How Drag Queens and Pie Baking Taught Me to Let My Intuition Guide Me

“The handsome dude with the red beanie wants to give you a dollar,” the Marilyn Manson-esque drag queen barked out orders to a lythe, pixie-like Black drag queen with purple hair. Marilyn Manson was talking about me—though I don’t identify as male (unless I’m guaranteed a role in dismantling the patriarchy from within, male is the last gender pronoun I would assign myself). I brushed off my momentary surprise, adjusted my beanie, and laughed as I reflected on the circumstances that led me here that day. I hadn’t intended to hit up a drag place when I left the house, but curious (and wonderful) benefits happen when you let go of control and trust your intuition to steer you in a new direction.

I couldn’t help but cackle at the ridiculousness of it all and thank my intuition for leading me and my beautiful friend Samy to enter the wrong door. See, Samy and I had set to brunch at a hipster-ish looking spot in an über Puerto Rican area of Bushwick. As gentrifiers of color (I say this in jest, but also in full awareness of my privilege to live in a neighborhood that is indeed more and more gentrified by the minute), we felt compelled to support all things local. But I digress.

Samy and I had mistakenly entered the wrong joint… or was it exactly the perfect joint? See, a day before I had taken an intuitive photography class at the wonderful Art of Intuitive Photography and was high on intuition and openness vibes. The teacher had made a point of underscoring the importance of being open, curious like a child, and letting your intuition guide the creative process.

the world is much easier and better whenever I chill the F out and trust

If you’ve ever actually actively tried to chill and flow, you probably know that this is easier said than done. Takes practice and intention (believe me, I know). But on this day, I had all that going for me. Let the universe guide us, I had said, as I stepped out of my apartment that morning, camera in hand. Center yourself, chill out, and let the universe tell you where the perfect photo is.

And so it was. 

While I shouldn’t be surprised by now by the fact that the world is much easier and better whenever I chill the F out and trust, I’m still always pleasantly amused when these moments sneak up on me.

Doesn’t matter if I’m trying to learn how to bake a pie, take a good photo or do a basic handstand, the lesson is the same: Relájate y coopera. (Chill and flow, as my friend Cristy Marrero likes to say).

You know what works? Chilling. Relaxing into the making and being playful.

Case in point: I have been trying to nail the perfect pie for over ten years now. My pies are not perfect yet, but the practice has brought me that much closer to it.

At times I’ve cried, frustrated because the pie seems to control the whole process, but in the years of making pie, I have learned that getting frustrated and trying to control the process leads to more frustration. I didn’t come to this realization on my own. I learned as much during Kate McDermott’s Pie Camp (Kate, a James Beard Award nominee, is truly the pie queen and I am so humbled I got to learn from her!), an experience that deserves its own blog post (stay tuned).

You know what works? Chilling. Letting go of control. Relaxing into the making and being playful. Knowing that you may screw up and being Ok with that. If you screw up, you can always fix the dough. No one will notice. And then you are flowing.

And when you flow, you won’t find yourself taking yet another shitty, boring photo of a stack of chocolate chip pancakes. You may find yourself dancing with queens, basking in the great gift that is the universal joy juice called intuition. 

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