Elaine Anderson’s switch from her job in nursing administration to one as a certified feng shui consultant started with her living in a ‘sad’ house back in 1986. She admits it sounds a little crazy, but hear her out.
“The home we were living in in Plymouth hadn’t been cared for very well. And my husband Marc hated it,” Anderson says. She explains that spats over fixing up the home sprouted while living there, “But I thought, if you had a child that wasn’t perfect, you’d still care for it.”
In talking with neighbors one day, they shared the tragic tale about a family who lived in the home before her. Pieces of the puzzle fell together. She learned that the negative energy in the home stemmed from the fact that the family had lost their toddler to an illness there. “That’s the thing about feng shui,” she says, “the idea that your space reflects your life.”
Anderson researched feng shui and was increasingly “sensitive to the energy of spaces,” which helped her articulate her life experiences. “Feng shui took us on a path to eventually getting better jobs, having more money, and being able to build a better house that we really loved,” she says. Now the Plymouth mom of twin 26-year-old sons and grandma of a 16-month-old grandson is vice president of the Feng Shui Institute of the Midwest. She also recently tooj on the position of RN Patient Care Management Coordinator with the UMN Medical Center, Fairview.
“In feng shui, there is a map or template called the ‘Bagua’ which sections 9 different aspects of life. If your space reflects your life, then you want to take note of things such as seating for a single person in the partnership area.” Here, she shares her tips on creating a happy space in one of the seemingly craziest places yet—out in the garden.
A Winding Walkway
“It’s nice to have a walking path,” says Anderson. Because then, “The chi knows where to go. It has a way to get around and fill up your space with good energy. And it helps you get around.” Anderson has a path of stepping stones winding through her side garden, but she notes that it can be a path in the ground, or even just grass with landscaping on either side. She emphasizes the point of curving lines in the garden because that emulates what you’d find out in nature.
A Bold Entry
Of those who study feng shui, Anderson says, “We always focus on the front door, so we want whatever landscaping around the front of the home to be really beautiful.” Try adding flowers with symbolic meaning in feng shui, like water lilies, chrysanthemums or peonies, which Anderson says represent love, romance and longevity in a relationship. “I’m also a big believer in using native plants. You want to be in harmony with your environment,” she says.
While Anderson knows it would be impossible to put a mountain in the garden, she explains that years ago, many people in China would create big hills behind their homes. It harkens back to ancient landscape feng shui, which focused on protecting the home from extreme weather. The metaphor here is that people want to feel like they have back up. Her “mountain” is a wall of tall trees, but she says trellises, fencing, boulders, shrubbery or a berm can have that same effect.
A Place for Two
For an easy way to make your garden more feng shui friendly, add a place to sit. But make sure there’s room for two. The purpose of feng shui is to “be in” the garden, rather than working in it. “If the only way someone could sit in the garden is alone, it’s sort of like adding that aloneness to your life,” she says. Basic feng shui concepts are about inviting positive energy to a space, so try adding a bench.
The Five Elements of Feng Shui
Keep in mind earth, fire, metal, wood and water. With her husband Marc, Anderson built a water feature in her yard with a fake turtle sending water toward a purple basin. She believes good energy follows the flow of water. This is why the feature faces her front door, a.k.a. the place where good opportunities enter one’s life.
With any of the above changes and additions in your gardens and yards, just make it all special for you. Anderson says, “That’s the thing when you go home. You want to say, “Ah, I love this. I love coming home.”