Thursday, April 22, 2010


A local community college radio host recently interviewed environmental practitioner John Francis, the author of Planetwalker: How to Change Your World One Step at a Time. The memoir describes Francis’ self-imposed break with fossil-fuel powered transportation after the damage he observed following a massive oil spill near the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971. In a walking journey that stretched to 22 years, 17 of which were spent in silence, Francis traversed the country many times; and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. from the prestigious Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in Madison, Wisconsin.

The natural world offers us constant reminders to slow down – see, smell, taste, and listen in new ways. Feng Shui literally means Wind and Water, refreshing and redefining our spaces, as well as ourselves. Because we are a part of our environment, we have the ability to influence and change it for the better. For Francis, our environmental problems are not just about pollution, man-made ugliness, and loss of habitat, but are truly a manifestation of how we treat each other. In finding the ability to respect both ourselves and others we will truly be walking the walk – and making a difference.

Friday, April 16, 2010


The Associated Press recently reported a movement among institutions of higher learning to encourage students to turn off their electronic devices and find the “silence within”. Cited was the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project which found that 82 percent of 16- and 17- year olds own cell phones. 94 percent of teens spend time online. College leaders are finding that, after some initial resistance, students are actually enjoying the opportunity to unplug and get centered.

In Feng Shui terms, electronic gadgets, computers, televisions, and so forth, are considered the Fire element. This is very strong agitated energy, and constant exposure requires balancing for the sake of good health. Unplugging is a good idea; as well as reducing the impact of all that Fire with the Earth element. Spending time in nature, the colors brown or yellow, furniture and accessories in a square shape – these are all examples of the Earth element, and can help to calm down an anxious mind. Students who can bring themselves to sit quietly for awhile are discovering that they have a best friend less than a click away – themselves.

Friday, April 9, 2010

when the world is mud-luscious...

Twentieth century avant-garde poet e.e. cummings delighted in reminding the reader that life is mysterious and wonderful. Cummings experienced his share of life’s difficulties, including serving in the Ambulance Corps in France during World War I, and the early death of his father in a car accident – yet he continued to find a way to praise the world in his art.

Feng Shui teaches us to take a good look at what is, not to cover it up or deny it – and to never lose sight of what can be. It is as though we are functioning on at least two levels, one that accepts and one that is creating a space for something new. When the seasons are in transition, we have a chance to see a world that is fading away as well as a completely different reality emerging. In the “Just-spring” of poet cummings, there is something ancient, as well as the delicious irresistible pull of something fresh and still unformed -- the mystery of life.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


The greatest artist of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso, remarked that he had spent his whole life trying to learn to paint like a child. Picasso was amazingly productive throughout his long life, working right up to his death in 1973 at the age of 91. His work continues to inspire the world.

Feng Shui encourages us to cultivate an awareness that is present within each moment – not defined by thoughts of the past or future. For most of us who lead busy lives, this task seems about as easy as standing on your head or flying through the air on a toy airplane. However, it is from this overactive and nonproductive mindset that we need to bring ourselves back – again and again – to a receptive open state. The more we are able to allow ourselves to tolerate or to be in a place of “not knowing”, also called “the beginner’s mind”, the more effective and useful we can be. As Picasso so clearly demonstrated, it is by being empty that we become full of possibility.