Keeping it Cool, Clear and Clean

As a girl growing up on Long Island, I always loved the summertime.  It was a time of open windows and breezes, hot sun and cool waves, expansive days that stretched out into long dusks, and freedom to explore, play and dream.

What we called a “heat wave” was a hot humid spell that lasted for a week or so. Here in the Washington DC area, we call that summer, and it can be a bit more of a challenge to always love it.

I’m neat by nature, but I find that especially during the summer, I need things to be spare and clean to counteract the claustrophobic quality of the humidity here.  Less stuff lying around equals a calmer, more serene feeling; clutter and mess feels oppressive and heavy.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”   – William Morris

Here are a few simple tricks to lighten up the look of your home for summer and create the illusion of coolness.

 

BHG.com

 

 “Don’t put it down, put it away” is the first tenet of clutter-free living. Put it away right away and you will save time in the end. You’ll be forging a habit each time you do it, even if it feels cumbersome at first.

Recycle the newspaper daily into your recycle bin or into a basket that you take out to the bin once a week. Have a dedicated spot for magazines that you want to read, and only keep a handful at a time. If it’s more than a few months old, recycle it.

Paper is a relentless clutter challenge. Sort all paper coming into the house into three categories:

Throw away immediately: junk mail, flyers, catalogues.

Action items: bills, kids’ permission forms, items you want to order, etc.

File: insurance papers, medical records, etc. 

Have one dedicated place for paper so it doesn’t take over the house. Sort it there, and act on it once a week.

BHG.com

Scan the floor for piles. If what’s on the floor isn’t furniture or an intentional decor item such as a plant or basket, it doesn’t belong on the floor. Tackle one pile or item at a time until you’ve put them all where they belong. This can be done daily for ten minutes; it’s surprising how much effect a few minutes, done regularly, will have.

Some of these Better Homes and Gardens organizing tips are good ways to stay on top of things before they get out of control. Maybe one of these techniques will speak to you.

If you’re really stuck and clutter is a relentless problem for you, my friend Yvette Gluck at Lighten Up! Professional Organizing is a great help.         I had her come work with me on my home office, which also doubles as a sewing room and a guest room, and I was very happy with how much more in control I felt when we were done. Everything is zoned, in a logical place, and easily accessible for the disparate tasks I use the room for. Success!

Here’s to feeling unencumbered by stuff! – as well as cool, calm and collected.  Happy summer to all.

Feng Shui : healing design

So, I have been going back and forth over whether or not to take an upcoming workshop about feng shui in Baltimore.

Meaning “wind and water” in Chinese, feng shui today is practiced as sort of a “space healing” art.

              

    

 

 

Briefly, for those who aren’t familiar with it, feng shui is an ancient Chinese system of balancing and harmonizing the energy of a space in order to maximize the well-being of those who inhabit or otherwise use it. It assumes that chi – a subtle animating energy that flows through everything – is real; from my longstanding tai chi and meditation practice I have no doubt of this. It’s also really apparent to me as an acupuncture patient; I can feel the chi moving in my body with the placement of the needles. That the land and buildings have their own chi – I can go there, too. We all know the difference between a place that feels good, and one that feels off, or even feels menacing. And that we’re an intrinsic and connected part of a bigger whole seems apparent to me also, so that accepting that the chi that animates us, also flows in some form through everything else that is manifest, is not a problem for my left-brained 21st century comprehension. So up to there, it’s easy for me to feel like it’s all good. Where I get kind of iffy is what I know about feng shui “cures” for problems areas in rooms and houses, things like hanging wind-chimes or flutes or mirrors to redirect energy. It starts feeling pretty hocus-pocus-y and magic-y at this point. I mean, it’s still the same theory – those things have energy, so could theoretically redirect it – but still ….. I haven’t quite reconciled this yet, the pros and the cons of going forward with this training, which is not cheap. On the one hand it feels like it’s exactly the intersection of expertise that would deepen my home design practice, and on the other hand it feels like maybe a weird trick up my sleeve that’s pretty superficial. Of course the quality of the training is paramount also. Without going into that in detail yet, I’ll just say that I have looked into the person presenting the workshop and believe that she has the goods.

Does anybody have experience with feng shui? I’d love to hear about it.