Urzela is an online retreat center and community space
designed to support people in transition.

About Me

My name is Emily. I am from California, and currently live in Lisbon, Portugal.

I am American from the outside in, and Portuguese from the inside out. I am 100% both, at the same time. 

Even my name reflects this duality — an American first name and Portuguese last name. Born, raised and educated in California, I lived the externalities of being an American. At home, though, I spoke, ate and breathed Portuguese. 

For years I have been exploring questions of home, of identity and of transitions. I am drawn to stories of pilgrimage and journeys.

Mine is the story of many first generation Americans born of immigrant families. Except, in my case, I have returned to my so-called roots (sort of…Lisbon is not exactly São Jorge, Açores).

I am a storyteller and a coach. I am here to help people curate, craft and tell their own story as a means to making their own successful transition. 

Why Urzela?

We all live a life of transitions. From our childhood selves to ourselves in university to being coupled, or uncoupled, or becoming a parent. We change jobs or careers. We retire, or we face health issues.

I designed this  community as a safe place to explore and navigate transitions, both personal and professional. I believe that we often struggle with new beginnings because our identities are tied to our endings. We struggle to reframe our stories, to rewire our senses of self.

This site is an invitation to explore these questions in the context of sense making. 

My hope is that I can share all the learnings I have curated, and we can together tap the wisdom and knowing, innate to each of us, to help us understand where we are, and where we might go next.

Urzela is a type of lichen found in places such as São Jorge, Açores.  Lichen is the story of two unlikely organisms, shacking up and working together to survive. One provides food; the other provides shelter.

Urzela produces a special kind of indigo-blue dye, which made it a  precious commodity — and a royal monopoly — in the 15th century. The color is sometimes called litmus blue, which was used in indicator paper, giving rise to the name “litmus test.” It is also used for the vibrant blue in marbles, and adds color to liquors.

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