Income inequality in the U.S. has grown, with inequality showing up along race lines. Statistics on income inequality from the Pew Research Center show that as of 2018 the median income in black households is 61% of the median income in white households.
This disparity is the result of years of wealth generation by white people in the U.S. at the expense of POC. Fortunately, the digital space has created opportunities for POC to make money with our skills, be an entrepreneur, and start closing the wealth gap.
During our talk, Jakiya shared her experience quitting corporate twice, but entrepreneurship was not her goal. As a black woman, Jakiya dealt with microaggressions and was overworked, which led to burnout.
Her decision: quit and rest.
When she returned to corporate a second time, it was at a time when the killings of Black people at the hands of the police and protests headlined the news. This was around 2014 during the murders of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice among others.
Hearing the protests while working and hearing her co-workers ask what was happening made her realize she was not where she wanted to be.
All these factors led her to think she could not be herself in corporate. While she knows better now, having her own business has given her the freedom to be herself.
In a world where professionalism is dictated by elitist ideals of whiteness this type of freedom is a form of rest for POC. It is resting from having to talk or act a certain way.
Entrepreneurship, then, becomes a form of self-care for many POC like Jakiya and myself.
To maintain this lifestyle, however, it is crucial to monetize your skills in a sustainable way.
Having a skill alone is not enough. You need to be clear about what you want to do. Like Jakiya says, you do not have to get everything perfect, but you do need to have clarity.
Do you know your industry, your avatar (i.e. your ideal client), have a clear message, and offer a solution?
Even if you are great at doing what you do, if you are not solving someone’s problem, people will not buy from you. Having a clear vision, voice, and solution transforms your skills into offers you can sell.
If you do not have these, it does not mean you cannot make money using your skills. Use your abilities doing freelance work. This will pay off in the end since you will gain experience, which translates to charging more.
2. Master Your Skill
If you are going to sell something, master it!
Mastery of your skill is not only about honing your craft. It is about creating the right processes to replicate results.
Jakiya mentions how she did not create products and services around traveling even though people asked her how she did it. Why?
Because it was not “a proven concept that [she could] copy, paste, and replicate”.
To sell your skills, you need to “make sure the processes can be replicated and proven”, and then you can sell. To do this, you need to try it out with different people. [Read: test out your skills].
You can do this by offering something for free or for a lower cost, so you can gain the experience and testimonials.
Entrepreneurship as a Practice of Liberation
One aspect of monetization few talk about is that monetization is more than just hitting some ideal number [Read: 100K should not be your goal].
You will often hear people say they hit 100k or have a six figure income as a sign of success. These claims ignore that these numbers are arbitrary.
As Jakiya notes, the six-figure goal is simply “a figure that was made up by corporate America to keep us in a construct of working towards that”.
Jakiya makes an insightful point in saying that “it is a ceiling . . . [and your goals should be] about your lifestyle” as well as the impact you want to make.
During our discussion we talked about how you may not even need 100k to live the lifestyle you want. For some, 200k may be enough if they get to live a life that makes them feel wealthy in other ways like spending time with family, traveling, or just having a slow morning. So why is the focus money?
Focus on increasing your quality of life instead.
Monetization is also about making an impact. Jakiya uses entrepreneurship as a tool for activism to uplift her community and close the wealth gap.
I had to ask myself these questions in my own journey. While at first I wanted to share my story simply to share it, I eventually had to sit with the questions of: “How does sharing my lifestyle help other people get there? How can I help take people with me there too?”
Like Jakiya says, “If I’m winning, and they’re winning, and, like, we all are out here winning”.
An entrepreneurial journey rooted in activism means having a real conversation with yourself about the impact you want to make in the world and the legacy you want to leave.
For me, it is a legacy that centers freedom for women. I want other women to know the freedom I know because of my personal brand.
Owning my freedom and showing others how they can attain theirs is the motivation behind my brand development program: to help women develop brands that are profitable and true-to-self.
If you want to find your authentic brand strategy, check out this brand strategy quiz I created to help you understand how to show up in your business in alignment with your unique energy, personality & Human Design.
Our stories in corporate, sadly, are not out of the ordinary. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s (WBI) 2021 report, 30% of workers experience bullying and 19% witness it. This means nearly half of workers directly or indirectly experience hostility at work.
Despite the reality of corporate trauma, we don’t talk about it openly in our society, and those experiencing it often suffer silently.
The workplace becomes an uncomfortable space filled with triggers like the typical “happy friday” greeting at work becoming a reminder that we reserve happiness for the weekend.
Yet, because we don’t talk about this issue honestly, many of us may minimize or be unaware of the many ways corporate environments traumatize us.
What Workplace Bullying Looks Like
The WBI defines workplace bullying as “the repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more employees of an employer: abusive conduct that is either verbal abuse; or behaviors which are threatening, intimidating, or humiliating; or work sabotage, in some combination.”
From the obvious to the subtle, Amanda and I shared various examples of these behaviors from past bosses and co-workers.
An A**hole Boss
Amanda recalls a specific meeting she attended after having spent an entire night working on a task. In this meeting her boss “went into a rage about how [people] didn’t do things fast enough”.
Most of us may recognize the angry, threatening tone of the boss in this scenario but may miss other layers of inappropriateness in this response: the unreasonable expectations and dehumanization of his co-workers.
It is understandable to have set expectations and standards in a workplace, but setting unrealistic deadlines that end up sabotaging a worker’s performance and then devaluing their work for not meeting unreasonable expectations undermines the value of employees as people.
Yet these expectations are justified in an environment that values profits and productivity over the well-being of employees. Because of the widespread grind mentality in corporate America, many normalize these expectations rather than recognize how dehumanizing it is for employees to work to the point of burn out.
Other behaviors that lead to a sense of humiliation or shame may not show up as loudly as a screaming boss but are just as debilitating.
Conforming to Corporate Culture: Shape Up or Ship Out
In my own experience, it showed up in bosses’ micromanaging and exclusionary behaviors.
Little things like not eating at my desks were seen as abnormal and scrutinized, leaving me with little to no autonomy in the workplace.
A clear example of exclusion was a moment when my co-workers had a mini-celebration at work to which I was not invited. After the fact, I was told there were snacks and cake in the break room if I wanted some.
It may be easy to dismiss these behaviors and say, “just get over it”. As with other forms of abusive behavior, this advice does not help.
For those of us who have experienced it, we know that it is not one incident but the accumulation of moments like this that can create self-doubt and cause us to feel disempowered. In my transition story I share the impact this had on my mental and physical health.
These seemingly small acts can be more triggering when they are tied to other social issues such as racism and sexism among others.
When Workplace Bullying Becomes Harassment
In cases when belittling someone is based on some aspect of their identity (e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, religion,etc.), it becomes harassment. As with other forms of bullying, these can range from overt to subtle forms of microaggressions.
Data from Lean In shows that ⅔ of women still face microaggressions. Even though there has been progress for women in the workplace, men still outnumber women in leadership positions, and the work environment often reflects expectations based on a limited idea of masculinity.
To date, the workplace is still largely driven by ideas of competition and rugged individualism that demand a detachment from our emotions. People of all genders participate in this.
One of the most disconcerting experiences for me was being called emotional by other women. The stereotype of women being emotional has been used by men to invalidate and disempower women though emotions are natural for everyone.
As Amanda pinpoints, it is disappointing to see women acting as many men have towards other women. This type of behavior, unfortunately, maintains the status quo and creates an environment that can become threatening to women.
When these ideas go unchallenged, it creates an environment where, even if women are in a leadership role, people can still feel comfortable behaving in sexist ways.
Amanda shared a specific instance where she was in an elevator with about five other men. One of them made a comment to the other men about remembering “what they learned in the sexual harassment training”.
These, among many other toxic interactions, led us to quit corporate.
Entrepreneurship: A Path towards Healing
For both Amanda and I, entrepreneurship allowed us to walk away from the corporate world and empowered us to build communities and businesses that align with our values.
Not only that, but in building our businesses we regained our sense of self and worth.
The trauma I experienced has served as motivation for building my personal brand around freedom, and it is why I created my brand development program. Understanding the impact entrepreneurship has had in my life drives me to support others in their journey. If you’re ready to leave corporate and transition into a place of power, check out the series and start taking the steps towards your own vivacious life.
Gianna Agudelo graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in Health Promotion and is a current Public Health graduate student at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She is certified through the AFAA and has over five years of fitness experience teaching group exercise classes, personal training, and creating wellness programs. She is passionate about people and leading them into creating better, healthier lives. Gianna enjoys trying new workouts, drinking sangria with friends, and traveling all over the world.
If you live in NYC, then you know the emotional and psychological effects it has on your mental health. Since moving to NYC, I faced many emotional and mental challenges that I’ve never had to deal with before.
I felt lost.
The constant mental stimulation, the failed or “fake” relationships, and the managing of finances made me forget who I truly am.
And just like you, I started looking for ways online and offline to surviving NYC and I stumbled upon something truly magical and unique…
Sound healing dates back to ancient cultures such as Ancient Egyptian and Greek. But since the ’80s, Vibroacoustic therapy (sound healing), which is a science-based alternative medicine therapy, has been used for pain relief, insomnia, depression, PTSD and even Alzheimers.
After trying this one of a kind sound healing experience, I was hooked! I felt reconnected and I had to learn more.
So I met with Devi, who is a certified sound therapist and the mastermind behind this special experience, that she appropriately calls—VIBROBATH.
In this blog post, I will share with you everything you need to know about this unique sound healing experience—VIBROBATH—and how it will help you in surviving NYC.
So first of…
What is Sound Meditation AKA Sound Bath?
A Sound Meditation/Bath involves the use of music for meditation through vocals, sound frequencies, singing bowls, and crystals.
What is the difference between a Sound Bath and a Vibrobath?
Vibrobath merges the elements of a Sound Bath and the sound technology of vibroacoustic therapy into a group experience.
It involves the use of a vibroacoustic pillow, stimulating and massaging the cells in your body and brain through low sound frequencies and vibrations, which also increases blood blow in the body.
Devi, who is the sound magician and pioneer of the Vibrobath experience in NYC, says that if your goal is to relax and meditate, then try a Sound Bath. Which is what I tried first then upgraded to the FULL experience!
If you desire something deeper, like the “Imax version of a Sound Bath” then try Vibrobath, which is similar to getting a Thai/Deep Tissue massage.
So What is it Actually Like Being at Vibrobath?
Devi created the Vibrobath experience based on her love for spas, music technology, and indigenous sound ceremonies. The gatherings are always intimate and sacred with a small group of people. Devi calls the experience a combination of ancestral gathering, aromatherapy, Reiki and Vibroacoustic therapy.
And I definitely felt this hybrid experience as soon as I walked into Vibrobath.
You are immediately greeted with love, respect, and a cup of warm and delicious special herbal tea blend made in house.
As you walk into the surreal Vibrobath space, you will notice that is filled with luscious green plants, crystals, sound bowls, and comfortable seating. It honestly looks like something from a sci-fi movie!
You are then asked about your sound tolerance, making the experience customizable and comfortable for you. I picked the quieter spot in the room since it was my first one.
Then the gathering begins…
The Vibrobath Experience:
Ceremony Duration: 2 hours (in person)
Follow-up Course: 90 mins (this is done online)
Location: New York City—held in some of the most beautiful places. Some of the places I’ve been to are The Assemblage and Spring Studios.
Tickets: Buy Here. Use code MarinaGirgis for a generous 30% off!
You start the experience sitting in a comfortable seat and doing some breathwork guided by Devi. She constantly makes sure everyone is comfortable by helping adjust/tweak their seat or position as needed to gain the most out of the experience.
After the grounding breathwork is done. Devi will share an intention for the session with the group. Then you lay down with an eye mask, Devi helps you place the vibroacoustic pillow over your body and the music slowly begins to overtake the room.
While laying down you will experience the frequencies from the music playing as well as nature sounds and indigenous singing by Devi. You will gradually be transported into a different and surreal world over the next couple of hours.
Devi will use essential oils and practice reiki on the group, all while you are getting this delicious internal/cellular massage through the vibroacoustic pillow.
As the session comes to an end you start to awaken slowly. Devi will guide you through another set of breathwork and prompt the group to share their experience. I love this part because you realize how connected the group is.
You end with hot towels for aromatherapy, group vocal exercises, and a big group hug, making everyone feel like they belong to one tribe.
What Happened to me During My Vibrobath Experience
During my Vibrobath experience, I felt like my body was so heavy on the ground. I felt like I couldn’t move my arms. I was in a trance state similar to being dead— crazy I know!
I saw visions of me floating on a river (the Nile) in an Ancient Egyptian funerary boat. This vision translated into The Journey to the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. It wasn’t anything scary, it all felt like a peaceful journey.
During my Vibrobath experience, Devi was playing tracks with water sounds and I was in a transitional period in my life at the time. This made me believe that the visions I saw had to relate to my mental/emotional state of being in the real world.
That was my journey from death to rebirth through sound healing.
How Did Vibrobath Help Me in Surviving NYC?
Like I mentioned above, I was going through a transitional period in my life with my health and career. I had been having issues sleeping through the night and was super paranoid about my health that couldn’t stay asleep.
The ceremony helped me reconnect with my body in a different way. I felt more in control of my situation and that I had options to heal the body through sound. I noticed that my sleep has dramatically improved after the few sessions I have done with Devi.
Devi is such a healer. She is loving and empathetic. She has created a safe space for “The Magician” within to be ignited.
Devi shares that “The Magician”—YOU—can’t come out if it doesn’t know if it’s safe or initiated to be activated and validated within the gathering. Using simple tools such as our own voices or a crystal or a sound bowl, to ignite The Magician.
“Vibrobath puts you in a daydreaming state to understand what’s happening in the body during your waking state.”- Devi Mambouka
During our one-on-one sessions, she taught me how to let the sound of my own voice provide me with comfort if I start freaking out about my health or anything else in my life.
We created songs together. I truly am grateful to her and Vibrobath for helping people with coping and surviving NYC through all the madness we deal with on a daily basis.
You can learn about the scientific mechanism of how sound healing works in this video below:
Who is Sound Healing For? Can anyone join Vibrobath?
Sound healing is for people who love music. Which is basically almost the majority of the population here on earth…so really ANYONE can go to a sound healing or sound bath session.
According to our sound healer Devi, Vibrobath is for “someone who has or desires a relationship with the seen and unseen world”
She also explains how sound healing is for “people who had a relationship with their own voice but the world shut them down. So it’s to heal your relationship with sound.”
Personally, I feel like sound healing is for anyone that is looking for ways to heal or get in touch with something new within themselves. For those tired of the hustle and bustle and looking for creative ways to surviving NYC.
Who is “The Magician”? How Can We be Magicians?
Devi talks a lot about “The Magician” so I wanted to understand this term a little bit more and how we can attain such a powerful title.
This is what I learned from Devi on “The Magician”:
A magician is like Doctor Strange pushing out geometric patterns. Which is actually a scientific concept called cymatics.
Cymatics is the process of vibrating matter which in turn creates patterns. See this cool video below to believe it!
Similarly, during a Vibrobath, the voices and frequencies from the music are creating these geometrical shapes in our bodies, that in turn reflect onto our waking state.
“Being a magician is having the power to create these vibrations that can create the patterns we want into our lives.”– Devi Mambouka
How can Vibrobath Encourage us to Live more Vivaciously?
Sound healing can guide us to Livin’ Vivaciously simply by understanding our own vibrations. These vibrations or internal voices tell us when we need to go for what we truly want. When we should speak up about what matters to us and when should let go of something that no longer serves us or “The Magician” within.
It is our inner guide.
Devi also explains how Vibrobath creates this imaginary trance world that unlocks the creativity within. The low frequencies used, stimulate the root (1st) chakra, which is all about creativity and safety.
And, I truly experienced all that within the trance worlds I entered each time I did sound healing with her.
At the end of it all, experiencing Vibrobath or a Sound Meditation with Devi is the ultimate invitation to be silly!
To let out those noises in your head and body. To be YOU.
If you are looking for new ways to surviving NYC and all the madness in your life or you are simply wanting to try a completely new and unique experience in NYC, then I highly recommend you try a Vibrobath session!
Keep up with Devi, her motivational posts, and upcoming events on Instagram: @vibrobath
If you live in a city like New York City, then you know what it means to be constantly rushing around, feeling overwhelmed by things to do, and even the things you didn’t do!
In July 2019, after being in the city for only 7 months, I really needed to recharge my energy and getaway. I searched online and found a too-good-to-be-true deal I couldn’t pass up, on a yoga retreat in Nicaragua. It was a little less than $600 for an all-inclusive 1 week yoga retreat at a yoga resort called Eden on the Chocolata.
& Why Nicaragua?
Nicaragua had everything I wanted; the beaches, the tropical weather, Spanish, dancing, and the stunning nature. It is truly heavenly. Not to mention how kind and hospitable people there are. Also, did I mention how budget-friendly this heavenly destination is?!!
Please note that Nicaragua is still going through some political unrest (do your research) and their economy really needs our support. I know what your next question is…
So . . . is Nicaragua safe for solo female travelers?
Good and important question!
I went on the 1 week yoga retreat in San Juan del Sur (SJDS), which is a beach town on Nicaragua’s southwest coast, solo and had no issues during my trip. I would be aware of the big cities, like Managua though.
You will most likely have to fly into Managua to get to San Juan Del Sur, and there is no reason to stay in the city for more than a layover. You can take a Chicken Bus to San Juan del Sur from Managua (read details below) or a taxi direct to the resort for $70.
If you decide to get to San Juan del Sur the adventurous way, AKA taking a Chicken Bus. These are old school buses that go throughout the country, mainly what the locals ride to travel around between cities. The bus rides cost about $5 for the 4 hours journey from Managua to SJDS.
Then How Do You Get The Chicken Buses in San Juan Del Sur?
In Managua, you will go to El Mercado Central (be really aware of your belongings here) and look for buses going to Rivas. At Rivas, you will take another Chicken Bus going to SJDS. Then finally a $5 taxi to your yoga resort at Eden on the Chocolata!
Program Breakdown & All the Deets
Duration: The retreat duration is 6 nights and 7 days (There is an option for a 3 days yoga retreat as well)
Price: $449/person (for dates below only) I paid closer to $600 in July
Accommodation Type: Shared eco-luxury bungalows with fans (no AC), private bathrooms in each bungalow and private porch with hammock. Private bungalows are also available for $899-$999.
Dates: 15 – 21 December 2019 12 – 18 January 2020 9 – 15 February 2020 15 – 21 March 2020
(Note that you can book this yoga retreat any time of the year but it will cost a little closer to $600 for the 1 week yoga retreat and will not include everything mentioned below.)
1 Yoga sculpt session (a yoga class which incorporates high-intensity training)
6 nights eco-luxury accommodation
Daily delicious vegetarian breakfast and dinner buffet, made with local fresh ingredients
1 day trip to Playa Hermosa, includes 1 surf lesson and transport
1-hour massage or Reiki treatment (one of the best massages I’ve had!!)
Free time to enjoy San Juan Del Sur and the surf beaches around town
Unlimited use of Wifi (works only in the main area), incredible swimming pool, yoga deck, and outdoors gym
Unlimited coffee, tea and filtered water
Small groups to ensure a great quality experience
Free daily shuttle to and from San Juan del Sur town since the retreat is a bit further out
Photo album from the retreat week
This is how your daily schedule will look like:
7 AM: Freshly brewed coffee & Tea
7:30 AM: Morning yoga class (1hr class)
9 AM: Breakfast (super filling and delicious!)
10:30 AM: Shuttle to SJDS town departs (or free time from 9 am – 5 pm)
4:30 PM: Shuttle departs back to the retreat from town
5 PM: Evening yoga class (1hr class)
7 PM: Family-style dinner
Review of The Yoga Retreat Experience
This is the most bang for your buck type of retreat! For that price, this is a steal!
The resort is beyond gorgeous, you will instantly feel at peace when you step in. The air is very crisp and fresh. The pool overlooks the jungle and the bay. The view from your bungalow is green and luscious. You will wake up each day to the sounds of tropical birds and monkeys.
The bed is super comfy. The rooms are huge with closet space and a private bathroom with hot water and towels. I went in July so the weather was humid, hot and a bit rainy. Definitely keep that in mind because they do not have AC, all I had was a ceiling fan and a floor fan.
You are in the middle of nature so it goes without saying that there will be bugs. Lots of bugs and mosquitos. Keep your bed net secured in place, wear bug spray at night and you’ll be just fine.
The yoga classes are interactive and restorative. Kelly who leads the morning class will incorporate some yoga philosophy, spiritual readings, and reiki with essential oils in her yoga classes.
When I was at the retreat I had a couple of amazing teachers, Danny and Renata, they pushed what I thought to be my limits or physical and mental boundaries in yoga and helped me sit longer with my “discomfort”.
Not going to lie but the food might have been my favorite part about this yoga retreat. Every single meal is cooked by the owners or their staff in their kitchen made only from the best and freshest ingredients with LOADS of love!
They serve the food family style so it will be a great opportunity for you to socialize and meet new people. Breakfast includes eggs, plantain fries, rice and beans, and smoothies or smoothie bowls. Dinner was always a different cuisine each day, dessert included!
Finally, something to keep in mind that this is a family-friendly and animal-friendly resort so you will be around kids and cute animals.
What Can You Do in Your Free Time in San Juan Del Sur?
The Town Vibe
San Juan Del Sur is a small and colorful beach town with a beach right in town, appropriately called San Juan Del Sur beach. This beach is lined with seafood restaurants and bars with really great happy hours. Check out Beach House for their 2 for $5 drinks and $3 appetizers.
Wander around and you will come across many artisanal shops that sell the cutest handmade art. I got these tiny paintings done on feathers from one of the shops.
There are many beaches around San Juan Del Sur—they’re mainly surf beaches. Playa Maderas is beautiful and a great place to learn how to surf. There are also two more secluded beaches right by Eden on the Chocolata; Nacascolo Bay, a 10 min walk and Mixcal Beach, a 20 min walk.
To get to the beaches, you can take the free shuttle from the yoga resort into town and look for Casa Oro Hostel. They have shuttle service going to different beaches daily, starting at $5.
The town itself is filled with cheap local eateries (check out El Mercado) and health food cafes. I recommend Simon Says for $4 smoothies, Ding Repair Cafe for yummy smoothie bowls and healthy bites, and Art Warehouse for fresh and HUGE salads bowls. Save room for dinner at Eden!
Interested in learning Spanish in San Juan Del Sur?
This was a two birds, one stone situation. I took advantage of the free shuttle going into town from the yoga resort and took up daily Spanish classes by the beach at Lago Azul Restuarant and Spanish School. My teacher Cony was funny, very patient and pushed me to have more conversations in Spanish. I believe my Spanish improved just by taking 2 hrs of classes a day. And guess what? The cost per hour was $10!
What Did I Learn from My 1 Week Yoga Retreat?
When I got back to New York City, people who met me post-retreat said I was glowing. People were asking me what I did differently. They sensed new energy vibrating from me. I felt less stressed out–I was really burned-out from my job and the city before the retreat. The little things that annoyed me every day, for example on my daily subway commute, did not bother me as much. Or, maybe I was simply able to breathe and let go of these little annoyances.
I also developed a solid morning routine because of this retreat and my amazing teachers. I now wake up much earlier, meditate for 5-10 mins, journal and start my day at a slower pace similar to what I experienced at the yoga retreat.
This retreat was a physical and mental reset for me. I learned to be okay with moments of silence, to be “bored” or simply do nothing on the weekend, to breathe and just enjoy the good food and language barriers. I even went a whole week without my daily cup of coffee!
I still do that.
Is This 1 Week Yoga Retreat for You?
If you are in a place in your life where you feel unbalanced, need mental clarity or the courage to redirect your life, then traveling to Nicaragua and doing a yoga retreat might help you out a lot. I highly recommend taking a different type of vacation if you are in a rut.
Where Can You Book This Incredible 1 Week Yoga Retreat in San Juan Del Sur?
You can book directly on Eden on the Chocolata’s website. Or email Remy and Kelly, they will help facilitate the bookings and answer any questions you may have! Let them know I sent you for good karma!
You can also book nightly stays the yoga resort without doing the retreat here.