How Feng Shui Views Failure and Success
by Moni Castaneda
We have known them for a long time. Let's call them John and Mary for the sake of this story.
They are both highly paid professionals, they are both very stylish, they own a large home, drive luxury cars, travel abroad at least once a year. Their two children go to one of the best private schools in their town, and are enrolled in a number of extra-curricular activities. Their social media pages are full of their accomplishments.
The whole family, the couple and their two teenagers, came to spend a Holiday with us several years ago. We opened our home to them, happy for the opportunity to get to know a little more of them. It was very cold that year, and the roads were icy, so much of our time was spent sharing home-made meals, stories from our childhoods, watching movies with home made popcorn, and playing games.
It was during the last day of their visit that they surprised us by sharing with us how they perceived our life. John took my husband aside, while his wife and I worked in the kitchen. In a very delicate manner, he told my husband that if we ever wanted to try our luck in the big city where they live, to count on them to help us get established. My husband innocently asked, "Why would we want to move?"
In the kitchen, on the other hand, Mary was carefully trying to gather details about our life and our finances. She did not specifically mention the city where they live, but she did ask if we had considered moving to a larger town, where my husband would have more opportunities. I assured her that we were very happy where we lived. My only complaint was that I would like our house to be slightly larger, so that we could have an art room. Mary then told me, "You are both professionals and really good at what you do -- You don't have to live like this."
"Like this? What in the world does she mean by this?" I thought, but I didn't say anything because I was in a little bit of a shock at realizing that this fashionable couple did not see us as their equals. I knew that we had very different sets of values, but I did not consider myself to be at a disadvantage compared to them. Quite the contrary, as I will explain later.
If our visitors had been able to redesign the way my husband and I live, this is what they would have done: They would have had us move to a large city. My husband, who is a chiropractor, would have gotten a bank loan to start a practice in a neighborhood close to downtown. They would have had me get a full time job so that my salary would pay the tuition for our boys to attend a private school. They would have us sell our house and get a larger house in a part of town that was closer to the private school, and with a larger mortgage. Then they would be satisfied that we were on the right track -- to become them.
The truth is that my husband and I would consider their lifestyle much closer to failure than success. You see, we know what it is like to live like that.
When my husband graduated as a chiropractor about eight years ago, he was offered a job in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was to manage a clinic owned by a corporation that owns about fifty practices in the United States. This was a terrific opportunity for a recent graduate, with a very attractive salary and incentive bonuses, that compared to the standard of living in Knoxville, made for a very nice income. At the time, I had not yet developed my online business, and this meant that I had to start over, pretty much from zero, promoting my local Feng Shui consulting business.
Knoxville met all the requirements of the city where we wanted to live. It is very family-friendly and there are lots of things to do with the children year round. The Smoky Mountains are nearby, and the scenery is breathtaking. We wanted to live in a place where the four seasons where very balanced, as they are here. We chose to live near a mid size city, because we wanted to avoid the stresses of large cities, while still enjoying lots of amenities. We live right outside of town, in a semi-rural area that we chose because the air is super clean. When you step into our yard, you cannot smell any pollution at all and it was very important to us to provide clean air for our children. We chose a home that was considerably lower than the amount we pre-qualified for at the bank, because we believe in living beneath our means. We chose to home school our kids instead of sending them to school, private or public, because we love spending time with them, and because we know with our combined knowledge and degrees we are able to give them a better education than they would get at the best school.
However, for that first year in Knoxville my husband became a stranger to us. His job required him to arrive in the clinic very early to see the patients that needed to be seen before work, and stay late to see the patients that could only come after work. He saw patients on Saturday mornings, and struggled to keep up with paperwork Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
For the first three months here, if you had met me, you would have thought I was a single mom!
A Wakeup Call
After half a year of this routine something happened that made us re-evaluate the way we were living. It had been three days since Marco had seen the kids, then one and four years old. He would often leave before they were awake and come home after they had gone to bed. That day I decided to take the kids to the clinic so that we could all share lunch as a family. As I was approaching the strip mall where the clinic was located, my oldest son, then four exclaimed, "Oh, I know where we are going. It's the doctor's office. Dada doesn't live with us any more, right? He now lives in the doctor's office, right? So we are coming to visit." Nothing I said would convince him that his Dad lived with us. That night, when I showed him his dad's clothes still in the closet, and his toothbrush in the master bathroom, he said, "OK, but he doesn't live with us."
After that Marco and I made a plan to re-design our lives to meet our values and our needs as a family with small children. For our re-design we used the Feng Shui Bagua Map, looking at all the life areas and assessing how we were doing in them. When my husband took the test you can download near the bottom of this page, he realized that the only area where he was doing well was career. All of the other areas in his life where doing poorly since he took this job.
Now my husband works from home, no more than six hours per day. (I work only three). Most days, he gets to share with us breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we found out that sending our children to a martial arts school would cost more than our gas and electric bill, he decided to start his own class. Now he coaches a Tae Kwon Do team that he started at the local YMCA where families pay very reasonable fees. This way, several other families benefit and he creates community.
We go on walks, picnics, and hikes any day we choose, and taking time off for vacations is a breeze. One day a week, he comes to the gym with me to dance in the Zumba® class, but he gets to work out every day in his super duper home gym that we created in an accessory building we added to our property. Last year we added a screened porch patio in the back yard so on nice days we can do our home school lessons and art projects out there. We make sure that we do not over-schedule our children's time, so that every day they have some time to call their own, when they learn to manage their time.
If we had to live the life that our "successful" visitors John and Mary live, with the long hours, the high payments for home and cars, the long periods of time they have to spend away from each other (sometimes months at a time) and almost non-existent time spent with each other and their children every day, we would feel that we had failed. Furthermore, even though they are only slightly older than us, they both take prescription medications, of which we have been free for two decades.
Because we live a balanced life, all of our life areas improve over time.
Us vs. Them?
During their visit, it seemed obvious that John and Mary did not perceive us as being successful as much as we do not perceive them as being successful. This is because when we look at each other's lives, we are each evaluating from our own set of values and not the values of the other family.
It is easier for them to reach their conclusions about us because their values are more aligned with the status quo -- the message that TV and marketing send us incessantly of what success is supposed to look like.
Our values are rooted in the transcendental truths of Feng Shui, mainly that for us to live a happy, balanced life, there are nine areas of life that need to be tended to, and that to advance one or two life areas to the detriment of the others, is a measure of failure, and not success.
In conclusion, our friends are successful because their lifestyle is congruent (in alignment) with their values. We respect them for that. We are successful because our lifestyle is congruent with our values -- they have a harder time respecting this.
In Feng Shui, though, success is measured not in terms of achievement or even of congruency, but in degrees of happiness.
The problem many people have is that even though they may be living a lifestyle that goes in accordance with what they believe is a good life, the values they hold are not something they figured out on their own, but rather something they picked up from their families of origin and society at large. Even having congruency between lifestyle and values does not guarantee happiness. How many times have you experienced getting exactly what you wanted only to find out it didn't make your happy?
The measure of how aligned your values are with who you truly are and who you want to be is happiness. How happy are you? And answering this question is the theme for our next newsletter and article. In that article I will be sharing my husband's wheel of life (the result of the life areas test) from before we redesigned our lives and his wheel of life today. Read the next article.
P.S. Remember, the advice in this newsletter, website, books, videos, social media, etc. is not meant as, or to replace, medical or psychological treatment of any kind, nor to discourage you from getting such treatments.
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Feng Shui Cures for the Life Areas
I have previously read many books about feng shui but I was always confused about doing it as a profession because of the conflicting information out there. Moni brings a fresh perspective that is both holistic and healing and she teaches it from a love paradigm which is absolutely awesome!
Tatia Biddle, Milwaukee, WI