Some of the people we meet come and go without fanfare. More rarely, we feel an immediate connection that could result in a long-lasting friendship. This how I felt when I met Elayna Fernández, best known as The Positive Mom. Petit, bubbly, and friendly, Fernández exudes confidence and courage. Her story is a testament of strength of character and how a positive mind can overcome the hardest of life situations. Fernández is founder of the highly acclaimed blog, The Positive Mom, where she encourages, empowers and guides moms to increase their impact—social, financial, and otherwise, in order to create a life filled of joy, balance and success. By the time we meet, she is a best-selling author, an award-winning mentor for moms, and an international keynote speaker. Her philosophy, “Be Positive and You will BE Powerful,” aims to encourage moms to handle parenting in their own terms, without guilt, shame or feeling overwhelmed. Here is my interview with the effervescent Elayna Fernández.
HipLatina: Where were you born and raised?
Elayna Fernández: I was born in the Dominican Republic in a slum of the town of San Jose de Ocoa, where I lived in extreme poverty.
HL: How was it growing up in your house?
EF: There was a lot of tough love. My parents were avid readers and believed in education as a way out of poverty and as a way to be your best self. My dad inspired me to become an entrepreneur and to create the life I wanted. My parents pushed us to give our best and do our best when we did our long list of chores, fetching water in the nearby stream, doing our homework without electric power, or dressing ourselves.
HL: How was education viewed in your household?
EF: My parents were young and poor when I was born and they soon found out I was a fast learner with a lot of energy. They say I spoke in full sentences before I was a year old and expressed my desire to go to school, so I was only a little over two years old when they enrolled me in a private school. We never had the means to own textbooks or any other books, but our parents gave us the love of reading and learning.
HL: In your bio, it says that you are knowledgeable in many areas including marketing, graphic design, and social media. What is your favorite area of expertise?
EF: I have always loved marketing and I always knew it was a part of my journey. I feel so blessed to have been personally mentored by Jay Conrad Levinson, the creator of Guerrilla Marketing and to have the opportunity to teach by his side at his home in Florida. I never even dreamed that teaching this discipline, as a certified master trainer was possible for me.
HL: Tell me about The Positive Mom
EF: As I look back and connect the dots, I’ve been preparing for The Positive Mom my entire life. I’ve always been passionate about storytelling and entrepreneurship, and when I became a mom, it became one of my top passions. It’s ironic because being a mom was not one of my goals growing up.
I was troubled as a child because of my dysfunctional relationship with my mother and I was traumatized by my parents’ divorce. An assault and abduction by a stranger that almost killed me when I was a teenager didn’t help. But now I can see that motherhood is key to my mission on earth and that the many challenges I’ve faced have helped me inspire others through my blog.
HL: In the early 2000,you found yourself divorced and the mother of two young children. How did you stay positive and moved on?
EF: I didn’t really stay positive. I became positive and I keep choosing to be positive on a daily basis. I remember that moment at 2 am in South Florida, laying on the floor in the fetal position, feeling like my life was over. I felt absolutely hopeless and enveloped in negativity.
This period showed me that just as you don’t drown from falling in water, but rather from not standing up or swimming out, you are not a positive mom because you don’t experience negativity—you experience it, perhaps often and deeply, yet you decide to keep on swimming to stay afloat.
HL: We all experience a range of human emotions. Some days are going to be rough. Some days we are going to wake up feeling sad about a recent loss, or nervous about a major life change coming up. How do you recommend maintaining positivity without trying to push down our real feelings in hard times?
EF: I am a big proponent of honoring your emotions and embracing them fully. I believe it is healthy to let ourselves be angry, sad, and afraid, because invalidating ourselves would have devastating consequences. In those moments, soothe yourself, tell yourself it is okay to feel the way you feel and talk to yourself as you would to your child. Ask yourself “what would make me feel better?” and just do that.
HL: Now for the ubiquitous question asked of female businesswomen: You have three children‑how do you balance work and family? What is the one thing that has helped you the most?
EF: I think being a single mom and mompreneur for over eight years really helped me understand how balance works. The core of having balance in your life is being unquestionably clear about your priorities and setting firm boundaries to protect them. Many women struggle with outside approval and don’t honor themselves because of fear of judgment, fear of rejection, and fear of failure. I make a conscious effort to avoid those self-defeating thought patterns and trust in myself.
HL: Who inspires you?
EF: Motherhood inspires me because I truly believe it’s an art. Through the nurturing practice of motherhood we have the ability to shape a life. Kids come to us as blank canvases and we are the artists until they can hold their own brush‑and even then, they will most often model how we held it.
HL: Do you have a message for Latina moms who are going through hard times? How do you motivate them to keep going?
EF: Yes I do! My purpose is to provide hope and to say “Hey! If I can do it, so can you!” My life is far from perfect, because perfection does not exist in this world.
As Latina moms, I feel we have so much passion and strength and those are assets we can use to move forward when we feel like life is over. We have what it takes to fight the battle and defeat the demons of comparison, competition, and criticism. If everything else fails, laugh. Your children don’t want a perfect mom‑they want a present mom!