Ah. . . the lazy days of Summer, when life's simple pleasures are meant to be savored and nature is to be revered. Deepening our emotional ties to nature is vital to our well-being. We can soothe away stress by letting Mother Nature nurture. Her beauty and power are unleashed in the summer. Fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables abound.Fireflies at twilight remind us that midsummer madness and magic are good for the soul.
Sultry, steaming July is a time to slow down. It's too hot to be anything but receptive and reflective. It's a time for dreaming. My dream was always to have a home, a sanctuary, in the country. Even when I led an exciting life in Manhattan, I longed for the day to move to the country, settle down and raise a family. I have been living my dream for the past twelve years. My home has become a sanctuary that I love to share with others--especially my city-dwelling friends, as I understand all too well the stress of living in an urban environment. Since Summer is a time for dreaming, I'll share with you the story of how my dream became a reality.
When I was living in New York, I found the energy of the city so stimulating that in order to fall asleep at night, I would listen to calming, self-hypnosis tapes as I would drift off. The tapes always began by having me visualize my "perfect place in nature", so I'd visualize myself lying in a hammock looking up at tall trees, high above a babbling creek.One day, a friend invited me to a lecture given by "Sun Bear", an Indian chief and author of several books. His talk was about the importance of nature and how we were meant to live in harmony with nature.
Several days later, some of the city's underground steam heat pipes burst up through the sidewalks spewing boiling water and asbestos up into the air just blocks from my apartment. I took this as "a sign" and left the city soon after, returning to my native state of Louisiana.
Fond memories of Louisiana's beautiful West Feliciana Parish and its charming town of St. Francisville beckoned. I called the first realtor listed in its yellow pages and described the type of property I was looking for: Several acres with so many trees that I would have very little yard to mow, so private that I could see company coming before they could see me, and if it were at all possible, a babbling creek.
Later that day, the realtor showed me property with all of those features. It was perfect. Several weeks later, as my home was being built, I was lying in a hammock looking up at the 100' tall trees supporting it, about 25 feet above Alexander Creek, and it hit me! Creative visualization really does work, even unintentionally!If such things as serenity are important to you, think of the way you feel in your "perfect place in nature".
Your home should be emotionally comforting. If it doesn't lift your spirits at the end of a hectic day, it's not living up to its obligations as a place of refuge and retreat.According to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui (which means wind and water), the design of your interior spaces should echo nature, balancing the five elements of earth, water, fire, metal and wood, with earth being the central element. These elements contain all matter and together create "ch'i", the vital energy that connects man to earth and beyond. When all of these elements combine in a space, as they do in nature, they create a greater whole that becomes the space's aura. Their interaction promotes a direct connection between your own breath of life and the spaces you occupy.
Feng shui empowers you to increase positive energy so you can live more vitally and experience greater health, prosperity, success, and happiness. By adopting a metaphysical understanding of space, you can manipulate your rooms to trap and pool beneficial ch'i, enlivening the atmosphere.
For example, through the skillful use of mirrors, it's possible to continuously reflect the flow of ch'i ignited by either a window to the outdoors or a bouquet of fresh flowers. Alternatively, if you use heavy window treatments blocking a large picture window, you would be blocking the natural flow of ch'i in your space creating a harmful, stagnant atmosphere.Other feng shui cures which promote the flow of ch'i include ceiling fans, wind chimes, fountains and crystal prisms hung in windows so that they create Pollyanna-like rainbows.
I've studied over a dozen books on feng shui, however, a little over a year ago, I hired Classical Feng Shui Consultant Wyming Sun. He confirmed that for the most part, my intuition was right on with regard to the design of my home, but there were a few areas that needed work.
One was a hallway which was associated with travel and movement. It had too much of the earth element so I was told to change it's wall color from yellow to a water color (blue or green) in order to improve my luck during travel. The summer before, on a trip to San Miguel, Mexico, we experienced unfortunate events such as having to spend the night in Houston due to our plane's mechanical difficulties, thus delaying our vacation. On the way to the airport to catch our flight back, the highway was closed (due to a bicycle race) and we had to take a very harrowing, mountainous backroad making our flight just in the nick of time.
Within two months of correcting the problems with the hallway, we went to New York. This trip was like magic, full of serendipitous experiences!According to Feng Shui, your homes should be either square or rectangular (not L-shaped). Two years ago, I added a room onto my house, creating a "missing corner" which happened to correlate with the "Fame & Reputation" area of my life. Wyming remedied this by having me install an exterior lamp post to anchor the missing corner. Shortly afterwards, I discovered my website contained no keywords or metatags which are crucial to letting search engines know how to find you. I corrected the problem and now my website comes up first when searching full spectrum paints and my upholstery line on Yahoo & Google. Needless to say, I highly recommend feng shui and especially Wyming Sun (Phone - 646.713.9184, email - email@example.com.
In addition to Feng Shui principles, other elements to consider when creating a comforting space include: A worthy view. Great vistas may be hard to come by in a typical home, but that doesn't diminish the value of creating a view worth contemplating. Bring nature up close to the house, just outside an ample window, by creating a rock garden, fishpond, flower bed or arbor. Frame it with ornamental evergreen trees, shrubs and climbing vines. Put in a gurgling fountain and add a birdhouse, bath or feeder. Plant flowers that attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.Install low-voltage landscape lighting so you can enjoy the view in the evening as well. If you are in the city and don't have a view of nature, when choosing artwork, select landscapes which carry your eye out of the space.
The interior space should be furnished with casual, laid-back, feet-up comfort. Choose ample, overstuffed sofas and chairs with high backs and broad arms. Skirted, loosely upholstered and slipcovered sofas and chairs convey a relaxed attitude. Select fabrics with touchable textures such as chenilles, velvets, tapestries, washed cottons, linens, damasks and quilted fabrics.
On windows, frame the view (don't hide it) and soften the profile of the windows with luxurious to-the-floor draperies. Expand the feeling of ceiling height by mounting the rods (preferably casual iron or wood) higher than the top of the window. The look of abundance comes from volume. Don't skimp, make them atleast 2.5 to 3 times the fullness of the window. Choose medium-weight drapery fabrics with lots of body or innerline light weight fabrics. Avoid bright, high-contrast colored drapery fabrics if you want a room to have a calming effect.
Further minimize audible distractions that can interfere with your quest for peace and quiet by using rugs and/or natural floor coverings such as seagrass or jute.To give a room a sense of composure and an atmosphere of quiet intimacy, low-intensity lighting is critical. Use a variety of lamp lighting but avoid lampshades that are too white. Choose opaque shades that create pools of light throughout the room or slightly yellowish linen, silk or parchment shades that produce an amber glow.Install dimmers wherever you can so you can adjust the intensity of the lighting to set your mood.
Turn to nature's colors, textures, and scents for inspiration. Nature's palette is based on the browns, greens, blues and grays of the earth and forest, sky and water. While extremely varied, this range of colors is essentially restful and can be used in any room to suggest harmony with nature.Nature has also designed a spectacular variety of patterns to soothe and delight us: the leaves, bark and branches of trees, the stars in the night sky; rippled sands. Such patterns have, throughout civilization, inspired much of the human design we encounter in architecture and interior design. Refer to nature's patterns for the associations they bring and for the calming influence of their repetitive rhythms.
Remember that every "thing", no matter how small, has energy, so make sure that every single accessory or piece of furniture is something that you love. In his book "Your Sacred Self", author Dr. Wayne Dyer says that when we admire something, such as a work of art, or a magnificent view, we give it loving energy and that same energy is returned to us. Apply this same theory when creating your own sanctuary.
Have a magical Summer!