The Bledsoe Show

How To Define Your Life For Success and Adventures with Valerie Viramontes

How To Define Your Life For Success and Adventures with Valerie Viramontes

The show is back after a hiatus and today's episode is with Valerie Miramontes. She's been with the team since June and has been my unofficial business adviser and one of my partners on The Strong Coach. She shared her journey – from being a product of domestic violence to working at NASA, and being to where she's at today. She also shared something about her journaling, and anyone who listens to this show, and especially people who do The Strong Coach program or have done Lifted or Procabulary, know the power of journaling and language and how much emphasis we put on that. Enjoy!

Table Of Contents

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Celebrating New Year's Party in Colombia

I was walking through the Downtown of Bogota, race my head and i see this view. I couldnt let this moment go and i think that the movement of the colombian flag shows what Colombia and how the colombian people are. Happy and always dancing, thats what i take to home.
Photographer: Flavia Carpio | Source: Unsplash

Mike: Yeah. Can you tell us the story that you shared with me as we came into Colombia?

Valerie: I did. We were sitting in the hot tub at Jacumba Resorts, and you told me to hold my thought, stop sharing because this is going to go on a podcast. I must say that this has been a desire, to be interviewed with you, that I actually never wrote down, but being your friend and in your world, it was something that I'm going to say I'm checking off the list today.

Mike: So, here's the thing, is we just don't do business together, and we don't just hang out. We throw parties together too

Valerie: We throw really cool experiences, I would say.

Mike: Experiences, experiences. Party's such a strong word.

20 Something, 20 Everything

Valerie: Before New Year's, I was moving over the course of December, so I'm going to take you back to the actual story that I shared in the hot tub. So, I was moving, and the moving process, as I'm sure everyone can imagine, is tedious, and I'm discovering things that I just haven't come across in years. I open up a box in a cabinet that I was avoiding to pack.

One of these boxes is a whole set of journals that I've been collecting for the past 10 years, and the first one that I pull out was almost to the date of me moving. So, this journal entry was December 27th, 2010. I had been gifted a book called 20 Something, 20 Everything. I'm not sure of the author, but I was 24, and from the outside looking in had everything that my heart desired. I was working full-time. I had just got hired by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory out of Pasadena, California in subcontracts.

I'm definitely a geek, or I love the stars, I would say. I talk to the stars, so to work there, it was definitely a dream to be there on that campus, but also, internally, I was just ripped apart. Like I said, from the outside looking in,

I had just graduated from college, had a great job, cube life, and a great car, and I bought myself a Cadillac CTS when I graduated from college. So, I was pimping. Black on black, 18-inch rims.

The Journey of Self-Discovery Through Journaling

What are you grateful for? Song to go along: "Easy" by Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones
Photographer: Ava Sol | Source: Unsplash

Valerie: It was the gangster whip, for sure. Through that, again, I was gifted this book, 20 Something, 20 Everything, and that put me on my first journaling experience, and it had me dive deep into who I was declaring myself as, and a journey of self-discovery. So, December 27th, 2010 was when I took my first step in that discovery process and wrote it down, and that's the journal I came across this past December, and I had… Page one was a declaration of who I am. There were affirmations of, "I am a strong woman. I am bold. I am courageous. I am a…" What I had initially started to write was, "

In that journal exercise. So, I had written down a whole list of declarations of who I am, and going through the motions of that book, it was a great workbook for my age at that time, and it dove into who is my mother, who is my father, dive into vision casting, or what we call in our community vision casting, and what you see for yourself. Where do you want to be? Where do you want to travel? It actually got really granular in listing the places that you want to travel to in the world.

Living the life written in the journal

Valerie: So, when I discovered this journal and looking through it, it broke me down in tears because one thing that stood out, there were tons of things that stood out, but one of the major things that stood out was all the places that I had written down 10 years ago that I wanted to visit in the US, in the world, over the past 10 years I had visited all of them, except for two. I had two more places that I had written down in that journal entry, or that work, yeah, that journal entry, that I had not visited, but I had booked tickets to visit them. So, the last two places were Colombia and Costa Rica, which currently, sitting here recording this podcast right now in Medellín, Colombia, which was on my list, and on Sunday we fly out to Costa Rica.

Mike: Yeah. So, you forgot about this list.

Valerie: Completely.

Mike: This is what I love about journaling, is I remember doing a perfect day journaling exercise years before I moved to Encinitas and got the house that I have and all that, and one day I woke up and I realized that I was living most of my days the way I had journaled about, but I had forgotten about it. So, yeah, this is 10 years.

Valerie: That in itself gave me chills, seeing that, and seeing that the two places that I wanted to visit, it was already set in motion that I was coming to Colombia and to Costa Rica before I found that journal, which just had me in tears of gratitude and happiness, coming across that.

Mike: That's dope. So, most people probably, don't know this yet, and anyone who's involved in The Strong Coach, especially if they're in the Mastermind, they work with you directly. They know that you are a genius when it comes to business, and you did not grow up in an environment where you would think, oh, a business genius is going to come out of this family. Right?

Valerie: Far from it.

A Product Of Domestic Violence

The M’s.
Photographer: _Mxsh_ | Source: Unsplash

Mike: I love digging into this stuff because I know I've had people leave comments on my page. I imagine people have made comments to you that I've witnessed, where people… You can tell that they assume that you had a silver spoon, you were born with a silver spoon in your ass or something, and it's not true at all. No matter where you're coming from, there is an opportunity.

Valerie: 100%. That is true. Whenever I do meet somebody, they assume that I came from a very happy or… I shouldn't say that I didn't, necessarily, but, I always say but, and there were a lot of obstacles along the way. I am the firstborn. I'm the oldest of two younger siblings, and my parents had me at 17 and 22 so that in itself is… I'm growing up with them, with these children who are also trying to figure it out in the world, and the baggage they came with was hard.

My dad was physically abusive to my mother growing up, so I am a product of domestic violence, and the coping mechanism that my mother used to survive was drugs. So, she became a meth addict, and a really big portion of my life was in survival mode. Actually, all of my life. Let me reframe that. All of my life was in survival mode. So, to have a mother who was on welfare and really hustling the welfare system to keep her drug addiction alive, and also take care of three children, you can put that on a table and it doesn't work very well.

The school became a healthy outlet

Valerie: So, I was the kid who got perfect attendance in school, and really because it gave me two guaranteed meals a day. So, food scarcity was prevalent in my home. There were times where if we had electricity, we probably didn't have gas, or they were both out. You can just picture an extension cord running from the neighbor's house into our house. So, poverty, food scarcity was definitely… I was a statistic. I was it. Welfare, that was my upbringing. I went to eight different elementary schools, so moved around a lot. I look back, and these are all skillsets or the foundation of skillsets that have allowed me to be adaptable in this life.

You go into a new school once a year, sometimes even twice a year, and have to start from scratch in making friends and building those relationships. So, the school became a healthy outlet for me, and luckily I enjoyed it, that it carried me into my adult life, and thank you for calling me a genius. I will receive that, and what I have learned in business is that the more I think I know, I actually know nothing.

But I am also quick to implement and to see what does work and what does not so that we can pivot and make it workable.

Mike: The smartest people in business are the ones that know how to listen, that come in with humility and are able to figure things out. Because the landscape's always changing. There's always the foundations.

Do certain things for a better life

Mike: So, I imagine going to college, you didn't exactly receive support from your parents with that, or did you have to figure most of that out yourself? How did that work?

Valerie: Yes. College was a hustle. I worked… Well, actually, I'll rewind back because I didn't have also the traditional schooling upbringing. Because of the area that we lived in freshman year, I got into two fights, and-

Fuck a bitch up. To let things cool down, my sophomore year I took independent studies, home studies, homeschool, and within that system I learned that if you completed a book, that was five credits. So, by the end of my sophomore year I only needed 30 credits to graduate high school. So, my junior year of high school I spread out those 30 credits that I needed to graduate, and I started to go to night school for medical billing at 16 years old.

Mike:Yeah. It sounds like you were motivated to do something to get out of whatever… It sounds like you already had a sense that there was a better life if you were to do certain things.

Valerie: I get that question, and that's exactly what it is. I got glimpses of hope through other family members or friends' parents that I would… I was very observant, and to get those glimpses of hope that there's something better, there was something more than what it is that I was currently faced in, kept me driving, kept me looking and seeking, really seeking for something greater than what was my current circumstances.

So, technically I've been working since… I mean, if we want to go all the way back, I was the kid selling mistletoe in front of the grocery store or collecting cans. So, there was always a sense of work in my upbringing. By the time I was in sixth grade, between sixth and seventh grade I had a rotation of houses that I cleaned on the weekends. So, I became independent in myself in terms of buying my own hygiene products and school clothes and necessities that I needed. I mean, I could've settled and just went to the Goodwill.

If I wanted it, I had to go to work, and I got to go to work and create this sense of independence for me at a very young age. So, going back to my junior year of high school, I was going to night school and working during the daytime. So, I was 16. I was able to work, not under the table, and go to night school for medical billing so that by the time I graduated high school, I had completed both. So, I got my high school diploma and I got my medical billing certificate for my nine-month program within two weeks apart from each other.

Mike: Oh, wow.

Valerie's Life at 17 Years Old

Valerie: Then I went into the working world at 17 years old, 40 hours a week, medical billing.

Mike: What was that life like?

Valerie: That life was fun. I mean, 17 years old, I was making $13.50 an hour. I was balling back then.

Mike: Yeah, that's balling for that age, for sure.

Valerie: For that age. I mean, minimum wage was probably around $5.75 at that time, so I was doing well, and I had my car. I had bought myself a car and was getting my wings and learning the land. I grew up in Southern California, so I was starting to branch out to LA and Van Nuys and different areas that I would just make more friends. Working my first office job, I also put on a lot of weight because health and nutrition was just not something I had awareness to, and I'll never forget my CTO. I had a big jar, like the half gallon of OJ sitting on my desk, and I'm sitting there like, "Man, why can't I lose weight?"

Mike: You're crushing a half gallon a day.

Valerie: Pretty much, of orange juice. I'm sitting there, doing my work, and I'm like, "Man, what is it?" I'm starting to run, and I can't seem to lose this weight, and my CTO goes, "You're drinking sugar all day long. What do you mean you're trying to lose weight?" I was like, "What do you mean? It's orange juice. It's healthy." That was my first introduction to reading nutrition labels, about 17 years old.

So, a lot of good lessons came out of that. I learned what not to do as a small business owner, as that company was a great company in terms of the service they provided and how they treated their employees, and I caught on really quickly.

Valerie: So, one thing that stood out also in what not to do is if there was a bad month, the owner's boyfriend would come in and really verbally put us down, not directly, but he would walk through the halls and be like, "Money's tight. You guys better watch out-" while the guy bought a new car a quarter.

So, it was things like that that just got into my mind where I was like, "This doesn't feel right." Also, they had given me a raise and taken it back. I was like, that was the last straw. That was the straw that was like, I'm going back to school. Fuck this, was really what it was.

Going back to school

Valerie: I reached out to my grandparents. My grandparents have a manufacturing business in Oregon. They had been in the business now probably like 10 years, and I was bouncing some ideas off my grandmother, like, "I want to go to University of Phoenix," or, "I want to go here." My grandmother said, "Absolutely not.

We will help you if you choose a university and go that route." So, I went back to community college, and she would send me $250 a month to help me out. So, I ended up taking out a few loans, but nothing… I mean, under 10K. I was able to get out with a college degree in finance and contract management under 10K, while working anywhere from two to three jobs.

The Discontent working at NASA

Photographer: NASA | Source: Unsplash

Mike: I'm curious about… So, you finish school. You score a job with NASA. It's a dream job for most people, but then you found yourself with some discontent, obviously. So, can you describe that discontent and where you went from there?

Valerie: Yes. So, from the outside looking in, it was picture-perfect, and to come out of college and to get started off at… I got started off at 53K, and there was a 10,000-

Mike: You got the promise. If I get a college degree, I'll make 50K, 60K right out of college, and that's hardly ever true for anybody, but you pulled it off.

Valerie: I did pull it off, and I was jumping for joy. I mean, my first real profession… That wasn't my real professional job. Medical billing was my first professional job, but after college, I went right into it. After about two-and-a-half years of cube life, the discontent was just brewing in my belly.

I'm the driver. I am a hustler, and on top of that, I've been doing different multilevel marketing, testing out different multilevel marketing since I've been 18 years old, so I am definitely one to just jump off a cliff and go for it. So, to be in a stable income where you're guaranteed X amount every week, there was some comfort in that, but not really.

There were a few things that were a buildup to the discontentment. One, I'll never forget my .002% raise. When it was calculated, it was a whole whopping $18 that would be added on to my monthly income. I mean, that wasn't even a tank of gas.

Mike: Right. It's like three Starbucks.

Valerie: So, that was a joke. Also, when you work for a place like NASA or Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it's government-funded, so when our government is in fluctuation and they're looking at cutting funds, where's one of the first places they look to?

Mike: Space.

Valerie: Space and education, which that's exactly what it was, so I-

Mike: Neither one of those things are urgent.

Valerie: Right away, it's the first place they go to, and since I worked in the area that all the contracts come through first for approval, everything, we got privy to the plan that was being put in place. So, they start randomly drug testing everyone onsite.

I'll never forget one of my coworkers coming in and sharing that information, and my face going white, and him looking at me like, "Are you okay? Is everything okay?" and I'm like, "Holy fuck. Is that going to come to this department?"

What can I do? Do I need to carry piss with me every day? Because it's random. There were scientists who had been employed with them for 20 years who had gotten the boot from these random drug screenings that they did. You don't even have to drug test to start working there.

Valerie: So, there was a few things that had built up the move, the push for me to exit.

Valerie's Big Shift Into Personal Development

If you use this photo on your site, I would be very appreciative if you would please credit in the caption or meta to "www.distel.co".Model: @Austindistelhttps://www.instagram.com/austindistel/Photographer: @breeandstephenhttps://www.instagram.com/breeandstephen/
Photographer: Austin Distel | Source: Unsplash

Mike: So, you exit that. I want to get into the story more, but I'm more curious about personal development. What have you… I mean, you've come from a tough upbringing. You hustled a lot. You worked really hard, but from what I've witnessed in the world, hard work isn't the solution. Right? Hard work is good when combined with-

Valerie: Working smart.

Mike:… working smart, taking time away, looking at the big picture, all these things. In my experience, hard work has been something that's been overemphasized over strategic thinking and all these types of things, but what was your first big shift, where it was like, oh, like a big awareness shift? What caused that, or what caused you to want to… Because even from what you're describing being at NASA, you're a completely different person. What caused that shift?

Valerie: There were a lot of shifts in my life, and some big ones that stand out where… To talk about my family, I have a whole section of my family that are in prison for life, and I do stay in contact with them, writing them and accepting the phone call here and there, and when I was 19, I had a phone call from my cousin Ray, checking in and seeing how life is on the outside, and books that he was reading, and just swapping stories, and he put me on to this… Mind you, though, my cousin's in prison. He put me on to my first personal development book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Audiobooks

Valerie: So, that was my first introduction, at 19. From there, I just started to consume anything I could. When you live in Southern California, you spend a good portion of your life in traffic, so audiobooks became my best friend, Napoleon Hill of Think and Grow Rich. Brian Tracy was another favorite, because I was also in the MLM world, so they also give you a lot of different books to read.

So, personal development has been sprinkled into my life since that moment, or I've gotten awareness of it. The moment that I realized that the difference between femininity and masculinity, or am I even saying that correctly?

Mike: Yeah.

Valerie: The feminine and the masculine was when I got introduced to a book called The Total Female Package from one of my really good friends, Novalena Nichele. She had written this book, I think, in the end of her master's program or something around that, and it came off of Louise Hay's reflection system that she had turned into a beautiful guidebook that you would write down affirmations, and at the end of each chapter, you say those affirmations in the mirror. So, at that moment, reading that book, going through those exercises was another shift of, oh, my gosh, I place so much in the masculine, and for good reason.

There are aspects of the business that those skillsets come in handy, but I'm also a woman, and I like to get pretty, and so, that was another big awareness shift in the personal development world.

Awareness is just the first step

Mike: One thing I want to point out is a lot of people… I talk to a lot of people, and they'll say, "Oh, I'm really into personal development," and I go, "Cool. What have you done?" They go, "Well, I read these books, and I listen to these podcasts," and I'm asking, "What have you done?" and they're talking about what they consumed, and what I'm hearing from you is you were taking an action. You didn't just read the book. You did the journal exercises.

You took on the affirmations. You actually did what the book said to do, whereas the majority of people read a book, they gain some type of awareness, pat themselves on the back for it, and then think they had some type of transformation. I'd like to point out that people, expanding your awareness is the first step, but it's… For me, becoming aware of something new can be painful and exciting at the same time, knowing that I'm… It's like, oh, that's how I've been. I get to change that, so that's exciting, but it can also… For me, it doesn't anymore so much, but I used to get high off of it. The expansion of awareness, I would be so fucking excited. My excitement would dwarf any embarrassment for being an asshole up until that point.

But I also recognized that I patted myself on the back, and I see this with other people, is they pat themselves on the back for gaining awareness, but that's the first of many steps to actual transformation. So, yeah, you did a good job. You did a great job. You actually took action, and I want to point that out because I would hate for people to listen to this show as a personal development tool, which it is, and to just think that by listening to it they're going to get better. Maybe your life improves. I've got messages saying, "Oh, just listening to it made my life better."

Valerie: Gain awareness.

Mike: There's way more work to do.Way more work to do. So, kudos for actually taking action, because that's the hard part. That's what we refer to as the work, and I think people confuse having an epiphany with doing the work. No, the work happens after the epiphany.

Valerie: No, when you go and apply it into your life, to really work it in is the work.

Doing the work is the hard part

Valerie: Oh, reading the things that I wrote back then also… I mean, to talk about my personal development journey, that book, reading what I wrote at 24 years old, there was a lot of anger, a lot of hurts in those words that I've written. A lot of it was me declaring it's me against the world, that all I have is me to depend on. I have no one else. Reading it today, it gave me so much gratitude for the work that I have done over the last 10 years, because if I would've stayed in that same mind frame of it's only me and me against the world, I wouldn't have the amazing life that I do now with the community of friends, really, family that I surround myself with.

My life today is unimaginable from what I wrote 10 years ago. I mean, I checked off a lot of boxes and created a lot of things from that journal entry 10 years ago, but today it exceeds that. So, yes, doing the work is the hard part, breaking out that journal and writing those uncomfortable things. Hey, if you get some stuff down and need to burn it later, burn it. At least you get it down.

Attending The Landmark Forum

Mike: So, you read books. You did some journaling exercise, but I know you've done a lot of personal development courses, I think maybe more than me. What was the first event or retreat or whatever that you went to that blew your fucking mind?

Valerie: That was Landmark.

Mike: And you've done Tony Robbins too.

Valerie: That was only recently.

Mike: Oh, okay. I thought you'd done Tony Robbins before.

Valerie: I'll get to that later. That was over the last year. I experienced some Tony Robbins events, but all before that, let's see, seven years ago I did Landmark. So, I was fresh in a new career, learning online marketing, doing backroom sales for an incubator, for a really cool company, and I was just-

I was very fortunate to be, I would say, really in an internship position with Digital Marketer and-

Mike: Digital Marketer is one of the top marketing companies on the planet, and you have spent a lot of time working directly with Digital Marketer. When we talk about being a genius at business, this is… You may have been listening to this point. It's like, oh, it doesn't sound like she did anything that was… But the last, what, seven, eight years?

Valerie: Seven years.

Mike:Seven years, you've been embedded with the leaders in the industry.

Valerie: I have been very grateful to have the opportunity to be a fly on the wall and work a lot of their new businesses that they were launching or products they were launching. I was the sales gal for that, so talk about throwing yourself in the deep end and learning. That's exactly what that was. So, I'd started a new career, and Landmark, Landmark got into my sphere of awareness a few years prior to that when I got a phone call from somebody I used to work within MLM asking me how he showed up in the world. I was like, "What are you doing? Who are you?" because that's not the person who I was working with. So, that was my first introduction, and then I had a few girlfriends who had went through it, and I saw the shifts in them.

I was in San Diego just on a visit, and me and one of my girlfriends were partying it up the night before at a club, and the next morning I'm hopping on to get on my training call, and I hear this powerful voice from the living room, from this woman who's just commanding this phone call, and I'm like, "Who the fuck is that?" She was taking some Landmark courses.

So, right after that I went and signed up for the Landmark Forum, and I was 28, and 28, I did the Landmark Forum in LA. That was a pivotal shift in my life. That gave me a sense of peace that took off the 10-ton gorilla I was carrying on my back of shame and anger and pain, and gave me… It allowed me to forgive my parents as well. It gave me some forgiveness, some access to forgiveness, and courage for where I was at in my career and my life. So, Landmark was a staple, and I've been doing Landmark work or going through their courses off and on for probably four or five years.

Working with Guy Ferdman

Mike: Anyone who's a fan of the show knows who Guy Ferdman is. Any of you who haven't listened to any of the shows, I've done multiple with him. Go and listen to it. You're going to love it. He's one of the favorites around here. So, you got to live with a guy who's one of the biggest personal development geeks we know.

Valerie: There was so much healing that was going on during that first year of me moving to San Diego. I had just gotten this new breath of life going through Landmark, and landing in a house that was six blocks from the beach in Cardiff with Guy and his girlfriend at the time and another roommate, Elizabeth, who I shared a floor with, it was unbelievable. Oh, my gosh. The conversations, the connections, the people that would come through the house, everyone was amazing.

Mike: Do you think that would've been possible had you not done Landmark?

Valerie: No.

Mike: So, I'd like to point out people may hear that and go, "How the fuck did that happen?" It's like, you can't know until you've done a program like that what's actually possible, how fast things can shift in ways that you cannot imagine.

Valerie: I wouldn't have been ready. Without taking that first course in Landmark, I wouldn't have been ready to be in that house. The house was that good. I wouldn't have felt worthy of it. I wouldn't have-

Mike: Yeah. You would've rejected it. It would've rejected you. It wouldn't have worked.

Valerie: It would've self-sabotaged. I would've done something to fuck it up. So, to land in a house where, yes, he's fully versed in personal development, and to have somebody like him to challenge me, we're brother and sister for life. That year bonded us, and he is my family, so to continue on, he always encouraged me to continue on with Landmark and explore different programs within their curriculum, and I did. There was one point, because… Yeah. There was one point that I took one… They have a course called the Self-Expression and Leadership Program. I took that course three times. I sat through it as a participant, I coached it, and then I head coached it.

It up-leveled my communication, and the game I was playing. My business doubled that year doing that course. I was able to have conversations that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Matter of fact, I actually made it a requirement for anyone that I worked with to go through at least the Landmark Forum because then I could have straightforward conversations with them, where no one's feelings are going to get hurt.

From Landmark, like I said, I pop back in for different courses that they have, and about two years ago, I started to crave something deeper. There was something that wasn't sitting well. I was in a relationship with a… I have a partner, and I was getting blocked in communication when I'd been taking all these fucking communication courses. How am I still getting blocked? I know now what it was. My defense mechanism is numbing out because that's what I had to do as a child to survive, was numb out and go to work. So, that doesn't work very well when you have a partner who's saying, "Let's talk about this," and in your mind you just want to slit his throat. So, it's probably best you don't say anything.

Mike: Yeah. You're just like, "I'm just going to numb out before I kill you."

Attending Training Camp For The Soul

Photographer: Mike Erskine | Source: Unsplash

Valerie: Because I still want to be alive, so I don't want to cause more damage than what's going on. I continue to seek out more development, and I'm very grateful to be in the surroundings of Mike and Anat, who also run Training Camp for the Soul, and I did that last year.

Last year, in the end of January, I was like, "All right, I'm in. Fuck it. Let's do it." So, going into Idlewild for those six days was something that is, again, unimaginable, and the breakthroughs that I had there, the experience that I had there, the way I can sum it up is I can feel my heart for the first time in my life. All the personal development work gave me a sense of peace logically, and Training Camp for the Soul literally got me connected to my soul and my heart, which was missing, and really, sitting through six days of deep work… Mind you, I have a coach, a.k.a. therapist, depending on what role, what hat she's wearing when I come and see her, what I need her for, and she immediately saw the shift after I did Training Camp for the Soul, being able to sit with the emotions that I was having and actually have language to it, because I instantly went to fight. That was my reaction.

I need to learn how to work with these things called emotions and all the feelings and sensations that are coming up in my body. So, Training Camp for the Soul was also a huge milestone… For anyone that asked me, "What's the work that you've done?" Landmark, Training Camp for the Soul are definitely the ones that stand out.

Recap

Mike: I want to recap this. Your childhood was not ideal. You hustled. You numbed out. You always reverted to working, which has done a lot of good, but at some point it started holding you back. You've done Landmark, which is a very powerful program. I highly suggest it. It changed my life. Did Training Camp for the Soul, worked with Anat Peri. She's amazing. Did the emotional work.

Got connected to your heart, got connected to your soul. By the way, folks, there's nothing better than that. Getting connected to your heart, geez, that's the best long-term thing I've ever gotten to experience to this day. Now we fly into Colombia a year after you do Training Camp, which by the way, I highly suggest to anyone that ever comes to me about doing psychedelic medicines, I tell them to do Training Camp first.

Also, if you do Training Camp before Landmark, Landmark will be way less… There'll be less suffering involved in that process, because there is some suffering that comes up for people in there.

But you clear it out, it becomes pretty easy. So, what did you get with yagé? What was left over for you? You did Tony Robbins this last year too.

Valerie: Everything I had cleared up at Training Camp… I mean, I thought I'd access forgiveness to my parents through Landmark. No. I was still carrying it in my body and that's what Training Camp gave me the space to do. It gave me true forgiveness, and I could be with my family and receive their love and give love. I mean, today, yes, I had a shitty upbringing, today my family is amazing.

They love me so much. I'm so supported by them. Matter of fact, when I moved, my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister and my sister's husband all showed up to help me move. I was just sitting in bliss, even though you hate moving, that I was able to receive that in a way of really enjoying their presence and receiving their help. It allowed me to be in that space of gratitude for them. So, Tony Robbins, like I said, entertainment. UPW, it was fun.

Doing Yagé In Colombia

Indian statues protecting the temple
Photographer: Stéfano Girardelli | Source: Unsplash

Mike: Yeah. It's cool, and their presence, just the first time I met them, walking in their presence I was… I hadn't even drank medicine, and I go, "Oh, this is special."

Valerie:It was special from the time you walked in. I mean, you're in the jungle in Colombia, and they reference Ayahuasca or yagé as the grandmother, and I really felt a presence of a grandmother. So, to come into that experience and to have women facilitators serving the medicine, really, without me even saying anything, already feeling my essence and how strong I was, it was a beautiful experience. I had two days. It was a four-day ceremony. The first two days were bliss. We're out in these beautiful gardens that you got a running stream or river right below you, the trees are dancing, and the clouds were talking to me, and it was a beautiful experience, blissful. Both two days I'm like, "Oh, this is great."

Mike: I love yagé. This is so easy.

Valerie: I was for the first two days, and I loved it. I was like, this is fantastic. Trees are talking to me. Third day, fourth day, holy shit. It rocked me. So, they guided me to ask questions, to ask some questions, and for the third day and fourth day, or for the third day specifically, I asked questions about all the men in my life. I work with a lot of men. I have opportunities that come to me left and right, and to be in ceremony and to have the medicine speak to me in a way of what's possible, everything I was asking for was, "Show me what's possible," and to have it speak to me, not all of it was great. On the third day was my hardest day. Actually, no, my fourth day was. Fuck, they both were hard. The third day, I fought it. I didn't want to listen. I didn't want to listen to what it had to say.

Mike:You want to suffer? Fight yagé.

Valerie: The questions I was asking over and over again, there was one point that the medicine's like, "Why do you keep asking the same question? I already gave you the answer, and you don't want to listen." That was hard. That was really hard, and the fourth day was… I woke up like, why am I doing this?

Mike: Yeah. When you have a really hard day and you have another one to go, most of my experiences have been that way. It's like, oh, I got to go back in tomorrow? Fuck.

Mike: You get used to it, though. It's just like training. It's like working out really hard. It's like at first, in the beginning, if you do CrossFit, it's like, oh, man, and after a while you just accept it. You go, you know what? It might be hard. Let's do this.

Valerie: Yeah, that fourth day was hard. The lesson I got from the fourth day was not to force anything. That was a big one. The medicine felt stuck in my chest, that I wanted to purge, and nothing was coming out. I even tried to force myself to purge, and nothing would come out.

Mike: Yeah. For anyone who's wondering why she's talking about purging, purging is a common thing to happen on the medicine, throwing up. So, I don't purge every time I drink it. The first dozen times I drank it, I purged every single time, and then since then it's been come or go, depending on… There's so many variables, but just as an expectation, there is a purge that's associated with this.

Valerie: Yes. Well, and also too, as a woman, physically, what I've seen is that when I go deep and do the deep inner work, I literally shed everything, including my uterus. I mean, I wasn't scheduled technically to start my period, but sitting in yagé brought that up, and to add the physical component of… You're sitting with this emotional battle, and then the physical battle on top of it was not pleasant.

Mike: It cleans you out, and it'll cause your body to do things to clean itself out. So, yeah, I've had ceremonies where it's like, yeah, I'm going to shit 20 times today. That's why you bring wet wipes.

I have nothing else to purge out of my mouth, so I'll dry heave for a while, and the purge becomes way easier. It's like learning anything else. Learning how to purge, it doesn't have to be… The purge is actually nowhere near the worst part after a while. It's usually the thing that people focus on the most, like, "Oh, I hate throwing up, and all this," and after a while, my relationship to purging has shifted, where it's actually not a big deal.

I never get sick where I need to purge. I think the only times I do purge is if I'm drinking yagé, Ayahuasca, or doing combo. It's always on purpose.

Valerie:I've never had a problem purging, so that was never the focus. It was really just sitting with the emotions it was bringing up and the discomfort in those. I mean, it definitely brought things to my awareness just that I was starting to shove back in that corner, putting it in that closet that no one wants to look in, and just shoving it in there. The yagé opened up that door, and ultimately, it just got me in touch with what it is that I really desire deep down.

What's changed after the yage experience

Mike: Is there anything you've noticed that's different?

Valerie: What's different? I just know that what's different is an upgrade in peace. There's a new sense of knowing in myself that is just giving me a sense of peace in my life and where I'm at. There's still some work to be done, and I have some action items when I get home. So, there's still more to unfold, and conclusion, I'll do it again. I absolutely will.

Valerie: Yes, and to give myself the space to go inward like that. I mean, the last time or Training Camp, all these other little things I've done along the way, I still have my phone with me. There was always one foot in my real life, and yeah, I participate, I show up fully, but there's always a piece of like, what's going through the emails? So, to completely disconnect and be out in the jungle, it was a gift.

Mike: That's one of the things I really liked being out there, is even if I didn't drink the medicine, the act of flying into Bogota, two-hour drive into this really small town, being a mile away from that town, having to hike down to where we're staying, and then hanging out with people who don't leave the property.

Closing Thoughts

Mike: I know that everyone who's involved with us in some way at this point are going to love listening to this show, and for the people who don't work with us in any capacity, yeah, if you come into The Strong Coach, you'll get the experience of interacting with Valerie, and it's a real joy. So, I highly encourage it.

Valerie:I love working with The Strong Coach, and especially everyone in the Mastermind. It's really a dream come true to support these masters, and everyone who's in has just dedicated their life to honing their craft, and to be with these experts that I get to add value to, and to help them in their business is truly a dream.

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