.

So now I'm working on a Feng Shui cure for Keith. His home office is the size of a walk-in closet, but I'm packing a huge amount of Feng Shui love in there:
  • Thorough cleaning and de-cluttering - CHECK
  • The entrance to the office is visible while sitting at the desk. - CHECK
  • Open windows to let in light and energy, and a plant in the window on the eastern wall. - CHECK
  • A water landscape painting and the desk placed on the north wall - IN PROGRESS
  • A painting with fire energy--subject to be determined later--on the southern wall. A Russian WWII propaganda poster with lots of red is likely; Keith loves those. - NEXT
  • Metal energy on the western wall--not sure what to do yet with that. Silver, metallics, coins... Any ideas? The door to the room is on this wall, so it's a smaller wall. - LAST
Have you ever tried Feng Shui?
Did it improve the atmosphere in your home?


  1. Hi Jen! I love your article :)

    I have a small condo, and the best (and kind of only) place the litter box works is also in my "relationship" corner. What quadrant did you wind up putting the litter box? Isn't having cat poo anywhere going to be "inauspicious" in any quadrant? Just curious...

    Leigh Anne

    1. Hi Leigh Anne! I'm so glad you liked this entry, and I'm flattered that you asked. Of course, a litterbox is never good feng shui. But unless you can toilet train your cat (And yes, I've actually heard of people doing that!), it's a nasty necessity for many of us.

      The litterbox was originally in the southwestern corner of the southwestern-most room in my home, so it was in an especially bad place for relationships. When I moved the litterbox, I kept it in the same room, but moved it to the south, not the southwest. Now it's in the "Fame & Reputation" area of that room. Since I'm a librarian, I'm less concerned with having lots of power and a splashy public profile, so that's okay.

      But I strengthen the area with objects that match the public persona I want to project (books!). And since this part of the ba gua is associated with fire and wood, I also have a candle on a wooden table here. I hope these mitigate the negative energy coming from the litterbox. Also, the southernmost part of my condo is there and also in another room, so I can focus on strengthening Fame & Reputation in the other room, too.

      In my next home, I hope to have a doggie door leading to an outdoor litterbox, but until then, these feel like good feng shui solutions. Would any of those ideas help you, too?

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  3. Feng Shui Adventures. Darker Tomorrow, A: A Feng Shui adventure from Tun Kai Poh that pits the players against a fiendish plot by the Architects of the Flesh to .feng shui

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  5. I have a total black thumb. It's hereditary - mother (unintentionally) kills all plants unlucky enough to be in her care, as do I. feng shui singapore


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