This episode teaches us how to find the light & lesson behind everything we experience & reminds us that we all have the power to rise from Loss to Triumph through the power of kindness. We also talk about:
How (and why) making time to be kind while experiencing loss is so important
How forgiveness & kindness are intertwined
How to free yourself from the prison of your mind and find the gift and lesson in loss
How to (really) be productive with your time right now
Follow on Instagram @sheena.eizmendiz
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Hi, I'm Marly Q, and you're listening to Episode #9 with Sheena Eizmendiz.
Before we introduce our guest, I'm so excited to spotlight this Episode's PARKner who immediately offered to sponsor our podcast after listening to My Abuela in Miami's bonus episode #8.
You may or may not know this, but a lot of real estate agents out there work on the "Always Be Closing" method of business. But our PARKner, Chris Colina, redefined the ABC model to mean, "Always Be Caring". As a veteran, dedicated husband and father of two, Chris understands that buying and selling a home are huge life decisions that you shouldn't have to make alone. Chris is a service driven PARKner who gives clear guidance, trustworthy information, personal communication and most of all KINDNESS to help you sell or find your next home. To learn more and connect with Chris, visit www.chriscolinarealtor.com or follow him on Instagram @chriscolinarealtor.
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Today's guest is definitely someone who Performs Acts of Random Kindness (PARK), and she's an expert in shifting mindsets. I'm talking about Sheena Eizmendiz, she's a high-performance leader, corporate trainer and keynote speaker on the topics of emotional intelligence, stress, leadership and positive psychology. As the best-selling author of her own memoir titled Path of Emergence: From Loss to Triumph, Sheena uses her experience of being sentenced to 21 months in a federal prison, for a crime she never committed, as a tool that can help people experiencing times of fear, uncertainty and loss, which so many of us are experiencing today.
In this interview, Sheena not only gives us insight into her powerful story, she teaches us how to find the light and lesson behind everything that we experience. And she reminds us that we all have the power to rise from loss to triumph through the power of kindness. Let's listen.
Sheena, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for making the time to be kind today.
[02:28] Sheena: Marly, thank you. I'm honored.
[02:30] Marly Q: I feel like you're such a great example of practicing self-love and kindness and kindness towards others and kindness towards the world. So, you're like a perfect guest to have on the show.
[02:41] Sheena: Aw, thank you.
[02:42] Marly Q: Just kick us off with your story. I know you wrote your book Path of Emergence: From Loss to Triumph, and in this podcast we really like to highlight superheroes, and I totally see you as a superhero who has been able to create your own path from loss and betrayal almost to finding triumph and success again. And I think you did a lot of that through kindness. So, please share your story with us.
[03:11] Sheena: Thank you. So, back in 2012, I was given, I say now, it was an amazing opportunity, you know, I always believe that challenges are gifts and it's an opportunity for us to take a really hard and deep look at ourselves and being in a situation where I was pretty much stripped from everything as I knew it, and what I mean by that is, at the time, I had already been in business for 14 years. I was in a very stable and very successful place in my career that I had built all on my own, it really took some time and a lot of obviously, like anything else, you know, trials and errors to get there. I experienced a situation where everything shifted, everything was sort of flipped upside down. I was charged with a federal crime that I had not committed; it was a money crime. It gave me an opportunity because everything as I knew it had changed at the moment to, you know, to really go within myself and question a lot of things. I questioned things outside of me, I questioned things about me, about choices I had made in terms of my personal life, being a single mom pretty much my entire life with two young girls at the time, and, you know, questioned the way that I was showing up in the world, and specifically in my business, I think more than anything in my business.
I definitely was not practicing a lot of kindness towards myself at the time, I was working about 10-12 hour days a day, you know, running a practice with multiple employees, a lot of things going on at the time, a lot of community activities, which I absolutely loved and enjoyed, but I was really at a level of exhaustion and depletion that was just, you know, to the outside world, you couldn't see it. but internally, I was feeling it. I was definitely feeling it. I was 35. At the time, if I-- if my clock is correct, it's been a few years now, and you know, and I was really pretty much removed from everything. I went to prison, I was sentenced to 21 months, and during my time there, I had an opportunity to show up differently and just practice, I think kindness is such an important and valuable thing, and I had to learn that and kind of rewire myself in learning how to be kind to myself, because I felt that I had been practicing kindness to others, but not so much to myself. So, I was able to do a lot of things that I didn't have time to do, or, I'll rephrase that, things that I didn't look for the time to do them such as, you know, I took yoga, I took an art class, something that I had never done before, you know, I used to run seven miles every day in-- we had a track and so, I did a lot of little things that added up, and it really gave myself an opportunity to make different decisions when I was, you know, when I had the opportunity to leave that place, and show up differently, more than anything.
[06:25] Marly Q: And did you see, I mean, I think that that's, wow, first, that's not a fly past that incredible story, I think that it's so relevant right now, so many people may feel that their whole world has crumbled, that they've lost so much, so many people right now, with the current health crisis and the pandemic feel an immense sense of loss, loss of certainty, loss of financial stability, loss of a job, loss of relationships or human touch. I mean, I think a lot of people may even feel like they are in jail in their home while they're being quarantined. You know, not to make a direct comparison but I think that a lot of people can relate to your story and finding or, making the time, like you said, making the time to, "How can I incorporate some more self-love and kindness to get me through this, to get me through a dark time to get me through loss?".
[07:26] Sheena: Yeah, no doubt. You know, I think that every situation is different and it's not so much as the situations that we go through, it's more the way that we digest the situation, the way that we process, right? A circumstance. And loss is loss, you know? There's no such thing, we can never compare and say, "Well, you know, this is a worse loss than this", I think loss is loss and it weighs and it brings upon a lot of pain, it, you know, it brings a lot of fear. And so, yes, I think this is a time where, I think as a community and as a-- just globally, everyone is experiencing in some way or another, and it's kind of like you said, whether the loss is through their health, or even loved ones who unfortunately are passing because of this virus, you know, financial loss, job loss, career loss, and then for me, I think the biggest loss of all, is the loss of the self. You know, and I mean that in terms of still being alive, and yet losing yourself, where you lose touch with who you are, touch with reality, and kind of hitting that rock bottom.
[08:35] Marly Q: And I know you help individuals and you help corporations and teams with some of this, right? I mean, it can translate into giving, you know, our listeners and our PARKers who are making the time to be kind right now by listening to this podcast, some tips on how to make time to be kind to themselves, how to stay free of the distractions and the noise that's going on and then the fear that's being promoted almost, how to remain calm and focused on themselves and their goals, their family or their business. Do you happen to have any tips to share?
[09:08] Sheena: Yeah, certainly, and I agree with you, fear is viral, right? It's infectious. So, it's something that spreads and right now, it's really easy because I think a lot of us are so, whether we're glued because of our work or profession, or simply because, you know, it's sort of a means to connect, we're all socially in all these platforms, a lot of times a lot of the information that's out there is very scary, right? It’s very fear inducing. And so, what-- some of the things that I can probably offer in terms of some tips would be, you know, we have to begin with ourselves. I think that all kindness begins with us, and a way of not just distracting yourself from it, but of also being, coming from a place of productivity, being really productive with our time right now. It's about turning inward more than anything else.
A lot of evaluation of who we are, you know, that self-evaluation, that assessment, not coming from a place of judgment or critique, because then you're not being kind, it's really more about coming to terms where we are, you know, what are the things that we can look at that all of this situation has brought that is challenging, but yet at the same time can propel us in a direction of growth, and so much positivity. You know, I-- a lot of the things that I encounter when I'm reading a lot of these articles or just kind of looking at people's social media platforms is a lot of negativity, when in fact, I think there definitely is some negative, you know, components to this, such as the health, the, you know, the economic crisis, loss of life, but there's also a lot of really positive things that come from this. I think if we look for the positive, I always say, you look for the light, you're going to find it, no matter how dark a room may look, you know? No matter how dark your situation may look.
[11:01] Marly Q: And if you don't find it, you can always be that spark of light for yourself.
[11:05] Sheena: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. So, it's starting with ourselves more than anything, taking a good hard look at us and seeing, "How can I show up differently?", you know, "What can I do today?", because you can't change overnight. So, it's a process, you know, and making real commitments and being very loyal to those commitments and committed to making it part of your reality.
[11:28] Marly Q: I think that right now, you know, for some people, they may be struggling with not feeling productive, right? I know, this is something that for me personally, has it been a big challenge. I sent an email today to my Kind Qrew about this specifically, just being real and grateful and honest, you know, weeks in quarantine, with a 21-month old toddler and trying to figure out how to co-parent and tag team with my husband so that we both try and get some work done and be productive while I'm 21 weeks pregnant, while I'm trying to come to terms with the loss of my business. I mean, as an event producer, my entire business was gone in the span of a week, for the whole year, and really allowing myself to not distract myself from that or just focus on what am I going to do and buy into or allow myself to jump on the train of fear, right? Just so easy to do, and I'm not going to lie to you, I did have a little bit of an emotional breakdown when all of my clients cancelled within a week, like, what am I going to do? I'm pregnant, and I have a baby and what, you know, I definitely had that moment.
And this is where I think the self-love and kindness came in, allowing myself to feel that, not making it wrong, not beating myself up for having that "emotional breakdown", giving myself the space to feel that fear, and that uncertainty and that sense of loss, and then be in a place where I can ask myself, "Now what? How is this serving me? How can this serve me? How can I find a light in this darkness right now?", right? And making the time to actually ask those questions and self-reflect, which is what you were sharing, right? Is just, making this time to go inward and see where is the light in this opportunity?
And for me, it's resulted in a great big light, and while it's a real challenge and difficult and I can acknowledge that it is, I can also choose to focus my energy on what can I control? What can I create now? How is this loss shifting me into a possible triumph, even if I can't see it yet? Right? I'm now, for the first time ever offering virtual yoga classes, I just finished teaching one right now before jumping on this interview. I started my podcast which has been on a shelf for three plus years. I'm like, "Now's the time to get it done.", and feeling you know, uncomfortable and scared all along the way, but allowing myself, the kindness to feel that and move forward at the same time. And that's how I interpret your tip and what you just shared, and how you created your own path from loss to triumph, right? Is through allowing yourself to sit in that darkness and sit in that cell, literally, in your cell and say, "What can I do for myself to refine myself?", you take up yoga, you take up reading, you take up, you know other things that are positive and productive to move you forward.
[14:30] Sheena: Absolutely Marly. And, you know, and I think when we speak even of productivity, because a lot of times I know that can bring upon a lot of pressure, especially in times like these where, you know, we're so emotional and then some days we wake up and we want to conquer the world, right? We have like this to-do list and all these goals and we want to tackle all of them, and we have all this energy and then there's other days where it's totally the contrary. We are feeling maybe bummed out, we're feeling tired, we're feeling like we have no energy, we're kind of low in-- our moods are low or, you know, all these different things are happening. I think that productivity is very relative, and even, I think everything adds up at the end of the day. So, even if the steps towards being productive are small, or if we pause, and like you said, just pausing is so important. You know, there's that moment where in order for you to move forward, maybe later on tomorrow, it means you need to just sit and maybe watch TV or do nothing, then by all means, you need to honor that, we all need to honor that. It doesn't mean that because you did that you have set yourself back, or you're not being productive, that is a way of you being productive; you're producing. What is productivity at the end of the day? It's producing, so you're producing a state of mind that will ultimately give you a better result. And perhaps the next day when you wake up, you're going to feel a lot better and now you can tackle other things from a different space and a different energy.
[16:00] Marly Q: Absolutely, 100%. That was the essence of what I was trying to share, you did it so much more succinctly than I did. Thank you, Sheena. Just reminding ourselves we're doing the best we can, right? And if we start with that acknowledgement, then we stop being so hard on ourselves, we can show ourselves some more compassion, and humility, right? That we don't have control over many things happening right now. But what we do have control over is how we are showing up for ourselves and for the people we interact with and for the world, and we can always make time to be kind, which is the whole essence of this podcast and what we're talking about. Now, I think that's what your book teaches, your book teaches that you don't really control anything, right?
[16:46] Sheena: We don't control anything. We think we do. We'd love to control and listen, this is coming from someone who, you know if I give get to--
[16:54] Marly Q: Who loves to control.
[16:56] Sheena: I love to control. My family will, you know, tell you, they will attest to that, they will say that I am a control freak. But in actuality, I know that it's really just part of the illusion and my ego, trying to control situations, you know, trying to be in the driver's seat all the time, leading, because I'm such a believer, you know, in leading that I try to control more than I can handle. But, you know, in reality, I know that we don't control anything and that the more we try to control, the less out of control we actually become.
[17:30] Marly Q: Yes, absolutely. Would you mind, I know you wouldn't want to give, you know, the book away. I know it's a memoir, and it's, you know, your story. But would you like to share any little part of your path of emergence with us?
[17:44] Sheena: Sure. So, I think that as a whole, the intention of writing the book, and I did write the book while I was going through the journey, through the process, meaning, you know, while I was incarcerated, I wrote the core of the book and then, you know, once I was released, I worked on the editing and whatnot, and I will tell you, it was a love and hate relationship, that is the best way to describe it. There was sort of this bitter sweetness to the book, even to the point where I published it and I made bestseller list, I still was kind of struggling with that dynamic and relationship with the book because I do believe we have relationships with everything and anything in life. And so, there was this really profound relationship with the book, the book was really intended, at the time that I was writing it, it was really more documenting a lot of the things that I was seeing within the justice system, a lot of things that I felt were necessary for my readers, my audience to become aware of and sort of awakened, right? Because I think we have all of these sorts of misconceptions about people who go to prison or people who are charged with crimes. And so, I kind of wrote the book at the beginning with that intention, and then found myself in the writing of the book, that it was so much more than my story or even the collection of stories of the people whom I did interview while I was there, because I was trying to collect their stories and, you know what brought them there, what their lives, you know, we're like, and so forth. It really became more about a tool or sort of a set of tools to not only help, you know, identify how we're co-creators of everything that happens to us, right? Nothing happens by coincidence, there's so much purpose, even if at the moment we don't see it, but also in the power of forgiveness.
You know, and I think forgiveness and kindness is sort of intertwined because you can't truly be kind if you don't forgive and I think all forgiveness really begins with ourselves. So, my book really was, if I could kind of just pinpoint more than anything, it really was more about forgiveness, because I did spend my time there with the main person involved in my case, so in sharing time with her, because I had worked prior to actually self-surrendering, which is basically just, you know, turning myself in, and I had to plead guilty because I had no choice, to either plead guilty and serve 21 months, or I was facing 30 years in prison. So, being able to share that space with her, that time, really gave me an incredible, profound, I think, more like realization or almost like an epiphany in how powerful forgiveness is because I had completely forgiven her for kind of what led us to be there in the first place. And I think that, you know, in completing the book, that really was my message, it was about, you know, we-- prison isn't a place that we go to, it's really a place that we live in, primarily inside our own heads. So, it's not really a place you go to, it's a state of mind more than anything.
[21:00] Marly Q: Right. That's how we started the conversation, right? I feel like so many people might, you know, relate even if they've never stepped foot into an actual jail cell, you're living in a cell and in a prison of your own mind many times and you're not even aware of it.
[21:15] Sheena: Yeah, that's really the strongest and most difficult confinement that we can live in. And then really, I wrote the book to help people, you know, it ended up being this sort of an idea that I just unfolded into, you know, this book, "Maybe, I don't know, even if it just helps one person, it can help someone you know, look at their lives, look at whatever situation they're going through, this situation for that matter, and even assessing whatever they want to label as a loss, and looking deeper.", you know, and really coming from a place of forgiveness and acceptance and looking at the purpose. You know, I think even for you, as you just shared earlier, what incredible opportunity, right? That you've had that because a good part of your business completely, let's just say for the sake of it, collapsed on you, right? At the beginning of this pandemic, you had all these maybe cancellations, all these things that happened, gave you an opportunity to now be able to put out, you know, this amazing podcast, and probably attend to other things, even in your own personal life and enjoy your pregnancy even more than when we're just tied to the hamster wheel and, you know, going from project to project and client to client and goal to goal.
[22:27] Marly Q: Yeah, thank you so much for saying that and bringing that up, because it was not an automatic thing. I had to intentionally go there, it is a practice, right? It's a practice. So, people think because I, you know, I preach the power of kindness that I just, you know, wake up, you know, with this superpower. No, I exercise it, we get stronger the more we practice it, and the one person that we need to practice it the most with is ourselves, from that place, we have the power to be the spark of kindness for our immediate family, for our-- the people that we work with, the people that we interact with on a daily basis, the stranger on the street, and the world, the planet and animals, it's--everybody benefits if we turn that inward, and you're just such a such a shining example of that. I really respect and admire you a lot before I even knew--
[23:26] Sheena: Thank you my friend. The feeling is mutual.
[23:30] Marly Q: And it was before I even knew like, the depth of your story and before you came out with your book, I already had that opinion and after, you know, your book, and that vulnerability, and just that courage, it's just on a whole other level. So, I really wanted to bring you on to the show. I appreciate you offering and always making yourself available to make the time for, not just me, but for others. I'm going to include the link to your website, I know that you coach people and you give out tips, you know, for people to get through these stressful times. Is there anything else that you'd like to share with our PARKers listening on how to connect with you or or how to, you know, how to get some of the Sheena love?
[24:10] Sheena: Definitely appreciate you sharing the website. I'm constantly trying to develop things where people can download, there's a lot of free audios that they can download, there's several for stress right now, fear, self-esteem, it's on my website.
[24:28] Marly Q: www.sheenaeizmendiz.com, and I know it's a beautifully complicated name so, I will spell that for people.
[24:36] Sheena: You got it, you got it. You know, there's just a couple of things there that they can definitely, I think if anything just to offer support during these times, also my Instagram. I love coming up with just different challenges, different things, whether it's a 21-day journaling challenge or gratitude challenge, things that, just try to offer support, I think more than anything and encouragement and help people get through these times because I completely understand where everyone is at because we're all going through it together. There's no such thing as, you know, me, myself and I, this is a “we” thing.
[25:11] Marly Q: It is such a “we” thing. Yes.
[25:14] Sheena: It is, which makes it great. I think that's one of the things that we can check off and say, you know, what's a really positive thing about this, is that we've become we and we're no longer me. I think that in itself is just so incredible.
[25:26] Marly Q: Absolutely. You know, I'm all about the we, #wePARK folks, #wePARK. It is all about the we, I truly believe it is the only way we're going to change the world is by coming together and as a collective, being more kind to ourselves, each other and this world. And yes, the current times that we're living in can be fearful and uncertain and filled with loss and there's also a lot of hope in what we're experiencing if you look for it. And your book is just a shining example of that, we will definitely include links for people to check it out and purchase it on Amazon, Path to Emergence: From Lost to Triumph, and I'll include your website and your Instagram as well for people to connect and just receive some of your wisdom and your kindness because you've got a whole lot of it, my friend. Thank you for taking the time to be kind.
[26:19] Sheena: Thank you. My pleasure.
I hope you enjoyed today's episode and found it as enlightening as I did. Sheena was so kind and generous to give us a signed copy of her book to give away to one of you listening, and believe me, you want to read this book!
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