If you had told me that I would eventually launch a company that involves me being out in nature, creating spiritual writing kits and sharing what I know to help women like me — I would’ve called you a damn liar.
But here we are, just as Morado Lens, a feminist bruja podcast I co-founded, is sunsetting. It was on there that I shared what it was like to finally embrace my inner bruja while living with my mother, turning taboo subjects on their head, and being able to document moments in history like Standing Rock, the Women’s March, and, not to mention, interviewing Rosario Dawson, Dolores Huerta, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was a necessary and beautiful journey that I’m grateful to have been on. But I had an itch to scratch and a wild (and dumb) idea would be the first of three moves where I let my intuition take the wheel, figuratively and literally.
Minutes after getting laid off from a startup, I decided to take a solo cross-country road trip. I was a free agent and I needed to take advantage of the time. However, I was cutting it very close financially. But my intuition told me two things: I would be okay and it was now or never. She was right. I left New Jersey for Chicago, then Minneapolis, the Dakotas, drove straight through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina (over 7K miles, and over 15 cities!) and then right back home in time for my mother’s 65th birthday. I didn’t realize it until it was over, but the road trip ended up being a spiritual journey in itself.
I came back from that trip with three words: women, writing and nature. I wasn’t sure what it would become until my trip to Peru, just two weeks later. There I got to sit around with my Tia and look at old photos. She whipped out a blast from the past: a letter in Spanish to her from 8-year-old me on my very own stationery. I couldn’t believe she still had it. She asked me why I stopped creating stuff like that and I told her it didn’t seem like the thing I could live off of. Saying that aloud made me realize the limiting belief I had put on myself.
And as part of my spiritual journey, I promised to stop doing that to myself. Limiting beliefs could stay at the door. No, gracias. Spending all that time on the road gave me way too much time to think about the things I wanted out of life. Sitting in nature at some of the most beautiful national parks in the country help ground me. While on the road I journaled and talked to myself so much that I got to know myself in a way I never thought possible. Through that knowledge came peace and self-love. I was finally at ease with so much that would never change and so determined to take on the challenge in other parts of my life and all for the sake of being the truest and highest version of myself for myself, my family, and anyone whose life I happened to touch.
But don’t get it twisted, my spiritual journey wasn’t seamless at first. For years up until my late 20’s, I hesitated to embrace spirituality, especially since my both divorced parents would push it on me all the time. Growing up I heard things like, “Te falta un baño,” or “Ponte esto para protegerte del mal ojo.” My mom would discreetly leave at night for an hour or so to la casa de una amiga. After putting two and two together over the years, I knew she was going to her bruja for a tarot card reading but I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t just say that. I’ve never asked her directly why she didn’t just tell me what she was doing but my mom was notorious for never wanting to talk about anything. In her eyes, “De esas cosas no se hablan.”
Now I know that my mom was a victim of what I like to call “Catholic by day, Bruja by night” syndrome. She attends services and organizes masses for death anniversaries. But at night altars for the dead were built, glasses filled with water and alcanfor were placed throughout our tiny apartment to get rid of negative energy. Herbs were burned to spiritually cleanse our home. I now see what a privilege it is to be so open about my spirituality and still feel safe. My mom and those before her didn’t have that at all.
I came back from both trips wanting to share this experience with other women like me but I didn’t know how to do it. I only knew that it involved those three words, which I threw on a post-it on my bathroom mirror. I looked at it every day for months. I had a new purpose but didn’t know what to call it but that was when I began journaling like a mad woman to try and figure it out. So it almost felt like I had no choice but to follow a feeling, a gut feeling to be exact.
A few months later, a friend of mine was hosting a retreat, and I felt called to pitch her a Writing as a Spiritual Practice workshop. I still don’t know where this came from but I felt compelled to do it. I wrote down a program that I wished was presented to me when I felt lost. I wrote down all the questions I needed to answer that gave me a sense of purpose and joy. When I was done, I saw women with tears in their eyes wanting more and asking when the next workshop was, to which I didn’t have an answer. I hadn’t planned that far ahead. I only knew this was what I had to do at that moment. But that only made me see that there was a need for a deeper discussion that involved my weapon of choice: a journal. For me to be able to do this on a real level, I needed to be where I felt most at ease in the world — out in nature.
At first I called it Pen to Paper Retreats but when it came time to register it, I couldn’t do it. The name didn’t feel like me and so I changed it to Reclama (reclaim in Spanish) because nature, writing, and community have helped reclaim parts of myself that I thought I lost. Reclama has allowed me to share what I’ve learned in my 10+ years in storytelling, time teaching at Rutgers, and the spiritual practice I’ve created for myself over the years. In the words of fellow Reclama hiker and social media strategist Rita Vee, “I embody my highest self when I share what I have learned.” What makes my heart light up, even more, is how the eco-friendly products I’m creating embody the wisdom my family has imparted on me. My Poco a Poco Spiritual Writing Kits are dedicated to the words my mom would say to me when I felt anxious about the next thing I had to do. My Mal de Ojo Protection Kits is inspired by my dad constantly reminding me to protect my energy and myself against the evil eye with Agua de Florida from Peru, a red threaded bracelet and ethically-sourced Palo Santo. There is intention behind it all.
Taking up space in nature has also helped me take up space in other places unapologetically and journaling makes me feel like my highest self. It’s been a major game-changer. I love to create safe spaces (at times transformative experiences) for women of color, diverse and like-minded allies because the outdoors has for too long been a white, male-dominated space. I am creating the thing I wished existed in the world.
Do the thing you want to do even though you may not have all the answers just yet. Tap into your intuition to get answers that are available to you if you just take the time to listen. There are many ways to embrace and reclaim your spirituality and I just happen to be sharing my own now.
For more information on Reclama, please sign up for the newsletter here. We have ongoing hikes and retreats throughout the year. The next spiritual hike is the Healers Hike on October 27th and Reclama’s first Co-Ed Hike on Black Friday, November 29th.