Cat Soteira (Ries) is the front person and synth player of the former band NO/NO, performer for Rio Turbo, writer and producer for their solo project Pleasure Thief, and front person for a new experimental band Credentials. While pursuing a new path in full-spectrum and end of life doula care, Cat's current and ongoing practice is in divination and healing work, grounded in queer, ancestral, & radical traditions.

Is there something new that you've started doing over the past months, during quarantine? "Besides the sacred & relentless work of parenting, I’ve been diving into my studies! Beekeeping, finishing an album, learning about permaculture and biodynamics. I completed a 16-week Ancestral Healing Course, & Fullspectrum Doula Training with Sabia Wade (@theblackdoula on IG) of Birthing Advocacy.

After the birth of my first bio child (I also have a stepkiddo), I was completely shocked at the lack of support and attention around birthing people’s needs and rights. What was supposed to be an out of hospital birth ended up being the opposite of what my vision was. It went well considering, and I’m grateful for the angels that supported us, but the amount of fear-based care in the medical system and skewed understanding of how hard it can be to be a new parent/s is upsetting. Not to mention the insane racial and gender biases and prejudice from medical providers. This lead me to pursue doula work!

To complete the cycle, I’ll soon start End of Life Doula Training, to bring more attention, tenderness, care, and ceremony to all the important rites of passages and transitions between life and death. It’s exciting to weave my spiritual training with training that supports folks physically, emotionally, and politically, as social and reproductive justice guides much of my work"

Is there something you’ve stopped doing/caring about in this time? "I’ve stopped caring about being successful in capitalist ways.  I’ve continued my work to decolonize myself- which is a daily battle- and not succumb to colonizer conditioned mindsets that tell us we have to be more than we are, do more to value, produce and consume more to matter. I work on myself daily for myself, my children, my partner, my community.

 Ambition, success, determination can be powerful but also potentially toxic- much like we’re starting to hear more about “toxic positivity and it’s harm.” There are no rules about how to express yourself, how to work, how to follow your passions. Well, except the rules of don’t be a racist, sexist, transphobic, colonizer drone & liberation for all.

 Better to find ways to feel good about who you are, your passions, your people, and prioritize tenderness and joy as a way to fight against forces of oppression. ”Hustle hard” mindsets can too easily perpetuate colonizer ideologies seeking to work everyone, but especially and to a harmful degree, lower socioeconomic classes and BIPOC folks till there’s no room for joy. We gotta find our joy and protect it like it’s $1 million bucks, and also share it like it’s $1 million bucks.

My self-care regime has really fallen off after giving birth, and with going to school, hanging out with my stepkid, trying to start a business, a pandemic, organizing for various uprising efforts. I’m doing my best to take things one step at a time and make sure I nourish myself as much as I do others. I love to help, but often forget my needs so if I do something for someone (even if it’s to breastfeed my child), I’ll do something for me (even if it’s just to drink water cos I often forget).

This quarantine and uprising against white supremacy and colonial oppression has really encouraged me to stop caring about what other people think lol! I think it’s an ongoing challenge for lots of us, especially on social media where some folks have been spending a lot of time. We see iceberg tip fragments of people’s lives and take it as full truth, and then get caught in a crazy clown funhouse of half-truths that we compare ourselves to. If we can remember that we’re not seeing the full truth, hopefully it becomes easier to allow our truth to be seen, whether it’s grief or celebration. Often times it’s both. This year so far, and for me longer because it started during pregnancy, had been a dissolving and refocusing of what I thought was important in many levels."

Who do you think needs advice and what would you like to tell them? "To those who think they should be doing more, or that they have to change something external about themselves or their lives to be happy: All goals and systems of improvement and betterment are lies. Striving towards truth creates confusion. It’s not something to be achieved or to be successful at, it just is. Of course there are things we know we need to feel good, healthy, loved. And there is such thing as feeling better as a marker of growth. But if we recognize that we are are likely manipulated and cultivated by societal norms, pressures, projections of others to be some kind of way or prove ourselves, were on our way to dropping those lies others want us to believe about ourselves. Striving after a truth is a distraction. To stop lying to others, to stop believing the lies others tell us about who we are and what we can do is to no longer seek truth because there’s no need. We just are. Otherwise we are living minimally, burdened by memories of the past or projections of the future- trapped in a time loop.

So if we can be with ourselves, moment to moment, not trying to improve or cultivate anything, to be unmotivated, to just sit and enjoy how good it feels to relax, to watchful, alert, joyfully unmotivated, centered, loving- the lie disappears, and the truth radiates."

Find Cat on Instagram @starryserpent