A guide to creating harmony in your home
By Kate Sherbo
Call it what you will: Qi, prana, ruah, vital energy, good vibes. We all have felt the life force of positive energy and the benefits that arise from its embrace. Good vibes create a sense of warmth and connection. This element of well-being is often overlooked in our homes, which is the very place we should start! Hopefully, you have a space to call your own. It may be a mansion (jealous), whole apartment, room, yard or nook. Even a corner will do! With this fast-paced lifestyle, it is incredibly important to have a clean and safe place to collect your thoughts and feel good. It allows us to be more productive and provides respite from the outer-world’s chaotic landscape.
Let’s start with the basics. You don’t need a lot of money or fancy knick-knacks from over-priced stores. In fact, it may be detrimental. I often collect random things: A book with a pretty spine from a free pile, a pine cone or a flower stolen from someone’s yard (just kidding!) Thrift stores are a great way to go when it comes to finding something that will be special to you. They are fabulous–a neat way to recycle, find something nobody else has and enticing because of the hunt! Good things come to those who rummage through piles. Buy a book and cut out a picture or drawing and put it in a frame. Find an old wooden box and paint it. Use a pretty glass or vase as a pencil holder or for makeup/paint brushes. My point is: Fill your space with things that have unique meaning and use for you. If beauty can coincide with function, all the better. Get creative and express yourself! The positive energy and pleasing aspects of these items will help build your physical sphere of happiness.
I’m also a huge proponent for living plants and/or animals. Now, the reality is that most of you have probably killed countless plants and forgot about your betta, which of course passed on to the spirit-life from natural causes. There are several great plant options to choose from if you can’t deal with aquatic life. (If you keep your plant alive for six months, then graduate to the hardy little fish.)
Basil: Aroma-therapeutic, culinary uses, bright and vibrant leaves. Many different types, but to start–just go with the nice big ones at Trader Joe’s for under five bucks. They need a lot of light, so a kitchen window is perfect. Keep the soil moist, as the sun frequently dries it out.
Bamboo: Balances energy, fun twisted designs and can add a pop of color. Readily available at Asian supermarkets, nowadays the regular grocery store and sometimes even the dollar store. They are well-suited to the bathroom and because of your steamy shower will be most happy! Usually in containers without soil, as a rock bed or glass of water will do.
Wandering Jew (Spiderwort): Easy to care for and with beautiful purple, green and white leaves, depending on the species you choose. Some literally sparkle in the light! I really love the concept of the Spiderwort because you can take small clippings from a friend and use them to start your own. It can be an act of sharing and connection, which also creates good energy. Start them in a small glass of water to cover the roots and then eventually plant in soil. I have clippings from a plant that has been in my family for over 10 years.
Aloe Vera: Hard to kill, filters the air, for a gnarly sunburn break a piece off and rub the gel on your skin. Like the Spiderwort, can be born of clippings. They range in size and you can always start small and eventually replant, even outside. If you live in L.A., this is a valuable plant for you!
When you care for something daily, it is a good reminder to practice self-care as well. I didn’t suggest any flowering plants because, in general, they aren’t as long-lived and have a short blooming period. If you feel inspired, find a flower that you enjoy and “wiki” the hell out of it. For the wary, just go to your local farmers market and support the people who do have green thumbs. Fresh flowers are always uplifting!
For the room or space itself, there are many ways to boost energy and add a touch of pizzazz or color. If you can paint your space, find a color (trendy or otherwise) that speaks to you and go for it! It may just be an “accent wall” (if you get lazy and don’t want anyone to know it). If you can’t paint your walls or even make holes, try sheer or thin curtains (maybe with a pattern) and use them like tapestries. Try clear thumb tacks and lay the curtains flat against the wall.
To brighten and soothe: a nice candle. Candles are associated with spirituality and peace in many religions. Different colors have different uses and meanings, so if you have a specific issue or desire, research it! For example, black candles are said to absorb negative energy (from you or your douche-y roommate). Green candles bring prosperity, good luck and success. Orange candles promote balance and productivity. Of course, you don’t have to follow guidelines if you don’t want to. What is special to you will bring good energy into your home. If you have sensitivities to smell, there are many unscented options out there and beeswax candles are perfect!
Another important factor is a comfortable sleeping space. Use soft fabrics, a blanket with sentimental value or even one nice huggable body pillow. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it until I die: High quality sheets are truly a worthwhile investment. I like to spritz my bedding every night with essential oil blends, as we must not forsake the importance of smell. Lay off the Febreze and go for a natural alternative. Many stores carry small glass or metal spray bottles, or you can order them online. Take several drops of pure* essential oils that suit your fancy and mix them with plain water; it doesn’t take much. Shake before every use. Try lavender, eucalyptus or sage for something light and calming. Bergamot, patchouli or cedarwood for something strong and earthy. Aromatherapy can truly be life changing and I encourage you to find your own favorite scents and blends. If you are somewhat languorous (you have the aforementioned “accent wall”), just try some incense from your smoke shop.
Cleanliness and organization also help protect us from delving into the messes of our mind. If it doesn’t come naturally, I know. It sucks. But your space doesn’t have to be immaculate 24/ 7, because nobody likes an obsessive clean freak either. Balance is the key. Get your clothes off the floor, dust weekly, sweep/Swiffer/vacuum every other day and always make your bed. If you do that as soon as you wake, you will already feel accomplished and can pat yourself on your accomplished, grown-up back.
If you spend one hour a week on a deep clean, I can almost guarantee that your life will get easier and you’ll feel better. Pay special attention to your bathroom and kitchen, as they get dirty most easily. If you take 15 minutes out of your day to tidy up before relaxing, your relaxation time will be even more fulfilling. Put on some jams and power through that soap scum! Order relieves stress and lets energy flow freely throughout your environment. Become inventive when it comes to storage and management! Color-code your closet. Use clean, old wine bottles (beer if you have tiny feet) to keep your killer boot collection standing upright. Keep your jewelry in a small hardware storage container. Get a tiny dish or hook for your keys and train yourself to put them there every time you enter your home. Never again spend an hour looking for your keys and nearly crying. There are enough distractions in the world, it’s important to minimize when possible. Use organization as a tool to keep your life manageable.
Not to sound like an infomercial, but you can totally have a pleasant and harmonious place to call your own. It doesn’t take a lot of credit-card debt or time to reap the benefits of this endeavor. Have some fun while you’re doing it! Remember to be inventive and authentic to yourself. Get that good clean universal energy flowing through your life. As they say, “May the force be with you!”