"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." ~ Lao-Tzu
I don’t know about you, but 2018 has been a very long year for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve lived through much worse years, in many different ways. But this one has seemed to last forever, with several fits and starts, delays and confusion, problems and, if not always solutions, then simple endurance. I have weathered another twelve months. When I think back only one year, everything was very different. There has been a mix of good and bad, easy and difficult, happy and sad. Momentum in one direction seems to have been absent this year, with more of a continual up and down, back and forth kind of energy.
There are a few times in every year when we are moved to check in, markers to look back and take stock of where we have been, where we are, and where we’re headed. These markers are necessary to inspire us to stop for a moment and become aware. This happens on birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, the endings and beginnings of new academic years, moving into new homes, starting new jobs or careers, and New Year’s Day is a big one for most of us. The year number changes and sometimes, so does everything else. Sometimes we make all kinds of promises to ourselves that fall by the wayside before the end of January, but other times, we feel an energetic shift that leads us off in a new direction, with new experiences and choices to make.
I used to make vision boards every year, until someone made fun of it. I’ve done it a few times since then, but not every year and always keeping it to myself (how much we allow others to make our choices for us!). I probably won't create a vision board for 2019, but I am committing to several clear, absolutely doable New Year’s resolutions. I am getting serious about making the changes I want in my life, no matter what. I am more than ready to shake off 2018 and begin anew. Are you?
Out with the old, in with the new.
The end of the year is a great time to Feng Shui your home, clearing out old stuck energy and welcoming in fresh, new dynamism. To do this, we need to repair, declutter, let go, and balance every area of our homes. We can also apply this process to every area of ourselves and our lives. But let’s begin at home.
A good start is to take stock of everything in your home that is broken — light fixtures, burned out bulbs, doors that squeak, anything that does not work properly or is damaged. Decide whether you can discard it or repair it. Broken items stop energy from flowing and stuck energy accumulates there. You want everything in your home to function as it is intended to. Things break. It’s okay. It’s normal. As a homeowner, you know it’s just part of the deal. As a renter, you have some kind of arrangement with the owner about who will take care of such things. But we don’t always keep up with needed repairs because we’re so busy with what seem to be more pressing needs in our lives. So the end of the year is the perfect time to take stock and fix everything that needs fixing, if you want to keep it.
There are probably a lot of things in your home that you don’t really need or want to bring with you on your journey into a new year. This is the time to go through your things, discard some, donate some to charity, give some away to friends or family, and keep the ones you love. Clear off the stuff that accumulates on countertops, tabletops, shelves, dressers, and sink areas. Toss it, store it in an organized way, or put it where it belongs. Go through bookshelves and donate old books to your local library. Remove anything preventing doors from opening all the way or blocking you as you try to cross the threshold. The holidays often involve a lot of old items we don’t really want, but feel attached to in some way. We bring them out, use some of them, and then put them all away again for another year. Make sure this year that you leave your storage of these items organized and uncluttered with objects you don’t really want anymore. You definitely don’t want to bring dust, debris, dead plants, and dirt into your new year, so it’s time for a good house cleaning.
Even though we don’t use, need, or love some physical objects, we may still have a hard time letting them go. Make sure to let go in a positive way, passing items on to others who can use them or giving old items their deserved retirement. While you do this, remember the concept of inflowing and outflowing, thank these items for their service to you, and send them off into the world to be of service to others or to transform their energy into another incarnation.
One way to let go of old stuck energy is to do a space clearing, going through every room, closet, hallway and wall in your home with bells, chimes, singing bowls, smudge sticks, or just your clapping hands, to break up stuck energy and move it around. Incense, essential oil diffusers, or aromatherapy sprays can all help capture stuck energy and free it to outflow.
We balance every room, using the Five Elements, Yin and Yang energies, each room to its own purpose. We welcome a new year by standing in a place that is clear of the old one. The Chinese New Year is later than our Western calendar New Year’s Day, but it doesn’t matter, as you can adapt Feng Shui to your own culture. If you prefer, you can wait and use this guide to New Year preparations until the Chinese New Year (February 5 in 2019). Whenever you celebrate the New Year, begin it with a clean, cleared, balanced home, to symbolize how your whole new year will proceed. Chinese New Year is prepared for and celebrated over a period of a couple of weeks, allowing much more time for the process of letting one year go and moving into the energy of the new one. This can easily be done even if your New Year's Day is January 1. Begin as soon as you like, and don't think about January 1 as a deadline. Transitions take time. It's OK.
Repair, Declutter, Let Go, & Balance Yourself and Your Life.
There are many ways to apply Feng Shui principles to yourself and your life. For example, as part of decluttering your home office, you might clear out old emails, texts, files, and bookmarks. You could write your plans for the year ahead, make a vision board, or compose new affirmations. You can repair broken areas of your health, body, or relationships, and declutter your mind, heart, and calendar. You can let go of toxic habits and people in your life, say goodbye to the past and welcome the present moment and the unknowable future.
If you think of everything in your home as energy, then it’s easy to shift your thinking to apply Feng Shui to the energies of thoughts, feelings, health, wellness, work, relationships, and the ways in which you spend your time. The goal is to achieve balance in every area of life, inflowing and outflowing energy, endings and beginnings, past and future — not just in how you arrange your home, but also in how you arrange yourself and your life. You can stand in the center, in the present moment, in the place where energy moves freely though your environment and yourself.
It’s common to see retrospectives at this time of year, and we can each do one for our own lives. Remembering where we were a year ago, and everything significant that has occurred in the time since, can help us gain perspective on where we are now and where we want to go. Once we have repaired, decluttered, and let go of the old year, we are ready to move forward into the new one — not with rigid expectations, but with hopeful visions and flexible plans.
We make New Year’s resolutions fully expecting to accomplish them, to stick to that diet or meditation practice, to go to those workout or yoga classes, to run that marathon, to do that volunteer work, to get that job or promotion, to start that business, to retire, to travel, to end that relationship, to read that many books…. Whatever the desire, we use the New Year marker to allow ourselves the fantasy of fulfilling our wishes. But most of the time, they are just that — wishes. We may believe we are making plans, but really we are just fantasizing about things we think would be nice. We give up on making them come to fruition, make excuses, and let all our good intentions slip away. Sometimes it's because we don’t ask for the help we need or don’t really believe that what we want is possible for us. Sometimes we fear changing or surrendering the old and familiar to the new and unknown. Sometimes we just don’t know how to achieve the things we want, where to even begin tackling a big goal by planning a series of small steps to get there.
Applying Feng Shui principles to ourselves and our lives is the same process as applying Feng Sui principles to our homes. We go through each area or aspect, cleaning, clearing out, and arranging everything in its most auspicious placement. We let go of what we don’t need, want, or love. We look around to see what brings out the best in us, what makes us happy, what feels right. It’s not easy to let go of things we’re used to doing or having, of the way things have been, perhaps for a very long time. But those might be the things that are holding us back from what we really, truly want. If we keep on doing the same things in the same way, we will get the same old results. It takes motivation and effort, desire and courage, to move in the direction we want to go. It requires both thought and action. We can only change our future in the present.
I don't want to imply that there are not things outside of our control that affect us and our lives. There are. We simply have to be fully aware of the things we can change and make the changes that will improve our mood, feelings, optimism, opportunities, the accomplishment of our goals, the freely inflowing and outflowing of energy. First in our homes, then in ourselves.
My grandmother used to say that the way you spent New Year’s Day was symbolic of how your whole year would go. So do what's truly good for you, what you love, with the people, animals, and things you love, and begin the year positive, hopeful, aware, open, courageous, and loving toward everyone, including yourself. Make this one a very Happy New Year!
Rituals to mark endings and beginnings are helpful to feeling ready for changes. Symbolize both the past year and the coming one to help your home, mind, heart, and body make the transition.
• Reflect on the past year. Write down your most vivid memories from this time. Don’t worry about whether these were good or bad events or changes, just list the ones that come to your mind first and foremost.
• Take the list and feel thankfulness for surviving another year and moving from there to here, whatever the journey has been. Burn the paper or bury it in the ground or in a pot and plant something on top of it — herbs, flowers, anything you like. Let it go.
• Think about where you are right now in your life. Feel the present moment fully. Be aware that this moment is all there is; everything else is memory or fantasy. Close your eyes and sit with this thought for as long as you can.
• Thinking about the year to come, write your resolutions or make a collage, imaging everything in this coming year exactly as you would want it to be. Be sure to include smaller steps that will lead to your larger goals. Keep it positive — even if you leave the old year with some hard feelings, don’t think about anger, pain, or revenge — and just focus on people and events coming to you that support your highest good.