April 29, 2020
Meet Fearless Female Contest Winner: Aileen Day
The results are in. Meet Our Fearless Female Contest Winner, as voted by you!
Our definition of fearlessness isn’t characterized by the absence of fear or insecurity. Rather, it’s the willingness to keep moving forward despite being faced with challenges and fears. Connecting and motivating the community she has built; Aileen Day has learned to channel her challenges into opportunities for empowering others. A definition of strength and fearlessness that we can all take inspiration from.
Guided by her innate authenticity and infectious energy, Aileen Day is driven to create a space where diversity, inclusion and female empowerment is abundant. Placing her focus on constantly evolving and growing, her personal mission to break stereotypes and uplift her community is carried out through her unique approach to practicing yoga. Known in the Seattle area for being involved in many different organizations, Aileen inspires those around her to live a balanced lifestyle, promoting wellness, spirituality and positivity.
A Brave New World
In late 2008, Aileen made the difficult decision to leave the only life she had ever known, in search of a better one. A single mom with a two-year-old son, she immigrated from Guadalajara, México to Seattle, Washington – believing in the promise of the American dream. She was born and raised in Panama City, Panama but had resided in Guadalajara for over nine years while attending university and obtaining her degree as a Doctor in Dental Surgery. Although she was highly educated and spoke English, this did not mean her transition to a new life in America would be met without challenges and sacrifice.
Aileen navigated through the common immigrant experience of culture shock, financial worry, difficulty accessing services and feelings of isolation. However, the biggest obstacle she faced was discovering that she would not be able to work in her chosen career as a dentist as she needed to undergo additional schooling, national exams and certifications in order to practice in Seattle.
In order to make ends meet and save up money for the schooling and certifications she required, Aileen started working seven days a week as a caregiver. Even though this was not the career she had hoped to pursue and she had to sacrifice precious time away from her young son, she always believed that these difficult times would eventually lead to a brighter future for them both.
“At that point, I was alone with my firstborn son and as much as it was my choice to be alone and be a single mom, that was not the easy choice. I worked Monday to Monday, and I could not work in dentistry. I was not around my son a lot, but I did the best I could to provide a better future.”
Working tirelessly, she decided to gain her certification as a dental assistant, allowing her to at least work in her chosen field and keep her skills relevant. Aileen admits to underestimating working in this role at first but now realizes that it has taught her more than she could have ever imagined. Grateful for the new perspective it has given her, she has learned about the backend of the business, how to better develop a rapport with patients and help reassure them while developing her skillset in a whole new way. Turning her initial disappointment into a positive, Aileen is still working as a dental assistant and believes that this invaluable experience will make her a much better dentist, once she is able to practice again. A goal she is still working towards but very close to finally achieving.
Finding a New Calling
Aileen didn’t begin practicing yoga until 2012 and she also underestimated what this journey would mean. At the time, her newborn daughter was just 6 months old and Aileen was not happy with the version of herself that she saw in the mirror. She was skeptical that yoga would help her get back into shape, but she did not have the ability to leave her daughter in daycare and go to an expensive studio.
“I criticized yoga so much, I thought I’m never going to lose weight sitting in lotus position and meditating but I thought it’s the best thing I can do right now and started using YouTube as a tool to watch videos and then before I knew it, I was falling in love with yoga.”
She began watching YouTube videos from her living room floor and much to her surprise, quickly fell in with love yoga. For the one hour each day while her daughter napped, it became her “me-time” ritual, and this moving meditation allowed her to focus in on the moment and just breathe.
Seven years later, Aileen is still practicing daily, often with her daughter, and continues to see changes in her body that only yoga can bring. Since starting this journey, she has created a fierce following on social media, largely attributed to her infectious energy and inspiring attitude. Her mantra is to “keep it real” and help her community to feel accepted and empowered. She believes that anyone and everyone can be transformed by practicing yoga – from home and on your own time, through free videos and a supportive community.
“I’m like you know what? I think I’m ready to take this to the next level because I want every mom that’s in my shoes right now thinking “what am I going to do right now if I can’t go to the gym” to know that you don’t need that expensive studio membership to transform your life.”
For Aileen, it’s important to make her community feel important, heard and equal. She believes that we are all on the same mission to overcome life’s obstacles together and no one is superior to another. To help spread this message, she uses Instagram to personally connect with individuals (she answers every direct message she gets) cultivate positivity and encourage others to choose to see the good in challenging times, rather than focusing on the negative. To demonstrate that challenges can be fun, she organizes virtual team building events, most recently, the apple cider vinegar challenge, to connect and engage others on their health and wellness journey.
“Realness and authenticity are magnetic, and I feel fierce showing up as I am, every time. I focus on highlighting other people in my stories and it equalizes me with them immediately. You and I are exactly the same and you and I are going to do this together. I realized that you don’t need to be in a studio all day to create a connection.”
In 2019, Aileen graduated from her yoga teacher training program and currently teaches private classes which allow her to really connect with her clients and go above and beyond. And like so many others these days, she is starting to explore the digital space further, working on a video series to share with her community.
Building New Connections
On top of everything else, Aileen still makes time to give back to the local community that she says helped her so much when she needed it most.
Volunteering for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, she helps distribute warm meals and other essentials to those in need. She also helps support addiction recovery through the mission and assists those trying to reintegration back into society. Using her own experience as a marginalized person, she is also involved in several local female empowerment movements that work to break stereotypes in fields that are often male dominated and help regulate pay for women of color.
“I am so fascinated by these movements because not only are they becoming contagious but it’s so true, when you see the various backgrounds and potential that we all have.”
In order to find balance in her life while juggling so much, Aileen seeks out silence in order to recharge. It may not be every day, but when she begins to feel overwhelmed with life, she has learned how to find silence amidst the chaos – no phone, no kids, no distractions. A survival mechanism that yoga has taught her, serving her well throughout her journey. And although she is a beacon of light to those in her community, she has also learned the importance of protecting her energy and setting necessary boundaries in order to preserve her positive spirit and keep inspiring those around her.
Get To Know Aileen In 10 Questions
Q – What has been your favorite travel destination?
A – Bali, for a yoga retreat. Trip of a lifetime!
Q – What is your guiltiest pleasure?
A – Shoes! From sneakers to heels, I can never have enough…
Q – What is your favorite escape
A – Hiking. I love to hike on my own and just get lost. I hop in my car and drive for hours to find a spot. It’s such a great way to find silence.
Q – What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
A – You don’t have to fix it all.
Q – Who are your biggest cheerleaders and supporters to help keep you going?
A – My only sister and my mom, who live in Seattle, as well as my father who lives in Panama. I have a very close relationship with my family, and I tell them everything. These three are truly my best friends and I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Q – What inspires you?
A – Acts of service and helping my community in every aspect
Q – What’s your favorite way to sweat?
A – Yoga, hiking and salsa dancing
Q – What makes you smile on a daily basis?
A – My children and the sun
Q – Fave songs on your workout/training playlist?
A – • Godzilla – Eminem ft. Juice WRLD
• Juice – Yo Gotti