Your Home, Your Self

Is your home in conflict with your true self?

When I sat down to write this post, I was going to write about home remodeling trends. And then I realized how dead that felt to me. I think trends are manufactured and, as someone who cares about value and quality more than whatever is the flavor-of-the-moment, why would I write about trends?

And that got me thinking. What does it mean to not follow trends in real estate?

If the discussion was about fashion, I think someone who defies trends is someone who is self-aware and has vision, strength, courage, and a whole lot of confidence. When it comes to a home, that kind of radical defiance requires a lot more effort. It’s easy to walk into a staged home or a design showroom and just buy the pieces as shown and put them in a house. And if you did, it’d be a lot like someone who just bought the outfit in the window and wore it exactly as it was displayed. It may be a great outfit, but it would tell you nothing about the wearer (other than maybe that they have no self-expression). It takes much more clarity and connection with self to really transform a house into a home that is reflective of the owner’s authentic self.

When it comes to home remodeling, I think the most important thing is to do what makes you happy. After all, you’re the one who’s paying for it and living with it. And a home that reflects its owner’s personal sense of style and expression is admirable. Even when a home is decorated and remodeled in ways that are not to my taste, I can still appreciate the vision and joy behind it. There are design trends, color trends, and trends on trends – all good information, I suppose, if you’re a trend-following kind of person. But really, how boring is that? Seeing the hundreds of homes I do every month, I think that’s one of the things that really differentiates a home from a property. A home can’t help expressing something about its owners. The property (especially the kinds that are quickly done by investors) tend to have the same trends-inspired feel to them. They look great maybe the first five or ten times you see them. Then they get really boring because they are all exactly the same. There’s no humanity behind it, there’s no quirkiness, there’s no individual expression – just a cold calculated “this is what’s trendy now” kind of approach to the entire project.

I think being true to your self and what makes you happy ultimately makes the remodeling project more fulfilling and rewarding. And why wouldn’t you want your home to be an expression and extension of who you are? More importantly, if you are someone who seeks to live authentically, why would your home not be a reflection of that authenticity?

I’d love to hear how you bring your authenticity to your home. How does your home express your values, your truths, your spirit, your Self?

9 Simple Holiday Safety Tips

I was going to write another post about the importance of practicing gratitude – it seemed timely given that Thanksgiving is next week – and then I thought better of it. Thanksgiving is one time of year when we get reminders to be grateful from pretty much every media outlet so I decided to share some holiday safety tips instead.

As important as it is to recognize and express how grateful we are for what we have, it is also important to remember to be mindful and practical as to how to keep our homes safe. This is especially true during the holiday season, when we may be distracted by our own thoughts, obligations and busy schedules. Here are some simple tips I got from the Los Angeles Police Department website:

– Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.

– When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.

– Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.

– Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.

– Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.

– When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doors and passageways are clear inside your home.

– Be sure your Christmas tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves.

– If you use lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring can cause a fire.- Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.
Never place wrapping paper in your fireplace.

Energy and Your Home

Every home is imbued with the consciousness of its tenant.”  – Deepak Chopra, New York Times, October 20, 2013

If you are a writer or any kind of artist, if you change something as fundamental as where you live – the way you live – then I think you change the very instrument that is trying to make the art” – Dani Shapiro, New York Times, October 27, 2013 

I was so inspired when I read these two quotes because they encapsulated so concisely two main things I think of (and feel for) when I look at homes.  I have no doubt that how we live our daily lives leaves an energetic imprint on the living space and that the configuration of our space as well as the external/environmental conditions surrounding the space impacts our relationships to our inner and outer selves.

As a real estate professional, I see lots and lots of houses.  One of the services I provide my clients is to preview homes on their behalf so that clients don’t waste time looking at houses that don’t live up to the potential of their photographs (just as some people on online dating websites post information and photos that do not accurately represent who they are, photos of houses often only tell part of the story).  And I’m not just looking at the stats and criteria; I’m looking (or more accurately, feeling) for something a little more.  To me, there is no denying that some houses just have better energy and that’s something I take into consideration.  Which is not to say that the energy is fixed; it is possible to clear the energy of a space (maybe through burning sage or incense, or chanting mantras and playing sacred music, or hiring vastu or feng shui experts, or various other possibilities, depending on personal preference and what’s going on in the space).  And certainly anyone who meditates or engages in any kind of spiritual practice over a sustained period of time in the same space knows very well how those practices shifts the energy of the space, imbuing it with a powerful energetic charge.

Just as a space is imbued with the energy of its occupants, the space in turn can influence occupants in such a way that a greater commitment to wellness practices may be encouraged, a deeper connection to creativity may be fostered, and work/life balance may be more easily attained.  That’s the flow of a specific dwelling as well as the location in which it is situated.  Part of us getting more connected to our inner selves and tapping into our wisdom is learning how to identify what kind of space we need and being attuned to when our needs change.

Again, let me quote Deepak Chopra: “We [Chopra and his wife] have a big house that overlooks the ocean.  It’s idyllic.  You can walk on the beach and see the dolphins, and to a visitor that would be amazing.  But to me at my state of life, I can get almost brain-dead after a while.  I need the stimulus of the city to keep my mind dynamic.” (NYT Oct. 20, 2013)

Sometimes we need to be closer to nature, sometimes we need to be in a more urban environment.  When we are aware and true to ourselves, we know which kind of environment we need to bring the balance we want in our bodies, mind and spirit.

How do you cultivate energy in your home?  When you look at houses, do you feel for their energy? What have you observed about the relationship between the energy of your living space and the wellness of your being, the flow of your creativity, the ability to access and follow your dreams?