WATERLOO - You open the front door and walk past a dying floral arrangement, bills and junk mail gathering dust on the table, winter coats draped across a chair even though its 95 degrees in the shade. Plopping down, you gaze across the room at the garish matador your dad painted hanging above the entertainment center and wonder why you feel so negative about your life.
Feng shui expert Jayme Barrett knows.
"Imagine your belongings attached to your body like a ball and chain. You drag them everywhere - every piece of furniture, every CD. If you live in unwelcoming surroundings, you're not going to feel happy. If you keep things around that you don't like because of guilt, you're going to feel negative energy each time you see that object, " says the Los Angeles-based author of the best-selling "Feng Shui Your Life."
"Symbolically, our homes reflect our inner selves. Our environment should support us and give us energy, not bring us down. With feng shui, you learn how objects affect your thoughts, actions and behaviors. We need balance to make us feel comfortable and look toward the future, to move ahead. We must ask ourselves 'what do I want to manifest in my life?' and create homes that support those desires."
Barrett is a certified feng shui consultant with star clients, having made over homes and offices belonging to many actors and entertainment executives, including Oscar-winning actress Mary Steenburgen, who wrote the book's foreward, and Alyson Hannigan ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "How I Met Your Mother").
Barrett will present a workshop, "Lifestyle Feng Shui for Creativity and Prosperity," Thursday at Galleria de Paco. The evening includes dinner and a book signing. Feng shui, in simplest terms, is the art of placement to enhance the flow of positive energy. Barrett's approach is holistic, incorporating interior design ideas based on feng shui principles, interpreted through the prism of personal identity.
"Feng shui isn't a religion, and I'm not into the traditional Chinese symbols. I'm interested in making feng shui work in people's lives and fit any decor or style, whether it's in a dorm room, mansion or mobile home," she explains.
Her book includes a bagua - a feng shui map - to locate enegy centers in home and office, so the user can energize each space to enhance career, finances, relationships, family, creativity, wisdom and reputation.
Barrett teaches clients to unblock the flow of energy in their home and lives. All objects have energy, and healthy energy is moving energy. Objects and their placement, color palette, even clutter can block energy, causing conscious or subconscious discomfort, unease and negative emotions. Those emotions bleed into daily lives, impacting relationships, careers and opportunities.
"Maybe the first thing you see walking into your home is the back of the sofa. That stops energy flow. Change its position, and it feels more welcoming, energy begins to flow and your mindset changes. Or perhaps you're holding onto furniture from a previous marriage or something you've inherited and dislike but keep out of guilt or for sentiment. Get rid of it or put it away. If it isn't affecting you in a positive way, it has no place in your environment. It's amazing the changes people have in their lives when they start to implement good feng shui, rotating negative energy into positive energy.
In feng shui, positive energy translates into happier relationships, improved sleep patterns, better health, professional success and wealth. Color, lighting and water are important considerations. Each color has a different vibration that impacts mood, while lighting lightens moods and energizes. Moving water is calming and brings in natural energy.
She suggests starting the transformation at the front door, followed by master bedroom and garage. "The entrance should be clear of clutter and the door should open wide so energy flows in. Place art you love across from the door so you see it each time you enter. If possible, have a fountain, even a small one."
The bedroom should be a sanctuary for rest, rejuvenation and intimacy. Place the headboard against a solid wall, not beneath a window, against a plumbing wall or with your head pointed toward the door. "That's the worst Feng Shui," Barrett says. "You can be caught off-guard while sleeping and there is no sense of safety. Also, energy goes in and out windows, and it's hard to sleep with energy passing through. Again, there's the element of safety."
Remove dried floral arrangements and potpourri, which are viewed as carcasses - dead objects. Use live plants and incorporate other elements of nature into the home. Plants should have rounded foliage. Uplighting, such as sconces and torchieres, lift spirits. Too much downlighting evokes "down" feelings.
"Or suppose it's a mattress of a couple now divorced or someone slept in the bed who either suffered from an illness or died. You are sleeping with that negative energy and pain, so replace the mattress to bring new energy into your life," Barrett advises.
Barrett's four feng shui questions to ask when realigning objects
1. Do I need it?
2. Do I use it?
3. Do I love it?
4. Does it make me happy and evoke positive feelings?
A sample of Barrett's Feng Shui suggestions:
- Remove all clutter from your home and office - and remove feelings of guilt.
- Choose colors that enhance your desired mood (red and orange tend to stimulate and excite; blue, green and lavender are calming and relaxing)
- Add rounded-leaved plants and uplights in corners to harmonize and uplift energy
- Strategically place mirrors, crystals and water fountains in certain rooms for energy flow.
- Make sure your bed is not under a window, sharing a wall with a toilet, at the end of a long hallway. Your head should not be pointed at the door.
- Change your mattress if you or your companion has experienced a prolonged illness.
Jayme Barrett bio
Barrett, 35, is one of the youngest known professional consultants in the art of feng shui. She has appeared nationally on HGTV's "Country Style" and "Area on Style Network," and is the body/mind editor for Ms. Fitness magazine.
Barrett was certified at the Feng Shui Institute of Physics and Energy and graduated from The American Institute of Asian Studies under the tutelage of Master Stephen Co, co-author of "Your Hands Can Heal You," and is a graduate of UCLA.
She has worked with major studios, individuals and corporations, including Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios, and consults on residential and commercial properties.
Go & do
What: "Lifestyle Feng Shui for Creativity and Prosperity," featuring best-selling author Jayme Barrett
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, followed at 7:30 p.m. by dinner and a book signing. Books will be available at the event.
Where: Galleria de Paco, 622 Commercial St.
Details: For cost and advance reservations, call 833-7226.