wrapped in good Qi

Apparently, many of Mt. Lebanon’s early builders and architects neglected to use a compass when designing and building  homes, resulting in some very haphazard Qi. When my wife pulled the compass out of her purse, our agent knew she was in trouble.



“What’s that?”

“It’s a compass.”

“What do you need that for?”

As I moved away toward the kitchen, I listened as my wife instructed our real estate agent on the basics of feng shui, a system of Chinese beliefs concerning energy, or Qi, and how Qi flows through nature.

My wife is a believer in feng shui, which says that if energy flows freely in and around your home, you will be more prosperous, healthy, and happy.

So not only did we require a home with three bedrooms and two and a half baths, she informed our agent, we also needed an open concept, two-car garage, a fireplace, studio space for her art, and it all had to be wrapped in good Qi.

By virtue of our exhaustive search, I can tell you that Mt. Lebanon home builders totally disregarded the principles of feng shui. I know because we looked at practically every single listing.

Just when our agent thought she found us the perfect gem that checked off everything on our list, my wife would look up from her compass and announce,

“The flow is all wrong. This house faces the wrong direction.”

“What?” our agent asked, her face contorting as if she just gulped sour milk.

“And the front walk. It’s straight, not curved.”

“What are you talking about? This house has everything on your list.”

“Yeah, but when you open the front door the stairs lead straight out. All our good fortune will fly out the front door.”

“This house is perfect.”

“It is. But look at the sharp corners all around,” my wife said, pointing across the street. “There’s way too many arrows shooting this way.”


According to feng shui principles, buildings around your home can affect the flow of energy. For example, living next to a church, with its steeples and other sharp angles, is bad. Sharp angles resemble arrows, which shoot bad energy toward you.

House after house, our searched dragged on, into the winter months, then we finally gave up, parted ways with our agent, put our stuff in storage, and moved into an apartment.

Our pause gave me time to think about this whole feng shui thing. Before my wife’s lessons on this 3,000-year-old practice, I never thought nature potentially harbored such unseen, dangerous forces.

I grew up close to nature, and always viewed the landscape as a fairly bucolic place.

What if there really were all these energies out there trying to destroy me? Even though it was all new to me, it didn’t sound far-fetched. Nature is complex, powerful. Maybe we should strive to live in it more harmoniously.

In the spring, emboldened again, we found another agent and began our search anew and finally found our home, this time on a circle, which I learned creates the most ideal flow of Qi.

Soon after moving in, as I dozed off on the couch, I felt secure in the knowledge that between me and all the forces trying to tear me down, I had my five foot wife and her compass to protect us. TinYang