Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spirit: How to Feng Shui for Baby

Laura Carrillo
Today's post comes from Laura Carrillo, a Los Angeles-based feng shui consultant. I met Laura on a transcontinental plane ride a couple years ago and we've been friends ever since, and I was one of her first guinea pigs when she started her practice. A couple months ago she saw how distressed I was from waiting what seemed like forever for our adoption to happen, so she offered to feng shui, this time for baby. Now, believe what you want, but our baby showed up less than a week after she visited. A lot of 40licious women are struggling with fertility, adoption and other baby-making efforts, so who knows -- it can't hurt, it could help!

Here's Laura's website.

In Feng Shui there is something called a Bagua that serves as a map or a grid of the nine different life stations. It looks kind of like a tic-tac-toe board. The nine guas of the Bagua are as follows: from top to bottom, left to right:

1. Prosperity
2. Fame & Reputation
3. Love & Relationships
4. Family
5. Health
6. Children & Creativity
7. Skills & Knowledge
8. Career
9. Travel & Helpful People

In Feng Shui for Baby, I focused on three specific guas. Children & Creativity, Fame & Reputation, and Travel & Helpful People. Children and Creativity was the obvious area to address and for Vanessa; this gua was in her living room. Here is where you want to focus on symbols of children, toys, artistic endeavors, games, the metal element, round shapes and the color white. Fame & Reputation happened to be where the baby’s room was located in Vanessa’s house and is also a key gua in garnering positive public attention and in this case from prospective parents. This gua is associated with the fire element, the color red or any color in the red spectrum such as pink or peach, and symbols of your accomplishments, or people you respect, etc. One of my favorite and often ignored guas, is Travel & Helpful People. This is the gua of synchronicity and assistance from both the divine and the mundane. Here is where it is best to place symbols of spiritual figures and at the same time where you might want to keep the business cards of your plumber or doctor … For Vanessa, this gua is in her entry way/porch so I suggested an angel statue that looks like a cherub, spiritual and infant-like.

All the guas are important and in Feng Shui balance is key, but in Vanessa’s case we had Feng Shui’d the home as a whole the previous, year and on this occasion, it made sense to focus our energy on the baby’s room and the other 2 corresponding guas. I also decided to do a Baby Blessing for the home. In planning for the Blessing, I chose to incorporate Space Clearing and the elements of an altar utilizing the principles of Feng Shui.

We spent time in the baby’s room which was the day’s initial focus. We discussed crib placement. Ideally, you want the bed or crib to be in full view of the door and with a solid wall behind it. Art and imagery are very important and Vanessa had three small paintings placed on the fame wall of the baby’s room. They were representations first of mother and child, then father, mother and child, and finally of the sun. Perfection! She had incorporated the number 3 in three perfect ways for that room. The images of family are symbolic of what she was inviting into her life and the sun is a fire element representation that is perfectly placed in the fame gua where the baby’s room resides. My whole premise behind calling my business Narrative Space Feng Shui is specific to the stories we tell through our homes and our art, and Vanessa understood that. One of the additional suggestions I had was that she make three copies of the adoption paperwork she had and place them in the three pertinent guas. The paperwork can be hidden as this is more of a transcendental cure with specific intent behind it.

Next, we did the space clearing prior to and in preparation of the Blessing. Vanessa and I walked through the house with my burning bundle of sage clearing each room and welcoming a baby into the environment. When we completed that, I went about the business of creating an altar for the Blessing. I chose to perform the ceremony in the living room which as mentioned is her Children & Creativity gua. We cleared the coffee table and I pulled out my bell, some incense and requested three white candles that we lit and something metal from Vanessa. She had her own three bells which were perfect elementally and symbolically. Bells can be rung to begin and end a blessing … I grabbed three yellow lemons from the kitchen. Lemons are yellow, which in Feng Shui is considered a representation of the earth element and because they are fruit, they are also considered of the wood element. The number 3 as in mother, father and child is important to note.

I had Vanessa place her wedding necklace on the altar as a symbol of her marriage and family bond. I was creating an altar that was symbolically and elementally balanced but with an emphasis on metal. I also requested some mood enhancing music which Vanessa supplied; an unusual instrumental arrangement that incorporated gongs. (It’s important to create a mood.) Steven, Vanessa’s husband, arrived and we began the blessing with the ring of a bell. I spoke a few words about what a loving and beautiful home and family this child is being invited to join and had Steven and Vanessa each say a few words. The true impact of a blessing is the energy of the participants and their intention.

In blessings, there is power in numbers and everyone involved should participate. I am there to facilitate for them but it’s their home, their blessing, and their emotion that energetically manifests their intentions. When we finished, I asked them to blow out the three candles and as they did, three gongs went off in the music as if on cue. Vanessa and Steven were matched with a birth family six days later.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Relationships: Bringing Home Baby

Cinco is alternately curious and sulking

Adopting our baby was like being pregnant for two years in that everyone we know is invested in it by this point. Countless friends called and wrote with tears steaming down their cheeks upon hearing the news of this little miracle we call Grace Magnolia, as if they were watching the last scene of a magnificent film. It was also like being pregnant for four days: exactly how much time we had from meeting the birth parents until the baby was born. Team Grace moved into action: bags of clothes and gear from one friend, another took the mission to grab the bassinet and supplies as we beat it to the hospital to bring home the baby. A steady stream of well-wishers bring clothes and almost more important, dinner.

I realize that I'm not the first person to have a baby and gush about it. I know I'm not the only woman who has tried to navigate sleeping and feeding, HR labyrinths, and how to tie a Moby baby carrier. I am also not the first to be taken aback by surprise tears walking into Naartjie Baby, or seeing the little sleeping child curled up next to my big snoring husband.

But as a first-time mother at 40licious, I feel like the instincts are on high-alert, and even better, I know how and when to use them. I know what I don't know, and eagerly listen to advice on babies and their accoutrements. But most of all, I know that the little cooing child snuggling on my chest, this perfect baby girl, is the best thing that has ever happened to me. And I speak from experience.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Letter from a Woman Who Has Wanted a Child for a Long Time

June 7, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

To Our Daughter,

I am writing this on a plane, on my way to see you born. I hope I get there in time to watch you unfold and blossom into the world, a healthy, peaceful little girl. Our daughter. It is such a thrill to write that. Our daughter. I suspect it is a thrill that will never go away.

You are a very special girl. So many people have loved you -- your birth mother, B, and your birth father, B. Your dad and I have wanted you for such a long time. In fact, just last week we told you, "come find us. We'll take it from there." We love you so much already and can't wait to meet you.

I can't wait to find out what's happening. Steve, your dad, was on his way to be with you when I got on the plane.

I am sending a special message to God now, and hopefuly writing it down will be a way from it to come through stronger and clearer.

  • May you arrive healthy and happy.
  • May you know love and peace from the moment you take your first breath, and forever after that.
  • May your angels keep close watch over you, and protect you in a world filled with uncertainty. 
  • May we be the best parents for you. We hope you'll never want for anything, that your life will be sunny and filled with beauty and wonder.
  • That you will grow into a compassionate, funny, intelligent woman. We are proud of you already.

OK we are getting ready to land now, so I'm putting this notebook away. Little one, I can't wait to meet you. We will rock this world together.

Your Mom,
Vanessa McGrady Spiller

Grace Magnolia Spiller, born June 7, 2011, 5:48 p.m.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Style: Don't Be Invisible

If you have to be invisible, do it like Jessica Alba.

My husband, Steve, and I got on the shuttle bus that took us from the LAX terminal to get our car. A woman in a pink sweatsuit got on. I looked at her. Matronly, short haircut. Of no particular color, just ashy. Maybe some makeup. Maybe some glasses. And then I realized she was about my age. In her 40s. I felt overwhelmingly sad.

I turned to Steve. "Tell me please, if I ever become invisible like that."

Now I don't know any back story on Pink Sweatsuit. Maybe she's a fashion rock star by day and she just happened to get off a 24-hour trans-Pacific flight from somewhere exotic. I'm talking more about the complaint I hear more and more often from my 50licious and 60licious sisters. "I'm invisible." They feel ignored by society and passed over in public. They have to speak up to let people know they are there.

But then I think of the women I know who are not invisible: All my 40licious girlfriends. My aunt Corinne who looks exactly the same as she did in 1970, not a gray hair on her head. My cousins Elizabeth, Maggie and Siobhan, who are whip-smart, funny as hell and have never stopped turning heads. My mom, an ethereal being with her long white hair, quip for everyone and prima ballerina posture.

Maybe sometimes you want to be invisible, like when you have a cold and have to slog to the grocery store for some Nyquil. Or when you're walking the dog and going straight back to bed after. Or maybe you just had a baby and it's all you can do to put on your own clean underwear. Other than that, I can't think of any good reasons.

Here are some 40licious ways to avoid being invisible:
1. Take a second to put on lip gloss, even if you aren't wearing other makeup. Even if you are alone. I carry about six with me at all times.
2. Comfy clothes that fit well = good. Comfy clothes that are roomy enough to hold a family of wombats and their friends = bad.
3. For your hair, pick a color. Any color. Just pick something. And if you can't "do" something with it, add a cute hat, scarf or pile it in an knot on your head.
4. If your wardrobe and eyeglasses are from the presidential era of George H.W. Bush or before, you need to go shopping.
4. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile.
5. Exercise regularly, or start walking places. Your chi, or life energy, is your true beauty.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Work: How Do You Balance Work and Life?

This week six very smart and lovely women came to my house. We were on a mission, aside from eating rare fresh jackfruit, fun cheeses and dark chocolate. It was an inaugural meeting of a new club of sorts. We will meet once a month and have online time during the week to support each other and provide resources and networking. We're all women entrepreneurs, each in a vastly different business but each also with a thread of a connection to each other: One person needs an intern, the other looking for time to fill until she figures out her business. A gallery owner and an art historian. One with a busy B-level career on her way to an A, and people with A-level jobs who can help her perhaps. And there was me, trying to figure out how do I get everything done for the 40licious book I am writing, outside of my full-time day job. Lots of good suggestions -- write at lunch. Write in the morning. Take your space. Carve your time.

I am tired at the end of the day. I want to walk the dogs, watch Mad Men on Netflix and eat Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt. I want to like things on Facebook and read the work of others -- who had to carve their own time to write it.

How bad do I want it? I want it bad enough to get up at 5 a.m. every day, I guess.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Relationships: Women in Their 40s Have More Orgasms

Fake it 'til you make it, baby!

As if you needed another reason to be grateful for your 40licious years, a roundup article on orgasms in EmpowHer give us this: "Orgasm gets better with age. ... the quality and frequency of orgasm may actually improve with age. While 61 percent of women ages 18 to 24 experienced orgasm the last time they had sex, 65 percent of women in their 30s did and about 70 percent of women in their 40s and 50s did.”

Have you had yours today?