This article is part of our latest Design special report, which is about taking creative leaps in challenging times.
I was clearly in over my head.
When I signed up for an online course in feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice of using design to enhance health and prosperity, I somehow missed the part about its being a “master” class. My fellow students included a graduate of a three-year program on the subject and three women whose homes already had been feng shui-ed by our instructor, Judith Wendell, the founder of Sacred Currents, a Manhattan-based consulting firm.
I, meanwhile, was a complete novice. And I was still struggling with the basics — including how to place the bagua, a template that is used to divide a space into nine zones — while my peers were ticking off “the producing order” of the five elements.
But I wasn’t the only one in trouble; my New York City apartment was, too.
Ceiling fan over bed = bad.
Towering open bookshelves in a bedroom crammed with books = bad.
Bathroom visible from entrance = bad.
My desk pushed against a wall in the living room so my back was to the doorway = bad.
A diagonal wall in my bedroom that meant a section was missing from the “wealth” zone (which might just explain something about our family’s finances) = very, very bad.
I had them all, as well as “fighting doors” (my bedroom door knocked against my closet door when both were open). My kids’ bedrooms had the same affliction, which, it seems, could portend discord or even “hidden adversaries.” Yikes.
Fortunately, Ms. Wendell, 68, a consultant for more than two decades, was empathetic, calm and, above all, pragmatic. She was fully aware that most of us cannot renovate our