Remind yourself of all the blessings and goodness around you. When we are overwhelmed with the noise of others, political discord and anxiety filled vibrations, we can’t even think of the greatness around us. We are so immersed in the insanity of today’s world that it drowns out the beautiful things that are true blessings. It may be as simple as acknowledging 20 components of your life that you are grateful for and this will start to shift the mind into being more present and therefore mindful.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Violette de Ayala, a Cuban American serial and social Entrepreneur, Founder of FemCity®, and the International Best-Selling Author of The Self-Guided Guru© Life Lessons for the Everyday Human.
Violette has been quoted in Success, Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Fast Company, Thrive Global, Medium, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Small Business, Authority, Business Insider News as a small business expert and in MarieClaire.
Violette has also been seen in featured campaigns in People, InStyle, Real Simple magazines in addition to bareMinerals “Women We Love” Series.
She served as part of The White House: Women Environmental Leaders Program and was a commissioned Keynote speaker for Accenture’s International Women’s Month Event, the SBA Regional Women’s Conference, and Luxury Brand Partners.
FemCity has been seen in Gilt, Vogue, Forbes, AP, Mashable and Fast Company and has over 100 locations in the US, Canada and the Islands.
Violette is a Member of NationSwell Council, Entrepreneur Leadership Network and a Contributor for Entrepreneur.com.
Violette and Stephen and have three kids that span mid 20’s to tween age. Their gracefully aging rescue dog, Cosmo is a frequent pseudo star on her Instagram.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
When I started FemCity, I envisioned the community to only be in Miami which is where we launched the organization. Through the months of running local Miami Networking events for women in the community, it started to grow and grow. I didn’t have a business plan or business model, nor website, and ways to monetize. It was after posting event photos on Facebook, that women started to request a FemCity community in their neighborhood. I had no idea what that would even mean or if it was possible. I just created as we grew, listened to what women wanted when it came to networking and now we are in over 100 locations in the US and Canada. That to me is the most interesting because I never envisioned it to be as large as it’s become.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Ask yourself “what are the key principles you want to be known for that are incredibly important to you”. Narrow it down to 3 if the question feels a bit overwhelming. For FemCity, since the start, my principles were in diversity, inclusiveness and a profound connection to collaboration and gratitude. It has been our guiding force and I feel it attracts those individuals that feel connected to those principles as well.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I always go back to the Marianne Williamson book, A Woman’s Worth as my most impacting read. I was around 20 years old and it changed my life and perspective of what is possible. My favorite quote is “When a woman rises up in glory, her energy is magnetic and her sense of possibility contagious.” It facilitated and crafted my connection to my purpose and it’s a go to motto when I doubt my alignment and path. 30 years later, it is still the book that guides me and reminds me of how powerful it can be to breakthrough barriers and the power each of us have in this world.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
I want to be completely honest here,I wasn’t always a mindful person. I grew up in a very volatile household with a mother that suffered from drug addiction and mental illness. As a result and as an adult, I was disconnected to my emotions, thoughts and behaviour. It took me years of self-reflection and self-discovery to make the necessary changes, edits and tweaks in my life to become mindful. The process and transition wasn’t glamorous, nor was it enjoyable. However, I have arrived. To me, the meaning of mindfulness is all about being connected to the existing presence of thoughts, emotions and actions. It’s connected to making moments purposeful and living intentionally with a connection to deep love for yourself and others.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
The benefits of being mindful I feel are best described with living in peace, grace and in the light of surrendering to that which we cannot control. As an example, since I used my childhood as an example at the start, as a child and young adult, I found myself very angry, out of control with my feelings, bursting out without thinking of words or consequences because that is what I had seen growing up. Once I started on the path of healing which led me to be more mindful or connected to being mindful, I started to become more in control with all areas of my life. I was able to process my thoughts to find solutions and triggers. I started to re-direct internal dialogue to help me gain clarity and reasons for each scenario. I also became more intentional with my thoughts and actions which then started to reshape my life and that then started to create a wondrous expansion of abundance and love. It’s all connected to one another from the core of our mindfulness presence.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Take time to process your thoughts in a space that is removed from chaos, noise or the energies of others. It may be uncomfortable at first to sit and be still, but this is the connection we need to listen to our self-talk and what our thoughts really mean. It helps to find clarity, and get grounded to what is really important.
- Find a way to connect to your intuition and be more mindful. For me this can happen just by stepping outside and touching the grass with my toes. It can also occur by hearing the birds chirping or the sounds of trees brush upon each other. Nature seems to be a place to help you find that connection to your intuition and all of our answers and resolve exist in this spot.
- Remind yourself of all the blessings and goodness around you. When we are overwhelmed with the noise of others, political discord and anxiety filled vibrations, we can’t even think of the greatness around us. We are so immersed in the insanity of today’s world that it drowns out the beautiful things that are true blessings. It may be as simple as acknowledging 20 components of your life that you are grateful for and this will start to shift the mind into being more present and therefore mindful.
- Surround yourself with others that are also practicing mindfulness or on the journey to becoming more mindful. Hanging out with those that are also looking to make drastic improvements will assist you greatly as you uplevel to a new level of being mindful.
- There will still be moments that you lose connection to being mindful and forgive yourself and be kind when these moments happen. It’s a practice and the ebb and flow takes time to secure. Give yourself the grace to get better each day and recognize that you are doing the best you can with what you’ve got and been through.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Listen to others that are needing a platform to be heard. Be there with your ears and listen without thinking of your response. The art of listening is powerful and we all want to be heard.
- Practice mindfulness as it’s contagious and will inspire to learn more and start to make the changes as well.
- Sharing moments of when we felt anxious as well and what seemed to help will greatly assist others that are going through moments of anxiety.
- Recommend books, workshops, videos that assisted you during these times. I love when friends ask me for my favorite books that made a difference in my own personal pivot. Surrounding them with the resources that helped you can be of great benefit.
- Lastly, remind them that there should be an amount of grace they give themselves during this time. It’s a difficult time and the influx of dramatic emotions is common. Offer grace and love so they can navigate with your support.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
Developing a practice that feels right for them is critical. As an example, I meditate every morning, I have my practice of meditating again prior to work, listening to certain music and even lighting white candles while I work is my jam and routine. That may not be for others and for everyone. Research what has helped others in developing a routine and start with one and create a routine [practice]. When you feel better and ready, add another component. Take the smaller steps that feel good and in alignment to who you are and keep on growing and adding on to those. We all have our own self-guided guru and certainly learn from others but taking the pieces that connect with us makes it personal and places the ownership in our control.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“As we rise, look back and help others rise as well”…It’s our innate design to help others, it feels good to help others and we need more of this in the world. If we all lived by this, the world would be such a happier and mindful place. Everytime I get to a new level of success, I look at how I can help others do the same.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).
Thank you so much. I have a lot of work still to do with FemCity and growing our movement into more cities and countries. I recently wrote a book “The Self-Guided Guru, Life Lessons for the Everyday Human” and also feel that there is so much work for me to do in the spiritual self-help world. I am going to keep on growing these movements around the world to serve more people.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
You can follow me on Instagram at @violettedeayala and follow my journey of mindfulness.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!