Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the September 11, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Getting Fung Shui-ed
My desk has been Feng Shuied — and found wanting
in some areas and just right in others. The analysis was performed
over the phone by
partners in Productive Practice Inc., a Feng Shui and consulting business
with offices in Monmouth Junction and in Tinton Falls.
The business grew out of lunchtime conversations between the two principals
during the time that they worked together at a dental practice in
Westfield. Each had nearly two decades of experience in the dental
field, and, in 1998, decided to open a joint consulting business.
Then two years later they broadened their scope into Feng Shui consulting
for businesses of all kinds and for individuals. On Wednesday, September
18, at 7:30 p.m. they begin a three-part series of Feng Shui instruction
at the Princeton YWCA. Cost: $10. Call 609-497-2100, ext. 303.
Another Feng Shui course starts Wednesday, September 25, at 7 p.m.
at the South Brunswick Public Library.
of Creative Concepts Unlimited teaches biweekly workshops through
December 18. Cost: $8. Call 732-329-4000, ext. 286.
Kasliner holds associate’s degrees in respiratory therapy and dental
hygiene, and a bachelor’s in health science from Skidmore (Class of
1988). Mengo started working in dental offices during her junior year
at Colonia High School. Like Kasliner, she started out on the hygienist
side, but soon gravitated to the business side.
Both women have an entrepreneurial streak. For years, Mengo
jumped between jobs in dental offices and work at her own business,
which was involved in the distribution of electrical equipment. Kasliner,
meanwhile, was doing some jumping of her own. "I saw I wasn’t
going to be one of those typical hygenists who sit in one office all
day," she says. "So I went from office to office." The
field is plagued by turnover and chronically short of workers, so
it was easy for her to work in one office on Mondays and another on
Neither woman held the title of "consultant" until they launched
their business, yet both say that was what they were doing. In her
many jobs, Kasliner educated the dentist for whom she worked on how
to increase revenue through getting the most out of his hygenists.
Better scheduling — mixing easy cases with difficult ones, for
example — prevented burnout. Better organization of instruments
improved productivity. Better education had hygenists selling more
services and supplies, things such as tooth whitening and electric
Mengo put in place systems to keep tabs on insurance reimbursement
— something, she says, that must be monitored every day if a practice’s
cash flow is to be optimized. She also promoted the use of computers
and of dental software to do everything from track patients’ records
to generate appointment reminders.
As they talked over lunch during breaks from their work in the Westfield
dental office, the pair discovered that a set of universal problems
limited income at most of the dental practices at which they had worked.
From that knowledge came the impetus to give themselves the consultant
title and go about building a business.
During their consulting assignments, Kasliner and Mengo were struck
anew by how stressful dentistry is, not only for the patients —
over 90 percent of whom they describe as anxious — but also for
the dentist and his employees. "Shelley had dabbled in Feng Shui
on her own," says Kasliner. "She had taken courses; she had
a library of books." Feng Shui, Kasliner explains, is about everything
in the environment that affects us. The discipline seeks to create
a harmonious, productive environment. If ever there was a profession
that could use Feng Shui, Kasliner and Mengo decided, it was dentistry.
They would include Feng Shui in their practice, but first they enrolled
in a one-year course at DeAmici’s School of Western Feng Shui in Philadelphia.
Now, nearly 90 percent of their business is in Feng Shui teaching
and consulting, and just 10 percent in consulting on the management
of dental offices. They got into consulting to individuals, Kasliner
says, when dentists asked them to apply Feng Shui principles to their
homes. From there, they began to consult to real estate agents, advising
them on how to move their listings quickly. They are working on their
first restaurant — in New York City — and see the hospitality
industry as another source of business.
Feng Shui, an ancient system of belief with roots in China, uses a
grid, comprised of 12 squares in western countries, four more than
in eastern countries. "Westerners like more detail," says
Kasliner of the disparity. This grid can be imposed on spaces of all
sizes, ranging from the topography and structures surrounding a building
to the top of a desk. The section represents an area of life such
as self, wealth, communication, relationships, or career.
Beyond the grid, there are considerations of color,
scent, material, sound, and more. In describing my desk, for example,
I first tell Mengo and Kasliner that it is made of fiber board. "Good,
good," they say in unison. "That’s much better than plastic."
Continuing to rack up points, I tell them that my computer is to the
left and my phone is to the left of the computer. The left-hand side
of a space is the creativity area, they say, so the computer and phone
are in just the right place. On a roll, I next tell them that my plastic
cup of Diet Coke is right in the center of my desk, and that when
it is not there, a can of Diet Sprite occupies that spot.
"No and no!" Mengo and Kasliner exclaim. The center of the
desk is the space for family. There should be photos of my loved ones
in the middle, not — definitely not — diet soda in a plastic
Asking for more detail about the desk itself, the partners learn that
it is supported by two file cabinets. That is fine, they assure me,
and ask what is in them. "Nothing," I say. I like to see all
of my papers and notebooks. I like them spread out on shelves, on
the desk, and on the floor near the desk — not out of sight. No
matter, I learn, the file cabinet on the left, the space for networking,
should contain some papers that will enhance my career. The file cabinet
on the right, the space for travel and helpful people, should be stuffed
with travel brochures and notes on contacts.
Going back to the top of the desk, I divulge that there is a tea cup
filled with paper clips in the far right corner. It was here when
I took the job. Keeping it, apparently, was a big mistake. "The
tea cup goes!" Kasliner says. "You don’t know who owned it.
You don’t know what energies were on it." Its owner, both caution,
could have been ill, or unhappy. Perhaps he or she was a deviant.
There is no knowing what type of energy is emanating from the tea
cup — an innocent-looking affair in grey and pink.
Caught up in the moment, I consider tossing the cup, which I had never
even looked at before. But the leaf next to it will never go, even
though Mengo and Kaslinger agree it must. It’s bright red, the leaf,
I tell them, and yes, I admit, it is quite dead. I picked it off the
top of the hedge just outside the entrance to my office on one of
the bright blue days that characterized last fall. It is a reminder
of a season marked by blazing beauty and unutterable sadness. It will
stay, right in the spot reserved for relationships. A far better choice,
counsel Mengo and Kaslinger, would be a photo of an amorous connection,
perhaps flanked by a pair of candles. Another good choice would be
a smiling photo of co-workers.
The photos are not a bad idea — I’ve been meaning to bring some
in. I also like the partners’ idea that I get rid of the pile of papers
on the floor to my right, a crucial area, they say, and one that needs
to be especially clear and clean. Made up of papers I am quite sure
I will never need, but keep just in case, I call it my discard pile.
Out it goes. I don’t think I’ll put a little saucer full of coins
next to my phone, though. The idea is to attract prosperity, and in
a workplace setting, say Mengo and Kasliner, the coins would speed
a promotion. Maybe so, but I do think I would feel a bit silly every
time I look at them.
The process Mengo and Kasliner walked me through in analyzing the
chi — flow of energy — on my desk is the same one they use
in analyzing professional offices and homes — or parts of offices
and homes. Feng Shui can be used in designing or decorating spaces,
and it also can be used in solving problems. Here are some examples:
the good chi it can get to soothe its nervous visitors. Common negative
elements, the partners say, include long halls and unappealing views.
Dental offices are frequently designed as a number of small rooms
opening off a long hall. Energy just flies down that hall, when, according
to Feng Shui principles, it ought to meander. Break up the hall, perhaps
by punctuating it with large plants and appealing prints. Then take
a seat in the chair and look at what patients see. If a dumpster is
the most prominent feature, fence it, or better yet, surround it with
bushes. A lawn is a better view, but even it can be improved. "Put
in bird feeders," suggests Mengo. The activity will soothe and
area, and many do little to welcome clients. Feng Shui principles
can change that. For starters, install a wind chime. Using one that
is powered by batteries is not cheating, insists Kasliner. The sound
soothes whether it gets its power from the wind or from a mechanical
device. In offices where a half-wall is the first thing visitors see,
decorate it with an inviting scene, perhaps a beach or a forest. The
half-wall entrance "is very stopping," says Mengo. A common
solution — a mirror — only makes it worse. "We startle
ourselves," she says. A mural, on the other hand, draws visitors
Once inside, visitors should find curved chairs, which signify safely,
arranged in conversational groupings. There should be a focal point
in the reception area, maybe a sculpture, "so that eyes stop spinning
around," says Mengo. Once into the heart of the office, visitors
should find signs and pathways. It is so easy to get tangled up in
a strange office, she points out, saying, "you feel like an idiot"
when this happens.
Feng Shui can get a house sold fast, but one interesting one involves
packing boxes. Homeowners must detach, says Kasliner. If a home looks
too happy and whole — pictures still up on the walls, inviting
rooms full of personal objects, dinner on the stove — people will
feel guilty about uprooting the home’s family. "Detach," she
advises, and let it show. Place packing boxes in strategic places,
letting buyers know you are ready to move on.
disturb peace. This means no television or computer in the bedroom.
If there is no other choice, at least close the machines up in cabinets.
Exercise equipment is a no-no too. Bedrooms are just so big these
days, says Kasliner, that homeowners are tempted to fill them up with
all manner of distracting gadgets, all of which create disturbed sleep.
and Kasliner, who charge $150 an hour for their advice, for help in
designing an office or in making a home more inviting. And sometimes
clients come with a specific problem that they think Feng Shui can
Not long ago, Kasliner had such a problem herself. Divorced for eight
years, she had long since stopped looking for love. "There’s nobody
out there," she told herself. Then she took a look at the corners
of her home that Feng Shui designates as relationship areas. She found
them to be empty, and set about filling them with pairs of romantic
images. She also wrote "affirmations," essentially letters
to herself describing what she wanted in a man, and placed these affirmations
among the pairs of hearts and candles.
Suddenly, she says, "people were coming out of the woodwork."
Wherever she went, she ran into appealing men. Men who were eager
to date her. At her gym, where she had been working out for six years,
she met a man who had also been working out there for six years. They
began to date. One year later, they married.
mystical, it also has much in common with any number of self improvement
theories. Buying an ivy plant — said to attract money, or putting
a saucer of coins on a desk, or filling nooks with hearts, places
goals right out where they can been seen every day. Writing affirmations
reinforces the images. The result can be a lucrative dental practice
where patients feel safe and cared for, or an openness to love, or
even a neat desk, radiating energy and propelling its owner to heretofore
undreamed of career heights.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.