The Impact of Our Homes on Our Happiness with Emily Majewski

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ABOUT THE EPISODE

Emily Majewski joins me to talk about how our environments—the homes we live in and the buildings we work in—significantly influence our well-being.

We cover how our environments can limit our self-growth, how buildings pollute our bodies, and how to change our chemical dialogue with our homes to promote endorphins.

One of my favorite points of discussion is when Emily and I talk about whether our houses are sick affirming or life affirming.

We also touch on the trend of eggshell white and how our homes are like pharmacies.

If you’ve ever dreamt of building a home from the ground up or if you’re obsessed with optimizing your surroundings for optimal health this episode is for you.

ABOUT EMILY

Emily Majewski is Founder of Phytostone, a natural building products firm in Mexico. Emily is also the creator of Embodied Home Design, an open-source program teaching wellness warriors how to design their dream home centered on personal growth and what she calls ‘tridimensional health’ – where occupants thrive from body + mind to heart. This mission is fueled by 2 things: a passion for upskilling women in optimizing their environments and 2) guacamole a la Mexico. 🙂

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

Welcome to Make it Mentionable. I am here with Emily Majewski. And I’m super excited that Emily is here with us today because she was around when make it mentionable was the summit before it became the show that it is today. And we are talking about all things home. So Emily, thank you for being here with me.

Emily Majewski 1:11
Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Alyssa Patmos 1:14
So this conversation is so timely because I just moved in. So everything home-oriented and creating a home is is top of mind for me. So I love that we get to talk about people’s environments. Because

Emily Majewski 1:29
Yes, I think it’s top of mind for most everyone since the pandemic in particular. I mean, on the one hand, the potemp- pandemic seems like such a pause on life, but it has accelerated so many other things, including people’s appreciation for their living environments. So it’s been a blessing to my line of work in that regard, because people’s appreciation has just gone through the roof, so to speak.

Alyssa Patmos 1:57
So along those lines, then what how, what does home mean to you, all of us have I feel like a different orientation, there’s a difference between house and home. And you know, then the sames Home is where the hardest. So as someone in this industry, who’s built a career around this concept of home, what does it mean to you?

Emily Majewski 2:20
Yes, so home is a very loaded word. And it does have different meanings to different people. And I have a very specific interpretation of the home as it relates to my work. And that would be thinking of home as a body as an extension of our bodies. And we as the inhabitants are in soling this body, and, and so the lifestyles that we create within our homes actually represent kind of metabolism to that body. And so the body of our homes is something that forms like a second skin between us and the elements. And it’s really important that we think of it in a holistic kind of living organisms sort of way.

Alyssa Patmos 3:09
So I cannot sometimes you know, the universe is just wild, there are entities of things that just pop up. So, so two things have popped up today related to this conversation. So one I was telling you about before we started recording, which is before the show, I like to pull a tarot card, just ask what something that I can remember for the interview. And so I pulled a card that was all about home instability. But I also happen to be listening to another podcast this morning. And it His name is Drew and I am sorry, I’m going to have to link it in in the show notes because I can’t remember his last name right now. Or I would butcher it. He he is a wellness podcaster. And he has he had a guest on who was talking about how our immune system is connected to everything. It influences all the cells in our body and it our environment influences that incredibly too. And so it’s not just this internal working. It’s it’s this whole body process. And so when you’re talking about the home as an integral part of that, I think that’s massively underrated. I don’t think that’s something that people are mentioning as often.

Emily Majewski 4:27
Yes, it’s slowly starting to gain traction in the mainstream. In fact, there’s a whole category now of medicine called Environmental Medicine and how our environments affect us. And I think as a people, we are evolving past a more materialistic interpretation of home. Like if you look back, a lot of people treated their homes as the place you keep your stuff while you’re out buying more stuff. But society seems to be evolving and more of a quality over quantity, consciousness of life. In valuing minimalism and experiences over collecting material things, so our our consciousness is expanding to think of home beyond its purely materialistic definition, but it is relatively new this understanding of it as a living organism, which is largely my work.

Alyssa Patmos 5:21
So let’s talk a little bit about that. When you say home as a living organism, I have some guesses as to what that means. But can you talk about that a little bit?

Emily Majewski 5:32
Yes, absolutely. So, um, my, my career has always been very obsessed with the idea or the relationship between nature and culture, as this microcosm of the bigger picture of like humanity’s relationship to nature. And so it’s always been this interesting stage or arena for me, where we can work out in our own personal microcosms what we feel those relationships should be. And so that was kind of like a positive theme. Ever since Honestly, I was a teenager. But as I grew and began our own home project for the first time, and was like going down the research rabbit holes, that’s when I really began to understand what’s wrong with the building industry in terms of creating homes that are sickness affirming, rather than life affirming. And when I say sickness, I mean that occupants health being jeopardized by their homes, but also planetary health being jeopardized by our building activities. And so that actually created this catapult for us where we, my husband, and myself, we have backgrounds in ceramics engineering, and contracting, we started playing around in material science and created a line of products down here in Mexico that are natural building products, and such as finishes and plasters and things of that sort. And we started making these connections with our chemistry that, like when we mimic the human body, the body chemistry, we started having better results with our product lines. So I’ll give you an example of that a lot of what we build with like, in general, like concrete is a calcium based formula, there is calcium, silica alumina in it. And when we started adding magnesium to our own versions of kind of cementitious formulas, we realize, wow, magnesium has a really complementary effect with calcium, just like within our bones, like you’ll be more likely to get osteoporosis when you’re deficient in magnesium. And, and when you think about it, seashells are a combination of magnesium and calcium as well, because the ocean is a magnesium soup. Basically, it’s the third most common element. So we started making these connections that our own biochemistry could improve the performance of the materials we build with. And then taking it a step further and gaining a lot of experience with clients and installations and seeing projects that went well. And that didn’t go well. As an observer, I started to realize that there is even this kind of respiration or metabolism to the design and planning and building process itself. And yeah, I started to realize, like, wow, this is a living process. It’s living just like its own breathing entity. And it’s built with nutrients and materials that mimic how our own bodies are built. And so I started thinking of the entire picture in this very, like humanistic way. Let’s put it that way.

Alyssa Patmos 8:57
I love that it’s it’s fascinating and to touch on something you said at the end, and oftentimes the the these buildings that we’re building live on even beyond us, they’re interacting with nature even longer than we are in some regards. So absolutely. At least they should outlive us. Yes, magnesium and calcium are the two powders I have in my shelf. I I have them every day. So I think that yes, but that’s so interesting, how you started to build that in into the process. And so I want to come back and talk more about that. But first, I think I need to know how you became obsessed with this. Like, what is it about your essence, growing up? Were that you were drawn to this type of work? I’m insanely curious.

Emily Majewski 9:52
Yeah, well, um, I guess going back to when I was nine, I inherited this epic collection of Martha Stewart. weren’t magazines from a family friend, going back to her collection from 1991. And I’ll admit, Martha Stewart really inspired me back in the day even though you know, might seem passe in this day and age of the internet, but back in the day, she was quite pioneering and, and instilled in me this huge respect for home and home and garden as a as a category. And honestly, I think all of us deep down are fascinated with the idea of creating a dream home, where we have our garden, and we have our healthy space where we can be the best version of ourselves. And that’s a very primordial dream that each and every one of us share no matter where we are in the globe. So it’s nothing unique to me, it’s it’s a very universal attraction, this whole idea of coming home and creating home and what is home and, and, in my case, what is a healthy home? And how it all ties together. So yeah, but I’ll give Martha credit where credit’s due.

Alyssa Patmos 11:11
How did you then start? How did you start then expanding beyond, you know, just the home in the garden, like, you know, beyond the white picket fence, beyond, you know, this version of home in suburbia? And do you want to tell listeners and viewers like where you are sort of how you got to there?

Emily Majewski 11:31
Yes. So the last few years, we’ve really been in r&d Hardcore with our building product line down here. And the eventual intention is to scale these, these natural building products up north. But in the meantime, I just started piecing together how how lost people are, when it comes to designing a healthy home for themselves, it’s completely overwhelming. And people tend to want to outsource a lot of that process to experts who really don’t know anything about them. And just seeing, unfortunately, the very high potential for things to go wrong on a very large scale, financially for people. And so I began thinking like, I need to create a course that I wish all our clients had from the get go, that could be more checklist style, and cut out all the fluff, like this is how you build a healthy home from A to Z. And you just follow it step by step. So almost like a blueprint. And that’s what I’ve been working on this past year, it’s still a work in progress. But it was very challenging because and continues to be in that there’s so many variables to everybody’s project, like where you are in the world and what your climate is and what your regulatory situation is and what your budget is. And so it really came down to distilling like what are the principles that all projects have in common as a sequence of steps. And at first, it was like, Oh, my God, this is so overwhelming, how do I even begin this, but then I started to realize and cross verify it with our clients who and observing their their experiences, that it’s like cooking, you know, like, there’s such an infinite variety of expressions of cuisine and cooking around the world. And including budgets and ingredients and styles and desires. But at the end of the day, there’s still underlying principles that hold true no matter where you are around the world. And so I began to see like this is really a parallel to building is, no matter what your objectives are, what you’re trying to create, or your budget or your climate, there’s nevertheless, there’s these essential principles that underpin the whole process from beginning to end that you follow. And so it’s been a question of mapping those out and, and, and introducing it to the world just to give everyone a sense of empowerment in that regard.

Alyssa Patmos 14:17
And so when it comes to empowerment, I love how you talked about sick affirming versus life affirming. So if a house is is life affirming what what’s different about it, how would we know if our home is truly life affirming, rather than then more event to the sick of our Mainland’s.

Emily Majewski 14:38
Just Well, a big thing to me is the fact that that we associate nutrition and health with what we ingest, like you are what you eat, but the reality is we receive nutrition through all of our senses, not just what’s ingestible and that nutrition includes The quality of air that you’re breathing, your quality of sleep, your access to natural daylight, your thermal comfort, like all of those elements, which are multi sensory, are mediated by our homes. And we need them first and foremost more urgently than even food or nutrition or supplements, like, if you’re out in space, you only survive 16 seconds in space without oxygen. And so that’s even more vital for our moment to moment survival and the quality of that oxygen then then what we ingest. And so people are beginning to realize the significance of their architecture from this more quantum Nutritionals standpoint. And what’s interesting is every single one of those forms of nutrients, whether it’s sleep, or oxygen, or the quality of our water, they’re all direct injections of energy. So for example, if you look at pure oxygen, I mean, that’s the reason why casinos are blasting oxygen all night long to energize gamblers and why Oh, two shots were passed around in clubs and why you get energized by exercise, because you’re getting oxygen eyes. And now that we’re spending 90% of our time indoors as a species, we’ve evolved into an indoor species, the quality of air that we’re ingesting, and the energy we get from the air is very determined by our home in terms of its design and the materials it’s made of. And, for example, like a lot of people aren’t aware that we’re literally breathing about 2000 gallons of air every day. And that’s about the size of a swimming pool. And so when that air is polluted, through our homes, in many cases, that affects everything about your health and your potential and your personal growth, because you are literally drinking a swimming pools amount of pollution on a daily basis. And air is particularly important the quality of air in our homes. Because going back a few decades, when we started sealing our homes for greater energy efficiency, we started making homes in this very sealed tight way. But using materials that off gassed and had noxious chemicals and had no way to be vented out. And so that caused this whole rise and sick building syndrome where, according to the UN, about 33% of buildings around the world are contaminated with mold and mildew and noxious chemicals, because of this kind of fork in the road construction wise, as well as the introduction of so much synthetic stuff. So that’s just one example.

Alyssa Patmos 17:51
So I love this conversation of how how our homes, how our environments, the buildings that we’re in can influence our personal growth. And in today’s day and age, you know, we think of self help you go to the bookstore, and there’s an entire wall, maybe multiple walls of self help books on, on display. And it becomes this very intellectual activity, where it’s like, okay, there is something I don’t like, I gotta go fix it. And let me pick up a book or maybe 10, maybe 20. And I’m going to power through I’m going to power through trying to fix myself in this way, and it becomes a very intellectual activity. On top of that, we live in a society where, where we’re not always ingesting the best food, and so we’re distracting and muddying up the picture with sugars, you know, with with unhealthy processed food, different oils. And then on top of that, now you’re telling me we have we live in these buildings that that are are polluting our body as well. And so the signals that our body would give us to help us work through some of these things we want to address so that we can grow and step into our highest version of self where we that there’s no way we can get in touch with the signals if we don’t know how.

Emily Majewski 19:16
Oh, that’s so true. It’s the whole everyone being sick and tired of feeling sick and tired all the time, but that becoming your baseline for normal. That’s the real tragedy there.

Alyssa Patmos 19:29
So as someone starts to evaluate their environment more like to you what is the tie between being intentional about our environment, and how we can get to our most authentic self like that’s the whole reason behind Make it Mentionable a lot of it is to make things conscious to be able to bring us to the surface so so how does being intentional about our environment help us on some of these personal growth missions that we so many of us find ourselves on?

Emily Majewski 20:00
Absolutely Well, there are many answers and angles to answer that question, but I’m just going to focus on one of them, okay? Like, design really needs to be very focused on our actual behaviors, as well as the habits we wish to welcome into our life to evolve into the person we want to be. And so when you really inventory, what your behaviors are, you’ll notice and I did this to myself, and was quite shocked, but it’s the old 2080 rule, or 8020 rule, like about 20% of the routines that you have makeup 80% of your life. And when you really start analyzing what those 20 routine that 20% of your routines are that you do day in and day out, and that really shaped the patterns of your life that make you you, you start to realize, like when you’re looking at it critically and mindfully and, and intentionally that we do end up putting a lot of friction in in our inner environment that cause complicated complications and stress around these routines, often very unintentionally. But we don’t even notice, and I’ll give you an example of that. Okay. Let’s say that you have a mom with several kids. And she’s entering her house with the day’s shopping. And there’s not any kind of an overhang. So if it’s raining, they’re all getting wet as they unlock the door. So at this moment in time, there’s this bottleneck that’s occurring, where you have perhaps unfavorable elements like the rain, you have all the kids trying to pile in and take off their shoes, you have nowhere to put the shopping, you have a dog greeting you coming from the opposite angle trying to get out. And then perhaps there’s a mail slot with this layer of slippery mail on the floor and the inside. And this one little moment, this one routine of entering our home, which happens day in and day out that we don’t even notice it is pure chaos. And it’s not until you really analyze it objectively. And you start diagnosing like how this single routine that affects us day in and day out can be made joyful and easy by the design of the environment to accommodate this routine in this action. It just perpetuates year in and year out through inertia, basically, because we’re not being mindful. And I mean, this can go down to the smallest detail of our lives. And I noticed it with myself recently. In that we use a small gas stove in our kitchen, we’re down here in tropical Mexico, and I need to use a lighter to start this stove. And for literally years on end, I’ve kept my lighters in a glass jar next to the stove. Simple enough, until I realized a few weeks ago, like you know, it’s actually very aggravating trying to fish in this deep jar for my lighter. Why don’t I have my lighters in a shallow dish where they’re right there. And I swapped out the jar for a shallow dish. And now instead of having this barely noticeable cortisol rush, groping around for lighter, I get an endorphin rush of being able to scoop it up right there. And so the chemical dialogue that’s occurring with your environment changes from a stress based chemical dialogue to an endorphin based chemical dialogue, when you are mindful and you make adjustments that make life easier and friction free, particularly with the routines that you do day in and day out.

Alyssa Patmos 23:51
And that and that small tweak and decreasing the stress response also ends up influencing our immune system that was in the podcast that I was telling you about earlier as well, like, all of these things are interconnected, but we just live we live on the surface so often. And so like when you were even when you were giving the first example about the entryway and someone coming in, I’ve had a very real life example of I went to help a family one time and they were going through a hard time and the entryway was a huge deal. The husband came home at the at the end of a long day. And there was just clutter immediately when he walked in the house in this one section. The rest beyond there wasn’t as bad but in that one section, it was terrible. And it instantly set the tone and, and those subconscious things. Again, sometimes we’re not even aware of it until we’re very aware of it because nothing is sending us a message then then it has a ripple effect into the family dynamics for the rest of your life. How you greet your kids when you come in all of these small, small things.

Emily Majewski 25:00
Absolutely. And, you know, there’s so many self help programs and products and services being sold to help you expand your wealth or to to improve your relationships or to, you know, keep you healthy or get you healthy. But the home is what ties all this together, the home has such a profound impact on our relationships, on our health, and our wealth potential. When you add it all together, I mean, just the simple, we were talking about quantum nutrients, just the simple fact of how reliant we are on sleep, and a third of our lives being dedicated to sleep, that’s 33%. That alone has such an enormous bearing on the impact we can make on this world as well as our income potential because obviously, you’re not even close to the best version of yourself when you’re sleep deprived as, as most people can attest.

Alyssa Patmos 25:59
And, and I think the thing that you’re really highlighting throughout all of this, the undertone that I’m, you know, just majorly obsessed with it is the power of choice, because when we give our choice away, or when we give our choice away to someone else who has designed something for us, then inherently we’re in we’re in this position where we’re at the effect of our environment, we’re at the effect of our surroundings and our behaviors. And so the simple choice of moving the lighter to adjust to a dish that brings you more joy, the ripple effect of that, I mean, it sounds so trivial, but the ripple effect of that is is is what is it what is even the word is great, I’m gonna say it’s enormous. moved in, and the one thing I love about the buildings here is that the kitchens face out, so the stove faces, the living room, and it faces a whole bunch of windows where I can see the mountains. And most of the time, they have ovens and stoves tucked into the wall where you’re just staring at a wall. And for me being able to have this island counter where the stove is there, I can look out, I have spices on my left door, I have the spatulas on the right side, everything is right there that I need it. And I can converse and have a conversation with someone while I’m doing this thing I deeply love. But that can be very isolating at times. Is is so wonderful. And it just highlights some of the some of the intention that I think you talk about when people are have the ultimate choice in starting a home from scratch

Emily Majewski 27:48
It’s really transformative. And I definitely take the stance that designing your ideal home requires a total deep dive into who you are as a person, as well as your design partner, if you’re in a partnership, but who you were and who you are now and who you want to become because we’re all evolving, no matter what time’s going by, we are going to evolve into something. So if you want to have any mindfulness into what that direction is, it really requires like a high degree of soul searching as well as analysis to determine what you want to welcome into your life as you approach a home project and, and just that layer alone of your personal truths and who you were and are and are becoming. That is something that typical design process is completely devoid of and people expecting a total stranger professional to look at a Pinterest board and know who they are and what they want is just so off base, or at least it’s it really inhibits the potential of what your home could be.

Alyssa Patmos 29:04
Yes, yeah, I totally agree with you. And And if we think about if we think about even, you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we have, you know, the physiological needs safety and security at the bottom. And so traditionally, a shelter a home is what we associate with that safety need. But there’s also emotional safety. And there are there are buildings that don’t feel safe to people based on you know, the layout of of how they’re organized. The furniture that’s in there sometimes has an impact on how people feel. And so when we’re talking about about a home, which is inherently you know, this place that is supposed to provide a safety if we’re not looking at the things from the past and baking that in as around like what actually, when did you feel the safest? What helps you feel safe. The home has such that because the home when it’s designed intentionally, or when you’re being mindful about it has the potential to be this really safe space. It’s also a place I would imagine where we can collect new evidence safely. And what I mean by that is anytime we’re trying to choose transformation with change, we, we have to collect new evidence of doing behaviors differently. And the home could be the safest place to do that, because no one can see behind the closed doors.

Emily Majewski 30:37
Absolutely. Yeah, you would, I’m perpetually shocked at how many design trends are just proliferate on the internet that when you actually look at them critically, just are such horrendous choices. In my opinion. An example of that would be the trend you see all over Instagram of doing rooms and whole homes, often in like 50 shades of white and cream, and having children for example, where everyone’s like talk about walking on eggshells constantly about making a mess or staining eggshell white, you know, you’re walking on eggshells, and everything’s eggshell. But particularly what that does psychologically to children in that environment and how inhibiting that is, or are these like modern open floor plans where there’s zero privacy, and there’s zero nooks and crannies. And it’s just a total fishbowl life like we

Alyssa Patmos 31:40
How do you feel safe in that, we have to talk about this, because that is one of the reasons Geoff and I moved. So when I moved in with him to his last condo, and you know, he, he was a single guy at the time, it was perfect for him. So very open floor plan, there was no door to the bedroom. So there was door to the bathroom and a door to the entryway and a door to the closet. And me moving into space, like we were able to fit our things. But I was working from the couch or the closet, I think the first time we met, I might have taken half the call from because I can’t be in a fish bowl I’m like I need enclosed space

Emily Majewski 32:25
No, honestly, very few people can. And that’s a perfect example of architecture needing to provide, or I should say respect choice and personal agency, there’s a time and a place for all things. There’s a time and a space to be expansive and social. And there’s a time to be enclosed and to retreat and to be an individual. And so it’s so important for architecture to accommodate the spectrum of human needs, because we’re rarely all the way one way. And so to have a floor plan that like basically straight jackets, you have to be a certain way when you’re not always feeling it is very psychologically restrictive in ways that we we often don’t even notice, but it’s very real.

Alyssa Patmos 33:12
Did you – one thing that keeps popping up in the back of my mind? So I’m going to listen to it is did you mentioned the phrase quantum nutrients earlier?

Emily Majewski 33:22
I did. Yes, I know the word quantum is bouncing around these days. But But I was saying it before it was cool.

Alyssa Patmos 33:32
I’m very curious because the word is so the the word is so popular right now. So so what did what is quantum nutrients mean?

Emily Majewski 33:41
So quantum nutrients, you have the big nutrients in my opinion, not my opinion for all of us. Biologically it would be oxygen, thermal comfort, water and rest. And what’s the fifth one oxygen thermal water rests and lastly, your oral nutrition which comes last. And I consider those like the macro nutrients and the home is basically at the pharmacy that’s distributing those nutrients to you it’s the home that is providing your access or being a barrier to your natural light, like daylighting factors to the quality of your air to the quality of your rest to the quality of your soundscape all of that and then there’s the the micro quantum nutrients which are the nourishment we receive from things like the beauty of our home and the the meaningfulness of how we create how we arrange our homes. So those would be also very important nutrients on a quantum level. But but you know the basics are things like your rest and your air quality and your your daylight access and and the daylight is such a huge huge thing that’s one of the most. I mean, you mentioned it with your kitchen example, like, we associate photosynthesis with the plant kingdom and homeo. homosapiens doesn’t photosynthesize or so above that. But it’s not true at all like we are totally photosynthesizing beans. Because just like plants take light energy and convert it into chemical energy are in doctrine systems and our hormones are 100% triggered by light, like light is information. It’s a particle and a wave. And the natural light cycles, as well as darkness cycles are what trigger everything in us from, you know, our hormones or mineral synthesis, or nitric oxide synthesis, our fasting versus digesting cycles, it’s all connected to light, sleep and wake cycles. And so our bodies are constantly taking light energy and through our hormones, converting them into chemical energy and our entire physiology. And so, so much architecture and offices, home offices, in particular are cut off from access to natural light, which is a great tragedy, because our homes tend to be oriented towards streets, and the almighty car for US culture. It’s all about streets and garages, but they need to be oriented towards the sun, just like all living things, because they are alive as well, if we look at it the right way. That’s the sign sets right outside my office window here. And I’m obsessed with it. So I just have to ask them. So like, what are your thoughts on on blackout curtains? Yes, well, when you had there are times in the daily cycle, your 24 hour diurnal cycle where you need darkness, true darkness, unpolluted darkness. So light and darkness are both incredibly important. And blackout curtains are very, very important. Yeah, there’s there’s many layers to this. So you want unadulterated natural light and unadulterated darkness?

Alyssa Patmos 37:14
The nuance, that’s the nuance. One thing that I definitely want to make sure that people hear from you, because I think this is so fascinating about your process, when when you and I were first talking, we talked about how so much of the design process is visual. And you mentioned it a few times that we you know, we have so many other sensors, we have our sense, we have our five senses, but we have so many other sensors too. And, and people when we’re so focused on the visual aspect of design in general, many of us focus on the visual component. In general, like how many people do you hear saying, “I’m a visual learner, I have to see it”? like we put a lot of bias on our eyes. And so in our conversation, you were talking about how you don’t actually let your clients involve that in the beginning. And so can you tell us a little bit about that?

Emily Majewski 38:13
Yes, definitely. Well, our society has evolved. And by society, I mean whole civilization towards a major bias towards visual mediums and an ocular bias in general, and to the near total exclusion of our other senses. And there’s so many examples of this. I mean, of course, we’re the addiction to screen time and participating in the world through our screens is the latest version of this phenomenon. But it’s been a trend for a long time. But I mean, from every angle, like even the food we tend to buy at the supermarket, you have an apple, which looks beautiful, and it was bred to be beautiful. And yet it has no flavor or nutrition, or its marinated in chemicals. But all of that is secondary to it needing to look good, even though it’s the proverbial poisoned apple. And there’s so much of that has infected the design process as well. And it’s actually quite amusing. Because the way I think of creating a home, it’s very oriented around the qualities and the feelings that you wish to cultivate there to generate there, as well as accommodating your behaviors and your activities. So your emotions and your behaviors. They’re these very ephemeral, in a sense, invisible things. And yet, when we look at architecture and design, all we think of is the stuff the interior design images, the Instagram, the architectural magazines, but when and they’re completely devoid of any trace of human activity or human presence, which is the point of it all. And so when you think of the home as a body and the occupant as in solely in this body, and then you contrast that with looking at an architectural magazine, where it’s just these glossy still lifes of empty homes, and to me, it strikes me almost like looking at cadavers, because the the home is devoid of life, it’s been sanitized, stripped clean. If the occupants of, for example, had any personal relics or religious things up, it gets stripped out by the foot photography team. And it’s made to to be presented like humans are an afterthought. But humans are the reason for this structures existence, and the structure is there to encapsulate human emotion and human behaviors, not things. And so you contrast that with just endless waiting of pretty pictures that people just are treading water in these pretty pictures. And none of it actually has much to do with creating a sense of home, like home, of course, things contribute to home, but things are not the essence of home, you know, the essence of home is how you feel there and what you do there. So yes, I tried to keep pictures out of the mix until the end of our process, because the beginning is very focused on again, this deep dive into who you are and who you were and who you’re becoming, what are the emotion like? What’s the emotional climate, each room needs to support? What are the behaviors that need to support to be supported architecturally, and then you start to gradually move into the material sphere, okay, what are the objects that contribute to the emotions and the behaviors, what type of architecture can enhance these objects and the emotions and the behavior so it’s this triangulation that has to occur that then is encapsulated by the architecture, but the visible side is at the tail end of a very invisible kind of exploration.

Alyssa Patmos 42:19
I think that’s so powerful and beautiful, that you guide people through that process, then because similarly to, it can be hard to be guided back to ourselves. That’s a lot of the work that I do with people. And similarly, being able to do that for yourself in a home can be difficult, too. I’m constantly teaching about how, you know, our reality is based off of our perception and the internal representations that we make. And similarly, that’s based off of our senses, and our sensors, our past experiences. And in the visual world we live in when you know, there’s print magazines, everywhere, there’s Instagram, Facebook, social, you take in everybody else’s images all the time, that it really starts to muddy, I see this over and over and over again, in my clients, it starts to muddy them actually knowing what they truly want. And so even if you’re purchasing a home, and I know you work with people from building from the ground up, and and if they’re if they’re purchasing or if they’re building it from the ground up, that same bias can come in where it’s like, Wait, is this actually what you want? Does this actually support your life? Or is this just what you’ve seen? Is this just what’s trending? And how is that subconsciously or unconsciously rather, getting baked into how you’re making decisions throughout this process? So this journey of reflection and guidance into No, like, Who have you been? Who are you? Who are you becoming? become so so? So, so powerful?

Emily Majewski 43:56
Absolutely. And you are the expert on you, there’s no there’s no engineer or architect or builder who can fill that information in for you. Like you have to start with your own expertise on yourself. And I mean, that is that is such a huge phenomenon culturally where we’re just, it’s almost like a form of forced consumption of everybody else’s choices and lifestyles and whatever they wish to portray to the world. And I know you you bring this up with your business coaching a lot of like, it doesn’t matter what the Gurus are telling you to do, like, what’s your vision for your business and for your lifestyle? And like what are your ethics and your line in the sand and how to design around your priorities as opposed to what all these billions of talking heads are telling you to do? And that definitely carries through into the world of home creation. Like you almost need to detox from looking at any of those images or what anybody else is saying to like, get back to the essence of what you want. Because it’s very difficult to find that internal space when you’re just being barraged constantly by what everybody else is doing.

Alyssa Patmos 45:14
Yeah, that that’s even been interesting for Geoff and I recently because we’re merging two different styles of furniture. And so we have more traditional heavy pieces. And then I mean, you can’t see my desk, but it’s an acrylic desk. It’s completely clear. I love it. So when you are trying to merge two styles that when you’re just seeing pictures of the rules being one way, it can be hard to employ your true creative brain and tap into Okay, wait, how does this feel like how does this wood feel to me right now, because I’m used to seeing very modern and contemporary things, but I actually love the richness and the story that’s behind this, and the fact that it is more natural. And, and that leads me to one other point I wanted to, to bring up. And it goes back to what we were talking about with with being distracted by the things that we put in our bodies, the things around us. But one of the things that people, one of the things that people come to me, very often they end up saying in some course of our conversation. My body hates me, like how many times do you have women friends, especially who are like, ah, like, my buddy hates me, and maybe they hit it as like, it’s my body against against me. And so I I, we often reframe that into your body is an excellent communicator. And we aren’t taught that we’re not taught to pay attention to the signals that our body gives off. And that’s why so many times No, people end up going to doctor after doctor after doctor, and then they’re just looking at the environmental conditions. Last, and we’re not as great at tuning into the signals that our body gives off unless we start to get really intentional about it. What I’m hearing you say is that our home and the home building process can really start to support and reinforce not only us sort of being the soul, and like truly embodying the home, but also our home being a place that that can support our bodies in ways that we don’t even realize.

Emily Majewski 47:29
Yes, I mean, it literally is an extension of the body in every way, like, I’ve gotten to the point where I think there’s two kinds of architects, there’s the architect that knows, they are basically a doctor prescribing you medicine through how they design your home. And there’s architects that don’t know their doctors. I mean, it’s, it’s really that important. And it does, it does take a rewiring. And I completely agree with what you’re saying. I mean, our whole society is based around treating symptoms in general, because that’s what keeps capitalism grinding forward. And, you know, God forbid, we get to the root cause of anything. And so, yeah, it permeates every aspect of life. And it’s really up to us to snap out of it and take responsibility to a certain extent.

Alyssa Patmos 48:25
So how do we, you know, I have two questions. So how do you end up? Do you end up being like a marriage counselor then? with clients? How do you – People?

Emily Majewski 48:42
Yes, the the focus of our business has been on finishes. So in most cases, we enter into the construction scene at the tail end of the process, which is what highlighted for me the need to get in at the beginning, because people were just like lost lambs wandering up to the homestretch. And it’s like, wow, if only there was some way to just give it get everyone a good foundation from the get go, even though that’s not my company’s role. But, but yes, of course, going things about CO creating a home with a partner is his next level. Of course, there’s lots of money at stake. There’s always lots of time, money resources at stake. It doesn’t matter whether you have a small budget or a big budget. Whatever you allocate to spend on your home will be a lot of money to you, no matter what Echelon you’re at. And then you’re entering into this minefield of very emotion laden terms such as home, what home means to you what home means to your partner, nostalgia, images for their future. You know, your your idea of success and advancing through life is all wrapped up in the home. Do you find yourself in. Um, so I do actually, the course I’m working on is in the beta phase right now, it’s chugging away at it. But there’s definitely a very important section on CO design with a partner. Because there’s a lot of things that you need to flesh out at the beginning. And if you do it the right way, it can just bring you closer together, because this personal journey you’re on, you’re sharing with a partner, you know, and I honestly tried to design all of my content in a very androgynous way, because it’s important that it appeals to both genders and that I’m weaving together more journaling and imagined Ettore exercises with more analytical kind of checklist it very rational exercises, not saying one gender is more oriented than the other one way or the other at all. We both have twin needs, no matter who we are to be rational and to be imaginative. It’s super important. But when you can do that together in a guided way, as a couple that is so powerful, because the last thing you want is a home that brings you to the to the verge of a breakup, as opposed to being just the ultimate thing to participate in together that just affects your quality of life together in every way. So yeah, it does take some finesse. And guidance helps for sure having a neutral third party to kind of set the parameters for the experience.

Alyssa Patmos 51:41
So when someone is, is, so I love living downtown, I love living in a city. So it’s very unlikely that I will end up building a home from from scratch in the middle of downtown Denver. However, we talk we had talked about some of this before I moved in inside, I’ve been thinking about it. And there are still so many choices that someone can make, regardless of if they’re starting from scratch, or if they’re, you know, switching things up and wanting to be more intentional and more mindful about it now. So do you have any tips for people listening or watching who want to design an environment that protects them from overwhelm that protects them from you know, a lot of sick affirming energy and to to help it be this more life affirming? You can tell me if you don’t agree with this, but like ground- grounding force that supports them being able to go forth and present their best self to the world.

Emily Majewski 52:44
Yes, absolutely. I mean, my endeavors has been focused on building from scratch because that’s its own unique category compared to refurbishing or renovating. But I will say in that regard, the the number one starting point towards creating a healthy space needs to be your bedroom. Because your bedroom even if you siloed that off as a phase one and just focused exclusively on that your bedroom is where your your guard is let down entirely and your body heals itself. And you’re literally your body is sending out electrical pulses all night long, and is self moderating and regulating itself and healing through its electrical pulsations. And so to to create an a safe space that doesn’t have volatile organic compounds visit off gassing has high quality materials isn’t barraging you with electromagnetic pollution while you’re healing and just eliminating interference with your healing process. Not to mention focusing on it from a couple standpoint, but really from a health standpoint as well, just that would be the place to begin, in my opinion. And then as far as you know, eliminating overwhelm as much as possible. I would say the first step to that is really defining what your priorities are and why your priorities are your priorities, and identifying what actions you need to take that are most efficient towards reaching those priorities and accomplishing them. And then once you’ve done that internal work, that’s when you can configure the space around those priorities. But you have to really be clear with yourself and come to certain conclusions of like what’s not working, what’s just busy work, what is contributing to overwhelm that is not actually helping me achieve my goals like you have to do that internal investigation first and then once you’ve identified what those parts already these are, what the actions are what why these are so vital to your goals. Like, that’s when you start the design process. Not before that. And I think it’s also very important in your space that you acknowledge within the space, what you’ve accomplished, not just what you’re trying to accomplish. Because we tend to be in this very futuristic intellectual realm all the time of, we don’t even like appreciate and celebrate what we’ve done. And, and we’re just in this futuristic headspace and feeling like we’re in catch up mode all the time without honoring what we have done within our spaces. So I think that’s also very important to do. And, and lastly, we have to recognize, particularly if you’re talking office space, or like a productive space in your home, which tends to, you know, have overwhelm associated with it, we have to recognize that we have an expansive as well as a contractive side to our minds, our imaginations, which tend to be future oriented, and not oriented towards possibilities. That’s the expansion. That’s the exhalation. And then our reason and our rationale and our logic, which tends to be grounded in patterns from the past and experiences we’ve witnessed or had, that tends to be contractive, like an inhalation. And so I believe office spaces need to be designed in such a way where our our imagination is accommodated. And our reason is also accommodated. And it’s almost like, almost to the point where you have one wall is all bulletin board for just freestyling and mood boarding, and you have like another wall where it’s like your computer, and it’s very analytical, and you switch hats back and forth and change it up. Because we can’t be too much of one way all the time, it’s important that we we allow both those sides of our mind to blossom in order to cut through the overwhelm.

Alyssa Patmos 57:08
I think two things you said really jumped out to me personally, just from what I experienced with people too, and and one of them is definitely recognizing what you’ve done in the space because people forget all the time, their accomplishments and just jump on to the next thing, always trying to fix the next thing back to what we were talking about earlier. And that’s so so, so important because that, that shows us a lot of what’s important to us because it shows us what actions we were willing to take. And one thing I would add just from from the work I do on top of people really doing the inner work to know, okay, what is this home need to serve for me is asking a simple question, What in the context of home, what is home mean to me, and going through and dumping out the bucket bucket writing that list until nothing will come anymore, and then ranking it and then going through and looking at some of those behaviors that you’re doing and seeing if they support that, seeing if your space is supporting some of those things? And then secondly, what were we just talking about at the end, it’s going to come back to me as far as the office design goes, I was gonna tell you, I actually know someone I think his name. I don’t know him personally, I know someone, I think his name is Austin Kleon. I think that’s who I’m thinking of. He is an artist, and he has three books out and show your work is one of them and steal like an artist. But I I think I read it was his blog I was reading where he actually does have two separate spaces. He has this space where he types in writes, and then he has a separate desk that’s on a different wall for the creative, intentional time. And I know in my own process, I when I’m writing my newsletters, I’ve switched over to this more recently, I write them in my notebook first because that’s just where it comes easier to me. And even though it’s less efficient, I then transfer it to my laptop because otherwise it doesn’t come as easy. So it’s taking these micro things that we know to be true in one area and then magnifying it into this beautiful way where we’re not forcing it in our environment, it becomes our environment. And I love that.

Emily Majewski 59:25
Absolutely and it’s another example of your environment being designed to create this buffet of options for you know, it’s not funneling you to be a certain person or a certain way like you can indulge in the different sides of your personality and your working styles. And so that’s where like the real intentionality comes in to, to designing an office in particular because it’s like alright, what lights me up? When do I tend to be inspired? How often can I slog away or for how long can I slog away at something good For I need to just, you know, switch tracks and change it up and, and like, yeah, just having that deep awareness and then being able to create the environment that accommodates that, not just what we’re looking at online, it’s like this is the classic. This is the anatomy and office of an office and what you need. It’s like, no, let’s set all that aside and like really look inward first, before you look outward.

Alyssa Patmos 1:00:26
This conversation has been so beautiful. And before we tell people where they can find you where they can connect with you if they want to. I would love to just ask you, because this is make it mentionable. Is there anything that you feel like we didn’t mention, that would be the thing that you’d wake up in the middle of night and be like, Oh, I wish I had said that. So anything that you feel like needs to be mentioned, right now around this topic?

Emily Majewski 1:00:54
Yeah, it’s the fact that we shape our homes first, and then our homes shape us. And that, that it our homes and our environments have such a profound effect on who we evolved into. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why designing your home is personal work. And it’s not something you can expect anybody else to do for you. Because you’re taking such a profound influence on your quality of life, on the quality of your relationships on who your children grow up to be and who you become. And, and that’s not something you can delegate, especially to a collection of strangers. And so really doing that prep work ahead of any kind of building project where you turn inward, and you block out all the noise. And that’s the first step. It’s definitely not looking at pictures on social media, it’s looking at yourself and, and to, to acknowledge, like the profound impact our environments have, which is not a very popular idea, because we always like to think of ourselves as pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, and just everything coming from within. But it’s really a balance of influence, like external influences, as well as internal, and we need to give that the credit it’s due.

Alyssa Patmos 1:02:17
And there’s a lot of hope in that too, because then it means that it’s not just something that we have to force our way through some of the small tweaks, even that you’ve mentioned in here can start to shift and let us sink back into our bodies can let us sink into and be supported by our environment and not have to force change in all these other areas or are solely intellectually, as much. So that sounds even more useful to me, which is.

Emily Majewski 1:02:46
Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Alyssa Patmos 1:02:48
Yeah. So if people want to connect with you, why should they do where they can? Where can they find you?

Emily Majewski 1:02:56
So the course that we’re working on is called embodied home design. So that can be found at embodied home design calm. So now I think you’d have a better understanding of why the focus of the term embodiment because our homes are a second body to us. So it’s all about creating an environment that truly embodies the best version of ourselves. And as far as our materials, Atelier a down here in Mexico, that’s at phyto stone calm, we focus on local projects only. But you can see some of our work and some of these human body biochemistry inspired formulas that we’ve been developing for years now. That can be found at Phytostone.com.

Alyssa Patmos 1:03:42
Awesome, and I will link all of those in the show notes so that they’re easy for you to get to. Emily, this has been such a joy. Thank you so much for being here and having this conversation. It’s something that that needs to be baked into, to how we talk about building how we talk about purchasing how we talk about enjoying our spaces. Thank you.

Emily Majewski 1:04:04
So likewise, Alyssa, thanks for all the work you do too.

Alyssa Patmos 1:04:10
You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Alyssapatmos.com/thepeel. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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