How can we nourish our spaces and ourselves? Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui architect and green designer, explains how simple it is to feed our mind and body in order to create more balanced spaces that give positive energy or “chi”.
MM: Our next guest on the show is a friend of the program, Anjie Cho. She is a LEED certified architect and founder of Holistic Spaces and uses the energy of chi to bring nourishment, spirituality, beauty and Green Design to help create spaces that are warm and receptive to our life needs. So welcome to The Many Shades of Green. You are a friend, and we’re so happy to have you.
AC: I’m so happy to be back, Maxine.
I love that smile. That’s awesome.
So how I do put the Feng in my Shui?
That was your pop quiz?
This is the pop quiz. How do you get, how does one get the Feng in their Shui?
Well, it’s actually Feng.
It’s the Feng in the Shui.
Or you’d say Feng Shui…
Feng Shui? Which, even that, we’re in trouble…
Well Feng Shui means “wind and water,” so you can look at how you bring in wind, could be like your breath, and water, we’re made up of 70% water. So that said, as humans, we already embody Feng Shui, because we’re breath and water.
We’re breath and water already, and without breath and water, we wouldn’t be here.
No, and then those are the most fundamental elements in nature, right? We need water and we need air, and plants need air and water, and animals do too. When we look at ourselves, humans, as a part of nature and as part of the planet and we’re able to connect and be in tune with environment, then we really do embody Feng Shui, and that’s what you’re trying to do here.
Right, we’re trying to get people to be more embodied and more aware and know that there’s a connection to the natural earth, which a lot of people don’t think about these days because of their connection to things electronic, things that just keep them self-involved, and trying to get back to nature, which is where we all came from, is something as important. Nurturing ourselves and nurturing things around us is an important thing to go on. So in terms of how we nurture ourselves and how we deal with the spaces around us, can you tell us or give a little definition of what that would mean? Nourishment and how that affects spaces?
Well, I think it’s very possible to create spaces that nurture and nourish you. For instance, most of us wouldn’t want to be in a space where someone might have been killed or murdered or something, right? That’s really negative. You don’t want…
That’s scary, yeah.
Yeah, so you can understand that a space can really hold energy. Instead, you want to create a space that’s filled with love and that’s comforting and that’s not stressful. So you can create spaces like that, and Feng Shui really looks at that. Some ways that we can do that are to use colors, for instance, and bring in elements of nature that we were talking about earlier, like houseplants or having windows and light. People are so drawn to light. I mean, that’s the number one thing that you look for, right? Especially in New York City. People want to get as much light as possible.
Light is very important. It brings life and what else?
It’s healing. It makes you feel better. They have this syndrome in the winter where people get very depressed because it gets dark very early and actually sell these lamps to try to…
I have one.
Do you? Okay so what does that do? I mean, do they work? I’m just curious.
Well, I think there are some UV rays that are particularly healing for people, and when we spend most of our time indoors, we’re not seeing that sunlight or feeling it on our skin. Plus a lot of people put on sunscreen, so our skin doesn’t absorb that. And then in turn, we can’t process vitamin D as well, and that makes us not feel well and leads to depression.
So we like to get the sunlight and those lamps apparently help.
I have never used one, although someone actually gave me one as a gift and I have not yet used it. I hope that person is not listening to the show right now.
Don’t use it at night. It also ties in to your circadian rhythms, so you can use it during the day. It works very well, and it’s also interesting, because I read recently that sunlight can also be anti-bacterial. It can kill bacteria.
That’s another reason we should be getting outside.
Yeah. Or even putting, if you have an old piece of furniture that’s musty, you can put it out in the sunlight for a certain period of time. You don’t want it to fade, but that will actually kill some of the bacteria and freshen it up. That’s why if you hang clothes out to dry, they just smell so good.
Yeah, we used to do that way, way back. People would hang clothes out on a clothesline. In Brooklyn, you’d go by and everyone would have their clotheslines. It’s starting to make a slight comeback, not as much.
I see it in Chinatown sometimes.
Where are they putting it? Windows, fire escapes?
Look up sometimes.
Look up, that’s a good quote. “Look up sometimes,” because people either look straight or down and they’re missing a lot when they’re not checking it out. It was the most beautiful sky, sunset last night. It was just gorgeous. It was pink and blues that were just fantastic, and I was just enamored in walking out and looking up, and I went “Wow.”
Yeah. And you see that the world is something bigger than you, and we’re part of it. It keeps us in check that we’re not the biggest things on this planet. We’re a part of it, and to appreciate the beauty really, I think, helps people to be kinder to each other and to the planet.
How do we get people to move outside, and what do we do? How do we change behaviors so they walk away from their smartphone or tablet or self-involvement and various computer things or porn? I don’t know, how do we get people…
How did we get to that subject?
I don’t know, I guess self-involved. When someone told me in the dictionary, the new word was “selfie,” I was like, “What the hell are you talking about?” Because in my day, that ages me, I was like “okay…” They go, “No it’s a picture that you take of yourself,” and I’m going, “Good to know, good to know.” But aside from that, how do we get people outside more? I know it’s been very cold in the northeast this winter, but I find it invigorating sometimes to go out, even though I was freezing my tail off. It just felt good to be outdoors.
Well, I think, like with the show name, The Many Shades of Green, I think that for some people, they maybe need to have a lighter shade of green, not like an army military green, or it’s really militant. There are these people that are really diligent about it. Maybe it’s a good way to help people start to change their habits by getting them into the light green shades. I think sadly, also, there needs to be a lot of self-interest. Back to the selfie I guess.
Some kind of something that they can see they can gain for themselves, whether it’s saving money or improving their health, but it does start with yourself. So I like to give people small, digestible tips that they can do and present it in such a way that they can’t really make an excuse as to why they don’t want to do it, and it’s really easy to integrate in their lives. It’s just kind of like the gateway drug into the militant green…
So far in the show we’ve talked porn and gateway drugs. Listen out there, this is not...hey, it’s part of the environment. Everything’s connected. So what are some of the small things? Like, because of you, I have a lot of plants in my house. Not because of you, because I had them for a while, but in my son’s apartment, in the village, it was devoid of anything, other than like bachelor guy stuff. I finally got him some plants and I asked him if he took care of the plants and he goes, his roommate’s doing a good job with them. So I can’t get him to do it, but at least I brought plants in there. So what else can you bring in?
Plants are good things. Recently, I’ve really been pushing non-toxic cleaners, actually, because I think a lot of people, especially now with greenwashing, where people see the label “natural” on something and they automatically think it’s organic or healthy or good for them just like fat-free was or whatever, this goes for cleaning products too. I think that there are so many people that are super green, that are “army green,” that have Windex in their kitchen cabinet, and I think that’s a really easy thing to change. You could just wait until you finish using it up or you can give it away to someone, and then you can just buy, there’s so many different products available. Buy a cleaning product that’s safer for you, because it’s so much healthier for you. It improves your health, it improves your air quality because we’re inside all the time.
Can you make your own? Is there, I know vinegar and they have different things...You can go online, and you can make your own dishwashing stuff or cleaning agents that are just typical stuff you can buy in the store, and it doesn’t have the chemicals that are making everyone sick.
Yes, you could definitely make your own with things like vinegar or baking soda. There are a lot of recipes online. I have some on my blog.
What is that blog so people can go check out where they might be able to make their own cleaning stuff?
Holisticspaces.com. It’s H – O – L – I – S – T – I – C spaces.com.
Okay, so if you want to find out about how you can make your own cleaning solutions, I guess, Anjie has it on her site and that’s really, really great. Now also, something that concerns me that hasn’t really been put out that much, is something that comes out of your electronic products.
EMFs. What’s an EMF?
Well, EMFs are electromagnetic forces, and I actually have an EMF meter. I can bring it next time.
Yeah, it will probably go off to charts in here, okay but…
But it’s an invisible sort of toxic pollution that we create with Wi-Fi and electronics, and it’s amazing. Sometimes, people tell me they sleep on, like some people sleep on their cellphones, and that’s crazy!
People sleep on their cellphones?
Yes, I know people that put it under their pillow, and those cellular waves are affecting you for 8 hours straight when you’re passive, and you’re not even moving so it really affects you. They’ve done even studies, I saw, recently, they’ve tried to grow plants next to a Wi-Fi router and they wouldn’t grow. They did comparisons. Because the waves are actually not very healthy. Of course I’m not going say that you should eliminate Wi-Fi from your life, not at all, but just be aware. There’s actually, I have something called a plug buster, and you put it in the wall, and it works on an energetic level, like a woo-woo level, but not really a physical level, but it neutralizes the negative effects of EMFs. I have this area in my…
Where did you get that? I mean, is that something…
On a woo-woo website.
On a woo-woo website, okay.
Well, it’s kind of a little hippie, but…
We like hippie. We’re in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Where else can you get more hippie or hipster-y or whatever you want to call it, uber hipster?
There’s an area in my apartment in which the EMF reader goes off the charts, and I happen to have a fish tank there, and no matter what, all the fish just die. Nothing will survive there. So it’s really something that…
The fish are dying from that?
Yeah. So I should move my fish. I’ve tried, even the plug buster won’t help this one.
The fish need to go to another…
Wow! That’s pretty crazy.
Yeah, and it causes headaches. There are easy ways to avoid it. Really watch out for the bedroom. I would put like the cellular phone away from your head, at least 5 feet away in your bedroom. Battery operated things are okay, but anything plugged in also creates EMFs. So some people have power strips under their bed. That’s not good. and it affects your sleep. So just moving them away from you and eliminating the electronics in your bedroom, if possible, is really good.
I keep my cellphone downstairs at night. I just try to not even have it, because of not only thinking about what it might be transmitting but also, it’s just, it makes you unnerved. And then someone calls the wrong number one time when I did keep it. It scared the hell out of me at 3 in the morning. I’m like, “God, what happen? Oh, wrong number. It’s like, it’s 3 in the morning, what planet are you on?” But just the fact that to keep that stuff away.
Even the light on an iPhone or iPad, the light that it emits is one that keeps you up. It wakes you up. Also, for instance, I have a client that emailed me, or texted me actually, at night a couple months ago, but she had just read an email from someone else, and she was like, “Oh I shouldn’t have checked my email,” but of course she was on her iPhone, checking her email before she went to bed, and then she felt like her night was ruined and she couldn’t go to sleep all night. So in a very practical way, it’s good to kind of shut those things off and let yourself wind down before you go to bed.
I have kind of a 10 o’clock rule now.
Hmm, that’s good.
I mean, if people can’t reach me before 10pm with something then after that, I’m kind of useless. Unless you’re a musician and you’re up all night or an artist or whatever. Those people are definitely have a different rhythm. Do you notice that your clients, some of them in the creative fields have different rhythms than those who are like finance or something?
Sometimes, although I did have a doctor that work at night shift, and he would text me in the middle of the night, and that was not fun. I had to say “No more texts, please. Just email me.”
Really? Wow. I guess they don’t realize that there are other people that are not working and sleeping at that hour.
Yeah, but I absolutely think that EMFs are an issue that we’re going to start to maybe see the effects of later on, but I think it’s just about acknowledging it and reducing it when you can. Obviously, you want be able to interact in the world and be a part of the world, but just don’t overload yourself with these EMFs all around you.
Alright. So EMFs, selfies, all these crazy things going on. So again, where can people get information about your company?
Oh, holisticspaces.com, with an H.
Okay, alright. So I’m glad you came. I’m so happy you were here.
It’s really wonderful to have you and be such a friend of the show. So we’ll have you back again very soon and give us more tips on things.
I’ll bring my EMF meter next time.
I want to see what the EMFs are here in the studio. I can’t even imagine, it must be off the charts.
I hope it doesn’t break my EMF meter.
We’ll have to put armor on or something. I don’t know, or those HazMat suits? We’ll just work in HazMat suits. But thanks again.
We’ve been talking with Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces and Ann Delmarmo, who’s the founder of 2 Green Minds, and we are very much aware that we need to have Feng Shui in our lives and an energy that has chi and positive force, and people need to be aware that they have to have eco-conscious behavior.
And so with that, with also eco-napkins being a product that is reducing waste, which is very important as well, so we thank Ann for that, we thank you for being on the show. And thanks for joining us for the Many Shades of Green, a program about environmental sustainability, culture, the arts and community. Listen to the show on your laptop, tablet, desktop or smartphone. Visit us on Facebook, send as a tweet @TMShadesOfGreen and subscribe to our Podcast on iTunes.
About the host
Maxine Margo Rubin has been involved with the media business as a content producer and part-time co-host for Air America (Marc Sussman’s Money Message), and hosted and produced Village Green on WDFH, a show which focused on topics of environmental sustainability and progressive social issues.