Do you know Debra? She is a self-care strategist, creative dream whisperer, plant-based food artist, and healer …. how great are those titles? In one of my searches for “better” as I was planning a family Passover Seder in 2010, I came upon Debra’s “Open-Eyed, Heart-Wide” Haggadah and knew I needed to use this “alternative” book (that claimed to be honouring traditional ritual and structure while infused with spiritual and interpretive context). What I didn’t bargain for, was the beautiful human connection I have had with Debra for the past decade … including having the opportunity to interview her. Debra currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia but part of her still considers California as home too. I hope you enjoy this candid exchange with her, full of treasures!
If you’d like to meet Debra and be in community with her and other good humans, join us in The Wellness Intelligence Collective. Find all of our interviews, including this one, and so much more Wellness Intelligence.
What is an intentional community?
Intentional community can be anything from co-housing, an ecovillage, a spiritual center of like-minded people, a group that meets virtually or in person. It is a group coming together with shared intention, collective values or interests. Often referred to in terms of alternative living spaces, creating a vision that is outside of the norm of individual/ family units. My spiritual center, Agape, considers itself an intentional community as well. It’s really about bringing people together, an end to isolation.
How did you get from Brandeis to an “alternative” lifestyle?
Sociology and Women’s Studies changed my life. I read Thich Nhat Hanh, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Ram Dass, Audre Lorde, and other transformational authors in college. I meditated with my Sociology professors in round rooms, and was a Teaching Assistant for a life-changing class, Sociology of Birth and Death, by Professor Maurie Stein. What would you do if you had a year to live? That question, at age 18, changed my life. Along with an introduction to holistic medicine and wellness, as an alternative for Birth, and for Life.
Can “Gefilte Fish” really be vegan?
Yes, and RAW! I have a “Gefilte Wish” recipe in Open-Eyed Heart-Wide Haggadah that made it into Today.com and is loved by Alicia Silverstone. Soy-free, gluten-free!
I love your Haggadah, but why do YOU love it and feel proud about it?
I feel most proud that I had a creative project/ idea and birthed it from start to finish. I have known for years that I am meant to write/ create/ publish books, and continue to create! Writing Open-Eyed Heart-Wide Haggadah also transformed my relationship within my family. I went from “victim” of the coffee standard Haggadah, to empowered, creating my own ritual that I love. Also it transformed Passover in my family from patrilineal to matrilineal, where women now lead the seder.
In my own life, the Haggadah has been a kick-off for so many creative seders of like-minded friends as well, Jewish and non-Jewish, people of all cultures. My answer is so personal, sometimes I really have to stop and receive the gift of the Haggadah bringing meaning to so many people around the world!
I also love that it is an art/ collage style book, inspired by the works of Sabrina Ward Harrison and SARK, two of my book mentors/ teachers.
Do you run a business or are you an artist?
Both! I am an Artist first and foremost. I have a direct connection with Spirit, as Julia Cameron talks about in The Artist’s Way. Creativity flows through me, and I am responsible to the Universe to bring it forth. I run a business as well for sure! My expression comes first, AND they are hand in hand: the Business being a vessel for the Art, the Art being my Life’s expression, service, and gift to humanity.
Hardest part of being an entrepreneur?
Sometimes it can be lonely! And a schedule! I am still werking (Yes, I spell it this way cuz it’s fun! ;)) on daily and weekly schedules, routine and discipline, while still being the free-spirited lover of life that I am! Also entrepreneurship is an experience of strengthening faith, belief in self, and trust. This is a challenge, and also a huge blessing.
Why did you become an ordained minister?
To be honest, when I was certified in Reiki in the South in 2001, it was recommended as a legal protection. I never did much with it until 2020! When I led an Affirmative Prayer w/ my Hot Love Chocolate Truffles at a sensuality party! (I am an Agape Prayer Warrior!) Someone asked me if I officiated weddings, and I said Yes! I am an Ordained Minister! And I officiated my first wedding in 2020 during the quarantine. It was mostly zoom, and a small group of people, socially distanced. The couple were both raised Christian, with earth-based leanings, and being the lover of interfaith and honoring all people that I am, I gladly obliged! We created a beautiful, meaningful, and deeply personal ceremony together! I have pics on my website: DebraMazer.com/weddingsandceremonies
Agape or Nature?
Agape! Is my spiritual home. I searched for so many years and finally found it! In LA, it felt so good to sing in a multiracial spiritual Gospel choir! To be in a space that honors all religions and people, that strives to be a living example of the Beloved Community. And being in that room is magical! LOTS of energy healers! Now that I am in Atlanta, I livestream the Sunday service every week! I love that it is part of my spiritual discipline and weekly routine.
However…. I found spirituality in nature at Jewish summer camp. And I always say, nature is my synagogue! I LOVE nature foraging, herbalism, celebrating Solstice, and all things of the earth!
Favourite sound healing instrument?
Oooh! I love singing bowls!
Amazing sex with younger men. Oops! Did I say guilty? I have released all guilt and shame around healthy, consensual sexuality. I indulge in and embrace my pleasure! Pleasure is power! It is healing! Hallelujah! Great Goddess! Blessed Be! We all have much healing to do as a society and culture…. No more shame. No more guilt. Sexuality is a key component of wellness, in my humble opinion. 😉
Travel or homebody?
Being Debra, I do love travel! I have traveled SOO much! Since 2020, I surprisingly have become more of a homebody. Virtual everything helps. As have many of us, I have gone on the journey of a lifetime, within. I look forward to more external, international travel again soon! All in Divine Time!
Ocean or Forest?
OOh! Lately! Forest! Atlanta has SOOO many trees, and I missed the lush green and the seasons, while living in California! However! I am due for an ocean swim VERY soon! I LOVE tropical fruit + drinking coconuts!
Why does eating/shopping organic matter?
Why would we put pesticides into our body when we strive to detox, cleanse + heal? Why pollute the earth? Why harm farm workers with toxic chemicals? For some, affording organic can be a class issue, so it’s important to accept everyone where they’re at. In Atlanta, there is a cool program called SNAP benefits, where those receiving government assistance get double their money at local farmers’ markets. I think that is SOO cool! Also, growing our own food is becoming more + more popular!
Favourite dinner to cook for others?
Mmmm…. I actually love my Kale Salad! Here’s a recipe video on YouTube from 2014 😉 You can also find my favorite Kale Salad recipes in my book, Retreat Recipes for Yoga Lovers, available in ebook or print.
What does Wellness Intelligence mean to you?
When I hear “Wellness Intelligence,” I think of the innate wisdom of the body. No one can tell you what’s right for you: no one diet, no one coaching program, no one marketing approach, no one anything. We have the wisdom within, and we have to take the time to listen to it. And then have the courage to act on it.
This courage, this listening, this action. This alignment with the True Self. This is what brings us into alignment with the Body Temple. And All of Life.