When Helen Ho was fired from her urban planning job in the spring of 2020, she knew she wouldn’t be looking for another full-time job anytime soon. The pandemic is taking a toll on our public and private lives little by little, and wiping out many job prospects for the unemployed.
“Even when I wanted to find a job,” she said, “no one knew what was going to happen. There’s nothing to do.”
Instead, Ms. Ho, 42, spends her time pursuing hobbies she’s always wanted to study: reiki, a form of energy healing that originated in Japan, and tarot reading.
She soon enrolled in a reiki training course organized by the NYC POC Healing Collective. She researched videos (“Mainly teenage girls on Instagram,” she laughs) that teach her how to interpret the 78 cards in a tarot deck that she only ever used as a “trick.” corner of the party”. She also volunteers with a small farm in New Jersey, helping them start a flower CSA. (This community-supported farming project lets people pay for a weekly bouquet in advance and pick them at select locations in New York City during a six-and-a-half-month growing season.) Professionally, Ms. Ho didn’t realize that it would eventually lead to a design change to her apartment.
Ms. Ho is a native of Queens and grew up in Flushing and Elmhurst. She’s lived in Astoria for 16 years, and her two-story, three-bedroom home costs $10. She estimates that 10 to 15 people have cycled past the other two bedrooms over the years. Chris Kearns, 33, a mixed-use consultant, currently rents a bedroom downstairs; they are getting pandemic discount from their landlord.
Mrs. Ho took over both upstairs rooms. Last summer, she moved the bed into a smaller bedroom and converted the larger room into her office, which leads to a backyard where hydrangeas bloom in the summer and vines wrap around vines.
In the spring of 2021, Ms. Ho will begin meeting with clients via Zoom and will occasionally practice with her coaching team in her home office. She also started offering tarot readings for a fee and took a paid role with the flower CSA she helped get started.
Through Flower CSA, Ms. Ho met Anna Doré, who runs an Instagram account focusing on Astoria, and hired Ms. Ho to read tarot readings at a party she hosted last fall. At the party, Mrs. Ho met Lindsay Colby, an interior designer who was looking to try reiki. The couple decided to engage in what Ms Ho called a “friendship transaction”, in which Ms. Colby would visit Ms. Ho’s house for reiki sessions and in return would provide some free design tips.
$2,980 | Astoria, Queens
Helen Ho, 42 years old; Chris Kearns, 33 years old
Job: Ms. Ho is a trader, tarot reader and reiki trader; Mr. Kearns is an incorporation consultant.
New mate found in her office: “In my office, I have a large Buddha statue that I passionately auctioned off at an auction for Chhaya NYC, a nonprofit that is working to legalize basement apartments so they can be can be used as a cipher.”
Her favorite room: “The bathroom, because it’s so small, you can’t put anything trivial in it. I think my landlord laid the tiles himself: There are six different types of tiles here. ”
After each reiki, the pair will attack a room in the house. The living room comes first. Ms. Colby suggested that Ms. Ho move her sofa to the next wall, and Ms. Ho assumed that was a suggestion, not an invitation. But then Miss Colby said, “Well, let’s move it – when are you going to do that?”
So start home makeover has opened up in the past six months. They have now extended the living room, den, kitchen and dining area. The main impact, Ho said, was the removal of unnecessary furniture and items, and the relocation of several options, including Noguchi lamps and a set of shelves made from discarded scaffolding. She didn’t buy anything new for the apartment, although she did inherit a new sofa from a friend and found a street light that now sits next to it.
This process has also helped her appreciate the things she has lived with for a long time. Ho’s walls are decorated with art: some by friends, some purchased through local nonprofit campaigners. Much of that comes from Flux Factory, an arts community space in Queens, and reflects Ho’s passion for civic engagement. In a picture hanging from her dining table, a pizza sits above two voter registration cards; it was drawn by a friend with whom she volunteered to register to vote many years ago. A living room print, which looks like a classification of Legos, is actually a silhouette collection of New York City public buildings by Elizabeth Hamby, an artist. Next to her television is a hand-painted protest sign from 2020 that reads “City workers demand justice.”
Before the pandemic, Ho used to organize fundraisers in her backyard for local politicians such as City Councilman Tiffany Cabán, State Senator Jessica Ramos and City Councilman Julie Won, one former roommate. Moving her office and bedroom means that when she can once again host these parties, guests won’t have to move around her bed to get to the backyard.
This upgrade is especially meaningful during the pandemic, when Ms. Ho has spent most of her time in the apartment after years of living in the city for most of her waking hours. Now she can appreciate and make the most of the house she built for herself.
“It’s really magical,” she said. “And it’s still all my stuff. I never knew that my things could look so beautiful.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/realestate/renters-astoria-queens.html When life changes, Reiki, Tarot and a remake house are all there to help