Any of you feeling stuck these days? Me too. And when I feel stuck, I get the urge to rearrange a room. This time however, instead of rearranging a room, I paid a visit to my Aunt Holly to talk about Kate and her rearranging habit.
We had a delightful conversation, and we laughed a lot. Holly is Kate’s daughter. She told me the story of Kate knocking down walls in her home while my grandpa was away for the day at work.
KNOCKING DOWN WALLS.
My grandfather would come home from his day at work to find a wall … missing. The wall would be gone. No conversation. The wall was gone.
That’s taking my little rearranging habit to a Whole New Level.
I also had a delightful conversation with my Aunt Carole the other day. Carole married one of Kate’s seven sons. Carole told me about the early days in her relationship with my Uncle Todd, when she was just getting to know Todd’s mom, Kate. Carole explained that she’d never met – or even heard of – anyone like Kate. She said that growing up, her parents never made any changes around the house. The walls, the window coverings, the art, the bedding, the lighting, the furniture – all of it – just was what it was. It just was. It was always the same. There was no need to consider changing anything. So everything was always the same. For decades and decades and decades.
Then she met Todd. The opposite was true of Todd’s house. Everything was always changing. Every time she went over to Todd’s house, things were different. Oh yes, you’re thinking now as you read this. The art on the wall might change. Or the draperies might be freshened up. Or maybe Kate rearranged the furniture in the living room. How progressive of her! Oh yes. Yes of course she changed the art and the rugs and the draperies and the upholstery and the furniture arrangements and the lighting and the plants and gardens and the wallpaper and the paint and the stenciled borders and the throw pillows and the bedding and the accessories and all of the other housewares you can think of. Yes of course she did.
But wait. There’s more.
When Carole would visit Todd at his house, the change would be more like: The Living Room was where the Dining Room was last week, and the Dining Room was now where the Living Room used to be!
Kate was a wild woman when it came to puttering around the house. She did not putter. She did not tinker. She did not putz. She transformed. She transposed. She recreated, reformed, reawakened and exorcised spaces like no other. With her bare hands. (Okay – and also sometimes she would have one or two of her 7 sons stay home from school to help her. Yes. She would excuse her young kids from school to help her take down a wall after her husband left for work. I’m not saying this was okay. But I AM saying that she took home transformation to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL that has potentially – probably – most likely - never seen it’s equal.)
I’ve expressed this in previous blog posts while trying to describe Kate to you. A spinning top flying through the space. A whirling dervish. A Tasmanian devil. You absolutely could not keep up. I so wish that reality TV had been invented back then – she would have been a star. She would have won all the Emmies. No one could have come close.
What does any of this have to do with this month’s blog theme of ‘The Healing Home’ ??
This all has to do with the time honored feng shui strategy of getting unstuck: Move your stuff.
The ancient art of feng shui involves arranging home furnishings in a way to promote the flow of chi, or life energy, throughout a dwelling.
Feng Shui is based on the belief that there is a continuous flow of energy between humans and their physical surroundings. The name is derived from the Chinese symbols for wind and water. A balance between the energy represented by the wind and the calmness represented by water creates harmony among people and between people and their surroundings, and this harmony promotes success, health, and a sense of community.
There is a Chinese proverb that speaks of the powerful connection our homes have with our lives, and it spotlights the number 27. If you want to change your life, move 27 things. It’s all about getting out of a rut and moving the stagnant, stuck energy in your home to assist you in moving the stuck, stagnant energy of your current life circumstances.
Why was Kate so dramatic in her changing ways? Because she felt stuck. She never talked about it, so I don’t think she knew how to articulate the fact that to hold on to her sanity, she needed to move the energy around her. She needed to move her stuff.
Maybe she felt stuck because it was the 1950’s and 1960’s and she was raising eight children. Seven boys and one girl. That’s a lot of chaotic energy inside one house to get wrapped up in.
Maybe she felt stuck because she wasn’t using her art degree in the way she dreamt she would. She was managing a household. In the Midwest. Where the winters are looooooooong.
Maybe she felt stuck because she ended up raising those 8 kids in a very small rural town. Not a lot happening there in that small town compared to her childhood and adolescent and young adult years in the cities of Cleveland and St. Paul. Not a lot of culture or art to immerse herself in. Maybe she was stuck in a proverbial prison of her own making: in her life circumstances and in her mind, as most of our proverbial prisons are.
We all feel this to some degree, especially today in our Covid stuckness. Plus, it’s an election year. Each political side locked in their stubborn stance: horns stuck together into a knotted mess. When rams or deer get tangled up in a fight and lock horns with another, they die.
That’s right. They die.
It’s unhealthy to be stuck.
So here we are. We’re stuck in our homes, we’re stuck behind our masks, we’re stuck in a political death spiral, and here in the Midwest the darkness of winter has begun to tap on our door.
Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. What can we do about it?
We must do something.
Here’s what: Move your stuff. I mean it. Do this today.
In an article titled, “Rearranging the Furniture Makes Me Feel Better” (Achieving inner and outer harmony by moving things around)” Carrie Barron, M.D., Director of the Creativity for Resilience Program at Dell Medical School in Austin, TX writes:
“An impact on the environment, whether an imprint or a removal, lifts mood, provides concrete satisfaction, and instills a sense of effectiveness. Inner and outer harmony happen when pieces are placed in a way that makes sense for you.”
As I’ve expressed throughout this blog, I have a lot of “Kate Energy” in me. I inherited it from her. My aunt Holly talks about how there was always something new or changing inside their home. She and her brothers would come home from school and this or that was changed, transformed, made new. My kids have also experienced this. After I divorced, my kids spent time at both their dad’s house and my house. When they’d return to my house after a couple days of being away, they’d run around to see how many things they could find that had changed. It was a game they played each week.
In an effort to understand my constant drive for change within my home, I’ve done a lot of googling and reading about the benefits of rearranging furniture and the beliefs of feng shui and moving our home’s chi. Some stuff I’ve learned:
Moving your stuff:
1. Helps cope with stress. Sorting and Fixing. It helps us think, gives us a small tangible task. Making little adjustments makes us happy.
2. Brings order to chaos and helps with control Issues. I can’t control anything in the outside world. But in my home, I can at least have things where they ought to be. That is, I can keep scissors where I need them the most. I can hang my robe there where it’s easy to grab and I can harass my family to put the tape measure back in that specific drawer because it feels good to know I can find the thing when I need it. I have control over it. As our lives evolve, our days change and we need to move our stuff around to keep up with our needs.
3. Satisfies our creative appetite. We crave novelty. We can make something new and amazing out of what is already here? So fun!
4. Serves others by supporting their comfort. I watch how other people move about my home, and I take mental notes. Was that guest comfortable in this space? Was there enough light or inspiration feeding their soul while they were here? How did the conversation flow? Where do we keep running into each other? Did they prefer to stand or sit? Is there a nice mix of social and quiet spaces throughout the house? Etc. Etc.
5. Shifting contents in a room has the power to reignite our enthusiasm for life, and the energy begins to flow again.
6. Is a detox. Are you hanging on to things out of a sense of guilt, or fear, or obligation? These are negative emotions that can stifle the flow of your life in your home and your psyche. This is a great metaphor for our lives. Often when we are feeling stuck, we are hanging on to something that we really should let go of. It takes courage to let go of things. But when we do, we make space and allow for something new to come into our lives.
Move 27 things in your home today. According to the International Feng Shui Guild, the number 27 is regarded as a premier number. Because 2 + 7 = 9 in Feng Shui it signifies the fullness and transformation of heaven and earth. The number 9 never changes no matter how many times it is multiplied by itself. Nine times anything always leads to nine. For instance: 9 x 3 = 27 and 2 + 7 = 9. Distilled down to its essence, 27 is associated with manifestation and completion. And whenever we move things, no matter how slight the shift, we disrupt recycled energy patterns in our home. To create or reinforce personal growth, move 27 objects that haven’t been moved in a while.
You don’t have to knock down a wall. You don’t even have to move a piece of furniture. You can pick a thing up and place it right back down in the same place. Or you can toss a couple of old unused things away or recycle them or give them to someone who will find a better use for them. Or you can move a piece of art that you don’t notice anymore to a new location where you will appreciate it again. Etc. Etc. Look around. The stuff that wants/needs to be moved will call to you.
It might seem small, and it might seem silly, but by uplifting the energy around you, you are uplifting the energy of your world. Move 27 things today. This small step can heal what ails you and will have a ripple effect. Do what you can today in your home, and in turn, heal the world. Take this tiny step inside your own home and you will be supporting the evolution of our ever-changing world. Help us get unstuck.
“Real change, enduring change happens one step at a time.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
*** All of the images in this post are either from my personal travels or from one of my favorite blogs, Design*Sponge :)