Does Feng Shui Really Work?

With the Chinese New Year on February 19, we entered the Year of the Golden Sheep, welcoming a time of peace, harmony, creativity and generosity. This time of year always inspires me to take stock of the flow of energy in my life.  As a student of the ancient Chinese Art of Feng Shui for over twenty years now, I’ve learned some interesting ways to improve the energy of my home and office to enhance my success, happiness and general well-being. I find that by implementing the principles I’ve learned, I can create environments that are both energetically vibrant and aesthetically pleasing.

photo by John Ragai

Some of the things I do to activate the flow of energy, or chi, in my home and office are: keep the entryway to my home clean and free of clutter; locate beds in the corner of the room furthest from the door so that one can see the entrance from the bed; use plants, crystals, lamps and color with the cardinal directions, keeping the elements of fire, earth, air, water and metal in mind. I also have a fountain in the entry room to stimulate the flow of abundance. In the kitchen, I keep the stove top clean, make sure that all of the burners work well, and I use them all in turn. This stimulates multiple flows of abundance into my household. I keep the refrigerator clean and clear out old food that has lost its vitality. In the dining room, I place a small mirror on the ceiling above the table, so it will reflect abundance, and I keep a beautiful bowl on the table with oranges and a pineapple, or whatever fruit is in season. There are many more ways to achieve good results using the art of feng shui, too many to address here. For a more detailed summary of how you can use feng shui, check out my dear friend, Gwynne Warner’s website, Ten Thousand Blessings Feng Shui:
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Guided Imagery As A Daily Practice

I once lived and worked at a hot springs retreat center deep in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, where I experienced tremendous personal growth and learning in the context of being in service to the guests, to the business, and to the community of which I was a member. I use one sentence from the credo of that magnificent place as the inspiration for my daily practices:

“We structure our lives such that we can experience daily the rewards of success, peacefulness, and joy.”

Cascade Sky

Cascade Sky by Cheryl Plotner

Three of the most powerful tools I use to support that intention are Meditation, Guided Imagery and Affirmations. While life has certainly sent me many curve balls and at times I’ve felt the pull of gravity  on a slippery slope, I’ve found that when I use these three tools, I can more easily experience the rewards I treasure. The value of Guided Imagery in my personal and professional life is immeasurable. I listen to Guided Imagery myself, I share it with my friends and family, and as a life coach I use it with clients to support them in achieving their desired outcomes.

Five years ago, I began using Guided Imagery daily when I was faced with stressful changes in my business and in my relationship with my mate. I asked my hypnotherapist to recommend audios to help me with that, and she pointed me to Belleruth Naparstek, who I found online at I felt resonance and comfort in her voice, so I bought Bellleruth’s audios for stress  as well as for headache (I was having migraines several times a month). I used the Guided Imagery and Affirmation tracks at least two or three times a day, feeling deep peace during the listening, and I found myself feeling more resourceful and resilient during the process of changing my business and separating from my life partner. I eventually bought several more products from Health Journeys, including the Successful Surgery audios; I’ve loaned them to friends to assist them in getting the best results from surgery, and they’ve all felt great benefit from the audios. Although I didn’t know it when I bought them, having the Successful Surgery audios would be extremely important to my daughter and to myself.

One year after becoming a single mother, my daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis. It seemed to have happened overnight, and the reality of it hit me like a boulder. Once again, I began listening to the audios for stress several times daily as I navigated through the learning journey and the path of trying non-surgical treatments for my daughter’s spine. After two years of using several modalities, including: acupuncture, Bowen therapy, chiropractic treatments, hypnosis, massage, Rolfing, Schroth exercises and yoga, and witnessing the two curves advance aggressively, it became painfully clear that surgery was going to be necessary to correct and stabilize her spine. Three weeks before her surgery date, I began playing the Guided Imagery track for my daughter, listening with her just before she went to sleep at night. I also played the music only track in the car and at home as background to whatever quiet activity was happening. In addition, I continued to use the stress audios as I processed the reality that my daughter would undergo a long, arduous surgery and intense recovery.

After more than twelve hours of surgery, my daughter did emerge safely, and during the ten days we spent in hospital and for a few weeks at home, I played the music only track continuously. In the hospital, the doctors, nurses and staff would often take deep breaths and pause after entering the room, saying how much they loved the soothing music. When friends came to visit our home, they also commented on how relaxed the music made them feel. My daughter had zero complications from surgery and recovery, and now attends high school, living life as most any teenager would. In three months she’ll be cleared to run, jump and recreate freely, even though a large part of her spine is fused. She’s grateful for her stable, straight spine and rarely thinks of lost flexibility in her back. It is truly remarkable to me now, as I reflect on the past year, that I was able to move through the intensity of preparing myself for the trauma of my daughter’s surgery with such grace, faith and trust that I could handle whatever the outcome would be. I know that using Guided Imagery in general, and specifically the voice of Belleruth Naparstek, has been a tremendous help.

What Is Prosperity?

How do you define “prosperity”? According to Google’s online dictionary, Prosperity is

noun: prosperity
  1. the state of being prosperous.
    “a long period of prosperity”
    synonyms: success, profitability, affluence, wealth, opulence, luxury, the good life,milk and honey, (good) fortune, ease, plenty, comfort, security, well-being
“she deserves all the prosperity she now enjoys”


Hmm, I like the expansiveness of that – prosperity isn’t just about money, but about ease, good fortune, comfort, success, well-being… And I really like the statement at the end- I do deserve and enjoy it!


Photo by Wee Sen Goh under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Last month, Carl Harvey of “The Big Life” ( online radio show posed a”Prosperity Challenge”, which involved listening to a special prosperity audio called a “paraliminal” for five days, then writing a comment about what I experienced at the end of the five days. Carl and his team would then review all of the comments posted, choose the one they liked best, and the winner would receive an entire 42-audio set of the recordings, called “Paraliminals”, produced by Paul Scheele of Learning Strategies Corporation. I love a good challenge, and I’m familiar with NLP, Hypnosis and the audio technology used to create the paraliminals, so I went for it, knowing that at the very least, I would thoroughly enjoy the free use of the audio for five days. In fact, I loved listening to the audio and got plenty of pleasure each time, so I listened to it more than once a day. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the challenge:

“Carl, I’ve listened to the prosperity paraliminal at least once per day during this challenge – what a treat! During the audio, I feel deeply relaxed, and afterwards I feel energized yet calm and focused. I feel grateful for that, even if I didn’t have an increase in prosperity, which I did. I got a large payment on an account receivable that was several months overdue on Thursday. In addition to that piece, I’ve noticed lots of little things flowing easily. For example, I had a very tight schedule today and had some important errands to complete with limited time, and traffic was heavy. I got to the fireplace store to have the door of my wood stove repaired just five minutes before they closed for the weekend. They cheerfully repaired the seal on the spot so that I could take it home and, free of charge. I then went to a shop where the parking lot was jammed -cars were cruising around in laps and when I drove down one lane, a car pulled out just at the right time for me, no waiting. Then, I went to REI to return some socks and to buy a pair of sneaks for the gym and trail running while I was in the area. Unbeknownst to me, they were having a big sale and I got 20% off the sneakers. In addition to the physical signs of prosperity, and maybe even more importantly, I’ve felt truly prosperous all week long, in more ways than materially. It’s difficult to articulate with words, so I’ll just write that my inner landscape has been vibrant and expansive this week! Thanks, Carl, and Paul Scheele!”

Of course, I did hope to win the big prize, which is valued at over $1260, and I knew there were several thousand people worldwide participating in the challenge, so I just wrote honestly, from the heart, and then let it go to the fates.  Here’s the email I got a few days later:

Hey Cheryl,

Over the past couple of weeks, I introduced you to Paul Scheele and Paraliminals – and your results have been epic!

I’m so proud of each and every one of the 6100+ people who played The Prosperity Challenge, and attracted more abundance 🙂

It’s been so hard to choose a winner for the challenge – it could of been one of 200+ entries… but I’m following my intuition… and I feel the most inspiring story is from Cheryl Potner, who attracted more money, happiness, relaxation… and a lot more… all in 5 days! Awesome.

Here’s Cheryl’s entry… I loved how’s she focuses on abundance in ALL areas of life… very cool!

And, my thank you reply:

WooHoo! How fantastic to see this message first thing this morning (well, after taking my pooch out to potty!). Thank you! I’m doing the happy dance and I feel I’ve just won the jackpot – AND I HAVE! It just keeps coming, too, like I’m a money magnet. This morning, after I took my daughter to school, I stopped by a park so my dog could have a little stroll. When we got out of the car I glanced down to see a $10 bill on the ground! Nobody else was around, so I took it up as a gift; I’ll give it as a little tip to my cleaner later today. Want to know something really cool? When I was writing that post, I was feeling all tingly and expansive, and I juiced up the post with energy from my heart just before I hit the comment button. I had a great feeling throughout my whole body – I felt I knew I was going to win! I recently started a blog, Carl, and I’d like to invite you to read the last post, because it’s about giving and paying it forward. I think you’ll like it! You can find it here: …

Gratefully Yours,

Cheryl Plotner

Wow, that was really fun, and I listen to a paraliminal audio every day, sometimes more than one. They run about 20 minutes, so it’s easy to fit them into my life. I definitely feel very prosperous, regardless of my income or bank balance at the moment.
How do you define “prosperous”? Can you expand the definition to include more than you had previously thought? Please share a comment about your own prosperity experience!

What’s Two Cents Worth?


Photo by under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

I recently had an experience that, for me, redefined the phrase “…put in my two cents…”. One day I stopped by a grocery store I rarely visit. After finding what I needed, I stepped up to a register behind a petite, elderly woman buying a few things. When the clerk finished ringing her up, the woman took out her money and found that she was two cents short. There was no penny bowl in sight and the clerk was silent, so I said I had two cents to share, taking them out of my purse. I handed the pennies to the clerk, who looked indifferent, while the woman gaped at me for a moment, then she gushed, “Oh, thank you; that’s so kind of you!” She stood still a moment, looking thoughtful. “I’ve never had anyone do such a thing for me before!”. I smiled at her and wished her a great day.  She smiled back, repeated her thanks, and left. It seemed to me that she had received so much in those two cents! I know I did; her gift of gratitude enriched the rest of my day and changed how I think about small acts of sharing.

A couple of days later, while clearing out some things in my studio, I found a collection of little inspiration cards. The size of business cards, they have black and white images behind a short poem, blessing, or words of wisdom; each of the 52 cards is unique. I decided to put them in the give-away box downstairs, but the cards sat on the corner of my writing desk for a week, snagging my attention from time to time. I realized that I wanted to juice them up a little before passing them on, and I was unsure how I would do that. My answer came later that day.

I was looking through my Facebook timeline when I saw a post about “International Pay It Forward Flash Mob” and I was instantly intrigued. I love the whole flash mob thing, and had been eager to participate in one for the past couple of years. The flash mob would occur worldwide on October 11, 2014, at 1pm Pacific Time. No ordinary song and dance flash mob, the action was to “pay it forward” in some way; for example, pay for the person behind you at the coffee shop, gas station, or grocery line, or do a good deed to benefit another. In general, step out in selfless generosity. I felt a flash of energy zip through my body, knowing that I would use the cards to participate in the flash mob.

I had several days to put it together. I decided to wrap each card in a dollar bill and secure it with a paper clip. At first hesitant to use only a dollar, I then remembered the great feeling evoked from the 2 cents; I decided that I’d rather share all 52 cards with a dollar each than just a few with 5’s. At the end of each day, I took out all of the singles from my wallet and wrapped cards, reading each one before attaching the dollar. I wondered if the people receiving the cards would connect in some meaningful way with what was written, or if they would laugh, or pass them on to someone they knew. I loved the daily ritual; one afternoon I read the following on a card: “Course correction is returning to your lifepath’s arc and trajectory. Error correction is trying to fix a blind spot too late to repair.” I thought about that passage and how it related to my life. Considering how each type of correction had impacted my life story, I felt deeply grateful for the healing I’d found in course correction, while I appreciated the sometimes hard lessons learned through attempts at error correction.

On International Pay It Forward Day, I took my daughter to a friend’s home to babysit. I visited with my friend, enjoying a mandarin from her fruit bowl. She had more than enough for her family, so she invited me to take some home with me. I gratefully accepted and told her about my fun plan to share little blessings during the flash mob. She loved the idea and suggested that I could write “pay it forward” on each bill, so when I got home I used a red pen to thus annotate each dollar. I put some of the the mandarins in a bowl, topped them with homemade banana muffins and went out to share them with the people on the farm where I live.  I then gathered up the paper gifts and headed out to the greater community where I live to sprinkle them around town. I’m still feeling happy and grateful for the synchronicity of this time of sharing and my desire to be of service, moving energy for the benefit of others. Yes, even just one dollar at a time!

I slipped several cards under windshield wipers or through open windows of parked cars, I tucked some into crevices in the bark of trees at the town plaza, and I left others on empty sidewalk tables on Main Street. I tucked one under the handset of a pay phone and left two in the washrooms of the public library. I handed a few of them over to clerks in shops I visited and people I met on the street. I gave the last card to a man seated on a shady bench next to his bicycle. I almost passed by him when our eyes met and we shared a smile; he had a calm face and kindness shone in his blue eyes. I veered off the path to the left and approached him, handing him the dollar wrapped card and saying that I had a little gift for him. He took it, looked at it and smiled, saying, “It always comes back to us, doesn’t it?” He held the gift up high and said, “No matter what, every day, something always happens to show me that I will have dinner this day. “

Course CorrectionFeeling moved by his statement, I expressed what I thought it represented. “Doesn’t it feel great to have faith that the Universe always supports us?” He said that for him, it goes beyond faith. He said that it’s just what he knows is real and true, every day.

Later that day I opened my timeline on Facebook and I saw a photo of one of the gifts I’d made! I was surprised by the image, and delighted to see that it was posted by one of my friends. When I looked closer, I could read what was on the card, which had been pulled out enough to reveal the words printed there: “Course correction is returning to your lifepath’s arc and trajectory. Error correction is trying to fix a blind spot too late to repair.”

I’ll leave you with these two inquiries: What methods of correction do you bring into your life and how well do they work? What is your two cents worth?

Diving Right In


Photo by Richard Crowley under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

What is it that impedes the flow of creative energy so much that even when we’re almost jumping out of our skin to do something new, we hold back, tentative and unsure? Are we afraid we’ll fail? Do we worry that by putting the results of our creative flow into the public we’ll reveal more of ourselves than we’d like to share? Is it that we feel so comfortable in our status quo that we’d rather not risk upsetting what’s familiar in order to dive into the river of a new adventure? Maybe. And yet, when the impetus becomes too great to resist, we can find ourselves acting boldly, even if it’s a bit messy. I once had a teacher who said, “Go ugly early”. His point was that if we wait until it’s all perfect, we’ll never make it into the water. I’ve hovered long enough at the edge looking for perfect and now is the time for me to dive in, even if I do a belly flop. So here goes – I’m writing my first blog!

Let me first introduce myself, in case you don’t already know me. I’m Cheryl Plotner, a native Oregonian now living in northern California with my teen aged daughter and our dog, Maisy. I’ve had lots of adventures, traveled to many different parts of the world, and worked at several different careers so far in my life. I’m now more settled down than I’ve ever been, I love my life and I enjoy my work as a personal development coach and holistic healing consultant.

I’ve been thinking of blogging for years, and during that time I’ve had plenty of ideas for things to share, on subjects ranging from home economics to holistic health, favorite recipes to forgiveness prayers, parenting stories to personal empowerment, to name just a few. In taking this first little dive into the cool water of the blogosphere, I find myself asking why I’m doing it. If I’m really honest, I’ll admit that I hope to inspire and entertain others with my writing, but it’s not only that. I like the process of crafting something that can speak to another and the refinement of the message through editing and revision. I also love to share practical information that may add value to the reader and, because I’m passionate about personal development and holistic healing, I have a lot to share!

Next, I consider who will be my audience. Because I’m interested in writing about a wide range of subjects, I think my audience will be comprised of everyman. Some of my blogs will interest parents or teens coping with divorce, others will appeal to foodies looking for a new recipe for this week’s potluck, and some may grab the attention of people in search of alternative healing practices. I think my audience will just show up, like my writing does, in alignment with whatever is in the flow at any given point in time.

I sometimes wonder what I’ll write and how it will become words on the screen, and then I get immersed in whatever story bubbles up from the depths when I sit down to my keyboard. I find that many are teaching stories, gathered in my mind from so many life experiences. Is that merely memoir? Why would anyone want to read my stories when everyone has their own? How can I write in such a way as to evoke someone else’s story in its unique richness and complexity? That will be one of my challenges, and an inquiry to the reader: What does this bring up for you, and how can you express it in order to give value to yourself and another? I invite you to consider how you can dive into your own river of life more fully and find meaningful ways to share your gifts.