The promise of an empty room

empty room

For reasons too long to go into here, my living room is completely empty. To some people that might seem incredibly stark and sad. I’ve seen the faces of the few who’ve happened by, the startled looks as they say, before they can stop themselves, “Oh—you have no furniture in here.”

But I don’t find it sad. When I enter this empty room, I feel a sense of release. And possibility.

This room hasn’t been much used. Why? It’s the central part of the house, a space where I always envision my family gathered on rainy afternoons and winter evenings. Where I want to bring friends together to laugh and celebrate.

I believe the room was not hospitable. It didn’t welcome anyone. Or at least it hasn’t for a very long time.

Well, that’s going to change. But in order to fill your space with only things you love, you have to start with an empty room.

I’ve brought in a little color. There will be more. And then there will be some texture. I want textures that you can’t help but pass your hand across. And light. For years, I’ve been sitting in a dark room when I want lots and lots of light. I want to illuminate the corners. I want to soak it up. So I will.

I want warmth. I want my room to take the chill off its inhabitants. And I believe I can make that happen.

That’s the promise of an empty room. You can see it as a vacancy or you can see it as the biggest opportunity of your life.

Envision it full.

Feng shui for the amateur

As with most things, I know enough about feng shui to be almost completely ineffective. But I love the idea – in fact, am completely romanced by the idea – that I can change my life just by moving some stuff around.

My first exposure to feng shui was in a book I bought for a friend. She was only vaguely interested, but I fell for it – hard. Completely infatuated, I recruited my husband and we spent the better part of a day trying to figure it all out before he died of boredom. (RIP, dear.) Particularly mystifying was the concept of the four celestial animals. After poring over it, we determined we had too much tortoise. I can’t remember why it was a problem to have too much tortoise, but it seemed alarming at the time.

Too much tortoise?
Too much tortoise?

I eventually enlisted the help of my friend, Susan Nelson, feng shui consultant and trainer extraordinaire, to give me the run-down on my chi. Here is what I learned. Am I too caught up in the metaphor? You tell me:

  1. There’s too much kids’ stuff in our playroom, also known as our partnership and romance area. No kidding. Would that be the amorphous blob of toys that encroaches on the rest of the house like a lava flow? Or the fact that we can’t have so much as a 5-minute conversation without being interrupted by one of our children?
  2. The extension to our partnership area (usually a good thing) is vast, empty, and underutilized. It’s called our deck. Without much thought, we built this huge, once-lovely structure under a 300-year-old oak tree that drops about 5 million acorns a year, as well as branches, leaves and other crud. Not only is it dangerous to stand out there, but as I mentioned in a previous post, it looks like a shipwreck that’s been raised from submersion and plopped in our backyard, barnacles and all.
  3. Our career area is in the toilet. Literally. Which explains a lot. Not much I can do besides relocate the bathroom to another part of the house at great expense, or perhaps paint it red, ugh. There is something just fundamentally wrong about a red bathroom.
  4. The prosperity area of the yard is overrun with weeds. At the height of summer you can hardly get to it. Oh, and it has a compost heap in it. We all know compost is only one organic step up from garbage.
  5.  The power corner of the house is the place the cat sleeps. Enough said.

I’ve tried to correct some of these deficiencies. Heaven knows I’ve weeded my prosperity corner, but who would have guessed it? Weeds grow back. I’ve followed some of Susan’s easier suggestions – hanging bells, moving furniture. I’ve decluttered, washed windows, and changed lightbulbs. But I don’t think I’ve made any great strides. While I’d like to tell myself things are changing for the better, I’m not sure I don’t just have bad energy flowing through a much cleaner house.

I guess I should ask Susan to come back and take another look. Maybe she’d be proud of the progress I’ve made. Maybe she’d have more suggestions to keep me on track. Or maybe she’d just tell me I’m still a little heavy on the tortoise.

Are you a believer? What miracles has feng shui wrought for you?