Transforming Pain Into Power and Purpose


Transforming Pain Into Power and Purpose

Transforming Pain Into Power and Purpose

with 4x TEDx Speaker and Thought Leader ELAYNA FERNANDEZ

When I was pronounced dead, I knew it, not because they said it, but because all of those emotions were gone. I only felt peace, I had a deeper understanding and I was so hyper aware and it was like that’s me, but I’m me and I’m just an energy, I’m just a presence. -Elayna Fernandez

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Elayna Fernandez: 0:00
allowing yourself to validate your pain and move through it, knowing about the possibility. In the end, just like in the slum right, I’m in this pile of garbage. It doesn’t smell good, it doesn’t feel good, but I’m allowing myself to grab onto a possibility, in that possibility, then allowing myself to know I’m getting there, but I’m still here, being present, without pain. So I always say in the midst of pain, don’t be positive, be present, and being present will bring you to be positive.

Ella Magers: 0:48
Hey there and welcome to Rise and Thrive with me, ella Majors. I created this high-vibed podcast from a place of profound curiosity, fierce compassion and the deep desire to connect you with the wisdom of inspirational wellness, health, fitness and conscious leaders and change makers. Here’s to discovering our blind spots and embracing life as the adventure it is. The time is now. Let’s do this. Hey, hey, everyone Ella here. So today’s episode is extra special and I’ll tell you why. The extraordinary experiences that my guest, alaina Fernandez, shares, from her upbringing in the slums of the Dominican Republic to being kidnapped and assaulted, to literally dying in a terrible accident, to her incredible rise to the top as a world-renowned speaker, coach and entrepreneur, are insanely inspiring. As a four times TEDx speaker, tedx organizer and certified speaking coach, alaina is a best-selling author, international keynote speaker and award-winning storyteller who was named one of the top 20, sorry storyteller. Who was named one of the 125 top impactful leaders to know worldwide by Success Magazine and has been sponsored by over 500 brands. Not only that I personally stumbled upon Alaina when I was speaking or sorry, not only that, I was not only that. I personally stumbled upon Alaina when I was seeking support to take my own professional speaking career to the next level, and I hired her as a business coach. So, as a coach myself, I know the value of a high-quality coach, and I’m rarely without one in my life in some capacity. That said, I have a big announcement to make and a small request so full transparency. Last year, I considered ditching the Sexy Fit Vegan brand that I founded in 2013, because I was feeling like I had outgrown it in a sense, but instead I’ve been able to put the puzzle pieces together and reconnect to the brand in profound ways, and I do share about that in a recent blog post on SexyFitVegancom. So I’m super excited to let you know that this will be the last of the Rise and Thrive podcast episodes, and I’ll be taking a break to create a Sexy Fit Vegan podcast, which will have a refreshing new format and it’ll deliver incredible value, insights and a bunch of laughter too. We need more of that in our lives, don’t we? In the meantime, if you’re not subscribed to the Vegan Life Coach podcast, our sister show, which you can find at SexyFitVegancom forward slash podcast, I encourage you to subscribe and binge listen to that one, starting at episode one while you wait. Because, well, because it’s totally binge worthy and very different from Rise and Thrive in terms of what you get out of it. And if you’re not subscribed to my Sexy, fit, vegan, sole aligned Sunday newsletter, please get on that list. The link is in the show notes so that you can stay connected and updated as we get closer to the launch of this new show. All right, I’ll be wrapping up here by saying that I could not be more grateful to Alina for challenging me and guiding me to get the clarity I needed to move forward in this exciting and meaningful way, and for this interview, which is so packed with gold. All right, so finally, let’s do this. Alina, I’ve been looking forward to this conversation since you said yes to being on this podcast. Thank you so much for being here.

Elayna Fernandez: 5:22
Oh, I’ve been looking forward to it since you invited me. I am delighted to be here.

Ella Magers: 5:28
You know one of the things I like to ask my guests, because you’ve got a very extensive bio and you’ve had so many experiences and so many accolades and TEDx talks and all of this in your bio. But what I’d like to ask is who is the person behind all of that? Who is Alina?

Elayna Fernandez: 5:50
I love that. I call myself a storyteller, a strategist and a student of fame and the last one usually doesn’t make a lot of sense for people Like what is a student of pain? And I think that being a student of pain has been really truly my essence and my identity, since I can think of my conscious self, because who I am is someone who learns from the pain that is inevitable and is, I would say, ever present in our lives. And when we think about pain, it’s like we are birthed with pain and we move forward to the next realm through pain, and it’s usually this constant threat. I always call it the threat of humanity, and so I think that’s who I am. It’s someone who studies pain and turns it into something else, like an alchemist.

Ella Magers: 7:00
And so interesting. You just said that. So one of the things that Quinn and I were doing on our trip to Guatemala, I brought the book the Alchemist and we were reading it back and forth to each other, like I’d read a chapter, he’d read a chapter out loud, so it was so interesting that you said that and I hadn’t heard that before, and it makes so much sense. The birth process, how we come into this world, how we leave this world, and then everything in between. We want to run from it, but that is the foundation.

Elayna Fernandez: 7:32
Absolutely, and it’s the common thread of humanity, because one of the things you know we call it love, but I call it compassion. One of the main themes of how we commune in this world is through compassion and if you look at the meaning, the etymology, you know I’m a word nerd. We already got that. Yes, I love this about you. And I love, like that, reading chapters to each other, love that. But one of the things in the etymology of the word compassion is that it means to suffer with, to suffer together. And so when I think about our world, when I think about humanity, when I think about the purpose of us being here is to actually see each other suffering, to be present with each other suffering and to really participating, easing that suffering, not in a way, like you said, like running or disguising or masking or suppressing, but in a way that heals each other. And it starts with ourself.

Ella Magers: 8:43
You know, for people who don’t know your story, I think it is important because this is how you come to all these conclusions is through your own experiences, starting with when you were born into this world. Can you share? And then along the way, we can kind of make little turns and twists and explore. Yes, there’s so much right.

Elayna Fernandez: 9:02
There is.

Ella Magers: 9:03
It’s like we need maybe five episodes to cover it all.

Elayna Fernandez: 9:07
Yes, exactly, and you know, as you said, it starts when we are born, because that’s something that we don’t choose where or who we’re born into. Not that we remember it anyway, right, right. And so when we first look at where we’re born, who we’re born into we don’t say I chose this, that’s not how it feels right, it feels like this was something that was assigned to me and I remember being five years old and looking at my environment and looking at where I live and looking at my reality and thinking I don’t want to be alive Not only, you know, because I was born into extreme poverty, growing up in a slum, and definitely poverty has a very, I would say, demolarizing element to it, because you don’t have your basic needs and you feel that everything is hard. And, as a five year old, to think about how your life is so hard and so tiring, how you have to fetch your water and wake up before everybody is awake so that you can provide for your family, so that you can earn the right to go to school, but then know that you’re somehow privileged because in your environment no one goes to school, no one has basic sanitation, basic medical care, basic nutrition, and how there’s so much dysfunction around you, and I wasn’t consciously thinking about those words, I just thought this is too hard. I don’t want to be here every single day being told I was worthless and I didn’t really have the right to be alive, and so it was a very painful childhood, and very rarely do I think of glimpses or moments in which I felt joy and I felt love and I felt acceptance and belonging in this world. So it was definitely something that was hard on a child, and I have to sit with my inner little girl very often and say to her I was so hard for you, I’m so sad you went through that. So that’s how my conscious life began. And just knowing that I was very invalidated because not only I had all this messaging from the people that were supposed to take care of me, but also I had these other messages that told me like you’re a fighter, you can do this, you survive so much. You know, I was told the story about how I three months old, so I have suffered from epileptic seizures, and at three years old I was brought back to life from a seizure and everyone thought that I was gone, and so I remember hearing this messaging that I should be grateful to be alive at the same time as you don’t deserve being alive, and that has been kind of the thread that runs through my entire existence, wow.

Ella Magers: 12:35
That’s pretty incredible that you can place yourself back, and I got full body chills when you’re talking about being five. I mean, that is an age like we think about our children I don’t have children, but most of our audience a lot of them, do you know and wanting children to be able to be children. You didn’t really have that opportunity to be a child, to play, to find delight, and when we think about children, it’s like wow, we want to be more childlike because they’re so present, because they’re so joyful and so playful, and to not have that in your life is wow amazing.

Elayna Fernandez: 13:15
Yeah, and that’s why I’m childlike now. Yeah, so both yes, there we go.

Ella Magers: 13:23
I mean talk about resilience. So as you started to get older, when did things shift and how did you start to balance that thought of not wanting to be here versus I’m a fighter, I’m going to make it. I’m going to make something of myself.

Elayna Fernandez: 13:36
Yeah, I love that question because it’s both, and I still live in that battle. And I call it a battle because it definitely is very easy to go to a dark place and it’s also very easy when you have the tools to find the light. And so I think you know it’s something that we all go through and that I am on a mission to help validate in humanity, to realize that is not either or that it’s both, that we have this darkness that we’re working with and this light that helps us understand what the darkness is. So you know, I’m still in that journey and I remember the first time that I had, you know kind of that epiphany that I was more than that is when and you know these stories when my brother and I are in the back of our little shed and we’re in the landfill and I always say the land filled with toys and treasures. So we’re in this landfill and everything is so yucky and muggy and you know it’s really hot. It was in the Caribbean. I’m from the Dominican Republic and I saw this magazine and I heard a call within myself and I saw this vision, because in the magazine was a very happy family and those children who are being children, to your point. They were playing with real toys, they had books, their families were reading together. There was this energy of love and light that I was just desiring and craving for myself and that I thought was not possible for me. But in that moment I embraced that ray of light, I embraced that vision and I said I want this and I can have it, and I will have it if I learn this language. And so I decided to somehow have embraced this bold vision. I call them bold goals now, not smart goals, because that wasn’t really smart. It was something that just came to me and I turned to my little brother he’s my favorite person in the world, by the way and I said if we learn this language, we can have this life. And it was a life of abundance. It was a life of love and safety, which was something that wasn’t present in the chaos of violent and very, I would say, perfectionistic environment for a spirited person. I also was medicated for my seizures, so it was really requiring the impossible of someone like me, and so I remember that being a pivotal point in my life because I was able to embrace that as something that was possible for me. And I think you know for everyone who’s listening is that sense of possibility, which is yucky Everything is around us and how much garbage and trash and pain and discomfort there is but that we understand the potential that we have and the possibilities that are really out there for us, and that we grab onto those, even if they’re so far fetched. That’s why I call it a bold vision, because if I was thinking about what was realistic and what was reachable, I would have never allowed myself to start that journey.

Ella Magers: 17:37
And with your own clients. Today, do you still use bold instead of?

Elayna Fernandez: 17:42
Absolutely, I use bold goals. I love that. Yeah, absolutely. That’s actually the first part of our journey together in one of the programs that I have is realizing that we need a bold vision and to have bold goals. And it started there because I started then saving up and doing all of this. I had this cardboard puppet theater that I started telling stories in the slum. There was no electricity, so I used that candle and cardboard puppets to talk about this amazing life that was possible and with those coins I was able to enroll myself in English classes after four years and this is where we are now today.

Ella Magers: 18:32
Incredible. One detour I wanted to kind of go back to, because you had mentioned both love and compassion and then kind of talked about them being different. Can you talk about how you use each and what they mean to you? Yeah, absolutely.

Elayna Fernandez: 18:46
Well, you know, I speak Spanish, so it’s very close to Latin root of the words. And one of the things that are really, you know, just something that I really love about the romance languages is that we have different words for love. So in English, the word love is used for shoes and for a favorite food, and for a brother and a sister and a soulmate, all at the same time. And so if we were to talk in Spanish, we know if you like, like somebody because te quiero, me gustas and I love you. Te amo are completely different words, verbs, and they are used with different people, and we don’t use the word love for things. We use me encanta, which is like I really like it and I enjoy it. So I would say me encanta a chocolate and amo a la. And so the thing with the origin of the words, that when I think about when we feel loved, when we truly feel that someone is present with us, it’s not so much in the good times, when they compliment us, when they praise us, when they hug us and kiss us, because they feel a rush of emotion, of closeness. It’s really when we have intimacy, it’s really in the moments of vulnerability, in the moments of suffering. So how do you know someone has deep affection for you? It’s going back to the children and babies, right. And then the very babies is when someone completely depends on you and they can trust you. They can trust you at their worst, at the most vulnerable moment, where you need that air and when you need to suffer with them. And that truly is the essence of that love that I’m talking about. It’s not just whoa, I think you’re adorable, I like the way your skin fills next to mine, or I really think you’re amazing and I admire you, or I like your company. It’s more like can I be completely authentic with you and can you accept me? After that? One of my favorite songs says nothing you confess will make me love you less, I’ll stand by you. Yes, I love that line because it’s like nothing you confess will make me love you less. That’s like the essence of all conditional love, and that comes through compassion. Compassion is a different type of love, the love that we all aspire to feel, the love that truly has meaning, because it’s the antidote of that suffering.

Ella Magers: 22:05
Oh, makes perfect sense. You explain that so gracefully, so beautifully. So okay, so we’ve got the English classes. What would you say is the next big kind of milestone? And then pain, you know lesson that you get in your life.

Elayna Fernandez: 22:21
Yeah. So you know, the English lessons helped me aspire to something that was love-centered that’s the L in bold Something that comes from something bigger than me, something that I knew I am not my circumstances, but I am bigger than that and there’s more possibility. And then the second piece I think in the biggest piece happened when I was in a coma, and I have to tell you both stories so that you see the contrast, because the thing is that I realized that the missing key of that pain and love was truly that compassion piece that we’re talking about. So when I was 19 years old, I was in the capital of my country and feeling on top of the world, like achieving the material things and the success and the accolades that I wanted, and I was very driven by achievement and you know, at that time that served me because it helped me see a different version of who I was, and at the same time I felt emptiness because that’s not truly where love comes from and self-love. And I was in school. I was going to college, which I loved and I know you can relate to that because you were also very successful in your school and in your degree and so that filled me with a lot of fulfillment in the way that I felt good about myself. I felt like I could change my life, like I had agency of what was happening and I had left behind just the poverty but also the pain of the violence that I was experiencing daily in my home life. And so one day I was taking transportation and I ended up being kidnapped by a very much older man who pretended to be sort of a newer driver or left driver in today’s modern terminal. And I remember just feeling so low, and not only because of what was happening, but because that was a combination of feeling very powerless, like no matter where I go or what I do, I am attracting this violence into my life and this harsh words and this demoralizing behavior. And it was really interesting that I was fighting for my life, even though I felt that there was no value in my life anymore. And when I was able to get out of this situation, I remember just feeling very angry, angry with everything I believed in, god. And then I was angry with God and just felt very alone, and I didn’t really realize it, because I felt that there was something wrong with me. Why wasn’t I grateful, like everybody was telling me oh my goodness, you survived. We are so grateful that you survived, we are so grateful that the pregnancy test is negative, we are so grateful that you can go to court and face him, we are so grateful that justice is going to be served. And I didn’t feel grateful. And so there was all this shame, because I wasn’t grateful and I wasn’t focusing on this miracle that happened. I just felt ugly, dirty, I felt because of programming that I had from my childhood, I felt like the only value in my purity was gone, that I was tainted, forever unlovable. And I felt alone. Because people were motivating me. They just kept telling me everything happens for a reason and I was thinking also well, the reason must be that I’m worthless and that everyone that comes into my life needs to hurt me, because what other reason would there be? And I felt like I don’t care if I will look back at this and be grateful for it. I don’t want to look back at it. It’s happening right now. I go into the future and find this silver lining. It’s not a good thing that I don’t have an STD, and I was just thinking about all these great things that weren’t even issues the day before this happened, I wasn’t necessarily going to be taking a pregnancy test the day before, or to be screened for any of these illnesses, or to worry about what I was going to look back upon, and it was just this really, really dark place in which, every single day, I wish I would die every single day. And so, after six months of this torture, in which the nightmares were inescapable, I just had nightmares, terrors, felt alone, felt like these people are supposed to love me, but they don’t, because they just don’t get it, they don’t want to see my pain. No one is sad about this, everybody’s grateful. And so, past four or six months, I am trying to reintegrate into my life. I started enrolling in a new semester, go to school. My brother is now living with me, which was really exciting because I had been living by myself and then my friend offers to give us a ride home from school and we have a car accident. And in this car accident I come out being declared dead on arrival. And you know, spoiler alert I was revived. You know, my brother is to blame. I used to say to blame because I didn’t want to be alive. I remember just looking at my lifeless body and saying good, finally, rest, peace. You know I wrote a poem called Rest and Peace and how that sounds like rest in peace, because that’s what I wanted. I want to rest and I want to peace. All this working, striving and feeling, this turmoil, inner and outer, I was just so tired, ella.

Ella Magers: 29:13
How did it feel being outside your body, like that experience of looking in? Was there confusion at first? Was it very clear the whole time? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Elayna Fernandez: 29:24
It was like going into an abyss and then going into a light, and that was really, really, I think, symbolic for me that it was so dark and then it was so bright and I remember thinking you know, yes, I want this, this feels good. And so I knew exactly what was happening and I could see myself, and there’s a funny thing about how I was having before I got to the hospital and was pronounced dead. I didn’t have consciousness, but I was kind of half in my body. It’s kind of hard to explain, because I knew exactly the moment that my whole spirit left my body. And so I remember being angry because people were stealing from me and you’re probably too young to remember pagers or beepers.

Ella Magers: 30:18
Oh, no Girl, I had a pager 9-1-1 and all that.

Elayna Fernandez: 30:24
Oh my gosh. So I remember having a beeper attached to my pants, like clipped to my pants, and seeing someone stealing them from me and just thinking, being angry. And then, when I was pronounced dead, I knew it, not because they said it, but because all of those emotions were gone. I only felt peace, I had a deeper understanding and I was so hyper aware and it was like that’s me, but I’m me and I’m just an energy, I’m just a presence. And I say just only to kind of think about what I thought in that moment. But now I know that there’s no just. It was all encompassing, there were no words, there was understanding, there was exchange and in that moment in which I was in that realm, everything was beautiful. And I don’t know if you know the Coldplay song they’re one of my favorite bands. Yes, I love Coldplay. So when I heard that song yellow, yellow I started to cry, because that’s exactly what it was like up there it was all yellow.

Ella Magers: 31:40
And you say you were angry at your brother. How did this turn around?

Elayna Fernandez: 31:44
Yeah. So I wasn’t angry at him, but I was just like no, just let him leave me. Because they said to him, like we want to check if you’re okay, because she’s no longer with us, I can’t do anything about her. And he just started crying and weeping. And my brother is like the mellowest person you’ve ever meet and my favorite person, but he was really being feisty and really saying no, don’t touch me, don’t be near me, see what’s going on with my sister. I’m trying to translate in my head, but it was rescue my sister. That’s kind of the translation that I’m going for right now. And so he was just so, so intense and I had never seen my brother like that. And that was the first revelation for me that when people suffer with you and they suffer for you is when you feel love. It was that compassion that he was not thinking about his own suffering, because he was hurt. It wasn’t lethal, but he was also hurt. He was thinking about my heart and about the possibility of losing me, and that was the common thread. After that, you know, I was in a coma. I was told it was not my time, so I came back into my body and while I was in that coma, people would come and cry near my bed, at my bedside. People would be angry and they would say things that they had never said before, like she’s been through so much. After she went through the horrible experience, look at where she is now. Nobody told me it was horrible before and I remember thinking, even in that state. When they motivated me, I wanted to die. When they made it positive, I wanted to die. When they sat with my pain, when they shared in my pain, I wanted to live.

Ella Magers: 33:59
What a powerful lesson for us all, and I think one of the hardest things is being the other person, when somebody’s grieving right Like when my dog died right and I’m feeling badly for the people around me because I know it’s hard to know what to say what to do, and I think what you’re saying right now is so helpful for all of us to know how to just be with somebody and sit in it with them when they’re in pain.

Elayna Fernandez: 34:30
Exactly, you know I call it the three essence silence, safety and space because we want to fix it and you know I am a mom. I will tell you, I have wanted to fix my girl’s pain. It’s so tempting, it’s such an urge because we are not taught to sit in the discomfort of our own pain. And so when we sit in the fire of our own discomfort regularly and we will allow our pain and we validate our pain, we express our pain, then we become more comfortable when someone else is in pain and then we can provide them that space for them to be with their pain, that silence that they need to process and to express, and also that safety that, no matter what they say, we’re going to consider it valid and that we’re going to say that, that we’re going to say it’s valid that you’re feeling this way. Because one of the things and it’s my biggest pet peeve is that I share these stories and I have plenty of those stories, believe me and people compare their pain and pain is pain. There’s no little pain or big pain or this is a big one, because, for many reasons, when people say first world problems, it’s just like a dagger to my heart Number one there’s no third world. Please don’t say that. Yes, but at the same time it’s like who are we to judge what level of pain is? Because we really don’t understand the depth of what’s happening inside of that person. Have you ever heard of Gabo or Mate?

Ella Magers: 36:20
Oh my goodness, he’s the reason I went to Peru, yeah.

Elayna Fernandez: 36:23
All right. So he says drama, trauma. Drama is not what happens to you, is what happens inside of you as a result of what happens to you. So the reason that we measure pain or compare pain is because we’re really assigning an event as the trauma, when trauma is not an event, it’s an experience. And so, ella, you might just spill juice on your top and that may be very, very painful and traumatic for you and I may burn my hand, and that may not be traumatic for me because it’s not an event. It’s the meaning that we assign it. And maybe we’re thinking, well, why do you assign it that meaning? Well, it’s not that easy. I also think that we sometimes have the wrong messaging about how we control our thoughts and we control our reaction. There are many experiences that shape our beliefs, and many of those beliefs are unconscious and subconscious, and so it may be very automatic and very deep and very rooted into something that maybe didn’t even start with us.

Ella Magers: 37:51
Right, yeah, yeah, that makes perfect sense when we think about just our different reactions and the tools that we have to deal with them. And it’s also very empowering what you’re saying, right, because it’s validating, and empowering because it also says that those are our own. We get to own that and it’s okay whatever it is.

Elayna Fernandez: 38:16
Absolutely and that we are lovable, not in spite of it, but with it. Yes, you know, with our shadows, with our pain. You know one of my coping tools now that I’m compassionate with myself when any thought of death comes through, that, you know, has been my companion since I was five years old and those thoughts still come and it’s a part of me, a manifest in itself in that way, and I can sit with that part and we do poetry, we do art, we do, you know, we partner with each other to transform that pain and transform those thoughts. But before I will use to shame it, like, oh, my goodness, because that’s the stigma and the different messages that we get in society, like oh, but why would you think like that about your life? You have four beautiful children or you have achieved so much, and it’s like it’s a both, and I am grateful and happy and just over the moon delighted and honored to live the beauty in my life. And I am also excited to work with those thoughts that come through and with the emotions that I’m feeling and to experience a deeper healing and to know that, even though it’s uncomfortable and I was just telling you this in another conversation that we had like, and I have those moments like really seriously this is what we’re dealing with right now and to move it into an opportunity for learning and being a student in that moment.

Ella Magers: 40:17
And is that what you mean? Because we’ve talked a lot about sitting in discomfort and being okay with that and your brand is the positive mom. Oh my gosh, we could talk for hours. So let’s move forward a little bit, because I want to talk about your journey to creating this brand and then that kind of difference between positive and being okay with negative, or what we call negative emotion, and how you align all of that.

Elayna Fernandez: 40:46
I love that question because I’m sneaky. Yes you are, because I think that positive only comes through negative and when we think about, like how I went through that dark abyss and then it was all yellow. That is how we move through pain and I know that you’ve participated in a lot of healing modalities and ceremonies and things that teach you about that. It is through sitting in that discomfort that you get to the positive and anything else is masking, anything else is bypassing. Unless you express, you feel, you move through that pain, it is not going to be transformed and I think I don’t remember who said this. But if we don’t transform our pain, then we transmit it and I call it the alchemy of pain, because it will turn into something. It will turn into fear, it will turn into being on edge, it would turn into disease. I call it the three D’s dysfunction, disease or disconnection in some case, in some way. Or you could turn it into what I call the gifts of pain, which is power, purpose, process, progress, peace, prosperity. So we have this option to transform our pain, turn it into something else, and it’s the only option. We just choose which way to go. Do we mask it and it turns into disease, dysfunction and disconnection, or do we process it through validation and transforming it into all these beautiful gifts that we have. And that’s what being positive means is allowing yourself to validate your pain and move through it, knowing about the possibility and the end, just like in the slum right, I’m in this pile of garbage, doesn’t smell good, doesn’t feel good, but I’m allowing myself to grab onto a possibility and that possibility and that possibility then allowing myself to know I’m getting there, but I’m still here, being present, without pain. So I always say, in the midst of pain, don’t be positive, be present, and being present will bring you to be positive.

Ella Magers: 43:35
Yes, oh, it’s so clear. It’s so clear, you and your alliteration and all your words that just go perfectly together and are magical and poetic. It’s so amazing. All right, and when you were in the coma, going back to that, you were in still in Dominican. Yeah yeah, and so when you came out of that, what was the journey back and when did all of these things like? In this new way of it seems like just the lens, like I picture going to the ophthalmologist, you know what, and they do the different lenses right, and it’s like choosing how or discovering new ways, new lenses through which to see the world. It’s like you’ve tried on so many lenses right, and you keep trying them.

Elayna Fernandez: 44:20
I love that analogy so much, ella, love it so much, especially since I went to the ophthalmologist and now I can’t read without these. But yeah, I started to see myself in a new light, especially because of my brain injury, I lost what I thought was most precious to me. So it’s crazy because I hadn’t even thought of that until you asked this question. That year I had these two traumatic events happen to me, and the first one, as you know, I came out with anger and all of these emotions, which are also positive, they’re neutral, they’re just messenger and I was stripped of something that I thought was my worth, which was my virginity. When I had the car accident, I lost my ability to do math, so I came back and my whole body on the right side was affected, which was my dominant hand, so I learned to use my left hand. I still have trouble thinking left from right and so my identity was pretty much stripped, like I’m not the smart one anymore, which was very big dominant thing, of why I had worth as a child. It was like, yeah, I’m worthless, but I’m the smart one and I can do math really really well, and so now I wasn’t a virgin, so I wasn’t pure, spiritually, supposedly, the belief that I had been programmed with and I wasn’t the smart one, so who was I? And so having that experience and knowing that I’m more than my physical body, that I’m more than my mind, that I am a luminous being that is beyond this life and beyond this existence, really started to form in me. Now I had to do a lot of other learning and go through a lot of other experiences that have enhanced my vision, and one of those was exactly when the positive mom brand started, and it was when I found myself in the fetal position, thinking again that I needed to die and that all of this was a lie, because I never had that magazine vision in my life. And then realizing allowing myself to go to that negative space that we call it negative but it’s really just human and allowing myself to be in that dark space, thinking those thoughts, processing those thoughts, and in processing those thoughts I thought of the vision again. It came to my reality again, because I was thinking that was a lie. I never had it. It doesn’t matter what I do. I’m now in a new place, in a different country. I have two babies, one and two and I’m still on the ground in the fetal position, thinking I should be dead. And that’s when it hit me. That vision wasn’t for me, it was for my children. I could transform my childhood, not into a childhood that existed, but a childhood that is possible for someone else. And that is, again, the true essence of love is to suffer together. Because it was outside of me, it was like, yes, I can make this possible. I have something that drives me, and I know you and I have spoken about that drive to help others, to help humanity, and that’s where the positive mom came from. I realized I couldn’t do anything. I was experiencing homelessness, I didn’t know how to drive. I couldn’t go back to my country because I wasn’t yet a citizen, I didn’t have one cent to my name, I didn’t have a bank account. So all of the things that one person does were outside of my awareness. Like, what am I going to do? Just die with this to little girls? It was the only thing that I could think about. And yet, when I decided to be, I started to write a to be list, and that was the first thing I wrote. It was be positive. And so that’s where the positive mom came from, and when I switched from doing to being. Then all kinds of ideas started to flow, and that’s when I started to write, like I wrote my first blog post with paper and pen and I started to get all this energy because, it’s true, like I didn’t know what to do and it was a true reality and I validated that for myself, like, yeah, you’re right, there’s nothing you can do. But then I remember about what can you be, who can you be? And so that’s my daily practice and I wanna live it with everyone. Every single morning I write myself a to be list of who I wanna be that day and that’s what I strive to do. And so that’s where the positive mom came from. I started processing my pain through writing. It was one of my tools that I use, and then I started to think about the vision that I had for my daughters. It was a renewed vision now. Then it turned into the vision that I want for every child. And it starts with a positive mom, with a mom that, from the womb, is sending those validating messages to the child who is growing in pain, growing pains, that child that’s working together through birth. And even if you adopt, it’s gonna be painful the adoption process to say but whatever it is like, you’re working together with that child to adjust, to learn everything together, and you can say that with our very friends too, and with each other. And so now it started from this little thing for my children, and then for other children, and then for the children of the world, and guess what? It ended with going back to myself.

Ella Magers: 51:06
I was just about to say that. Full circle, yeah.

Elayna Fernandez: 51:09
Yeah, you know. I realized then later on, as I started to experience other things, that that little girl was so connected and that it was a holistic turn and that I needed to go back to her and think about what she needed, because that’s what I need to give myself every day.

Ella Magers: 51:32
I mean, and I can so relate and I have no doubt so many people here listening can relate to that it is that full circle and let’s share about this connected us so deeply when you told me the story about your daughter and the vegan story going vegan story because she was seven. Can you share this?

Elayna Fernandez: 51:51
story? Oh, absolutely yeah. So she’s now 20 years old. No, it’s crazy because I have four daughters now and Alyssa, she was my baby, who never asked for anything. She’s always, you know, thinking about others before herself, so very focused on bigger things and in deeper things. And so for her seventh birthday, I kept asking her what would you like for your seventh birthday? And she didn’t know. And she said oh, mom, you don’t need to get me anything. But very close to her seventh birthday, we went to the library and she said I know what I want for my seventh birthday and you have to say yes, mom, you have to say yes. So I’m getting nervous because I think, like, can I even order it? Can? I even afford it. I mean, like what is this thing? Because, you know, that’s how I thought in that time. And she said, okay, for my seventh birthday, what I want is to be vegan. And I said what does that mean? I had never heard that. I have heard the word vegetariano in Spanish, but never vegan, which is a new thing, right, and so she said mom is when someone doesn’t eat anything, that has a mom. And so I immediately got it. I got it, I couldn’t say no to that, like everything within me and it’s interesting because I remember it. You know, I grew up in a slum, so you had to eat whatever was there, and sometimes we would have our friends and we would eat them for dinner. And it felt so disconnected and I just hugged her tight and I said, of course, honey, of course you can be vegan forever, and I didn’t believe her, though, just full transparency. I thought she’s going to grow out of this, but I’ll support her as long as she does it for. And yeah, it’s been 13 years and now not only am I vegan, my oldest daughter is also vegan, who is one year older than her, and her soon to be husband next week is also vegan. My two little ones, 10 and four, were vegan from the belly, from conception, and it’s been a true blessing in our lives, not only because of the compassion that she felt and that she transmitted to us, it’s also being a way to that was very supportive of our health and our awareness and our clarity, so I feel not only that it has renewed my spirit and my mind, but also my body.

Ella Magers: 54:48
What a beautiful story, Amazing. Alina. What projects are you working on now that you’re excited about? I know you have so many programs and speaking and you’ve got a bio. That’s will be all in the show notes so people can read all about it and link to your website and all of that. But is there anything you’d like to share about what you’re doing and how people can get to know you better and take advantage of anything that you’re offering?

Elayna Fernandez: 55:14
Thank you. Well, yes, I do have a lot of projects, but something that I’m excited about is really truly helping others share their story of pain, and so I started a collection of stories called the gifts of pain. I’m inviting people to share in their 300 words of their painful story and to find that gift through processing that story and making it bigger. Because, I’m very transparent, it is really hard to share painful stories and yet I know that is serving a deeper purpose, and so now I know I am called to also facilitate that for others and that’s really something that I’m excited about and to do it in so many different ways. So, just like I turn my pain into poetry, then turning pain into performance, turning pain into paintings, so it’s really transforming that pain and continuing that alchemy.

Ella Magers: 56:20
Beautiful. We will make sure people can connect to that in the show notes and I would love to have you back on in the future. There’s so many things I want to talk about. I mean just to name a few. I know you’ve said being an advocate for your body is the best thing you can do and why your journey has led you so that mind and spirit come easier to you. And I’m very interested in you know, in the connection of the body. I love how I quote I don’t call myself busy, I call myself, I call myself blessed. Love that one. And your peace, peace on purpose. I want to cover all of that. So will you come back in the future? I?

Elayna Fernandez: 56:55
would love that. Thank you for that opportunity and thank you for the amazing work that you’re doing in the world. Thank you so much, alayna.

Ella Magers: 57:05
I’m so grateful to be connected with you, and I’ll be sharing more about the work we’re doing together, too, in the future. Thank you.

Elayna Fernandez: 57:14
Thank you.

Ella Magers: 57:20
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Rise and Thrive with me, ella Majors. I truly hope you found it inspiring and, if you did, please help me spread the word by leaving a rating and review on your favorite podcast player and by sharing the show with your friends. As you probably know by now, my life’s purpose is to use my voice to make this world a more conscious and compassionate place, and your reviews and shares make a huge impact. And last, I’m getting a ton of insanely positive feedback about my short and sweet monthly newsletter called the Way Short for the Way Out Is Through. I give my top five latest badass discoveries, insights and explorations, like vegan products and recipes. I’m obsessed with books and shows I’m loving and workouts that have me fired up. Head on over to my website, ellamajorscom, to sign up and check out all the other awesome resources I have for you and projects I’m involved with, including Hogs and Kisses Farm Sanctuary, where our mission is to create the best life for farm animals while inspiring compassion for all living beings. Thanks a lot, and I’ll see you on the next one.


When I was pronounced dead, I knew it, not because they said it, but because all of those emotions were gone. I only felt peace, I had a deeper understanding and I was so hyper aware and it was like that’s me, but I’m me and I’m just an energy, I’m just a presence.    – Elayna Fernandez


Have you experienced the transformative power of pain?

Today’s episode is extra special…  The extraordinary experience that my guest, Elayna Fernandez shares, from her upbringing in the slums of the Dominican Republic, to being kidnapped and assaulted, to literally dying in a terrible accident, to her incredible rise to the top as a world-renowned speaker, coach, and entrepreneur, are insanely inspiring.

As a 4x TEDx Speaker, TEDx Organizer, and Certified Speaker Coach, Elayna is a bestselling author, international keynote speaker, and award-winning storyteller who was named one of the 125 Top Impactful Leaders to Know worldwide by SUCCESS Magazine and has been sponsored by over 500 brands. 

I personally stumbled upon Elayna, who also happens to be vegan, when I was seeking support to take my own professional speaking career to the next level,I hired her as a coach, which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

In this episode, Elayna guides us through the philosophy of harnessing pain as a catalyst for growth, sharing her own remarkable journey to highlight how adversity can lead to profound positivity.

In a heartfelt narrative, we explore the significance of compassion, the alchemy of transforming pain into possibility, and the importance of setting bold visions for a future filled with love and abundance.

Elayna’s story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, from her early struggles to her current influence as a global thought leader.

Wrapping up this inspiring conversation, we reflect on how personal tragedies can redefine our sense of self-worth and purpose. Through the creation of the Positive Mom brand and the values Elayna strives to impart to my children, she underscore the importance of embracing our painful experiences to forge a path of growth for ourselves and for future generations. 


Official Bio:

4x TEDx Speaker, TEDx Organizer, and Certified Speaker Coach, Elayna is a bestselling author, international keynote speaker, and award-winning storyteller. Elayna Fernández is best known for her award-winning blog, which has inspired millions of moms in over 160 countries. Elayna’s passion is to help entrepreneurs craft, tell, and turn their painful stories into passive streams of income, so they can break cycles, find peace, and feel whole.

Elayna has been named one of the Top Latina Influencers in the USA and has been sponsored by over 500 brands. As a multiple-trauma survivor, her encouraging coaching style is focused on clarity, compassion, and connection.

She brings over 20 years of experience as a digital entrepreneur, web designer, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert to create meaningful and easy-to-monetize content on every platform.

Elayna was recently named one of the 125 Top Impactful Leaders to Know worldwide by SUCCESS Magazine, along with other powerful leaders Brené Brown, Mel Robbins, and Jay Shetti. She’s spoken on prestigious stages around the world and has served as an advisor and content strategist to leading brands and to some of the most renowned transformational leaders of our time. She’s also a contributing writer for Entrepreneur Magazine.

Elayna has been featured on FORBES, WSJ, SUCCESS Magazine, Inc., Authority Magazine, BRAINZ Magazine, NBC, ABC, CBS, Yahoo! CNN, The Huffington Post, Univision, Telemundo, LATINA, Good Morning America, Real Leaders, and other national and international media.



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