A Way to Feng Shui
While I admire and enjoy ideal images of what my writing space should look like (but rarely does), I'm not one to put a lot of theories into practice. So when I was decorating my office, I thought I'd loosely give feng shui a chance.
Since I wasn't entirely clear on the concept, I did some research (as both an art historian and library sciences scholar, "research" is my happy place) and discovered that feng shui is a Chinese art and philosophy dating back 3,000 years. Translated as "wind" and "water," these two elements were considered to bring good health. The concept is that by aligning yourself with your environment, you promote good energy (qi/chi) and harmony. And by arranging your space according to feng shui principles, you allow "qi" to move more freely.
Five elements are central to feng shui -- wood, fire, earth, metal, and water -- and you can bring those elements either literally into your workspace or through the use of color. There are a great deal of intricacies and schools of thought involved, but I wanted to keep it simple and, for now, only focused on my creative space.
Given the number of hours I spend in my office, attempting to harmonize myself with my surroundings was decidedly appealing. The layout of our dining room didn't allow for some things (like facing my desk toward the door), and there was no way I'd put a trickling water fountain in my office because I'd be running to the loo every fifteen minutes. However, I mapped out "feng shui bagua," which is a grid system in which each section represents an area of your life.
Because the layout of my office didn't allow for every single section, I improvised. My desk is the fame/red/fire area, and I have a painting of the Russian Firebird done by my mother over my desk, along with a wooden Firebird egg. I also have a red mandala and a red mug made by my son. Eventually I also want to include some red glass hummingbirds. My "family" zone is a sage green wall with photos of my parents and pictures of my children, while the "children and travel" zone is combined and actually behind me. That's where I display more artwork and notes, along with travel souvenirs. My "wealth" area includes wooden framed paintings (also by my mother), and actual living plants for more "good energy." They're all looking a bit peaked now, but they're still alive, and I bought a little grow lamp to encourage them.
All in all, the point of creating my office space was not to surround myself with clutter, but with items that have meaning for me. I don't know if arranging them into feng shui zones is changing my qi, but it does make me feel good. And that, I suspect, is the whole point.
If you're looking to harmonize yourself with your surroundings, here's a quick way to start with Feng Shui-ing your desk and office: