One of the things Belkis Clarke-Mitcham has come to realise is that in life, things are going to happen. Some of those things will be wonderful, and some of those things are going to be not so great. But when those not so great things happen, what Belkis knows is that no matter how difficult, how ugly it is, we still have a choice. The choice we must make is whether we are going to become bitter or whether we are going to become better. After struggling for many years with the life-altering impact of childhood sexual abuse, Belkis Clarke-Mitcham realised the need to make a choice. She chose to be better and now help women across the globe to do the same.
Belkis Clarke-Mitcham is a Breakthrough Catalyst and International Motivational Teacher who helps women to identify their prisons, break free, and unleash their unique light. A survivor of sexual abuse, Belkis has risen from a place of attempted suicide to success and now teach women how to chart their rise. For more than a decade, she has been captivating, inspiring, motivating and teaching audiences across the globe, including survivors of sexual abuse and trauma, how to stand in their truth, embrace their value and uncover their purpose as they journey to legendary transformation.
Belkis is CEO of the Phoenix Life Society that features the Phoenix Life Academy, an online space that offers support so members can find purpose, discover what they burn for, build self-confidence, learn to let their voices be heard, learn to take back their power and live a phoenix life so these extraordinary individuals, entrepreneurs, speakers and coaches who are ready to step up and stand in their strength can become the unstoppable success they were designed to be.
Rising from poverty, and brokenness, Belkis graduated Summa Cum Laude and Valedictorian, with a bachelor’s in English and a minor in Communication and an M. A. in Human Communication. Belkis worked as a journalist for over twelve years and has taught at every level from pre-school to university.
Belkis has spent more than a decade teaching and coaching teens and adults, how to get back on their feet when life situations knock them down. Belkis has co-authored “Tying the Knot Between Ministry and the Market Place, Volume 2 and is an ambassador for Mission 22.
Her writing has been featured on the international Red Cross website, local media in the Dutch Antilles, Thrive global, and she has been on several podcasts such as She’s Making an Impact, The Pitchtank, and The Authentic Courage series, among others. The ultimate Caribbean girl, you can contact her via her website www.belkisclarke.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome Belkis, thank you for coming on board with us, can you introduce yourself to us?
I was born and raised in the Caribbean on two islands one is St. Kitts and the other St. Maarten. I have lived in a few other Caribbean islands. I have one brother and one sister of whom I am the eldest, but I have a few cousins who are like siblings. I love doing activities with my daughter from sitting on the floor to climbing slides, love romantic dinners, or being curled up watching movies with my husband. I am an avid reader, love to travel, a good hearty laugh, hiking, and the beach. I am family-oriented, love soul stirring conversations with close friends, chilling with my mom, and sharing spiritual insights with her and having good laughs with my dad. I am a warrior and I am passionate about seeing persons live their truthfully, so they do not die a lie. I go all out to encourage, inspire, and teach others to live a life of purpose, pouring out all of who they are, so they do not die full of their greatness. I have walked the dark tunnels of depression, danced several times with suicidal attempts, and thrived through the tangled mess of a divorce, but I learned the art of what it takes to rise every time and truly live! And let’s not forget how much I love a good conversation, be it light and entertaining or deep and growth-promoting.
Can you give us a little back story on how you are where you are today as a Breakthrough Catalyst and international motivational teacher?
As a young girl growing up in the Caribbean, my mom married my stepdad. This guy, in many ways, represented my dad. He was the man of the house, and he was terrific. He treated me like I was his biological daughter. Unfortunately, when I was ten years old, there was a night I could not sleep. It was a stiflingly hot Caribbean night. From my bedroom, I saw the television light flickering and knew someone else was awake. Quietly, I slipped from my bed and tiptoed to the living room. My stepdad was up watching a movie. I softly whispered that I could not sleep, and he beckoned me to sit next to him.
I gladly snuggled down and watched the show with him happy for one on one parent time. Unfortunately, At the age of ten, this man that I trusted so much robbed me of my innocence when he sexually abused me. I remember from that moment I felt as if the best in me was ripped out. I found myself from that moment not understanding my worth and my value because here was someone whom I trusted, who was closest to me, whom I depended on to protect me, whom I looked up to used me and violated me. I felt that I could not tell this to my mom. What I discovered was that I carried that same little girl through many parts of my life. Throughout my life, I had this reoccurring theme of wanting to be seen. Therefore, instead of running away from the situations that hurt, I found myself in similar situations repeatedly. When I say the same circumstances, I refer to situations where I was allowing people to take advantage of me. I ended up in situations where I allowed people to use me, and where I let people not wholly value me. What I found is that I went through a series of relationships where I was being used physically and emotionally. I went through several situations where I found myself struggling to know who I am and to see my value.
After years of feeling like I had no value, after years of feeling like I had no worth, no purpose, I met this fantastic guy. I thought I had finally found “the one.” I felt like for the first time I was being seen. I felt like finally there was someone who was seeing me from more than a physical standpoint. I thought he saw my value. I could not wait to marry him; I felt a sense of security. I thought this is what the rest of my life would be like, and I was ecstatic. However, this man who had at one point represented my dream after a while, he became part of my nightmare. In the relationship, I saw a different side to him. And so, I found myself facing my past again because now this man had become verbally and physically abusive. I looked down the hallway of my life and stared into the mirror of my past, and it brought me back to that same ten-year-old girl who had been violated.
To make matters worse, I’d move to his home island, and he was the breadwinner of the family, so I was about to be divorced, alone, and broke. There I was bankrupt emotionally, bankrupt financially, and feeling spiritually bankrupt. I felt as if I was never enough! But being the reader, I am and the spiritual person I am I turned to the only source of strength I had. I went with desperate faith praying ad searching for relief. I came across a Bible verse that said before “He formed me in my mother’s womb, He knew me”. I stumbled across another that said “I have good plans for you, plans to prosper you, plans of hope and to give you a future” and then I came across another that said, “you are more than a conqueror”. As I thought about these verses something stirred in me, my dying flame reignited. I started to consider the possibilities and thought to myself, what if all these verses were true how would it impact my life. And though I felt emotionally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt, I decided to try. After all, I had nothing to lose. So, I went to counselling, and to did coaching and did the work on myself. At first, I did not believe any of it, but I did it anyway. I was desperate for better. The more I continued to do the work, the more I saw a shift in my life. I found myself going from a place of being bitter to a place of being better. And so, I knew that I wanted others to know as well. As difficult as my journey has been, as traumatic as my past has been, what I realised is that it all boils down to a defining moment. It was the moment I decided that I was done being a victim and was determined to be a victor. The moment I made the decision that my trauma was not my truth, it was the moment I decided that instead of becoming bitter, I was going to become better. And boy am I grateful, I am now married to an extraordinary man, and we are raising a wonderful girl. We have a fantastic relationship. I feel as if my cup is running over. And so, I help women get to a similar place where they rise, take their power back, stand in their truth, and embrace their value.
Can you take us back to the very beginning of launching having been inspired by your own personal experiences?
I smile when I think about launching. It was horrible. I had been a speaker for more than a decade, and I did coaching offline for many years; however, when I decided to take it online as a business, I felt as if I’d enter a maze without a clue of what a maze was, never mind how to navigate it. I hired a business coach and honestly cannot say that it helped me any. I looked at what others were doing and tried a few things, but it felt fake. I felt as if I was losing my unique voice and spinning in circles. I hated that everyone wanted me to follow a script to achieve success. So, I decided to close out the voices, focused on my aim, goals, and desires and trust that innate voice.
It has been quite an exciting journey, but because I know there are many struggling in silence, I persevere. I still make business mistakes, but I learn, correct them, and move on. I got the website, did the podcast interviews, gave stuff for free, and had no one signing up for anything. It was very disheartening. But when your purpose hugs you tightly, there is no escaping, and I knew I would not be as happy doing anything else. I also knew that my services were needed.
When I launched, I found it challenging to target persons who shared similar experiences because most persons are not advertising their struggles. I found many wanted to succeed in business, career, and relationships but did not want to face themselves nor do the work required to get the results for which they longed. Each of us as an individual is the crucial element for success in any area of our lives. If the critical factor is unhealthy, it impacts every other area of our lives.
So, I tapped into what I knew, and I continued to educate myself, and I pushed forward. I had to get creative, but most of all, I stayed consistent. We often believe that because we have a dream and a talent that the path will open up, or we feel entitled that others should make it easy for us, but that could not be further from the truth. There is a lot of work, tears, and sweat involved in taking a dream from an idea, wish, or fantasy to reality. Many times, I wanted to quit, but my purpose would not let me.
How are you helping your clients rediscover their purpose?
Everyone likes to know their time, energy, and efforts matter. Consequently, we spend our lives looking for people who will acknowledge us and doing the things that will matter to others. Appreciation and acknowledgement feed our desire to matter, and so we keep doing the things that bring recognition. It gives us a sense of purpose. Purpose tells us that our lives matter and we are essential. It is critical for us to know that we are important. My programs help my clients firstly, to shift their mindset to appreciate their individuality and to set their standards and values that align with who they truly are. We do the work to help them build self-confidence, understand their worth. Then we look at their personality and their strengths and weaknesses and how to make their personality work in their favour. We look at their dreams, wishes, fantasies, and desires, and they determine if those dreams, wishes and desires are theirs or came from another source. If they aren’t theirs, we work toward identifying what their true desires are, and what brings them the most satisfaction even if it scares them. Then they chart a plan for moving forward into a life that reflects their dreams. This is their truth. Walking in your truth means you accomplish the purpose. So, the method they chart is like a blueprint. We do not build houses without a blueprint, so we should have a design for the lives we truly want. Additionally, I teach empowerment communication so that they can say what they desire without being discourteous but also without apologising for who they are.
So overall, I help women to identify their unique voice, build the courage to use that voice, and then live intentionally and empowered.
Can you share with us a particular career highlight so far?
There was a young lady that I coached. She was suicidal. She had therapy but after therapy she still struggled with self-confidence, having no purpose, no direction and feeling as if she didn’t matter. She did not know what her next step was and how to be truly happy. She wanted a relationship that was more than sex. So, I worked with her. Recently, she graduated with her masters in a field she thoroughly adores. Her life has turned around, and she sent me a message to say thank you. She went from lost and confused, feeling worthless, having no fire to rising in her power. I am super proud of her.
How about any hardship, difficult times or barriers faced whilst growing professionally?
There have been so many. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. You need, grit, guts, determination and to outgrow who you are now. I knew what I wanted to do in a very general sense. What I did not know were all the steps to get there. I did not know how much it would require from me as a person. I grew in tenacity and learned to accept that I am not always right. I grew to see an error as a chance to learn. But all of that came after I spent thousands investing in programs that weren’t what I needed. I had people tell me, ‘yes’ you need this, and so I trusted them because they gave the impression of being successful. I have had coaches steal the ideas we discussed. I learned how dishonest humans can be and how fake people can be. As a result, it cost me a lot of money. There were a lot of tears when things did not work out how I wanted, and I had to get up and go again. I spent thousands without making any money back, but I kept going. I learned to be careful where I spent my money and to listen to my gut. I learned to block out the voices of others who were clamouring for every dollar I had.
I stopped chasing every program and mastermind and developed a strategy to meet my goals. I had to do the hard work. But it expanded my skill set, and I saw myself grow as an individual to the place where I could offer real value in a meaningful way in the online and offline space. I was determined not to be who everyone else is but stand in my truth. I was told it would never work, that a Caribbean girl would not break into international markets. I was told a lot of things. But I already knew what it was like to live without my dreams, I knew what living with negativity was like so I decided it was time to see what was on the other side of the coin and so I refused to accept what others said.
What I am saying is this; people can be dishonest, but they aren’t all that way, find the honest ones. Many whom you think would be happy for you won’t be but go after your happiness anyway. I made investments that did not pan out, but it helped me to learn what I needed. I had doubters and naysayers snarl at me, but I had to dig deep to find what mattered to me most and put their comments into perspective. I did not understand the online space, but I made sure to learn. I had to fight myself a lot. When I wanted to give up, when I saw no results; I had to fight the habit of reiterating to a safe space. It was like giving birth repeatedly. It hurt, but with every step, there were smiles at the end. There will be a lot we do not know when building a business; Be willing to learn and always assess the sources. We won’t get things perfect, but we can be utterly committed. We should not beat ourselves up over the bad investments we make and the bad advice we take but learn from it and use it to grow. But most of all I had to learn that my dreams do not need to matter to anyone else as much as they matter to me. I am the one with the vision and passion so I should be most passionate about what I do.
How are you working towards your own personal development?
Personal development is an ongoing process. I periodically get coaching. I do seminars that help me keep my skills sharp. I am an avid reader, so I keep learning, and I am about to do a second master’s degree. This new degree will be in clinical psychology. Additionally, I always strive for balance; I take vacations, spend uninterrupted time with my family every day and do the things I love.
At some point, I am always investing in my personal development. I do not ever want to stop growing and learning. It means I can always give my best to clients, my family, and myself.
One hard lesson in life you have learned so far?
My life seems to have been one hard lesson after another. I use to think if I treat people kindly and with the consideration that others would, in turn, do the same. I believed in the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but I have learned that people are highly selfish and super insecure. Consequently, people are extremely cruel to each other. Out of selfishness ad insecurities, we lie, cheat, rob, become fake, do not listen to others, have no time for others, discriminate against others, tear down each other, murder each other. It has been tough facing that reality, it has been hard realising that everyone has a choice to be what they want to be. I may not agree or accept it, but it is their right.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
We are uniquely wired; however, society teachings, family teachings, influential others teaching, amongst other things often smother that unique wiring. They often say be uniquely the same because it makes you predictable and easy for me to deal with you. But when you #BEYOUROWN you reject the attempts to rewire you into a robot trying to meet the standards of society, family and others that are as fluid as water. Never set long enough for us to be what they want. #BEYOUROWN means there is a unique truth to your existence, discover it hold on tightly to it, and then proudly live it. It means to find the best in you and unleash it.
What have you got planned throughout the rest of 2019?
2019 has been quite a year. I have had many opportunities to travel, speak and teach. I am slowing down so I can finish my book. I have a program, ‘Phoenix Life Academy’ that I am working on for launching. It is mastermind and support space for individuals and Entrepreneurs who are ready to step up and stand up in their strength so they can become the unstoppable success they were designed to be. It covers building self-confidence, power communication, how to take back individual power, finding their voice, finding purpose, knowing their value and standing on their truth.
Also, I am planning my events for next year in the United States and the Caribbean. They include women seminars and youth camps for girls. I am also planning a retreat for next year. Therefore, the rest of 2019 is all about getting all the details in place for next year’s events.