“I just look out at all this and it just makes me proud. It makes me proud to be part of a Mexican lineage. It makes me proud to be part of this heritage and use it to help people not only connect to the earth but to themselves.”
These are the words of Claudia Copley, a first-generation Mexican-American and Long Beach resident, as she sits at a table at Toba at the Encuentro Guadalupe hotel, a restaurant perched along the mountainside of Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California.
“My Mexican heritage is something sacred—and it’s sacred because it can do more than provide a sense of healing; it can offer direction. The Valle does just that: It can help direct you toward the future you want, to reconnect with yourself and others in ways you otherwise thought impossible.”
— Claudia Copley, founder and leader of the Explore Your Essence Retreat
It is indeed idyllic: Rolling, rocky hills act as a buttress to the Pacific Ocean coastline before diving into a valley that is rife with Mexican life not just toiling the land, growing sustenance, and creating an enclave that feels as intimate as it does vast, but a side of Mexican culture in which it owns itself.
Catering not to a touristy palate or comfort level—local and renowned Valle Chef Javier Plascencia has been known to be loud that the Valle should pave no new roads, remain rustic, and use solely its own resources rather than catering to money-hungry distributors who are desperate to access the valley—Valle de Guadalupe is both an earthly and gastronomical wonder.
It is clear to see why Claudia is a proud daughter of Mexican parents.
She smiles, her eyes glinting—and in witnessing this, you realize that for Claudia, the Valle is a distinct part of not just her soul but what she believes to be her purpose: Empowering people through professional coaching.
To have a conversation with Claudia is to have an exercise in self-empowerment. She has a comfort in discussing the uncomfortable and a knack for connecting with people��and before you know it, you find yourself understanding your in-the-moment barriers you’ve either subconsciously or deliberately created in order to push away things that will help you grow, be it success, communication, or relationship development.
The wine tasting space Bruma above Fauna in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California. Photo by Brian Addison.
Don’t fret if you’re rolling your eyes; she is far too comfortable in her post-corporate profession of choice to be bothered by people who mistake coaching as some alternative form of therapy or, even worse, as a fad of the new millennium.
In fact, she has a direct relationship with therapists because oftentimes, her own clients mistake her as a therapist—and she is not the person who wants you to look toward your past.
“Therapy is such an important part of the human need—essential, really—but it deals with the past and how that past could be related to current trauma or a lack of moving forward,” Claudia said. “It’s about examining the before. What I do is look at your current state to see if you are moving forward with your full potential.”
And there is fine reason as to why Claudia finds coaching others to be her distinct calling: Submerged in a male-dominated corporate world in her previous professional life, Claudia was continuously stymied in terms of exuding her authenticity, her truth, and her voice.
Yoga of all levels, beginners to advanced, is a part of Copley’s coaching practices. Photo by Claudia Copley.
“People always ask me why I am so passionate about what I do,” Claudia said. “And in all honesty, it’s because I too had to do the hard work of learning to trust and believe in myself—that is no easy task; we dismiss how hard it really is. I know for me? Well, I spent too much time being weighed down by self-criticism, by listening to my inner critic—and that’s why I want to guide others to break out of that box.”
Learning to disconnect healthily from her own inner critic wasn’t exactly easy: Her children—and particularly the birth of her daughter—led her to a major shift in her life’s perspective. And that shift was to, in her own words, allow her children to “truly see me for me—something I wasn’t afforded growing up.”
Personal massages are included in packages from Copley’s coaching sessions. Photo by Claudia Copley.
“I had an instinctual feeling to empower girls to grow up to feel worthy, valuable,
and, powerful,” Claudia said. “That’s how I started on my path to develop 4GIRLS, a nonprofit that inspires and empowers middle school girls to identify themselves as confident, authentic, and resilient. I mean, in short, it prepares them for what I see as real-life success.”
Across a decade, her empowerment of little girls was, in a way, professionally confined—and while the work was exceedingly fulfilling, particularly post-Corporate America, Claudia saw an opportunity to use her skills in empowering adults as well, becoming an accredited, professional co-active coach.
“This was my chance to get people to break out of their self-made box,” Claudia said. “And through my travels in the Valle, I saw a canvas there that would help me guide anyone who needs to be empowered. Anyone.”
“Breaking out of the box,” isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all phrase—and Claudia uses The Valle to gauge how people connect themselves to their center and the earth while using that connection as a barometer for how deeply they listen to their own inner critic.
Within a space most of her clients have likely never been to, The Valle provides Claudia with a template—one where she can heighten and support local businesses, one where you can be strongly sober and do yoga or enjoy a glass or three of wine to loosen up—and it is deeply connected to how she coaches.
“I don’t think there is a moment when I am in The Valle and I don’t tell myself, ‘This place truly is magical,'” Claudia said. “So when I hear people from the retreat say the same thing, I realize how important my heritage is for me in my work.”
While The Valle is steeped in many forms of Mexican luxury—some of the world’s most respected restaurants sit next to wineries that have begun to find their voices in a world where oenophiles tend to boast most of the European and Californian vintages—Claudia’s use of the word “canvas” or “template” to describe The Valle rings true: Even if one were to remove the sexy restaurants and waterholes, The Valle remains, well, magical.
And if you’re unable to apply its magic by yourself, Claudia acts as the perfect guide.
“As a coach, I often speak in metaphors, so you might hear me explain the work I do as being like that of tuning an instrument,” Claudia said. “I believe each of us has core values, and they are what guide us through life. Like the ring of a bell, they create resonance, a beautiful sound we can follow. But when we don’t honor ourselves and our values, we fall out of tune, creating dissonance in our own lives. Sometimes, you need someone to bring you back into tune.”
In a sense, Claudia and The Valle pair together to become tuners—and that pairing is your tool to find a better sense of self-worth and potential.
Perhaps more, just as neutral as The Valle is itself when it comes to how much you choose to take it in, Claudia’s approach remains honorably humanistic—and tied with her knowledge and love for The Valle and her Mexican heritage, it is outright a beautiful thing to experience.
“I do not impose my ideas onto you or tell you what to do—you are the inventor of your life,” Claudia said. “We will work as a team to identify your most effective ways of working, so you can design your most desired, resonant, and fulfilling way forward. I hold a confidential, non-judgmental space for you as you let go of what is holding you back and step into the enormous life you visualize for yourself.”
And what better way to step into that enormous life we envision with the backdrop of Valle de Guadalupe, a professional holding your spiritual hand? Win, win.