Category Archives: Family

4 Ways to Get Settled into a New Home (That Don’t Involve Unpacking)

IMG_2578Some of my feng shui tools

A little over 6 months ago, I moved into a new house I had never seen in person, in a new state. My boyfriend and I discussed doing a personal ritual to consecrate the house as ours and honor our new start together. But the day I arrived, things started to go wrong with the house. Soon, we got so busy with repairs, insurance claims, and unpacking that we forgot about our plans.

Moving is one of the most stressful things we can do. Our homes are more than places to live – they are our refuge. Homes are containers for our growth, where we recharge, and where we spent time with the people we love the most. Moving to a new home, then, can make you feel unsettled, disconnected, like something is not quite right.

Creating a ritual for your new home can help you feel more settled. Here are some tips for initiating a new home:

  1. Perform a clearing. According to the ancient practice of feng shui, homes absorb energy from the people who live there. A clearing will help to remove this energy and instill your intentions in your new home. There are many ways to do this. The simplest clearing consists of opening up the windows and burning sage throughout the house.
  1. Declare your vision for your new home. Walk through each room in the house and declare your intentions for that room. For example, in the kitchen, you may intend to nourish yourself and your family. You may envision building relationships with family and friends over meals together in the dining room. You may also use this opportunity to make a fresh start and consider what you’d like to leave behind.
  1. Bless your house. Find a blessing that speaks to you and read it out loud. This can be done in conjunction with a clearing or other activity. I love John O’Donohue’s blessing, For a New Home.
  1. Make it yours. Clean it, fix it, make it the way you want it! Paint with love. The more energy you put into making your home the way you like it, the more it will actually feel like home.

Eventually, I found a feng shui practitioner to perform a clearing with me. We wrote our intentions and did a small fire ritual to say goodbye to what we’d like to leave behind. Our house already feels more peaceful and just more ours. Acknowledging and honoring the change that comes with moving with a ritual can make a big difference in how you feel when you’re at home.

5 Ways to Get More Out of Meetings, Reunions, and Other Get-Togethers

My extended family has a reunion every summer. It was the highlight of my summer vacation as a kid. I had a million cousins around my age. We had a tradition every year – the cousin play. I don’t know how the tradition started, but it became a mix of skits, music, and other antics. The parents were our audience. The adults had their own tradition – a sharing circle, in which each person had the chance to talk about their highlights from the last year.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s when I started to realize that these traditions were not the norm. And it was only in my 30s when I started to appreciate what they did for us. These traditions marked our gathering as a special occasion and gave us the opportunity to connect with each other. The cousin play and sharing circles were also expressions of our values – what we believe in and what’s important to us.

I started thinking about these traditions as I was planning to go back to my hometown for my high school reunion. I felt a mixture of excitement and dread. But most of all, I wanted it to be worth the complicated logistics and the expense.

Have you ever been to a family reunion, school reunion, or other gathering and left feeling like you didn’t really get to talk to anyone? Have you been to gatherings that seemed like a bunch of individuals rather than a cohesive group?

There are some simple things you can do to make your gathering more meaningful. By bringing ceremonial elements into your gathering, you can connect with each other and leave feeling like you’re part of something larger than yourself.

Suggestions for getting more out of any gathering:

1. Mark the time as special.
Depending on the situation, this can be informal or more formal. Formally, this could simply be a welcome message from a leader of the group. Informally, your group could form a circle or ring a bell, for example. The key is to signal that this time is special and to bring everyone present. This is also why we break out the special china and glasses for the holidays.

2. Acknowledge your relationship.
What connects your group? What do you have in common? Do you have shared history, values, or accomplishments? Acknowledging what you have in common out loud helps bring a feeling of cohesiveness.

3. Celebrate / Remember.
Acknowledge accomplishments and milestones! These can be personal or professional. In addition to making people feel good, celebrating helps reinforce the values you share and bring the group together. You may also consider remembering those who are not able to be with you that day, including those who have passed.

4. Structured share.
Give people a structured opportunity to share their lives with each other. When people don’t know each other well or don’t see each other very often, they won’t necessarily do this naturally on their own.

A more structured approach facilitates conversation and gives people permission to share things they may not normally tell others. In my family, we go around the room and take turns sharing whatever we feel is important. You could also ask people to respond to specific questions.

If a group is too large for everyone to talk, you can break people up into pairs or small groups for a smaller share. I’ve been at professional gatherings where we’re challenged to find out 2 or 3 key pieces of information from each person we meet that night.

5. Create a tradition.
Make it in line with what values you share as a group. It can be silly and fun, like the cousin play. Or more formal, like reciting the group’s motto. You may be surprised at just how much it means to people.

Have fun together, everyone!