Influencer Yithza Davelaar: Passionately making a difference

Interview November 2019
Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I am a divorced mother of 2 children and I have 2 other sisters and my father is still alive. My father was very supportive after my mother passed away in what I am doing now. Before of the passing away of my mother I was searching, I have been searching over 20 years and I couldn’t figure out exactly in what direction I was going to give meaning and purpose to my life. Taking care of my mother brought me to becoming a Grief Recovery Expert. Basically every lost can cause grief in a person and there are over 43 losses that can cause grief (shades of grief). From my mother’s passing way, everything started to make more sense to me and made me who I am now and what I am doing now. I can treat all these 43 types of losses as it basically entails the same method to process the grief. A few years after my mother’s passing away I started to get involved in schools, that is where I am at this moment.

This journey over 20 years made me try different things, like I got involved to study the things that didn’t excite me. I loved helping people and when I was young after finishing my VWO, I wanted to study ortho pedagogy, but my father advised me to study Law which I did, as this was suppose to open up a myriad of possibilities for me and I hated this study. And this affected my self cofidence during 20 years, as I thought that I was not able to study at this level and I felt demotivated. This proved to me how big the role of a person’s desire to succeed in something, is. My mother’s death was a turning point and defining moment, as three months after her passing away, as I was sitting at home and I was out of work. And I was convinced that I never wanted to start anything on my own again. I was going to find me a job and work from 9 to 5 and have me a fixed income. I talked to GOD 1,5 month after my mother got sick and I asked him what to do next, as I was planning to stay at home until he would tell me what to do next. All these years as I was searching for my purpose, this was done at the expense of my two children. My mother used to take care of them and now that she was gone, I was in a dead end. (After) three months after my mom passed away the answer came loud and clear. I was to: “Help others with their grief”. I started searching and googling until I found an on-line course that appeared to fit what I needed, and this was in 2014. And now I am a Grief Recovery Specialist. And this is so satisfying to do, because you help others go through this process. The next step after they have overcome their grief is also important that is when they want to live again. That is when I became a John Maxwell Certified Coach and later also studied positive psychology and I am now a life coach based on positive psychology principles.

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I used to read a lot, I would gobble books, like 2 to 3 books per week. A book of 300 pages I would read in two days. At first a lot of books in Dutch and later in English and then I read Sidney Sheldon and he really opened up a whole new world of books for me. I am now considering to go back to this habit as I am now discussing one book per month in a bookclub and I have to really prioritize my reading otherwise I would be reading a book over the week-end. Just a matter of focus and rid yourself of wasted time on my phone or something.

What book are you reading now?
I am now reading “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport. I go to the USA twice a year to attend a conference and by doing that I keep up with my knowledge and skills. This past year, I read all the relevant books of authors, professors publishing their latest research in “Positive Psychology” . Next year I am planning to read Joe Dispenza and Bruce Liption. I am studying Psychology online via the Open University and at times a little bit impatient about the tempo I have. With my children I am accepting that I am doing my utmost and accepting that this is perfect as it is, as I am totally in awe of what I am studying as I have found my passion. I now am greatfull for all the names of different parts of the brain that I had to study as I first started studying psychology. I had to know by heart all those names pre-frontal lobe, amygdala, pinael gland…etc….Now I know how important this was to do.

We have a foundation and it name is Islandessa Foundation (Island Dessa) and our slogan is: “Turn success into significance”. I believe that we are here in this world not to achieve our selfish goals, but to serve and be significant to the world. Our goal is the personal development of the people of Curaçao and more we are specifically focusing on the teachers of the island. Although the children are important, we need to educate their educators( like their teachers), that is my belief. “Bitter teachers, create bitter children and a bitter society”. The reverse is also true, with regard to happy teachers.

I am so convinced that there is room now in these days for more attention to emotions. As I have been going to courses on “grief” I have become more aware of the fact, that we are being taught not to show emotions. What I have learned up to now, is what I want to share with the rest of the island. But then again, the level of ignorance is high, so we have a long way to go still. For example, some teachers I have given a course didn’t know the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. So there is so much work to do. If I would be a millionaire, I would invest all of it in these areas and so I am so convinced we would change the course of the island. I want to emphasize that I am not doing this work for the money, but because of my passion, mission and vision. And the way to do this through education, our teachers.

The other day I was standing in a line to go to Live2Lead a John Maxwell live stream at the Movies Otrobanda and I was asking someone whom do they consider an inspiring person and Influencer, they mentioned your name…and you were standing close to where we were standing? Does this come as a surprise to you that people consider you an inspiring person?
No, I am not surprised anymore.

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How long have you been working in this area …personal development and as a motivational speaker?
Because of a TV program that I used to have, from the beginning that I started working as a grief recovery specialist, I got a lot of friends via my social media. But also in my coaching I was always being myself and connecting with people, hugging people and showing empathy and compassion, which is unusual. It is my gift, I connect easily with people and I am now so sure that if people would stay long enough in my office, they would really transform. Someone told me a couple of days ago, Yithza you are a dangerous person, because your voice doesn’t leave my consciousness, it is always there.

You have spend some time dedicating lots of attention on grief, is there a specific reason for this? You have also started a book club on TV, is that stopped right now?
Simply because of the lack of money.

You are, as you explained to me, constantly reading, learning and teaching? You choose your reading priorities based on topics, like you have read all the important books on positive psychology and you are planning next year to read Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Bruce Lipton. Where does this drive come from?
My mission and vision has been unfolding itself bits by bits in my life after years of searching. After I have passed through the grieving process of the passing away of my mother, I became a grief recovery specialist and I want the whole of Curaçao to pass through this. It should be a subject matter at schools. But I also want life skills and personal development to be a subject at schools. I was a keynote speaker of the conference of RKCS at the beginning of the new school year in 2018/2019, where I addressed this issue. I went to Dallas that year for a conference, as I attend conferences in the USA twice a year, every year.

I went to this conference in Dallas as Martin Seligmnan was the keynote speaker, he is the founding father of positive psychology. I had no other details of the conference. As I sat at a table it became clear to me, that I was sitting in a conference, where teachers from all levels from Kindergarten up to Professors were attending and addressing the sky rocking levels of depression among youth worldwide. And how can we addressed this, through positive psychology interventions. So I want also that groups of teachers of the whole island, learn these interventions and so enable happier youth in the future. I am being driven in this direction, as it is not really my choice. I sort of feel that I have to do this.

You are planning to bring in next year Dr. Shefaly in March, what topic is she going to present?
Dr. Shefaly is an expert in parenting and education. And this is relevant against the background of the rising levels of depression among our youth. A study done (Lauri Santos) among Yale students concluded, that because of the increasing pressures and workloads, over 60 % of their students are depressed. I would love to let people re-discover their authenticity in Curaçao and teach them also how to have enough courage to maintain it. Over the exact subject of Dr. Shefaly, we still have to reach consent, but she will be here in March 2020.

You are a great fan of Dharius Daniels, why is that? I have seen a YouTube sermon of him and his appearance is not the mainstream appearance of a pastor.
Yes, I am a great fan of him. I am a devoted Christian, which is something of the last years. My daughter Ilana is the reason that I am a Christian. I like his smartness, he is very eloquent with his words and his stories are all based on biblical principles. I am fascinated by how he uses events in our daily lives and relates them to biblical principles, which makes the Bible so WOW for me now.

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How did you become a Christian?
When I was pregnant of Ilana, I didn’t want that, so we decided to have an abortion. We made an appointment at a clinique in The Hague, as we were staying in Rotterdam during that time. We were on our way to the Hague as we reached around about, I started crying incessantly and it was not me but through me. Something inside me said that I shouldn’t have the abortion, so I decided to cancel our plans and the father of Ilana who was driving, turned to go back to Rotterdam. As we were getting back to Rotterdam the crying stopped. One week later at 5 am I woke up as a voice inside me yelled “Ilana”. In the morning I told her father this.

But by that time I wasn’t a Christian. When Ilana was 3 years old at 3 am she started to cry incessantly. This was going on day in, day out, taking lots of energy out of me. So a friend suggested talking with a pastor from Santo Domingo who was very good at this and this pastor prayed with and for Ilana and that same night, although I found this a little weird, Ilana slept through the whole night and this stayed like that for some time. And then it started again.

This time she cried harder and ugly. Slapping her hands on her bed and as I looked at her in her eyes I didn’t see my daughter in those eyes. It was scary. So when I gave her something to drink, the way she held her cup was not that of a child. I decided to go to the church: “U-turn to (a) new life”. One of the pastors suggested this when Ilana woke up in the night, whether I believed it or not, to just say: “In the name of Jesus Christ, I am covered by the blood of GOD” and Ilana reacted like she didn’t want to hear Jesus Christ’s name and I knew I had power then. This fight went on for months and after that she began sleeping normally again. This is why I am now a devoted Christian and a believer, as I also know that she is a very special child.

Where would you want to be, let us say 10 or 15 years from now? And what would success look like for you?
I am really fascinated by “grief” and this can cause people to get and stay stuck. Success is determined, based on research, by how fast we can enable people to get unstuck and what can be done. I firmly believe that we are build to process our grief.

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
I don’t know yet, but I am getting more and more signs of the Universe, so I now just go with the flow and I stopped saying…yes, but….

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
Money of course and also the ignorance of people that really have the ability to help me with sponsorship and things like that.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
I don’t use it completely yet, I do feel things and would say this is the next phase in my development. I have been a very rational person up to now and I feel that the time has come to dedicate attention to my right brain. Robin Sharma’s “Concept of the 5 am club”, really resonates with me as we are Mind, Body, Emotions and Spirit. So it was a Big Epiphany for me to become aware, that I was only using 25 % of my abilities. This insight came at the right moment, as I felt some months ago that I was overloaded and couldn’t sleep well. For example as I like reading, I was reading a book of Elisabeth Gilbert “City of girls” and I was, as I was reading this book, asking myself now where the lesson to be learned, when do it get the lesson out of this book, ….while it was just a story…and other people also made comments on this making me aware that I wasn’t able to just chill anymore. Everything I did, needed to teach me something, watching TV I watched only the documentaries etc….so now is the time to start with the other sides of my abilities.

What are your strengths?
My ability to transform people.

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?

If you as Yithza would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I am a grief recovery specialist and positive psychology coach.

How would you describe Yithza in one word or one sentence?

Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
Not necessary the person that most inspired me, but I would rephrase this by saying the person that transformed me was Paul Martenelli. He changed my paradigm on how to look at life. After listening to one of his presentation in 2015. After that, I stopped wasting my valuable time on TV, radio, I stopped reading things that I basically didn’t want to read. I started living more purposefully.

What is a trait that you want to work on and improve?
Patience, and trust the process, trusting the journey.

What was a defining moment in your life?
The time before and after my mother died.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now celebrating your brithday?
She made a difference.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
Everything is possible..

For more info on Yithza  Davelaar’s work:

Some interviews:
RealTalk 2.0 part 1 
RealTalk 2.0 part 2

One of the 250 Community Influencers
Yithza Davelaar is an inspirational speaker, Grief Relief Specialist, positive psychology coach, and a devoted Christian and a representative of the Educational sector. After going through a grief process after the passing away of her mother, her calling became clear to her, “Help others with their grief”. But after helping clients to process their grief, her clients wanted to “live again to the fullest”, so she also specialized in positive psychology. Her desire to live her passion, her insatiable thirst to learn more about her passion and her curiosity has turned her within short into a reputable public speaker and Influencer especially in the educational sector. With her focus on education and based on her strength to transform people, we will definitely hear more about her. We deeply respect and love her and consider Yithza to be one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao, representing the educational sector.

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