The Power of Storytelling - Episode 12

Welcome back to The Power of Storytelling! 

Erika, Maritza and Latifah - thank you for sharing your stories, your words, and your journey with all of us. 

This month’s episode reminded me that there is so much that we gain from taking time to be still. It’s within that stillness that we can truly begin to listen to our mind, body, and soul, and begin to connect to who we are and who we want to be. Cherish those moments of stillness - you never know what beauty, magic, art, and life will come from it.

I want to share a little bit about the stories that are featured in this month's episode, and I encourage you to check out Erika, Latifah, and Maritza after you tune in.



Erika Hess is an artist, advocate for the arts, and the creator of I Like Your Work Podcast. As Erika so beautifully says in this week’s episode, we have different stories from different seasons of our lives. Each story is unique and full of lessons, reflections, and aha! moments.

Erika walks us through her story that began at 27 years-old. After graduating from graduate school she realized she hadn’t planned her life past that point. She decided to move to Brooklyn and she started working at a boutique kids art school, and then as an artist assistant. She was in the art capital of the world, she found a way to support herself, she had a great partner, she was connected to wonderful women and she had a studio to paint, but she wasn’t happy. The truth is - she was living with major anxiety, and she was coping through drinking and partying. Everything changed when she received a grant to make a comic book to illustrate organic container gardening. She traveled to North Carolina to WOOF, but when her uncle died everything changed.

It was at this point that she started to listen to her intuition. She listened to the cues and allowed herself to pause. She ultimately took a job at an art school - a job that she loved, and the place that the universe brought her to sit, pause, and confront her fears. It was in this place of stillness that she confronted the fact that she wanted to have a family. Admitting this to herself required her to be vulnerable, something that didn’t come easy. It was in that vulnerable space that she asked herself the tough questions and took time to work on herself emotionally. Erika’s words on what it meant to be vulnerable with herself, and then others, will remind you of just how important it is to let yourself be seen and heard. Her reflections on moving through instability and coming out on the other side feeling secure and grounded, will remind you that we are never alone. As Erika says in this week’s episode, we all have a guiding sense to help us - and it’s up to us to get quiet enough to hear it. Today, she has an amazing partner and two kids, she continues to work on her art, and through her vulnerability she continues to connect with others.

It was in this place of stillness that I confronted the fact that I wanted to have a family. This was a really hard thing to wrap my brain around because I had to confront the taboo that artists don’t have kids (which is totally untrue), and I had to make myself vulnerable by admitting this.
— Erika Hess


Maritza Diaz is a communicator, motivator, do-gooder and the founder of Little Giant Life. Little Giant Life was created to help you live your giant life. Whatever your dream is, it’s Maritza’s hope to give you the extra nudge needed to make them come true.

Maritza’s very personal journey of healing her mind and body began on January 23, 2017. She had a long-awaited surgery in her abdomen area, which left her immobile for a period of time. As a former professional dancer, a dance veteran of 20 years, and RYT Yoga Instructor, not being able to move her body in a way that she was used to was incredibly difficult.

After the surgery she was completely in a fog. She had to slow down in a way that she had never done before, and the range of difficult emotions that followed is what really changed Maritza’s life. She experienced deep and strange emotions, she was second guessing everything, and these past emotions had her remembering past trauma and painful memories. With her research, she began to see that it was normal for most people to experience past memories of pain. This experience left her questioning everything.

While still recovering from surgery, and now dealing with the range of emotions that came with that, she was faced with a decision - either listen to her body or ignore all of the emotions that went along with it. She decided to stop, observe, heal, and ask herself why these heavy emotions were showing up. It was the first time in her life that she decided she wanted to stop, and so she did. As Maritza shares, because she decided to tune into her body, because she closed her eyes and she listened, she felt free. For the first time her heart took over. She embraced it and she gave in. This was an important distinction for her. It wasn’t that she was giving up, rather, she was giving in to what her mind and body really needed, and it felt absolutely wonderful.

Martiza’s reflections on what it meant to not move her body, to truly slow down, and to listen to the cues her body was giving her will remind you of just how important it is to take the time to tune in and listen. When we tune into our body we can begin to live more fully in the present. Her words on the sense of calm that surrounded her, and how that time allowed her to observe herself, her surroundings, and her life - will encourage you to take this time for stillness too. As Maritza shares, it’s through this process that everything around her became brighter. She could hear better, see better, and she came out of the fog she was living in. Today, she looks back at this time with fondness, and she now knows she is so much stronger than she ever thought. Maritza’s wish is for you too to know how worthy you are of this time, and to cherish these moments of slowing down, to be more present, and to observe, connect, and tune in.

For the first time in my life I decided I wanted to stop, and so I did. Because I tuned into my body, because I closed my eyes and I listened, I just felt free. Then, my heart took over. I embraced it, I gave in. Instead of saying I gave up, I gave in - and it felt absolutely wonderful.
— Maritza Diaz


Latifah Al-Hazza is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel journalist, and the co-owner of Femscapes Sojourns, a woman’s travel company.

Latifah’s love for travel began when she was very young, and she started traveling when she was just 3-months old. Over the years her passion only grew, and in her senior year of high school she traveled to Tanzania to create a documentary about school conditions there. It was her first time traveling to a third world country, and the experience opened her eyes to the path she wanted to take.

It wasn’t until her grad school internship with CNN Travel that everything clicked. She realized she wanted to combine her love for writing and travel to create a career that would allow her to do both. Today, Latifah has traveled to 34 countries and counting and her reflections on what traveling has meant to her, and the impact it has had on her life, will remind you of the value in stepping outside of your comfort zone. We all see the world through a different lens, and travel helps to shape who we are and how we see ourselves and others. As Latifah shares in this week’s episode, traveling has shown her who she is. She’s a more independent person because of her travels, and it’s made her realize that she loves exploring diversity. Her words on how travel has helped her to become a more-open minded, creative, and inspired person will leave you wanting to book your next trip with Femscapes Sojourns ASAP.

Latifah and her family have always loved traveling, and together with her mother Tami she started her own traveling business, Femscapes Sojourns. Latifah and Tami started traveling on mother-daughter trips when she was a teenager. Through traveling together and seeing each other in different situations, doing unusual activities together, and stepping outside of their usual routine, they were able to see each other with a new perspective. Each trip they took made their relationship stronger, and they decided to make it a goal to make mother-daughter trips available to more people. From there, Femscapes Sojourns was born. Today they offer trips for women 40+, women in their 20’s/30’s, and mother-daughter trips. As Latifah shares in this week’s episode, the connections that she’s been able to make with other women has completely changed her life. Through taking women on trips around the world, Latifah’s wish is for other women to experience what they’ve experienced, to experience the impact of travel, and to live life outside of their comfort zone.

Connecting with women from around the world has been incredible. We’ve met women who are struggling in different ways, or women who have overcome obstacles in life. They’re all just such strong women and it gives me so much confidence and positivity, it’s been really great.
— Latifah Al-Hazza


To learn more about Erika and her podcast I Like Your Work visit her website You can submit work to be featured on her blog, I Like Your Work Studio Visit, by visiting: and check out her newsletter! You can find Erika on Instagram @ilikeyourworkpodcast and email her at

To learn more about Latifah and Femscapes Sojourns visit their website and and you can connect with Latifah on Instagram @tifahhhh and on Facebook @femscapesojourns

To learn more about Maritza and her work with Little Giant Life, visit her website and you can find her on Instagram @littlegiantlife. Plus, Maritza will be offering free and low-cost meditations, coming soon!

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING: To learn more and to submit your story, visit the Share Your Story section of our website and fill out our interest form here.  Our next episode will air January 15th! If you'd like to join in on the fun, fill out our interest form. 

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