Conscious Home Design

Exchange your RUSH for HUSH

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 by

Andy and I were jolted out of deep sleep at 5am to a HUGE CRASH, jumping out of bed to investigate (with me grabbing slippers and a flashlight). I assumed a bear had climbed onto the front porch table to get at the bird suet (not the first time). Living on a two thousand acre estate (as the only humans) we are surrounded by wildlife and are accustomed to myriad nature sounds. Many nights we listen to the primal howls of coyotes, which I love (and howl along with them). We know our seasonal birds by their calls and occasionally hear an owl in the night who-who-who-ing. As an auditory person and lifelong environmentalist this is heaven for me. It was just a short time ago I needed a sound machine (of nature!) to help me sleep in New York City with all of the jarring man-made sounds. (I swear the garbage trucks have amplifier speakers.) 

 

It’s no wonder the number one complaint of city dwellers is noise. Chronic, debilitating noise is more than just an annoyance, it plays a huge factor in our quality of life.  Studies confirm that noise and stress are closely related to our health. and I am always surprised that more people don’t plug their ears (like I do) when a subway car RAMBLES by. 

 

What we hear transforms our brains and our lives, and why it’s critical to take control over your ‘personal soundscape’. Customize your home environment as you would a beautiful soundtrack to create a haven with soothing sounds (and sights and smells). Turn the TV off (internet ‘noise’ also). Pay attention to the tone (and volume) of your voice. Carve out quiet time with meditation and yoga to rediscover the sacred life-affirming sound of your breath. 

 

When we cultivate an authentic peaceful demeanor, our optimal health responds; body, mind and spirit. Even when the world explodes in chaos - or an attic window gets blown in by the wind as in our morning crash - we are truly able to Keep Calm & Carry On

 

So, instead of having uproar as your only music. (Keats), .. invite some solitude. (Oprah/Deepak's 3/11/13 meditation challenge)

 

~ Warm (Hushed) Home Blessings ~ Cheryl

Winter Solstice, and the Return of the Light

Thursday, December 20, 2012 by

I have always been a sky gazer. Some of my earliest memories are of lying flat in the back of my parents old station wagon closely watching the moon, believing it was my friend coming along for the long ride to comfort me as the family journeyed throughout almost every state in search of the best campsites.  

This past year I’ve had the extreme fortune to live on a mountain surrounded by thousands of acres of wildlife (cultivating a loving relationship, which is another story). Being so immersed in the natural world has myriad benefits, among the best is experiencing the magnificence of our dark skies...without any light pollution. Besides the nightly show of stars - including the milky way! - I have become intimately connected with the moon and planet phases with all of their ritual mythologies. I truly believe being aligned with celestial energies help guide us and often work with clients to release ‘stuff’ with the waning moon as well as create intentions with the new. Friday’s ‘longest night’ will usher in a growing light every day (until summer solstice in June) and is the perfect time to tend to our own sacred light. The winter solstice and the ‘rebirth’ of the sun is a magical time in many cultures. Whatever your spiritual slant, no one can deny we are all ‘in this together’, sharing our planet along with the heavenly bodies above. This New Year offers an opportunity to honor our interconnectedness, invoke peace and join together in a world turned upside down. Open the door when a stranger knocks, and bring the symbolic lump of coal that encourages us all to light our way into a new dawn. 

 "When Buddha was on his death bed he noticed his young disciple Anan was weeping.
'Why are you weeping, Anan?' he asked.
'Because the light of the world is about to be extinguished and we will be in darkness.'
The Buddha summoned up all his remaining energy and spoke what were to be his final words on earth:
'Anan, Anan, be a light unto yourself.'"

Remember, the greatest gift you can give, is not your presents, but your PRESENCE (your ‘light’). 

Happy Holidays!  Warm Home Blessings, ~ Cheryl Terrace, VITAL DESIGN 

Autumn Leaves

Monday, October 8, 2012 by

I'm sure you can feel it - the change that's in the air all around us.

It’s been a spectacular autumn and I’ve been spending as much time as possible going on long hikes. Perhaps I should feel guilty with the chores I am neglecting but I cannot resist the spectacular display beckoning outside my window. The smell of cool crisp air and sound of  rustling leaves instantly put me in a good mood. I have always felt the healing energy of nature and lately have connected even more deeply with the cycles of each beautiful and fleeting season. I used to dread the end of summer but with age (and lots of Yoga) I am now grateful for living in a place that has four distinct seasons. I embrace change, after all, it is inevitable...in everything. 

 

Being in balance with our outer world brings more harmony to our inner world, both psychically and physically. As the colder weather sets in we transform our habits as well as wardrobes and, hopefully, our home environment. Crisp cotton bedding is exchanged for cozy flannel with lots of warm layers. Gourds replace summer fruit as  natural decoration. I introduce darker earthy tones in towels, pillows and even rugs. Everything gets a good cleaning - and evaluation - to make certain it is in keeping with the season. Just as nature releases her bounty it feels good to let go of outdated or non-useful items (and behavior). Let the transformation of each wonderful season inspire your evolving relationship with your wonderful self, and allow your home to reflect that elevated state. Everyone entering your ‘space’ will feel it! 

 

~ Beautiful and Bountiful Home Blessings, ~ Cheryl Terrace, VITAL DESIGN LTD

 

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."

Elizabeth Lawrence

Returning to the light, our true home

Friday, January 20, 2012 by

I find color fascinating. The light frequencies we experience as color define our world in wondrous ways. Visualize an azure ocean, a verdant forest or crimson sunset, these are all examples of color environments, which positively influence our emotions and restore our health.

As an interior designer I know the power color has in defining a space and ‘creating a mood’. We have all experienced that instant chill when entering a ‘cold room’, which had nothing to do with its temperature. Conversely, we automatically feel more relaxed and engaged in a warm hued environment, think of a dining room painted a luscious burnt umber (dark red orange) - All around YUM (even without any food)! 

I am currently mesmerized by the blue winter hues and their accompanying reflections in snow, so dreamlike and otherworldly. This is the time of year we ‘go inside’ physically and figuratively. It is a wonderful time to do what the earth does, retreat deep within and cultivate inner renewal (hence, the perfect time for resolutions).

It is also during these short days many of us experience the ‘winter blues’. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now recognized as a common disorder, affecting some people severely. There are ways, other than jetting off to a tropical island (which I also recommend), to make these cold days more bearable.

Light therapy, using ‘light boxes’ is a proven treatment for S.A.D. There is even a beautifully designed one in production.

 Many studies show that most of the US population lack Vitamin D, known as the sunlight vitamin. This nutrient is needed at proper levels for almost every tissue in the body, including the brain, heart, muscles and immune system. Supplements are an easy way to get the correct amount., and feel better.  

Light a fire. Few things trigger passionate, primordial feelings in human beings the way fire does. We symbolically honor the return of the light and new beginnings with candles and fireplaces in our homes. Easy and romantic!

Another great way to lighten up, both figuratively and literally, is to do more Yoga! I incorporate a few extra Sun Salutations in the winter, which creates body heat and expresses reverence for the life-giving solar energy. It is impossible to feel cold with an open (warm) heart, which is what yoga is all about. The gesture/salutation NAMASTE means ‘I bow to the light in you, which is also in me’, ~ a beautiful truth that we are all one when we live from the heart. 

It maybe hard to believe, with this being the coldest month of the year, but sunlight is growing stronger day by day. The more we connect and honor the natural rhythms of the seasons the more we increase the light within us.

 Let this winter be an extraordinary time to listen to your heart-fire, and tend your own sacred light. Remember, everything begins at home.  

Warm Home Blessings, ~ Cheryl - VITAL DESIGN 

Occupy Your Bedroom

Thursday, November 10, 2011 by

 The recent snowstorm caught me by surprise. I was just gearing up for Halloween festivities (also my Birthday) and was unprepared for the power outage, bitter cold and dangerous ice everywhere - it certainly was not like any hallows eve I remember! All I wanted to do was to stay home (which is not like me), and keep warm. I must be getting OLD. Hey, it happens to all of us, birthdays are the time to remember what matters most…and this year what mattered was to be HOME, warm, with my man, snuggled in bed. I put thick flannel sheets on our bed, switched to a heavier down comforter, and put a soft blue grey blanket at the foot of the bed to pull up if we needed even more warmth. All of my bedding is organic, fair trade and luxurious - which is no longer hard to find. I love the look and feel of well-made bed. The amount of time most women take doing their nails/hair/ makeup/wardrobe is the time I spend on ‘home stuff’, but that’s my thing. I believe we escape the assaults of life by creating sanctuary in our homes, and become more balanced and centered from the outside, in. From this nurtured, fortified healthy place we can then take on the injustices of life, which are many. 

 I contemplate Naomi Klein’s brilliant Occupy-Wall-Street speech from the comfort of my cozy bed (via laptop- no to TV in the Bedroom). Her words “Being horizontal and deeply democratic is wonderful” make me feel less guilty about not being more involved in this important movement. But I am in spirit! Her words of love and non-violence resonate with all that I believe. From my sumptuous loft filled environs I doze off with even loftier ideals of making the world a better place. 

The next morning Andy walks sleepily into our sunny kitchen scratching his rumpled hair, smiles and says ‘You give good bed’. I smile back and think, we all have our battles to wage, small and large, and we all need to do our part - knowing, everything begins at HOME (with a good night’s sleep)..  

 “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~Gandh

Warm Home Blessings, ~ Cheryl Terrace

My Summer of Love

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 by

I am spending a good deal of time upstate in the Catskills where my boyfriend manages a two thousand acre estate (yes, two and a half times the size of Central Park!). This gilded age estate includes a once grand 20,000 sq ft mansion and riding stables. Needless to say, it is paradise for me, Nature Gal. The abundant wildlife (including bobcat and bear), fresh air, pure spring water, and total lack of light pollution has me ‘blissed out in the boonies' I believe nature is our ultimate healer - it is the reason I incorporate all things natural into my design work. I have never felt healthier or happier in my whole life than this summer enveloped in this magical kingdom.

 We are also very isolated on the mountain with so many acres around us and Andy suggested we have a party for me to meet our community (and vice versa). The party, he said, could be an ‘Old Fashioned Pig Roast’, which took me a little while to get my head wrapped around, being new to the meat eating scene. It would also help his caretaker’s new business venture (pig roasting), as well as support a local farm, and after all, this is the country. I love parties (and have been called the Eco version of Martha many times) and since so many people have never seen this grand old estate it could also serve as its introduction. I found a fabulous online invite and gathered names and emails of everyone I met. I bought a bolt of black and white checkered fabric for the 50’ long table (black saw horses with heavy decking on top). Being the Green Designer I upcycled everything, old metal feeding cans held utensils, giant old wood well covers were tables, many mismatched chairs – total farm charm. For a homegrown atmosphere I gathered dozens of various candles from antique hurricane lanterns, votives, mini star lanterns to Tiki torches that lit the parking field. This was a Big Country Deal and was all-the-buzz in our little ‘neck of the woods’. I wore a vintage black and white handkerchief full-skirted dress with high wedge sandals (very country chic). We planned the party to follow our local town’s Community Day in order to continue the festivities onto our property, which is fairy tale gorgeous. It was also a full moon! After everything was set up and perfect, Andy and I got dressed, nervous and excited (and incredulous that the two of us orchestrated this wonderful event). We began to greet our guests and mingle when a storm cloud gathered and sprinkled a few drops…

 Although the forecast was cloudy with rain expected late that evening Mother Nature had her own agenda. It started raining, a real summer rain, just when everyone was arriving, the food set on the tables – and although everyone said it would pass, it seemed to just rain harder. It was a disaster! I quickly changed my fashion shoes for black boots and everyone grabbed a dish to bring into the large empty room, the old gym of the derelict mansion (luckily I cleaned just in case of rain).

The main table was too large and cumbersome to carry in but we had a few other makeshift tables that guests brought in. People were asking me were to put everything, ice coolers, food, candles (it was now dark!)…I paused, uncertain, “I don’t know, where ever you think best”. Since I invited ‘the world’, we had a very diverse group of folks: farmers, ‘flatlanders’ (city dwellers), locals, plain and fancy all tossed together in one big ugly room, dessert food next to dinner food, everything disorganized… and everyone started mingling! I stood there - soggy, hair flat, with my rain boots on and for some reason I smiled - my control and perfection issues dissolving with the rain.  Perhaps it was all of my yoga and Buddhist studies, or just all the curves life has thrown at me but I was happy. It was heartfelt to see everyone chipping in to help, saying ‘no big deal, it’s the country’, we’re used to this”, and still thanking us for having them.

 And then, it cleared with a magnificent double rainbow. We all came back outside to witness Andy’s firework display, along with his secret paper lanterns that float up into the sky and follow the wind currents to amazed oohs and aahs. The evening ended with an enormous bonfire and the 200 or so guests dispersed into the lawns and fields after hugs, offers to clean up, handle excess food and compliments on the party. It was a success after all! I felt welcomed into this warm and wonderful community.

 I truly believe home is in your heart, it’s not about the perfect sofa, table or lamp (somewhat unique for a designer). The most important ingredient in creating ‘home’ is love: for ourselves, our family, friends and community, and our larger home ~ the planet. This evening was a powerful reminder of all that I believe, what we seek is always already there. I am Home.

  The best laid plans of mice, men… & ‘Martha’., ~ Cheryl Terrace, VITAL DESIGN

 Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen
 

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine…

Friday, July 1, 2011 by
 There are few things I love more in a home, any-home-any-where, than a fresh breeze. Is there anything sexier than sheer draperies billowing in the moonlight (at least home-wise)? For me, the sensual feeling of warm air on my skin and smell of fresh verdant air is orgasmic (very 1981 Body Heat).

 OK, I admit I am a fanatic regarding pure air. I once (single-handedly) moved a dresser into the hallway of a charming B&B because of the mothball smell (my boyfriend at the time was not impressed). Admittedly, it has never been easy being me/green - I smell EVERYTHING! Synthetic perfumes, soaps, laundry detergents, ‘air-fresheners’, and conventional-you-name-it-so-called-fresh smells gag me, (I must have been a bloodhound in a previous life). But, having made my living specifying healthy home materials for a long time, I am not only an Eco-Taste-Maker (after all, smell is the crucial component of taste), but also a Toxic Avenger.

The U.S. government has finally admitted formaldehyde is a cancer-causing chemical, which is found in many common household products.

It’s about time! I have always believed it is of VITAL importance to analyze items to make certain they truly are non-toxic and this proves it. 

 Our sense of smell is so powerful that one whiff of something can instantly transport us back to a certain time and place. Think mom’s apple pie, or my new favorite smell – herb and lemon roasted chicken - YUM! I am new to eating meat [only free-range, organic] and cannot believe I never appreciated this amazing aroma before! I am also surprised at how often this sense is neglected in a home. The simple act of opening a window and burning a candle can remedy even the stinkiest of houses. Take it a step further and create any mood with a scented (non-toxic) candle - there is even the smell of The New York Times in a candle! (Made with palm wax & eco production, I fact-checked).

 Besides just smelling good, one of the most important components of a healthy home is proper ventilation.

As in Yoga (and in life), expression of movement is key to avoid toxic build up (in feelings and emotions also), so…Air it out!

Open your windows wide and let your home, and yourself breathe!

 Happy Summer Breezes …blowing through the jasmine in my mind, ~ Cheryl 

SPRING CLEAN, SPRING GREEN

Friday, May 20, 2011 by
 Spring has sprung! I may have ‘reached that age’ were I appreciate each spring just a little more (or maybe it’s my recent memory of the brutally cold winter), but the colorful spring buds are making me extremely happy. The resilience of nature inspires me to be more flexible, both physically (with yoga) and in other ways. As a hard-core-greenie I tend to assume people know as much, or care as much, as I do about cleaning up our environment and sometimes I get a little righteous over eco issues. I am a passionate person and desperately want everyone to care about our beautiful and sacred home (Earth). 

Ms-Green-Bossy-Pants is my new nickname (♥Tina Fey).  

 The recent debate over the higher cost of green products in this economy does not take the bigger picture into consideration. I believe being exposed to toxic chemicals in everything from cleaning products to food (i.e. BPA in canned foods) has much greater health risks, both short and long term. Besides, the solution is easy - do things the old-fashioned way - organically and naturally! Lemons, vinegar, baking soda and other natural cleaning products are inexpensive and effective. Fresh food is much healthier and tastier than canned. To me, doing things in sync with nature has always made good sense, and living in a healthy non-toxic home… PRICELESS! 

 My next goal is trying to eliminate plastic from my life (admittedly no easy task)!

However, sometimes it’s easy being green, and cleaning in a healthy way is one of them.

 Here’s to a simpler, cleaner life, (except I am not writing from a mega mansion in Beverly Hills, but Thank you Laurie David for also being an eco-maniac). 

Happy Clean Green Home Blessings, ~ Cheryl Terrace, VITAL DESIGN LTD 

 The process of house-cleaning one's cluttered "furnished soul," as Cummings would put it, involves throwing open the doors and windows to the tentative, "perhaps hand" of spring, which glides in,

 arranging and changing placing

carefully there a strange

thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully  ~ E. E. CUMMINGS

Earth Day, ♥-ing our HOME

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 by
  April 20 is Earth Day. Prepare to get inundated with a billion things we can do, SHOULD DO, to save our planet!

(Most of these eco-tips are so obvious that I wonder what planet people are living on that don’t ‘get it’ by now…). Green has become a huge marketing tool.  In this context of hysteria currently surrounding all things green, it makes sense to take a deeper look at authentic eco-roots, and of those (sometimes quietly) pursuing change in the world, instead of the screaming green media darlings. To me, as with yoga, it is less about doing and more about being - this is the true meaning of green. Awareness, sensitivity and consciousness are developed in yoga and meditation, which in turn, affects our world in positive ways.

 The issues surrounding the energy crisis are complex, yet it is essential to understand the correlation between our everyday actions and helping our planet (and ourselves) heal. Everything and everyone is interconnected. If our homes are a reflection and expression of our lifestyles and values then it makes sense that we start making conscious (i.e.: green) choices at home. Even the simplest act such as turning the water off when we brush our teeth creates positive change. When our actions are heartfelt, there is an internal shift. We go from ‘doing the right thing’ (I call it guilty green), to creating a loving space – both internally and in our exterior environment. The choices become easy and meaningful.

 Simple Things to do at home, if you aren’t already doing them:

Switch to non-toxic household cleaners, and health care products too. There are healthier options to almost every conventional product, just beware of green-washing, even in soap (believe it or not!).

Diminish use of all plastic items. Use glass for food items and carry cloth bags when grocery shopping. Become more aware of all plastic entering your home, it’s surprising how many items are wrapped in the ubiquitous material.

It’s finally a good time to change your lighting and switch to an LED bulb. Here’re some of the reasons.

When using any type of paint or varnish, make certain it is a no, or low VOC version. Indoor air can be more than three times or more more polluted than outdoor air. Don’t toxify your living space (in any way…words and thoughts included).

Get some living plants. They purify the air and add a beautiful living element. The benefits are many!

Buy organic whenever possible, not only food, but sheets, towels and other household items. Be aware of chemicals and pesticides lurking in everyday things. Again, the organic market has grown tremendously and there are now loads of healthier options in almost everything.

 Our vibrant vital life force is strengthened when we honor the sacred in everyday simple things. This is authentically living green (and every color) and is our true nature.

 Happy Earth Day, Happy Everyday! ~ Cheryl Terrace, http://vitaldesignltd.com/

World Water Day

Friday, March 18, 2011 by
 Our bodies are made mostly of it (up to 70%) and we can’t survive without it for more than a few days. However, this precious resource is something most of us take for granted.

 Many of us do not know that New York City’s water is considered one of the best and our city is one of the five large cities not required to filter it’s drinking water.

This is pretty radical considering most of the world’s pure water supply is scarce.

 However, I still recommend using a water filter to remediate chlorine and fluoride, which is added to meet state and federal requirements. It is also important to know that bottled water is not necessarily a better alternative to tap. In fact, many studies show bottled water can be just as polluted as a tap water.. And that’s not even considering all the plastic involved in bottled water!

 Our attitudes about the quality of our water continue to evolve as more people become educated about specific contaminants, which now include rocket fuel and the numerous chemicals from Hydraulic Fracking fluid.  The current issue of ‘Fracking’ should be of great concern for everyone, not only those living in or near a watershed, but for all of us. I believe we all live in a watershed. We know that water sustains all living things—humans, plants and animals— and travels through watersheds, it is also important to understand what a watershed is and what each of us can do to help protect the quality of the water flowing through our watersheds.  “Watersheds are sacrosanct.”  

Our quality of life is linked directly to the quality of water we drink.

 March 22rd is World Water Day – and a great day to dive into the issues surrounding Earth’s most precious element!

 Here’s a fun app that calculates your water usage, and very cool art piece light sculpture.

And my personal favorite: Dr Emoto’s Hidden Messages in Water

 Warm (and Pure) Watery Blessings, ~ Cheryl 

Romancing the Home

Thursday, February 10, 2011 by

Bedroom romanceIt’s that romantic time of year again. Prepare to get inundated with ‘the true meaning of love’ (from the folks selling chocolate, flowers, jewelry and or lingerie). As a holistic interior designer I take a different approach and ask ‘what kind of relationship are you having with your home?’ Just like true love, we know that home is much more than just a physical connection. I believe if we treat our home as we treat our sweetest lover, we experience a deeper connection to our dwellings, and ultimately, ourselves. 

 Is your bedroom conducive to romance? I often witness this room, sadly, as the least sexy of spaces. Since it is our private space it often gets neglected and becomes a storage bin for clothes and you-name it-clutter. Ideally, your bedroom should be for sleep and sex (and why I am not a fan of TV in the bedroom as it disrupts both activities). It is best decorated simply with soothing colors and patterns to help induce a restful calm state. Create harmony and balance with symmetry, pairing items such as night tables, lighting on each side of the bed and equal access to both sides of the bed. This encourages a more intimate equal relationship. As difficult as it is in a small space, do not let junk (or dirt) accumulate under the bed as it can disrupt your sleep (or chi in feng shui speak). Always use natural non-synthetic bedding, pillows, and fabrics (everywhere in your home). Complete darkness is vital for getting proper sleep and even a clock light can be disruptive. The right room temperature (cool), and good air circulation is also critical.

 The most important element of all is intention. Any time you make changes to your personal space (both in your home and yourself), visualize and welcome in a deeper love. Sharing a space also includes vulnerability, letting your guard down to be completely naked and knowing that you are loved in spite of your imperfections. That wonderful feeling of acceptance of our well-worn habits is akin to wabi sabi – which translates into an aesthetic as beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”, Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. That antique sideboard with all of the signs of usage or the chair that has different paint colors peeling off in just the right way and gives us instant comfort…just like your perfect love. 

 All we need to do is to take a different perspective, one filled with kindness, to discover the soul of a house, and ultimately our own soul.

 Embrace Your Space, Happy Valentines Day!  ~ Cheryl

Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell." - Joan Crawford

Year of the White Rabbit, a good time to Zen Your Den.

Thursday, February 3, 2011 by
 Happy Chinese New Year, New moon in Aquarius, Candlemas (which is the midway point between winter solstice and spring equinox), Imbolic (which honors Brigid the goddess of creative inspiration and fertility)…and all New Beginnings!

I love mythology and ritual, especially when they honor and align us with the natural world, thus it makes sense that many traditions consider this time of year the true beginning of spring, a time of rebirth and renewal.

We are all somewhat familiar with the creatures of the zodiac as well as those of the Chinese calendar and this years White Rabbit is a welcome relief from the fierce Tiger of last year. Our little furry friend is a peacemaker and handles conflict with diplomacy (which make good yogic sense to me).

Rabbit Years are a time for family and getting reconnected with what's important to you. It’s a good year to turn back to the home and create a healthier environment for you and your loved ones. Moving, renovations, decluttering and rearranging are all supported this year. This is also a year of rest and recuperation because the Tiger has gone back to his den for another 11 years and the Dragon hasn’t yet awoken (until next year!). We can set our intentions for a gentler, more abundant year filled with graciousness and ease. Hallelujah!

As a yogini, I love the power and sound of a mantra. Etymologically, the word "mantra" is derived from the verb "man,' which means "to think," and the suffix "tra," which denotes instrumentality. A mantra then is literally an "instrument of thought" that concentrates, intensifies, and spiritualizes our consciousness. I believe mantras help me align my inner intentions with my outer desires, and help make me feel as though I can accomplish anything. A simple “OM” sets a blissful tone for my yoga practice and the entire day.

There are many ways to start new endeavors with positive energy. Each day is a fresh start and an opportunity to be a little better, a little stronger and a little wiser.  Pledge to let go of things that do not serve your highest and greatest good.

Create some magic this New Year - Fill yourself and your home with love… and eat more carrots (organic of course)! 

~ Warm Home Blessings, all year long, ~Cheryl  

 Cool group for posting images of Chinese New Year

DETOX - your home!

Friday, January 14, 2011 by
 It’s still January and you’ve already cheated on your New Year’s resolution of a new diet (one of the reasons I never make New Year’s resolutions). Don’t despair; as with meditation and Yoga, now is the perfect time to begin again (and again…). It is also a perfect time to detox your home environment. In wintertime we spend much of our time indoors with our windows closed thus it is even more important to be mindful of healthy air quality. Consider this - the average home contains 500-1,000 chemicals resulting in indoor air quality that is 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air (Yikes)!

 One of the easiest things to do is remove your shoes when entering your home - especially with all that trash littering New York City streets, never mind all the salt and chemicals used for snow removal. And besides, everyone loves indulging their feet with some cozy warm slippers.

Open a window often, even if it’s just a crack to allow fresh air exchange. Every morning I open wide my kitchen window as a wake-up-feel-alive exercise, deeply breathing in the cold air.

Switch all conventional household cleaners to greener more natural alternatives. Eco cleaners are everywhere, try vinegar, baking soda and lemons.

Buy only natural carpeting products, furnishings, bedding and use only non-toxic paints and finishes. This is my area of expertise: you no longer need to sacrifice beauty in order to purchase environmentally friendly furnishings - the choices are now abundant (Yay)!

Get some living plants. Plants not only create oxygen, they remove chemicals. A great book is How To Grow Fresh Air.

Be aware of all plastics entering your home, from dry cleaning bags (really bad stuff) to various food containers.

Check out all the ingredients in your personal care and beauty products for any hidden creepy culprits you may unknowingly be applying directly to your largest organ – your skin.

Reduce unwanted mail and catalog clutter as well as unsolicited telephone intrusions.

 Start a daily commitment to lesson toxic materials, as well as people, thoughts, words, ideas and habits, and allow the cultivation of healthier environments, both inside and out…and you never know – you may be able to keep those New Year’s resolutions after all!

 Here’s to a Lighter, Healthier Home! ~ cheryl 

                           Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.

–Marianne Williamson

Home for the Holidays

Monday, December 13, 2010 by
 The Holidays are a festive, and often frantic, time of year with family and friends gathering together. The setting for all these celebrations takes place in our homes, where creating comfort for our guests is the primary focus. A warm welcoming home is an extraordinary gift, not only now but all year ‘round. I help my clients create healthy home environments that nurture and support the wellness of its inhabitants - which naturally extends to anyone entering their dwellings.

A peaceful loving home can be felt both physically and emotionally. There are lots of ways to make your home express heartfelt glad tidings. For example, having an organized clutter free space automatically creates a feeling of calm. Folks will get a sense of ease upon entering if room is made for their belongings with extra coat hangers (& closet space), as well as a place to sit down to take off their snow boots. Lighting candles scented of pine, cinnamon, orange or any of the myriad seasonal soy or beeswax choices will create a primal-feel-good-connection – all while bathing your home in glowing warm candlelight! Having your i-pod set to soothing seasonal music sets an uplifting atmosphere instantly.

 I believe the most important gift one can give is the gift of being fully and completely present (!). When a friend enters my home, I drop any task I am doing, greet him or her warmly, (I am a hugger), and make them feel like the most important person in the world (which is priceless).  

 Take a few deep breaths this frantic holiday season and remember to let your home express the joy in your heart, after all, as we all know  ~

‘Home is where the heart is’ ~ please let yours express exaltation instead of exhaustion.

 Warm Home Blessings!

Cheryl Terrace, Vital Design LTD.

 May your walls know joy,

May every room hold laughter,

And every window open to great possibility!

                                                                                 ~mary anne radmacher

Fall into the colors of autumn, Body & Home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 by
 

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp clean air, cool nights, and beautiful soft quality of the changing light. We are particularly lucky living in a region unique for its extreme foliage show of vibrant reds, intense oranges, yummy browns, and bright yellows. Few other places in the world match the brilliance of the Great Northeast. We change our wardrobes to reflect the season and hopefully our home environment also. As the weather gets colder we will spend more time indoors, where creating a healthy home environment is even more important.

 

Bring nature indoors with displays of natural seasonal offerings such as apples, pumpkins and gourds (which also help support local farmers). Plastic decorations, although abundant and inexpensive, sabotage our efforts to connect with the season – and poison our environment in many ways. Plastic negatively affects air quality and contributes to the ever -growing toxic waste stream. What’s really frightening is to think that new studies are showing the chemical BPA (found in many plastics) in most of our bloodstreams!  

 

Great alternatives to the cheap ready-made Halloween costumes (which usually gets cast off into a landfill) are home made costumes of reused and recycled materials. As cute as that plastic goblin may appear, the real scare is the effect on your (and our planets) health.

 

Let the falling leaves inspire you to release those toxic items (thoughts, ideas, and people) that no longer serve your highest and greatest good.

Nurture yourself with Mother Nature, She always knows best.

Warm Home Blessings, ~ Cheryl Terrace

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind.  Song for autumn. Mary Oliver

Autumn - A Time to Reflect.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 by
 September, the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness — Robert Finch

  My Moms house burned down a few weeks ago. She lost everything. Ironically, my brother, sister and I were trying to get her to think about moving since my dad died, three years ago to the month. She was living in a too isolated area (in northern Louisiana) and could no longer keep up the two-acre property. Florence was reluctant to let go of all her ‘memories’. She is a ‘collector’, as are so many of us.

  September has been associated with melancholy in many poems, with the warmth of summer waning, and the chill of winter on the horizon. We turn inward, both physically and mentally. Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet, has expressed such sentiments in one of his most famous poems, Herbsttag (Autumn Day), which reads:

Who now has no house, will not build one (anymore). Who now is alone, will remain so for long, will wake, and read, and write long letters. and back and forth on the boulevards. will restlessly wander, while the leaves blow.

  September is a time of change, and a good time to ‘come home’, think about the meaning of home in its various aspects and cultivate a sacred space of your own. Like it or not, everything changes. Why not embrace those inevitable forces and be proactive in redefining the things (physically and metaphorically) you hold near and dear? Harvest your thoughts and deeds carefully, knowing that all the superfluous (and showy) ‘blossoms’ can be released. It is a time to dig deeper into the meaning of clipping away at old growth, turn the soil over, and prepare for a long rest with only the most beneficial seeds.

September 11th, Patriots day , September 21st is Day of Peace.

September's birthstone is the sapphire. The meaning is clear thinking. The Birth flowers for September are the forget-me-not, morning glory and aster (all powerful in their ancient yet contemporary symbolism).

P.S. ~ Florence is blossoming in her soon-to-be-new-digs. With a new home in the same town as my brother (and his 2 teenage daughters to keep her busy), and many new friends to keep her socially engaged, life has taken on a whole new wonderful perspective.

Warm Home Blessings! ~ Cheryl Terrace ~VITAL DESIGN LTD. com 

 

 

 

Bring on the Night…

Monday, August 9, 2010 by
  One of the things I miss most living in NYC is seeing nighttime stars. I grew up camping and have many wonderful nocturnal memories counting shooting stars and guessing at constellations.  City life detaches us from that primordial nighttime sky connection. As a designer of healthy home environments, Light Pollution is a growing concern for myself, and anyone who understands that our quality of life is directly connected to our natural environment.

Artificial light can be highly disruptive to biological patterns such as sleep, which is critical to our health on many levels. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART02755.

 One of the most important factors in creating an optimal bedroom environment is complete darkness, which can be difficult to achieve with a city’s abundant ambient streetlight. I often specify lined drapery in helping to create a womb-like (as well as soundproof and cool) sleeping den. But please make certain your blackout lining is not made of vinyl, a material that has health risks associated with it. There are plenty of non-vinyl curtains to choose from, so be sure to avoid PVC in your blackout curtain. Another tip in creating a peaceful mood is placing all lights on dimmers, and now that vast improvements have been made on Compact Fluorescent Lamps, you don’t need to sacrifice ambience for environmentalism. Light some candles (healthy versions of course in beeswax or soy), and viola - a Zen Den perfect for getting those well needed zzzz’s.

 Besides incorporating practical design solutions I always like to infuse some magic with the mundane!

Cultivating even a basic awareness of the moon cycles we (women especially) can work with powerful lunar energy. New Moons are a time to bring in the new: intentions, projects, goals, while Full Moons are the perfect time to celebrate the success of those goals ~ howling is always encouraged!

 http://www.fwhc.org/health/moon.htm

http://moonwomenspirituality.com/3moon.html

 I believe that understanding and protecting our rapidly vanishing nighttime environment is an important endeavor.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Light_Pollution

http://www.darksky.org/mc/page.do

We’ve come a long way from my childhood camping days, where seeing stars was taken for granted. Our dark skies are becoming so precious that there are now luxury travel destinations to experience them!

http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/intelligenttravel/2008/12/dark-sky-destinations-tk.html

http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/502771

 If you do find yourself stuck in New York City, you can at least stargaze virtually at the Museum Of Natural History’s Rose Center http://www.amnh.org/rose/ which has the most technologically advanced space theater in the world (and some really rocking parties once a month at One Step Beyond).

 There is no denying we are all ‘star stuff’, and like Sting says, ‘Bring on the Night’…
~ Cheryl Terrace, VITALDESIGNLTD.COM, cheryl@vitaldesignltd.com 

 

Happy Earth Day~ Happy Every Day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 by

In Honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day ~ I present a tomato powered lamp!

 Ok, this seems a bit out there…and is one of the reasons, lately, when I hear ‘green’, I see red!

 I was pioneering green when it was far from mainstream (not easy), and formed VITAL DESIGN LTD in 1997. Anyone who knows me considers me a shade of ‘bright green’, however, in this time of so much green washing, I have become ‘jaded green’. Is there anyone, or anything, that doesn’t have some eco–angle these days? From the ‘shock you green’ of terrifying statistics, nearly all Americans test positive for traces of BPA, and the ‘silly green’ of recycling everything from dogs to diapers, (ok, I was kidding about the dogs). 

This circus of eco mendacity is getting to me.

In our rampant Environmental Virtuosity, there is new research that suggests that those who make "green" purchases are subsequently more likely to behave selfishly, cheat and steal (Exposed: green consumers' dirty little secrets).  Beware the pitfalls of Eco Myopia!

 Yet in our crazy green-washed world it is the simplicity of nature that reminds me why I am ‘green’. A simple walk in Central Park renews my sense of wonder witnessing the magnificent resilience and rebirth of flora and fauna. I am awed by Mother Nature’s power and experience my own spring awakening.

 I believe our Homes are an extension of ourselves, and in order to connect with our 'greater home' (earth) we need to start with self (& our homes). By creating a loving, beautiful, comforting, non toxic, sacred healthy home environment, we can then go out in the world & be better humans, help one another, & basically live up to our highest & greatest good on this planet.  This is Vital, Enlightened Design and I am honored to be of service to this cause.

This is taking Green to whole new level. Happy Earth Day, ~ Happy Every Day!
~ Cheryl Terrace. VITALDESIGNLTD.com

 Ring the bells that still can ring. 
Forget your perfect offering. 
There is a crack in everything. 
That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

 

No Toxic Love, Please.

Friday, February 12, 2010 by


Many of us will send (and receive) flowers for Valentine’s Day (as well as Mother’s Day and/or Easter). However, many of us are unaware the $40 billion floral industry often exploits laborers, and deals in toxic chemicals – Not what you want to associate with a gift of love! Check out these facts from the bestselling book, THE FLOWER CONFIDENTIAL. We have an opportunity to use this holiday to improve our health, as well as minimize our impact on the environment and build community by making better flower choices, including:

 Local Harvest.

 

Organic Bouquet

California Organic Flowers

I love giving (and receiving) plants instead of flowers. Plants inevitably last longer (even if they don’t last forever), humidify and detoxify our air, all while giving us life-inducing oxygen! Talk about a gift that gives back! The many benefits of common houseplants.

Another traditional gift is chocolate; again, there are now many fair trade, organic and decadently delicious options.

 The why's of eco chocolate are numerous. Here are taste tests for some of the best.

As long as we are going all eco-love out, check out some Eco sexy lingerie and Eco sustainable intimacy products

This year make a more meaningful sentiment by buying and supporting healthier eco options, both for yourself and your home,

Happy Valentines Day!

 

Personally, I’m going to the Naked Scavenger hunt at the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM, because, if you haven’t noticed, I like to do things a little differently! ~ Cheryl Terrace  VITALDESIGNLTD.COM 

REVITALIZE, RESTORE & RENEW (yourself and your home).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 by
  

January is traditionally a time when we focus on all kinds of self-improvement. We make resolutions to lose weight, get healthier, and more organized. This is also a wonderful time to set an intention to create a healthier home environment - after all - our homes are a reflection of ourselves. Just like dieting, by releasing some of our old useless baggage we become lighter ~ body, mind and home! We clear out stale energy of items (as well as habits) that weigh us down in order to open space in our homes (and hearts and minds). If the task seems daunting, start with one closet, or even a drawer just to start the chi flowing. I also work with home organizers, for all kinds of budgets, who help my clients get rid of their excess pounds (of closet weight). It just feels good to have less stuff to content with, and by giving clothes away and donating items to charitable organizations (which are so abundant in New York) we free ourselves up, and get tax benefits as a bonus! Recycling information on many things can be found at  Earth911.

Since the universe abhors a vacuum, we now get to shop! Right now there are bargains galore on every item for the home, as well as trades people offering fantastic discounts on their talent.  I am currently having my 1930’s bathroom painted a parchment white by the most darling (and very inexpensive) painter. It’s a great time to get that ’loved in look’ for less! 

Let your home serve and support you with grace, love and light so that you can make positive changes in other areas of your life (even perhaps that new years resolution)! Vitalize your home and Vitalize your life.

Welcome in all radiant new energy in 2010!

Blessings for a beautiful healthy home, ~Cheryl Terrace, Vital Design LTD.