by Carol C. Wheelock
I can't get my spouse to help me clean out the attic or the garage. I know that most of the stuff in the attic was put there by me and that most in the garage was put there by him, but the stuff belongs to both of us. I don't want to do it alone, especially since we have different ideas about what should be kept.
It sounds as though you are at an impasse. Let's try to come up with a slightly different approach, one that your husband may agree to.
First of all, forget about the "we have to (should, need to, etc.) clean out the garage - or the attic" mentality. Instead, discuss what you want in your lives. Do you want to take a trip? Interested in remodeling the kitchen? Want simply to sit and read? Perhaps you haven't done these things because of a belief in the lack of time or money, which are the usual reasons people put these things off.
Now you have a goal. You want to clean out the garage and attic to make room for whatever it is you decided that you both want. It takes a lot of the drudgery out of the cleaning project, is motivating, and keeps you focused on the positive.
Secondly, I suspect that you may be falling into that "We have a vacation coming so we can spend it cleaning out the garage and/or attic" trap. In reality, nobody want to spend a vacation cleaning out a garage or attic. It could ruin a perfectly good week off.
Instead, break the job down into manageable segments. I like to work with the number 27. Say to yourself, "Today I am getting rid of (or putting away, selling, etc.) 27 things to make room for fill in the blank. When you're finished with the 27, you can stop, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and move on to whatever is next in your day. By doing it this way, it is neither overwhelming nor open-ended. Keep at it consistently and you'll be surprised how quickly both the garage and attic will be cleaned out! By the way, if you're on a roll and want to do 27 more on any particular day, that's perfectly OK. Go for it!
Thirdly, it appears that the his and hers approach to the space is in your way. It is understandable that you don't want to do it alone. By helping each other clear the space, it will be finished more quickly. You might be more willing to get rid of things with your husband's support and vice versa. If that doesn't work, divide and conquer. Start together in the separate places and each be responsible for 27 items. Even a little bit of healthy competition could be a good thing.
With spring coming, we are thinking about some ways to improve the outside of our house. What are the priorities that we should consider? We are especially interested in low-cost improvements.
The first priority is your front door. Is it easily visible or have branches or shrubs grown to partially obscure it? Your front door is your mouth of chi, which means that the front door is the main way through which energy enters your home. Is it inviting? Paint the front door a different color with the intention that you are attracting good positive energy into your space. By the way, be sure to use this door!
If your front door is not visible because it isn't on the side of the house that someone would see when he/she approaches your house, then find some way to let people know where it is. A clearly marked path going around the corner will help. Use pots of flowers or greenery to line the side of the approach to the door. Clarity is important.
Paths that meander are a lot more interesting and inviting that straight angular ones. They also bring a more balanced flow of energy to your home. If you already have a long straight path or driveway that cannot be changed now, try staggering plantings from side to side so that it draws your eye, and therefore the energy, in a more meandering way.
Is your yard clean? Get rid of piles of dead branches, old bikes and toys that no one uses anymore, cars that don't run, and anything else that needs to go elsewhere. Clutter in the yard creates just as large a block as clutter inside.
Hang wind chimes near your front door to call in more of what you want. Don't hesitate to be specific. Colorful nylon banners or spirals are also great for calling in what you want. These can be hung close to the road. They are especially helpful if your driveway goes down or if you live on a long straight road.
Are your boundaries clear? If you feel that your yard just flows into the neighbor's yard and that there is no way to tell where your property ends and the next begins, then consider planting a few trees. By planting a natural looking cluster of three or five trees near the property line, you will create a visual and energetic barrier. A whole row of trees is not necessary and looks very unnatural.
Anything that attracts birds or other wanted wildlife would be a welcome addition. Special flowers and shrubs that attract butterflies will bring a colorful display of these beautiful insects. Hummingbird feeders and red flowers will invite these amazing birds into your yard. The more you connect with nature, the more balanced and supported you will feel and that it what feng shui is all about.
Carol C. Wheelock, M.Ed. of Feng Shui Vermont is a certified feng shui practitioner who has studied in the United Sates and China. She practices Black Sect or western feng shui. Carol does private consultations for homes, schools, libraries, and businesses; clutter counseling and clearing; spaces clearings; phone consultations; presentations; and teaches workshops throughout the United States. She also does personal clearings.