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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Feng Shui Tips: Forget the tacky posters, students

TownOnline.com - Wellesley Townsman - Arts & Lifestyle: "Forget the tacky posters, students
By Michael Cox/ Townsman Staff
Thursday, August 11, 2005

As college students pack up their cars next month with laptops, egg crates, plants and family pictures, the one thing they're most likely to forget to fill their dorm room with this year is the thing they'll probably need most - feng shui.

That's what one Wellesley college student who penned a book called 'Dorm Room Feng Shui' believes. Katherine Olaksen, of Pine Street, is convinced that college students can dramatically improve their lives by simply cleaning and arranging their dorm room space with a purpose. 'It's about dealing with your life,' Olaksen said of the book. 'It's not about interior decorating.'

Through the innovative approach to dorm life, the rising senior at the College of Wooster in Ohio is trying to help millions of college students bring more harmony and balance to their daily campus lives by showing them how to transform their living spaces to maximize good energy, known as chi. To do this, said Olaksen, they need to develop feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice that looks at how energy flows in a certain space.

"In college, you can go into one person's room and love being there, and then go into another person's room and feel uncomfortable," she said. "Those situations really clarify how important what you do with your space is."

Olaksen said her struggles as a freshman living in a crammed room that felt like a prison inspired her to write the book. Trying to find a way to make better use of her modest living quarters, Olaksen contacted her aunt, Elizabeth MacCrellish, who was bringing in feng shui expert Margaret Donahue to look at the use of space in her home. She suggested her niece get in touch with Donahue to discuss her dorm room problem. The two hit it off, and Olaksen began taking dozens of pictures of her dorm room and sending them to Donahue, who gradually helped her transform both her living space and her life. MacCrellish and Donahue co-authored the book with Olaksen.

Feng shui is not expensive or complicated, said Olaksen. For those who are going to do some feng shui fixes to their room, she points out that it is important to understand "bagua" first. Essentially, the bagua is a way to divide any space into eight separate pieces that are held together by a ninth - the center. Each piece is known as the "gua" and the center is the "ba," and each section relates to a different part of a person's life, she said. The sections are career, relationships, family, prosperity, center, helpful people and travel, creativity and children, knowledge and fame.

For example, said Olaksen, someone who wanted to get involved in a relationship might put cut flowers in their relationship corner. The idea is not so farfetched. She said it worked for her roommate, a feng shui skeptic at first, who a week after putting flowers in her relationship corner ran into someone from her math class, and the two have been dating ever since.

Olaksen said she has also noticed a shift in her own academic career and relationships since going the feng shui way. "Having something there is a visible reminder that can trigger it to come into your life," she believes. "It works in subtle ways."

The book even has adjusters for troublesome roommates. "Not everyone is going to be Martha Stewart," said Olaksen. "One thing you can do is put up a mirror that reflects the mess back to their side or the room and away from your energy."

With dorm room feng shui tools in hand, Olaksen believes that millions of college freshmen can avoid the ugly pitfall she experienced her first year away from home and flourish in a new environment.

'Dorm Room Feng Shui'

Katherine Olaksen will hold a book signing tonight at 7 at Borders Books in Chestnut Hill and Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Harvard Coop in Cambridge.

The 144-page paperback book sells for $10.95 and is published by Storey Publishing. It is available locally at the Wellesley Booksmith, Barnes and Noble and at Amazon.com."

21, attractive, and full of good advise for the dorm room. Is there anything Katherine Olaksen doesn't have going for her?

Sam, Feng Shui Tips


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