We had the good fortune of connecting with Marisabel Lavastida and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marisabel, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I grew up around a lot of fear, I was protected very heavily for the first half of my life either by my parents or my own shyness. There were many reasons for all the fear. I was undocumented and that made the whole family paranoid, my parents grew up in rough neighborhoods in Caracas, Venezuela so in their minds me going to a slumber party at 10 yrs old meant I would smoke drugs and get pregnant, and lastly I am a female human and fear just comes with the territory. All those fears eventually made risk taking look like a great way to feel more free and in control of my life. My risk taking hasn’t always paid off, but it has shown me that very few failures (if any) can ever truly destroy me so who cares if I fail? I just go for it. Some of the events I hosted in the past make me cringe at how unprofessional I was but it was by putting myself out there and failing that I learned. I can not say my decision to be an entrepreneur happened as quick as me just entering a period of risk taking in my young adulthood, it really took a long time for me to feel confident in my abilities to move beyond established secure jobs I that I loved. I spent a couple more years not completely believing that I can monetize my talents and create my own structure for work. I can now say that when I let go of what doesn’t serve me, I can make room for the life I’ve always wanted where ‘purpose’ is in charge instead of ‘fear’. Risk taking is at the heart of everything that makes me who I am: an Artist, Intuitive Tarot Reader, Podcast Host, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend, Alcoholic, Lover, Latina and Woman.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started making hand cut collages around 2011 and I haven’t stopped since. I preferred old magazines and books as my medium since I just do not have the patience for drawing and painting. Collaging has been perfect since my pieces are usually meant to mostly distort every day images and make people feel a little uneasy. I want the political and social messages to be blunt and uncomfortable for people who don’t know that they are propping up systems that oppress them. My struggles with mental health combined with my interest in American politics required that I find an outlet for all my hurt and anger. Collaging has been a great way to leave my pessimism somewhere while I work with organizations to find solutions. As my brand evolved to include Tarot Readings I decided that both my art making and tarot were ways I connected to magic. My intuitive feminine side of my brand contains a more moonlit, mysterious, etherial approach to who I am which is expressed through abstract collage art and connections I make with my spirit guides. Both these practices are ways I express and interpret emotion which is connected to the moon. The side of my brand that is more connected to my extroversion is my podcast Service With a Smile. This bold podcast is a more upbeat, outward expression of my personality that mirrors the more outgoing, bright aspects of the sun. Service with a Smile is a way for me to help listeners relate to a diverse group of people through their hilarious, heartwarming, and sometime weird stories. I consider my podcast to be the masculine side to my brand while my art and tarot represent the more feminine side. I am currently working on a website that expresses the duality of my work that all comes together in one place. I am excited to continue to embrace social media to connect and create community, whether you are interested in my art, tarot readings, or podcast. I am also working at Cosmic Tea Holistic Shop here in Denver on Tuesdays 12-5.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Breakfast would have to be at Snooze on S Colorado Blvd. Next we would definitely go to all the parks nearby, maybe for a picnic, but especially Cheeseman park. Not only is Cheeseman park a large park right by the beautiful Denver Botanical Gardens but it is also said to be very haunted. After getting spooked at Cheeseman and learning about all the dead bodies that were under it (some may still be ), we can go eat at Watercourse Foods. Watercourse Foods is one of my favorite places to eat and take people, they serve vegan food that is as delicious as it is healthy. Thrifting and looking at Vintage things can be fun so I would also take them to Goldmine Vintage where all the vintage clothing is curated and neatly displayed. Dinner would happen at Trattoria Stella, where I think I’ve had the best pasta in Denver. Dessert at VooDoo donut because, why not over do it on the sweets? To go dancing, I would take my guests to MILK and their Goth nights. Illegal Pete’s will be a great place to get a lot food before walking down Broadway to check out awesome shops like Hope Tank who sells great products and gifts that directly impact non profit organizations. Whenever we need a coffee kick I would suggest Roostercat Coffee House. The Denver Art Museum is also a wonderful place to spend hours looking at their collection.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
One of the most powerful people I’ve ever met is Elizabeth Marie Filkin. Her power comes from the unfiltered kindness she promotes, her incredible spiritual/psychic abilities that she uses to lift others up, and her hard work. I met Elizabeth shortly after moving to Denver from my Miami at Alchemy Ritual Goods. She immediately reminded me that I am f*cking amazing and talented. I took her Bitches and Tarot class and after many years of a very academic approach to cards I finally learned how to use my intuition and connect with my spirit guides and ancestors. I’ve seen her build her business and now she owns one of the most diverse holistic shops in Denver, Cosmic Tea. I would also like to say that Colorado People’s Action is a great organization that helped me perfect my ability to build community and help others tell their story. Now I am host of a podcast that collects stories and humanizes the work done by service workers each day. Thanks to the training and guidance of this organization when I canvassed for them I am capable of seeing the value in the stories of others. In Miami working at Eco Tech Visions with Pandwe Gibson was life changing. Working in Liberty City with dedicated folks that want to bring opportunity to their part of town that is usually ignored was inspiring. Valencia Gunder of Make the Homeless Smile is a strong community organizer that helped me understand that in creating community and organizing you first have to start on your block. Daydreamer Network is just so wonderful for taking on my idea as a podcast and giving me so much creative control. They understood the appeal of hearing stories of what service industry people experience day-to-day and just how insane those stories can be.
Instagram: @m.lavastida, @servicewithasmile_podcast
Daisy Briceno for the first pic of just my hands. The official podcast image with the frog was made by Daydreamer Media. ALl other pics were taken by me.