We had the good fortune of connecting with Alicia Sirkin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alicia, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks has been among the most valuable, life-changing, and positive experiences of my life. Risks have taken me in wondrous directions I never could have planned or imagined! I love this quote from one of my teachers: “Isn’t it time to start living instead of just surviving?” I believe that if we don’t take risks, we are simply surviving and not living life to the fullest. At this age in my life (at 73 years young), I think about risk as an opportunity for enhanced personal growth and self-confidence. Taking risks offers me a chance to either succeed in a personal or business goal, or to accept responsibility for learning a lesson from an unsuccessful attempt, all of which leads to positive outcomes because I choose to make it so! Risk-taking forces me to shift something within myself, like fear, to experience success in the future. Life is too short to live in fear, and fear used to hold me back in a multitude of ways. As a child, I was shy and timid, though I loved to sing loudly in high school chorus. In the classroom, I’d be the last person to raise my hand when I knew the answer to the teacher’s question. Fear of drawing attention to my overweight self and imagining some terrible embarrassment if my answer was incorrect prevented me from fully engaging in school and new social settings. I was very self-conscious. Risk carries with it the fear of uncertainty. When I was only 16, my father died from his third heart attack. My world fell apart, and I felt unsafe in the world. It was only decades later that I began taking risks as I slowly overcame the fear of uncertainty. Now I face uncertainty by digging deep within to unearth and restore the courage that I’ve lost — the courage to accept any outcome with inner strength, gratitude, and grace. I’m now prepared to have faith in what is, and grow stronger from the experience. I’ve learned to turn risks into positive action by assessing and releasing negative thought patterns no longer serving me well — old patterns that have stifled my self-growth. Since I’m no longer afraid to grow and change, I can make a strong commitment to look at my perceived weaknesses and flaws, ignore messages from my ego, and then accept and overcome them. I look at how my attitude, preconceived perceptions, and beliefs may have contributed to my life choices. Knowing I can shift out of old patterns has led to a new freedom from worry and self-doubt. It’s because I’ve been willing to take risks that I’ve enjoyed four unique, successful, and rewarding careers over the last 5 decades, working as a dental hygienist; a homebuilder; a SAG-AFTRA actress in TV commercials, voiceovers, and for printed media; and a personal lifestyle coach and internationally-known Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner-Educator for more than twenty years. During this time, I’ve discovered that taking risks can be a gift, achieved with resiliency and positivity. Though it takes practice, risk-taking is doable and the rewards are many!
What should our readers know about your business?
When I was six, I was awakened in the middle of the night by loud sirens and unfamiliar male voices speaking forcefully in the bedroom hallway of our home. Unbeknownst to me, my 36-year-old father was having his first massive heart attack. He was being carried on a stretcher from my parents’ bedroom through the hallway to an ambulance waiting on the street outside. At that moment, my safe and secure world was turned upside down. I began a life of emotional eating to calm and numb the feelings I couldn’t express. In the ensuing nine years, my father suffered frequent angina attacks and two more heart attacks. I remember my paralyzing fear as ambulances took him away in the middle of the night, not knowing if this would be the last time I’d see him. When I was in my early teens, my father trained me to do simple tasks in his dental office: seating patients, developing X-rays, pouring plaster models of his patients’ teeth, and cleaning patient rooms between appointments. I loved helping him! Yet watching my father deal with his declining physical health until he died at age 45 was the catalyst for my pattern of emotional junk food eating and ensuing weight gain. As the fattest girl in my third-grade class, I experienced negative patterns of low self-worth, self-esteem, and body image. I struggled emotionally, wanting to be a healthy weight. Yet I lived a sedentary life of sneak eating chocolate, ice cream and sheet cake, Hershey’s chocolate syrup from the jar, and lots of sugared Frosted Flakes. I was prescribed low dose thyroid medication to help with weight loss. It didn’t work. After my dad died, I continued eating to numb my emotions. By the time I reached the dental hygiene program at Temple University, my short, 5’3” frame could barely fit into a size 14-16. After graduation, I returned to Miami to live with my mom and work in a dental office. During this time, I hid bags of candy in the glove compartment of my car so my mom wouldn’t see them. Then, one weekend at age 20, I experienced what I was certain was a symptom of diabetes. Juvenile diabetes? I wondered. I couldn’t fit into my size 16 slacks. All of this was such a shock that I suffered an emotional breakdown. I realized that I was on the road to repeating the outcome my father experienced. A voice inside told me if I didn’t do something NOW to turn my life around, I’d suffer a life of pain and suffering. That voice and my fear of dying young with heart disease or worse saved my life. At that moment, I decided to do whatever it took to learn how to lead a healthy, happy life. That momentous decision was pivotal and guided the next 50 years of my life. From then on, I chose to take charge of my health and life. For over 20 years, my passion has been to help people learn to live a happier, healthier life so that they hopefully never experience what I went through. This passion is what brought me to where I am today as a lifestyle coach. The idea is to live consciously and thoughtfully, and to create as much joy and vibrancy in life as possible. ****** My core belief and understanding is that our minds — our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes — have everything to do with how successful, healthy, and happy we are and will be. You can rise above stuckness, fears, overwhelm, lack of control, hurts, pains, sadness, loss, poor self-esteem, guilt, and shame with the right mindset and mind-based strategies. In my coaching work, I use a structured, conscious approach to help you visualize how you can succeed in reaching your goals using positive mindset techniques and doable Action Steps. By creating and practicing positive, practical Action Steps, you can shift your thinking which helps rewire your brain as it forms and locks in new pathways for positive behaviors. For example, learning and making the shift from negative self-talk to positive self-talk may help you learn to begin discovering how to love and accept your true, authentic self. As a lifestyle coach, I draw upon 50 years of expertise, experience and wisdom gained from working in licensed and certified professional fields to years of study in holistic health, and personal and spiritual development. This all benefited me greatly in being successful throughout four careers in diverse workplaces while being a mom, daughter, and wife nurturing a loving 47-year marriage. I’m passionate about helping you learn how to better your life and feel more empowered. When we work together, you’ll learn lifelong skills on how to release negative patterns and replace them with positive patterns to overcome stumbling blocks. As your lifestyle coach, I’m your cheerleader: a non-judgmental, caring, proactive, and co-active partner in your success. I listen and assess your needs carefully, making sure you’re being heard and virtually holding your hand when changes seem daunting or fearful. At 20, I reversed and conquered 14 years of emotional eating, overweight, yo-yo dieting. By age 31, I reversed early signs of two chronic illnesses, including the reversal of escalating symptoms of breast disease, by changing my diet and lifestyle to remain symptom-free and healthy. On top of these changes, I have maintained a healthy weight for more than 50 years. I understand what it takes to make significant changes for the better and to set a strong intention to be healthy and whole. And since I’ve been on the other side, I can tell you it’s all worth it! No matter where you are, you can change your life outcomes. The freedom gained and lightness of spirit attained is almost palpable. My passion is to help clients with respect, total acceptance without judgment, empathy, and to do so with a spiritual tone and collaborative energy. If you’re ready to better your life and feel more empowered, sign up for a free 30-minute discovery conversation to find out if my eclectic, unique, and totally personalized coaching approach is a perfect fit for you. By setting strong goals and commitments to love and nurture ourselves, be healthy and successful, do whatever it takes to shift directions to be healthy and whole, we can shift negativity and stuckness to find more joy in our lives on our own terms.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My friends are interested in art, architecture, historic places, music, shopping and great or unusual restaurants. Their ages range from 50’s-70’s. These are the places I’d love for them to experience: I’d take them to Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and make sure to hang out for lunch in the outdoor restaurant for the views of Biscayne Bay and the cruise ships at the Port of Miami. I love their gift shop! Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a must! The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, previously known as Villa Vizcaya, is the former villa and estate of businessman James Deering, of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune, on Biscayne Bay in the present day Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida. The Miami Beach Deco area is great for historic architecture, wonderful casual dining, beach on the ocean, and is known for its fun, exciting people-watching. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is an 83-acre (34 ha) botanic garden with extensive collections of rare tropical plants including palms, cycads, flowering trees, and vines. Located in the city of Coral Gables, just south of Miami. The Village of Coconut Grove hugs the shoreline of Biscayne Bay and is an upscale, leafy neighborhood with relaxed sidewalk cafes and chic shops in and around the CocoWalk mall. The area’s several green spaces including the bay-front Barnacle Historic State Park, home to a mangrove forest. Sailing clubs and marinas dot the waterfront. For a relaxed afternoon, Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour (just north of Miami), and the Shops at Merrick Park in Coral Gables are lushly designed open-air shopping malls with popular dining options and are known internationally for their upscale retail shops. Merrick Park also offers entertainment activities. The New World Symphony is an American orchestral academy based in Miami Beach, Florida. Established in 1987, the organization is a training ensemble for young musicians in preparation for professional careers in classical music. Since 2011, the New World Symphony has had its headquarters in the New World Center. Aside from indoor auditorium seating, check out its several stories high outdoor video performance wall and grassy seating area! Bring your favorite lawn chair, snacks and enjoy outstanding music under the stars! Lincoln Road Mall, with its award-winning landscape, art galleries, shops, restaurants and more… a fun place to explore for its multi-cultural feel and historic flavor! In the Miami Beach Art Deco area. Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, thanks to the quality of their stone crabs and the dedication of owners and staff, since its inception in 1913, Joe’s Stone Crab is an iconic part of Miami’s culinary landscape. Owned and operated by the 3rd and 4th generations of the original family, Joe’s is steeped in tradition and a unique experience! Little Havana – restaurants, local color and music Wynwood Walls is a unique outdoor destination featuring huge, colorful street murals by artists from around the globe. The Wynwood district features art galleries and restaurants. Miami Design District is a creative neighborhood and shopping destination dedicated to innovative fashion, design, art, architecture and dining.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate this Shoutout to my husband Alan Sirkin. For 47 years, he has steadfastly been by my side as a grounding force, loving partner, mentor, teacher, role model, and partner in business and personal life adventures. He has honored me by being totally supportive while I morphed through many careers, passions, and interests–transforming myself many times over to who I am today. I am truly honored and blessed by his presence in my life!
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Michele Cardamone Cary Praga