Last year on Halloween we launched Real Talk Universe (see letter below). At that point we had a month’s worth of blog posts written and one podcast recorded, and we weren’t sure what would happen after that. With an audience consisting mostly of family, friends, and colleagues, we decided to write and talk about topics most millennials frequently pondered: careers, dating, family issues, body image, traveling, and more. Grounded in our belief that life incarnations seek to resolve karmic issues, we considered these seemingly ordinary millennial life contemplations to be nothing short of spiritual lessons in the making. When we framed our blogs and podcasts this way, people told us:
It’s a relief to know spirituality can exist outside the walls of church.
It’s nice to be reminded that I’m in control of my life.
I’m glad people are talking about how millennials approach ideas differently.
I feel less alone knowing other people are like me and “get it.”
This last piece of feedback is an important one. In an overpopulated world with so much technological connection, offices full of colleagues, and noisy neighbors left and right, how could we feel so disconnected?
Over the summer, when our idea tanks started to deplete and it seemed as if we’d written every perspective about mindfulness, energy, breakups, and minimalism, the universe introduced ecofeminist theory into our lives. It began during Juan’s research into the California Institute of Integral Studies’ PhD program in Women’s Spirituality, which offers an emphasis in ecofeminism. A few Google searches about this spiritual, feminist philosophy led to a deep rabbit hole of research, where we find ourselves today.
We both became strict vegans. We began purchasing exclusively cruelty-free products (or making products on our own). We found answers in the film Moana and in Carol J. Adams’ book The Sexual Politics of Meat, which offered language to articulate the disconnection we felt from parts of our society and ourselves. As we learned more about the hierarchical, oppressive nature of the world we live in and how the patriarchy requires it to be that way, we learned how we, too, fell victim to the patriarchy’s goal of fragmenting reality.
You can’t be whole if you’re fragmented. Year two of Real Talk Universe challenges us — and you — to seek wholeness, which we choose to explore in ecofeminist contexts.
This work began as spiritual work, and it remains as such. The evolution of ourselves as people, as scholars, and as souls coincided with the perfect timing of learning a theory that was meant to change our lives forever. Real Talk Universe will continue focusing on everyday experiences that are indeed spiritual experiences, now with the recognition that systems of sexism, speciesism, homophobia, transphobia, hierarchy, capitalism, Christian privilege, and racism, among others, ensure our individual and collective fragmentation. When we acknowledge this fragmentation, how will we move forward in the pursuit of wholeness?
Our wholeness is a challenge and a choice in almost every space we occupy and every identity we hold — from mother to daughter, supervisor to employee, partner to partner, friend to foe, pet parent to animal, consumer to environment, and everything in between. We believe spirituality offers the ultimate connection to ourselves, to one another, and to our natural world. As two best soulfriends, we experience the miracle and mindfuck of spirituality on a daily basis. Our stories will end up on this website. As always, you are welcome to join us for the ride.
Juan & Charise
Real Talk Universe
November 5, 2017
Something special led you to this site—and we’re glad it did, henny!
If you’re like us, you have lots of questions about the planet we call home and what lies beyond it. When we reflect on our lives—the people we’ve met, places we’ve been, and ideas we’ve contemplated—we can’t help but think, Damn, this is interesting.
Before we knew better, we believed our lives were a darkly comedic tale of surprises and patterns, so we naively wrote off events as coincidences. After all, everyone who uses an unprotected Ouija board becomes a host for a dead Spanish woman’s soul and travels to Texas for an exorcism, right? Everyone unknowingly moves into their former boss’s apartment and sees the envelope containing his living will, right? (The answer is no—no, they do not.)
For a while, we misunderstood the concept of divine timing as grave misfortune, unwilling to accept the reality that the universe was using a steady hand to place us exactly where we needed to be, exactly when we needed to be there, on our journeys to experiencing the life that was always meant for us.
The seeds of this discovery were well planted. In summer 2011, as seniors in college, we took a literature course that would change our lives forever. Our professor created the syllabus based on texts she saw sitting in a bookstore window—“meant to be,” she called it. One of those texts was The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo, a book recognized by many to be inspirational and “life-changing.” When most people read this book, they change their habits for one day and quickly revert to their former reality. For us, The Alchemist modeled a way of being we could not unsee. The world suddenly became a sanctuary of secrets hidden in plain sight, and we wanted to learn them all.
Years later, after many lit incense sticks, retired Angel Card decks, appointments with psychics, visits to the Barnes & Noble metaphysics section, and a shitton of therapy, we’ve built a physical and mental catalog of what it means (for us) to be a spiritual millennial living in a largely disconnected world. We live in an evolving society with more people than ever identifying as spiritual-but-not-religious. There’s no church for us. But we don’t want a sacred text or a book of songs; we want to create a place of love anytime we connect and exchange ideas about things that matter to us.
Real Talk Universe is our virtual fantasy of a place where people who “get it” can talk about stuff. We have these conversations regularly; we want to include you in them. We want to share research, videos, books, and ideas with you. We want to hear how your life led you to where you are right now—sitting somewhere, reading this, and wondering if there were other people who share what you feel to be true in your soul. We can’t promise you that we know everything—far from it. The identity of spiritual teachers is one in the same with spiritual learners, so we’ll all learn together. However, we can promise you our candid thoughts about what we do know and what we have experienced.
Most importantly, this is a space of authentic real-talk with real people. Included in our less formal belief statements are: Yes, you can believe in angels and still get wine drunk while you do angel card readings. You’re allowed to meditate for a few minutes and then decide you’re ready to watch Netflix. You can create vision boards to manifest a reality filled with fun travels and greasy foods—we are complex people with complex needs. Let us—a gay, ENFJ Aries with an oppositional personality, and his best friend, a Southern gothic INFJ Virgo with a moderate to high sugar addiction—be the ones to assure you: Life can be good when we let it, so let’s do it together.
Welcome to the party!
Juan & Charise
Real Talk Universe
Est. October 31, 2016