Angel Skillman, Public Relations Director for Journeys of Wisdom, was curious and so she called Diana, Master Feng Shui Practitioner, to get the scoop on Feng Shui. It was an enlightening conversation as Feng Shui is much more than decorating (which is how most people think of it), placement of furniture, crystals, and mirrors.
To start with, Diana is known for her former work with JP Morgan. She started her employ with Bank One (purchased by JP Morgan) on 8/8/88 and eventually managed business continuity and disaster recovery for their information technology (at its peak was 65,000 workstations and 2,500 servers … and all employees and buildings associated with them). She worked at the command center during Y2K, the New York terrorist attack, as well as hurricanes and floods affecting the U.S. What does Feng Shui have to do with business continuity and disaster recovery? “Everything,” says Diana.
Here’s how the interview unfolded:
1. You’ve been doing Feng Shui for over 40 years, and I heard you reached a crisis point in your life due to your health problems. This resulted in you assessing how you wanted to be remembered, and if you survived — what you wanted for the future. At the time you wrote a poem, almost a pledge, would you share it?
This evolved during 18 major surgeries and experiencing death twice. It’s part of my personal mission statement, and certainly a pledge. Thank you, Angel, for the compliment (that it sounds like a poem).
“If I live, I will … ”
Live in possibility every moment
Be an agent of positive change
With God’s grace and support, create miracles
Do what’s right (rather than what’s convenient)
Be financially and emotionally free
Be wise (not righteous) and self-expressed
Accept (not judge)
Be open to the contributions of others
Keep my “I love you”s in check
Be the light
2. Can you tell me a little more about how you discovered Feng Shui?
My start with Feng Shui was because I wanted to live. I had studied many alternative therapies, including naturopathy. You see, in addition to what we’ve covered, I had five pregnancies resulting in one living child (multiple full-term). For me, there had to be more than what traditional (and even alternative) medicine was providing. During the course of these tragedies, I lost my faith (temporarily) and was desperate for answers. It was when I started to implement Feng Shui that my life turned around. Feng Shui contributed to my life’s course change and finding my way back from the darkness.
3. Life in the banking world must have been very different to the work you do now as a Feng Shui Consultant. Did you find the change difficult?
There are more similarities than most can imagine. When at the bank, I had to follow processes and procedures (which I helped to write). Especially that I worked with bank auditors and examiners, we had to test these to ensure they worked and modify them as circumstances changed (i.e., growth, risk factors).
Business continuity means you anticipate known factors and try to mitigate or avoid them. Disaster recovery means something has happened and you have to recover. By day, I would assess a situation according to approved policy. However, nights and weekends I would evaluate the situation from a Feng Shui perspective. It (traditional Feng Shui) is a look into the past, present, and future. I found confirmation of what was going on – which means we could have mitigated or avoided a crisis. Business continuity and Feng Shui are both proactive. Disaster recovery is reactive. It’s much less expensive and demands much less effort to be proactive. We’re learning that lesson now (i.e., global warming, the economy).
The discipline of writing processes and procedures, as well as project management, was invaluable. That has certainly carried over to my Feng Shui consulting business. We have a manual of them: 1) To empower staff; 2) To provide consistency in what and how we do things.
Another thing that comes to mind is hours of work. I was on the Emergency Response Team, so was one of the first to be notified/dispatched when there was a crisis. It was common to work 70+ hours a week and be on conference calls at wee hours of the morning or through the night. Now as a business owner, it’s that and more especially that we work across time zones.
To the last part of your question – I had to do this (pursue Feng Shui), it was a calling and I haven’t looked back. I drafted a 10-year plan to leave the bank. It took courage to leave a steady paycheck and benefits behind when I was just five years short of full retirement. This was a major decision that affected my family, and my husband understood. My Feng Shui business had grown to the point that I couldn’t be where and when I needed to be even with four weeks vacation. I truly feel that I’m still here on earth for this reason. To the best of my knowledge, all stage four (or worse) cancer patients that I’ve worked with have gone into remission and have a quality of life (when they were told they would pass over). Now that’s confirmation!
4. Life has a way of presenting us with what we need. Do you think that is how it was with Feng Shui?
Interesting question. I’ve had many journeys, as most of us have, and all paths led to here. It is said that we’re here to fulfill our destiny. Feng Shui, according to many, doesn’t deal with destiny … but luck. Feng Shui is part of my destiny. Luck seems to have eluded me, and I still feel very blessed.
5. Gradually Feng Shui changed your life completely. In what way?
There are several ways. First, I’m here to share it. Also, I have a full-time career doing something that has a long-term effect. It helps many people in significant ways. Then there’s the cultural dynamic. It’s an honor to serve people of varying backgrounds and faiths … a reminder that we share one planet.
6. You now have an international Feng Shui Consulting Company. Can you tell me more about this and what type of clients you work with?
At one point I tracked clients by the countries they were in. Then it seemed easier to track continents. Again, it’s a reminder that we share one planet. Allow me to provide an example. I’m still on the United States’ Geological Service’s list of earthquakes above a certain rector scale. When something happens on one side of the planet, there is a reaction on the other. To make the point more personal, when you breathe or exhale, that affects others. I believe that when an office or home incorporates Feng Shui, the rest of the building or community benefits.
I work with all economic and social factions; anything from a housewife or stay-at-home Dad to boards of directors, to developers. No stone should be unturned; thus my goal is to change the world one business, one home, one person at a time. Every individual makes a difference and affects the environment and those in it. Speaking of environments, there’s the environment of the mind, body, spirit, home, work, neighborhood, social network, school, the weather, and so on…that’s why I say Feng Shui affects everything.
7. When you do a consultation what is the first thing you do?
Interview the client. If a practitioner doesn’t understand the client’s circumstances and what their goals are, they are missing a wonderful opportunity. The consult (or more specifically the analysis) is a confirmation of what the client is experiencing. Many clients ask if their spouse called and asked me to say things, or if I interviewed a neighbor before the meeting. When it’s confirmed the client is experiencing what the energy says is there, then the analysis leads to a specific action plan. Being able to influence our surrounds produces hope. How many of us feel hopeless in today’s dichotomy? Well, there’s something we can do and it starts with a single step. Instead of being a victim of our circumstances, we can choose our reaction to it. My health background, as an example, affirms this – I could easily be in a different place.
8. Are there any requests for a consultancy that you least like dealing with?
A couple things come to mind. One is when a client is hoping for a rubber stamp (unconditional acceptance) for what they’ve done. The other is when the conversation about religion surfaces.
Let’s discuss the first example. Many times a client says they know a lot about Feng Shui and they’ve designed their project around that. It’s challenging to honor the fact they’ve researched Feng Shui, and yet I suggest a different approach that may not have the same conclusion they’ve reached. Just like in high school or college, book knowledge goes so far. It doesn’t necessarily prepare you for life and its circumstances. Book knowledge is a foundation to build upon but is not a substitute for years of experience.
The second example, people’s faith, is even more complicated. Traditional Feng Shui is based on science. I try to explain to people (who ask whether Feng Shui conflicts with their faith), that Feng Shui helps to create balance. When people struggle less, they have more time to practice their faith from a place of gratitude rather than scarcity. The point is to value all people of all faiths, or at least those who are open to exploration.
9. Can you give an example of a recent piece of work?
The client owns their success because they followed the advice they were given. They put it into action. When I think of a piece of work, it’s a collaboration. I ask clients for feedback rather than interpret it for them. After all, their experience is the ultimate measure. Our website has many testimonies and letters of reference on it. Clients are confidential until they chose to share their story, and we’re very blessed when they’re willing to do so. Three of them were featured in January’s Columbus Monthly. Several are also on our YouTube channel. As far as a recent piece of work, I’m working on a project now in Columbus. It’s a well-known business, affiliated at an international level, on a premier intersection in Columbus. A press release is forthcoming so you’ll hear about it soon.
As you know, I was hired by The Ohio State University in 2005 to look at a building they were moving a new venture into (an integrative wellness center). When I explained the energy of the building, they asked me to join their faculty (realizing that people’s living environment affected their health). A conservative institution like OSU being willing to embrace Feng Shui was significant. OSU is ranked 56th of the top 100 national universities in the United States by the U.S. News and World Report. To that point (and for the most part), universities place Feng Shui in the adult education arena, not as a course or medical offering. My application had to endure their credentialing process, and ultimately be approved by the Dean of the College.
I mention this because, as you’ve seen, I focus on case studies. Feng Shui needs to migrate from an esoteric art form to a legitimate methodology. I was excited to see the Italian conference focusing on science and case studies, and wished I could have attended.
10. Do you think the application of Feng Shui is becoming more necessary?
Yes, we have to get back to basics. What’s going on in the environment affects all of us. It’s our reaction to it that determines our future. The saying goes, ‘we did not inherit the Earth from our forefathers, we are borrowing it from our children.’ When I did grand rounds at OSU (educational form for physicians and residents), it was an audience to be reckoned with. I explained it this way … “If you take the human cell and place it into a nurturing environment, it survives and thrives. If you take the human cell and place it into a hostile environment, it struggles and sometimes dies. That’s Feng Shui!”.
We are or should be, at a place and time where we want to co-create our health and environment. It is no longer a case of, ‘here it is, deal with it,’ but ‘what can I do?’ We are all responsible and accountable. The “they” mentality is what got us here. There is no they, there is only us. Feng Shui deals with the environment. As I mentioned, environments include the mind, body, and space.
11. How do you think the principles of Feng Shui could help alleviate the current International crisis?
Global warming? The economy? Politics? War? I can think of many … and it all goes back to one planet. We are ALL responsible and accountable. I would like to think the principles of Feng Shui bond us, yet even the Feng Shui industry struggles with this. There’s so much healing that needs to be done, there’s a place for anyone who wants to help. A first step, in my opinion, is to focus on our similarities, not our differences. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, the more I know … the more there is to learn.
I hope, as a result of this exchange, that people think about continuity versus recovery. How can we alleviate crisis (whatever your interpretation – pain, struggle)? Identify risks, create a plan of action, work the plan, and rework the plan as circumstances change (called daily life).
12. Do you think there is an increasing number of people who are turning to ‘Alternative’ remedies such as Feng Shui?
Trends and statistics show this to be true. We’re more educated. We have unprecedented access to information.
13. What is your animal sign?
My stem and branch (according to my year) is water dragon. 2012 is the water dragon, so one would think that’s a great thing. 2012 has its opportunities and risks for all signs. It’s knowing where to be conservative and where to shine that makes the difference. At the talk on Sunday, I’ll give an overview but for people who want more specifics for them individually, I’ll conduct strategy sessions at my booth but the slots go fast.
14. What is your element?
According to traditional Feng Shui, I’m Zhen (hardwood). 2012 is hard metal, which chops wood, so there are risks to plan for.
15. How do you see your work with Feng Shui in the future?
I plan to change the world one business, one home, one person at a time. Governments are a good example. They run as a business and are made up of people. The future is unfolding, and this is an exciting time to be alive! Thank you for this opportunity, Angel.