simple shui | incense 101

a couple months ago, Well + Good reached out to me for an interview and we talked all things incense. the conversation was a treat because it combined two of my favorite things: an understanding of every room’s power + purpose AND my daily use of scents (via incense, essential oils, and plants) to curate + cultivate nutritive vibes around us.

so, how about we open that vault and i give you all the things we discussed so you can grab yourself a few sticks or scents to keep the air clear and energy in high gear as we wrap 2017?

Kitchen: when we fill our kitchen with food and conversation, the universe delights in our irrepressible dance of resources. and our intentions to feed ourselves and others literally shapes what we manifest – which translates into the convergence of more wealth in our lives. so, to keep the company coming back, a few good sticks to keep handy include: Frankincense, Pine, Cedar, Sage, Palo Santo, or Bergamot.

 

Living Room: this space is a gathering spot — and when it’s garnished with love notes of our personalities, life has a tendency to go well and feel good for all. however, if the room is energetically cluttered, those low vibes have a plucky tendency to show up in our conversations + interactions with our loved ones. so, keep the air quality clear with these scents: Cedar, Sage, Vetiver, Rosemary, or Eucalyptus.

 

Bedroom: we spend a third of our lives in bed, so if any room deserves our whole-heartedness, this is it. as a guide, let these three words shapeshift your sacred space: sleep, sensuality, and stillness. everything else – work, exercise, even the TV – is a torrent interfering with our reservoir for rejuvenation. to put self-care back in the air, grab a stash of any of these sticks: Vetiver, Sandalwood, Lavender, Juniper, or Palo Santo.

 

Bathroom: even though bathrooms often get bad press when it comes to feng shui, they play an essential role in our well-being. and since they both begin and end our days, they deserve to be cared for like a sanctuary, too. so whether you wield your daily intentions as you get ready for the day here OR you settle into the evening with a long soak and silence, any of these scents are ready to take you to higher ground: Pine, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Juniper, or Yerba Santa.

*** 

Frankincense: Frankincense is a personal favorite. it is a spiritual warrior, kin to prayer and protection. whether you burn its resin or spritz the essential oil through your house, frankincense beautifully penetrates the air and encourages intense energies to move along. Bottom line: when in doubt, use frank.

Pine: Pine is a pro at eradicating unwanted odors; it also is a very protective and nurturing scent. Use it to feel empowered and invigorated.

Cedar: Cedar is nature’s signature scent – it’s both rich and woody. Its notes root us to the earth’s grounding energy, making it an excellent choice when bringing people together. Use it to revive you mind, body, and spirit.

Sage: Sage has the dynamic ability to make quick changes – an excellent choice for removing unwanted vibes. Use it to transform energy and invite change.

Palo Santo: Palo Santo – or holy wood – has been used since ancient times to purify space. Use it as part of a daily ritual to get energy moving and bring good fortune your way.

Bergamot: Bergamot creates a feeling of freshness, joy, and energy. It is powerfully pervasive and can eliminate many unwanted odors. Use it to relieve stress or anxiety; or use it to simply lift your aura.

Vetiver: Vetiver eases tensions because it is a grounding, calming scent. It helps us stay calm, cool, collected. Use it to enhance concentration or gain clarity.

Rosemary: Rosemary is both healing and clarifying, and it is a great aroma to stimulate recall and memory. Use it to re-establish healthy energy and restore well-being.

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is a purifying and delightful mix of sweet and camphorous – an ideal remedy when our well-being requires a little TLC. Use it to lessen tension and breathe easier.

Sandalwood: Sandalwood helps us feel calm and mentally focused. Use it to claim a moment of peace and harmony.

Lavender: Lavender will always reign as the tranquil peace-maker, day or night. Use it to promote relaxation +/or drowsiness.

Juniper: Juniper is both purifying and curates sacred space in its wake. Use it to disinfect unwanted energies +/or clear your mind of worry.

Yerba Santa: Yerba Santa purifies and protects our space, both physically and energetically. Use it to hold better boundaries.

simple shui | when clutter is actually a good thing

here’s something you don’t hear often: there are times in your life when clutter is a GOOD thing.

to understand what i mean, let’s talk yin/yang quickly. yin and yang are unseen forces that attract each other, creating movement. think of yin like a noun – it is receptive, still, and quiet; think of yang as a verb – it is creative, active, and obvious. a balance of both is the complete sentence, shifting and changing the energy around us.

because clutter often sits idly without regular use or purpose, it has a very yin quality to it. too much yin in our surroundings can make life feel sluggish, which is why clutter is often considered a sneaky saboteur in our lives.

however, when we find ourselves without the gravity of safety or reassurance, a little more yin energy might be exactly the prescription we need. sometimes, we need a minute to dissect what’s happening in our lives. so, if you’ve struggled with letting things go or wonder why clutter accumulates, this might be for you:

if you do dangerous work for a living; if you leave an abusive or toxic relationship; or if you have survived a trauma, clutter becomes a form of physical insulation. and regardless of trends or movements, this is not a good time to strip that excess away because the clutter is serving a purpose. it is part of a support system, helping to soften the edges of vulnerability and exposure. clutter isn’t meant to be a permanent coping solution; however, until the emotional bondage subsides, we aren’t making decisions from a place of power, so clearing clutter will feel like an inflammatory process.

little kids are wide-eyed from digesting information all day long because everything is a brand new experience. from their perspective, the world is very yang: it feels big, sometimes alarming, and certainly reprieve-worthy. by natural instinct, they self-soothe by creating nests of their own with stuffed animals, found treasures, and promising trinkets. while their collections might seem like clutter, it is how they nourish and nurture their systems and souls. instead of editing through their things, begin having regular conversations about their stuff and s/he will learn not to rely on his things for confidence.

yang is synonymous with independence and a desire to hurdle forward – or in a word, teenagers. if clutter is camping out around yours, resist the urge to invade! their stuff fuels a sense of security and self-expression. teenagers have little control at this point in their lives – school, money, and personal freedom are all dictated by others. allow yours this rebellion and control of her/his bedroom floor. instead, strike a balance between their creative expressions and a few house rules for structure.

cleaning up is an essential part of life – much like a really deep exhalation. however, its equally necessary counterpart is the satisfying inhalation – and that comes from play and chaos. neatniks and perfectionists, this is for you! if we obsess over the vacuuming, dusting, and all-consuming maintenance; when we are fastidious about every single detail in a room, keeping them perfectly presentable; if we spend most our time organizing and staging, we strangle our creative freedom and become rigid, disengaged, or even anxious because nothing is happening. chaos is a required part of life – it’s where self-expression happens. a little clutter here and there releases us from perfectionism’s dictatorship so we can relax into a life that is sometimes mess.

clients will sometimes do a deep purge right before an organizational or feng shui consult, sort of like finally having the house you love when you prep it to sell. so, hear me, hear me: if you decide to hire a designer, an organizer, or shui practitioner to help you eliminate what’s not working, we ask you to trust us and let us see what your house really looks like. if you do, the professional you’ve hired will provide a new way of understanding and using your space so you can release the clutter and the patterns that keep it in place.

 

so, if not now, when do you clear the clutter? when you begin to feel crammed in your space. maybe you suddenly feel like the walls are closing in on you. perhaps you’re craving a fresh change finally. when those feelings percolate, you are ready to impose momentum by letting go of what you no longer need. until then, remember this: de-cluttering advice isn’t a one-size fits all solution – you (and only you) choose when you’re ready to hit the accelerator and embrace a new beginning.

simple shui | how it all began + a BIG announcement

because my current home is what got me into all of this in the first place, how about we begin there?

up until a few weeks past my 32nd birthday, i leaned into decisions cerebrally. i had a thing for hard proof – it furnished me a sense of control. so when we stepped into our new home and nothing felt right, i heaped blame on the recent move. months later, though, those swishy whispers were screaming. our home catered well to our needs, but i couldn’t get comfortable. even worse, i felt stuck. and as a stay-at-home mama to full-throttle 3-year-olds, i couldn’t muster the energy to combat crawl my way onto higher ground.

like so many others, i had read The Secret and wanted to believe i could change my life with a few, well-rounded affirmations. but in this particular moment of need, i was coming up short. on the edge of a really bad day, i grabbed my copy and treated it like an oracle – superstitiously summoning an answer.

letting the book fall open, i saw two words: FENG SHUI.

i’d heard those words before, although i’d never put my fingerprints on them. the whole idea sounded too good to be true and totally woo. i required logic and solid facts. but i sensed something was different about us in this new house. since the move, our financial obligations had increased, leaving our resources without any elasticity. the stress was strangling all hope, and our marriage bore the marks.

so, in that precise moment, i paused, “what could it hurt if i tried feng shui?”

with a healthy skepticism, i began a search online.

my house is already in a state of feng shui? what the. . .i don’t even *do* feng shui. this makes no sense.

my utter lack of understanding delivered a curious surge of energy, and with it, i read my first feng shui book. and with our financial “cushion” threadbare, my focus was easy: money, money, money.

first on my feng shui list: buy fresh flowers. it felt incredibly self-indulgent, so i bought the cheapest blooms i could find. a few weeks later, i purchased a water fountain. i had steep reservations about the cost, but this feng shui “cure” promised quick results. my final touch was adding purple – the color feng shui associates with wealth – in our kitchen. i put purple Sharpies in a drawer; i kept African violets on the dining table (still do); and i taped purple construction paper on the underneath side of our kitchen table.

(yes, i am totally serious about the construction paper.)

i continued making home improvements. i replaced burned out lightbulbs, pruned our front yard, and threw away incriminating clutter. feng shui was an addictive distraction – there was always something to do. within a few months, my husband had accepted a new job with a reassuring raise, and we found a preschool with openings for the girls. best of all – our home was feeling less like a stranger in our lives.

full stop.

was this a lucky coincidence or. . .

was feng shui actually working?

success leaves clues. and every shui suggestion i followed was acknowledged with synchronicity – like love winks from the Universe. the kind of woo-woo that left me wondering if i was maybe interpreting everything as a sign. good vibes were hatching in our nest, but we still had an overhaul of fixes. so, i threw myself into reading more and forecasting another round of changes.

we painted walls.

we hung photos and artwork on those freshly lacquered walls.

and, we finally agreed on a plan for our still unpacked office. as we were putting those affairs in order, my attention was still tangled up in our finances. sitting at my new desk, i sent three “cold” emails to local PR companies. within a week, those three responses blossomed into three interviews. a few weeks later, i had a part-time freelance gig i could do from home.

feng shui appeared bulletproof, and i wanted in.

***

this is an excerpt from my workbook LIVE WITH WHAT YOU LOVE. a year later, i am still celebrating it along with CLUTTER IS NOT LOVE and CREATING SACRED SPACE. i wrote them for me. for you. and for our homes. they’re progressive. practical. and pitch perfect for wherever you are in life because simple shui is an everyday way of being. and the curated ideas + suggestions are *the* starter kit for anyone looking to confidently shui.

as for that BIG announcement. . .

three new workbooks are swirling, and i can barely contain the details + delights that await! these workbooks delve deeper into shui, but their magic will be most potent when you have an understanding of the LOVE, CLUTTER, and SPACE CLEARING fundamentals. so, get your starter kit + follow its thread so you can step into the sheer velocity of these new workbooks! and for those of you who already have your bundle, thank you! it makes me light up like a thousand suns having your support + feeling that LOVE!

xo

 

simple shui | q & a

i’m feeling stuck. i’ve often struggled with loving my space because I do keep everything, but of course that ends up being overwhelming. there’s no natural light and the walls are flat with no space for shelving. most of my stuff still sits in storage as well. i hold onto old clothes and magazines. there is a lot of dead and empty energy that feels stuck in the apartment. i moved around and threw out 27 things, but it hasn’t felt like any difference has been made. how do you make peace with the space you can afford?

i LOVE this Q so much because no matter the budget, the space, the resources. . .we all relate to feeling stuck. we get out of life what we tolerate, so change begins when we let go of whatever reinforces patterns + feelings that leave us feeling bone deep ambivalence. but change demands high energy, doesn’t it? so, how do you find a spark to start?

i have a few As just for you. . .

1. when we have tennis match in our mind – i work the shui // it hasn’t felt like any difference has been made – improvement moves like molasses. every time our mind switches to “it hasn’t felt like any difference has been made,” we step on the brakes and halt the good things our intentions have slaloming our way. simple isn’t always easy, but the good news is we do get better with practice.

2. “most of my stuff still sits in storage.” clear space in your storage. let go of what you don’t need, use, or LOVE to have literal room to receive the things you crave – more energy; a new space to live in; and a little magic for the unexpected. watch for the ‘what ifs’ – what if i need this? what if i can’t buy this again? these squander our precious energy by keeping us stuck guessing. if it’s not a HELL, YES! when you’re sorting through your storage, it’s a NO.

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3. “i hold onto old clothes and magazines.” give yourself a loving shove and get rid of the easy choices first. hold every single piece of clothing + magazine, one by one, and notice how you feel. if you don’t feel anything or you have an immediate negative reaction, let it go. what we allow in our surroundings informs how we feel. start a zero tolerance policy for low vibes, and the universe will respond kindly.

4. “there is a lot of dead and empty energy that feels stuck in the apartment.” unwelcome energy can be held in place by our things, especially when we don’t use // take care of // love them. eliminate dead + empty energy by noticing what’s neglected or unwanted around you. our dwelling influences our consciousness, and this includes every single thing we tolerate around us.

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and if you follow nothing else on this list. . .

5.  do one nice thing for your apartment every week until the end of the year – you might not LOVE the details of its structure, but there is plenty of opportunity to plant things around you that favor happiness. to make up for the lack of natural light, find artwork or imagery that depicts the sun; use the color white in your decor; hang a mirror on the wall to bounce light around your space. and re-frame the no-shelving quandary as an opportunity to be ruthless about what you keep!

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shui won’t work if you don’t. it’s not enough to want change; you have to show up. engage in the process. and trust the work. whenever you notice your mood and energy are low and worry has crept back in, deliberately CHOOSE to think about something that feels good. {this is why having something you LOVE in your space helps BIG!} the more we focus on the downside of our experiences, the more difficult it is for the shui changes to have a positive effect. it’s sort of like putting fresh flowers in a dirty vase – a little effort cleaning the vase makes a mighty difference in how those flowers thrive, right? YOU — your thoughts, your energy, your feelings — are a huge influence in the energy of your space. so, shui now and you’ll be shining later, m’love!

xo

p.s. notice a shift in your momentum after reading this and would like to keep that vibe jibin’? check out my workbooks — each is stacked with plenty of inspo and simple + unexpected ways to show your house some velvety LOVE!

simple shui | supplemental

essential oils are a staple in my shui practice and our home. and when this blog began forever-and-a-day-ago, i spent plenty of posts gushing about oils. it was a little before their moment – oils weren’t really in the current of daily conversation – so the topic fell out of my blog loop. however, they remained a constant in our home + health. we’ve treated everything from pneumonia to hashimoto’s to anxiety with success, and i like keeping that kind of confidence within reach.

so, when Infinity Jars asked if i’d feature them on simple shui, it was an organic YES. oils are an expensive investment – they deserve equivalent tools to maximize all their various uses, including the assortment of homemade blends + tinctures recipes i LOVE concocting. with that yes, i was curious if these bottles would stand up to the supplies i’d been using.

Infinity Jars sent me a glass dropper bottle and a glass roller bottle – two items i use pretty regularly – to try out.

when my bottles arrived, the first thing i loved was the deep-violet glass. it is both sleek + sophisticated – a nice respite from the amber brown typically used for oils. after reading more, i learned ancient Egyptians invented deep violet glass to preserve their precious oils + herbs in tombs. so cleopatra-ish!

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the next thing i noticed was the screw-top lids are completely airtight. when i travel, my oils {unfortunately} are vulnerable to coming undone. and while the fragrant greeting when opening my bag is lovely, i don’t relish the costly waste. {same goes for a few of my lotions + face products.} for future travel, these airtight seals will be a delightful addition to my stash.

and because our well-being is always worth spending more money on, i am evangelical about quality over quantity. so, i LOVE that the integrity of my oils + products are guaranteed to be protected for over 6 months {and in some instances up to 2 years} in these jars. in the natural supplements + holistic world, it’s easy to hear {empty} promises about quality – so i respect a company willing to stand and deliver on their products.

the dropper is now at home in my shui bag, perfect for holding the frankincense i use in space clearings + house blessings. the roller made its way into a lovely’s repertoire, housing her peaceful child* blend. and to my delight, both are getting plenty of use!

it’s not in my wheelhouse to promote goods on my blog; however, this intersects with the tools i use to cultivate our well-being + shui + home. and with the growing familiarity of oils + their uses, it felt like a good bridge to build for those who LOVE oils as much as i do. so, if you’re in the market for a few new bottles or jars that will help perpetuate your essential oil habits, shake a tail feather over to Infinity Jars and feast on their selection!

xo

 

*PEACEFUL CHILD BLEND

when fear + stress + anxiety collide into our kids, it can create the perfect storm. we went through this several years ago, and i was lucky enough to have a holistic practitioner in my life who helped me navigate my little to higher ground. what i witnessed with this blend was an almost immediate calming + stabilizing effect – the mental chatter eased, and she was able to get back to her center. the trick with this blend, i have found, is its best used daily {for us} as a preventative rather than an oil to manage those feverish behaviors. all oils below are doTERRA – a company i LOVE and have been with since 2007.

85 drops Vetiver

30 drops Ylang Ylang

20 drops Frankincense

20 drops Lavender

15 drops Clary Sage

10 drops Marjoram

combine all the oils in a roller or a spritzer, and swirl them around so they combine. add an equal part of coconut oil to the mixture, give it another swirl, and your blend is ready! i spray this blend either down her back or at the base of her neck. you could also rub it on the bottom of feet. she uses this once a day around bedtime; however, during times of heightened anticipation + worry, we will use it 2-3 times a day.