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Life lessons

Arivee [00:00:00] We all deserve to have fulfilling careers and lives. We deserve to experience joy and peace, and freedom and all of those things that make us feel truly alive.

It takes a lot of courage. For us to take the reins in our lives and take action that honors the deepest parts of ourselves in this current season of life. It takes a lot of courage to lean into growing and to lean into learning and to know when it's time to make a change. I'm Arivee I'm a first-generation Latina mom of three and Life and high-performance coach to women just like you.

And this podcast is for all of us looking to grow and learn and explore. What a joyful and fulfilling life and career can look like and how to start living into that life right now. We're going to go deep and we're going to honor our truth in this podcast, and the best thing is we're gonna do it together. So welcome to the Humble Rising Podcast.

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In this special two-part episode, I'm joined by two of my closest amigas, my tow closest friends, Carla Breton and Diana Isern. Diana is an educator of 18 years in New York City public Schools. She is a mom of two very cool small humans. She is an investor of all asset classes. She is an athlete who loves to run lift and Box, and she's a proud Puerto Rican and New Yorker.

She currently lives in Queens. New York and Carla is also an educator in New York City public schools, and she's currently a school psychologist. She is a professional dancer having toured the world with one of the premier dance groups in New York City, and she's an actress who most recently was a part of the real Woman have curves production.

She was born and spent her early childhood in the Dominican Republic, and she came to New York and now lives in New Jersey. And in this episode, Carla, Diana and I are bringing you into our frequent conversations about life. We have our text chains. We get together consistently in person to spend time together, and the conversation that we have in this two-part episode is really similar to the one that we would have when we get together in person.

So, it's similar to the one that we would have if we are talking in the morning or if we're just lounging on the couch eating chocolate after dinner. So, in this two-parter, we are talking honestly about life in recent years. We talk honestly about the lessons that we've learned, including how hard we can be on ourselves, the benefits of going through the hard stuff, and what it takes to really go after what you want.

And we talk about so much more than that. So, thank you for joining.

Arivee: D, Carla thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I'm so excited. Woo. (Diana: I'm good.) I'm excited because you guys are two of my closest friends and two people that I respect and admire very much, and I love that you both challenge me in so many ways and you help ground me when things get bananas at home. So, it's been really helpful to have you both as support and so I'm so glad talk today about life, about 2022 and about anything else that we kind of flow into today. So, thanks for being here. I'm so grateful for both of you. (Carla: Yay. Thanks for inviting us, Arivee.) (Diana: Yeah, thanks for the invite.)

[00:04:00] So to start us off, I'd love for you each to share a little bit about yourselves, your background, your story, so people know who you are. I mean, I know who you are obviously, but just so people know, um, where you're both coming from. Before we get started, do you wanna go first?

Diana: Sure. So, I was born and raised in Queens and Long Island. Well back and forth were pretty much my entire life aside Lawson for those three years. So, my, my father was born and raised in Toa Alta Puerto Rico, and he came here when he was probably about 25. He was drafted into the military when he was in his last year of high school and went to Germany instead of Vietnam for a couple years.

Then went back to PR and then came here. Then my mom, when she was really young, she was, I think 17 or 18 and they got married shortly after in the church and then, so that was. like in the mid-seventies. And I arrived on the scene while my sister arrived on the scene first, and then I arrived on the scene in the mid-eighties.

That's kind of the background. Culturally, the, and my mother adapted really [00:05:00] strongly to my father's culture cuz he was, he was very down, down there was, there was guineas everywhere. There was, uh, guy knows everywhere. She connected to that really young and she started speaking Spanish when she was younger.

So that's really the language that, that we spoke a lot at home as well., the culture was deeply ingrained, both language and, and, and all of that. Neat. That's kind of me there.

(Carla: So, your mom is an honorary Puerto Rican?) Yeah. She's like, yeah, she's honorary. She's got, she got the badge. (Arivee: Mm-hmm.) was born, raised mostly in Queens and in Long Island.

Went to school in, in Boston met you two gals (Carla: and your life changed forever because we're) am I here? It actually did. Right. I always, I think about it like how disconnected I felt until I met you guys and met Ola and that really switched it up for me. I then got into education, thought I wanted to be a lawyer. It didn't.

gone into education and spent an education, was a teacher, ESL teacher, and then AP for the last 12 years. So, AP (Arivee: Assistant, Assistant principal.) Yeah, assistant principal in New York City. High schools, public [00:06:00] schools. And I'm loving it. You know, every day is a new day. (Arivee: And you have other interest D, right?) I do have many other interests.

I'm multi interested, (Arive: multi-passionate.) Multi-passionate. I like investments. I like financial learning, stuff like that. I like to teach a course in the spring to my students now. on those topics. Real estate and stocks and crypto and all kinds of stuff like that. I like to work out, like to twerk out. I get in the ring I box, so I get in the ring on Mondays, Tuesday, well, Monday, Friday, and sometimes Saturdays.

So that's, that's fun and scary and exciting. and I have kids. Forgot about that I have kids. (Arivee: I thought you said, I kissed and I'm like, what?) Oo that has children. KJ is 10 and my daughter is seven. My sons just turned 10. And they're good and they're sweet and they're nice people and we want them around.

Enjoy them. (Arivee: Yeah.) My spouse is flawless who's, we've been together for 1 million years. It just feels like yesterday. Since 2001.

Arivee: Woo. That's great. That's great. Carla, you're off. Carla, what about you?

Carla: I mean, how do I follow that? I wish I could go back in time and go first. Thanks. Because D is a superstar. Okay. Let's see.

I was born in the Dominican Republic. I came to this country when I was Four. So first, my mom was here first, um, and she left me with my dad. So, I was able to join her when I was four. So, I started school here. I did the whole English as a second language thing before I work in the schools now. So I, I, I can see the progression of things and yeah, back then it wasn't, um, I guess best practices or it wasn't the same as it is now, but I managed, I, I was able to, you know, become fully bilingual, um, which I'm very proud of.

And I owe that a lot to my parents also because of the fact that they kept both languages alive. Well, they left English to other schools and Spanish anytime I was around family. I grew up in the Bronx. I started out at public schools, then was switched out to private schools. Some teachers took an interest in me, so I had to take some exams to go ahead and go into um, some Catholic schools.

From there, I went on to Boston College, where Dee has already said, I met these ladies, which was saving grace in a place that was new and all of the things. It was a great time. It was a great learning experience. I wouldn't trade it for the world. After that. Oh, during college I got really into dancing. I guess that was my way of connecting to my culture and curing my home sickness.

Right? So, I was dancing salsa at school. I took some classes outside in, um, I believe it was Cambridge or some other part of Boston. I can't remember where I went for. My salsa lessons, that's important because after I graduated, I was very lost. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. Um, but I knew I had my dancing.

I knew I, I wanted to express myself. I was able to go and dance with Yamulee dance company, which was an up-and-coming dance company in the Bronx. She became really big in the salsa world, and I was able to travel the world with them. So, I made it to the professional team. I was able to travel through Europe, um, Latin America throughout the states, and that was a wonderful experience.

In the meantime, I was teaching in New York City public schools. I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I swore I was gonna do it for two years and that's it. Let it go. But I've been in New York public schools since then. Recently I switched over from teaching to school psychology because I was working with a lot of bilingual and special education students and I wanted to really hone my craft in that population, especially.

So, this is actually last year I was interning at school Psychologist. This is my first year as school psychologist. It's been an interesting ride. Oh, and during the pandemic, I was also able to go within and find that I also, along with my passion for performance and dance, there was a part of me that I always wanted to act, and I just decided to go for it.

Right. Like pandemic life is short. Everything's sweet. Like just go for it. So I took some classes in New York and did my acting debut this past November in New Jersey. (Arivee: Yay) It was amazing. Oh God. It was awesome. Yeah, that's just a huge part of my identity, so I squeezed that in there Arivee. I hope that's not.

That's not wrong, What do you mean that's nothing wrong? (Arivee: What do you mean nothings wrong) (Diana: Be yourself's all wrong girl.)

Arivee: Wait, so let me ask a question about that because I know we talked a little bit about it before, but so during the pandemic going inward, Carla, what made you go from like, you know how I'm really, this is pulling me forward, like, I really want to do this acting thing.

I wanna give it a try. Like what made you finally even audition? What made you go into that program? Like the acting program? Like what made you actually sign up? (Diana: Take the first step.) Yeah.

Carla: Mm. That's, that's a heavy question because it was a lot of little things. It wasn't just one step. Right. But I guess I'll try my best to answer that.

I think the, the way I was before the pandemic was very go, go, go. I never stopped. And, and talk about immigrant story, we'll tie that in later, right? Um, it was very go, go, go. It was very never stop and rest. Once the pandemic hit and everything shut down, I started to have panic attacks, anxiety, and in speaking with my therapist, right?

My, all my crutches were gone. I couldn't go to my dance classes. I couldn't go to my, um, gym. I couldn't distract myself, right? Go out with friends, do this, do that. It was just me by myself, right? I mean, I was married with my husband, of course, but all my other distractions were gone. So, this time it was just going inside and saying, okay, what is this?

Like, it's me against me, basically. And again, it was a process. It wasn't just like one day I woke up and said, oh, I'm gonna live my dreams. It was sort of like, what am I doing? I reassess my entire life. And I was like, what am I doing? What? And, and, and somehow, I got to the answer of what makes my spirit or my soul light on fire.

And I meditated a lot, and I did a lot of movement. And there were people that helped me even through Zoom. Um, I spoke about my therapist, I, a whole bunch of people that I was able to have conversations with, and it just like stripped me down to the bare bones. That's what was left. It's like, yeah, as a child of immigrants, as an immigrant myself, I would've never thought to pursue acting as a career for myself because right.

That's not a stable job. That's not something that's gonna bring money. But if something lights your soul on fire, why not go after it? Like what is the point of life if we're not feeding our spirit. (Arivee: Hmm) Basically I was done with just working to work and wanted to follow my, my, (Diana: yeah) yeah.

Arivee: What about you, Dee? Pandemic going inward? Anything you discovered about yourself?

Diana: I read a lot about socialism, you know, during that period of time and about understanding obstacles aren't meant to deter you. They're, they're a part of the process and constantly thinking about persevering past them and using them as part of the journey as opposed to saying oh, there's an obstacle. I can't do it. It's not meant for me. Right. And then, and just being like, you know, saying, understanding that the obstacle is part of it. There's that book, what was it called? The Obstacle is the Way, I think it was called, it was really interesting, um, in that, in that sense. So then when I started to pursue other things, like when I started boxing and stuff, um, as I, as I'm hitting walls, so of frustration or different things, I'm, I'm, I have a different mindset about looking at those frustrations as, as part of the journey.

And, and that they're going to happen. Not that once it happens, then I'm not good enough. (Arivee: Mm-hmm.) And so I think that's stoicism that, that book and, and other books I've read, there was some Vietnamese, uh, monks that I read, books that, I think it's Chee Chee Hong Young I read his book and there's, there's some interesting pieces there about, you know, just, just perseverance.

So that's something that I, I adapted into my mental arsenal during that time, I would say (Carla: yeah)

Arivee: Mm-hmm the obstacle is the way I think I have stillness is the key, but the premise of the obstacle is the way it's interesting because also of when I think about like being first generation and Carla the way you were talking about what that means to be an immigrant or even like the daughter of immigrants, like what that means and how much you know, you rest isn't role modeled. And what's role modeled is like, you know, there's, there are sacrifices that have been made. There's education you need to get, there's financial stability to achieve. Then you have then, you know, give back to your community or your family. Right? And there's always this feeling of.

like you're always like striving, striving, striving. But there are points, at least in my life, where the striving wasn't healthy. It wasn't for the right reasons, or it wasn't, it was like you said like go, go, go, go, go. Because that's what was ingrained indirectly or directly. Right. And I think the obstacles way is interesting because it teaches you that you're gonna fall and you're gonna fail.

But that's part of what it's like to have this journey. And we think like as first genera immigrants, it's like you can't, you don't get., you don't get that privilege to fail. Those people over there. They get that. But you don't, cuz this is a, this is a different game you have to play.

Diana: when you play the comparison game, which is very human, but somewhat dangerous. in a lot of ways. You're, you're looking at least, at least partially for me, and, and a, a moment I had to kind of slow down is I'm looking at, at, in comparing myself to people maybe who've been here or have had generational welfare, a number of, of generations, number of years. And you're saying, well I’m not at that level.

So, I must not be good enough or I must not be doing it right. And so, as you start to doubt yourself and you start to think you're not enough and you know, all of these things, whether it's financially in terms of wealth, like I'm not gonna have the equivalent amount so I'm not setting my kids up. But [00:16:00] you just kind of have to be where you're at and and be proud of the decisions that you've been making and, and just be a little bit better.

What I tell my mother is we just have to be a little bit better than the ones that came before us, you know, cuz she has a lot of You know, sometimes she thinks about, oh, I should have done this with you. I should have, could have done this. And I said, well, he made the best decisions that you could at the time with the information that you had.

Right. Based on your own upbringing. Right. Which was, you know, had a lot of pain to it too. And, and so, and then you did better with me. Right. And then I'll do better with, I'll take the good pieces that you gave me, and I'll add some more good pieces to it that her and my father gave me. And we'll just keep going down the line.

And hopefully, I don't know if you ever win the game, I don't know. Um, maybe. , you know, hopefully that that's kind of enough for us to say We are doing well. We did well with,

Carla: yeah, and I mean, that's a privilege in and of itself, right? That we're able to ask those questions of like, to stop and not have to be in that survival mode and say, okay, let, let me check in with myself and how can I grow, right?

Because maybe our parents didn't have that luxury, but this next step, it's hard. Like it's hard. Like who gave us that idea? Dee, I heard you say the thing about like not feeling enough and that's my biggest, what is this called? Not mantra, but like when you have like a word or a sentence that you say to yourself that's like wrong.

Like, like a false thought (Arivee: limiting belief.) Yes. Like a limited, that's my limiting belief. That I'm not enough. Right. (Arivee: Uh huh) and I've worked through this a little bit and I've talked about, or I've thought about the fact that I've had to wear masks. For my entire life, right? So, whether it's in spaces where, oh, I didn't wanna show my accent, because if I show my accent, then maybe they're not gonna think I'm smart enough, right? No. Having an accent. You speak three languages, Carla, what are you talking about? Right? So, we all know what these masks are when we're in certain spaces, but it's like, when do you take the mask off? and when are you Just enough? Just being (Arivee: mm-hmm.)

Diana: And I think that has to come from within because you'll, nobody will ever give you [00:18:00] that gift and say, oh, you are enough.

You know? So obviously you have close friends and, and stuff, but it, it really has to come within us that we say, okay, like I'm, I'm good with who I am and, and being what I am. That piece happens a lot when you have like multicultural, like if you're from two different cultures or, or more than two different cultures.

Cause you, a lot of times you hear that narrative. I don't feel enough of this, or I'm not enough of this for these people, right? For this half or whatever, half I am, you know, I'm not white enough or I'm not Puerto Rican enough, or whatever. And at some point, as you age, you get to a point where you're like, okay, I'm, I'm this amalgamation of these two things, plus, plus other cultures and other, other things that I've gained along the way, and I'm okay with being that mixture, you know, whatever that means for you.

However, that means you, you speak Spanish, you don't speak Spanish, or you, you know, you are who you are, but it takes a while to kind of get to that point of comfort in yourself that you could say, I am enough for me. You know, whatever that. (Arivee: Yes.)

Carla: I, I think also finding that community, right? Like you talked about the two cultures, right?

(Diana: Yeah.) I, I was born in the DR and sometimes I don't feel Dominican enough when I go to the island. Right, right, right. And of course, I don't feel American enough. , but there are other people like me. You know, you two are case in point and finding that community that's really important. Um, and I think when I say that we have the privilege of spending some time looking at our limiting beliefs and our feelings is that unlike our parents, we have time to like to look at our feelings and sit with them and maybe look at those dreams and chase them. (Diana: Right.)

Arivee: Yeah. You know, I don't, I don't think that I, I still think I'm working on it, but I don't think I, I made huge progress on the not feeling good enough, limiting belief and the feeling Dee of, of being always like, I'm not this enough, or that enough. I don't think I made peace with all of that until maybe like the last, I would say, three years of my life.

(Carla: Mm-hmm.) and I'm gonna be 40, so it's just taking me a long time and it's. Those things still come up, but it's different. Like I, the impact on my life is much less. Right. It's not that I don't feel that way sometimes, it's just that it's not as, the feeling doesn't last a long time or doesn't impact what I wanna do anymore.

Right, (Diana: right.) But that feeling of even like, do I belong in the spaces that I personally inhabit, like corporate America when I was at the law firm doing that, even doing my coaching thing, doing the, all of this stuff is like running, it's literally challenging. . Oh, you don't think you're good enough. Okay.

It's always a challenge. And so, I think by doing the things that I've been doing, I'm constantly challenging that belief of myself. And so, I, I try to give myself like more evidence that like, it's not true. Like I, I do deserve to be here. I do belong here, and gotten I'm way more comfortable with like, the fact that I was born here, but I come from a very Dominican family.

And loving that, and then loving the fact that I, I had the privilege of being born here and the opportunities this country gives us. Right? And always remember my father saying, you know, at least there's opportunity here. Like at least, at least you got a chance. Like at least there's a chance for you here.

But I also think it gets difficult because you're constantly thinking about the opportunities you've been given, and you're constantly like, I can't waste it, so I have to go, go, go, go, go. All the time. It becomes a cyclical thing.

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My conversation with Diana and Carla will continue next week, so stay tuned for part two.

Thank you so much for listening. If you are a woman lawyer or a woman working in other fast, fast-paced, corporate environments, And you're looking to feel less overwhelmed and unsure and more empowered and fulfilled in your career and your personal life. Join my Women Empowering Women email community by going to to sign up.

Or you can click the link in the notes of this episode. Don't forget to also grab my five-step guide on how to get clarity on what needs to change to feel good about your life in this season, and how to make that change happen. You can get It at or scroll down in the notes to this episode and click on the link.

Finally, if you're loving these episodes, spread that love by reviewing and rating this podcast so we can get more women feeling heard, feeling seen, inspired, and empowered. Until then, remember that you have way more power than you can imagine to create the change you want and deserve in your life. To live a life, you feel good.

You're powerful now. So harness it now is your time.

[00:23:00] (Exit music plays)


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