Previously an Empowerment Boudoir Photographer, lovely Erika and Gaia chatted about her personal evolution, and where she is directing her creative energy these days....
Gaia: Erika Broom, such a pleasure to be interviewing one of my favourite local witches with such an appropriate last name (lol). Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Erika: I was born and raised in Regina, SK and lived there up until I moved to the Nelson area in September of 2022 after dreaming of moving to BC for what feels like my whole life. I’m so grateful to be able to call this area home, I love the slower pace of life that I’ve been realigning to. Having the woods and the river just a short walk from my front door is such a breath of fresh air compared to the busy and dusty main street I used to live on in the city. Moving out here has really brought to my attention how disconnected I’d become from nature and as a result, myself.
I love being outside in my garden. I’ve been eagerly exploring a newer interest of mine, foraging and mushroom hunting. Nothing fills me with more joy than slapping the top of a mushroom or finding a new plant to identify. I also have two cats, Ember and Aldous, who have a bit of an adventurous spirit themselves and they love roaming around our property on their harnesses with us. Ember’s favourite thing to do is chase grasshoppers while Aldous is much more interested in just eating the grass around our yard.
Gaia: You have many talents and interests, and we know photography is one of your passions! How did you get into photography?
Erika: I have always had a creative spirit and I first found an appreciation for film photography. In my early twenties I bought my first “toy” camera - a Diana F+ plastic camera that took 120 roll film. I quickly fell in love with the soft and dreamy aesthetic of the plastic lens in that camera and started to experiment with different types of film, light leaks, and cross-processing. I loved to photograph old abandoned buildings and farmhouses and used to explore all over rural Saskatchewan photographing anything that caught my eye.
After graduating from a two year diploma program at Sask Polytechnic I started my own photography business, mostly photography for weddings but eventually I found the Boudoir and Empowerment genre and fell in love. Over the next fifteen years I grew that business to become one of the busiest Boudoir and Empowerment studios in Regina and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to empower so many clients along the way.
Gaia: You no longer offer boudoir ‘Empowerment session’ photoshoots and you have made some big career & personal changes over the last year. Can you tell us a little bit about that and why you have made the shift?
Erika: Once we moved to BC and the dust started to settle, I ran face-first into the worst period of burnout I’ve ever experienced. I had been burning the candle at both ends running my photography studio for years and stepping into a new market with an empty photoshoot calendar ground things to the much-needed halt that I didn’t know I needed.
I’m fortunate that I have a partner that had the capacity to support us both while I tumbled headfirst down a really weird journey of questioning everything, while feeling like even the most basic tasks were impossible. Over the next eight months I slowly realized that the direction my life had been hurtling forward at was different than what I really wanted. Something told me that if I wanted to make a change in my career and my life path, that this was the perfect time to do it.
So, in a completely unexpected turn of events I closed my photography studio and accepted a job offer at a cannabis processing facility. They say that the stone Moldavite will “f*** up ya life” and push anything not meant for you away while making room for the things that align. After all the changes in my life since I started wearing my Moldavite daily in 2021 I really feel like this new path is a culmination of that.
So, these days I can be found gowned up in a lab coat and hairnet, rose coloured glasses perched on my nose, and packaging some of the most beautiful craft cannabis the Kootenays has to offer. I’m also still taking photographs but now my lens is focused on sparkly crystal-covered bud instead of naked butts.
Gaia: You shared with us that you are writing a book. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Erika: I’m currently working on writing my first book, a memoir - which is something I’d been actively avoiding starting on for years. I am writing about my six-year relationship with my transgender long-distance ex-wife. I hope to speak about her transition from my perspective and the impact it had on not only our long-distance relationship, but my outlook on life. I hope that by sharing my story I can help others who are going through the same situation that I did. Maybe one day you’ll see it on the shelves of Gaia Rising?! 😉
Gaia: Can you tell us about the spiritual impact and evolution you went through in your relationship with your ex-wife?
Erika: I think that my relationship with her caused my spiritual growth to be stunted. Our relationship had a lot of emotionally abusive elements to it and I felt ashamed and embarrassed of my spirituality and tucked them away and didn’t talk about them for many years. She would often make jokes about fearing me turning her into a frog and I’ll be honest, there were some days when I wished I had that kind of power!
The night she came out to me as transgender sent me down a path of questioning everything that I thought I knew about myself. I stayed with her as she transitioned and as a result questioned my own sexuality. I’ve called myself a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and many other labels in the past but these days I just settle on “queer”.
I didn’t return to my spirituality until I cautiously expressed my interest to my current partner and after receiving nothing but positive encouragement (and many gifts of tarot decks and crystals since then) I dove back in and reconnected with that part of myself. It feels so good to be back!
Gaia: Are you finding in writing your memoir, that certain feelings still come up for you when reflecting on that relationship? Or are you at a place in your life where it is more of an objective experience?
Erika: I would say it’s a bit of both. I’m fortunate that I have been able to see a therapist regularly since that relationship ended and I credit that work to my ability to finally sit down and start to put words to paper and talk about this experience.
I spent so many years after our divorce only remembering all the bad aspects of our relationship. Going through old journals that I wrote during our time together has reminded me of the good times we had, too. It’s made my heart miss the love I had for her, but it’s also given me the opportunity to grieve for my past self. After our divorce I fell into a deep depression and just felt numbed out. As a result of that I didn’t grieve while it was happening. Having the chance to grieve as I write, years later, has felt like another piece of my healing journey.
Gaia: On the topic of spiritual practices, do you mind sharing about some of yours?
Erika: I love spending time in the woods and the river by my house, it feels very grounding and like a coming home of sorts. Aside from that, every morning I sit down at my altar and connect with the elements and my spirit guides before pulling my daily tarot card or three. I then put on my jewelry for the day, each piece I wear with intention, and each piece has a special meaning to me. Every new and full moon I pull a card for myself and my partner and we reflect on the things we need to let go of, or what we want to bring more of into our lives in the coming weeks.
Gaia: Are there any spiritual philosophies, beliefs or paths you are drawn to that you would like to learn more about?
Erika: I’ve always been drawn to plants and using them as medicine has really changed my life in a lot of positive ways over the last few years. I would love to learn more about herbalism and incorporate that more into my daily life. I have really fallen into the practice of yoga to move my body and feel more grounded, but I would love to learn more about the philosophy behind it.
Gaia: How do you think you have grown as a person in the last year?
Erika: My last year has brought me a significant change in my path. After over 30 years of living in my hometown I uprooted the business I’d been building for over a decade and moved out to live in the Kootenays with my partner. We’d been talking about doing so for many years and we knew we needed to do it now or we might never work up the courage to do it. It felt like a giant leap of faith and in the process, I’ve learned a lot about myself, like how much I was pushing myself past my limit living the busy entrepreneur life in the city. A life that I wasn’t built for. I’ve had to learn to slow down and listen to my body as I recovered from my long-overdue burnout.
During that time, I also had to grow through the grief of losing my familiar of 17 years, my beautiful labradorite-eyed cat, Storm. I’d had her since she was a kitten and we grew up together, she was right there by my side through a lot of hard times in my teenage years and young adulthood. Moving through the grief of losing the bond we had has taught me so much about life and love and the impermanence of it all. I’m still grieving the loss of her, but I carry her ashes with me in a labradorite necklace that I wear almost every day. The refractive nature of labradorite always reminds me of the way her blue-green eyes sparkled in the sunlight.
Gaia: What is one thing you would like to grow about yourself in 2023?
Erika: In 2023 I want to lean more into slowness which has always been difficult for me. I’ve been in a cycle of fight or flight for most of my life and that’s a hard habit to break. I want to get away from the idea that one has to be busy all the time, or “hustle”. Hustle culture is what led to my burnout and that’s not a pattern I’d like to keep repeating. By leaning into slowness I hope to invite my creativity back in. I want to get back to making more art through my photographs, through painting, and with things available in nature like spore prints with mushrooms or pressing leaves. I hope that will lead to a stronger connection with myself and my place in this world.
Gaia: What is your sun sign and do you feel you relate to it? If you know what your moon and ascendant signs are, do you feel like they reflect in your personality?
Erika: My sun sign is Taurus, and I would definitely describe myself as the typical stubborn Taurus, it’s usually my way or the highway and once I’ve made my mind up on something it’s hard to get me to budge on it! I find a lot of comfort in consistency and routine, so relocating out here kind of threw me into a bit of a tailspin until I finally landed on my feet and started to find a new routine that worked for me.
My moon sign is Capricorn and I would say that comes out in my personality as being reserved when someone first meets me and it can take me some time to open up to people. I have a huge heart but I tend to guard it maybe a little too much.
My Rising sign is Sagittarius and I’d say that reflects with my optimism and warm and friendly personality. I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily outgoing (I’m shy to a fault in most situations) but once you get to know me and I open up it’s hard to get me to stop talking!
Gaia: Where can we find more information about your writing and artwork?
Erika: You can follow me on Instagram or Tiktok where I post updates on my writing process, my artistic experiments, and spam my stories with photos of my cats and my garden.
Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?
Erika: Chime candles! I always seem to run out of them. A new cat-themed tarot deck, and definitely a pretty ring that just happened to catch my eye that day. A couple of astrology books (I’d love to learn more) and of course a new crystal or ten.