Ep. 201 Belonging: The Age of Loneliness + Pandemic Parenting with Becca Piastrelli

Listen Here:

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to create more connection, community, and support for pandemic motherhood
  • The age of loneliness and intersection of individualism
  • How to re-village and shift the communal tide of humanity
  • How to re-establish the vital connection with land, lineage, community, and Earth

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Episode Transcript:

This work will probably not all be solved in our lifetime because it’s big. And my prayer is that our children’s lifetime will see a different way.

This is a Soulfire production.

Welcome back to another episode of The Uncensored Empath Podcast. My guest today is Becca Piastrelli. She was born the daughter of Anne, the granddaughter of Anne and Virginia, the great-granddaughter of Philomena, Jennie, Elizabeth, and Sarah. She’s a writer. She facilitates women’s gatherings, both virtually and in person, and she’s the host of the Belonging podcast. She teaches virtually and speaks on the nature of belonging. Her brand new book is called Root & Ritual and we’re going to talk about the importance of this belonging amidst the age of loneliness today. She helps women reconnect with their rooted sense of self. She has a partner, a child, two cats, and five chickens in the San Francisco Bay Area where she gardens, cooks, mothers, and gathers with the ebb and flow of the seasons. And so, if you haven’t already felt the warm energy that is Becca, you’re going to get to know her well today as we talk about how to navigate this age of loneliness, the importance of belonging, how to mother in a world that no longer has the traditional village of support.

I hope that this conversation makes you feel seen and heard in your own moments of isolation or of doubt and helps inspire you to reconnect to the intentional moments of every day to become deeply present and listen. Becca is somebody who so beautifully shows us the exquisite layers of being within our heart, within our capacity, within our mind, within our spirit. She embraces the slower, slower pace to life and I think there’s so much to learn from her today. So let’s dive in.

Sarah: Welcome to the show, Becca. I am super excited to be chatting with you about all things belonging, age of loneliness, motherhood today.

Becca: Yes, so happy to be here. Thank you, Sarah.

How to create more connection, community, and support for pandemic motherhood

Sarah: Mm. So I want to just dive right into sort of where we left off. And you have a kiddo, I have a kiddo, and I just remember in the…so my daughter’s six months old now and so it’s still early, but in the early, early days, this thing that had been told to me all my life around it takes a village and this idea of village of support for motherhood. And it’s not that I don’t have people in my life that love me and it’s not that I don’t have people in my life who care for me and want to support me, but I feel like the village in the way that it used to exist, in modern-day, it doesn’t exist the same way anymore. I would love to know your experience with that as a mother and how we can start to create more connection, community, support in the land of motherhood.

Becca: Yes. Wow, six months postpartum. I’m 14 months postpartum and I’m just remembering it’s such a unique experience for every human. But I’m just remembering where I was at six months tender. I went right back into work because of this little book I came out with.

Sarah: Yes.

Becca: But I actually had to take a second maternity leave around eight months because it was too much too fast and my baby hit a real sleep thing. So I just want to very publicly give you permission to go back into the cocoon at any time. Just so you know.

Sarah: That’s actually really wonderful to hear you say that because I think that if there was this desire to do that, there could be massive resistance to actually allowing ourselves to do it.

Becca: Oh yes, it’s so much shame. Yes, and this is…okay, so this, just to get to your question, oh, it’s all related, the fact that you and I are pandemic mothers. So there is a particular pain we’re experiencing as it comes to being quote “without the village.” And it’s quite romanticized in these times and that’s not to take away any of the pain. I sometimes get a little frustrated when people create online communities or claim that they are the village, they’re creating the village again. I think it’s triggering for me because of me feeling of a loss of it. But here’s what 14 months of motherhood has taught me: It’s gone. It’s gone and we have to rebuild it. And then the research I’ve done in my own life pre becoming a mother in it for this book has really taught me our individualist, rugged individualist, nuclear family, living in our own home, which is primarily the case for those of us who live in the Western world, North America, for a lot of us who identify as white, is killing mothers. I use the word killing, right? I mean, how many times have you thought about, oh God single mothers? Oh my gosh, single mother. I actually don’t know if you’re a single mother or not.

Sarah: Oh, so, oh my God, Becca, I have to tell you this. I am not a single mother, I am married. I have a wonderful husband. But he, in two months, is leaving for seven months. And so, I’m not just daydreaming about, oh my gosh, I can’t believe single mother. It’s on the horizon and definitely has my nervous system going, okay, how are we going to do this? How are we going to do this?

Becca: Call in the village. I can’t believe I just said that’s impossible. But no, I can, I can because it’s imperfect. It’s imperfect but we need… I think there’s a grief I’ve felt particularly being a pandemic mother of just it’s never good enough but we still have to reach out for it. It’s never going to be good. And there’s so many reasons why, right? So, going back to just the history of humanity, humans have been around for this long period of time, right? And for those of you listening, I’ve taken my hands so they’re the width of the screen, right? And then now I’m taking my hands and I’m making an itty bitty, little, tiny, little centimeter between my fingers at the end of the screen. That’s how long it’s been for capitalism and all these things that have convinced us, we need to go it alone and be alone. And if we are suffering, we haven’t figured it out yet, right? That sort of energy.

Whether this is motherhood, or getting through illness, or burning out in a job, there’s so many experiences we have where we feel alone and not good enough. I think you and I are just relating to a particularly visceral pain. And the truth is we were never meant to do life alone. Community, communal ways, interdependence is the way we’ve survived as a species. It’s also the way the whole living world; trees, mushrooms… There are a few animals that survive on their own, but they got to breed to make more. There is a communal structure inherent in our survival. And so, what I think isolation and a pandemic has done, no judgment on it, it’s just true; what the isolation of being a new mother does, what the isolation of this culture of being alone in our homes trying to figure it out and be the best we can be and win has created this age of loneliness, the Aromasin that is really defined in these times.

The word lonely, as a chronic condition, as chronicled in human history in the written word is new; literally the last 150 years. It’s new. So I was writing this book before I became a mom. This book, Root & Ritual, that I’ve written is about the fact that we live in the age of loneliness and so many of us feel a sense of unbelonging. And then you and I, as new mothers, man, that dials it up just like to the max where it’s just… Plus we’re all on social media in the middle of the night, either nursing or changing a diaper, whatever it is, comparing ourselves and really thinking. I don’t know what you felt but I’m just going to speak to what people tell me, what I talk about with mother circles, and in my own life is a sense of I haven’t figured this out. So yes, I think you’re right to be bracing for this time of single parenting and I think it’s really essential.

I mean, I had a postpartum doula for 10 months and I paid a lot of money for that, which I was able to, and it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough. So there is a grief. There is a grief I want to give us all permission to feel around or having people want to show up and not showing up in the way you need and not knowing what you need but knowing you need something. And it’s just, it’s a messy time to be alive. And we’re so lucky to be on the internet talking to each other today and sharing vulnerably on our social media feeds or wherever because this is an opportunity to change the tide. And it maybe doesn’t mean communal living like our ancestors did hundreds of years ago, but it is a way of revillaging and recreating community in a way that fits our lives now.

The age of loneliness and intersection of individualism

Sarah: Mm. There are so many things are coming up for me. The first I’m reminded of, last summer, I took, I don’t even know if you would call it a course. I was in an experience with a black woman who led us through anti-racism through our enneagram type. And through that experience, I learned that part of the culture of whiteness is individualism, is I can go it alone, I don’t need anyone else. And also there’s this what I do isn’t the same as what other people of my same skin color do. If they do it that way, then that doesn’t mean anything about me. And so, this individualism, especially for white women, is really being triggered through what you were sharing. I’m like, okay, yes, this is inherent here right now, at least at this time in our lives. And I’m also thinking about women wanting to be CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, healers, and have their career.

And I know for me, and I have straight up just told my husband this; I said, honey, I have resent for you. I resent the fact that there is so much more pressure on me and my job sometimes feels like a, mm, negotiable component of our lives and his is not. It’s not negotiable. And I’m just curious how you may relate or speak to some of those things. And then you were touching on at the end of your point there, how we get to revillage, we get to change the way this village, this communal living looks today. And how can we start to do that in more maybe creative ways, considering that it’s a very technologically advanced social media world that we live in?

Becca: This is what I want to talk about all the time; just not about pleasantries. Can we just get to this because this is so important? So yes, I had myself on mute because I was clearing my throat, but when you said that, I was like, uhh-huh. Yes, I can relate so much and I think we need to speak the truth as women. And resentment is like poison in a partnership and if we don’t admit it’s there, it will eat us alive. And I know. So I can relate just literally this week. So we have a childcare full-time, usually a nanny, and she got COVID. And so, she has to isolate, she’s doing great. We’re all okay. I think by sheer miracle, none of us got it. But so, there’s no childcare. We’re recording this the week before my book comes out. I have commitments like with you and I have the quote “less critical job” of the two of us between me and my husband. And that is, I guess, true, but oh, I hate it.

Sarah: That doesn’t mean you don’t feel things. Yes, you still feel all the things about that.

Becca: I hate it. Yes, and so, I have just been realizing, and this has been talked about for the last two years; mothers bear the brunt. Mothers bear the brunt. And I’m just like, ooh, I am feeling that so much. So yes. And then him, just speaking, he’s like, I don’t want you to say that. That hurts. And I’m like, I need you to be able to hear me because this is a systemic thing, you know? This is so much more than just what’s true between you and me and this child. This is a systemic thing. We become the default parent and we have to drop things. And so, I’m just really interested, when I had my child, I just felt like a real disintegration of my old identity. I’ve had to close most of my business and now I’m in this place of I want to create a new way of working in the world where I can be way more flexible. Because this is a universal truth, right? She’s going to get sick, the nanny’s not going to be able to come, whatever it is. So I also encourage that for you in these days to come as in how much flexibility you can build into your way of life. Oh, were you going to say something to that?

Sarah: I just want to say one thing here I feel is important. Because I don’t know how you’ve been navigating this time, but for me, there’s very much a draw to be both, or the word ‘and’ is coming up like CEO ‘and’ mother. It’s not that I don’t want to be there with my daughter, it’s just that I, because you were talking about flexibility, and I’m shaking my head like yes, flexibility so that I can have it all. And I feel like the only way that we really then can have it all though, is when there are systems of support built-in, when we have a village, when we have the people to depend on when our child is sick or we have to schedule an important meeting or something. And I was so mad at the way that motherhood was portrayed to me through social media and even through family lineage and my pregnancy leading up to it because it felt very much like I wasn’t going to have a choice to have it all. And I started to get very frustrated, annoyed, just angry. And that’s been part of my paradigm shift, the mission I have for at least myself right now is no, no, no, no. I get to have it all, but I’m going to need support in order to do it.

Becca: Yes. I think those of us who have the financial accessibility to support need to use that. You know, need to use that to create a new pathway. And I honestly think the secret to this having it all or being able to be a present, conscious mother and a business owner is to do things a lot slower. I don’t know about you, but postpartum slowed my life way down. And I fought it for a little bit and now I’m in this place of like, wait, no, this is the pace of nature. We are moving too fast in patriarchal capitalism. And so many of us get anxiety and caffeine addictions and insomnia. I’m married to one. And it’s actually just the pace of robots and tech. You know, the pace is actually picking up. And something I realize is our human bodies and nervous systems are ancient and primal and are not actually able to process the trauma of these times, the information overload, and the pace that’s expected of us in quote “successful business” or “work” or “career.” And so, I think what I’m pondering is a slower life and to not make that mean I’m behind or doing it wrong. What if it’s like less is more, slow is fast, and that’s the way to do it. So, then call in support in multiple ways. Absolutely…absolutely.

Sarah: That’s what I’ve noticed is life has slowed way down in the most delicious, beautiful way so that I can savor the moments with my daughter. Her name’s Emmersyn, we call her Em J. And within my business, my action steps and my energy are much more pointed, they’re sharpened. They’ve been focused into the needle-moving activities. And a lot of the fluff has really disintegrated and melted away because there’s no capacity for that right now.

Becca: Yes.

Sarah: And it feels like a way better and more fun way to be doing business that motherhood was the initiator of that for me, but part of me is like, why didn’t I do this before?

Becca: What was I doing before? That’s what I think. What was I spending all day doing? Yes, I know. So earlier this week I did this thing on Instagram Stories where I was like, here’s the deal: I have no childcare. I got to work. Here we go. My baby just went down for a nap. She’s teething so this nap will be short. I’m going to tell you at the end of this how much I got done. And I got so much done.

Sarah: Oh yes.

Becca: And then I was like, oh, it’s a superpower. I get it now.

Sarah: This is a superpower. You know, you were talking about slowing down too and that we are not meant to live this fast. Our nervous systems have a hard time integrating. And the people listening to this podcast are empaths. They’re highly sensitive; they have neurodivergent minds. So even arguably more so than the general population and neurotypical people, these neurodivergent minds need extra time to process, digest, integrate all the things that are happening in our surroundings. And I was scrolling through your Instagram this morning as I was breastfeeding and contact-napping with my daughter because that’s usually when I do the research for my podcast interviews and do a lot of work when she’s sleeping on me these days. But you did this, I think it was a reel, that was really beautiful. And I, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was a term you used was ‘intentional wandering’ maybe. And it was just this beautiful video story of how when we slow down, you can really notice some of that beauty that is right in front of your face, right outside your door.

Becca: Yes, purposeful wandering. Yes, that’s a term I have to give credit to one woman named Wendy Yalom who’s an amazing photographer. She travels the world taking pictures of people. And she always, when she lands in a city, she would just share photos from her purposeful wandering. And I was like, huh, that’s actually really powerful. And I integrated as a practice in my life as someone who has really tried to keep up with the pace of this world and it’s never worked out for me in my body. On paper, I could do it. And I often struggle with, I don’t know if struggle’s the word; I often get feedback like, wow, you really do it all. And I’m just like, I really can’t have you thinking that. Here’s what’s really going on in my nervous system and my relationship and my eating habits. This is where it’s not serving me.

And this thing about…I’ve been reading more about neurodivergence and how it’s diverting from what’s typical here, right? The system that has us at this pace that how many people are really thriving at that pace? I question it. And even if they think they’re thriving, are they? I’m making a judgment that they’re not. But I think you and your audience are probably tuned into something that is ultimately going to move us through into a new paradigm because this system is collapsing clearly, which is yes, a different pace, not operating so binary and really making space for what our primal, ancient bodies, nervous systems, souls are actually wanting to access and wanting to experience.

Sarah: Mm-hmm. Yes.

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How to re-village and shift the communal tide of humanity

Sarah: So let’s get back to that revillaging and also talk a little bit about what’s in the book because I feel like there are probably so many tools in there that can support us in creating a greater, deeper sense of belonging and connection in this age of loneliness.

Becca: Yes. So the book is divided into four parts: land, lineage, community, and the self. And these are four areas that in my life experiences of feeling like I didn’t belong. And it’s not just I don’t fit into the crowd. It’s like, uh, I’m not sure I fit here in this time. I don’t feel connected to the living world and I’m embarrassed about that; my body, my ancestors, I live on stolen land. There were so many ways I just have experienced in my life a sense of not belonging and then a sense of being existentially lonely.

The community section is about how what I said earlier in this interview is we are inherently communal beings and it’s not just we need to hang out together. It’s like we need ritual. I mean, I have a whole chapter, thank you pandemic, that is devoted to death and how we as a death-phobic, sickness-phobic, discomfort-phobic society need to reacquaint ourselves with being with that together. So revillaging is just actually a very layered onion that I’m peeling constantly because it takes a lot more than just we all need to get along and be together again. It’s like we actually need to go on a deep journey of uncovering. You know, you mentioned whiteness and how it’s contributed to a severing from what we, you and I both identify as white, right? forgot, and what our ancestors were separated from. They were separated from each other. The women, I mean, just read about the burning times in Europe to know that is a huge origin of women not trusting each other. I have a chapter on meaningful friendships in adulthood, which is actually quite a challenge, right?

You can look at the history of land enclosure in Europe to know that the reason we fear plants and want to spray Roundup on them and think that mushrooms will poison us is because we have forgotten that is our first home and that we are not separate. Nature is a colonial term. We say go out in nature as if we are not a part of it, as if that is not who we are. So yes, revillaging is looking to the ways we are never alone. I have a whole section on ancestral connection, which is so much more than just genealogy. It’s like, you know who else are our ancestors? The mushrooms, the stars. It can go so deep. And it is deep and it’s important.

Sarah: I think it’s so important and I think it’s a conversation. I literally told you when you first jumped on, before we started recording, I’ve been looking to have this conversation and just trying to find somebody to have this conversation with. And I’m so glad that you popped my inbox or your team did so that we can start having it. And something stood out to me when you’re just speaking as well around this almost discomfort, cultural aversion to death and dying and that whole process. And I’m going to maybe layer on top of that even people’s pain, people’s discomfort. And again, speaking to the empaths who are listening to this show, we can get uncomfortable with other people’s discomfort because we can absorb it like a sponge and take it on as if it’s ours. And we’re like, ooh, that doesn’t feel good so I just, I’m not going to be around that person, or I don’t want to talk about death, or I don’t want to think about dying.

And Becca, you probably don’t know this about me and my story, but both my younger brothers have died. And so, there was this initiation into grief and death that I didn’t ask for but was one of the most healing things for me in my life in this lifetime was being able to sit in the discomfort, hold myself in this discomfort, let other people hold me in my grief. And so, now I feel like I can be a better conduit for that for other people, but I think that there’s still so much of that cultural aversion towards these things that are inherently uncomfortable. And how can we start to support each other, even if we don’t know what to say, even if we don’t know what present or gift to buy, or what to bring over to somebody’s home when they’re going through pain, discomfort, grief, death? How do we navigate that?

Becca: Mm, I’m so sorry that happened. And so, I haven’t had an experience like that yet. I say yet because death is coming for us all in our communities.

Sarah: Yes, it’s inevitable.

Becca: It’s an inevitability. And what I’ve begun doing is collecting people like you; people who it’s touched early on in a really visceral way who have something to say about it. Because I think, particularly in generations before us, there’s a real cutting off. And I think that capital ‘R’ religion sort of does that too, right? Just culturally in so many areas, it’s just like we do the thing and then it’s done. And I think of the Italian grandmother and the son’s like, don’t make her cry. Don’t talk about it. Don’t make her cry. I don’t know why that popped into my head but that image. And it’s just I think people like you, I can really feel it. And I have two other friends who are just like, let me tell you what’s inside here that you all aren’t willing to look at. Let me explain to you the depth of this grief because what I see now in the world is like the veil is here and we are not looking at it. And there are so many people out here suffering and given no space; none.

It’s one of the reasons why I’m…so I took a course in death midwifery. I’m interested in home funerals, which is an ancestral practice. That’s the origin of the living room and the parlor. The living with being, you know, just bringing our dead into our home. And I know some of you are like, this is edgy, but be with me. This idea that like…just think of Dia de los Muertos. There are ancestor days all over the world and particularly in cultures that have held onto their indigeneity. Death is as important as birth. And I think we live in a culture, you and I have just given birth recently, where birth is so exciting and then death is so scary. And I get it, I’m terrified of dying. I’m terrified I’m really looking at it. And this past summer, a beloved member of my community died, and it was sudden, and it was gnarly. And trying to track what I can say to honor their privacy and what was left behind is raw. I wrote a chapter on it and talk about it all day, but I am stumbling in my supporting of them.

And I have a friend, who I just feel is so similar to you, had sudden losses in her family. She checks in, I mean, she goes, stay in it, stay in it. The worst thing you can do is run. And I’m like, I’m doing a crap job. I don’t know what to say. She’s so, this friend of mine whose husband died, she’s so…uh, there’s nothing I can do to comfort her. And this other friend who’s the grief tender is like, there’s nothing you can do to make it better except just be there because grief is bottomless. But if we don’t grieve, this is why I’m so interested in this, the cultural indigenous, I’m using these terms to really mean attach to earth and lifeways of ancestors, the role of the village griever, like in Ireland, there’s keeners, public wailers who do it for the community. This still exist in some parts of the world where there is a communal ritual around the grief. We’ve lost this and I don’t know if we can get it back to a place of wholeness in a sense of we all know what to do and we do it at the right time. But I think people like you need to keep talking from the place of pain and I’ll just keep listening until I’m in your place.

Sarah: Ah, you speak about this in such a beautiful way, even if you haven’t been there yet. I want to mirror that back to you. I think it’s really powerful. And I remember one of my best friends’ father died really shortly before my first brother, Jordan, passed and she put words to something that I could feel the power of what she was saying but I didn’t feel it in my bones yet because I hadn’t been there and I hadn’t lived that yet. And it was almost like God, spirit, universe put her in my life to help bring some of those words to me and prepare me for what was to come in my life. And then when Joe, my other brother, died, I was passed on this book by one of his loved ones by Francis Weller and it really rocked me as far as the way that we have stopped including ritual, especially around grief, but I would say ritual in so many other areas of life too. We’ve gone away from that; we’ve gotten away from it. And he really talks about in that book, ‘The Wild Edge of Sorrow‘ is the name of it, and he talks about the importance of ritual in processing our emotions and having space for that.

And I appreciate your raw honesty in that we have gotten away from that sense of community and that ritual. And, like you said, you don’t know if we’ll get back to that. And part of me feels really saddened by that because I remember even when I…I’m 33 years old, and even as a kid, it was drastically different the way that we would have community in my neighborhood growing up compared to the neighborhood I live in now and the way that people interact with each other. I feel like it’s already changed so much in just 33 years. And at the same time, I feel like there’s space for us to maybe redefine it and create it in new and innovative ways so that we still get that need met. Because on a basic level, as human beings, we need connection, we need love, we need belonging, we need community. So in the age of social media and technology, what are some ways that maybe even you have personally found belonging and connection in innovative ways?

Becca: Well, first of all, I want to say you and I are mothers so we have descendants embodied, right? We both have daughters. We have descendants embodied here. And so, I have found the way I can contend with these big pains and these big problems that I’m desperate to find solutions for is to think beyond my lifetime and into hers. Not to assign her a task that she, you know, may… That’s her choice, right? Thinking about my daughter. But to think about this work will probably not all be solved in our lifetime because it’s big. And my prayer is that our children’s lifetime will see a different way, will feel… I mean, at the pace technology is going, I just have to think something will break in some way. I don’t know if it’s actually break or a break in their choosing of it. I really do see it coming, especially with these reports that are coming out from Facebook or Meta, whatever, about the effect it has on the mental health of teenage girls in particular.

So yes, that’s my first thing is to really play a long game here. If we’re privileged to be elders, we’ll be on our rocking chairs speaking to whoever comes next. In a way, it’s like carry it forward, which is sometimes hard for those of us who are like, I’m a solution-oriented person. But these are big, right? So then tools and ways I’ve cultivated for getting the needs met, right? Because there’s also I can’t live in this existential pain. This whole reason why I started these things and writing this book is because the pain hurts. So this book is filled not just with my stories and research, it’s also filled with recipes, journal prompts, rituals, really tangible things we can do, all of them offline, to cultivate a deeper sense of meaning, regulating our nervous systems, bringing a sense of connection back into our lives.

I think the most important thing we can do and I think speaking now I know more about your beautiful audience is there’s a way we can slow down and connect to the earth, to our ancestors, to community, and to our bodies in little tangible ways. It’s like little wins. So it’s putting our feet in the earth, it’s practicing fertile listening, listening to a friend or beloved one speak and just emptying ourselves of all expectation of having to fix or give advice or seem worthy in their eyes and just witness them as whole, writing a letter to your body, massaging your body and thanking every part of it for keeping you alive, making an altar to your ancestors and cooking a food they once ate and sharing an ancestral potluck with all of your community.

Actually, that’s a great idea for a community gathering because more people are like I want to have more meaningful gatherings that don’t just involve wine and reality TV and shit-talking. And it’s like, ask everyone to bring a recipe of food from their ancestors and hear the stories behind them. So I just give these little tangible ways to walk the journey. Because these big ideas can be disarming and I don’t want us to be in paralysis anymore. And I think a lot of the times we are in paralysis or that freeze state from overload of our nervous systems and of information and of our brains. So let’s just slow it down and do thing by thing.

How to re-establish the vital connection with land, lineage, community, and Earth

Sarah: I feel that so deeply. And there’s been this internal call and craving that I don’t even…it didn’t really have a clear voice within me for a while, it was more intangible. And then it got louder and louder and louder and became more tangible. We’re moving tomorrow from Colorado to Michigan and the high-level purpose of that is my husband got a new job. But underneath that, there is a longing within me to be back on the soil and the land of Michigan that is fertile and allows me to raise my daughter and build a farm and have animals. It’s been a dream for years now and I put it off and put it off and put it off. And it’s just gotten so loud that now that I have a daughter especially, like you were talking about, the generational inspiration, motivation to do this for them. And now that she’s here, I’m like, okay, we can’t. We can’t put this off anymore. I need to go and I need to get my piece of land and I got to get my goats and we got to plant our flowers. And I want her fingers and her toes in that dirt, in that soil, and I want to be more connected to the land.

And I also think about the components that I know you speak to at least somewhat in your book, around lineage, ancestry, altar for our ancestors, even the story behind dishes like you were talking about. And I can’t help but also think of myself and other people who maybe have some trauma, some disconnect, some mother wound, some father wound, even just the politicization of COVID and tension and families right now and, ahh, it’s a lot, right? So how do we stay connected amongst or amidst the circumstances that we might be in on a more just 3D level?

Becca: Hmm. Well, first of all, I want to say, literally same. Looking for a farm right now.

Sarah: Oh, it’s calling my name so, so strongly.

Becca: Yes. Isn’t it amazing giving birth to a descendant?

Sarah: Yes.

Becca: I use those terms because it’s like it’s that real. It’s like, okay, what are we doing? Let’s move towards the vision, huh? Let’s keep it going. So, oh, I’m so excited for what happens for you in Michigan. It’s beautiful. The number one question I get in this little virtual book tour I’m on is about the trigger around ancestors if there’s trauma or adoption or through the enslavement of ancestors, not able to really access information. Yes. So I hear that so much and this is what I always say: We have millions of ancestors…millions. You just think like you go up to the two people who had you and then each of them had the two people. There’s ancestral math going on Instagram right now like a meme and it’s like you can visually see, you know? And that’s a lot of humans, and before them, more than humans, right? That’s a lot of people. And so, that’s a lot of different hearts, experiences of life, traumas, triggers, all that stuff.

And so, this is where practices around energetic boundaries are so important. Calling in the bright and well ones, making sure that unwell ones, this is like a spiritual practice, are not welcome into the space, right? Whatever it is. And you don’t have to interact or call upon or connect with or say the name of anyone who it’s just like a no, for sure. The healing work is breaking the cycles moving forward. Again, more motivation with having children. Whether you have children or not, you have impact. There’s chosen family to impact in what moves forward. So this is not an ancestral healing book, although I’m very, very pro working in ancestral healing work. The modality I work in is ancestral or family constellation, which I find to be really powerful because I too come from, particularly on my matrilineal line, talking about mother wound stuff, some real dark stuff that manifests in my own life where I’m just like, uhh.

So some people have to just energetically cut it off. Fine. You don’t need the pictures of your beloved aunts and grandparents on your altar; put stones. Bring in the nameless, faceless ones, the mighty dead. There are so many. Because all of these people lived so you are alive. You’re alive because they lived. It’s a freaking miracle. And there’s harm done and there are beautiful acts and most of them we’ll never know. But in this, the greater context here is the ache of unbelonging and a sense of being disconnected in these times and maybe even a loss of purpose. And I find that engaging in ancestors, whatever that term can mean for you, it’s a very broad term, can bring more deeper meaning to this moment we’re in now.

Sarah: Yes. I think what’s really landing with me with what you just said was that because they lived, we are alive. And if we start to visualize or go find whatever that thing is that’s circulating on Instagram, the visual component of what that family tree looks like, I can only imagine how many different lines and strands of our existence would show up on that. And that in itself is powerful. And you spoke about chosen family and that’s what I was thinking when I was first asking the question was there is power in our chosen family and the people that we choose to surround ourselves with and even make new traditions and rituals with those people in our life.

I’m running out of time but I really want to talk about one more thing, which is that in a more capitalistic society, and you talked about it, we’re not meant to maybe go so fast, go, go, go, go, our nervous systems, but there’s this emphasis on speedy, fast productivity. And there’s also an emphasis on needing to get to the next level; growth, growth, growth, growth, uplevel, uplevel, uplevel. And I saw you recently write and share about, obviously, growth is powerful, but there’s also space for sacred completion. There’s room for completion in our life too. And we already talked about slowing down a little bit and that even that purposeful wandering. And I’m so excited to open your book because I would love to see some of the other more specific kind of rituals and recipes and things you have in there, but for the moment, I’d love to just zone in on the space, the purpose of completion in our life amidst the chaotic spiral upward.

Becca: A favorite topic of mine. Because just like I have a whole former life of climbing the corporate ladder and really, really trying so hard, baby Becca trying so hard to do the continuous growth thing and feeling ultimately how wrong that was, like just knowing. And so, there’s this concept of biomimicry looking to the natural world. And I don’t know if it’s really mimicking it but embodying it ourselves because we’re not separate from the living world. And so, okay, so I’m moving my hands up like in the continuous growth. So this is the belief of capitalism; grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, right? And then actually the pace of the natural world is like this; so I’m going my hands are up, inhale, my hands are going down, exhale, hands are going up, inhale, hands are going down, exhale. I like the inhale-exhale because that makes me remember to breathe, which is just a constant thing I’m trying to do.

But just think about the seasons for those of us who live not around the equator. But even the equator has its own experience of seasons of life, of the new life of spring, and then the death of autumn. And you and I are talking about life and death. They’re both guaranteed at the same level. And so, completion is really like a death, a beautiful death, honoring that things do complete, that we have seasons of inhale and we have seasons of exhale. We have internal winters where we need to be literally in the void and then we have springs and they may align to where we are in the way the trees look outside our window or not. I’m just coming out of a real intense internal winter. Like I said, I had to just go back in the cocoon. And I calmed down for this winter too, going back in. And that thing that I wrote that you’re asking about was me really understanding this was about closing down a lot of my business, was like I trust spring will come again and right now my whole body is telling me don’t push it. Don’t push it, it’s a season where you need to just really tend to yourself and resource yourself.

So that was me honoring a death ritual really or a completion ritual if that feels a little easier to say, I understand, and to really resist any belief, particularly if you’re marketed to by these fricking dudes on the internet who are like grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. I’m allergic to it. I used to be so into it. But I’m allergic to it. That’s not sustainable. And I am here, I got a fricking child to worry about, and this growth mindset has really done a number on our planet. And I want her to breathe good air and drink clean water, and live a life of wonder and pleasure, and be in her body in a way that feels safe. And so, I cannot subscribe to a continuous growth mindset.

It’s so interesting with business too. I love that you bring business into it. How do we design, because I’m thinking about designing my business in a new way, how can I design my business to sustain me and provide for what I want to give in the world and experience in the world, but not have this continuous growth mindset that is ultimately destructive to bodies, to mental health, to the planet? Yes, what’s regenerative. I’m always just so curious about that and I’m in process, but I just remind myself the pace of nature is seasonal, is cyclical.

I am dropping in to tell you about my most recent obsession, the Chagaccino by Renude. I’ve been drinking these every morning for several months now and they’re so freaking good. They are vegan, keto, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, non-GMO, sustainably harvest, zero junk, and the ingredients are clean and simple. They include a hundred percent wild-foraged chaga, raw cacao, Ceylon cinnamon, and monk fruit.

Now, this can be added to two shots of espresso, it can be added to your daily morning coffee, or you can just put it over an iced or steamed plant-based milk like I like to do with my gluten-free oat milk. You can also add it to matcha, to smoothies. So you can get really creative with how you use these delicious packets that are the Chagaccino. I’ve been carrying them around with me everywhere and I’ve been introducing other people to them as well.

There are incredible benefits beyond just how delicious it is. They have the highest antioxidants ever measured inside of chaga. Each packet has the equivalent of three pounds of blueberries’ worth of antioxidants. There are also anti-aging and beautifying benefits because of the high melanin content in chaga. There are benefits because of the alkalinity. Chaga is the most alkaline food on the planet due to its vast mineral content. And we have new research that is showing that chaga has been highlighted because of its therapeutic potential as a natural antiviral treatment against COVID. We will link that study in the show notes in case you want to take a look.

But in the meantime, if you want to go grab some of these, can I say it again, delicious packets, go ahead and visit www.drinkrenude.com. Use the promo code empath at checkout for 15% off.

Sarah: Oh my gosh, I have loved this conversation and I’m already just sinking into there might need to be a part two because there’s so much to dive into in this conversation because there are so many nuances in the way that we experience life in this society and now the year 2021, right? And, mm, just thinking and feeling into how, if we all invited ourselves to immerse ourselves in the rooting and the ritual that you talk about in your book, if we invite ourselves and commit ourselves to slowing down, to understanding and honoring lineage, earth, nature, even though we’re part of nature, right? how that could impact us on an individual level that then ripples out into our communities, our families, globally, all over the world.

Becca, what else do you want to share, do you feel called to share about the book, the inspiration for the book? And then I’d, of course, love if you can let everyone know where to buy it, how to get it in their hands.

Becca: Yes, thank you. I would be so down for a part two. Interested. Yes, so the book is called ‘Root & Ritual: Timeless Ways to Connect to Land, Lineage, Community, and the Self‘ and it’s beautiful. It’s a beautifully illustrated book. It’s illustrated by a wonderful illustrator named Amy Grimes who lives in London. This is not a read it and read it in a few days and you have knowledge now to move forward with, and it’s not like 10 steps to belonging. It’s an experiential book that you pick up from time to time and dive in on a chapter, bring your journal with you, and explore. And it’s meant to be on your altar, on your coffee table to really invite you into a different way of thinking and being. So that’s the invitation. That’s the invitation to you, dear listener.

It’ll be out by the time this comes out. So it’s out. Yay. I wonder how I’m feeling. Hopefully celebratory. It’s been quite a journey to do this. But yes, so you can get it anywhere books are sold. Yes, bonus points. Call your local bookseller and ask them to stock it, particularly because I hear this holiday season with the supply chain issues, it’s going to be way more local, which I’m like cool. So…

Sarah: Bring it on. Yes.

Becca: Yes, bring it. So yes, I thank you for listening to me and I thank you for buying the book if it feels exciting to you.

Sarah: Ah, I love that. And I just had this realization in my brain is that you birth this book alongside the birth of your daughter, didn’t you?

Becca: Literally the manuscript and my due date were the same week. And then I got the book deal and then I got pregnant a week later. So yes, the book is dedicated to her. It was just like this was an us thing.

Sarah: Right. You co-created; collaboration a hundred percent in that process.

Becca: Yes.

Sarah: Ah, so cool. Ah, doesn’t it make you so excited to see, not in a that you need to choose for them, but just to let it naturally unveil and evolve who your descendant, who your little one, who your daughter, in this case, is going to become? Ah.

Becca: Oh my gosh, I know. Do you just stare at her and you’re just like, what are you going to be like when you’re a teenager? What’s your face going to look like when you’re 10? Oh my gosh. Oh, it’s just…yes, it’s freaking wild to realize what we’ve done. It’s a wild, incredible, ecstatic, magical thing.

Sarah: Mm. In my personal take and opinion on the time we’re in right now, is that a lot of the babies that are coming down earthside are also here to help heal the planet and bring a different frequency into the way that we’re being and the way that we’re living. And I at least feel that in my daughter so strong.

Becca: Oh, I tried for three years, had several losses, I almost gave up. And then, Atlas is my daughter, and she was just like, I would like to be born in 2020. Okay. Are you sure? Okay. Yes, all right. I know. And when I went into labor, literally I live in California where we have really gnarly wildfires and the land was burning, and she was like, I would like to come now.  I’m like, okay, here we go.

Sarah: If that doesn’t say something about her personality, right?

Becca: Oh yes. Oh yes.

Sarah: Ah, I love it. Oh my gosh, I am just like mm. I’m smiling so big because I’ve just loved this conversation so much and I so, so appreciate you coming on to have it with me. Thank you for being here. And just so everyone knows, we will link all the things; where to find the book in the show notes as well as how to connect and get to know Becca more. Becca, thank you so much.

Becca: Thank you.

Follow Becca:

Instagram: @beccapiastrelli

Website: www.beccapiastrelli.com

Podcast: Belonging

Purchase: Root & Ritual: Timeless Ways to Connect with Land, Lineage, Community, and The Earth

Connect with Sarah:

Instagram | Facebook Community | Pinterest | YouTube 

Work with Sarah:

Online courses | 1:1 coaching | Send show requests to sarah@theuncensoredempath.com!

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December 2, 2021


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