Feng Shui Parallels

I have only read 27 pages of Karen Kingston’s book ~ Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui and so far it is obvious to me that what I said last week is true.   Although I have only ever read the occasional article here and there on Feng Shui, and even less on the relationship of Feng Shui to clutter, there are a lot of parallels between these teachings and what I have been conveying here at 365 Less Things since I began blogging about decluttering. The words “negative energy” or “stagnant energy” really have much the same meaning as the “unhealthy relationship”, that I have talked about, between people and their clutter. That tug of war, if you will, that exists between the sentimental or other attachment to our stuff while at the same time, whether knowingly or unknowingly, we feel oppressed by it. We want it to be gone but we can’t bring ourselves to break the ties it has on us.

In chapter 4 ~ What is Clutter Exactly, Karen names her four categories of clutter. Below in bold I have stated those categories and beside each I have given the version I have described over and over again here at 365 Less Things.

  • Things you do not use or love = Things you keep only out of obligation, habit or fear.
  • Things that are untidy or disorganised = Where you have so much stuff that you just can’t find the energy or how-to to get or stay organised.
  • Too many things in too small a space = The parallel is obvious here.
  • Anything unfinished = Aspiration clutter .

I do have to draw the line at believing that the history in the walls of a home can affect the new occupants, even without them being aware of that history. That is a little too hocus pocus for me. However I can already see, after reading so few pages, that this ancient practice and believe system does make it simple to describe the negatives feelings and connections to clutter, that I have at times struggled to convey in my writings. This paragraph from the book is a perfect example of that…

Having Clutter Can Keep You in the Past

When all your available space is filled with clutter, there is no room for anything new to come into your life. Your thoughts tend to dwell in the past, and you feel bogged down with problems which have dogged you for some time. You tend to look back rather than forward in your life, blaming the past for your current situation rather than taking responsibility for creating a better tomorrow. Clearing your clutter allows  you to begin to deal with your problems and move forward. You have to release the past to create a better tomorrow.

Although I tend to agree with this statement, I personally couldn’t so confidently confirm that decluttering your home will solve all your issues from your past, but it sure is a good place to start.

No doubt this book will continue to influence my blogging while I am reading through it and at the end I will do a full review of my thoughts on the book. For now though, I can plainly see the parallels of these ancient teachings and what I believe about clutter and I am eager to read more.

Today’s Mini Mission

Clean behind a piece of furniture that is against a wall. This job will, at the least, include making enough space in the room to be able to pull the item away from the wall so you can clean behind it. At worse, if the item contains breakable items or it has items resting on it you may have to remove them first. For the sake of this exercise, as clutter is the special subject here at 365, choose an item that does require emptying. It will make you think twice about whether you need or want to have to go to this much trouble every time you clean behind it. Keep in mind that in order to keep your home properly clean this task should happen at least quarter yearly.

Eco Tip for the Day

Making a nice big one pot meal takes no more time or energy than a smaller one, but it does save on effort and energy by creating leftovers meals.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Karen Kingston’s book was the thing that got me started on decluttering, but like you I found some of her ideas a bit far fetched. I read that book over and over but never really got going until I found this blog though. I have to admit to smiling when, about 2 months ago, I decluttered Karen Kingston’s book.
    Now, for a change of subject, what do you do when it’s a special wedding anniversary, you don’t normally exchange gifts on your anniversary, he hasn’t mentioned anything that he really needs and there is a loose plan to have a party later in the summer? Colleagues were full of tankard (to go with the other two that are catching dust on a shelf), compass (really? when he has an Iphone?) and hip flask ideas. I’ve bought him chocolates and hope he doesn’t try to surprise me with something bigger!

    • I think, chocolates are fine. Tankard? No, thank you.
      Rather get him out for some special day – a coffee somewhere, where you don’t usually go, a trip to the movies, a museum, the zoo or whatever both of you enjoy. Something like that.
      I think an anniversary is something that should be celebrated together by doing something fun – but it doesn’t require some sort of physical “award”.

    • My husband and I usually just plan to go out for a nice dinner at a restaurant for our anniversary. One year we decided to take a class about owls that our local nature preserve park was offering. We were both interested in the class and it seemed like a fun and inexpensive thing to do for our anniversary. 🙂

    • Hi Tracey, my husband and I have never bought anniversary gifts. We usually go out for a nice dinner at a swanky restaurant. On our 20th anniversary we were living in Seattle. The kids were 18 & 16 at the time so we left them at home and went to Las Vegas for three days. We went to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro at the Venetian. It was magnificent. Lat year for our 25th we planned a trip back to the USA. Due to work constraints we couldn’t get away in time to celebrate our anniversary over there as we wanted. We hoped to go to the French Laundry in California (another Thomas Keller) but that wasn’t to be. The trip was a good enough treat anyway. This year we enjoyed the degustation menu at Bachus, one of our favourite restaurants here in Newcastle. It was divine. Can you tell we appreciate good food? 😉 Chocolate is always good and even if your husband bought something bigger it was probably difficult for him and he will be glad you set a new precedent.

      Back to the subject of the book, perhaps you like my blog because it says the same things in a way that you are more comfortable with. Whatever it is, I am glad you are here.

      • My DH took me Bacchus for our anniversary last year and we had the degustation menu too. It was divine. I would rather that than a present.

        • Hi Debra F, my husbands birthday is in early January and mind in February. I often give him a $100 gift voucher for Bacchus for his birthday and book a table there for the Saturday closest to my birthday. He doesn’t have to worry about thinking of something for my birthday this way as it is all arranged.

    • Tracey – I read a blog earlier today with suggestions for gifts for dad that are a bit more exciting than the usual but still affordable. The one I was rather taken with was some “designer” beer – apparently beer has gone all gourmet and fancy, but alas I wouldn’t waste that kind of money on my hubby’s general consumption, so when I read that – and some of the suggestions – I was rather taken with the idea.

      If you’re not keen on the beer idea, here is the link:
      http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2013/06/10/6-fathers-day-gifts-modern-dads-no-longer-want/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=email-2013-06-10&utm_medium=email

      • Hi Moni, good choice. I often buy my husband Belgian and German beers as a gift at Christmas time. He wouldn’t touch the everyday stuff but he sure likes a good local boutique or foreign beer. Red Oak Beer Cafe in Sydney do great tasting plates where they match four beers with four small food samples pair that with a bowl of fries and the dessert tasting plate and voila a delicious filling meal. YUM!

        • Colleen – Boutique Beer. That’s the term I am looking for. And accompanied by a platter of yummy food – like a deli platter, he’d be as happy as a pig in muck!

  2. This weekend we made more progress getting rid of things we no longer use or love. Late last month my mom sent my husband and I a new video game console as a birthday present. We decided we really like the new console and no longer need the two old previous generation game consoles (or their games or accessories) that we have been holding on to for some time (but not using much). So we packed both of the old systems up and took them to a used video game store that specializes in older game systems. We took trade credit for one of the systems and used that credit to purchase a few games for the new console we just received and took money for the other system and games that we traded in. It feels great to have those old consoles we weren’t using out of the house. It also enabled us to get rid of two large cabinets (that were housing the old systems and games) and the large old style tube TV and so we hauled all that stuff off to Goodwill. Our extra bedroom has quite a lot of extra space now. I don’t know much about feng shui, but getting rid of that old unused stuff has got to be a positive change. 🙂

    • Way to go Melissa. I bet getting rid of that stuff sure felt good.

    • Hi Melissa, I can imagine how great that felt. I felt good for you just reading about it. I bet you keep going back to that spare room to enjoy the new look. That’s what I’d be doing. 😉

      • Thanks Colleen. Yes it did feel great …but as far as going back to the spare room…no! Let me explain… We have been going in overdrive identifying things to get rid of around the house and the holding pen is the spare room. We wouldn’t hold them at all except we always let my husband’s parents look through our stuff before it gets donated in the off chance that something is sentimental or useful to them. We normally see them every week so it isn’t a big deal at all. But circumstances have made it so that we haven’t seen them in about 3 weeks and so the donate pile has grown to the point where it’s consuming the entire spare bed, most of the floor, and a bookshelf that is also going to be donated. We’re seeing them on Saturday evening, so on Sunday I have a date with Goodwill! lol. Maybe then I’ll enjoy going back to that room. 🙂 I am proud of how much stuff we’ve decided to part with over the past 3 weeks though!

        • We were able to get rid of the cabinets and TV before seeing them just by giving them a call and asking if they wanted them. When they didn’t we were able to get them out of the room. Thank goodness too because all that floor space is now filled up with donate boxes that are waiting to go! 🙂

        • Hi Melissa, that makes sense. It is good that you have a spare room you can use as your transition point. I use our garage. Yesterday I went out there and had a good old rearrange and set aside all the things that need to go to my son’s place. This time it looked so decluttered and organised that I vacuumed it. That is a first, usually I sweep the garage because of all the nooks and crannies where leaves and dirt blows in but it is getting so clear now that vacuuming was an option. That and the fact that I didn’t want to stir up dust that would land on the newly scrubbed shelves of the now empty shelving unit.

    • Melissa – I was SOOOOOO close to having the PS2 out of the house. I was THIS close. And then the girls decided to have one last game of Sing Star. And now its not going anyway. As Dayna’s friends have visited, they have all squealed with delight and had a game – the songs are all “totally retro” and “like Old School” and I have caused a Sing Star comeback. Oh well, surely when this comback is over, it won’t have a third comeback surely?

      • LOL!!! Maybe it’ll make you feel better Moni that ours had a short lived comeback too. We played Guitar Hero for about a week. We got the thing out of the house before it could have a third comeback.

  3. I have had a copy of Karen Kingston’s book for several years and it helped me let go of a lot of things. This website has helped me continue to make decluttering a regular activity. My husband was the classic ‘I can’t get rid of this because I might need it someday type’. He reads a lot of books so I left Karen’s book in his pile of reading material. I saw him reading it a few times but didn’t say anything. One day he got out a garbage bag and started pulling stuff out of his clothes closet that he hadn’t worn in years. That was just the beginning – he has decluttered so much, our house looks better and we are both happier. The only area he has trouble tackling is the tools. Years of gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) suggestions on my part did nothing. Sometimes it’s the way the message is presented – Karen’s message made sense to him finally.

    • So glad your husband got on board. Never would have happened had you not put that book in his pile of books. Good thinking.

    • Hi Megan S, that is a great personal decluttering story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am impressed that your husband actually read the book. I am pretty sure that as soon as my husband read Feng Shui on the cover he would treat it with contempt. However one only needs to take from it the things that make sense to themselves. That is what I am doing and so far I am enjoying the read.

  4. I’ll have a teaching job in summer for a few weeks. It’s amazing how much material (stuff) a teacher needs! I hope, I’ll manage to use up a few office and stationery items instead of adding clutter to my home. I’m quite happy though that this isn’t my main profession, I think, I’d get crazy with all these paper clippings and so on.

    • Hang in there. It will soon be over. Hope it does help you use up some stuff.

    • Hi Sanna, you have the right idea ~ see it as an opportunity to use up supplies you have and just accept the items you have to bring in. You can let them go when you are done.

  5. I have never read much about Feng Shui. Saw a few magazine articles about it when I used to get magazines. I guess from what you have said it has some sense to it. I’m just glad that decluttering is happening in my life and it feels so good.

    • Hi Deb J, you knowledge of Feng Shui sounds much to the same extent as mine, limited. I am happy to keep it limited. I doubt I will become a convert to the practice but karen sure does explain clutter in a very clear and to the point way. Perhaps Feng Shui influences her writing style as well by assisting her to eliminate to word clutter and get straight to the point.

  6. You had me smiling with “hocus pocus.” 🙂

  7. I have to admit, I got that book because I loved the cover and the size of it. (confession of a graphic design junkie)
    But I LOVE that book because it really made me look at my space differently (without too much hocus pocus). It got me started on this journey to release my “stuff”. I picked it up at the same time as “Living The Simple Life” by Elaine St James which is another book that helped me through the years after my kids (and ALL that kid stuff) started to overwhelm me.

    Honestly I love the books with short helpful chapters. I read a chapter and then absorb it all day before moving onto the next one. It works for me.

    • Hi Creative me, I think you put in a nutshell here what I am liking so far about the book ~ short, helpful and straight to the point. I read a few paragraphs and then do a little housework or decluttering while I take in what she says and relate it to the way of feel and go about my decluttering task. She and I are on the same page just with a different yet similar motivation.

    • Elaine St. James book is a fabulous read as well. Even her writing is simplified. Colleen would like Elaine’s book, too.

  8. I think I will rely on your interpretation of the Karen Kingston’s book Colleen , I think I would find the ‘hocus pocus’ a bit annoying.
    I am about to attack the fridge, like a six year old child , I want to do anything BUT pull the fridge out and clean around it. So I have focused on how long it will take me to do it . An hour seems too long , maybe 30 minutes will see it through. Every minute I sit here thinking about it is another ten minutes it will take to get done. OK I have decided what time I want it finished by, 9.10am. Right got to go. I will Let you know how it went.
    Cheers

    • Here is some incentive Wendy F. I will not go for coffee with you today until you have cleaned that fridge inside, outside and behind. So get on with it, you know how much I like my visits to Suspension Cafe.

    • Ok , I’m back. It was not the total disaster I thought it would be, but it was not pretty. It did not take long at all. Less than twenty minutes I would guess. The fridge is still out of its spot, I am waiting for the walls that I wiped down to dry, and the fridge could do with a final wipe and put back into its spot. The floor and walls had lots of fluff , which vacuumed up easily. The floor under the fridge was pretty irksome. Physically, the hardest part was pulling the fridge out of its spot.
      Cheers

      • Well done Wendy. I will pull mine out tomorrow but I think I did it recently. The inside is fine as it is half empty these days. Probably should have bought a smaller fridge last year. This one had the best energy rating though of any fridge we looked at regardless of size. Not that it is all that big.

        Thanks for the coffee and game of UpWords. 😉 Oh and the worm farm.

        • My pleasure, glad to Declutter things from my garden, that was last week wasn’t it?
          I’m sure we will find some worms to put in it soon.
          I think I have had my ‘ah ha’ moment today. Stop collecting stuff that ends up giving you grief. Sounds simple, but the reasons we get stuff is sometimes very complicated.
          Cheers

          • All those little ah ha moments add up Wendy F. Keep them coming.

          • Hi Wendy F. Could you please expand on the “stuff that ends up giving you grief”? Sounds like something I should explore. Thanks much!

          • Wendy F – I’d also be interested in hearing about the ‘giving you grief’ stuff, it might help me with something.

          • Stuff gives me grief, when I think it’s precious/useful and someone else could use it. The ‘grief’ is just the inconvenience of trying to offload the stuff when no one thinks it is as precious or useful as me :).
            Prime example is the old wedding dress;
            “It’s a perfectly good wedding dress, only worn once. That style would suit you. You would save thousands on a new one”
            You try and sell it on eBay, take it to the wardrobe swap at the local hall, offer it to the local church, and no one wants it. So you bundle it in a plastic bag and drop it at the thrift shop. Which is what you should have done first.
            Do you see what I mean Moni and Michelle? I can explain further 🙂

          • Actually , the wedding dress is not a good example because you did get use out of it . i think it is more like stuff you pick up thinking that someone else will like it. Getting your son wardrobe inserts so he can keep his clothes tidy, but him not wanting them, so you have to find another home for them.

  9. I have the book and I enjoyed her get to the point style. I also enjoy the different perspective – it might be the same message that we get here but sometimes something worded a bit differently can cause a lightbulb to come on. Sometimes our brains are more open to an idea than at other times.

    I have also found that sometimes when I am talking to people about the decluttering journey I am, they get a little, shall we say, resistant or a wee bit defensive to the ideas and principles, but I have found if I switch to “Its actually good Feng Shui” suddenly, its all good and they drop their attitude and are suddenly open to the topic again. Go figure.

    • You are so right Moni, the wording can make all the difference. You know how much I repeat myself here from a slightly different slant each time and it is amazing how all of a sudden someone, who I know has been reading for a while, suddenly gets it.

      Actually I have a friend who may be swayed by the Fend Shui angle. I must give that a try. Thanks for the tip.

  10. Calico ginger :

    I have the book, but have not it revisited for some time – I will give it a re-read. From memory, I found some of it a bit whacko for me, but it’s always good to look at things from different angles. I have not been very focussed on de-cluttering of late, as I am in the midst of selling my mum’s home in NZ and that has taken a lot of mental energy. I did buy a photo and negative scanner though, and I am very pleased with it – those big bulky albums days are numbered…

    • I can imagine that trying to sell a property long distance can be quite energy sapping. I am glad your scanner is working well for you. My son has one should I ever need his services.

  11. I do not know a lot about Feng Shui but I do think we accomplish a lot of the same principles by decluttering. When we let go of stuff that is not adding value to our lives, we are letting go of negative things and we have the opportunity for more positive to come in. I knew someone who built a home and had a designer come in and decorate with the focus being on Feng Shui. I think a lot of it had to do with flow and energy. Certainly there are similar ideas with both decluttering and Feng Shui. Looking forward to hearing more from you about it.

    • I agree Jen. The idea of negative energy caused by clutter is certainly the same no matter what angle you come from. Once I have read through this book I might be tempted to look into the practice a little further. We’ll see.

  12. Fascinating. And thank you for drawing the parallels between the book and your blog. It educates me on both simultaneously. Coolio.

    I wonder what the scientific community at large has to say about clutter in relation to human behavior. Cognitive psychology seems big on simplifying thoughts and avoiding an over-abundance of choices. Perhaps science and ancient Asian teachings are not too far apart on this matter?

  13. I am so glad that you are enjoying Karen’s book. As with any book, blog, magazine/newspaper article, etc., we have to take away that which works for us, and leave the rest. On the lines of “walls having histories”, I personally believe that is true. Think about a time when you might have walked in a residence or office space and felt that the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Maybe that is just an American expression? Or, maybe it is because here in Hawaii we are very much in tune with the aina (land) and its people. I read an article a few years ago that suggested when you travel and are staying in a hotel room, to whack the bed with a hangar and then leave the room for a bit to release the energies from the former occupants. May sound “hocus pocus”, but I started doing this immediately thereafter, and I sleep so much better than I ever had before in hotel beds. Bottom line, whatever works for each of us 🙂

    • Kimberly – I’m glad you said this, because I feel this too and was staying beneath the radar with the hocus pocus consensus. I noticed especially when house shopping, different houses have its own ‘feel’.

      Here’s the thing, it came to light recently that none of us in my family have ever felt settled in this house and we’ve been here 7 years now. The previous owners were only in it 18 months but it almost feels like it is still their house and we’re the renters. If anyone has any ideas about this, please let me know.

      PS I like the tip about the clothes hanger.

      • Aloha Moni,
        Please do try the bed whacking next time you travel. I am not kidding. It made a huge difference in our “room experience”.
        Do some research on your home. There may be a reason for your ‘ohana’s unsettled feelings. Find out its history, talk to neighbors etc. Was there something on the land prior to the home being built? Talk to your real estate agent. Anyone that could enlighten you. Now, for some more “hocus pocus” 🙂 You could try having the house blessed by a member of the clergy. Sprinkle sea salt around the entire perimeter of the home. Sprinkle sea salt in all corners of the house and closets. Leave it set for an hour or so, then vacumn or sweep it up and dispose of it immediately. You can also burn sage bundles, or incense in each room. Open the windows for awhile. If you have access to red ti leaves (very important in Hawaiian culture), tie a ti leaf to each bed post, or place by the bed. I know that most of the readers will be saying What? I can only speak from experience that these things really do work. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t post them. I have always been open to everything, especially ancient traditions, folk medicines etc.

        • Hi Kimberley,

          I like your ‘style’ and sea salt is a great cleanser! 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • If it worked for our ancestors, I say go for it! Yes, sea salt is a great cleanser. Glad I live on the ocean 🙂

      • Kimberly and Moni, though I don’t really believe in these things, I do know that sometimes it takes a “ritual” of some sort to really make something your “own” (I personally think this is a psychological reaction and has nothing to do with spirits, but call it as you want)
        E.g. when I go into a hotel room, I always open all the doors and drawers in there and look inside. I also usually open the window for a few minutes (if possible) and spread my own things around the room a little. I get adjusted to the room and I feel well for it.
        I think, a big issue is also smell – if some room or flat smells odd to you, it’s hard to feel well and at home in there. (And there may be smells from flooring or other material that is used in the building that you can’t so easily change, depending on the house)
        In your case Moni, I think maybe you don’t really feel at home there, because you have felt burdened and cluttered in this house for so long. Maybe it would be a good idea, to “move in again” – by maybe painting a few rooms, rearranging furniture, maybe even changing a few rooms. A more small-scale ritual like a “blessing” of the new, decluttered and potentially feel-well home can work as well, like Kimberly suggested: bring a new smell to those rooms (e.g. by burning incense), open all windows and let the winterwind carry out all the past or just go in each room and say “hello room, I like you now, now you really are my home!” (even though that might sound crazy 😀 )
        Maybe there is a reason beyond the former clutter why you feel unsettled in this house, though.

        • Sanna,
          All of your ideas were spot on too! You are a wise old sage. Call it instinct, intuition, 6th sense. Basically, we all have the capability to improve our surroundings whether we open windows to let the fresh air in, sprinkle sea salt to cleanse, burn sage.candles or incense, declutter, etc. It’s all good!

        • Sanna – I think if we stay here any length of time we will have to redecorate.

          • Ideealistin :

            Hi Moni,
            I’d say: Paint! Walls, that is. It’s easy, it’s relatively inexpensive (if you know how to do it yourself), it transforms rooms instantly.
            Maybe Germans are crazy but I think we paint, paint, paint, no matter whether it is a rental or not (as we have to give back rentals freshly painted anyway if we stay for a longer period of time it doesn’t seem such a big deal either. Also, renting is very common and you are pretty free to do what you want as long as you can and do give the apartment back in the original condition). Colours have SUCH a big impact on how you feel inside a room they can even make you feel warmer or colder and even whites differ a lot. Did you know that depending on the light situation and the shade white can even be too bright and therefore disturbing instead of calming? Also I believe that colours are well as smells and like the way something feels for us (fluffy for one person may be scratchy for another) is highly individual. Just as the clutter level is individual (some feel positively stimulated by looking at lots of tchotchkes others only see clutter, chaos, work. The same goes for emptiness: Serene for one, sterile for the other …) the feelings colours evoke are individual (as well as dependent on the particular space). Some people are the contrast-types, others find too much contrast overstimulating. Muted or bold? Light or dark? It can be fun and eye-opening and a good preparation for the next place to find out what are your preferences. Choosing paint, discussing choices and painting also would definitely get the family together and probably create the feeling of making the house your own that Sanna talked about.
            Okay, I’ll try to come to an end with this rather longwinding comment and I frankly confess that I am an interior decorating addict. But I find it highly interesting what makes some places feel good and others not (though sometimes the places that feel good to you are not even “your style”) and though I unfortunately don’t have all the wisdom there that I’d love to have I discovered some key points over the years of try (and error ;-)):
            – as little stuff as possible ( this is especially hard for someone who likes furniture and art – but less really is more and the most beautiful pieces can’t shine if crammed in somewhere and furniture that isn’t used gives rooms a stale feeling I believe)
            – get the colours and lighting right for yourself and the particular place (tricky but oh so important!)
            – get the feel right (materials should clean up nicely to your personal standards for example. I know many people who don’t like leather couches for example because the say they feel cold. We love our leather couch because it is wipeable. cloth feels dingy and for cuddling/cozyness throws and pillows do the job (for us) … however I love our brown wooden floors because they don’t show dirt much . Even if I know they have not been mopped for a long time I somehow don’t care … I guess we all are crazy like that. Some things need to be spotless, others hardly bother us …)
            – display sentimental objects (positively sentimental of course! It makes you feel good and at home – and when things are displayed it is easy to recognize if we don’t value them anymore the way we once did)

            Okay, maybe I am not so far away from Feng Shui now anymore with attributing staleness to unused furniture and believing that colours should be very carefully chosen according to your sensitivity and that the wrong shade of white can upset someone …
            I rather believe in (neuro)science than in “hocus pocus” – but I mainly believe in doing whatever works for you. Sometimes the outcome is the same anyway, only the motivation is different.

      • I have feelings about that Moni. We have always rented because of my husbands work. We have owned houses but never lived in them. Every one of the houses we have lived in has felt like home to us. Home is not about whether you own the structure or not it is, as the saying goes, where the heart is. I suppose it is a mindset that we have built up due to our circumstances. Being a little nomadic we are accustomed to making a place home no matter where, when or what it is. Even though we sometimes end up in a house/location a lot longer than we expect to we still consider it temporary because from the get go we never know how long we will stay. Living like this one soon gets accustomed to becoming familiar and at home in any location.

        The person who lived in the house we are in now, arrived and his wife never followed him. According to Feng Shui that ought to deem this house as having some sort of separated couples syndrome. However my husband and I have never been happier together. Or perhaps I don’t know enough about how this works. As I said to Kimberley I am healthily sceptical.

        • Colleen – that’s ok, I doubt the theory is that simple, but if your family has been happy in this house, that is a great thing.

          I think Sanna is right that I need to renew the areas that distinctly remind me of the previous owners.

          When we moved in we had to replace the bedroom curtains straight away as they were red and gold striped and Adrian refused to live with them, as they reminded him of Clowns pants (go figure) and aside from the fact that they were awful curtains (and unfortunately good quality, although poor taste) triggered his Clown phobia constantly.

          The million dollar question is how far and how much do we spend on a house that we may or may not end up staying in? Oh to have a crystal ball.

          • I am coming to the conclusion that renting may actually be preferable to living in a home one owns. Living in Defence Housing where there are rules about what we can do from how many picture hooks in walls to hanging curtain rods or painting walls, really simplifies decorating options. I don’t hang curtains, I don’t paint walls (because I would have to put them back they way they were when I leave, which could be twelve months after I move in), every organisational item I apply to my space is freestanding or removable without damage (so can move with me from place to place), I often know very little about the history of the house, the colour scheme is always neutral so my stuff blends in nicely, renovating is out of the question…

            Funny thing is that once upon a time I used to think this was a drawback but now that my needs are simple and my shopping habits are more environmentally friendly I don’t even give it much thought anymore. So long as the dwelling isn’t too big and perfectly clean and functional when I move in I am happy.

          • Moni, I would go along with renewing areas in a home and no, no, no way would I keep clown pant curtains! Seriously freaky.

            Colleen, the restrictions with Defence Housing seem to make the choices more simple, don’t they? Doesn’t sound like a bad way to live. I’ve been pretty careful in decorating/paint choices ever since we bought this house in 2000 because we thought we would be here only a short time. When we finally made the firm decision several months ago that this house is a good fit for us at least until retirement, then I decided to pick a fun color for the laundry room. It is a bright, ocean blue. Probably whoever buys the house years down the road won’t like it, but it is just one crazy room in the house!

            I MUST get the kitchen back in order before the weekend as hubby has invited some people over for BBQ. But I still look around at my stacks of dishes and knick knacks and my fingers are just itching to declutter more. 🙂

          • Michelle, why no take the opportunity to do a Trial Separation declutter or as Mel put it yesterday The Maybe Pile. That is pack up in a box the things you think you don’t really need from the kitchen and put them away somewhere for a while. Perhaps in the back shed. Set a certain time period for how long the are to be separated and if they haven’t been needed or missed by then they will be decluttered.

            I am thinking of doing this with some of my plastic microwave containers. I have a set of glass bowls (healthier for heating in) that would possibly be adequate or maybe even better for the job but habit has me using the plastic ones most of the time. If I remove them I will know whether I really need them and whether the glass set really are a better alternative.

            I must do that today.

      • Calico ginger :

        Hi Moni, my “whacko” comment was about the upcoming colon cleansing chapters, not that a house can retain a negative atmosphere from previous events that took place there. I completely believe in that, but I ALSO believe that the atmosphere can be changed. Personally I think that a quiet prayer is all it takes, but that is an individual thing.

        • Hi Calico Ginger – all good, I don’t mind other people’s opinions, I just was busting to say I feel atmosphere in houses, but didn’t want to be the odd kid out. 🙂
          LOL – yes, I recall the colon bizo – I was all, where did that come from? Jeepers, it was a bit of a topic jump from kitchen cupboards and attic space to the colon. I would have thought that was a totally different book. I do know someone who lost a surprising amount of weight simply by going thru a liver cleanse followed by a colon clense, but I’d really rather clear out a cupboard than go there.

          • Hey Moni – please don’t think we’re loonies here, but my husband is pretty certain that the spirit of our old cat is in the house. She used to like to sleep on the chest of drawers. The cat we have now keeps getting up there and yowling at us at around 2 a.m. If the old cat wants to come out and say hello, that’s allright with me. 🙂

          • You may find this strange given my comments on hocus pocus but even I can believe this to be true.

      • Hi Moni,

        It is time for you to do a ‘clap out’ in every room. Stir up the ‘chi’ by opening all your windows. You may feel a little chilly but sounds to me like a brisk breeze blowing through your house will cleanse it nicely for you!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • That is right Kimberley, whatever works for each of us. I have a fairly open mind about these things. My family (Mother, Father, siblings) is convinced that the ghost of my father’s father has followed us from home to home. So I am sure not dismissing the more seemingly far fetched aspects practice altogether, I am just being healthily sceptical.

      • If you and/or your family members had a loving relationship with your grandfather, I am sure that brings a level of comfort to all involved. I just think we, as humans, only have small pieces of the big puzzle. My Dad passed away 21 years ago, and I cannot tell you how many signs he has given me over the years that he is still present when he needs to be. Sometimes we get so blinded by the white noise of it all, that we don’t recognize these things when they are staring us right in the face. I am very grounded, however, I welcome and will be the first one to try something to see if it helps…like the bed whacking 🙂

  14. Also I’m about 12 hours late but Happy Matariki to everyone!

    • And the same to you Moni.

    • Hey Moni,
      Please explain ??? 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Maori New Year. It died out around 1940 apparently and then in 2000 they re-introduced it which was the year my son started school so we heard about it thru there, and now the media do a “Matariki Special”, some people do a bon fire or brazier, kites, fireworks and lantern kites. Basically its about getting outside and looking at the stars. Some people make traditional Maori foods and some places have festivals. I think it is cute and a bit of winter fun, it reminds me that once my father’s people were very in touch with the stars for navigating, fishing, gardening etc although many of those skills are no longer used.

  15. Hi Colleen,

    Wait until you get to later in the book by Karen Kingston. Some of her ideas I find a little too “out there.” When you are done reading Karen’s book try the book, Feng Shui that Makes Sense: Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks, by Cathleen MacCandles (I do not financial interests, I just liked it). She describes a story about a woman who was told to put aluminum foil and red sheet under her mattress because her bedroom was over the garage and “bad Feng Shui’. The woman and her husband could not sleep because of the noise. Cathleen recommended removing the foil and the woman and her husband began sleeping well once again. Cathleen noted that the woman was very relieved to learn that the original advice she had received was well-meaning but inaccurate.

    Lesson learned – Go with things that make sense to you, not just because someone with superstitious ideas, or someone you are paying, tells you too. This is why your blog makes sense and is a lot more fun to read.

    • Thanks Sheryl, both for your vote of confidence in me and the good advice. I sure hope they are wrong about the garage thing because that is where my bedroom is. 😉

  16. Colleen, I find, I’m not sticking strictly to this week’s mini missions, but I am doing some deep-cleaning. Today I cleaned the shelves that hold my cleaning supplies and behind it, also behind the washing machine. I found some little things to throw away and some misplaced things as well.
    I’m in a cleaning mood anyway, so they fit great.
    I am still enjoying the new space we gained by giving the furniture away. Everything spread out again, but there is more room in both the living room and the bed room – but above all in the storage/laundry room. The shelves in there have been partly inaccessible for a couple of weeks/months, as surplus furniture was stored there. Now I’m really enjoying these shelves again. They are still well-filled (as we also moved a few items there that were previously stored in furniture we gave away), but it’s only in the shelves, the floor in there is clear and I am quite confident that over time there will be more space within the shelves again as well.

    In the last weeks I realized just how far I’ve come since I first started decluttering. It’s mind-boggling in two ways: firstly, I wouldn’t have thought I’d get rid of so many things and secondly, I wouldn’t have thought I’d need to get rid of so many things. I just didn’t realize how much I actually owned.

    • Hi Sanna, I think you are nicely substituting missions for the week, well done.

      I am so glad you are enjoying the fruits of your labour. Feng Shui have the term down pat I think when they say cluttered space causes stagnant energy. I couldn’t agree more with this term. To much stuff makes a room feel oppressive and who needs that. Like you I don’t think I realised just how much I owned either and now that it is gone I really can’t figure out why I thought I needed/wanted it in the first place.

      • Colleen – I think you have hit the nail on the head! I’m not a hugely superstitious person, and if 0 is a disbeliever and 10 is a hardcord Feng Shui practitioner, I’m definately in the low numbers. I wouldn’t put tin foil beneath my mattress because some Feng Shui expert told me to but I definately made it a practice to not have anything under the beds because of something I read in Karen’s books. I’ll take what is applicable to me and happy to give something a go if it doesn’t get in the way of my usual way of life, and what practices I keep or don’t keep in my life are generally not consciously decided but what just seems to ‘fit’ in the end.

        A friend of Danish heritage introduced me to a practice her family did which dates back to the tiny fishing village they hailed from, and they have a bon fire and each person hiffs in something that they need to let go of ie something represents a ‘block’ in their life. I’d seen this on tv too but didn’t realise I knew someone who actually did it and I really like the idea. Of course, the part where they have a party afterwards was also pretty cool.

        What I’m trying to say, is that we can find good ideas in all sorts of places and we just take what works for us and leave the rest.

        • I totally agree Moni we can find good ideas in all sorts of places and I do like that fire idea.

          • Colleen – I just told Andreia about an acquaintance who hiffed her wedding dress on the fire after a messy divorce. Very dramatic.

            I’d be interested to know if anyone else has heard of this tradition? Wonder what I’d hiff on the fire? Hmmmmmmm…………..

            I have a relative who is half gypsy and her people would put all the possessions of the deceased into their caravan and set it alight and once it was burnt down leave the area. Guess that was one way of dealing with an estate.
            Modern decluttering seems to lack a certain theatrical element. 🙂 eg I emptied a plastic storage bin and stacked it in the corner.

          • Hi Moni, I know there is a tradition of trash the dress where all sorts of crazy things are done wearing the dress that pretty much renders it trash but that has nothing to do with a messy divorce. I thought this was something people do who after years of holding on to the dress decide it has to go and is too outdated for anyone else to want, but no. I know of a your women who only got married this your who did this to her dress soon after the wedding. Hundreds of dollars spent on a dress just to be trashed when it is perfectly good and reusable disturbs me somewhat.

      • Both my boyfriend and I didn’t realise beforehand how little we actually use and need. It’s amazing how much we still give away because we just don’t use it or because we don’t need quite as many backups.
        We had company over yesterday and noone noticed the missing furniture. (They did notice the new sofa covers, though. 😉 ) It just proves to me that one side table, one dresser more in a living room goes mostly unnoticed – so you maybe don’t even ask whether it’s necessary and don’t realise that you own so many entirely unnecessary things.
        I also think it is quite fascinating how much those little things add up. Often when you first hear of decluttering and minimalism you think of getting rid of things entirely. The truth is that we still own things of each category I decluttered so far: there are still books, CDs, dishes, craft supplies, potted plants, etc. etc. – just not so many of everything. I didn’t ditch one hobby completely just to declutter. Most things we don’t own now that other people own are things that broke and haven’t been replaced or that we never bought in the first place (e.g. microwave, smartphone,…) – I didn’t rid myself of any of those deliberately, if I remember correctly. So it isn’t even obvious to outstanders that we did declutter so much. We still have enough dishes to host a company, vases to put flowers in, our “collections” are still there – just all collections lost about one third to half their size and duplicates of everyday items have been mostly eliminated.
        Of course, I think if you compared photos you would see the difference, but visitors just as we ourselves don’t really remember how many shelves exactly were filled with books – they just remember that there were books. They only notice an overall “light” or “oppressive” feeling.

        • Sanna – I think you have summed it up beautifully. The other day I was asked by someone to define minimalism. I felt that it is very individual and likely quite transitory as life changes but more or less I feel it is living without the excess.

          • I don’t know how to define minimalism. I feel it’s a little more than just living without the excess though. I think, minimalism is also about testing your own limits – I’m definitely not doing that. I’ve always known that I can live with very few things (travelling made that clear for me), but there are always those things you could live without but that are actually quite nice 😉 – I’d say, if I was a minimalist, I should get rid of these, too, but I don’t intend to. However living with not more than I need and want at the moment is definitely how I want to continue through my life. Just how much easier cleaning is!

        • Sanna, I really like what you have to say here. I wonder if we don’t need a different word from minimalism to describe what we have done that’s why I like decluttered. We have de-excessed. 🙂 All I know is that it sure feels good and life feels lighter, less bogged down.

          • I think so, too. I like the word decluttering very much, just at least over here, usually people talk about “decluttering” when they mean that occasional purge. What we want to reach here is, in fact, a life style. Personally, I also think that minimalism doesn’t fit my life style either. “simple”, “modest” or “unassuming”, “unobtrusive” might fit, I don’t know really. I want my home easy to use and live in. 🙂
            It does feel good! Really good!

            I just realised this week how difficult it is to explain to others what a difference this getting rid of the excess makes! I sure know I wouldn’t have understood five years back if someone told me that getting rid of that extra set of sheets would make me happy.

          • Sanna, yes it is hard to describe. That’s why I’m still struggling for a good name to call it. We need a new name and a Wikipedia definition for it so others can at least get some light on it.

          • Deb J – oooohhhh “De-excessed” I like that!

          • It’s growing on me.

  17. It must feel good to have your own thoughts reaffirmed by other peoples thoughts and practices.

    It also makes sense that the ancient practice of Feng Shui points toward a simpler life, as it was practiced for a long time before the industrial area, the true beginning of consumerism and its related issues of clutter.