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Feng Shui Friendly Skies

Fri May 19 2017 | Author: Carol Olmstead
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For almost 20 years, I've been practicing the art and science of helping people arranging their space to assure harmony. Last month, I experienced first hand how that interior space extends to air travel when I flew on four United flights within one week. Now, I'm not going to use this post to defend or defame United or any other airline, and thankfully I didn't experience any outrageous incidents of bad behavior. Let's just say that there are good and bad people working for and flying on every airline and leave it at that. But, this trip turned out to be a great illustration of how an interior environment affects behavior.  
The first three flights were on 737s - the seats were close together, the aisles were narrow, the lavatory was claustrophobic, and the overhead bins were so stuffed they asked for 10 people to gate check their bags. Sound familiar? In general, people were in a bad mood. There was lots of grumbling and loud talking.

When I boarded that third flight, I was surprised to find a deadheading flight attendant sitting in my assigned exit row aisle seat. She refused to move until I showed her my boarding pass to prove it was my seat. Turned out she was assigned to the middle seat. Now, in the scheme of things, initially taking the wrong seat is not a major offense, it happens to every flyer at some point in time. But all she had to do was apologize, or make a joke out of it, or simply say "oops" instead of assuming I was at fault. No, instead she chose to continue her conversation with the other deadheading flight attendant in the window seat.

My last flight was on a 767, a huge, comfortable, spacious, wide-body plane. The seats were soft leather with adequate legroom, the beverage carts easily traveled down the aisles without taking out elbows, the overhead bins were numerous, and many middle seats were open. Everyone had free movies and TV, with programming worth watching instead of that awful stuff you have to pay for on most flights. The flight attendants did their jobs with smiles and friendly conversation. Takeoff was delayed on the tarmac for 30 minutes because of an ATC hold at the destination, and then delayed 20 minutes after we landed waiting for an open gate, but the friendly pilot kept up informed. No one was angry. No one complained. No one threw a tantrum. Everyone remained positive.

The guiding principle for my Feng Shui work is that we are profoundly affected by our interior environment, so the moral of my story is simple: if you crowd people into ugly, uncomfortable space, they react negatively and sometimes act out. But, if you seat people in pleasant, comfortable space, they will do the right thing every time. To protect airline passenger rights, Congress recently called the airline heads to testify. Now, it's time to ask a Feng Shui practitioner to testify - and to listen to her advice about how to create Feng Shui friendly skies.

Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: feng shui, travel, airlines, United, friendly skies, harmony


Wake Up to the Year of the Rooster

Mon Jan 23 2017 | Author: Carol Olmstead
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Welcome to the Chinese Year of the Fire Rooster 2017. This animal of the Chinese zodiac can bring good luck and new opportunities starting at the crack of dawn. The Rooster is yin in contrast to the yang of last year’s Monkey, and this suggests a calmer year. However, the Feng Shui Elements are still in opposition and many of the same issues are still around. We'll have to deal with the results from what has already happened. Plus, the consequences of some big decisions made in the Monkey Year will become obvious. One of the Rooster’s main jobs is to crow at the rise of the sun, waking us up to face the challenges of the day. This Fire Rooster is waking us up to the challenges of the year.

The lucky numbers for the year are 5, 7, and 8, the lucky colors are gold, brown, and yellow, and the lucky flowers are gladiola and impatiens.

Each year, I like to share the predictions from Asian Feng Shui masters for each of the animal signs of the Chinese zodiac. But before I do that, here’s my annual disclaimer: The predictions included here are for fun only, no other claim is made. Personally, I believe that ultimately, you have control over your actions and power over the kind of year you will experience.

Rat: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008.
This year may be strenuous at times; however, there is a chance for big change in lifestyle, occupation, or home. There may be some financial loss, but you can gain some unexpected benefits. Long term, your results will be good.

Ox: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009.
This is a great year for the Ox, who has waited a long time for this kind of luck. The Ox will emerge from a chrysalis recharged, with more energy and better health. This is an excellent year for career and self esteem.

Tiger: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010.
This is a year of moderate luck for Tigers. They have to work hard, but promotion is likely and business will improve. However, they may have to travel and friends and family could feel neglected.

Rabbit: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011.
This is not any easy year for Rabbits and they will feel more irritated and frustrated than usual. There are some good times with family and this brings happiness, but Rabbits need to practice patience and focus on finding enjoyment.

Dragon: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012.
This is a year when Dragons feel powerful and are likely to have financial gains and find favor from superiors. However, they need to watch their cash flow, as there will be some unexpected expenses at home and some family tensions.

Snake: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013.
This is a good year for Snakes, and they will be happy cocooning at home and spending more time with family. Snakes will have some trouble with friends and financially feel some stress, but overall this is a happy year.

Horse: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014.
This is a year where Horses will feel some discontent and they may feel slightly out of step with what is happening around them, so travel is especially freeing and enjoyable. However, there is luck and practical accomplishments.

Sheep: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015.
Sheep have luck this year. This is a good year for making future plans. Family life is happier. Sheep will experience more fun and pursue more recreational activities, and they will feel more creative.

Monkey: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.
This is a good year for business, and finances will be stable. Monkeys will enjoy travel, particularly foreign travel, but they need to spend time recovering from last year’s stresses. Monkeys need to become more organized.

Rooster: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981,1993, 2005, 2017.
Roosters will feel strained this year and will be less organized. They need time alone, and people around them will have greater needs. They will want to play more but cannot always do this, causing some frustration. Roosters need to be practical.

Dog: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006.
This is a turbulent year for Dogs, but there is sudden good luck if opportunities can be found. Dogs will want to remodel, redecorate, or move to a new home or office. They need to hold their tongue so they don’t criticize or fight with loved ones.

Pig: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007.
Pigs have some luck coming their way, their finances will be steady and they will improve their business prospects if they are cautious. Family life is happy and previous worries fade, but romance will be tricky.

These predictions are taken from the Lotus Institute. Click here to read the full forecast.

The illustration "The Rooster and the Pearl" by Morgan C. Leshinsky is available from the art gallery at www.FengShuiForRealLife.com.

Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: No Tags


Swinging into the Year of the Monkey

Sun Jan 17 2016 | Author: Carol Olmstead
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My annual blog about Chinese New Year always starts with the same disclaimer, that these predictions come from Asian Feng Shui masters, not from me. The Year of the Monkey 2016 arrives on February 8, and the two prominent Elements are Fire and Metal. At the risk of planting self-fulfilling ideas in your head, here’s what my research shows some prognosticators are telling us the new lunar year will bring.




First, there’s a high probability of a war of words between people, politicians running for office, and internationally between countries. OK, all you need to do is read a newspaper or turn on the TV or go online to confirm that one. Because the Fire Element is connected to words, much political infighting is expected. Some world leaders will act even more provocatively than usual, but this will be “…more amusing than dangerous.” International conflicts are likely, but the good news is that “…disputes will be settled rather easily and most conflicts will be short-lived.” We can only hope.

This is likely to be an expensive year, because money is Metal, but Fire melts it. People will spend much more than usual, especially for travel, trendy items, and clothes. Stock markets are likely to fluctuate, but overall global economic growth is expected by the end of the year. The industries that will perform best are those related to Fire and Water Elements, like energy, finance, entertainment, transportation, and communication.

People will have more fun, and humor will be more appreciated. The monkey is considered the “trickster” among the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, so this let’s us let loose and enjoy more than we have in previous years. Let’s hear it for the return of humor, something we’ve all needed and missed.

The monkey loves change, which means weather will change rapidly, and usually dry places will be wet and vice versa. We’ve already seen this as the wet El Nino weather is replacing the dry La Nina of the past few years. Natural disasters will happen very suddenly and without much warning (don’t they always?), with “…dramatic storms, lightning sparked fires, and volcanoes erupting, but not be as many earthquakes.”

Since monkeys learn by imitation, this is considered a good year for education, arts, and culture. People will watch more movies and television and will want to travel more, especially to fun destinations.

Many people will have a stronger spirit and more energy due to the increase in the Fire Energy. People will want to talk more, laugh more, and feel more playful. But, the Fire energy will also make people "…feel more scattered and disorganized,” which will lead to more anxiety and frustration.

It’s going to be a good year for love and romance. That one can stand on it’s own without need for explanation.

Spirituality and religious fervor will increase and people will feel more open-minded and more tolerant of differences. This means there will be an increase in friendliness and getting together. Who can complain about that?


What does the Year of the Monkey hold for your Chinese animal sign? Click here to read the summary of predictions in the articles on my website.


Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: feng shui, year of the monkey, Chinese New Year, Chinese New Year predictions


Passover and Easter Feng Shui

Thu Mar 05 2015 | Author: Carol Olmstead
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The twin treats of spring are almost upon us, Passover and Easter, which are holidays that everyone loves. But, what is it about family holidays that brings out the stress along with the anticipation of reconnecting with loved ones? And is there a way to apply a little Feng Shui magic to improve communications around the table this year? Why is this Passover going to be different from all other Passovers? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

So, in support of family harmony no matter which spring rituals you celebrate, here are a few Feng Shui thoughts:

Avoid seating a husband directly across from a wife, or partners across from each other, which is known as confrontational seating. Instead, seat the guest of honor across from one spouse and seat the other spouse in the middle, complementary position. The guest seated closest to the door usually leaves first, so if you have a relative you wish you didn’t have to invite… well, you get my drift.

Give the house a thorough cleaning to help remove any negative energy from a long winter, especially if you have been stuck in the house because of weather or illness. Cleaning is a traditional part of Passover, where Jews search the house for traces of bread and foods that can't be eaten during the holiday, called "chametz.” The Feng Shui parallel is to clean your home before a holiday, searching for dust, removing old dried flowers, replacing air filters, washing windows, and making other seasonal adjustments.

Choose a color scheme for your table that includes blue for harmony and new beginnings, white for clarity, and gold for power. Arrange fresh flowers to symbolize growth and rebirth, and place them in front of a mirror to symbolically double their positive energy. Just be sure the mirror isn’t located across from a window or the positive chi will be directed right out of the room.

It’s a spring holiday tradition to buy new clothes (my husband thinks I invented that one), but be sure to avoid wearing red at your family holiday meal. Red is the Fire Element, and adding more heat and fire could lead to family disputes.

If you dye Easter eggs, display them in your Creativity Area, because this area is activated by round shapes and white colors. Display the palms from Palm Sunday in the Family Area, which is activated by the Wood Element and the color green.

Place the Seder plate in the center of the table and arrange the traditional items on the plate according to the Feng Shui bagua - the egg is on the far left of the plate, the shankbone is on the top right, the bitter herbs in the middle, the vegetable in the lower left, and the charoset in the lower right.

Happy Spring, Everyone!

Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: feng shui, Passover, Easter, spring, holidays, family


Welcoming the Year of the Sheep

Fri Jan 02 2015 | Author: Carol Olmstead
The Feng Shui For Real Life Blog is back, and what better way to start than to examine what’s in store for 2015, the Chinese Year of the Sheep. Will it be a good or bad time to start a new relationship? Will your career or business thrive? Will conflicting countries reach their boiling point? The lunar year doesn’t start until February 19 (great omen, that’s my birthday!), but I like to take an early look at the predictions so we can prepare with some Feng Shui adjustments.

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The Sheep is the eighth sign in Chinese astrology and number “8” is considered to be a lucky number because it symbolizes wisdom, fortune, and prosperity. Some call this year Goat or Ram, but the predictions are the same whichever animal you use.

According to Asian Feng Shui masters who follow these things, 2015 is going to be better than 2014 because we’ll experience the unusual phenomenon where all Five Elements are present – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood – instead of one predominating. That means the year will bring more balance. Last year was an aggressive one because of the extreme Fire Element, but the balance of Elements in 2015 will help everyone move forward.

Here are some of the general Feng Shui recommendations for this Wood Sheep year:
• Wear the color green to attract wealth luck. Some masters are suggesting that you need to wear green underwear. I’m not sure where that comes from but I guess it can’t hurt.
• Add green accents to your office to boost your career or business. (What a perfect opportunity to plug my new online class, “Grow Your Business with Feng Shui.”)
• Other lucky colors are pink, red, orange, and yellow to enhance influence and power.
• Businesses that are expected to boom are real estate, fashion, food and restaurants, and electronics and technology, but not industries that involve water like shipping.

Since this is a year of balance, my main Feng Shui suggestion is to conduct a home and office audit to assure you have a combination of the Five Elements in each room. You can use the color or shape of each Element, or an object that represents the Element’s characteristics. Click here to read about the Five Elements.

Which Chinese Zodiac signs will be lucky this year? People born under the Horse and Monkey signs are predicted to get the blessing of the "prosperity star" that is associated with good fortune. Other animal signs that are predicted to be fortunate are the Rat, which will have the "wealth star," and the Tiger and the Ox, which will receive “unexpected gifts” in 2015. That works fine for me because I’m an Ox and my husband is a Rat! The Rabbit is also expected to have a great year ahead. But Roosters might be more likely to experience misfortune in the coming year, and Dragon and Snake signs might be more vulnerable to illness. But hang in there - these are just predictions, and instead of focusing on the negative of what might happen, my Feng Shui recommendation is to move forward by making adjustment to balance your surroundings.

In a future post I’ll look at what each animal of the Chinese Zodiac can expect in 2015.

Special thanks to my colleague, watercolor artist Lori Blevins, for her Year of the Sheep painting.


Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: Feng Shui, Year of the Sheep, Chinese New Year, Sheep, lunar new year


Galloping in on the Wood Horse

Wed Jan 29 2014 | Author: Carol Olmstead
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The Chinese Year of the Wood Horse comes galloping in on January 31, so buckle up, because it’s going to be another bumpy ride. I’ve been reading lots of predictions about what's supposed to happen this year, and it looks like there are good things in store. So here goes.

People born in the Year of the Ox (that’s me!), Goat, and Dog will do the best in the Year of the Wood Horse, while those born in the Year of the Rat, Tiger, and Monkey might not do as well. Powerful women will get even more powerful this year.

There will be an imbalance of the Feng Shui Elements this year, with too much Fire energy and not enough Water and Earth energy. So it’s important to surround yourself with the Water Element (black and dark blue) and Earth Element (brown and yellow). Click here to read more about the colors that represent each Element.

Some Feng Shui masters see the Year of the Wood Horse as bringing more romance, marriage, and babies since the starting date corresponds to the arrival of the “double spring.” It’s a good year to get married for couples who have been dating for a long time, but not the case for couples in new relationships.

Business luck is predicted to be good for the first two quarters of the year, but some warn that things could start to slow down after the summer. Others predict a volatile year for the stock market with extreme ups and downs, and some recommend you get out after July.

In this yang Wood Horse year, the Feng Shui Elements of Wood and Fire are compatible, but because Wood fuels Fire, that combination could lead to some wild energy. Industries related to both of these Elements, like the rubber and petroleum industries, could prosper, as well as Earth Element industries like agriculture, food and beverage, and construction. Real estate agents will be encouraged to know that some Feng Shui predictions advise home buyers to buy a home now instead of waiting until prices fall.

There is concern about more bad weather this year, especially heavy rains contributing to floods and landslides in the East and Northwest. But, despite concerns about weather it’s considered a good year to travel.

Unfortunately, because Wood is highly combustible, the fierce energy conflict of the past few years will continue, resulting in violence and even rioting. We might see a lot more scandals, conflicts, explosions, and arguments.

The colors to wear in the Year of the Wood Horse are green to harmonize with the Wood Element, black or deep blue to activate the Water Element, and brown or yellow to represent the Earth Element. Choose jewelry with natural crystals and stones that contain the presence of Wood energy, such as jade, agate, malachite, and tourmaline. Precious stones that enhance the energy of the Wood Horse are turquoise, aquamarine, pearls, lapis, obsidian, and onyx.

A lot of us are happy to see the snake-in-the-grass year 2013 come to an end, especially because the prior fierce dragon year was equally intense. Here’s hoping that with the start of the Lunar New Year 2014, the energy of the Wood Horse will help us all gallop forward.

Thanks to my Feng Shui colleague and artist Susan Miller for allowing me to use her painting "War Pony" to illustrate my articles and workshops about the Year of the Horse. Posters are available from her website, www.SusanMillerTaosArt.com.

Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: feng shui, year of the horse, lunar new year, feng shui elements


The Feng Shui of Flying

Thu Feb 07 2013 | Author: Carol Olmstead
I fly so often to work with clients all around the country, that you just knew I’d take notice when Jetstar Asia airlines brought in Feng Shui Master David Tong to analyze the energy flow in their fleet of Airbus 320s. Now I should also tell you that I’m a frequent flyer on the very same airbus on United Airlines, and that it’s not my favorite aircraft, so I was anxious to read what they had to say.

Here are some findings, according to Jetstar Asia:
  • Want to get rich? Jetstar Asia says to sit in row 6.
  • Are you a women looking for wealth? Choose rows 1, 11 or 21.
  • Looking to make new friends? Pick rows 3, 4, 13, 14, 23 or 24.

In terms of flight times, Jetstar says the early bird is indeed lucky, because flights leaving between 5:00am and 7:00am will bring the greatest amount of luck to travelers. But, flights that leave between 7:00pm-9:00pm are also auspicious, they say.

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Jetstar even has a site, Fengshui.jetstar.com where you can enter your birth date and what you want to improve this year – wealth, health, career, love, or friendship – and find out which seats will bring you love and luck, the best time to fly, and even get recommended destinations. Hmmm, this sounds more like a marketing promotion than Feng Shui to me, especially since this is a budget airline and the possible birth years you can choose from don’t go back enough for what I’ll call “mature” travelers. But, it’s definitely a fun way to help celebrate the arrival of Chinese New Year.

Feng Shui means business in much of Asia, and airlines are not alone in consulting Feng Shui masters for everything from design to which day is most auspicious for an opening ceremony. Developers of high end commercial real estate throughout Asia routinely consult a Feng Shui master before even breaking ground. Feng Shui is popular in the tourism industry, and Asian casinos are especially known for designing buildings to bring in as much prosperity as possible. When I worked with a Native American casino in the US that wanted to attract more Asian gamblers to their poker tables, I recommended a gold and red color scheme, and a path through the casino floor that would lead the gamblers to a special room for table games.

My usual seat on the A320 Airbus is 21D, the exit row seat on the aisle. So whether or not the Feng Shui predictions from Jetstar Asia are gimmick or gospel, it looks like my Feng Shui intuition has been snagging the wealth seat all along.

Photo courtesy of Jetstar.

Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: feng shui, travel, flying, Chinese New Year


Release the Dragon and Welcome the Snake

Wed Jan 23 2013 | Author: Carol Olmstead
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My favorite thing about Chinese New Year – in addition to an excuse to eat egg rolls and believe in fortune cookies - is that it’s a “do-over” and another chance to start the New Year right. Chinese New Year beings on February 10, 2013 this year, and this will be the Year of the Female Water Snake. Since the snake is known for shedding its skin, for me this Chinese New Year is the perfect time to let go of the old and welcome in new energy.

Just about everyone I talk to is ready for that snarky old Water Dragon from 2012 to release its hold on us. Even if you don’t usually pay attention to the Chinese Zodiac and which animal represents which year, you have to admit that last year was difficult. Mother Nature wasn’t acting how we wanted her to, and in some all-too-violent cases, people around us weren’t acting much better. But all that will be in the past as we welcome a new year that invites us to fix what went wrong last year. And that skin-shedding analogy sounds like just the incentive we need to release our old, stubborn ways of thinking and open up to new ones. Historically, snake years have been transformational, bringing new technologies, political policies, and scientific advancements, but Snake years like 1941 and 2001 also brought death and destruction, social revolutions, and government upheaval.

Feng Shui experts are predicting that blue, green, and purple will be the lucky colors in the Year of the Snake. So these are the colors to choose for clothes, furniture and home accessories, and for buying anything from a new car to a cell phone case. The least favorable colors will be red and yellow, and while you don’t need to avoid them totally, it’s best not to surround yourself with too much of these colors.

The industries that are predicted to perform well in the year of the Snake will be industries related to the Feng Shui Elements Metal and Earth, like banking, machinery, engineering, computer and high tech industries, property, mining, and insurance. Water industries like transportation, shipping, communications, beverages, and spas will improve, but competition will be strong. Wood industries like textiles, environment, paper, and news media will move ahead conservatively. On the other hand, Fire industries like energy, finance, restaurants, and entertainment may not do very well. Auspicious dates events for weddings or to launch a business in 2013 are February 11, April 12, August 10, October 9 and December 8.

I like to make a new vision board around the start of Chinese New Year, so images of what I want to attract in the coming year are right there in front of me. I arrange mine according to the Feng Shui bagua. For example, I’ll place images that relate to wealth and prosperity in the upper left hand corner, those relating to love and romance in the upper right, those relating to mentors and clients in the lower right, and so on until I fill the board. I hang the finished board in the Helpful People Area of my home, which happens to be my garage. My clients know that I always recommend they decorate their garage like they would any other room in their home, so you’re always greeted home by lively images and colors. I always make sure the images I use in my board feel rich and prosperous, including lots of dollar signs and images of stacks of money.

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The Year of the Water Snake is expected to be one of “correction” that will bring lots of new opportunities, systems, leadership, rules, regulations, and a way to move forward in the uncertain situation. Some Feng Shui masters are predicting that the Water Snake will set us on a path for re-birth, new beginnings, and transformation as she sheds her skin. Sounds good to me.

Posted in: Seasonal, Holidays, Travel | Tags: feng shui, Chinese New Year, snake, year of the snake, vision board




© Copyright 2017, Carol Olmstead