Health & Fitness:Mental Health
Welcome to Guest Episode 5: B**** Church: Reclaiming Spirituality & Community
Transcript PDF here and below.
*** Transcript ***
I have two guests, today I'm really excited to have this interview and welcome them here. So we're just going to start with who you are. And I'll let you just introduce yourselves sharing like some identities that you hold, what you do in the world.
Jessica: My name is Jessica Escobedo and I'm your assistant woman biracial, Mexican and white. I am a chef and an entrepreneur and a meditation teacher and I'm just starting to offer a little more one-on-one coaching with people. I could say so much- I'm an auntie and I have a puppy. I don't know how to say- I'm a dog owner. I feel like that's such a big part of my identity these days. I feel very identified with that story.
Nico: It might be a cat mom coming up soon so I can feel that pride there. Nurturing small life. My name is Nico, Nico Nelson. I'm also a cis gendered woman, I identify as woman. I'm biracial as well. I'm Viet and European mix. I am an artist so I'm a photographer, videographer musician, I'm a writer. A little bit of a jack of all trades. You know I'm also an activist and houseplant mom and a content creator. Creation is my joy and my love and it's part of how I like to serve and bring myself to the world. And you know, as a kind of side part of me I'm a yoga teacher as well, though that's like a dicey identity these days. Yoga has just really been a huge part of my healing and journey. So I really just honor that lineage and do my best to just share that and and offer it pretty freely, as a part of my service.
Lisa: I know that both of you said that you're both biracial and Nico's mentioned that that's a part of like a lot of the conversations that you two have like had together and connected around and I was just curious to hear more about that and some of the nuances that come up with being biracial.
N: Yeah, I think that being a biracial person, I mean it's always been there but I think as I've gotten older and become more aware of myself and more more in the search of like who am I, you know, the thing that we do is we start to like awaken in our consciousness. And realize like, okay we have these bodies and there's like maybe something called a spirit in them, if we believe in that, and like what is it all mean? and where is our place in the world... That questioning has been really up for me these last few years. And you know, I think as I've gotten more and more into social justice and more and more, you know been able to not turn away from the violence and the disparity and the polarity of what it means to be essentially like of European descent and then like everyone else, in this country that we call America some call Turtle Island. Yeah I guess I've connected more with social justice and that this world, it's just made me call into question even more like, what am I? You know, and it's interesting when you're biracial because I think that you - I - you know growing up- I'm American. Right, like I grew up on MTV and Sunday morning cartoons Harry Potter (and we don't talk about JK Rowling conversation- I want to bring that mess in here). But you know, I grew up on Harry Potter. I grew up on these very like to me felt you know pretty like American childhood things. And I didn't really feel like I was part of any culture, in particular, besides the TV music culture you know. I grew up listening to a lot of R'n'B and hip hop and pop and alt rock and stuff. And I guess this journey is like trying to find my culture, trying to find my place within culture. Knowing that like you know pop culture is one thing, but heritage and history and tradition and ancestors are something very different. And it's not been like a clear-cut journey for me you know. I knew that I wasn't white growing up but I also didn't really particularly feel like I'm like "oh yeah, I'm like AZN pride" or anything. You know I was just me right like a person, a human being. And you know and I still feel like sometimes our culture and our rules and stuff can be really limiting on ourselves when we try to shove ourselves into boxes. You know and even saying like I'm biracial like that could be a box. But- but I think when we're talking about race in America because it's such a like anything goes and like I'm this and I'm that and you know what are we? and where did we come from? and colonization and war and genocide and all these things. You know, it's like I understand too, just how healing and how beautiful it's been to connect to my heritage on both sides. Really to look at all of it you know and to embrace the fullness of like "yes I am me, I'm Nico". I'm a very individual being and like here's my history, you know. And it's very much a part of how I can move forward and how I can love myself.
J: one of the things I was thinking about it, and one of the things that I was like, recollecting on is like how I like- same as Nico- like I didn't have an identity growing up. It wasn't talked about in my house. I grew up mostly with my Mexican family. My grandma helped raise us for some years- like that Mexican culture is a huge part of who I was. And I'm also light-skinned and white-passing, but it wasn't talked about. It wasn't talking about in the household or like normalized or like contextualized and so very confusing growing up. I always navigated to other mixed-race biracial people cuz it wasn't like something we talked about but it was like there was a shared experience. Like OMG like a lot of mixed Mexican and white friends, so many. Me and my sister , my sister, you know, not so into this as I am but like she hasn't done a lot of the same work. But it's just interesting to think about. One of the things I think I loved about Nico, where we bonded, is we both are people who have done some work and some reflection around reclaiming and having a connection to our heritage and to who we are in a way that feels good to us. And like, owning, like understanding some of the some of the nuance. Like I think that's something that's really important to name and to understand, is biracial and the biracial mixed-race experience is so nuanced. It is just so, it's like every person is very different. And so to have somebody who can speak to their own experience, like Nico, in a nuanced way, like with a certain level of insight and understanding. And just like, how her history played out and how she's choosing to relate to that in this moment now. Yeah it felt really bonding and kind of like a relief. Like okay, like there's so many spaces where me talking about my racial identity is complicated. Like depending - it could be a very rich Latin community or it could be a very white community. And it's still a little complicated, depending on the group, depending on their level of understanding around these topics. I think it was really freeing for me, and it felt really good and bonding that we had this shared experience. I'd like to grow more, I think as far as communities. Like I think once you start the process of reclaiming, it feels good to like reclaim your heritage in some way. And then it's like, you kind of find your people. You know, Nico pointed a little bit to belonging. Like belonging, it's hard for all of us and all kinds of ways, but I think being mixed is definitely a layer. And it can be a thick, funky, heavy layer. So to have something that plugs us in from this place. It's like oh I get to be all of this and be in community and have a sense of belonging, and know I have other people that understand. It's just, it feels like a really important piece in the puzzle, at least of my life. And I imagine, all mixed race people.
I don't know we're all kind of a spectrum of understanding and owning and reclaiming.
L: Thank you. I love that you bring up the reclaiming piece, and that's like a big part of what this podcast is about. In all different kinds of identities. Like I'm adopted, and so like looking at that piece and reclaiming my own identity around that.
Part of the reason I reached out to Nico initially was because I saw a post that she made about this offering called Church for B****** Who Church. I already knew Nico is awesome and doing really awesome community stuff always, creative and art things. And I saw this and I was really excited to see this community kind of space.
What is this? and why did you start doing it? and what is the process been like?
N: I'll start because I feel like I kind of planted the seed for it, and then it was like we watered it together and it became what it did. I just think that for me it kind of started with this desire. You know I think in this time of staying home, I just saw so many people just being like, you know what I'm going to do the thing that I've always wanted to do. I've just been too damn busy and too damn tired and too damn scattered to do. And I've been thinking for a while about just wanting to create spiritual-leaning community. We're not doing like an OSHO thing here. But like spiritual-leaning where we're into something more than just the basic. It's like I wanted something where I could practice sharing something that was really meaningful to me. Like I said, with my yoga practice, like it was something that was really close to me. I did a yoga teacher training, I've done hella retreats, like all kinds of reading and stuff like that . And just developing this practice for 10 years. And I was like, this thing is so important to me, it gives me so much, and I just don't really share it. You know, I mean it was just okay, like you don't have to, but there was a call to just share more of myself. I knew that I wanted to do it not alone because I really love working with others. And I knew that I actually wanted to do with Jessica. The next logical step was like, not alone, oh Jessica! Because we just have such a great like chemistry and like we're just bad*****. Like we just tag team with s*** and get it done. Like I worked with her in the kitchen like a bunch last year. You know, as she mentioned, she's a chef. And just the way that she holds a space is brilliant and healing and real and just so special you know. And I knew that I got so much out of being in the spaces that she held that I was like "oh yeah, we come together, like this is going to be amazing". And so I just reached out and then we were kind of like "oh maybe it could be a church thing". So it blossomed from there. But maybe Jess you can share a little more about how that grew.
J: yeah yeah it was organic and I love that like I just like I had some other kind of group that I was doing that was just a lot it didn't need to end for many different reasons and I was sad and I was you know having the feels cuz it was something really cared about and then Nico was like holding space around my process and and she was like I might do too soon but I have this idea and like you know kind of like drop the bomb on me you know I think I think I took I wasn't like I'm a slow processor like I like to take time and reflect on my decision but it wasn't pretty clear yes to work with me go a yes to you know we had thrown out some ideas of what we might want to do together I knew like I had brewing in my heart for many years that I like I love women's faces I love them spaces and I have done like that's another me week a reclamation I've made is to reclaim my womanhood and I've done a lot of work and I feel good about it now you know and I love those spaces but also like I think for me I love that and I mean I think there's so many things that I'm doing inside myself and a space where like you you don't f****** hear my voice you know I come from poverty. I talk in the way I talk and I've done a s*** ton of work and I have all this you know all these different identities and like I'm not usually the voice. I'm not usually the meditation teacher. I'm not usually the space holder, and I know that. But I want a space like I think for me like for what I can really be authentic I can bring all of my stuff I can bring hoodrat Jessica who loves like spirituality and saves and I love meditation and I can bring you know Jessica, chef Jess, who has a sailor mouth, and like you know, all these different parts of myself. I have had a hard time finding like spiritual communities or wellness communities where it really felt like those different parts of myself were welcome maybe they nurse one part not another so it was like it's all good to me to have a community where I came our space where I can talk to showing up in that really funny but I know there's other b****** out there that f****** talk like me got more in my car anyway finally you know like ain't even a spiritual more kind of a wellness spiritual space where we can talk about systems of oppression and it's not something I got to educate a whole space around a bunch of stuff like I can say the word of question I can say the word patriarchy and it's very you know we're attractive people want to come to b**** Church they're already prime for that third they love that I just and I feel so yeah we've just kind of keep evolving it's got a good synergy I love working with Nico I've been working with a lot of men doing coffee facilitating and doing groups these are the f****** sweetest dudes but she is killing it as a coast facilitator what it's like to work with a woman of color opposed to a white sister standard man you know I could talk oh we could spend the next hour and the rest of our time together me talking about that but it's just it's I really I want to focus on the positive with her.
N: But you know I think that's the beauty too, is that that's healthy. And it's just like with what Jess just did right. It's like we can acknowledge it because it's there. Like yeah I was s***** and then we just bring it back in . We just bring the focus back to like what we want to create and what we're grateful for and all that. But it's like we're not pretending like the s***'s not there. Like it's not upsetting like it's not like we're not recovering the both of us from being in spiritual spaces that wanted to strip us of parts of our personality, of our parts, of our desires, parts of our needs, and our identities. And I think that a lot of people can relate to that probably. I mean,there's whole documentaries about this on Netflix right now and continually and I think that the wellness-spiritual sphere just needs more voices, it needs more diversity. It needs more of every experience to show up and speak out and say yeah this is my perspective. I think we just feel like we're maybe a big, or maybe just a small part of that, of just showing up and being like "yeah this is how it is for us like". Maybe you relate, maybe not, that's okay too.
I want to speak to one more thing that Jess dropped in, that I want to just highlight too, is that there's this piece about fullness, bringing our full selves . And that it's like the spirituality that I was fed like I lived for a few years in Santa Cruz. It was a very predominantly white spiritual community. I mean, they're amazing people, like don't get me wrong, like I think everyone was really kind-hearted and everything. But yeah it's like I felt like there was this, kind of "well we love you, but like we don't like the part of you that's a little bit like negative or cynical sometimes, we don't like a part of you that's maybe like sarcastic, maybe a lot of the time. That really like learning over the years as I sort of extracted myself from a certain way of thinking and being that like spirituality is about fullness it's about embracing everything and seeing everything as a part of why we're here and a part of love and connection and humanity and life. And using it all as a way to just experience more and and to be more here and that really you know I think for a long time it was about like accepting that fullness. I was like, okay, I accept this. And Jess and I have talked a lot about this. It's no longer just about accepting, it's about how we can celebrate it and how can we be in spaces, create spaces, and connect with other spaces where we can be radically celebrated and radically celebrate others. That's a lot about what we're about right now.
L: It's like breaking the, like teaching tolerance.
N: Yeah, we're breaking out of that. That's old paradigm. (Laughs)
We're like moving on.
L: So what is B**** Church? What do you create?
J: I think we're still defining it in some way for ourselves. My hope, my wish is yes it's a space for women to come and to be in community. That's a really important piece and to nourish together and grow, like grow and be. I've talked about I'm part of all these other healing spaces but I love to be able to talk about the specifics of the challenges of being a woman. There's so much of our pain, of our struggle, of our karma that rooted in and s***** f****** conditioning around what it means to be a woman. So to be able to speak to that very directly, very openly, feels really good. Even something hella basic like we have a little check-in and I just love to be able to say like I'm hormonal. My periods going to come, and just to be able to name it, freely, openly. I really think there's an importance of having a part of me that wants to be able to do that everywhere but I don't think I'm fine as long as I have it here. Everyone's different. for me, women's spaces are really important. It's a really important part of my identity. It's an important part of my experience that I love to talk about and speak to. And I love to hear. Yeah, part of the way we operate is how Nico and I work, and I think this is very anti-patriarchal especially with spiritual spaces. This is group wisdom. We'll drop some reflections and there's always space at the end for people to share their own experience, their own wisdom, and I feel like that's my favorite part of group. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how it is, which that's how groups can go, especially if there's a white man in front. Its like, yeah, this is my experience and what's yours? and I actually get to learn and grow in that.
N: I love that. And we're notorious for running on like non-colonial time. So pretty much what this group is to me is, you know, church. Right, so it's like we called it "church" for a reason. First of all, it's on Sunday morning. You know, growing up - my mom was totally like colonized Lutheran and tried to get me to go to church, and I went to church. And I was like, I don't know what they're talking about, like this speaks to nothing- none of my experience- none of it. And I am tired, and you know what, these chairs aren't comfortable. And you know, it's like so much of it was like not being in my body, not having my experience centered. Right, so I think church for me is this place where, not only can I go and be in my body with other people, so we're like alone together - which I love alone together - like being an extroverted introvert like I freaking love alone together. Because it's like just the space to be with one another and I think what's great about church. I feel like we sort of all just sort of like drop the roles in a way. Like we just show up. Some people show up and they're like just quiet the whole time, they're like I'm just taking it in. And there's just like a space to just come as you are with what you have in the moment. Literally, like financially, emotionally, physically. Like come with what you have and get taken care of. And I think that to me is what I love about women's spaces. And particularly something I've felt with Jessica, like I said. As we've done this like grueling manual labor in the kitchen for like 12 to 14 hours like a day, you know, getting through it. We wouldn't have been able to do that without the level of just care that we had. I certainly felt it from Jess, I don't know if she felt it from me but I certainly felt, just so cared for emotionally, physically, spiritually... Like we did what we needed to do and I feel like that's what church is. Like we just care for each other it's just like a couple hours we can come, and get cared for, and care for one another. And that to me is like the most anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal s*** that any of us can do. It's just, care for ourselves and one another, no strings attached.
J: I always have loved like slow f****** Sundays you know like reflective on your cup and I think that all humans crave that sort of connection in that way slower and there's so many flavors of church don't work for most of us.
N: Flavor! It cannot all be vanilla. I went to the ice cream store last night and I was with my partner. And we're looking at the vanilla flavor and we're like man, have you ever really gone to an ice cream store and just got vanilla? Like maybe, maybe there's probably people out there that do, and that's why they have it on the menu. Right, but it's like you go and you're like I want a split scoop and I want this one on top and this one. You know, it's like you get to customize. Right, and I feel like that's the beauty of what we're doing is we get to customize our ice cream cone. We're like, yeah I want a little bit of fudge on top, and then I want some sprinkles. Screw it, I like to throw some Fruity Pebbles on there. Like that might be weird for some people, but I get down on that.
L: So you already know touched on it a little bit but what this podcast is about like an overall theme is how can we acknowledge each of our own histories and the past and everything, our identities? And what is our vision, what do you see for the future?
J: everyone needs to do their own work. Everyone. And then we talk about it, we normalize it. And once you do your own work there's a little little bit of clearness to actually be present and to be able to look for actually reclaiming our joy. I think adrianne maree brown, yes- to envision a future if goodness. And specifically- I think it's so important to each of us for happiness and for our well-being, that we see us in how it looks, how we look, how it would be for us individually, kind of being part of this change and part of this goodness.
N: I love what you said. I'm just kind of reflecting it back, just being able to hold a vision. I think you have to have some level of self-worth, some level of self-love, some level of belief in yourself,in order to even access the ability to whole a vision. Cuz some of us were like this s*** sucks, it's continuing to suck it has sucked, I don't see anything else. You know, I mean that's where I was like maybe 10 years ago or something like that. I was just like, man life is just hard. Survival was what I could reach for. And thriving? Actual growth? Actual like a plant that's actually like blossoming and like spreading its leaves and expressing different shapes and colors? Like that was not accessible for me before I started my healing journey.
I think I just want to say like chosen community feels very powerful to me. As somebody - being biracial, just being me - I'm kind of a weirdo. I mean like by standards of normal- can all my weirdos, just like give a moment and like raising the roof? Like, we're out here, we live amongst you. And I don't fit into any box really. And I don't aspire to. And I think that so much of my life, so much of our lives - I can't speak for everyone but I can speak to the experience of maybe going through public school, or maybe if you're in the system you know like foster care system, maybe you've been in the system like the prison system, it's like so much of these systems that we're in (which it's funny I equate with public school - prison pipeline is real). Just that mentality, military things, like there's all these systems I think that really just try to make us manageable. They want to strip away anything that makes us difficult: our feelings, our needs, and wants, our expressions, our piercings, and tattoos, and gender fluidity, and like all the things that make us living beings. And I think that growing up, I just always felt like I needed to just go along with what was available. The people that were available, the resources that were available, the structure that was available, even the like extracurriculars that were available. Right, like ain't no body at my school like whittling. Not that I'm a whittler, but maybe I wanted to be. Like that wasn't available. Now it's like the power of choice. Of choosing the people that I want to hold me, that I want to hold, that I want to do work with, and I want to dance it out with, and I want to jump naked into rivers with, that I want to organize with, that I want to take social action with. The ability to empower myself to choose my community, to choose my friends, to choose my experience. That empowerment comes with time. It's come for me with time. I would love to see just more and more and more of that in the world. People just feel empowered to say this doesn't work for me, I want something else and I'm going to get it. It's not easy to do that.
J: I want to normalize. I love that you're speaking to that, and it's not easy. Like Lisa and I, we talked at the beginning about the norm, and like stepping out of that. And I think there's been so many places that I've been in choice and I've stepped out to honor what wants to be expressed in me and who I am. I crave that so much in this world. It's not that people don't want that -this is my kind of personal opinion- I think that people have such a hard time with conflict. And difference breeds conflict. And that's not a f****** problem, unless you f****** don't know how to deal with conflict. Actually, if the more diversity you have in a community, the more conflict there will be. And that's not a problem unless you don't know how to deal with conflict. And so I wish so much for the world that we weren't so scared of difficult conversations, of negotiating needs, and boundaries in different ways. As humans we love connection, we love being in community, we just suck at it. Finding like tools and things and ways, where we can. I love different. I love having spaces where there is a lot of diversity, not just racial diversity, just diversity of opinions. And where there's actually enough of a culture and a container that can actually hold that, which is actually really rare. And it has a lot of diversity. And maybe I'm a little compassionate too it's like maybe that's why we have so many issues. And of course, we don't know how to deal with the stuff that comes up around differences.
N: Enjoy it. Right, like can we actually really dig how different people are? And it's hard to. I mean sometimes it's like people are different in a way - like we're talking about like people maybe who support like Trump, or maybe fly a Confederate flag out their window. Or whatever. There are people like that out there that are a little bit like, how do I meet this difference with some level of compassion or love? And I don't know, I don't know the answer to that. But I feel like that's something that we're going to have to come together around and figure out what that's going to look like if we're going to survive.
L: I'm going to have to interject. I was just in Michigan, and there's a lot of Trump supporters. Part of it is just- the curiosity. Like curiosity can take us so far, just by being curious and asking questions. If we already just decide something or make things up about people, which we all do, right there's no room to grow or rooms for compassion or to connect.
J: I love my neighbors and he looks like they're all Trump supporters he thought he wanted the houses and it was really interesting internally in relationally and like how I talked to them and how like part of me want to be like no, f*** that. I love f****** chatting with my neighbors, are you kidding me? I'm not going to let go of that. So it's like really interesting and also I think everyone's different, but it's like because they're my neighbors and my safety is important, like if we start to go in the direction of politics, I kind of consciously choose to kind of reel it back. I'm not going to talk about that with them, that's not a safe conversation for me to have. It's not really where I want to go and I think there's a lot of wisdom in that.
N: I think his name is Daryl Davis. I learned about him from a dharma talk and he's black. I think he's still alive. He convinced like 200 people to leave the KKK. And it started with him just having a conversation with this white guy, and like Lisa said, he met the conversation with curiosity. He just asked a bunch of questions. He's like, oh that's really interesting. Why would you think that way about me? Where does that come from? and over time and having these conversations...and I mean this guy's a saint- like I'm not recommending any of us approach KKK members. Like that is terrifying, especially if you are black. Not promoting that at all, but it's an incredible story of just someone who was really brave, extremely compassionate, and had a lot of patience to be able to be with a person. While they unraveled all of the lies and illusions, they fell apart like "yeah, I don't know why I'm doing this actually". I think in a lot of ways like that it feels like the way forward because fighting each other just isn't getting anywhere. And it's just hurtful to everyone. And sometimes it's necessary. I'm a bit extreme but like I support groups- like if the government is pointing guns at people- like us being armed makes sense to me. But it's like it's like martial arts or something. It's like you learn how to use things but we always have the power of choice of how to be in a situation. And I feel like we're learning right now that we can't afford to just polarize each other forever. Because we need them on our team, we need everyone on the team in order to win. It's the only way.
L: Totally. Where this conversation is going cuz a lot of these I mean this is what we're living in right now and it's I think everyone's having these questions of like how can we move forward. And we can't leave people behind- we need everyone.
N: Some people may choose to stay back there, but that's their choice.
J: curiosity and yeah I'd like to be able to remain open and yeah that feels like a dance in a moment to moment dance with different people in different contacts I think there's definitely some situations you can go into a little bit more and have a little more of a deep conversation there's also a little bit of wisdom and you know holding back on it and I believe this because of my own personal healing journeys but change and true healing happens slowly and I think that same for our country and this is not a way to like you know not hold people accountable and systems and stuff like totally apps so f****** movie and the truth is I do think change happens I'm very hopeful for change and I do think it will happen solely yeah and I think I want to speak to you just one thing about just bringing up Darrell Davis and like thinking about this but it's like we have ideals right we have people like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or crazy horse or we have like all these ideals of people who really held such a high standard of integrity in the way that they walked in a world of suffering and difference and war and poverty and racism right we're not all that person right like I mean they're people like that like come around once in a blue moon and we're like wow and I think that there's there's examples though for us you know and that really it's a work in progress and then it's like only the more that we see those examples the more that we look for them you know when we're looking for the solution we find it right when we're looking for the problem we find it I just think that humans we have a negativity bias like that's the way our brain works for like what's not working what sucks like let's go there first stop that you know that's programming that I'm working on in my brain it's like no let's that's Orient words what we want the Orient towards the healing Orient towards what feels good what's joyful what feels safe and what feels doable that I think is just as we turn our attention that way as we have these conversations as we continue to create spaces as we continue to refine our our vision our Focus that the solutions naturally come and their organic like we talked to you know just talked about earlier this organicness like I think that to me is a very like anti-patriarchal anti-capitalist anti-colonial way of doing things that there's not this outcome-based thing where we're just like I want it so like we just have to whatever it takes we're just going to get that outcome and it's like this kind of thing like it's a process it's a co-creation we're co-creating not only with each other but with you know if you believe with God with Spirit the Earth you know with the freaking Stars I mean it's such a we're so interdependent and we're so like deeply reliant on everything around us that it's like we can't force or push this like it's going to have to be a group decision it's going to have to be a group like tuning a group movement and so it's it's I just think that that's what we're we're working on right now you know on social media and our communities like with our families with our friends we're we're just trying to like Orient more and more towards yeah what we want and it's very it's so possible you know I don't know how long it will take but we're moving that way for sure whether we like it or not out of necessity really at this point but not going back yeah this conversation it's like that's painting painting the vision for the future what that could look like and it's so rich to like to have this conversation and to to grapple with the the challenges like the real like things that come up you know like for me it's I'll come into a conversation feeling really passionate and like like you're saying make like wanting a certain outcome like I'm going to teach them I'm going to like I'm the good one and then am I really holding compassion to actually create change in that conversation and then to speak to something that you said Jessica about the well both of you the slowness like the building of it right I started noticing that in these conversations it's going to take a lot of conversations and really just building those relationships as a basis first you know.
J: People are processing a lot. Things have been hard. We all know this. And it can feel wrong to be hopeful for the future. And Nico pointed to this a little bit. I just want to give a little bit of advice or suggestion: connecting to Joy now. And I want to give people permission amidst- I mean I just got evacuated, I thought my family house is going to burn down, and my studio, and super challenging. I've been very impacted. A lot of people I know have lost homes. And it's still okay for me to dance and laugh. Yes, grieve and cry and all those things. And I'm going to enjoy my strawberries from the farmers market. And you know, find little access points into pleasure, into joy. To me, I can really feel like when things are hard. Like oh my God I need to f****** figure this out. And you need to feel it, of course, feel free to let it move. And also I think it's so important, especially while we're going through so much. Find your joy, whatever wakes your heart up. Whatever kind of does it for you. And I guess for me that's a pathway to being able to feel like there is some hope in the future. To actually kind of come back to like right now.
L: It feels like we did a little preview of church today. Because you talked about how we have models, we have people. The question is: are there certain resources like whether it's books or people, or movies that have been really inspiring to you that you'd like to recommend to everyone who's listening?
N: I would like to put a plug in for the show POSE. You know because it's like I mean it touches on so much and it's such a deeply emotional, like the stories are so emotional. And it's in the midst of like basically revolving around a party everyday where you win prizes based on like the level of too-much-ness you bring into a situation. I think that we - I just feel like I've learned so much from looking to and at the trans and lgbtq+ community, black community the indigenous community. Because when we look at the people who have been most oppressed, most objectified and you know all the violence directed towards, we definitely see how they've been able to thrive still under these conditions. What do we find? Joy, we find celebration, we find "okay you want us to hide well we're going to come out and be so in your face that you can't do anything about it". So I think that show really, for me, was like looking at all the ways in which I play small in order to be palatable for the world. And that I don't need to do that. And in fact, the pathway to more joy and happiness in my life is to turn up my too muchness, is to turn up my freak flag like and fly it high. And just celebrate life. Because even in the midst of police shootings and pandemics and raging fires and global warming and climate change and camps where they're holding children away from their parents, and there's just such horrific things happening in the world, and we can't turn away you know. I mean we can take breaks don't get me wrong, I can't just always be in that mode of being like I need to feel that all of it at once cuz it's so much for one person to really feel. But just that when we look at those things it's like we don't need to punish ourselves . Like that's not the way to heal us, that's not the way to fix this. That we can look to examples you know and it's just deeply healing to see, as we're looking more at TV and films to see people's voices and stories really being shared. In a way that's just like, we're not going to use euphemisms, we're not going to use actors who are straight and then they're going to play a gay character, or an actor that cisgender that's going to play a trans person, or someone who's white that's going to play an Asian person. I mean we're not going to do that anymore, we're going to really see peoples' stories, celebrate them and learn from them. Learn a s***-ton from them.
And I will say, one other thing for me, like memoirs are my favorite thing. I've learned so much about experiences that are different from mine from reading them more. It's like I'm reading the Autobiography of Assata Shakur right now. Very slowly but I'm reading it and it's just it taught me a lot about the prison system and everything someone's story who went through it. I learned a lot about my own culture, more of a Vietnamese woman from the war called If Heaven and Earth Changed Places. I learned a lot about reading the autobiography of Malcolm x. Memoirs are a super rich way to really get personal with experiences of big topics that can feel a little heady and textbook when you're just trying to read the history of it. They've been hugely instrumental to me, as a person.
J: For me, everyone's so different. Like we all need different medicine, different karma, different biology. For me, finding a meditation practice has been super duper helpful. Super helpful to get me to get a little still, get a little inward. Non-Violent Communication that has been so helpful. And I am so lucky there's a couple really killer teachers here in Santa Cruz that I love and I actually got connected with. I read the book years ago and I loved it. And then I got connected cuz I'm a retreat chef, and so I started cooking for the retreat so I during my breaks from the kitchen going and soaking up their workshops and everything. So over the years I've really done a lot of practice, and that has really changed my life, changed my relationships, and I just think it's a wonderful modality. I will give a disclaimer - it can get f****** cheesy. The delivery is cheesy sometimes , like they use puppets and stuff that doesn't always speak to me, a lot of role playing. Some of it's great if you can kind of let go. I haven't been able to let go of with all of it but regardless. I'm really into relational healing and so having a way to communicate, a way to express myself, and to meet other people, and to listen and to stay in conversation giving me a toolbox. But I feel like my meditation practice and it's imperative for all that first for me to be slow enough to kind of notice what's going on, how I'm going to respond to this instead of react. I think everyone should have some type of somatic practice: yoga, dance, something that helps move energy and in our body that kind of touches into more of the whole in our emotional experience as well that can be expressed in the movement.
N: I did want to just plug Jessica as being a really incredible person to come to when you're about to have a difficult conversation. And she does this not only for me, but for a few of our friends. She's coached us through like how to write a difficult email, and she's really good at it. So I just want to put that out and I know that she's stepping more into working with people as a coach like one-on-one to express this part of her and to really offer this great gift that she has and I just think it's something so interesting and I would never have thought that I would need it until I met her. And I was like oh my God like there's so many instances where I need someone to like walk me through this because I'm so charged. I'm so upset, I'm so not in my heart place. Anyway just a huge resource that I would really promote and plug.
L: How can people find you? What other offerings do you have? How can people support what you're up to?
J: My website. which has everything about B**** Church, it's got my meditation offerings and then offering one-on-one Services, that's exciting. I'm starting to promote doing more one-on-one work with people. I am a meditation teacher with a collective called the Dharma Homies. We're a teacher collective and so there's DharmaHomies.com. So we have all kinds of offerings, my meditation offering you can check out the schedule. I do on Monday through Friday sits. I've started to do a couple of different ones throughout the week but that's kind of the main one I've been offering since Covid started. I thought it was going to be a couple weeks but we have a real solid sanga six months later. And that's really helpful if you wanted to have a regular meditation practice. We are doing a workshop, Nico and I are really excited. It's called Claiming Our Space: Identity, Self-love, and Allyship for Mixed Race People. We just got all our promotional stuff together so we'll be promoting it soon and it's a space for mixed-race, biracial people to be in community, with our identity, reclaim, celebrate. We're going to do a lot of reclaiming and celebration and come back at the end of how to be an ally. I think we're so much more powerful, I know from my experience as an ally, if we know our own s***. If we know our own identities, if we know our own histories there's a way that we can speak from our own experience and with a little more confidence and clarity. Because racial issues can get heady and when rubber meets the road in our lives, heady-ness doesn't really help so yeah we're excited about that and you can find that on my website to sign up, Jessica-Escobedo.com.
N: I feel like I kind of came in a little frazzled and now I'm feeling just more settled and excited about the future and that's always a good feeling to come out of a conversation with.
first of all comes church if you're some identified you don't have to be like a cisgendered woman to come to church we have a variety of folks that come that just identifies them and can identify without experience and feel comfortable in space so we're really really open and in that way and inclusive we freely offer the space like honestly like working on tips for like strippers y'all like we're working on tips and you know what we enjoy it we really do and get a lot out of it ourselves and so all are welcome all are welcome and then for me and you know I'm primarily an artist so a lot of the work that I've done one of my biggest offerings right now is right now quote" it's been put on hold because of the quarantine but I'm going to you know I'm going to be opening it back up here but I do these body positive self celebration sessions with people all types of people and it's most women so far but you got a body and you want to celebrate yourself you're in let's do it and they're really these like it's just like an opportunity to really like envision for yourself what you want to be seen as what you want to celebrate what you want to love what you're stepping into what you're breaking free of and they can get a little like boudoir like some people do like the lingerie thing and sometimes it's just it's not even about that you know it's just about wanting the experience of being seen and I think that that's a real deep need for me and I can imagine it's a deep mean for a lot of people and I vision with folks and we get creative and it's just fun you know just like play time in front of the camera so I offer those you know in the show notes you'll find my website as well where I offer all my photography and film work follow us on Instagram you know I love connecting with folks on the gram and seeing what y'all are up to and you know that I think it's really important to use the social network as a social network and we forget that this whole thing is supposed to be about socializing. It's supposed to be about communicating and getting in touch with people you've never met before across boundaries and borders and states and you know finding your community in a whole kind of futuristic way looking forward to that.
L: Thank you
J: I will put a plug real quick looks like we'll cook I'm going to sneak in for Nico's photography and I did I have I've been in front of the camera and we've done some like kind of empowerment kind of photo shoots for me and check out my website those pictures and they are killer but really made my website and it was very transformative to be in front of the camera for me to celebrate myself and for somebody else to kind of hold space for me stepping stepping into dogs here and I can I can plug for both both of you these lovely people in the space that they hold together just like this conversation so beautifully held it's like a real errant that is so meaningful for me and I think everyone and I just want to thank you both for my heart for this conversation and for really like like slowing it down and taking it deeper I tend to like get really excited and just you know go through it for your presence for who you are in the world and what you're creating and how you're connecting with people and really appreciate you and this conversation
N: thank you, thanks for having us.
J: Yea it was super killer to be on here. Even just reflecting on the questions, it was helpful. It was very, very meaningful for me.
*** End interview ***
Episode 13: social work, child welfare, and self-care
Episode 12: coming out & finding your happy
Episode 11: finding our voice and storytelling
Episode 10: Season 1 Live Show Review
Episode 9: food justice, masculinity & writing history
Episode 8: Passing, Portals and Personal Power
Episode 7: Zensuality and Movement as Healing
Episode 6: Decolonizing Mental Health
Episode 4: Bilingual Gringa Privilege
Episode 3: Cultural Appropriation & Lineage
Episode 2: Discovering Ourselves
Welcome to Voices of Metamorphosis
Guided Sleep Meditation & Sleep Hypnosis from Sleep Cove
The Mindset Mentor
Sleep Meditation Bedtime Stories For Grownups - The Golden Collection
رواق / Ravaq
The Dr. John Delony Show
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