The first day of my last semester in undergrad, the professor of a communications class gave me a lesson I have not forgotten. He was retired military and based on his lackadaisical, laid-back teaching style, he was ready to retire.
It was also apparent that he had an affinity for the college coed…of the female type. He was never inappropriate; however, when it came to the attractive female, there was often the longer-than-needed-to-be gaze. The first thing out of this jovial man’s mouth was, “If you don’t remember anything else this semester, remember this.”
“Always tell a pretty girl she’s smart and always tell a smart girl she’s pretty.” The reason being was immediately obvious. Pretty girls always hear they are pretty. The same goes for smart girls…often being called the “brainy” ones. But, deep down inside, each secretly wanted to really be the other. Or, at the least, recognized as being the other.
Then there are the times when a girl is both stunning and genius. This life-long lesson recently popped into my head when I found out I’d be interviewing one of my favorite bloggers, Dana Claudat. Dana is the creator and brains behind The Tao of Dana. Dana has model, her-picture-looks-like-it-came-with-the-frame good looks and is even more impressive in the brains department. I have to add that she is super sweet, too.
This Stanford educated, Pyramid School Feng Shui consultant is an art historian, a MindBodyGreen wellness expert and works with clients in LA, NY and all around the globe via online.
Recently, I sat down (virtually) with my blog crush and asked her to shed light on how our space affects us…particularly, in the area of relationships.
What is feng shui?
Literally, it means Wind Water. Essentially the elemental balance of nature. It is an art and science of creating optimal spaces for survival and prosperity. Feng shui helps us live closer to our true, balanced nature….connected to actual nature.
What feng shui is not?
Feng shui is not a quick fix to big problems or an answer to questions that have no easy answer.
Do you practice one type of feng shui? Or, pull from different theories?
I studied Pyramid School Feng Shui. It is completely stripped of any of the metaphysical/Tantric Buddhist/black & white magic/occult practices mixed into many other forms of feng shui.
Your approach to feng shui appears to be different from other practitioners. Can you briefly discuss how this came to be?
Well, I could never use for myself or promote to others a form of superstition or occult snake oil, which is why I stayed very far away from “traditional” feng shui. It’s almost like a religion, and I have seen it drive people into mania. I get letters from people who believe they are cursed because of the direction their front door faces or the placement of their stove. Their lives fall apart. Self-fulfilling prophecy is very powerful.
There’s also a lot of Western feng shui coming to be that is along the lines of what I do. Admittedly, I bring a lot of things not traditionally in the feng shui fold-art history, scientific studies, aesthetic theory, an insane passion for interiors and art, and years of studying and rejecting lots of self-help (I know, so ironic. Self-help doesn’t work very well on me!). I am a proponent of creativity, I think of each person and each place individually, and I feel that “one size fits all” solutions to problems just don’t work. I don’t change anyone’s life and I don’t claim that feng shui changes your life: your environment is a mirror of your life. You make the changes to your space. You create the life switches. I just sort of inspire to the degree that I can. I bring in some art and science and sensory richness to provide a fresh perspective.
In my own subjective, biased opinion, you have one of the most visually appealing sites on the web. Was this your plan? Has it been a labor of love?
You are subjectively awesome for saying that! It only took 8 months to design and the talented women at Shatterboxx should have stock in my company for all that they went through to translate watercolor sketches (yes, I painted what I wanted it to look like) and very specific art pieces like Ellsworth Kelly’s into a blog. So, yes, it’s all visual! My idea is to use imagery to evoke feeling, to motivate experimentation, to galvanize energy.
As a “romance” professional, whether single or part of a couple, people often want to discuss their relationships. Do you find this in regards to feng shui?
People ONLY want to discuss relationships…and money. Those are the two big calls I get.
Is there a connection between a person’s space and their relationship status?
Are there “things” a person can do with their space to increase his or her odds of finding a partner?
There are lots of things to do, and the first and most useful I’ve found is to work on wisdom and self-empowerment in your own life! That’s where lots of people (myself included, for a long time) get into trouble. If you aren’t aware of your own relationship patterns and if you don’t feel confident and happy and stable alone, even if you find a prospective partner the chaos and static in your life and home might just create a nice big ball of drama. Wisdom is located in the area of your home to the far left of the entrance door. Self-empowerment is otherwise known as the “money corner” and is in the far left of your home from the entrance. Both should be clear of clutter and should be sorted and organized at the bare minimum. Then, there are some basics of your bedroom like having two nightstands without aggressive design (cover super-sharp points that jut toward the bed or the path to the bed), dress your bed as well as you’d dress for a date, get rid of storage under your bed… These little things make a big difference!
Is there ever a time that a physical structure (outside the control of a tenant or home owner, i.e., architecture) can affect a person’s relationship status?
Sure, that is possible. I’ve found that living next to high-voltage wires outside really screws with people’s peace of mind. Lots of plants indoors can help a bit, and there are plenty of other electromagnetic “pollution” dispelling devices. I’ve tried some. It’s something to explore for sure. There can be problems accessing front doors or front doors that don’t open easily: all of these block “welcoming” energy, for lack of better phrasing!
Does clutter have an effect on someone finding a partner? Even non-visible clutter…a closet, a drawer, an attic, garage, etc.?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Clutter is different from storage where attics and drawers are concerned. Only keep what you need.
What is the biggest misnomer out there about feng shui as relates to an individual’s relationship status?
The idea that if you have an empty drawer or space in your home you have space for a partner… It irks me. I certainly have never idealized a man who wants to move in with me! There are definite oversimplifications.
Does feng shui/space affect a couple’s relationship?
Yes! A great example is a television in a bedroom. It can be a third person in the room, and not a pleasant one when you are trying to maintain intimacy!
If a couple were to start paying attention to their space to see how it’s affecting their relationship, where is the first place they should look?
Their whole home! Do they both feel meaningfully represented? It’s funny how one person’s aesthetic and even color preferences and other stuff can take over a space. It can work the same in these situations.
What suggestion(s) do you have for a couple where one wants to make changes to their space and the other doesn’t want to or buy into it?
It’s a negotiation. You don’t have to believe in magic to know that your environment affects you. There’s a whole science of neuroarchitecture (yep, actual big science) that explains how space affects our minds. Typically, if there are big problems making small changes, there are other problems out of the scope of my expertise! That said, I often see things being forced upon people (“we need this or we will have bad luck” type of stuff) and if the changes actually feel wrong, then they are wrong!
When it’s framed more as “lets create the best place for us to both be happy” rather than “if we put these candles in the room our sex life will improve” there is usually less resistance.
Does the concept of gender affect a couple’s relationship? For example, can a room be too masculine or feminine?
Yes. And a great question. No matter your sexual orientation, most relationships that are balanced have a yin and yang aspect to them. Yin is more traditionally feminine and yang is more traditionally masculine. If a room is all yin (all pink, all ruffle, all curved lines, all soft) you will lack the balance of more active, more forward, more overtly passionate yang energy.
A balance of yin stuff (curved lines, flowing art, cool colors, etc) mixed with yang (vertical lines, fire colors like red, silky shining fabrics) will create a much more dynamic environment for a couple…and for anyone, regardless of their relationship status!!!
Are there any “have to’s” a couple cannot have in their space? (For example, a gift from an ex, items that an ex shared, bedding from a past relationship, etc.)
All that you mention is all valid: stuff from past lovers can go. Family photos (with the exception of perhaps a wedding photo) can find their way into your main home, rather than the bedroom. Computers and work stuff can find their way out of the bedroom, too. The dreaded TV should move out of the bedroom, and in lofts and studios, it can move to a different part of the room rather than facing the bed.
I remind people constantly that love involves two people being themselves and being there for each other, not one person kind of wishing and wanting another person to be something they aren’t, to do things they don’t want to do, or to fulfill a fantasy. I’ve noticed that our sense of fantasy tends to rule over a sense of reality when people have lots of dramatic, chaotic relationships. Feng shui can’t “make” someone love you, be more generous or be more passionate toward you. Feng shui can help remove obstacles that we have toward intimacy in our physical space and that generally translates into one’s daily life. If you think you can use feng shui to control the outcome of a relationship, or to control anything, you will not be pleased with the results! If you approach your space with openness and a desire to be more present, fulfilled, confident and compassionate… well, that’s usually when surprisingly good things happen!
Make sure to get your copy of Dana’s book, Feng Shui 101: A Guide to Finding Your Flow of Fabulous