Saturday, September 5, 2009

Feng shui-ing the family room

Like most good mothers, I walked into my family room today and realized that I no longer had control of the most popular room in my home. It was complete chaos, as it usually is, especially about five minutes after I have picked up all the toys and said to myself, “oh yeah, my carpet is brown. I couldn’t remember if it was gray or not.”
Instead of my normal routine of cramming everything into cutsie baskets, bookshelves, and the catch-all toy box where I’m pretty sure there is a year’s supply of pretzel pieces, this time I have decided to stop the insanity and start the organization.
I’m taking back my family room. Or at least I’m going to try.
A quick trip to the magazine aisle at the store will advertise a thousand new and exciting ways to organize your life, your room, your toys, your kitchen drawers. Someone is always coming up with a new idea that essentially says to throw out three-quarters of the stuff you have and put the rest in coordinating boxes with handy labels.
I am fully aware that this method is as unrealistic as expecting a child that to sit quietly, eat bran flakes, and read the New York Times. I needed something different. Something time-tested. Something mystical and ancient.
And that’s when I decided to feng shui my family room.
Not knowing much about it, I attempted to educate myself on the web. It didn’t take long until I was sold on this art that was going to bring my family room and probably my entire family harmony and peace. My couch was going to be a blissful paradise. This would be good.
Turns out that feng shui is pretty complicated. The five main elements of this ancient practice are wood, earth, metal, fire, and water. And these five elements need to be strategically placed based on directions using a feng shui compass, which of course I didn’t have unless it was at the bottom of the toy box. I did, however, have a regular old compass, so I pushed the toys out of the way and sat down in the middle of the room with it and a feng shui map.
The direction north, a water element, is the direction for career and education. The north side of my family room is taken up entirely by a fireplace and two windows, not to mention a hearth covered in wooden puzzles and ripped up business magazines.
“Not a bad start,” I thought. My husband and child educate themselves with magazines and puzzles, and I can make a whole job of watching my kids out the back window. I quickly put a glass of water on the fireplace mantle and turned to my right.
East. Wood. Health and Family. The east wall of my family room isn’t really a wall, just a giant doorway into my kitchen, where my family eats healthy food and we have wooden floors. Wow, this was easier than I thought, and turned around to face the western wall.
West. Metal. Righteousness, as well as helpful people and travel. My western wall is a television and a doll house, both of which have pieces parts spilling all the way into the north wall’s property, as if wooden dolls with yarn hair are trying to spread their helpfulness to the fireplace mantle. Nothing on the western wall was metal, so I quickly ran for some aluminum foil and stuck pieces of it all wadded up in every available nook.
Finally, the south wall, which claims the fire element and symbolizes fame and wealth. My southern wall is a nothing but a giant pile of kid—the toy box and a shelf of more toys and books in complete disarray. I supposed, in my growing wisdom, that it could potentially symbolize the wealth that the grandparents have spent on my children and how famous it makes them look in the eyes of the kids, all the while being a fire hazard.
And there I was, in the center of the room, rooted in the earth element on my dirty floor, having convinced myself that I have totally succeeded in feng shui without even knowing it.
Who needs coordinated boxes with fancy labels when living in total disorder energizes my spirits and improves our life? All I needed was a glass of water and some foil, and my messy family room was in perfect, child-friendly harmony.

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