Editor’s Note: This is the foreword of Terah Kathryn Collin‘s 5th book: The Western Guide to Feng Shui for Romance: The Dance of Heart and Home, where she shares a chapter of her life that led her to learn Feng Shui and to live happily ever after. The hardcover book sells for $24.42 on Amazon, but she has made the PDF version FREE for the Feng Shui Nexus community. Here’s the link to the free PDF version.
Foreword: Garden of Earthly Delights
Looking back, it all makes perfect sense. In early 1990, I left the house that my second husband and I shared in San Diego and moved into a studio cottage with a private garden. Located a block from the ocean, the garden and cottage were the same size – 450 square feet each – creating a perfectly balanced indoor-outdoor space. It was my Garden of Earthly Delights, so named by Brian Collins, the man I‘d eventually leave it for. But first, I‘d launch my Feng Shui practice, discover the connection between my unfortunate love life and my choices in housing, and learn to swim in the warm waters of self-love.
Just about everyone who experiences disruption of heart and home asks, “What happened?” and “Where did I go wrong?” It‘s in our nature to do some soul searching when love, the guiding light that once filled our hearts and delivered us to the altar of loving commitment, blinks out. Soul searching also occurs in the minds of people who wish they had a lover, or who have a lover they‘re unhappy with. Search as we might, our self-inquiry can still leave many questions unanswered. Feng Shui observes that answers – revelations – can be found when we widen our search to include an “environmental inquiry” of our surroundings. Here a whole new world is revealed that can identify imbalances that were always present if we‘d had the eyes to see them. When we can see clearly how the environment is holding what we don’t want in place and take the initiative to correct it, we take a powerful step into the heart and home of happiness.
From a Feng Shui perspective, it‘s fascinating to mentally revisit the houses I‘ve inhabited. My Feng Shui eyes can clearly see the homes‘ “splinters,” or imbalances that helped to hold a mediocre or negative situation in place. I remember my first husband and I lived in an L-shaped house that was missing the area related to love and marriage (described in detail in Appendix 1) Unknowingly, we exacerbated the house‘s imbalance by accentuating the white walls and cobalt blue carpeting with furnishings and décor in the same colors. The house felt as cold as a walk-in freezer, but at the time we thought it was “cool” to make everything match. Looking back, I can see the house‘s shape and the unrelenting blue and white palette discouraged romance and intimacy.
With no “home fires burning,” we soon became irrevocably estranged and parted ways.
Just as we know that certain conditions and challenges can compromise our bodies, Feng Shui observes that the same holds true in our homes. I recall the environmental conditions present in the house I shared with my second husband. Our master bedroom was “stylishly” designed to give a command view of the bathroom from the bed. His side of the bed was graced with the primary view of the toilet (which was left open all the time), while I looked directly into the gaping shower stall and a large planter box full of waterlogged plants. If I could have read the Feng Shui interpretation of this unfavorable view, it would have said:
The open toilet, seen first thing in the morning and last thing at night, symbolizes a drain upon your husband’s life force. Here, he’ll experience depression and feel as if his resources are being flushed away before he can enjoy them. Your view of the shower stall also connotes a drain upon your life force, while the drowning plants symbolize a steady loss of vitality. These disparate, uninspiring views represent a dissension of vital energy. Here, stress and marital challenges can multiply, as you’ll differ more and more in your “points of view” in life.
This interpretation would have been uncannily accurate. Still illiterate in the language of Feng Shui, I only knew that we were becoming unhappier with every passing day.
My first Feng Shui class with Dr. Richard Tan, acupuncturist and Feng Shui expert in San Diego, was an epiphany. One of his primary guidelines is to create an inspiring, unified view from the bed that isn’t of the bathroom. Clearly, our view was “bad Feng Shui,” and that wasn‘t all. The bathroom was in the area of the house related to love and marriage, while the wealth area was located in our dirty, cluttered garage. I felt like I‘d just discovered the answer to everything. Our differing points of view were centered on money and now I knew how to fix it! And fix it I did. Within 24 hours of emptying the planter of unhealthy plants, screening the bathroom from the bed, and cleaning out the garage, we had The Truth Talk we‘d been avoiding for over a year. The Feng Shui improvements in the house seemed to open us up and give us the strength to face the truth. Previously stuck, we were suddenly free to move forward; our words poured out and everything became crystal clear. He was going in one direction and I in another and neither of us wished to compromise. We didn‘t have children to consider and we both felt it was time to let go. That night we decided our marriage was over.
Thirty days later I was living in my little Garden of Earthly Delights.
Why didn‘t my Feng Shui enhancements cause us to live happily ever after? We are living happily ever after, just not together! When my Feng Shui handiwork aligned our home to hold happiness in place, we realized that we wished to pursue our happiness separately. For most couples, Feng Shui marks the sweet return of intimate happiness together, as romantic conditions are enhanced and splinters are removed or transformed. Such an environmental inquiry also opens the door to a deeper understanding of life. We see that our happiness is anchored by two primary influences; heart – our capacity to love self and others; and home – the environment that surrounds us.
I knew I had some work to do. I‘d moved from a mediocre, disjointed existence into a tiny jewel box that sparkled with possibility. My first conscious step in learning the dance of heart and home was to bring only the possessions containing good memories and feelings into my new house. It wasn‘t much. Out of a large household of things I brought a futon, small desk and two chairs, a few dishes, and my favorite books. Each item glowed with positive associations and anchored my optimistic new beginning in place.
My solitary life gave me the time and space to explore my own rhythms and preferences. I had always depended on a man – father, boyfriend, or husband – to love me, a condition that lacked self-love and created a mediocre existence that was ruled by others. Here, I was going to open my heart, practice unconditional self-love, and create a romantic life without relying on a man to do it for me or with me!
My cottage became my Feng Shui instrument. I fine-tuned every area, paying special attention to two spots. To symbolize self-love, I made a collage of inspirational images that touched my heart – angels and beautiful natural places – and hung it in my “love and marriage” bathroom, which fortunately was quite private and beautiful. I also displayed my Feng Shui books near the cottage‘s front entrance in the area related to Career. Soon, I noticed a remarkable change in myself. The abject terror of public speaking that had paralyzed me in the past was dissipating and I began to give talks on Feng Shui at local venues. It was at one of these lectures that I met Louise Hay, author and owner of Hay House Publications, who would soon say to me, “You‘d better be writing this stuff down, honey. We want to publish a book on Feng Shui and you have first crack at it – What do you say, yes or no?” I said yes.
That was one of two life-changing blessings I said yes to during that time.
The second blessing was born out of a quiet moment and a box of collected treasures. I was sifting through my small collection and enjoying all the memories such bits of jewelry, photos, and keepsakes brought to mind. I threaded my hand through the top of a wind chime made of iridescent glass bells and gently raised them to the window. The breeze sent them singing, a delicate sweet sound – so like wedding bells, I mused. Wedding bells… Was I ready to even consider the possibility? I answered the question by hanging the bells in the bathroom window with a promise and a knowing that only the love of my life would be able to hear such a sweet sound.
Within two weeks of hanging those bells, Brian Collins galloped up to my door, all sunshine and gentlemanly grace. My biggest challenge was to accept the gift. Wasn‘t he just a little too sunny, a bit too nice, asked a voice I recognized as my own from the past? No! He was different than any man I‘d ever met. He was the love of my life come calling. He was the one who named my garden cottage The Garden of Earthly Delights and who romanced me out of it a year later.
We‘re now married and live in a house that came with its own set of Feng Shui challenges and that we‘ve had great fun transforming to hold our happiness in place. There‘s a delicious feeling that comes with making a house into a “personal paradise” where the dance of heart and home can elegantly unfold and where intimacy and happiness can thrive.
That‘s what this book is all about. It will help you stage a life that‘s a magnet for happiness, a place where your dreams can come true. Enjoy your Feng Shui discoveries and the romantic adventures that are sure to follow. Fall in love with yourself and embrace what makes your heart – and your home – sing.
At the Western School of Feng Shui
®, Terah and her staff of skilled instructors help students bridge the gap between the mysteries of Eastern Feng Shui practices and pragmatic Western thinking to achieve dynamic, productive results.Terah Kathryn Collins is a best-selling author and the originator of Essential Feng Shui
®, which honors the essence of Feng Shui’s eastern heritage while focusing on many benefits it provides in today’s world. Her 6 inspirational books on the subject have sold over a million copies worldwide.