Friday, January 29, 2010

It's a Sign

Sorry, you need to read my post to understand what this means

I admit to digesting my share of reality TV. As I am a foodie, I watch a lot of cooking shows (Ace of Cakes anyone?) but one really guilty pleasure of mine is Kitchen Nightmares with the scary but effective Gordon Ramsay. I would never think that I would be mentioning the obscenity blurting Ramsay in my Feng Shui blog. But here I am. I have mentioned before that if you look hard enough, you can find Feng Shui in almost everything, didn't I? So if you can get past his vulgar expletives, Ramsay and his team create magical restaurant transformations that border on Feng Shui processes. They shift morale, change the door of opportunities, and change the interior decor so that places are transformed from drab, unsuccessful greasy spoons to sparkling and inviting eateries. All which have resulted in wonderful success stories. 

Just yesterday, the owner of Peter's Restaurant on Long Island mentioned (bear with me, I am paraphrasing from memory) that flow and success start in the kitchen. If the kitchen is happy and flowing, that trickles throughout the restaurant. Sounds like good Feng Shui to me, doesn't it? 

One important thing that our English friend Gordon does so well is update and improve a restaurant's exterior, specifically the restaurant's outdoor sign. That is SO important! What do customers see first when they drive, walk or pass your establishment? Yup, your sign. Or lack thereof. Or lack of an enticing sign. It's all about curb appeal. First impressions. The reason opportunity will be knocking on your door. Make sense?

Take a look at Fenwick's sign before Gordon's magical wand transformed it:
Big difference from the first sign you saw eh? So if you own a business, are trying to sell a house or apartment, or just looking for more opportunities, make sure that your curb appeal has aesthetic appeal. People want to find you so help them do just that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Ray of Sunshine

A bright giveaway by Robin's Egg Pink

On this gloomy, rainy, slushy, snowy (where did that come from weatherman?) day, I need some cheering up and thought you might too. Call it a yang infusion if you will. So I thought it appropriate to share a recent find - The Bright Side Project.

Some healthy Feng Shui advice see "The Importance of Breath"

The mission of this happy website is to "add a little sunshine in your life" by giving something away daily. The State of the Union speech yesterday was hopeful, but sorry Bam, I need a quicker fix. This little website may just be the answer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sticky Fingers

Graphic Adult Education

I have a love-hate relationship with my laptop. My love overflows as it allows me to create, explore and share - anytime, anywhere. But like with any loved one, when I spend too much time with it, I can border on burn out. I forget to blink, move my other limbs apart from my fingers and most tragically, I sometimes lose my sense of humor. Unthinkable. As you can imagine, action is needed here. So when I saw these colorful keyboard stickers by Christopher Monro deLorenzo, I smiled. G for Geisha and W for Walrus? Love it. My favorite - B for Bowie. My depleted Chi and tired laptop are smiling again!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shady Beauty

Because there is so much construction going on in New York, scaffolding eyesores abound. But according to The Architect's Newspaper,  
"In the hope of banishing these unsightly overheads, the Bloomberg administration and the AIA New York Chapter launched the UrbanShed design competition in August to find a new alternative, which the mayor unveiled today in Brooklyn. The sheds, called Urban Umbrella and designed by University of Pennsylvania/Penn Design architecture student Young-Hwan Choi, are not mandatory, though Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg insisted they will be popular with New Yorkers."
Mike's design movement has my vote. Anything that keeps construction areas looking less like outdoor restrooms and looking more like beautiful Italian piazzas.

Friday, January 22, 2010

London's Not Falling Down

Not a shot in the dark

This headliner from yesterday definitely took me some time to digest - "London's Olympic Stadium to be made out of knives and guns!"

I know, I was taken aback for a moment too. My initial reaction was, "Would I really want to sit in a stadium made from these horrible things? Will that bad Chi ooze from the seats and seep into me??" But after further reading and thinking about it some more, my stance changed. Sure these fighting instruments confiscated by the Metropolitan Police Department were made for that intention. But now, they're being given a second chance. A chance to redeem themselves in a higher form - an Olympic stadium that will house international athletes who are upholding the idea of sportsmanship and, hopefully setting the example for international peace relations.

Subjects awaiting their higher purpose

How could I not admire the designers Populous' commendable effort to design an eco-stadium that utilizes "a minimum number of materials and resources in order to have a lower environmental impact?"  That truly is a fantastic example of converting the energy of something not so positive by changing the intention of its usage. Well done our British friends! Keep calm and carry on!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Water in the Wind

The first time I saw this photo Chicago’s Aqua Tower designed by Studio Gang Architects, I was impressed. Not to mention that my dream of being Judy Jetson was becoming a reality. From afar, the tower's undulating shape is beautiful to the eye. I've yet to get to Chicago but when the weather gets warmer, I will plan a visit to this building. It will be nice to see for myself as the reviews are somewhat mixed. One thing that occurred to me when I was having lunch – the wavy shape of the building is reminiscent of the wavy quality of the element water in Feng Shui and Chicago is famously known as the “Windy City.” The words Feng Shui literally translated from Chinese means wind (Feng) and water (Shui). I wonder if the architects had this in mind when they were designing it?

Beautiful flowing lines

A great view that I personally won't see. I get vertigo at high altitudes!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Paper Trail

Let's face it, our messes can follow us anywhere. On the continued quest for organization before the Chinese New Year arrives on February 14th, I've chosen to tackle paperwork today. You know what I am talking about - the stack of newspapers and magazines that need to be recycled or the pile of unpaid bills that need to be reviewed. Paper seems to follow us wherever we go, whether it be at home or the office and even sneaking into our handbags and briefcases. Chances are, it's in places that you regularly avoid.

It's time to take charge and get that paperwork under control. In Feng Shui, clutter can both block and drain precious Chi, or energy. When we see the mess we are avoiding, it brings our energy down. Not what we want. So first things first. Sign up for paperless where you can. Do it right now. I mean, after you are done reading my post of course. This will save a ton space, not to mention a gazillion trees will be thanking you. Then deal with the papers already in your possession by setting up a organized paper filing system or a digital one on your computer. Get some ideas here.

Graphic files from the Container Store to get organizationally inspired!

Whatever method you choose to organize your work or home paperwork, the first step is recognizing where it is and then doing something, not matter how small, about it. Create a system you can easily implement so that it can't happen again. Start today wherever you are right now with a strong Feng Shui intention, see yourself and your space clear and organized. Feel how happy and relaxed you are because you have, once again, made room for great things to enter into your life. And if that doesn't get you moving, maybe this will. Just kidding.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lively Jewelry

Tie a string around your finger to remember to water this!

Take a moment from Chinese New Year's cleaning to admire these fun and Feng Shui friendly accessories. One of the main purposes of Feng Shui is to create environments that achieve maximum harmony with our space using principles of nature. These awesome jewelry designs take Feng Shui philosophy to the nth degree. What better harmony can you have with nature than to wear it! Find more fun designs at Ecouterre.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Junk in Your Trunk

I wish you were my drawer. Very soon you will be

It's that time of the year coming up....Chinese New Year! This year Chinese New Year falls on February 14th. Don't think of it as messing up Valentine's day but rather look on the bright side - new year, new relationship energy. Kinda sexy. I personally love Chinese New Year because all the things I said I would start on the western new year, well, ahem, I get a second chance start it. This year is Year of the Tiger (hold the karaoke jokes please). I will be getting more into detail about what this entails in upcoming posts but I wanted to share with you first what traditional Chinese custom suggests during these weeks leading up to the new year. 

I've got three words. Chinese Spring Cleaning. And I don't mean just kicking that stuff under the carpet. I mean deep cleaning like organizing closets, cleaning out the dust bunnies under the couch and wiping down all the other icky places you forget to clean. As we're rolling into the weekend, I thought you'd appreciate my forewarning to get rocking and rolling. Yes I've checked the weather channel and I know that it's going to be the in mid 40s this weekend. So even if you don't get started this weekend, I've given you ample time to get it done. One month minus one day to be exact!

Dig deep and clean out your drawers!

Remember, clutter clearing for the new year is a very important in Feng Shui. If areas of your home or business are cluttered, energy may be stuck. If it's stuck going into the new year, you can imagine the energy path for the rest of the year. So this weekend, start small. Walk over to your funkiest junk drawer (you know which one that is!), take a deep breath, dump out its contents and put back only what is needed. Then put something in that drawer that makes you happy, I mean really happy. This way it will inspire you to keep it clean and organized and each time you open it, and it will make you smile.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Child's Play

Junior's peaceful sanctuary

I this child's bedroom! Reflex would probably have most people jamming the bed into the little alcove area so that it fits exactly in that space. But I love how they didn't and how it appears spacious due to the design and layout. That feeling of spaciousness is not too shabby in the Feng Shui department either. It's what we want our children to feel in their bedrooms - that they have room to grow.

Feng Shui for a child's bedroom is somewhat different than for an adult's bedroom. Small fry's room should go the extra mile to give him/her the feelings of growth, safety and stability. This was achieved here by allowing room on both sides of the bed and not pushing it up to a wall. Using muted, soothing colors promotes nurturing and groundedness (is that a word? You get the idea). In general, all bedrooms should be more yin - quieter or darker as opposed to yang which is brighter and more energetic which in turn does not promote rest and quiet. When children are in their rooms, it should be peaceful for them when they are sleeping or doing their homework. If they do play there, make sure that there is proper storage so things can be easily put away during down time. 

If this look is too adult for your youngster's taste, that can easily be changed up a bit by putting up the child's artwork or putting different pillows. Make sure you get your child's input. That's the best way to put your child's Chi into the room. Happy room, happy child. And let us not forget, Happy room, happy child = happy, happy parents.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chi Infusion

I have been drinking tea like a mad woman lately. Blame it on the cold weather or the fact that I am trying to wean myself off my good friend Joe. I received a beautiful Le Palais des Th├ęs gift box for Christmas and this has made tea drinking a thoroughly enjoyable and self-nurturing event. My tea breaks remind me to continue my days in a more relaxed and less break speed fashion. If I need it, I couple it with my breathing exercises to elevate my Chi even more. Mini spa anyone? 

My new best friend

The box comes with a detailed description of the flavors of the tea in each sachet. Kinda like the sheet you get in a Godiva chocolate box. Hmm, now that's an idea for a good combination! It also tells you approximately how much caffeine is in it and for how long you should steep it. Don't get me started on the gorgeous design of the box and tea packets. I love drinking this delicious tea, getting all its good health benefits of it, but truthfully, it's the fancy design of each tea packet that keeps me coming back. Order here and have your own little tea ceremony.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Part II: The Importance of Breath

Ideally how I'd be breathing all the time!

So have you been holding your breath to hear why breath is so important in Feng Shui? The time has come! In Black Sect Tantric Buddhism Feng Shui, we base our practice on Chi, or Life Force, the Breath of Life. Every person, every space, every thing, has its own Chi and it can either be flowing properly, barely or not at all. When someone brings me in for a Feng Shui consultation, that is one of the many things I observe - the Chi of the person or persons and the Chi of the space and how the Chi of these elements interact. And depending on what the person is seeking to achieve, I recommend a variety of things, many of them related to Chi improvement. People don't realize how important this is. Without Chi, we'd all be, well, kaput. Most people think that Feng Shui is just about moving furniture. Yes, the Art of Placement is fundamental in classical Feng Shui. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the proper flow of a space is integral for health and prosperity. But there are many times after a three hour consultation that I may not have even moved one piece of furniture. You didn't expect that did you?

Try this. Take a moment to observe your breath right now. What's your regular breathing like? Can you comfortably breathe through your nose? If it's a struggle like it was for me, consider trying a neti pot. Is your breathing shallow or deep? If it's shallow, can you try to take deeper breaths? Without hyperventilating of course. I noticed recently that when I am fearful, I stop breathing completely. Imagine that! No air whatsoever! Not only does that not help my performance, it can put my health at risk. So when I feel fear setting in, instead of running for the hills, I try to notice the sensation creeping in and take purposeful deep breaths. I try my best. And thankfully, it usually works. It has made a world of a difference for me in terms of dealing with difficult moments (like why more people don't read my blog), puts whatever is freaking me out into perspective and lets me ride the moment of tension more easily.

Sure I can tell you more about how breath is related to our chakras (energy centers of the body) or how breath is related to the emotion joy in Feng Shui but I wanted to start off slow. We have loads of time for all that other stuff. Let's just start slow and steady, with the aim being to not overwhelm but to recognize and adjust. Like your breath. Happy Monday morning breath!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Part I: Where's Your Breath?

A great morning ritual

About two years ago, I was walking down the street with a friend. She cringed her nose and said,"Do you smell that??? Gross!" I looked at her and had no idea what the heck she was talking about. It was at that moment I realized I wasn't breathing. I mean, obviously I was breathing enough to keep myself alive, but I realized that I was only breathing through my mouth. When I closed my mouth and tried to breathe through my nose, I realized a scary thing - I couldn't! Ok, for those who have weak stomachs, you may want to stop reading here. Alright then heavy hitters, ready for the rest?

My friend wasn't as surprised as I was and shared her oxygen friendly secret - a neti pot. Halfway through her explanation, I was already freaked out. Put a contraption in your nose to pour water out the other side? I can't even swim! I'll drown! But her soothing demeanor convinced me to at least give it a try. After all, what could I lose?

Back home, armed with a neti pot, non-iodized salt and a few kleenex, I tried it. I'm going to spare you all the details here. Check out neti usage directions here. Needless to say, it took me a few tries to maneuver my way around, but when I lifted my head from my sink, closed my mouth and tried to take a deep breath - WOW, what a difference.

My trusty neti pot

So how is this related to Feng Shui? Breath is vitally important and integrally related to Chi. Stay tuned and read Part II on Breath where I'll fill in all the blanks. I'm also posting this now because as it's the winter months, it seems to be an appropriate time to share this jewel. I use it practically everyday. My personal neti pot is the ceramic shown above and I travel with a plastic one. I use it especially when I have a cold or feeling like I am getting a cold like this morning, hence the post. I hear nasal irrigation is good as well for prevention of H1N1 virus but I'm not a scientist. In any case, give it a try. You'll be happy you did. Then take a deep breath and enjoy. Maybe just not in Chinatown on a hot summer day!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Grand, Grand Central

A sight I never tire of 

Grand Central is one of my favorite places in New York. Whenever I am there I am awed by its beauty. Before I boarded my train to a consultation yesterday, I took a few minutes to take in the beautiful architecture yet another time. I usually stay upstairs and gawk at the gorgeous arched ceilings, amazing windows and all the bustling people who never bump into each other - ever notice that? But this time I decided to venture downstairs. I'm a risk taker.

One of the first things I noticed was that for what is technically a basement, they did a fabulous job Feng Shui-wise, by keeping the Chi, otherwise known as the energy of the space, rising. Business was bustling, tourists were abound and employees were rushing around either keeping the place spotlessly clean or surveying the activities. The second thing I noticed was the beams in the ceiling. Not the best architectural feature in Feng Shui since beams tend to indicate pressure overhead, but look how beautifully it was handled! Strategic (I wonder?) lighting placed between the beams alleviated any potential darkness or pressure. Plus it gives the space a very dramatic effect.

The beams seen from afar

A closeup of the lit up beams

Being a foodie, I also love the fact that the historic Oyster Bar is found in the dreamy alcove. Do you know about the secret corners in front of the Oyster Bar where if your friend is whispering in one arched corner, you can hear them from the other corner quite loudly? It's so amazing and quite magical.

Whispering sweet nothings

After I wrote this blog, a friend actually told me that there is a Chinese restaurant on the lower level called what else, but Feng Shui! Now if that is not synchronicity, I don't know what is. The icing on the cake would be for the Chinese food at Feng Shui to be really good. Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You Are Where You Live

Look ma, we're on the food map!

This post is about food so hope you have recovered from the holiday food festivities!!

When you meet someone new, chances are the first questions they ask you are, "What do you do for a living?" or "Where do you live?" As you can imagine, the 4000+ year old ancient art of Feng Shui can be quite involved so for the sake of time and post-holiday recuperation of my brain, I will tackle the latter question today.

I live in Queens. People who may have heard of our borough will usually think we live in the hip and artsy areas of Astoria or Long Island City. But it's better than that. We live in the delicious and ethnically diverse neighborhood of Elmhurst. Queens already has wonderful Chi (life force) with all the diversity and oompf of old and new immigrants, restaurants and shopping possibilities. To our sheer delight, one of our favorite food magazines, Edible, has released a Queens edition!

If you're into food, and we are, Elmhurst is the place for you. According to, Elmhurst's " code is considered the most diverse in NYC, with some 57 languages spoken according to the NYC Department of Education." Even if you are not into food, take this Feng Shui tidbit to heart - food is our body and soul's nourishment. If we do not feed and nourish ourselves properly, we may not be healthy enough to work and in turn, material and spiritual prosperity may reflect this. Edible Queens may single-handedly increase the Chi of Queens by enticing foodies from across the bridge. It that doesn't entice you enough, they are hosting "An Edible Winter Warm Up" on January 24th in LIC that will feature tastings from local restaurants and benefit Hour Children Food PantryWelcome my foodie friends and enjoy your stay!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Keys to Success

When I saw these keys featured on, my heart skipped a beat. Created by Stat Key Company, I found these keys to be an ingenious idea. In Feng Shui, the front door of your home or business is the most important aspect of your space. Walking through your front door of your home or business should be a happy, positive event. I can only imagine having one of these keys as a key to your space would bring nothing less than a smile to your face. Not to mention making telling your keys apart so much easier. I am sure that you have already figured out which one I'm getting. Check out more great choices here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Gua is Leaking

Oh no! My new year has not started off on the best foot. There's a leak in our bedroom that falls in the Relationship and Love area or gua of the bagua. I've attached a diagram of the bagua if you don't have any idea what I'm talking about. The Relationship and Love area is the pink section on the top right corner. The school of Feng Shui that I practice is called Black Sect Tantric Buddhism Feng Shui. I know, it sounds a bit cultish and freaky but I assure you, we don't drink kool-aid. The Black Sect refers to the black color of the crowns or hats that these Tibetan Lamas wore during special ceremonies. The school was pioneered by Grandmaster Thomas Lin Yun and was brought to the U.S. by one of my professors, Steven Post.

Tibetan Black Hat on an adorable disciple!

So back to the diagram. In our discipline, one of our main tools is bagua, as seen above. Using your front door as the starting point, we use this tool to help us figure out the different parts of your home, your business or even your face and what is going on in each of those sections.

Well apparently my Love gua needs some TLC. My super came by yesterday to break open a hole in the wall to see what was going on inside (*gasp*) and see where the leak was coming from. It's painful just telling the story. My beau was informed (by me) to hold on tight for the next few weeks and to be conscious so "disagreements" don't turn into full-blown wars. I also have a some Feng Shui remedies up my sleeve that I will put in practice to help us along. I am told that the hole, and the leak, should be fixed in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I am welcoming this opportunity to give all my relationships a bit more TLC. Anybody free for coffee next week?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Higher Resolution

It's the first official work day of the new year, and you guessed it, it's time to talk resolutions. I know, resolutions, schrezolutions. If you're like me, you're probably sitting at your desk and wondering,"Where do I start?" Accomplishing resolutions can be fun and easier than we think. First step is to take a deep breath (did you do it?), smile, and read on.

If you did set some goals this Jan 1st, what I find helps to tackle loftier resolutions (or any problem at that), is to break them down into manageable and measurable steps. Is your goal to lose the jelly belly jiggle you gained on turkey day? Instead of saying, "I want a beach body by the summer, complete with 6 pack abs," you can switch it to "3 times a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I am going to wake up and do 30 minutes of exercise." Pleeeeese, as I don't ask you for many things, please just don't set yourself up for immediate failure! Instead, be nice to yourself and make your resolutions more manageable and realistic. Here are my top 3 recommendations to help get you to where you want to be:

1) Set a goal that is very clear and detailed. Don't aim to just "save money" but to "put aside $20 a week for 2 months and then check in on [set date]." This allows you to evaluate how you did, make any adjustments and decide what the next step is. Whew, much easier.

2) Write down your goal and the measurable steps somewhere you can see - on a post-it on your bathroom mirror, on your desk or on your fridge. Intention in Feng Shui is one of the most important aspects of success. When you read your goal/intention, picture yourself already having achieved it and really feel what it feels like having it. Feel the accomplishment and satisfaction. Doesn't that feel great? Keep smiling...

3) Enroll your "Helpful People." In Western culture, we are taught to be fiercely independent and are proud of what we accomplish on our own. That's wonderful but it can be alot of pressure! Instead, choose 3 people as your helpful people, or support group. Share with them your goals and the steps you are taking towards that goal. Ask them to make you accountable for what you are aiming to accomplish. When you have a circle of support through your journey, it can make a WORLD of difference.

Last word of advice, don't be so hard on yourself. If you do slip up, admit that you're human and laugh it off, then get back on board and keep on trekking. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010's First House Visit

Our lucky fruit bowl

My wonderful beau, Laurent invited my parents over for lunch yesterday to officially ring in the New Year. Sweet gesture, especially since he was doing all the cooking. My parents gobbled up Laurent's delicious offerings (he's a chef) and the afternoon went off without a hitch, to my surprise and relieved pleasure.

Besides the delicious lunch, the best part of the afternoon was what involved what in Chinese tradition we call the red envelope exchange. Red envelopes are a very important part of the Chinese culture. Money is placed inside the red envelopes and it's usually offered on holidays and special occasions such as Chinese New Year or at weddings. Payment for Feng Shui consultations is also placed in these envelopes. Its significance is that it offers the receiver luck, prosperity and when needed, protection. My mom cracked me up. When we weren't looking, she stealthily put a red envelope in the fruit bowl (that they so conveniently brought over), and another in our last minute attempt at a Christmas tree (that's another blog post in itself). Hilarious. Not only was our tree kinda funny already because it is just a white plastic Charlie Brown-like tree with no ornaments, but it looked even more humorous now with the red envelope lodged between its wirey arms.

Our even luckier tree!

I am a Feng Shui consultant but it never amazes me what more I can learn from my parents and their own personal gestures.