Column: My New Best Friend: Feng Shui, My Way

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One South Jersey expert shows me how

I didn’t realize what a hippie I was until I told my mother-in-law I was having a feng shui consultant come to the house and she said, “Feng what?” Lots of my friends responded to my cheerful announcement that I was going to take spring cleaning one step further and get the house “feng shui-ed” by saying, “Um, yeah, okay, whatever.”


I didn’t realize what a hippie I was until I told my mother-in-law I was having a feng shui consultant come to the house and she said, “Feng what?” Lots of my friends responded to my cheerful announcement that I was going to take spring cleaning one step further and get the house “feng shui-ed” by saying, “Um, yeah, okay, whatever.”

So here’s a quick definition for those of you who didn’t spend your college years burning incense and reeking of patchouli. Feng shui is the Chinese art of balancing the elements of a home in order to create a harmonious surrounding for the inhabitants. The people I’ve met who are devotees swear that a feng shui home will fill your life with good health, romantic love, personal fulfillment, career success and money. Sounds really, really good to me.

In the past, when I’ve picked up a book about feng shui, it often featured a grid that you lay over the floor plan of your home. Living too much on plastic? Maybe you need a bamboo plant in the “money sector” of your house. Going out on one awful date after another? Maybe it’s because your kitchen is inconven-
iently placed in the “romance sector” of your house — all the love that is waiting for you is literally swirling down the drain. I’d try to implement the book’s suggestions, but I never was really sure whether to
credit luck, maturity or feng shui when my life started to improve for the better.

Now that I’ve settled in Center City with my husband and new baby, and my house resembles the tornado that is my life, it seemed a prime moment to give feng shui a proper try. I was worried that the person I hired would be a total kook, but my editor found a woman named Melani Lewandowski — and she was nothing short of brilliant. Melani is based in Maple Shade. Her clients include Twenty21, Fork and Neiman Marcus.

Before Melani’s arrival, I spent most of the day trying to get rid of my many, many piles of clutter. I’m pretty good at clearing out our closets and taking packages to Goodwill every couple of months. But I’m not so good at managing what we keep. At any given time you can find a heap of clean clothes on the chair in my bedroom waiting to be folded. My office is full of stacks of magazines I’ve yet to read but desperately want to read. And, while our kitchen is fairly spotless, our pantry is so disorganized that I’m always buying extra jars of wasabi mayonnaise and baking powder because I can never find the ones we already own.

I thought I knew exactly what Melani would say — the piles of clothes and paper and the pantry were blocked “energy sources,” cutting us off from all the good that could be coming into our lives. I also thought I knew exactly what she’d look like: hippie dippie, earth mother, wannabe priestess goddess. I was wrong on both counts. She arrived, tall and dark-haired in an elegant silk suit, looking like the head curator of a very fine museum. I gave her my smart-alecky “piles = blocked chakras” spiel. She said, yes, that was true to a certain extent, but that was Feng Shui 101.


Then she went through each room and carefully assessed the layout. She didn’t use a grid — because that’s not the type of feng shui she does. Her style is more about positioning of what’s already there, a spiritually minded interior decorator.

She suggested we move our couch, which was against the window, to a solid wall so that we would have a “mountain energy” behind us. She said our bedroom had a very romantic, very sexy energy (which pleased my husband to no end, as he’s convinced that this assessment was made while Melani gazed lovingly at a picture of him). But when she asked us which side of the bed we slept on, we discovered that I was sleeping on the yang (masculine) side of the bed and Jason was sleeping on the yin (feminine) side. Turns out, we had been on the correct sides when we first moved in. But once the baby came, we switched sides so that Jason could be closer to the baby’s co-sleeper. Melani said this was common — we gravitate towards the more natural, balanced energy, and then we lose our way. She said that if we went back to the correct sides of the bed, Jason would feel more confident and I would feel more taken care of.

What about money? I asked. Is there a way to align our home so we can make a lot of money? (I didn’t mention the skirt from Prada’s spring collection that I was really lusting after and a surprise windfall would enable me to make the splurge.) Melani did suggest that one way to increase prosperity (besides cleaning out my entirely junky office) was to fix the broken things in the apartment. The hutch that held our wedding china was missing two knobs. Several of the doors in the apartment squeaked. “Squeaky doors aren’t good,” Melani said. “It sends a message to the subconscious that something is wrong. It causes you to question things that don’t need to be questioned.”

So my husband fixed the knobs on the hutch, we replaced the bulbs that had blown out in various rooms of the apartment, and we put some WD-40 on all the squeaky doors.

It’s only been a few weeks, but this is what I have to report: We love the new layout of our living room. Moreover, so do all of our friends and family. When people walk in, they say, “God, it looks great in here! What did you do?”

I haven’t had an influx of cash that would justify a trip to Prada, but money has been turning up in the most unusual of places. I found two small checks that I’d forgotten to deposit, then I got a residual check for an episode of a television show that I wrote many moons ago.

When I met with Melani, she said that there’s a Chinese expression that says, “What’s most important is how one moves forward in life. It’s less important where one is going.” And I can honestly say that I feel after my feng shui session that I’m moving forward in my life — with a desire to treasure all that I have, materially and emotionally, and a heart that is ready to receive even more.

For more information, contact Melani Lewandowski at 856-802-1988 or visit melanilewandowski.com. An initial, 3-4 hour consultation averages $700.

Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/news/2008/03/25/column-my-new-best-friend-feng-shui-my-way/