I had the opportunity to sit with the beautiful Natalia Jaczkowski from Kinks and Coffee - Natalia is both a passionate public servant with extensive experience working on social issues that largely impact women, as well as a sex educator who focuses on the use of creative methods for empowering women to improve their mental and sexual wellness.
Natalia and I have a common friend who spotted similarities in our personalities and life's goals so she decided to introduce us.
I sat with Natalia to speak about the connection between mental health so here's the result of our conversation:
Kinks & Coffee ft. Diana Esparza
Welcome back darling readers!
Today’s blog features the FABULOUS Diana Esparza. Diana is a local Latina lady who is small but mighty, and full of spunk and sass. I met Diana through a mutual friend who connected us because she believed there was collaborative potential between us. Our friend was absolutely on point with that gut feeling! I’ve always joked that I’m a Latina at heart. Fun fact, I speak some Spanish and have spent a bit of time in Latin America. I’m obsessed with the culture and the people. Latinas, in particular, I find I am easily able to connect with. In my experience, they are generally warm and expressive people — Diana is no exception.
From the get-go, I knew we would get along great. At our first meeting, we discussed how I could help support Diana with organizing a virtual Summit in May 2021 titled “Awakening the Warrior Goddess Within”, focused mainly on women’s empowerment. Our discussion flowed from business to personal life, and we both shared stories about healing from past toxic relationships, which led us on a path to develop greater self-awareness and self-worth. In Diana’s case, spirituality has been a major part of that journey. As an ex-religious person who is currently agnostic and searching for more meaning in my life, I was attracted to learning more about how Diana has used spirituality to step into her full sexual power. She agreed to meet me at Major Hills Park for an outdoor coffee and chat so that I could interview her for the blog series. I was thrilled that I also got to meet Diana’s sweet adopted coonhound named Alma (which means ‘Soul’ in Spanish — a very fitting name for her). Below is a summary of our chat
Natalia: Ok, let’s get started Diana! I know that you’re originally from Colombia, having moved here a little over a decade ago. You’re an entrepreneur, a creative person and a tantrica — which I’m really looking forward to learning more about. What are other important aspects of your identity?
Diana: From Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, I’m a geeky, data scientist who is good with numbers, but I’m a feminist and fashionista 24/7! As you said, I am a social enterprise entrepreneur and the founder of Warrior Goddess, a female-powered lifestyle brand teaching women to speak up through the power of fashion. I consider myself a very fortunate person and I love to give back to the community, so being philanthropic is core to my life’s purpose. For example, I volunteer with an organization representing and supporting Colombians in Ottawa and Gatineau and I raise funds through Warrior Goddess for local causes that help women and children facing adversity. In recent years, spirituality has become an important part of my identity as well
Natalia: Tell me a little more about that, what does spirituality mean to you?
Diana: Everyone has their own definition of spirituality. For me, spirituality has been about deepening my relationship with myself and my body in particular. Connectivity, human interaction and creating bonds is very important to me but I have not always had the strongest relationship with myself. I’ve had to put in a lot of work to understand what brings me pleasure. In my opinion, getting to know your body is the conduit of enlightenment. Every experience you go through, it affects your body in some way and it is your job to decode it. How? By being silent, doing a bit of meditation, learning to listen to your body and intuition. Society instills certain norms, regulations, and ways of being that undermine the intelligence of our bodies. There is so much noise in our world day-to-day and we don’t grant ourselves the time or permission to fully explore who we are, and that includes our sexual selves.
Natalia: What was the catalyst that sparked this spiritual and physical exploration for you?
Diana: I had to go through hell to get to this place of discovery. In my 30s, I had a series of unsuccessful relationships that took a serious toll on me. They left me unfilled in different ways — financial, emotionally, sexually, etc. I wanted to understand why I kept repeating the same patterns so that I could break them. That’s what led me to dedicate time to work on myself and inner growth. As part of this work, I discovered tantra and embodiment practices, which truly helped me uncover my authentic self and allowed me to realize that my lack of self-worth, self-respect and low self-esteem led me to make poor choices in selecting partners.
Natalia: I want to know more about how these relationships impacted you, but first I want to understand your upbringing and background to lay the ground for that. Can you tell me what your understanding of womanhood and sexuality was a young girl in Colombia?
Diana: Yes. I would say that my perception of womanhood was heavily influenced by the media which portrayed women as using their bodies for attention and manipulation. There was no healthy messaging about knowing and taking care of your body for pleasure purposes. As an adolescent, I was totally disconnected from my body. I went to a Catholic school, so my education was very limited about sex. I learned from friends who had more experience. As far as I remember, I never had a conversation about sexuality with my parents. The only thing I remember was telling my mom when I was about 13 that my boyfriend at the time told me we had to had sex if I loved him. She said “It’s your body and you can do what you want. All I ask is that you use this”, and she handed me a condom. At the time, I was pissed because I thought she just didn’t give a shit about me (haha)! Later I came to understand that she was actually quite progressive. Aside from that though, we never had any other conversations.
Natalia: When you did start engaging in sexual activity, what was it like for you?
Diana: It was not good. I would say I was a bit of a zombie. It goes back to cultural standards. During that time in my home country, 30 years ago, women were raised to be more submissive and people pleasers in general. So, I thought sex was about men and making sure you met their needs. I had a few boyfriends as a teen and young adult, but my sexual life was very boring. Those senses didn’t start to awaken until my late 20s when I moved to Canada by myself and had more freedom to be independent and unleash.
Natalia: How so? What did you do differently?
Diana: Well, first off I partied like crazy! I was going on a lot of dates, going clubbing, getting drunk and having fun. During this time, I met a lot of partners that were much more sexually advanced than me and it was exciting. They introduced me to kinkier stuff. I was exposed to more things, which allowed me to figure out what I liked and didn’t like. That being said, I would also allow guys to do things that I was not a fan of. I still didn’t know how to use my voice and speak up to say “Stop it” or “Please can you do it this way instead?”. Mentally, I had a lot more growing to do. Now I have no problem telling a man “No” or “I don’t want that.” Today I’m also able to give good instructions on how I want to be touched. Eventually, I reached a point where the superficial relationships and one-night stands were just leaving me empty. The sex I was having stopped bringing me pleasure. I was craving more meaningful sexual connections. Looking back, I think the fact that I didn’t know myself well hindered those relationships. Perhaps I could have had stronger bonds if I had known my body a little better then.
Natalia: How has tantra helped you improve sex and body confidence?
Diana: Through tantra, I began to see sex as sacred and realized that you need to find people with complementary energies. Your body doesn’t vibrate with anyone. When I pick partners now, they have to be on the same page as me mentally and emotionally speaking, as well as energetically speaking. Some of the tantra practices that have allowed me to access my sexual energy fully have been meditation, self-touch, tapping, and static dancing.
Natalia: How did you discover tantra?
Diana: Well, I guess it would start with me looking for my tribe. My worldview has changed a lot in recent years, and I’ve been looking to find more people that align with me. I guess you could say I was searching for my ‘soul group.’ I found that kind of community at The Peace Room, a yoga, meditation and mindfulness studio on Sparks Street, now sadly closed due to COVID. It was an amazing place and the crowd was very warm, welcoming and progressive. Before the pandemic hit, I took a workshop through the studio called ‘Partners, Communication and Connection.’ I was paired up randomly with a male workshop participant for a series of exercises that included elements of tantra. First, we were asked to imagine our favourite animal and were instructed to walk around the room mimicking our animals, thinking about how they would sexually express themselves and interact with the other animals in the room. There was a breathwork exercise to help us release stress, then a bit of static dancing to express ourselves through body movement. After that, they asked us to sit with our partners to do a tantric practice called eye gazing. Basically, looking deep into each other’s eyes for five minutes. It was such an emotional experience, as though our souls were speaking to each other. There was another exercise where we took turns holding each other like a baby and saying loving, nurturing words. It was all very touching.
Natalia: What was it from that workshop exactly that sparked the desire to go deeper in tantra?
Diana: Well, at one point during the session I had the most incredible full body orgasm, fully dressed with no genitals touching. Even to this day, I struggle to explain why it happened. My partner was lying on the ground and I was hovering over him and massaging his waist as part of an exercise. Afterwards, we sat down and he lightly touched my neck and hands. All of a sudden, this wave of pure ecstasy took over me. I was shivering, shaking, and even started crying. It was magical. I would describe it as pure bliss. My partner felt it too — he even had an erection. I had never had an orgasm that way before. When I think back on it, I believe it was because there were no expectations. I completely let myself go and was fully present in this non-judgement space. After that experience, I needed to know more about tantra because I wanted to have more of that blissful, liberating feeling in my life moving forward.
Natalia: Wow, that does sound magical. Although you were not using tantra to engage in sex at that workshop, it sounds like the tantric exercises allowed sexual energy to easily flow. I’m curious to know more about the power of those exercises during sex. Can you describe your ideal tantric sex experience for me?
Diana: Sure. I would say that my ideal tantric sex experience would be two to three hours in total. I know that may sound like a long time, but it’s about going slowly and savouring every moment. For many people engaging in sex, getting to orgasm is the end goal. The whole point of tantric sex is to prolong the buildup and retain the orgasm to deepen connection. Personally, diversity is an important part of my tantra repertoire. I like a lot of movement, many positions, flowing seamlessly from one to the other. Some other people who practice tantric sex like to be in one position for 45 minutes, but that’s not my preference. I also like to experience sex with all of my senses, so I will incorporate food, music and soft touch.
Natalia: Do you apply tantra for self-pleasure as well?
Diana: Yes, I’m able to have amazing orgasms on my own without a vibrator or dildo, simply using tantric self-massage methods and meditation. I have a daily pleasure practice called an ‘asana’ (which means ritual in Sanskrit) that includes many tantric elements. Every day, I wake up and I take a cold and hot shower to stimulate my nervous system and regulate it. Afterwards, I do tongue scraping to remove toxins. Then I spend ten minutes meditating and asking my body what it needs. Based on what I feel, I will select essential oils to anoint my yoni eggs. Yoni is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘sacred womb’. Yoni eggs are made of stone, such as rose quartz or jade, that you can place inside your vagina to help strengthen your muscles and bring alignment to your heart for emotional and physical balance. I use the oils to magnetize the eggs before inserting them based on what I may be needing that day. After I insert them, I will begin massaging my body and asking for forgiveness for putting it through pain, not eating properly, not sleeping well, etc. All the things we know we should do better with but are too busy to prioritize. As part of this, I will spend time focusing on massaging my breasts because this is an important energy zone to awaken in tantra to enhance sensual and sexual life for women.
Natalia: It’s beautiful and inspirational that you honour this daily ritual for your well-being. Now, in a previous conversation with me you had mentioned an ex-boyfriend who manipulated you using your commitment to tantra. Can you share some of that story?
Diana: Yes. I met a narcissistic psychopath who used my spirituality as a means to abuse me. Abuse is not only physical — there are other forms of inflicting pain such as emotional and psychological abuse. We met online and he seemed like a decent person. I had included my passion for tantra in my profile and he claimed to also practice it. What I realized later is that he was studying me (learning my tastes, lifestyle, etc.) and adopting it. When we had sex, there was this blockage. He would not match my vulnerability. Instead, he used sex to manipulate me. When we were approaching that point of him almost reaching orgasm, he would push me away and say things like “Your energy is dark!”, ruining the moment. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, and it made me extremely confused and self-conscious. Little did I know that this was a tactic called ‘intermittent reinforcement’, which I learned about later from my therapist. It’s a mind game strategy for conditioning someone to be more attracted to you by punishing them — think of Fifty Shades of Grey. For me, practicing tantric sex is about opening up, merging with someone and giving them the best and worst of you. But he would use it to play hot and cold with me (push-pull dynamic). I will give you another example of this behaviour. He once told me I looked better without make-up and shouldn’t wear it. We were having sex one day he stopped out of the blue, pushed me away, and said “Oh, I just realized you have make-up on! I don’t want you anymore.” I know it’s not right, but this manipulative strategy made me want him more because I felt like I was constantly doing the wrong thing and I lost my sexual confidence. He broke that aspect of me down through constantly rejecting me. I started wondering what was wrong with me, maybe I wasn’t pretty enough or maybe I sucked in bed. It took me a lot of time after that relationship ended to recover and feel sensual again. My daily asana practice and choosing emotionally, healthy and available partners have helped me immensely with accepting my body again.
Natalia: This toxic, manipulative relationship is part of the reason you were inspired to begin organizing the Warrior Goddess Summit, correct?
Diana: Yes, definitely. That experience taught me so much. I believe it is my calling to help other women who have gone through abuse, trauma or simply don’t know themselves well. We live in a survival world that rewards masculine energy. We feel pressured to take action, lead or else be eaten. I want to provide women with a space, a container, to be ourselves, be authentic and reclaim our feminine power. That’s what I hope the Summit offers.
Natalia: On that note, let me just say thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Summit as a co-host! I am really excited to be there in a learning capacity as well and can’t wait to hear from the coaches and practitioners you’ve convened.
Diana: Thank you for your help! It’s the third time this Summit is being delivered and I hope it continues to grow and evolve.
The “Awake the Warrior Goddess Within” Spring Summit is taking place on Zoom May 14 & 15, 2021. REGISTER HERE to save your virtual seat.
Thanks for reading another edition of the K&C blog series!