Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 3: "Feng Shui for Skeptics, or Why All My Dustcloths Are Purple"

purple neon I have an affinity for skeptics, or they for me. Odd, because while I've never been religious, I'm no atheist. To the consternation of many thinking people who otherwise dig my shit, I believe firmly in many things for which there is no scientific basis, like reincarnation, ESP and all that crap they talked about in the What the Bleep? movie.

What always baffled me was the vehement opposition to anything that had even the faintest whiff of woo-woo. Me? Whatever works. As my former shrink-slash-astrologer used to say, "listen to it all, keep what resonates, discard the rest." Also, The Real Deal should be accessible for nothing or next to it; beware of elaborate systems that require gear, excessive literature not available at the public library or an expensive guru to navigate.

Take, for example, feng shui. There is much opportunistic hooey and hoopla surrounding it, but the fundamental principles behind feng shui are pretty sound and absolutely free: place your furniture to facilate ease and comfort. Don't buy a lot of crap you don't need. Take care of your things. Keep the place clean.

And mostly, pay attention!

Like most good-guy practices, feng shui works (I think) because it helps you to focus your attention. When I was sad and blue after my last big break up four years ago, I stumbled upon this great book about feng shui and used the system it laid out in its pages to systematically de-clutter and clean my apartment. (And no, I didn't buy the book at first; I checked it out from the library. Then I bought a used copy on

It didn't cure my pain, that took time. It didn't give me any voodoo to get him back (thank GOD). What it did was, in a time when I was focused on my loss and my pain and how little I had, practicing feng shui helped me to turn my attention to the abundance of riches I already possessed: an apartment filled with light that cheered me every morning. An almost embarrassing wealth of 'stuff', much of which I ended up passing along to others. A mother lode of friends and loved ones (a few of the baguas focus on this in different ways).

Oh, and when I scoured my kitchen (prosperity bagua) until it sparkled? I'm sure it was coincidence, but within two weeks, two checks for $10,000 that the producers had been sitting on came in. Two. With penalty fees.

That money got me through my five-month rehab after the Crohn's onset, when I couldn't work. But the lessons of feng shui have gotten me through more and more. When I feel my attention wandering, I return to the book, and select a bagua to spruce up. I'll take a purple dustcloth, purple being the color of prosperity, and run it over my dusty TV, my neglected desktop, my beautiful collection of world globes. It's a lot of what this 21-day 'salute' is about: focusing my attention on what I already have, instead of making myself crazy with what I don't.

Since then, I've bought and given away at least a dozen copies of the book, new and used, from various booksellers. I give them as gifts when someone moves into a new place; I give them as gifts when someone's going through a funky time and needs a li'l help, here.

And because I'm sure some curious reader of could use a little excellent ch'i flowing through his or her life, I am going to pass along my current, personal copy of Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, with all of the good mojo (a.k.a. "communicatrix chi") it contains, to someone who has yet to enjoy its perky, American take on ancient Chinese secrets. All I ask is that you leave a comment or email me with the area of your life you're looking to put your attention towards and why.

And that if some of that flowing chi brings stupendous good fortune to the tune of $10,000 checks, that you drop me a line to let me know...

xxx c

Photo by Idle Type via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Feng shui linkie-loos:

wikipedia Karen Rauch Carter on baguas