Today we’d like to introduce you to Felicia Parazaider.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in the 70s/80s in what was then a sleepy San Fernando Valley. My father founded the rock group Chicago, and so my childhood was colorful, replete with all the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll that the music business entails. Aretha Franklin lived across the street, Tom Petty down the way, and Walt Disney’s property was diagonal. Due to the affluence and privilege, I grew up in, I didn’t fit in. I was a quiet kid at school, though at home gregarious and always putting on costumes and performing little “shows” after dinner.
There was a life-shaping incident that took place on the playground when I was about four years old. My mother says she came to pick me up and found me situated between a group of kids with one lone child behind me. I had wedged myself there because the group was bullying my friend calling out “Fat Matt! Fat Matt!” I yelled back at them “Stop calling him that!” over and over. This fighter spirit was not only going to set a template for helping others but would keep the fire in my belly when darkness would come.
I began to play piano at the age of five and rapidly excelled. By the age of 11, I was playing Chopin Waltzes, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and competing regularly. Everything pointed to me attending Juilliard and concertizing around the world. That didn’t happen. And thank God for it. After surviving my life (see next section on “struggles”) and touching death many times over, I chose life. Slowly my heart beat and passion for life began to flow back into my veins.
It was at a Carl’s Jr. drive-thru at 3 am in Sun Valley on my 28th birthday where my life changed. I met a man who was homeless, and we had one of the most poignant conversations of my life. It began simply, with him asking, “Do you have an extra cigarette?” I responded “No, I don’t have anymore. I left my pack at home.” From there, he asked if I wanted to get high and I divulged, without thinking, that I was clean and sober. His eyes welled up, and he stared into me saying, “This shit is killing me.”
The food didn’t come, time felt like it stopped, and it was just he and I, with him sharing parts of his story with me. He said, “I used to be somebody you know. I had a wife and kid. I haven’t seen them in ten years.” He showed me a photo. When the food finally popped out of the accordion window, I was rapt from the connection, and all I could say was “Just don’t give up, man, there is always hope. There is always hope.”
With that, I pulled away, and I knew. Like a lightning bolt, it hit me, “You are going to speak and write, and it is going to help people.” You see, I had three things (at least) that could have taken me out, but I was still here. Ever since that moment I have been following this vision. A vision of changing the world. So when people ask me what is that you want, I respond with “To change the world.” We need to be as bold as ever in the times we are living in.
There is no time to lose. I give thanks for that man at Carl’s Jr. I pray that he is alive and even thriving. He changed my life. After that moment, I went back to school, began to cut my teeth in the world of activism. I worked for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), worked in Montana at the Blackfeet Reservation and began to lead meditation groups.
Simultaneously, I attended community college and worked my way to graduating as valedictorian of Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC). Every college I applied to I was accepted, but I wanted the University of California Berkeley more than anything. The history of that school, particularly the Free Speech Movement and one of its enigmatic leaders Mario Savio, drew me to the Bay Area.
In the eleven years spent there, I lost hope in humanity, had my heart broken, graduated with two degrees-one in Religious Studies, the other in Peace & Conflict Studies focusing on nonviolence- and attended an interfaith seminary school. It was an extraordinary time. Upon losing all hope, I believed that some people or situations are really beyond redemption, hope, or changing.
It was a romantic relationship, believe it or not, that initiated me into a new paradigm that revolutionized my way of thinking, living, being, and creating. Moreover, it put my feet to the fire about how we can realistically usher in a revolution of love that will change the world. I came back to hope with yet another level of wisdom, mastery, and excitement than ever before.
After my ordination as an interfaith minister, I took on a new role, that of the Rev. Felicia Helen Parazaider. It has been fascinating been a woman minister, with tattoos, looking younger or more attractive than people think acceptable. For some, it doesn’t fit people’s mold of “what a minister should look like.” I find it incredibly important to push the bounds of what society accepts as legitimate or valid in this way namely, because there are many people looking for a new experience of the Holy, of worship, of what it means to gather together in community.
That said, in 2012, I launched a radical new kind of “ministry,” and movement called The Revolution of Love. The first service I got on my knees in the back and thanked what I know as God, Spirit, Source, for the opportunity to finally arrive at this place that I had been working towards for so many years. For nearly six years agnostics, atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslim, Sikhs, even former Mormons, as well as spiritual-not-religious folx, attended these multi-media services that included disco balls and dancing. The religion? Nonviolence. And everyone was welcome. We explored what it meant to be revolutionary in love and how we could practically change ourselves and this world we live in.
I realized in 2017 it was time to return back to my hometown of Los Angeles. I put on three large scale events that I called “spiritual revivals” filled with great music and a message, and they popped. Once I realized there was a growing need for people who might not fit a certain box religiously-or maybe even spiritually-to gather in celebratory community with a focus on peace and justice, it was on. So I moved back here.
It’s been incredible. The journey keeps on going. My activism which has led me to jail, the Middle East, the Nevada desert, protesting violence like nuclear weapons, immigration rights, and drone warfare, has flourished in Los Angeles more than ever. I am so proud of this city of Angels which continues to evolve. Last year I had Revolution of Love services at a church space I rented in North Hollywood. Currently, I am on sabbatical, writing a performance show incorporating my story, nonviolence, and the Great Mystery. It is a completely new media form, and I cannot wait to unveil it.
Last, one of the things that sets L.A. apart from any other city is that everybody has a dream they are going after. Some people have called that foolish or self-centered. But when aligned with something powerful for good, there is not telling what is in store. It is this collective effervescence, this magic, this dreaming, that is not only a hope for love but a belief that anything can happen. If this isn’t a place to base the Revolution of Love, I don’t know what is.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has absolutely not been a smooth road and thank God for that because I am doing exactly what I am meant to as a result. It has been filled with heartache and breakdown, strife, and everything in between. Due to my father’s celebrity, I was bullied pretty severely. I didn’t know how to relate to other kids and grew insecure. I was very pretty and not only got bullied because of that but also preyed on by people who saw a vulnerable child.
I remember distinctly noticing how much power could be generated just by someone’s appearance, and yet it was scary because life had become unsafe. By the time I was 14 one of my father’s bandmates began to abuse me. At the time I thought it was a relationship. I was groomed, seduced, and lured away from everyone and everything. I felt like it was my ticket out of a very unstable home life due to the alcoholism and addiction that was coursing behind closed doors.
While the severe abuse was bad and went on till I was 20 years of age, there was nothing more heartbreaking than the rupture of connections with my family, particularly my father. And admittedly, if those connections had been intact, I believe I wouldn’t have been a target by an outsider. Still, this happened and is a critical part of my story.
All of the violence I endured, from my family system, the band member, and everything in between, led me to nonviolence. It led me to the biggest freedom of life. It led me to firmly, absolutely coming into my power and passion. I returned to the kid on the playground who truth tells, fights for justice and peace, no matter what. That is who I am and informs my prophetic work in the world.
Hence, I am grateful for all the addictions I had to suffer. Anorexia once ruled my life. I described it as my mother. Drugs and alcohol were my father. And bipolar depression fueled my creativity. I needed it. Now 20 some years later, I have been through initiations that are nothing short of shamanic.
I have spent years in therapy, engaged so many healing modalities it is almost laughable, fought and fallen in love with my God who I call my Beloved. I know not only what it is to feel free but to ascend to freedom. When this happens, there is no place to go but up.
Don’t let anyone tell you-you cannot rewire yourself. You can absolutely come alive to yourself in a way that you never knew possible. This is why we are here.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Revolution of Love (ROL) is a ministry and a movement that is not aligned with any particular faith tradition. The word religion comes from the Latin ‘religare’ to bind together. Hence what “binds” together ROL is nonviolence. What is nonviolence? It is more than a strategy to utilize at a protest or march, it is a way of life. It is the path of love, compassion, freedom. There is much to learn about this underused tool and philosophy.
At ROL services- which include everything from dance to breakout sessions, with a sermon on a particular theme-we explore nonviolence. Because this is a ministry not specific to one religion, all truly are welcome: we are absolutely inclusive and diverse.
The mission of The Revolution of Love is to do the inner work and outer work of service through the power of nonviolence. Very simple. The vision is to change the world. There are several branches to ROL outside of its services: The Prayer Rope ministry (a virtual prayer cordon that goes out every day around the world to 70 practitioners from all faiths or no faiths); One to One work with me in the form of coaching; Spiritual Retreats and Workshops; Weddings, Memorials, Funerals, Ritual & Ceremony; and my favorite, speaking engagements. I love speaking my story of violence to love. It inspires people to do what they are called to do in the time that they are here. I also love teaching how we can come out of the matrix of violence and live the life we are meant to live.
Included in The Revolution of Love is the call to do the outer work. This is an integral part and fills the “movement” aspect. For those of you interested there are various opportunities to be involved in this kind of activism. I have gone to the border several times since this past December as well as being arrested for nonviolent action protesting migrant families being torn apart. We are always looking for more people that are willing to be of service in this way. Don’t worry if getting arrested is not for you, there are many other ways you are needed.
If you find yourself asking the question: What can I do? I encourage you to reach out. I currently haven’t been holding services as I am writing a book as well as a show, but I am looking for people to work with who would like to help me in creating ROL services again. Also, I work with several organizations some which need people to house asylum seekers. If this speaks to you, again I would love to hear from you. And if you would like to host me for a speaking engagement or spiritual revival, I will come to you!
The mission of The Revolution of Love is to do the inner work and outer work of service through the power of nonviolence. Very simple. The vision is to change the world. It’s a bold claim, but if we are to live our best lives, we must step in — Time’s up.
What were you like growing up?
I was the truth-teller. I saw things that were wrong-whether on the playground or in the world and wanted to change it, call it out. The suffering in the world angered me. So I had a lot of anger as a child. Fortunately, as I got on my healing journey, I harnessed that anger and discovered the path of nonviolence. I still believe in anger as a transformative helpful tool–I don’t believe in bypassing it. It’s just important to have wisdom and mastery when using it.
As I shared in the other sections, the struggles, I had enveloped me in a variety of addictive cycles. This was when I became afraid. Being highly intuitive, empathic, psychic, I often internalized other’s fear, though I didn’t know it. In this vein, I had experiences that were mystical in nature. From lucid dreaming to a deep sense of knowing things, there were parts of my childhood that filled me with a sense of wonder. I used to sing the Psalms to made up melodies in my parent’s backyard. I even devised a makeshift altar to God in my closet with a candle burning.
Though I left organized religion at a young age due to anger at God for what was happening to me, I made peace with it in my 20s. Though I am truly a spiritual eclectic, God-my Beloved-resides deep in my heart much like a Sufi. My music that expressed itself in the form of being a classical pianist took a new shape. I get to put together bands now for my events.
All of that musical training and upbringing has been used in a new forum. Admittedly, there was much grief for a long time that I hadn’t become the concert pianist “star” that everyone thought I was going to be. However, the artist/performer archetype burns bright in me and will soon be unveiled in a one-woman show in the L.A. area. Stay tuned!
- Speaking engagements/Keynote speaker 1,000.00 (sliding scale available)
- One-to-One Coaching 100.00
- Website: feliciaparazaider.com
- Phone: 510-367-2290
- Email: email@example.com
Facebook: RevFelicia Parazaider https://www.