Friday, December 14, 2012


As we head into another holiday season, and the stress and excitement of the upcoming festivities begin to fill our days, it’s good to take a moment to reflect upon the things for which we are truly grateful. Thanks to my friend, Catherine, for passing along the words of English writer, C.K. Chesterton, written over 100 years ago--

What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way. As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking.

I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it. And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me…

And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea. Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void. Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers; now I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea.

Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside. It is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic good will…

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


A week ago I attended a memorial service for Dennis Delap, a Northampton realtor who passed away unexpectedly in October. Though his life had touched my own only briefly, in 2005, through the sale of my home, his caring and kindness were the qualities that made a stressful process go smoothly, and end well. As his friends, family, and colleagues came to the podium to talk about his life, I began to get a picture of the man that Dennis was – and the very many ways that his generous and intelligent spirit will live on in the people he inspired.


Dennis was accomplished in many areas: he studied philosophy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the university in Heidelberg,Germany; he went on to pursue a doctorate at M.I.T. and UMass; and he was an accomplished oil painter, as well as a musician. He traveled extensively, was active politically and socially, and cared about the environment, particularly about land conservation. But the gratitude and love that were expressed by the people in Dennis’ life, both personal and professional, paint a picture of a man who truly cared about others, and strived to make the world a better place. His brother-in-law offered the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson to illuminate Dennis' life --


   To laugh often and much;

   To win the respect of intelligent people
   and the affection of children;

   To earn the appreciation of honest critics
   and endure the betrayal of false friends;

   To appreciate beauty;
   To find the best in others;

   To leave the world a bit better, whether by
   a healthy child, a garden patch,
   or a redeemed social condition;

   To know even one life has breathed
   easier because you have lived;

   This is to have succeeded.

As we head into another holiday season, and the stress and the excitement of upcoming festivities begin to fill the days, it’s good to take a moment to reflect upon a life well-lived. As I look out into the trees, from my office window in the house that I moved to seven years ago – a house that is “just right” for my life right now -- I have to give thanks to Dennis for his guidance, support, and genuine good cheer.  You will not be forgotten...

Friday, October 26, 2012


This week I had the privilege of attending the 19th Women Business Owners Conference co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, Western Regional Office, and held at the beautiful Willits-Hollowell Center at Mt. Holyoke. The topic this year was “Change Agents” – individuals who recognize and seize opportunities and work to improve society’s problems.  Some of their characteristics are persistence, courage, compassion, clarity, vision, and as one panel member put it, being a “pain-in-the-ass!”

The six women on the panel presented an amazing array of business experiences and life stories; and were themselves of different ages and backgrounds. The last speaker, Shalini Bahl, a consultant and researcher specializing in programs for Mindfulness in business, social media, and academia -- spoke about the ups and downs of being someone trying to make a difference in the world, but having a life to manage.  She acknowledged that there were probably people in the audience (I was one!) who were feeling that they couldn’t possibly match the energy and accomplishments of the speakers on the panel. 

Shalini said that the two things that saved her when she was in a down phase in her life were meditation and helping others.  She also encouraged us to realize the tremendous power of asking for what you want. In Feng Shui and other forms of healing work, it is true that energy follows thought, so we are always reminded to think of what we want, not what we don’t want.  If we can allow our thoughts to be positive, and, if we can stay open to possibilities, the universe unfailingly comes through with the answer to our most deeply held wishes.

I’ve also learned that in order to be able to connect with what you want, you have to “walk the walk”.  Someone in the audience asked the women on the panel what was the biggest risk that they had to take to bring about their current success.  One of the panelists, who owns a very successful marketing firm, said that she had to get a divorce, and be willing to invest all of her money in a bigger office when the firm was ready to grow. Very scary, but, she said, in both instances she had reached a place where the way ahead was very clear; she found the strength to do what needed to be done. 

At the close of the conference, Lynne Randall, the MSBDC moderator, gave all of us a challenge – to do something every day that we are not used to doing.  In small ways we can practice moving out of our comfort zone by varying routines, clearing out some clutter, reaching out to a new colleague.  Finding ways to embrace small changes within ourselves actually changes the energy around us, ultimately rippling out into the world and leading us to those people and situations that help us to grow – and be the change in the world we wish to see.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I traveled to Fitchburg, MA last Saturday to give a workshop to a lovely group of people at the Center for Well Being.  Knowing that there has been a variety of road construction going on over the summer, I allowed extra time to arrive early and set up.  I didn’t count on the Mapquest route taking me all the way to the downtown area, only to arrive at a bridge that was closed for repair.  The McDonald’s across the street was able to supply me with a clean bathroom and directions via another bridge; but when I got over the second bridge I found that I was completely disoriented. 

After driving up and down Main Street a couple of times, I began to get anxious as I could see that the minutes were ticking by – so near and yet so far!  I finally stopped and asked a woman who was just getting into her Jeep if she knew where Bond Street was.  Yes, she did, but as she started to tell me how to get there, it became obvious that the way was complicated.  Then she said, “You know what? I’ll take you there.” 

In a few minutes that wonderful woman had guided me back through town to the other end, up some steep winding side streets, until I finally recognized where I was.  We pulled over, and as she came out to wish me a good workshop, I thanked her and said, “You’re an angel.”  She was.  After that, the day was like a breeze.

There is an area of the Bagua (the tic-tac-toe shaped map that gets laid over your floorplan) that is called Heaven, and has to do with Helpful Friends – angels in your life that make a difference when you need it. This area or gua is located at the bottom right corner of your space as you are facing in from the vantage point of your front door.  If you would like to attract more friends, or just more helpful energy in general, this is the area to work in.  The simple act of cleaning and clearing clutter, with a feeling a gratitude for all of the wonderful help that we have received during our lives – is enough to energize this area, and keep a good thing going.

I’ve decided that the best way for me to say thank you for the favor that a stranger did me last Saturday is to do the same for someone else.  As our hostess at the Center for Well Being, Bea, says, “Gratitude is a powerful emotion.”  It goes a long way to make a difference in the world…

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


It has been eleven years since I began my formal study of Feng Shui.  The New England School of Feng Shui held its first class that year in Worcester, MA on the Saturday following September 11.  Like everyone else, we were all struggling to understand the tragedy that had taken place a few days earlier; and, as the weekend progressed,  we came to realize that this ages-old, yet very practical, wisdom had much to offer a world in dire need of balance and hope.

Our teachers have encouraged us not to turn away from what is, but to acknowledge it; at the same time, as Feng Shui practitioners we need to be able to visualize what can be.  I see this path as a life-long practice and a way of living each day with gratitude.  And, while it cannot stop bad things from happening, it can make us stronger, more resilient, and better able to cope with whatever life brings us.

Over the past decade I have seen circumstances improve in the lives of clients and colleagues who have taken this very life-affirming practice to heart. And, yes, I have seen miracles occur, both in my own life, and the lives of those who were willing to look at their living and working spaces with new eyes. 

Our spaces act as mirrors of our inner state, affecting us deeply on both a conscious and unconscious level.  However, since we are part of our environment, we can influence and change it with the right intention -- one that is beneficial not only to ourselves, but also to the highest good of all concerned…

Sunday, August 12, 2012


My dear friend, Carolyn, came for a visit last week, and it was great to catch up after a long hiatus.  Our friendship goes all the way back to sophomore year in college, when we would hang out in her tiny -- but “single” -- dorm room on Bay State Road in Boston.  I always loved escaping to Carolyn’s space because she had made it magical, whimsical, inviting, and cool – my first taste of Feng Shui, as I look back on it.  I remember being surprised and delighted by how a few objects and images, thoughtfully placed, could awaken a space to life.

Feng Shui uses an imaginary map, called the Bagua, to enhance and gather information about living and working environments.  Looking like a tic-tac-toe board, with nine equal areas, called guas, the Bagua adjusts to the shape of any floorplan.  If you are standing at the front door and looking into the space, the area at the bottom right corner is called “Heaven”, and is also known as the “Helpful Friends” area.  This is where friendships may be honored, loyal and trustworthy help may be requested, and those companions who watch over and assist us (“angels”, if you will) – are recognized.  From this energetic viewpoint, we are nudged and encouraged to be at the right place at the right time, to pick up on the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle ways) the universe is speaking to us, and to find our flow.

As the Olympic Games in London are drawing to a close, the world is savoring the display of truly amazing physical prowess of athletes from every nation.  The celebration of Olympic gold, silver, and bronze brings to mind an old camping song about friendships, new and old --“one is silver, the other – gold!”

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Native American Tale...

Thanks to my friend Libby for passing along this Native American teaching story.  The original source is unknown – but the message is as compelling today as when it was first told around an anonymous campfire in a time long ago.

   Once there was a little girl whose grandfather was a respected member of their community. He settled disagreements fairly, helping those in difficulty in a way that maintained their dignity. He kept peace and harmony among the people, and often was able to cure the sick and injured.  In a thousand different ways he contributed positively to people’s lives, and always did this in a way that, at the same time, supported the community as a whole. The people respected his wisdom, listened to his words, and generally followed his advice.

The little girl knew all this and was curious.  She went to her grandfather and asked him, “What is it like, being you?”

   The old man thought for a few minutes, and then he told her, “It’s like having two wolves in my head.  One snarls and bites.  It is angry at people’s foolishness and wants to fight with them and drive them away.  In addition, it wants everything for itself, the best food, the best den, the best everything.  The other wolf is different.  It wants to teach about cooperation.  It knows that every other wolf has something to offer and needs to be a valued part of the pack.  It understands that together we are stronger than any one of us is alone.  It has compassion and its actions support the welfare of the pack.  Always these two wolves are fighting with each other in my head. Always.”

The little girl’s eyes got very large and very round as she considered these things.  But she didn’t say anything.  Quietly she went away, and for a number of days she thought about what her grandfather had said.

   After some time had passed, she returned to him.  “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” she asked.  The old man replied, “The one that I feed is the wolf who wins.”

Saturday, March 31, 2012


It probably won’t be a surprise that the biggest obstacle to good Feng Shui is clutter. If we define clutter as stagnant energy, that is, anything in our life that is no longer vital to us, nourishing, cheering, satisfying, or useful in some way, then it makes sense to give ourselves permission to let it go. There are compelling arguments for holding on to things that we don’t need (for example, we might need it some day!), but lurking beneath all of this is some kind of fear – of not having enough, of what tomorrow might bring, of an unkind universe.

The process of letting go is ongoing – don’t believe those newsstand articles that claim you can do it in a weekend, with a few plastic bins from Target. However, once you start to turn a focused eye to the truth of your stuff, you are in a process that creates its own momentum; once you get going it will carry you along. This is a refreshing journey that starts to bring rewards almost immediately, with increased energy, greater clarity, and more confidence.

When you are not bogged down by the detritus of life, you will find that you are able to connect with the things that you really want to do. You will find more, passion, joy, and spark; as well as more time. There is a greater ability to cope with problems and to move forward in life. And at the end of the day, there is better rest and deeper sleep. So, far from being a discouraging reality, clutter can actually be a beacon in our lives, showing us where we’ve come from, and pointing the way to where we might go from here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Thanks to my friend, Libby, for passing along this story in its entirety. Years ago, and in a very special place, I had heard a segment of it and was moved even by that. It’s so nice to have friends who help you put the pieces of the puzzle together –

When a woman in one African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends, and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the unborn child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.

And when children are born into the village, the community gathers and sings their song, one unique melody for each unique child. Later, when children begin their education, the village gathers and chants each child’s song. They sing again when each child passes into the initiation of adulthood, and at the time of marriage. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the bedside, as they did at birth, and they sing the person to the next life.

In this African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during a person’s life, he or she commits a crime or aberrant social act, that individual is called to stand in the center of a circle formed by all members of the tribe. And once again the villagers chant the child’s song. The tribe recognizes that the proper correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment, but love and the remembrance of true identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you if you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by the mistakes you have made or the dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.

May we all be blessed to have others to help us remember our own songs, and may we help others remember theirs.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD, because it’s a 6 Heaven year, according to an ancient form of astrology based on the I Ching, or Book of Changes. The Chinese Solar New Year begins on February 4, and the I Ching – or 9 Star Ki – astrology uses the year of birth to determine your star sign. We have just emerged from a 7 Lake year in which we were encouraged to find our creativity and the joy of our own expression, and now it is time to be taken seriously.

In a 6 Heaven year, honest and straightforward dealings are the best course of action. This is not a time to go back on your word, or to use the subtler forms of manipulation to achieve a goal. The “old-fashioned” values of kindness, generosity, patience, humor, punctuality, trust, tolerance – will be the way to go for 2012. (How interesting that this is an election year!)

Each of the 9 stars in this system are also associated with members of the family; and this year’s resident family member is Father. This is a Dad who is the ultimate authority and leader, but one who is supremely fair. The energy of this Dad carries over into all of the Helpful People in our lives, encouraging us to be in the right place at the right time, in all areas of our lives. This is a good year to move ahead with confidence – because, if we’ve been doing our homework, we’ll find all the support we need.