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This is an empowerment blog written by life coach and strength trainer Yaromil Fong-Olivares for women and feminist allies who are committed to holistic healing, living, loving and most importantly: kicking ass.

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Entries in healing (8)

Thursday
Apr122012

"Our Silence Will Not Protect Us": Strategies for Healing & Sisterhood Audio Podcast Version

 Click on the link below to listen to "Our Silence Will Not Protect Us": Strategies for Healing & Sisterhood Audio Version´╗┐.  You can read the blog here.

 p.s. Are you enjoying my first ebook, The Holy Grail of Life Coaching?  Please don't tell me you haven't read it...It's only $4.99 on Smashwords.com!!

Strategies for Healing & Sisterhood Podcast

Friday
Mar302012

"Our Silence Will Not Protect Us": Strategies for Healing & Sisterhood

 

By Yaromil Fong-Olivares

A couple of days ago my younger sister interviewed me for her class project on "exceptional women".  I learned more about myself through her insightful questions than I expected and best of all it felt good to speak about our shared experiences honestly and candidly.  Whereas I can't add  being an awesome older sister to my resume or CV I must say it's part of my DNA.  It is possibly one of my most prestigious accomplishments.  I am not perfect, and sometimes as my little sisters would say, I am indeed a "hater".  If being a "hater" means I get to  question some of their beliefs and challenge them to think critically and beyond the status quo, well then "odiadora" (hater in Spanish) it is.

But this blog is not about how great it felt to hear her speak of the qualities of an exceptional woman and how she came to choose me.  It's not even about how important it is to connect with young women on the topics of success, beauty, drive and self-love.  I am not even going to write about the joys of discovering feminism's newest recruits.  Though hearing my once obnoxiously rebellious little sister proudly and accurately defining feminism and claiming it as her own made my heart tingle and my eyes water with joy. 

This blog post is about silence.  Well, actually, it's about breaking the silence.  See, as you may know my father wasn't the most friendly and supportive of dads.  At some point I might have even called him abusive.  Now, I have evolved passed the victim identity and into my power and recognize his struggles with compassion and even love.   I have also developed an amazing friendship with a man who is old enough to be my dad, and quite frankly is way more butch and masculine than most men, a manly man I guess.  I realize now that through the development of that friendship I learned to trust and love men who earn my trust and love.  I also learned that everyone has a story, and everyone including men who are abusive feel pain, heartache and loss. 

I am not saying I am exonerating him (choice of word intentional) rather, I have found my own peace within my journey, my power beyond him and my experience of him and with him.  

The reason this blog is about encouraging you to break the silence is that before my sister Stephanie interviewed me I declined to share any negative experiences of my father with her and my other siblings.  I feared that by sharing too much I would "share my trauma" and taint their perception of my dad.   After years of working with youth I know that young people, even the toughest of all thugs, are sensitive and fragile.  As an awesome older sister I try to protect them from harm, when possible.  However, now that she is 18 years old, old enough to make her own decisions and inquiries, I could tell during the interview she was eager to learn not just about how wonderful my life as a "successful woman" is, but also about the struggles.  I admit at first I felt it was gossip-motivated (she is 18 and remember I am a "hater", i.e. critical thinker).  But her compassionate line of questions, her mannerisms, her eye contact and deep listening demonstrated a thirst for a deeper connection with me, perhaps even a sincere desire for a shared understanding of the differences in our experiences with the man I call by first name and she calls dad. 

The feelings that came up for me during the interview remind me of a famous quote by Audre Lorde that I think is quite relevant here: "Our silence will not protect us".  I agree with Audre Lorde and also want to suggest that silence does not protect the survivor (me in this case) AND it also does not protect those we most want to protect (my siblings, mother).  Instead it creates a schism of pain and resentment between the survivor and those who love her.  This whole time I was healing alone, on my own, because I wanted to protect others from my trauma but I neglected to realize that I, by protecting them from my trauma,  was also unintentionally robbing them of the joy, lesson and power of sharing my journey of transformation and healing.  I thought, as I answered honestly for the first time, what if I am face to face with my path? sitting with my little sister,  teaching her about overcoming struggle but also about learning and teaching others how to go beyond survival into the beautiful land of healing, love and fearless value-driven power.  Note, power has to be fearless and fueled by positive values in order for it to be healing and expansive.  Power alone is not enough and can in fact be dangerous.

So when Stephanie asked me about my hobbies, my five year plan, my thousand and one interests I honestly (and for the first time) uttered:  I want to inspire and teach women to be happy.  I could tell it wasn't what she was expecting, and I imagine her school's staff hammers in the message of higher education, being a doctor or a lawyer, I know that was certainly my intention when I entered Barnard.  I am grateful for that message for it's certainly valuable and a nice balance to the more common message to "get married and have some babies right after high school".

And yet as I continued to exploit my soapbox as a rare moment of spiritual and emotional connection with my sister I shared with her that I wish so much more than traditional success for her and all young women.  I wish for all women to also be happy, to be content, and to work hard because they want to contribute to the world by doing something they truly love and makes them happy, whatever that may be.  I also wish for women to be safe, strong, feel beautiful, feel worthy and feel amazing.  Those things may not make it into your resume, but trust me they show and make you radiant whether you are working at a big time corporate firm or bagging someone's groceries.  As for me, I am ok uttering the right things even when my sisters don't want to hear them and being called a "hater" because every time I teach someone something that gets them closer to permanent happiness despite all the things that seem, feel, or go wrong I know I am fulfilling my mission to make the world a better, friendlier place for all women and the men who love us. 

Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a life coach and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, training, writing, and speaking gigs at yaro@yaromilolivares.com.  To purchase my ebook THE HOLY GRAIL OF LIFE COACHING, click here.  To purchase my exercise video, The Sulaxmi Exercise Method, click here.

Thursday
Feb092012

The Secret To Finding Healing Love During A Breakup

 

By Yaromil Fong-Olivares

It’s tempting to become jaded after a big break up.  I get it…It has its function.  When we are feeling gloomy we tend to forget about the fleeting and malleable nature of feelings and emotions.  One way to assuage the temptation to go down the "love sucks" route is to focus on the general and infinite availability of love.  The love that's present in a newborn's eyes, the love you feel when you see a really beautiful flower.  It's universal love, the type that's good for your karma and great for your soul.  I am not pulling this out of thin air in fact this is where I give my people on the Chinese side of my ancestry a big red carpet shout out.  According to Chinese Medicine "like replenishes like", that means if you are blood deficient you eat some liver or drink some beet juice (s/o to my ex for teaching me this).  So to me it makes a lot of sense to surround yourself with love when your heart is aching.  Simple, not easy. 

Photo via flickr.com

One HUGE warning here: no solution is fool/full proof.  Be wary of the lover-snatcher.  This is the person who used to have feelings for you before you were in a relationship, put those feelings away in an easily accessible drawer during your relationship and has now retrieved those feelings.  If you are not careful while basking in a seemingly friendly lovefest the lover-snatcher will abscond with your broken and mendable heart.  Safe love providers include kind and loving relatives of course and friends that have never ever expressed interest in you or you in them.  This last part is important because the snatcher threat feels really good when you are down and out and YOU might be the one trying to do the snatching before you are ready.

Surrounding yourself with universal love during a breakup helps you heal, eliminate shame and prevents you from becoming an alcoholic.  Goddess knows a breakup can drive even the strongest most independent woman to drink too much tequila or vodka. No judgement, just keeping this real.

If you are feeling down, heartbroken and ready to hit the bar at 10 AM, be sure to try these specific love saturation activities:

  • Nature walks, preferably on a sunny day (vitamin D is your friend)
  • Staycation with your bffs
  • Spa day for 1
  • Talking to your mom, aunts, grandmas, elders about their own breakups (this reinforces the fact that this too shall pass)
  • Slumber parties, because nights are tough when you are feeling lonely and these are great for that.
  • Dance classes (going to clubs is nice but risky since you may be tempted to date too prematurely).
  • Yoga, exercise, or boxing.  You choose how intense you want or need to go.
  • Journaling, I like to call it the breakup diary but you can call it "melancholy", "misery", "a*hole"...get creative.
  • Adopt a puppy or a kitten, or if you already have pets, spend time cuddling with them.

Heartache is easier to eliminate when you saturate your life with healing love.  Overpower the feelings of shame, embarrassment and ego bruising by increasing your feelings of power, confidence, and self-love. Moving away from pain is important, moving towards happiness and power is permanent healing. Go get your loving on and soon you’ll get your mojo back.  

 Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a life coach and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, training, writing, and speaking gigs at yaro@yaromilolivares.com.  To purchase my ebook THE HOLY GRAIL OF LIFE COACHING, click here.

Friday
Jan062012

Resolutions, shmolutions + grandma do I hate you? = how to kick unwanted habits 

 

By Yaromil Fong-Olivares

I frequently profess my disdain for New Year's resolutions and yet a couple of weeks ago my sister, and exercise buddy, Yoa (blogger at our sisterly site homegirlguidetonyc.com) and I set out to plan, execute and [hopefully] complete a post-holiday cleanse.  No alcohol, no sugar, no rice, no red meat (yikes!), and no caffeine.  Specifically, a week of vegetable soup during the day and some variation of fish or chicken and veggies for dinner.  Yoa proactively asked her mom for her nutritionist-recommended veggie soup recipe, forwarded it to me and along we went.   Sounds like a breeze right? 

I expected only the first day to be challenging because let's face it I am pretty cocky about my self-discipline.  I truly did not expect what I would learn about myself after a couple of days of doing the cleanse.  I predicted that I would miss the red meat, like I said, I am a meat lover, and definitely miss the red wine, which I usually have with my red meat.

My main concern, however, was that I would feel low energy and perhaps sluggish by the lack of caffeine.  I start my mornings with a big cup of very strong Bustelo espresso.  Furthermore, if you have ever asked me about my coffee habit you have probably heard me tell the story of  how I have been drinking coffee since the age of 5, maybe even younger than that.  I was first introduced to coffee by my grandmother, whom I must say was more like a third mother to me (mom, aunt, grandma that’s the mothering pyramid).  More than a mother I have always considered my grandmother a soul mate, a mirror of who I am and strive to become.  She at 5" foot 1' reared a lot of children, mostly men, not all birthed by her, some her own siblings and with very little money.  My commitment to youth and social justice has always garnered me the “you are just like Mamá ” (our family’s name for Grandma)” accolade. 

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Before you go thinking "wow what a saintly lady", know that in addition to dedicating her life to helping children, grandma also drank a lot of Brugal rum straight from the bottle, smoked a lot of cigarettes and talked a lot of sh*t.  Sound familiar? Somewhat.  I choose Malbec, competitive spades and scrabble playing, blogging and a not-so-secret desire to be a stand up comedian. Nevertheless, her commitment to her own truth and living her life within the freedom of her generation’s confinement is what I have always found most inspiring about her.  The cherry on top is that her name was Esperanza, which means hope in Spanish.

 

Resolutions, Shmolutions

Yesterday, after a good night’s rest, a warm morning shower and 10 minutes of altar meditation I was as energized as a toddler on a McDonald’s playground.  WTF?!!! Where’s my sluggishness?  Where’s my excuse to drink coffee?  I began to dig a little further within only to realize that coffee is not one of my vices, rather it is one of my bridges of connection with my grandmother.  Naturally, after moving to the United States my relationship with my grandmother changed.  Phone conversations and yearly visits were not enough to sustain an intimate relationship.  To honor her, I hold on to memories of her giving me coffee, saving me from some serious, and deserved ass-whoopings delivered by my aunt, and giving me her revenue from her home-based ice-selling business.   I no longer need saving, nor do I need her 25 cents.  Instead, to feel her love, her presence, I need coffee.  I realized that this morning while drinking my tea instead of my usual coffee.  I felt something, someone was missing.  Mamá Esperanza was missing.  Grandma, do I hate you?  I thought. Am I letting you down by not carrying on this tradition, our tradition?  I must admit this tradition is so important to me that I have subconsciously attempted to pass it forward by giving coffee to my nieces and nephews just as Mamá  did with me.  But what if some traditions, some habits, have value, meaning and purpose and also must be eliminated, replaced, reinvented?  A tradition makeover of sorts.  What if I can find a way to include Esperanza in my mornings and honor our tradition without drinking coffee? 

I walked back to may altar and with tears of enlightenment and nostalgia, grabbed Mamá Esperanza’s photo and gently held it against my chest, hugging her and myself.  It was still morning, she was still part of my ritual, her presence was still enveloping my heart.

Surely, we have all heard about emotional overeating.  You eat when you are down, a little sad, maybe even when angry.  If you hate your job or have a bad day you go home and eat an entire apple pie.  Similarly, around mid-month try to wrestle dark chocolate away from me and you will see a side of me you do not want to see.  My knowledge and taste buds are evolving and now I choose organic 85% dark chocolate instead of M&Ms.  However, I understand that for us women that time of the month is about compassion and honoring our needs and wants. That’s the other revelation because unlike coffee, a daily habit, dark chocolate cravings only visit me during that time.  Physiologically I crave chocolate once a month and to me that makes sense.  I can work with that.  Similarly emotional overeating, while similar to my coffee experience it is not the same because it can be linked to current events happening in our lives now.  Events, that are within our control and CAN, if we decide to,  be changed.  My daily coffee craving is different than emotional overeating or “that time of the month” because it is also a craving for my Mamá Esperanza’s love, her laughter, her presence. When one craves something that was available ONLY in the past, a feeling, a flavor, an interaction that we have no hope of ever regaining we must honor our maturity and intelligence by finding something that is available now in order to satisfy our craving and liberate ourselves and our loved ones from unnecessary longing.

 

Tying it all up to kick unwanted habits and accomplish resolutions

If you are trying to eliminate or reduce an unwanted habit,  I urge you to consider taking each of your habits and putting each individually through what I call the “Esperanza” test.  Like a detective looking for clues to solve a case, use your intuition and awareness to figure out what is the authentic and real purpose of this habit in your life. 

Next time you blow off the gym and miss your exercise session ask yourself: what or who am I really protecting by avoiding exercise? Is it a connection with my mother or father who also refuse to exercise? Is it solidarity with my partner or children who in my opinion could benefit from exercise as well?  Am I afraid of taking leadership of my health for fear of failure, disappointment or attention?  Similar to that situation, if eating healthy is one of your resolutions and you are considering buying cookies to bring home for dessert are you really saying to your family “I love you, please love me back” or "I'm afraid you'll stop loving me".  Our habits can definitely turn into addictions, and thus turn into illnesses AND YOU can also eliminate each of them by figuring out what positive feeling they bring to your life and implementing other strategies for getting your real needs met.  

 

p.s. Are you enjoying my first ebook, The Holy Grail of Life Coaching?  GURRRLLLL, Please don't tell me you haven't read it...It's only $4.99 on Smashwords.com!!


Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a certified life coach and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, training, writing, and speaking gigs at yaro@yaromilolivares.com.  To purchase my ebook THE HOLY GRAIL OF LIFE COACHING, click here.

Tuesday
Nov012011

How to conquer rejection addiction

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By Yaromil Fong-Olivares

 Are you addicted to rejection?  Conquer your addiction.

I do believe that there is such a thing as the allure of rejection.  It can manifest with our obsession with certain brands which we cannot afford, certain undesirable body parts that we are stuck with, our perfect schools, lovers, "look" even where we dine out and with whom.  I also believe it is possible to liberate ourselves from our addiction to rejection once and for all. To enjoy living life according to our means, enjoy all of our body parts, the conversations with dysfunctional distant cousins, even our line up of failed relationships and friendships.

Rejection

Recently I was having one of those catch up/ catch all conversations with a friend I had not seen in a while.  You know the type of conversation in which you are racing through work updates, relationship statuses, the ex-factor, top 3 priorities, the last bar we each really loved, our career plans, plans for really important birthday celebrations, etc.  Well hopefully you get the gist and can relate.

During the conversation we each kept going back to a few former lovers who although in the past acted really shady with us we still somehow held in high regard AND despite our busy schedules always find time to see.  Why? I asked.  I just love him, she responded.  But then as we continued to discuss our feelings we figured it out.  It’s the allure of rejection, holding on to us like an umbilical chord, dirty, rotten and ready to be cut.  For each situation we went through, either an ex lover that dumped us on a major holiday (say Christmas) or the perfect job we didn’t get, a BFF that is living happily ever after with one of our lovers,  it came down to being rejected, deeply disappointed and well feeling a little humiliated AND not being able to yet admit it.  See the problem with this unrequited love (relationship, friendship, job, school) is that we become hyper-attached, almost possessed and obsessed with WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN and are unable to accept that we have been betrayed, disappointed, hurt.  We construct an ideal outcome, the one that we wished for, but never really happened.  In fact, it never happens. By doing this, we protect ourselves from dealing with the pain of having our egos bruised and the learning that ensues from the subsequent healing process.

If you are struggling with letting go of a painful memory of rejection and keep reliving it, ask yourself when was the last time that you imagined something strictly in your head (not a dress fitting but a new partner or job) and it panned out EXACTLY how you envisioned?  Now I am not saying we don’t get pretty close because if we are mindful and intentional with our lives we do get closer to what we want.  However, unless you have a special deal with the “future goddess” (and if you do please hook a sista up!) I doubt that your predictions are 100 percent accurate all of the time.  So I suggest, rather than focusing on what could have been, it’s most important to be realistic and practical about what DID HAPPEN.  It's time to deal with the pain and finally rip off that rejection band-aid in order to heal from your emotional wounds.

rejection_washpost04

Remember to have compassion with yourself during this process.  There are reasons, most often subconscious, why you and I struggle with the allure of rejection. We secretly want to "fix" others, perhaps take care of them, we may even want to prove something. Sometimes we learned from our mothers to accept rejection and aggression from our loved ones as a normal part of life.  I have yet to meet anyone who is able to move pass rejection without a hint of ego-bruising (i.e. baggage).  If you have tips, please do share.   In the meantime, I am utilizing the following mantras during my meditations to train myself and my ego to accept rejection as a lesson in uncertainty and toughness. Yes,  I accept that I cannot control the actions of others only my own.  I am also tough enough to heal from even the most devastating of rejections in a healthy and human way.   

IF and WHEN you are ready to move on from the shackles of ego bruising rejection and are tempted to blame yourself for an unexpected or painful outcome, remember these few liberating and effective mantras:

  • I deserve a lover that loves me back.
  • I deserve a job  in which I am creatively and intellectually stimulated, that pays me the salary I deserve, and has a culture of ethics, mind-body-spirit balance, giving and  collective dignity.
  • I deserve a great night’s rest.
  • I deserve to have amazing, mind-blowing sex, when I want to, even if that’s very very frequently.
  • I deserve to eat well and live in a place I choose.
  • I deserve to be safe of harassment or any other type of emotional, verbal or physical violence.
  • I deserve to follow my own higher self.
  • WTF is perfection? My imperfections deserve love and compassion.

Tribe me - 7

Are you ready to conquer your rejection addiction or would you rather continue feeding that demon?  Share your wisdom below.

Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a life coach and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, training, writing, and speaking gigs at yaro@yaromilolivares.com.

p.s. to get a HUGE discount on my upcoming self-coaching e-book sign up to get this blog delivered and you'll be the first to know when the book is out.

p.p.s. for the record, speaking with a racially-ambiguous accent, being a lesbian, having an abnormally long big toe, and enjoying a fascination/strong connection to the dead (spirit world) are not imperfections, these are gifts.  #justsaying.

Saturday
Apr232011

Are you Damaged Goods?

By Yaromil Fong-Olivares / April 23, 2011Are you damaged goods or textured?

Are you damaged goods or textured?

When we refer to someone as “damaged goods”, we accept it as negative; a term attached to a lot of emotional stigma.  As we continue to grow, get stronger and develop true self and personal authenticity we also learn to beautifully and gracefully hide our various "damaged" layers.  The layers of pain, trauma, disappointment and deception we hold within our core.  We become experts at superimposing our great victories, lessons, triumphs and freakishly perfect life moments in our lives over our “dark times”.

Today, I challenge you to break the silence and embrace your darkness with the same boldness, fearlessness and pride you embrace the brightness.  Share your fullness, your holiness and your power.  Vulnerability is an asset.  Loving is a privilege.  Our lives have texture because they are meant to have texture.  Our roads are meant to hold pebbles for us to trip on and have rails to help us when we are ready to get back up. Even our dearest loves are intended to break our hearts.  

So I ask you again, are you damaged goods or textured?

Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a life coach and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, trainings, and speaking gigs at yaro@yaromilolivares.com.

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Monday
Apr112011

Are You an Energy Vampire?

Are You An Energy Vampire?Are you an energy vampire?

By Yaromil Fong-Olivares/ April 11, 2011

Is your body count going up?

Are you “killing” others with your emotional distance, manipulation, or unprovoked anger?   Like an illness, unresolved traumas and depression spurs can possess you and lead you to hurt the people around you.  Sometimes the folks we hurt are random casualties that happen to cross our path at the wrong moment.  However, most often, these folks whose soul and spirit we are attacking are also our dearest loved ones.  Consequently, we seldom get called out on our “killing” sprees and thus we remain unaware of how our words and actions are destroying the spirit of those most intimately around us.

It's no easy task listening with minimal ego reaction when your closest girlfriend tells you that you are sucking her energy dry. Sometimes our killing is rooted in our subconscious and deep down we believe we are doing the “best” we can or worse the “best” for the other person. 

In order to eliminate our killer side we must begin by eliminating our own self-loathing.  When we become aware of our faults either by our own observation or the observation of others, our first inclination is to protect ourselves; in other words rationalize why we act in that way and why it is really beneficial.  But, the second inclination is to hate ourselves for it.  If you are evolved enough to hate yourself for a trait that you have rationalized your way into accepting in your life’s blueprint you should be proud.  It’s at the self-hating stage that true evolution takes place.  We are so adept at killing others because we have learned to kill ourselves so brilliantly that we have even developed a way to pretend it’s personal development. 

Realizing how we put ourselves down in the name of personal growth is a crucial step toward lifelong happiness.  This is how we gain an authentic, unbiased, and objective view of our lives in the context of our navigation strategy during our unique journey.  This view allows us to see our talents, traumas, evils, brilliance, love, and magic; the version of us where our evils and sanctity meet, fight it out, and our true wisdom shines.  But it also allows us to see everything else - the bullshit we have accumulated and stored throughout out lives in order to deal with our fear of knowing our truest selves.

So next time you feel icky about an interaction with someone, friend or stranger, I urge you to tap into your inner fearlessness and stay in that ickiness, then accept your role in the interaction.  Forgive yourself as you decide how you can and will handle similar interactions in the future.  There’s only one way to stop killing and that is to compassionately and fearlessly accept your role as the perpetrator of the massacre.  Acceptance leads to compassion and compassion leads to authentic healing.  Healing is a farce unless you begin with true compassion toward yourself.  

Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a life coach and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, trainings, and speaking gigs at yaro@yaromilolivares.com.

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