I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Vanessa Cuccia, founder of Chakrubs, for the first time recently in New York. Our Last Cut Conversation took place on my birthday and let me say, the whole experience was a gift. I reached out to Vanessa after following her story and stunning @chakrubs Instagram feed. I love everything she writes about self-love, healing and awareness and her aesthetic is gorgeous. Beyond that and the inarguable intrigue of the beautiful crystal sexual wellness products she creates, I knew I was meant to meet this woman. And I was right. I undoubtedly made a new friend for life that day, but also was moved by Vanessa’s deep self-awareness, honesty and vision in life. In a moment in history when our world is evidently going through some serious and intense change and evolution, I cannot help but hope that we will find our way through by first finding peace within ourselves. So, meeting people through this project with an evident and ingrained commitment to introspection, growth and service gives me hope for our planet and for my daughter. I have spent the last couple weeks revisiting places and dear friends in Italy, where I have lived, loved, worked and visited for over twenty years. And, as I reconnect here while working on Last Cut, I am revelling in how it is possible to maintain a deep connection with those who support us regardless of time, space and distance and find new family with whom we will do the same along the way. I believe this happens when we are clear on what matters most within and live it and find others who are doing the same. Vanessa is living this way. I am grateful to know her and share her story.
I asked Vanessa to speak about what she is up to and what she has created with Chakrubs.
Vanessa: "I am the founder and creator of Chakrubs, which are sexual wellness products that are made completely out of natural, organic crystal. It carries the philosophy behind it that through self-love comes self-acceptance and awareness and overall well-being."
What do you believe in most that has inspired you to be here today doing what you do?
"I think that what I am opening up to is being really honest. Honesty is what drives me, but in order to be honest you have to understand who you are. You have to go through experiences to build who you are, but you also have to look at yourself and reflect because honesty is the only way to receive love. When people give us love, if we are not really showing who we are at an authentic level, we are not going to receive that love because it is conflicting. It’s out there. We know love is the answer. Love is the ultimate. Love is the highest vibrational force. That answer is there. It’s ancient knowledge. It is just an intuitive thing. We all strive for it. There are a thousand love songs on it. It is everywhere. To me the clear purpose and path in life is love. I am trying to become authentic and to understand who I am to open up to love."
I have learned that if there is not honesty, whether with myself or in any relationship, I cannot open up to love. If I deny that truth, I get sick and the lies manifest in my body. How did you get clear that love is your driving force? What brought you to this point?
"When I was young, I was just going about the motions of life and everything. I woke up one day and was sleeping next to my boyfriend of six years. Just recently, I realized that when I lost my virginity to him, I did not consent to it. I was six years younger than him and I think that I was his sex bunny. I realized that, “Oh wow. I was with this person and he was a quote-unquote “great guy” but there were things that I had given away and I didn’t feel empowered.” I started feeling energy from him or from myself. It felt like something was coming off of him when I would be sleeping next to him that was hurtful to me. It was like this strange energy that I felt physically. So much so that I woke up one night and was like, “Can you stop?” He was sleeping and I was like, “Ugh.” As I was feeling this thing, I started to get more sensitive to energy and realized, “Wow, what am I doing?” I am 21 or 22 now. I am old enough to make my own decisions. I don’t know why but all of a sudden, I said, “Ok, I am at that age. I am an adult now and I need to start making some changes because I don’t want to continue to be asleep.” So, I broke up with him but he still was this energy in my life and was still pursuing me afterwards.
But then, that was when I invited that young spiritualist to come live with me in my home. So he was this pillar of spiritual energy who was teaching me a lot about those concepts I was starting to become more in tune to. And then I started working at the Pleasure Chest, the sex toy shop, because I realized that I had some hang ups when it came to sex. I had not really been feeling pleasure from my boyfriend for six years, my whole sexual life. I took that job at the sex toy shop and I wanted to start to explore my own sexuality and building up that empowerment up within myself. That was the perfect environment because there was no judgment from anybody. They were all so accepting. I loved them so much, but I did not care for any of the products that we sold.
Then I went to a woman’s house and she pulled out a wand and something just clicked. That crystal energy would help me. When I came up with the name I knew this is what I have to do. This could change my life. It is a company. It is a brand, but it is rooted in that idea of self-love. I am not an expert on it. I am still on my path, but it really does reinforce that sensibility in me every step of the way. I had to do it. I had to get out of that and into something else."
Last Cuts are as much about walking towards something you believe in as walking away from something. It is the cutting of one paradigm and moving towards another. It can be the story or how you feel.
"I realized after we started talking that this idea of cutting something out or realizing that we are moving towards something, that I have had a lot of those moments actually. Before I moved to LA, my job [was not stimulating] and I was underneath that boss who was very nutsy, but I was not realizing it so much when I was there. It was that sleeping, kind of checked out [feeling] and ok, this is life and I am getting paid. I will look for the good in it but still something was not right. And, yeah, that one mistake of tweeting [about falling asleep at my desk] and getting fired. It made me realize what kind of boss I do not want to be. I had to stop that path. I had to completely change.
As I was sharing with you earlier, before when I was in Santa Cruz, I thought all my dreams were being handed to me. It was music related. I had this record deal and I was living in the Redwood Forest. No stress whatsoever but there was falseness there that I didn’t realize. It looked as if all my dreams were being handed to me, but there was something dishonest and very manipulative about that situation. I got out even though I was living in a paradise because it was false. So I came back here [to New York]."
I am curious since you are living your life this way, how do you know in these moments? Talk to me about how you know when you need to stop and claim that something is not right.
"A big part of it is through dreams. Since I was young I have been telling myself that guides will come to me in my dreams. My mother had a paranormal experience when I was very young. She would see spiritual creatures, I guess you could say, that would come and give her information. So, when I was young, I was very afraid to see that too. It was like ghost stories. I was a baby and I was afraid. So I would pray, “If you are going to tell me something, please come in my dreams so I am not afraid.” So there are times in my life when my dreams become so vivid and loud that I have no choice but to take note. I literally take notes. So when I was in Santa Cruz my dreams started to become really clear to me. That’s my intuition talking to me. It felt as if I had no choice but to leave. I guess I did, but the energy shifted. It was a feeling. It was like with my boyfriend. I started to feel something almost physical. Getting those dream signals that it will be ok. Then a complete energy shift is my guide."
What have you found is challenging then about following through with those energy shifts or is it black and white? Often even when it is super clear, there is some good you are leaving or there is a huge unknown.
"That unknown thing. Oh…I remember being in these situations and getting that voice inside that was like, “Whoops. This isn’t good. This is starting to get a little bit shifty.” You hear that inner voice and it’s like, “Fuck. Fuck. Dammit.” But then there is the experience of doing that and remembering the times when you have been there and know it will work out. Now I have recognized some inner shifts within myself to not freak out at that. My mom is moving out of her house that is so sentimental and it feels like this big loss. Little things that you don’t think have a sentimental value do. Tears and everything. But now these times remind me that something good is coming up. So I guess in those moments I move forward with lot of trust and support from family and friends. Now I feel I am able to recognize that things feel so shitty right now in one moment but something good is around the corner and that excites me. So it is turning fear into excitement."
We have to build up the muscle and trust in making these decisions. How has that been for you?
"When I first came back here [to NY], I went through a depression for close to a year. That was when I really first started Chakrubs. I was randomly crying and things would come over me. I did not know what I had just come out of. Very strange things occurred there [in Santa Cruz], and I did not know where I was but I had this thing that I knew I had to do and I knew I would get out of it. So even if I just made one little baby step every day, that was enough. I think that when we feel sad, we think, “Oh shit. I don’t want to [feel this way].” Now if I feel as if I am having a down day, I am just going to make myself as comfortable as possible and let myself feel like this because the faith is that I am going to get through it. This is an energy passing through me and that’s ok. That flow of energy…I have learned to understand a little bit more. It is just not getting stuck. That is what Chakrubs, crystal healing, is all about, removing these blockages energetically within us so that energy is flowing, because that is the nature of life. We are nature. That is what we want to do. Not getting stuck. Knowing that it is going to pass. Letting yourself be sad. Those are all things that I have learned."
The world seems a bit crazy right now. We get into each other’s business as humans. Why can’t we all just mind our own business and let everyone be who they need to be? If you cannot respect someone and go at something from a positive place, it can be so harmful. The need to take other people down literally and figuratively for your own beliefs seems to go against the core of why we are all here.
"It does. That is why I so believe that these things that happen are a reflection of how a person feels in here [motions to heart]. We are all our own universe and my perception is this. I think that when you feel shame, it is such a destructive emotion. When you are repressing certain things about yourself and you are projecting your shame onto the world, it becomes a much uglier place. But if you find that peace within yourself, self-acceptance of yourself and you really get to know yourself and all the nooks and crannies of “Oh, that’s a fucked up thing that I have there, but that’s alright, it’s not hurting anybody there.” Then being able to see other people in all their flaws of whatever may be. Maybe you accept that more because you have already done so with yourself. We all have all of it. It is what we tap into. We are coming to a time on this planet where we are looking at ourselves more. We are being asked to look at ourselves more."
What is the hardest part about living according to what is most true to you when it is always not in line with what is happening out in the rest of the world?
"I feel lonely sometimes. In social situations, conversation is tough. The shit that I want to talk about isn’t always on the docket. Feeling sometimes misunderstood, but that is loneliness. If you are misunderstood, you feel lonely. I think that is why I am starting to get my story more out there. I am feeling that sense that I have to show myself because that is the only way to alleviate that loneliness. I am not actually lonely and there are so many people who feel the way I do and are living this way, but we have to open up the lines of communication to feel like it is ok to talk about this stuff.
We are all so much more than what we can see. So, I would say yes, it is that feeling of loneliness sometimes but again, loving your lonely is another aspect of it. That relationship to god or spirit, or whatever you want to call it, is strengthened by that but that is a really difficult concept. I can understand it intellectually. I get those concepts intellectually. I got it, but the experiences and really internalizing that wisdom is different. It is difficult as hell. Sometimes I hear myself going onto a negative flow and try to get back. Why isn’t it natural for me to speak in positivity all the time? I am just not there and it is ok. We are human. It is part of it, the accepting of it all. Light and darkness. It is all perfect.
That is why my next line is called the Shadow Line. It is a little more fetish inspired, because as I am doing everything with Chakrubs and everything has been more spiritually inspired, I have been feeling as if people are putting me under this veil that all is perfect and I am an angel. No. There is another side and that is ok too. Something isn’t just spiritual or sacred because it looks spiritual or sacred. Lighting incense when we are masturbating under the full moon is beautiful and all, and I love that. But there is this other thing of just being raw with all of the things of being human and what turns us on even in a taboo sense and that is sacred and that is spiritual as well. It is all good. Putting the shadow and the subconscious under that same light is important to me too."
What do you wish you could tell yourself at a younger age? What do you wish you had been told to own about yourself? I often think about this in reference to my daughter’s age. So let’s pick age 9.
"I would have liked to have been told to focus more so emotional well-being than what I am doing. No matter what I was doing on the outside didn’t matter because I couldn’t really feel present. I wasn’t feeling that inner peace and happiness that we all have within us. So if I had known that then to just learn more or keep with that sense of childlike excitement and wonder and not let anything penetrate that or mess that up, I think that would have helped. To just be able to keep feeling that childlike excitement and wonder and not worry about what is happening on the outside would have been great."