Unleash Your Inner Warrior And Fight For Your Dream

Disney Princess - Dream Big Princess - disclosure

Elayna’s daughters are so sweet. Elayna’s daughters are so confident. Elayna’s daughters are so happy. Elayna is such a positive mom. When I hear those comments and see those pictures, I am in awe.

Elayna Fernandez - daughters Elisha Elyssa (WhollyART) and Eliana

About 3 decades ago I never would have thought that I would be connected to those statements, to those happy faces. As a child, I was constantly beaten up and told I didn’t deserve to be alive, that I was worth nothing, and I could never do anything right.

I was 7 years old and the Caribbean sun was especially hot. The waste was everywhere. My brother and I would regularly come to the dump behind the little wooden shack we called home to find objects and artifacts we could play with.

Right before going back home to finish up the long list of chores I so dreaded, I noticed something unusual. It was an old, soggy, smelly magazine with a name we couldn’t pronounce.

I eagerly flipped through the pages and was completely fascinated by the bright pictures. Those children were wearing sneakers, and jeans, and owned books and real toys, and had the time to play with them! They didn’t live under tin-roofs, they had toilets and showers, and they didn’t seem like they had to fetch water many kilometers away from home. They had loving moms. They even read together!

Elayna Fernandez - childhood photo in a Dominican Republic slum

In that pivotal moment, I forgot the stench and trash around me, and resolved that these happy faces were a vision of what my life could be.

What if I could learn that language?”, I wondered. I could sure find the secret to having freedom, joy, and love!

I began to dream a dream that I never thought was possible, and I was determined to go for it.

And right there, at only 7 years old, while sifting through revolting garbage, I set on a journey to live a life I loved, to dream big, and not let my circumstances define me.

I told the only person who believed in me: my dad. He said “Yes! Tu puedes!” You can do this. He taught me a few words he’d learned in English and built a wooden box with a slit so I could save all my monedas.

It was like that moment in Mulan when her father assures her that “the flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful and rare of all.”

The flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful and rare of all. Mulan quotes / Dream Big Princess

Every day, I prayed day and night to find out where I’d get coins. And then it hit me… our barrio didn’t have power at night and everyone was bored, so I started a cardboard puppet show! I told stories about my vision, and besides infusing hope in others, it fueled my passion like a forest fire. I also tutored my classmates and used my writing skills to make extra money.

After saving my monedas for 4 long years, the day finally came! I had enough money to enroll in the English class I had dreamed of. I was 11 years old and I was beyond thrilled!

Having that picture engraven in my mind and in my heart got me through a few more years living in the slum and my parent’s painful divorce. My own home was my battlefield.

I graduated High school at 15 and graduated my English class with honors, and even became an ESL teacher at such a young age. I felt ready to leave home to fight for my dream, seeking to find out what I was made of, to prove my worth in the big city and finally bring honor to my family.

Remember when Mulan is realizing her strength, finally feeling confident to be a worthy fighter, only to be wounded and cast out? I felt such defeat in 1996 when an unspeakable tragedy robbed my joy, my desire to go on, and even my faith in God. Later that year, a near fatal car crash left me in a coma for 8 days. Like Mulan, I wasn’t all sure it would be worth it, but nevertheless, I decided to get up and continue my fight.

Knowing English (and then learning Italian), helped me gain the financial security that I was proud of and always craved. And though I was grateful, I often felt the vision of my childhood was a fraud – I never did have that happy childhood. Having some of the material things I saw in the picture was nice, and what many would have called a success story, but there was a void in my heart, because I had never found the joy I saw in those vivid illustrations.

Soon I would get married, and leave everyone I loved and everything I had built behind to move permanently to the United States, and start a family of my own.

California was a magical place, where I could finally be happy. It was unbelievable! I not only had a real shower, but the water came out warm! Such a yummy blessing! I really felt like a princess – and I even crowned myself with a Disneyland-bought tiara.

Elisha and Elyssa of WhollyART, daughters of Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

I loved being pregnant and having babies. So much, that my two babies were 1 year and 7 days apart. Life was good in beautiful sunny San Diego, and motherhood was even more miraculous than I expected.

And though I’d love to tell you that we lived happily ever after, history soon repeated itself, and again I was being knocked down physically and verbally by the person I thought was meant to protect me…and my daughters.

And then, I was suddenly left a single mom of two toddlers to start over again: alone, ashamed, and without a penny to my name, stuck in a 100 sqft room I couldn’t afford. I didn’t have a bank account, a job, or a car. I didn’t even know how to drive!

Curled up in the fetal position drowning in my own self-pity, self-blame, and self-defeat, I felt my world was over. I told myself what my mom used to say to me: you don’t deserve to be alive, you are worthless, you could never do anything right!

And then I looked up, and this completely transformed my experience: seeing Elisha and Elyssa, my little angel girls, peacefully asleep, something was awakened in me.

I finally understood why I found that old magazine, why that picture had been my compass, and why I had to uncrumple the page, and dare to dream big again. This vision was for my daughters all along, for the joy, the love, and the freedom that was possible in their childhood.

I couldn’t give up – not now! I had to summon my inner warrior, my inner Mulan, and find the strength to fight for that my dream… our dream.

Without the background, knowledge, or support to get started, I couldn’t come up with a To-Do list. In that moment of divine inspiration, I did something that has become a daily power practice: I created my first To BE List, to stop focusing on what to do and focus on who I can be.

I could be the mother I didn’t have, I could be faithful in this trial, I could be forgiving, I could be grateful, I could be a warrior of light, I could be the joy I wanted to see in the world… I could be a positive mom!

Mulan wore her father’s armor and used his sword to cut her hair, I armed myself with my father’s belief in me, with my love for my daughters, and cut off my fear with the power of a new mindset. I was ready to pursue this sacred purpose.

I was recently back in California, looking at my daughters’ faces, not only Elisha and Elyssa’s, but Eliana’s my newest miracle, standing before 400 remarkable women who enveloped me with love and support, and in complete awe because I knew my vision has been manifested – and beyond.

I transformed my pain into my purpose and from my conviction that when you are positive, you become powerful, I created The Positive MOM platform, to teach mothers the tools to heal their own wounds, bloom in adversity, and empower their children to thrive in a positive home environment.

I am certain that when God gives you a vision, He gives you permission to pursue it, and provision to fulfill it.

Disney Princess - Dream Big Princess ~ Elayna Fernandez / The Positive MOM as Mulan

Like Mulan, I can be myself, make my father proud, and bring honor to my family – and impact the world, on my own terms. And so can you!

But to see the pictures come to life, to let my reflection show who I am inside, I had to free myself from the confinement of my own mind, to believe, and decide who I would be in the story of my life. It is up to you to unleash your inner warrior and fight for your dream, and to Dream Big, Princess.

Are you ready to unleash your inner Mulan? I am extremely grateful to #WeAllGrow Latina and to Disney Princess for allowing me to tell this story on the #WeAllGrow Summit Storytellers stage. Learn interesting and exciting facts about Mulan and all your favorite Disney Princesses at Disney Princess website, and keep the conversation going with the hashtags #WeAllGrow and #DreamBigPrincess!

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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PS: Thanks to the gifted Robson Muzel, for the #WeAllGrow pictures!

39 thoughts on “Unleash Your Inner Warrior And Fight For Your Dream

  1. Hey Elayna,

    I knew some of your story but your childhood was revelation! I am so very happy for and proud to know you. You are doing such marvelous things! Hugs to the girls!

    Su compañero de equipo y hermana,


  2. Wow. You keep amazing me, Elayna…. I love finding out the bits and pieces of your inspiring story. You rock! Your children are so blessed to have you as their motherGod bless you for all the light you bring to this world and empowering women!

  3. You really are a symbol of strength especially when it comes to being a mother and being a woman. I truly admire you for never giving up when life was throwing you so many challenges.

  4. Hugs to you, Elayna. You are a strong woman and I know a lot of women (including me) can draw inspiration from you. It was a hard life but look at you now! Please continue to motivate and inspire women to reach for their dreams and to be the person they were truly born to be.

  5. Wow! What an heart warming story – from your humble beginnings to crowning yourself with a tiara from Disney! Thank you so much for this, it’s one of your best yet!

  6. A great and inspiring post! We sometimes choose to take the easy the way out – be it when dealing with situations in the gym, office, or anywhere else life takes us.

  7. I am in awe of how determined you are! I know your children and family are so proud of the woman you have become!

  8. This is so inspiring! You went through a lot and now Moms are looking up to you. You are so strong and blessed 🙂

  9. What a great and inspiring story that you told. My heart breaks for the little girl you were but excited that you had all the fight and fire you had. You are a strong woman and great mother!

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  14. I started to fall in love with you at the D23 Expo. And now it is done, I am all the way in love with you. You are a power of example and an inspiration and I am grateful to have you in my life.

  15. Your courage in telling your story inspires me as much as the story itself. I have been drawn to your light from the start. Now, I understand from whence it came. You are a diamond that was polished by struggled. Te amo, mija!!!

  16. Ela, I watched your video last night and again this evening. It brought tears to my eyes both times. I’ve always loved your story, but hearing it in more detail was incredibly moving. Your courage is amazing. Your message powerful. I love you my friend 😚

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  21. My god what a life you have lived! I feel like there should be a movie about all this. Blimey what a rich history you have of both tragedies and triumphs. I can’t believe your mom said that!
    Thank you so much once again elayna. I’ve been avoiding dealing with a very horrible thing that happened to me this year. Probably the worst year of my life. And it’s been that fear that I am worthless and that I deserve nothing that’s been holding me back. That everyday I have to remake the decision on whether I should be alive or not. I have to reforge myself into something I never thought I’d be in order to live the life I never thought I’d deserve.
    You are such a miracle to me.

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