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Welcome to Feng Shui for Real Life, a monthly e-newsletter that provides Feng Shui tips and other information that can help you bring simple Feng Shui changes into your life. Feng Shui for Real Life is available by request. To subscribe or unsubscribe, visit:

Carol M. Olmstead, FSII

NEW! Feng Shui For Real Life is a featured local resource for the websites, the premier wedding planning website, and, the companion site for married life. Go to either site, click on Resources in Your Area, choose DC Area, then look for my photo and Feng Shui For Real Life. Other locations will be coming in the future!

Feng Shui Tip: Every Space Counts
There ought to be a room in every house to swear in.
I am frequently asked whether a particular part of the home "counts" when making Feng Shui adjustments. Clients want to ignore their garage, basement, attic, or spare room where they keep all their "stuff." The good and bad news is that every room in your home counts. When you draw the floor plan of your home and lay the bagua map over it, you see how every part of your house relates to some aspect of your life. [You can find a bagua map on my website (] That garage at the front of your house, for example, could occupy the Knowledge/Wisdom area of the home, affecting your peace and security. Just think about the effect of storing unneeded and unwanted items in your Love or Wealth areas, which may be where that spare room is located. If a part of your home is messy and filled with objects you do not need, do not want, and do not use, you are sending a message of neglect to that area of your life. You may not need a room to swear in, but you certainly need to pay attention to every part of your home.

Clutter Clinic: Got Too Much Stuff?
According to Emmy-winning TV host and author Christopher Lowell, seven out of 10 American homes are drowning in clutter. Lowell offers this clutter-clearing advice in his book, Seven Layers of Organization(Clarkson Potter $19.95):

1. Set up a "to read" basket for newspapers and magazines, and empty it each week whether or not you have read its contents.
2. Use your scanner for articles you want to read, then throw away the printed copy to cut down on your paper clutter.
3. Toss junk mail into the trash before you even sit down to read the important stuff.
4. File or pay bills the moment you receive them.
5. Purge your wardrobe as you go: if you put something on and it does not fit or needs repair, do not hang it back up.
6. Think twice about saving paper and plastic bags.
7. Return unwanted purchases within a week, because if you keep them any longer, you will never let them go.

Success Story: June's Condo
June introduced herself to me after a workshop I conducted at her company. She followed up with an e-mail about her success as a result of what she learned from the session:
I have made some changes based on your talk. I claimed the space that was missing from my condo—the area outside my front door—which I learned from your presentation is the school area. That is critically important to me these days since I am going to school part time to make a career change. So I marked this area by putting some beautiful plants outside my door and on the staircase landing. I can't say for sure how difficult my new class would have been without this change, but I can say I am getting through chemistry, to my amazement. Also, I removed a picture of a single woman from my bedroom, and the next day heard from a new "friend." I have also added some other pictures to my relationship corner and things are moving along. Fascinating stuff, this is.

Feng Shui Q & A:
Q: I read in your last newsletter that it is preferable not to display masks since they represent hidden messages. How do you feel about cow skulls?
I get this question occasionally from my clients in the Southwest or from clients who want to bring home something Southwestern from their vacation (like the woman on my last flight East from Albuquerque who tried to carry-on a huge, bubble-wrapped cow skull.) Cow skulls have been romanticized by Georgia O'Keefe's art, but the bottom line is that a cow skull is the remains of a dead animal. Any kind of remains or taxidermy of "trophy" animals represents dead, stagnant energy, and that is why Feng Shui recommends against displaying them. If you absolutely have to add a cow skull to your home, limit its display to your backyard, where it more appropriately relates to the natural landscape.

Q: I bought a gold sailing ship from a Feng Shui website and put it in my dining room, which is in the wealth area of my home, but my wealth has not improved. I don't especially like the ship, but I need help in holding on to my money. Did I put it in the wrong place?
Buying a so-called "Feng Shui object" and believing that it will take care of all of your problems has been called the “vending machine” approach to Feng Shui. That is, the belief that if you put the right Feng Shui object in the right place, you automatically get what you want in return. Nice thought…but it does not work that way. Unless you bring your own symbolic value to an object, it is not going to affect your life, no matter where you place it. So instead of a symbol that means nothing to you, place an object in that area that symbolizes wealth and prosperity to you. And if that object happens to be a ship, make sure it is facing into your home, so the wealth sails in, not out of your life.

In the News: Cul-de-Sacs—Suburban Dream or Dead End?
I have been intrigued by the stories earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal and on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and this week on the Today Show about cul-de-sacs. Some urban planners, architects, and city managers are opposed to them and some cities have even banned them. But homebuyers love them, often paying up to 20 percent more for a home on a cul-de-sac. Residents like cul-de-sacs because of the lack of drive-through traffic, but planners worry this promotes isolation and reliance on cars, since you can't walk to stores, restaurants, or offices.

Listening to the NPR piece, I was struck by this quote from Jeff Speck at the National Endowment for the Arts. Behold "the American dream, circa 1960," he said, surveying a typical suburban Maryland neighborhood. "One, two, three, four, five houses surrounding a circular drive. Each house looks inward at the donut hole of plants in the middle. Each house is very carefully designed with windows on the front and back and not on the sides, so they don't really see each other."

Add one more group to the debate: Feng Shui practitioners, who have mixed feelings at best about cul-de-sacs. Chi in a cul-de-sac goes around the curve like a "sling-shot" and may not reach the individual homes, making residents feel cold and isolated. And cul-de-sacs can be seen as dead-end streets, which cause stagnant chi. The good news is that in most cases, we can make Feng Shui adjustments inside and outside the home to lessen any negative effects from the street. And factors such as the position of the house on the cul-de-sac and landscaping are important in determining whether the occupants have any negative effects from the street.

What do you think? Read the NPR article and e-mail me with your opinion about cul-de-sacs and I will report back on what my readers think:

Consultations and Workshops
Santa Fe Design Week, October 22-29
As if you needed an excuse to come to Santa Fe in the Fall, here is another one: Plan ahead to be in Santa Fe in October for the second annual Santa Fe Design Week. This year's events will be held in conjunction with the prestigious UNESCO Creative Cities Summit. There will be more than 50 events focusing on design as form and function, and I will be hosting at least one Feng Shui workshop during the week. Mark your calendar and watch this newsletter and the Santa Fe Design Week website for more information:

Home and Office Consultations: On a regular basis, I offer consultations for homes and offices in the Northeast (Maryland, Northern Virginia, Washington, DC) and the Southwest (Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Alamos, Phoenix, Scottsdale). Appointments do fill up fast, especially on the weekends.

Do you want a consultation or workshop in your city? Please e-mail me ( for details about setting up a session or consultation in your location.

Workshops and Seminars: I offer Feng Shui workshops are customized to meet the needs of individuals, organizations, and groups. Here are some of the most popular topics I have presented, which I can present at your location:
Introduction to Feng Shui
Bedroom Feng Shui
Feng Shui Clutter Clinic
Feng Shui for Children's Rooms
Home Office Feng Shui
Feng Shui Goes To Work
Look Twice, Buy Once for Home Buyers
Sell It Fast with Feng Shui
Feng Shui, Love, and Relationships
Feng Shui in the Garden
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Themes
Holiday Luncheons

Luncheons, Membership Meetings, Fund-Raisers
Feng Shui is a popular topic for luncheon and dinner meetings, special events, and fund-raisers. Whether it is a talk at the golf group luncheon, the garden club meeting, Temple Sisterhood meeting, office staff development session, or Christmas luncheon, my Feng Shui presentations are fun and always sell out! I am already starting to book Fall and Winter presentations, so please call 800-652-9038 to reserve your date!

My Client-Centered Approach to Feng Shui: When I recommend cures for a home or office, I consider each client's goals. I try not to recommend anything that you will find unattractive or unacceptable. Rather, I suggest practical, appropriate, and workable cures that are based on solid Feng Shui principles and fit in with the way you live. I try to recommend several practical solutions that are appealing to you and fit your decor and your budget.

Carol M. Olmstead,
FSII Certified Feng Shui Practitioner

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© Copyright 2018, Carol Olmstead