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How to Create a Productive, Inspiring Workspace Using Feng Shui and a New Mindset

Lately, I have been feeling unsteady. The last few months had their share of ups and downs, but the downs (I am realizing now) affected me more than I had anticipated. After repeatedly pushing myself to "just get through it" and sidestepping the complex feelings coming up for me, I finally splintered under the strain. And by splintered, I mean ugly scream-cry fits and intense bouts of lethargy (my fiancé James got a real show... we're still engaged, though, so shout out to the real ones).

I wasn't billing clients I had completed work for (I am working on my weird relationship with money). I was afraid to network and put myself out there for jobs. I was taking on more administrative work than I was able to do. I wasn't delegating properly to my team (apologies, Astin, and thanks for wanting to work), and I was treating James like my therapist. It was sufficiently clear I needed a reset. But how could I figure out how to set boundaries, know my worth, ask for what I was entitled to, and continue building the company I love and believe in before I let it fail because I was too scared to do what I was actually good at? Big inhale.

First, I got a life coach. I had worked with therapists in the past, and in my experience, they weren't solution-oriented enough; they let me idle in the feelings stage for too long. My life coach helped me figure out ways to check in with myself, regroup, set boundaries, and prioritize the work I needed to do. She gave me actual phrases to repeat to myself and exercises to do when I was tripping up. She also permitted me to feel my feelings; she let me know it was okay to be angry, disappointed, annoyed, frustrated, and exhausted. I was safe.

Next, I cleaned and spruced up my office. This sounds small, but as most interior designers are keenly aware, the state of your immediate environment is a good indication of the state of your mind. Removing clutter, dealing with the "to-do" stack, adding more light sources, organizing piles of work in order of importance, and applying some Feng Shui (a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi)) techniques helped. Additional tip: I share an office with James, so it's crucial for me to have noise-canceling headphones with what I want to listen to already queued up. Otherwise, I grab my phone and go down the rabbit hole of time-wasting Instagram stories. I like to listen to Soundscapes on the Calm app, preferably the Space Engine Room, as it has a low, melodic hum that calms me down but doesn't make me sleepy.

My desk is oriented where my back is to a door (a Feng Shui faux pas), so I added a small, vintage arched mirror to my desktop to allow me to see what's behind me. Our office has A LOT of wires, monitors, and electrical currents running throughout, so, to offset, all our desks are natural, unfinished wood, as is the bookshelf. The back of James's monitor faces me, so I have a Money tree (Pachira Aquatica) to improve productivity and morale, summon good luck and fortune, and supply clean air and creative energy. There's only one window (opened often), so bookended on either side are hanging plants to emphasize a balanced partnership (it's both of our workspaces, after all). One is a Swiss Cheese plant (Monstera Adansonii), which is said to represent growth, upward energy, and abundance (yes, please), and the other is a Sweetheart plant (Philodendron Hederaceum) to channel a solid union and love. I also couldn't forget my favorite plant, the wondrous Rubber tree (Ficus Elastica), which is said to minimize negativity and encourage creativity and harmony, placed on the other side of James's desk.

In addition to the supply of lush greenery, I channeled my inner energy healer and called on some rocks and minerals. Yes, I needed Mother Earth's entire A-Team to help combat my recent meltdown with all the positive energy I could muster. I started with grounding Black Tourmaline, which is used to help block negative energy and electromagnetic radiation. A large natural chunk sits facing me on the back of James's desk. Next, I placed my beautiful block of Malachite (a gift from my mother and one of my favorites) aside the Black Tourmaline as it helps us let go of things no longer serving us, frees up space for fresh ideas, and also guards against electromagnetic pollution. I placed a Selenite tower lamp on the bookshelf next to my desk. I went big with this one because Selenite is such a heavy hitter. Beyond promoting peace, clarity, intuition, connection, and manifestation, it, combined with Citrine (I have a sizeable double-pointed chunk close by), helps to release financial obstacles. Amazonite was added to the lineup for communication and leadership. For emotional well-being, confidence, personal growth, and optimism, I used Green Aventurine. An absolutely stunning Pyrite obelisk must be added to the collection for motivation, willpower, and determination. Finally, for prioritization, protection, and clear insights while combatting anxiety, fear, and depression, I chose an unpolished mass of Smokey Quartz placed within reaching distance.

Lastly, after setting the stage for optimum positivity and productivity, I started manifestation exercises. I downloaded this PDF to help guide me through the process, and after answering a few questions and realizing I actually needed to complete my inner child work, I downloaded one more (it makes a great last-minute gift, too). Completing these prompts is helping me look deeply, get to the bottom of my hangups, and free me to focus on the present while drawing what I genuinely need and want inwardly. As Rick Ruben says in the above book, "The ability to look deeply is the root of creativity. To see past the ordinary and mundane and get to what might otherwise be invisible."

So far, I feel better. Who doesn't when surrounded by lush plants and sparkling deposits from the Earth? But truthfully, I have been more tranquil and efficient. Even if these mindful exercises and thoughtful placement of furniture, plants, and decor is a placebo, it's serving their purpose. When I turn my Selenite lamp on in the morning to start the day, I remember to manifest my ideal client. When I am on a difficult call in the afternoon, I hold my Smokey Quartz as though it were a sharp stress ball (maybe don't try that at home). When I admire the beauty of the greenery surrounding me and in the Malachite and Black Tourmaline samples, I practice positive thoughts and the grounding exercises my life coach taught me. My Pyrite and Green Adventurine aid me in remembering that I am strong and capable and can do anything I put my mind to. That diamond-ended Citrine encourages me to make that money. Let's do this, ya'll!

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