Julia Khan Anselmo is the founder of Feisty Feast, a series of long table dinners where speakers share stories and inspire meaningful conversation. Thank you to Julia for inviting us into her beautiful home We shared some tea as we spoke of family, friends, and the resilience of the feminine spirit.
All photos by Alison Page
Describe your work. When did you first know it was what you wanted to do?
I am the founder of Feisty Feast, a long table dinner event that brings women together to connect over a divine feast, meaningful conversation, and beautiful atmosphere. It’s an exciting time to be a woman and, I believe, it's one of the best times to be a woman. It’s so important for us to come together and lift one another up. My events are intended to unite and empower women in the feminine spirit and to give women in the community a platform and a voice to bring to light the many, many issues that affect us.
"My events are intended to unite and empower women in the feminine spirit and to give women in the community a platform and a voice to bring light the many, many issues that affect us."
I’ve had eleven events thus far, all ranging from stories of how women have endured and healed—from living with a terminal illness, to the idea of exploring non-monogamy, to learning about the positive effects of slow fashion and natural dyes, to female sexual empowerment. I strive to create a warm, open-minded, safe and magical space for women to commune, listen and talk. It's my goal for the women who attend my events to leave feeling inspired, well fed and to go out into their communities uplifted and hopefully open to holding space for the women in their lives. All the magic happens when we let our guards down and share the most vulnerable parts of ourselves.
I knew what it was I wanted to do after getting laid off from a job in a company I had always wanted to work for in 2013. That was a tough time for me, I went on Employment Insurance for a year and explored what it was that I actually did with my time, rather than what it was I should be doing because of my previous work experience and the university degree I hold. I was meeting incredibly inspiring women, cooking and exploring different cuisines from around the world, and hosting dinner parties every week, so I began Feisty Feast.
Describe your space and your favourite parts of it.
I’m in love with beauty and aesthetics and creating beautiful spaces. My home is a sanctuary for all the things that are important to me. Cooking and hosting dinners, meditation, tea, making love and creating. My taste and sense of style are inspired by a sense of classic old world interiors, textiles collected from travels, and a strong western influence from Alberta. I try to only purchase and keep things in my home that are functional and mean something to me. We live in a world where people consume so much, so I’m making an effort to be more intentional with my purchases and surround myself with only the essentials.
"We live in a world where people consume so much, so I’m making an effort to be more intentional with my purchases and surround myself with only the essentials."
What is the toughest thing about being your own boss?
For me, it’s a combination of self-doubt and discipline. I’m getting better and having a routine practices like tea and meditation, yoga and running are useful. I'm easily distracted. I feel I could accomplish so much more if I were to able to direct my focus, but it's a challenge and I'm getting better!
Do you have any rituals that help you unwind at the end of the day?
I prefer a morning practice as opposed to the evening because it helps me steady my busy mind and get me to a place of focus. I have a dedicated tea practice that was introduced to me a few years ago by my dear friend Nathalie Kelley. It involves setting up a space to come and rest, to just be and think and drink tea. The practice and ritual of pouring tea is where I love to begin my day. But, a long hot bath at the end of the day with a fine glass of Japanese whiskey is pretty great too. And, one more! I love cooking with friends and having a big communal Sunday supper, with African Jazz and a lots of candles: Woodlot candles, of course.
...a piece of art you wish everyone could see?
My educational background is in Art History, so this is a very difficult question for me to answer because it’s hard to choose just one piece! But I’ll do my best. I’ve always been drawn to art that is experiential and art that uses the body as a medium to communicate a message. Though I have never experienced this art piece, or performance artwork personally, I feel it would be a powerful one. I first learned about the artist Marina Abramovic while studying in London in 2008 and am inspired by her steadfast relationship with the themes of endurance, vulnerability, and power. Her Piece The Artists is Present is one I wish everyone could experience, including myself. Maria sits in a red dress in the gallery space from open to close without getting up. Open entering the space the audience is invited, one by one to sit across from her at a table and look into her eyes. I think having that space and time to do something so intimate with a complete stranger is powerful.
...a book you wish everyone would read?
I’m reading a book by Esther Perel called Mating in Captivity that’s enlightening on the subject of desire in long-term relationships. In her book she discusses the philosophical question of whether you can desire that which you already have. Through eloquent and relatable examples, she draws on the history of love, marriage and her knowledge of sex to give an honest and realistic understanding of modern love, sex and relationships, and the pressures we all experience. I find her writing exceptional, it's a very difficult book to put down. I'm also enjoying Rupi Kaur's book of poetry, Milk and Honey. Kaur is a young Canadian writer of Indian decent sharing her life through words on being a woman of colour, universal shared experiences of femininity, abuse, relationships, sex and family. She speaks to my heart.
...a place you wish everyone could visit?
I think it’s important to visit wherever your roots are from. To know where you come from and find out how that has shaped you and your family; to know your ancestral history so you can better understand yourself is important in my mind. My mother is Trinidadian and my father, Portuguese, but I grew up in Calgary, Alberta. It was so far removed from extended family and family traditions, I always felt out of place there. My mother sent me to Trinidad when I was five years old to learn about Trinidadian culture, and meet my many aunts, uncles and cousins. I remember it was overwhelming because there were so many of them, but it left a strong impression on me and gave me a better understanding of my mother and where she came from. It left me wanting to learn more. A couple of years ago, I went to Portugal and felt very at home and connected to the land, culture and people. This year I will be going to India where my ancestry on my mother’s side of the family is from. I’m so excited to receive all of the challenges, beauty, and wonder that India has to offer.