A Holistic Approach To Self Confidence With Alexandra Dotcheva
If you’re looking to stop getting stuck in self-doubt and instead grow your confidence, then you’re going to love this week’s podcast with Alexandra Dotcheva.
As a hospital nurse and a one-time celebrated concert violinist in the insanely competitive world of symphony orchestras, Alexandra Dotcheva is no stranger to self-doubt and low self-confidence.
Beginning from the time she was a young girl, she was driven to become such a skilled violinist as to eventually win a coveted chair with a world-renowned symphony orchestra.
Alexandra knows that poorly defined priorities can get in the way of anybody’s self-confidence and impact decision-making for years or even decades.
In today’s episode, she will share holistic ways to gain more self-confidence, talk about her journey from low self-confidence to becoming a self-made millionaire, and share about how she became an expert on her own holistic health and wellbeing.
Listen below, or tune in via: Apple Podcasts,Stitcher or Spotify.
(full transcript below)
In this episode you'll discover
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Born and raised into a musicians’ family in Bulgaria, Alexandra Dotcheva came to the US in 2000 after earning a bachelor’s degree in Music from the National Academy of Music in Sofia. She earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance from Louisiana State University in 2007 and decided to pursue a career in nursing in 2008.
Alexandra Dotcheva has been practicing as a registered nurse since 2011, with a strong passion for educating patients on acquiring optimal health. She also has interests in martial arts, fitness, finance, and investing. Her mission is to help people overcome self-imposed limitations that prevent many from realizing their goals, finding peace of mind, and acquiring prosperity. By sharing her own journey to achieving control over the most important aspects of life, Alexandra’s goal is to inspire others to turn away from various forms of fear and self-doubt and go after their dreams instead of leading lives subdued to conventional ways of thinking that have long been proven outdated, inadequate, and damaging to a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
More about Alexandra - www.holisticselfconfidence.com
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Read Alexandra’s blog - https://www.holisticselfconfidence.com/blog
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EPISODE 218: Alexandra Dotcheva
[Fun, Empowering Music]
Amanda Testa: Hello, and welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am your host, Amanda Testa. I am a sex, love, and relationship coach, and in this podcast, my guests and I talk sex, love, and relationships, and everything that lights you up from the inside out. Welcome!
If you are looking to stop getting stuck in self-doubt and grow your confidence, then kickback and enjoy this episode because this week on the podcast I'm talking with Alexandra Dotcheva on holistic ways to more self-confidence.
Hello, hello, and thank you for being here. I'm your host, Amanda Testa, and I just welcome you, Alexandra. Thank you so much for being here.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Thank you for having me, Amanda. I greatly appreciate it.
Amanda Testa: Yes, and I'm gonna have her share a little more of her story in a moment, but she is a hospital nurse and a one-time celebrated concert violinist in a very competitive world of symphony orchestras. So she is no stranger to self-doubt and low self-confidence, and so, she's gonna share a little bit from her own journey about how she really turned that around, made herself a self-made millionaire as well as really becoming an expert on her holistic health and wellbeing, and so, welcome! Thank you so much for being here.
Alexandra Dotcheva: It's a pleasure. Thank you.
I will make the story of my life very short so you can actually ask the questions that will be relevant to your listeners, but yes, I was a violinist for 26 years before I decided to pursue nursing. I came to The United States in 2000 from Bulgaria. I had already earned my bachelor's degree in music. I earned my Master's and Doctoral in Violin from Louisiana State University, and then I moved to Syracuse, New York. I was employed with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. In 2006, the market started shrinking, the orchestra started bankrupting, and I figured, well, something bad is really gonna happen. So in 2008, I figured, well, 2 of my closest friends and colleagues from the professor we worked with in Louisiana, they started pursuing finances and medicine respectively. They were two of the most gifted musicians that we had in our class during our study time, and I had to wake up and say I am really stuck in a field where I can't make any more progress because of my bad self-inflicted history, twenty-years-long of self-doubt and stage fright.
I really struggled with stage fright quite a bit. I was able to give decent recitals, but when it came to orchestra auditions for the really competitive orchestras that would make a difference in my financial life -- you compete between 4,500 people, and I realized around 32 years old, if I don’t try something new now, I'll greatly regret 30 years from now.
So nursing was one option that you don’t get stuck in school forever. I had been in college for eleven years, mind you, before I made that decision, and it's a profession in high demand. My parents were terrified over the telephone. "Wait, what do you mean, nursing? You know this is one of the hardest professions imaginable? Do you know what it is to deal with human suffering? Do you have any idea what you're getting into -- or death?" I said, "Yes, I would like to do that because, honestly, guys," I told them over the phone, "I really have not developed any clear idea about real life and real people's problems being a violinist for 26 years. I need to change that so I can grow my self-confidence by learning to solve problems that I haven’t been willing to solve up to this point."
So nursing school, that was interesting because I had no science basis whatsoever. I had only learned music subjects. It was funny, the community college, they said, "Oh, we can probably use your music theory as one of these credits." I said, "No, guys. It has absolutely nothing to do with science, so everything here starts from scratch, literally." A late starter, right? That's what the book I wrote is all about, the late starters in life, the people who try to change their life, decide to change their life, even if they're in their 30s and 40s, in spite of you being told, "Oh, it's too late to learn something new." Learning starts when you get a grasp that you are responsible for your life and that if you don’t help yourself, nobody else will help you, right?
So nursing school, then I became a nurse in 2011, and I stopped playing the violin. The orchestra bankrupted in 2011, and I had a job waiting in the ICU at that point. Ironic timing, but great timing for me, not so much for my colleagues who didn’t pursue any other skills, unfortunately. So with nursing, I had encountered a double standard of hypocrisy of the contemporary Western healthcare system.
I saw how chronic diseases are treated as very profitable venues for the industry. I learned that healthcare is the most profitable business in this country and is the first cause of personal bankruptcy in the US, which I found very disturbing. Okay, so I figured besides the job, I need to do something to secure my retirement but not the stock market, not a 401K because we know what happened in 2008 with 401Ks when people in their sixties lost their entire retirements. You can't recover when you're in your sixties and try to wait for a recovering market. It never recovers as fast as it crashes so I became an investor. I started investing in rental real estate. I have three real estate businesses right now which I manage happily by myself with my boyfriend who's a great, great sport. I've learned so much from him. He's been a nurse for 30 years now in the nursing home.
So, currently, we're completely financially independent. I also create options, right? So all this learning came over the past 10, 12 years because we wanted to expand our knowledge to have more and more options for multiple streams of income.
The relationship has only strengthened from that because we're not worried anymore about, "What if I get fired tomorrow?" "What if the employer wants us to do something that we find profoundly unethical and we don’t want to go along with it and get fired or invited to resign," you know? So we don't have to worry about that anymore, and along this process of creating optimal health for ourselves with our organic whole foods, vegan diet for the last four-and-a-half years now, our crazy fitness routines and our financial freedom, we have also learned to very carefully select our relationships -- very carefully because time is your most valuable asset, and if you lose it, you can't get it back. If you waste your time on people who constantly argue with you, who defend their old ways of thinking against the status quo and conventional thinking and stop you from your own progress, you will not flourish in your life, and you will not be holistic, and you really have to align your existence with people who are like-minded even if they pursue different goals, but they are just as task-oriented and determined and self-reliant and resilient as you are, and they inspire you and you inspire them in return. So that's in a nutshell.
Amanda Testa: Yes, well, I know that's the Cliff Notes of a very long journey, and I just really want to celebrate, like you even say, that decision to go down a path where you had no experience to try to solve problems you'd never solved to get over the self-doubt, and to also have options of ways to not be stuck, financially too, you know, and that we're never too old to learn something new.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Exactly, exactly. Yeah, thank you.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, and I'm wondering, too, if it feels okay to share, maybe if you could kind of talk a little bit more about some of the ways that you noticed your self-doubt changing as you kind of decided to follow a new path --
Alexandra Dotcheva: Of course.
Amanda Testa: -- of solving problems you'd never solved before.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Absolutely. It was an interesting combination of desperation, fear, inspiration and curiosity that -- that's a strange amalgamation of factors there, a heck of a combination when they hit you at the same time at the right time in your life, but you either embrace it or you let them crush you because if your fear and desperation are stronger than your inspiration and curiosity, then you're screwed, right?
But if you manage to equalize them and kind of transform your anxiety from the fear of failure into something that will motivate you to keep yourself accountable, you make it an ally, and the longer nights that you can't sleep, you gradually reconcile and say, "Okay, I’m anxious right now, and my fear is completely normal, but I have to dive into this new field. I have to solve these problems because otherwise I will not build my self-esteem, I will not build my character," which I really recognized that I was lacking character. I was very afraid of failure. I was extremely insecure, as if somebody cared if I failed or not. Once I realized that nobody gave a, you know, crap about me, I figured I'm my most important self-advocate, and that's where it all started.
Amanda Testa: Yeah.
Alexandra Dotcheva: I will do my path ethically and morally. I won't hurt others in the process, but I will pursue my path as long as I have a plan and goals.
So I realized I needed a plan and I needed goals. Once that was in place, and you start following that, that's the latter. You might modify it, but you never lose sight of your final destination and your craziest dream. I learned I had to have crazy dreams that just build my first move and my second and so on, which is completely possible, and it's not about the money, it's about your ability to make that journey and recreate yourself and believe in your abilities to create a better life than your parents had and an example that they gave that you may think is nice, but in some cases it's not so nice because you think you're stuck in that same predicament, and you really aren’t. You really shouldn’t be.
Amanda Testa: Yes, and I think one of the things -- I love the term "holistic" because it does take into account all the different factors happening, and so, when you are speaking to holistic self-confidence, what do you mean by that?
Alexandra Dotcheva: For the sake of simplicity, I have divided life into five important pillars. The health, the spirituality, the career, the finances, and the relationships.
So without optimal health, you won't be able to work and create multiple streams of income. So you won't be able to perform properly in your career field because you will not meet the capacity to match up with your peers and really deliver to your clients or patients or whoever your clientele is. Will you be able to appreciate your efforts and your work if you're not optimally healthy? A lot of medical bills will suck your bank account, and you won't be able to build your financial foundation for further streams of income so you can retire richer than you were when you were working as opposed to poorer. Many people carry the mindset of once I retire, I'll be poorer than when I was working, and that's why they keep working until their 70s and sometimes their 80s right now. It's just really, really heartbreaking to see people in their 80s and late 70s. They work because they have to, but not necessarily because they want to, right?
As far as the career and building multiple streams of income, when you have the financial stability, then you can allow yourself to not work yourself to the bone for an employer and go to the fitness, to your diet, to your own cooking instead of relying on outside food which is really unhealthy.
The restaurant food -- we don’t touch restaurant food. For years we haven’t. I mean, super few exceptions maybe once a year, but it's never our constant lifestyle. If I don’t buy the ingredients and cook them myself, I don’t touch it, right? That's the healthiest way to live and the most economical, honestly. Even if you have a lot of money, if you learn how to feed yourself economically and support your household like a very highly-efficient operation, the better for you and the more your wealth will grow without you necessarily displaying status in society because that's never been my thing. You know, I don't drive a Lamborghini for a Ferrari. They say, "Well, why don’t you buy this expensive car?" Well, because that's not in alignment with my values at all. Status has never been my thing. I just want to be completely independent with my health, my spirituality, my finances, my career, my relationships so I don’t have to rely on anybody, and that's the beautiful aspect of life. I'm the expert of my own life. That's all I need. Does that make sense?
Amanda Testa: Yes, that does make sense. So you have the five pillars, and they all build upon one another.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Exactly.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, and I think that's so important, too, when it also comes to, like we were talking earlier, relationships and sexuality and all the things. Everything affects everything, right?
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yes.
Amanda Testa: We're not living in silos with just one aspect of ourselves, yeah.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Correct, correct.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, and I'm wondering, too -- because, often, there are things that we can control and things that we can't control. I'm wondering when it comes to resilience and self-confidence in handling the unknowns or the things that life throws your way that are unexpected, what are some tips you have around staying confident when that happens?
Alexandra Dotcheva: My tips are that many people think that they can't control things that they actually can control. First of all, you need to learn to control yourself. Now, in my case, I have to share that I was a martial artist for almost 12 years, and that tremendously helped with my self-control. Martial arts, people misunderstand. You know, oh, yeah, you can beat people. Yeah, you can, but that's not the point. The point is to, first of all, control yourself, and then you are able to defend yourself if need be, but the perseverance and the resilience and the control of yourself is what will allow you to better distinguish what you really can't control, and then you have to adapt to that if it is within your ethical and moral standards.
If it's not, then you probably can take yourself away from a situation and create a new circumstance that can work for you, ethically and morally. It's a big game, a brain game, a spirituality game, if you wish, and it's a constant debate within yourself, and if you give me a more specific example of what you can or you can't control, I can give you a more specific answer, but because everybody's life is different, that's kind of a hard question to answer.
Amanda Testa: Yes, but I do appreciate that just kind of really focusing on the things that you can control and not letting the things that you can't control kind of sway that, but, you know, one of the things I was just thinking is in my own personal life, my husband is in holistic healthcare, and he's super -- he eats very healthily, he works out, he does all the right things, right? Then, he had a stroke last year which was unexpected and, thankfully, he's fine, right?
So I think for him, that threw him for a loop thinking, “Oh I thought I could control my health because I do take such good care of myself, and I work out all the time, and I do all the things that are right,” but yet, still, there are some things that we just can't control, right? So I think in that aspect, in some ways, I would say the blessings from that were, A, that he totally recovered. It has been a little bit of a journey of just kind of coming back to, well, we really can't control anything. We can control some things, like we can control our daily habits and rituals and routines that support us. We can control who we surround ourselves with, right? We can control what we put into our bodies. We can control what we move away from. So there is actually a lot that we can do to give us that sense of comfort and confidence even when things outside might feel hard, I guess is what my question is in a deeper sense.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Right, that's the struggle. I'm very sorry to hear that. I mean, I know there are three types of strokes. I would love to look through a person's diet if I know they had a stroke and they think they ate healthy. We chose to eat completely plant-based with no added oils whatsoever to prevent strokes. Now, hemorrhagic strokes, that's a different story, right -- different reasons, but as far as clotting strokes and embolic and thrombotic strokes, these are very tightly linked to fatty animal and processed food products 'cause the plants don’t have that type of fat, and then when you exercise and all that, I know the stroke risk is exceptionally low in that case.
Of course, I don’t know your husband's case. My respects for him recovering, and I wish him very lasting health from now on. A scary event for sure, and if you recover, that's very fortunate for you, and I hope he is fully functional.
Amanda Testa: Yes, yes, thank you. Yes, thank you. Yes, and so, what I'm wondering, too, when it comes to finding the things that you can focus on that you can control even when it feels hard, what would be some tips on the days where you're just like, "Yeah, it's hard today." How do you go forward and reconnect to the will and the persistence when it feels challenging?
Alexandra Dotcheva: I recreate my whole path of creating goals and the most important goals, and I focus on them once again. During my day, I really try to enjoy and appreciate the very small things that happen that many people may not notice, okay?
For everybody that's different, but you can play your mind to make yourself laugh or cry if you want to because only you can control your thought process, okay? You can only influence others so much depending on the circumstance, if you can't control, you will have to try to make the best out of it because those problems are the ones that make us grow the most if we utilize them properly, like, learn from what happened, what are possible solutions, what can you solve, what can you do differently next time to avoid this from happening, right? It's very important to analyze the situation instead of just, "Oh, my gosh, what happened," and to completely freak out. It's hard to do sometimes, but the sooner you get control over your thought process in such a situation, the better off you will be for the rest of your day and the better you will sleep that night.
Amanda Testa: Yes.
Alexandra Dotcheva: The less you let it overwhelm you, the shorter amount of damage and the shortest amount of time you allow this event to cause you, the better off you will be. It's the same -- like, it's opposite when you say you meet a horrible attacker in the street, that you have to handle your goals to cause the biggest amount of damage in the shortest amount of time.
But when you get that event that you can't control, then you control your mind over it. Consider it staying healthy in the event that you are able to make your own decisions, right, if a situation offers.
Amanda Testa: Yes, I do love the mindset piece. I think mindset is so important in everything, right? Whatever you are focusing on in your life, having those goals and really letting your mindset support what you want, right? It's very easy to have those negative thoughts or those self-critical thoughts or the thoughts that maybe were the voices of whatever the inner critics that we have, right?
Alexandra Dotcheva: You've just got to prioritize. What is the most important thing for me to do and understand in the moment so I can move forward to the next step and get out of the situation. Prioritization, yeah.
Amanda Testa: Yes, and I think, too, when you were talking about enjoying the small moments, I think that's such a huge thing. I'm wondering if you could maybe talk a little more about that 'cause I feel like, as someone who's devoted to pleasure, I think that is such a great way to tap into the core of it.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yes, it's a great way. For example, I like the drive between patients' homes, especially if I know that the next patient is gonna be a train wreck. So the ride, I try to look at every tree, every flower. In some familiar areas of the area that I live in Phoenix I know which seasons in certain landscapes they plant the certain flowers that I like.
So I make my way to look at the flowers and smell them if I’m at a traffic light, but I've been in the profession for almost eight years now, so I know where I'm driving and what I'm doing without prolonging the trip between me and the patient because I have to be at the patient's home on time, but you create nice moments during the drive, and then once you get to the patient (which is your real performance and your real test), you try to make them as comfortable as possible by being genuine, such as my behavior with patients is very different from what you see from me right now because the patient is the sacred person right now that you absolutely have to help. So that gives me pleasure too, when I see that the patient is responding, and they appreciate that I genuinely care.
Being a homecare nurse, honestly, allows me to teach patients more than when I was in the hospital. Other small things that you notice is the relief when the job is well done. You have communicated properly with your client (what they need to do, and hopefully they do it), but then, you realize if you don’t do it, that's not your responsibility anymore, so that's the matter of a source of relief. I mean, constantly, you create little things that you will see. Okay, I did this, but as far as pleasure, to me, the pleasure is if I can control right now pretty much everything I do which I didn’t feel I was able to for a very long time. So that alone gives me satisfaction, and I kind of -- it's not like you're coasting. You're always vigilant because things can go wrong very quickly before you even blink. That's happened to me too.
So constant vigilance is great, and then at the end of the day you're happy because you were able to be vigilant and not screw things up on the way, and everything went the way you planned or a little bit different but, still, it was under control.
When they say life is what happens to you on top of what you plan -- while planning for life, life happens to you, right? So you have to be able to balance these two realities and still make it work for yourself, and then you're doing great if you can do that.
Amanda Testa: I think that balance piece is key of being able to, you know, kind of have a plan and be aware of what's happening in the moments, and also allowing for when the unexpected happens that you can get your mindset to support you in keeping moving forward by focusing on the things that you can control, yeah.
I'm wondering, too, you mentioned that you feel like you can work more with a patient being a home nurse than in the hospital system or another system like that. I'm curious why do you feel that way or what about it makes it easier to do?
Alexandra Dotcheva: You don’t have five call lights ringing at you at the same time.
Amanda Testa: Right.
Alexandra Dotcheva: You focus on the very same patient for an hour, an hour-and-a-half while in the home. You can answer all of their questions. You can thoroughly address their needs if you see that they have missed something that they could have done differently, and so you validate their ideas, they have the time to validate your ideas, and you can also tell them things that they won't normally hear from their doctor or from the healthcare system.
For example, with the diet, I mean, there's such a discrepancy. Nutritional science is something that I have embraced, and many doctors and nurses have not because of the way we're schooled and dictated by the pharmaceutical industry. It's a very different approach, so I gear towards making people as independent from drugs as possible because I don’t take any pharmaceutical drugs. I'm 46 years old. My boyfriend's 50 years old. He doesn’t take any pharmaceutical drugs, but he did have two conditions that were potentially very damaging, hypertension and diabetes type two -- prediabetic, he became, and that's where he freaked out. That's when we started the vegan diet four-and-a-half years ago, and four months later, he didn’t have hypertension, he didn’t have high cholesterol, he didn’t have prediabetes anymore, and the cholesterol and hypertension had been problems for fifteen years from him. Now, he's free of those at age 50 which sounds crazy, but, again, with the proper direction and nutrition -- so when you say one-to-one patient care is much better quality of the delivery through a message for true health, but you also need to have the knowledge, and you also have to live 100 percent by your own example.
I can't teach people nutrition and exercise if I don’t exercise like a fiend and I'm not completely physically fit because they notice right away. I won't tell you how many times patients have said, "Oh, thank you for not being a morbidly obese healthcare professional." It's like, "Oh, I'm not sure that's a compliment, but thanks for saying that," you know, because they have seen the double standard when they go to the hospital. Oh, we have these people, you know. You can tell they're sick and they're overweight and they teach us how to be healthy. How do they have credibility? Well, we don’t get credibility if we don’t live by personal example. So this is where the homecare nursing becomes very useful.
The other thing that's very good about homecare nursing which many people don’t realize, is they say, “Oh, well, that's a specialty. That’s a specialty because you're in the patient's home.” If you see how some people live, that you just -- in the emergency room where my boyfriend is, you see people with every disease known to man because you go to house where there are all sorts of sick people. All sorts of sick people come to the emergency room in a much more acute state.
So we're not really specialty in terms of specializing in one condition, you see everything and you learn from everything. If you're willing to learn instead of saying, "Oh, I don’t want to learn about this condition," because some people get overwhelmed, right? You see all sorts of diseases, and you get overwhelmed, and you pick and choose your favorites. No, you get exposed to everything. You hear their problems, you listen to them because many of them really just crave to be listened to.
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm.
Alexandra Dotcheva: And I cannot tell you how much I have learned from patients, even more at this point than what I learned while I was reading, eight to nine hours a day, my nursing textbooks and doing clinicals for twelve hours.
Amanda Testa: Yes.
Alexandra Dotcheva: You can never underestimate your experience and what you can learn from your clients, in my case patients.
Amanda Testa: Yes, so true. I'm wondering, too, you know, it sounds like one of the things you mentioned, too, is one of the pillars is spirituality.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: I'm wondering how do you integrate spirituality into your goals and your career and all the things?
Alexandra Dotcheva: If I achieve what I want in a legal and ethical manner, that's a very spiritually uplifting path for me and keeps me going.
I like to meditate. That is my way to clean my mind. In the spiritual chapter of the book, I have discussed, of course, meditation as a way to detox your mind and clean it away. Then, inspiration is the nourishment part of mind. That is in chapter eight. Then, chapter 13 is about lifelong learning. That's also part of spirituality because that's the brain's fitness strategy. You keep learning all your life, and your brain stays alive, awake, and vigilant and flexible and all that. You don’t fall into old patterns and you don’t get old that way if you keep learning, but as far as spirituality, there are two components, to me, at least. It's the freeing of your mind through meditation because you have to get rid of these heady thoughts, the ones that don't contribute to your personal growth. Those thoughts have to be removed every day, and then to allow your mind to get inspired and nourished, it's best to start fresh, clean the next day and to be able to absorb anything that will help your personal growth and the growth of those around you.
Amanda Testa: I'm curious, for you, what are some of the things that inspire you that you use to kind of fill your brain with inspiration and motivation?
Alexandra Dotcheva: Other people's successes inspire me very much.
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yeah, it used to be the other way when we were growing up. You know, we are envious of other people's successes, but if somebody has achieved something from nothing, I get very inspired, and I push myself to do more because I said, "Ah, clearly they can do it. I can do more," right, instead of being resentful. So that's very inspiring when I see people succeeding and really benefiting others in the process. I think that's great.
Amanda Testa: Yes, I love that. I think that's such a great thing to observe because I think in this day and age with social media and all the things and people can find it really easy to compare themselves to others. That can be a real damaging thing to your self-confidence and self-esteem. So I wonder what you might have to say around when you -- maybe sharing a little bit more about how you turned that thought around from being envious or resentful to being inspiring.
Alexandra Dotcheva: The fitness helped very much with that because after having done martial arts for 11 years, I hit the gym very, very hard because I had sustained two injuries which I resolved to remove from my body which I did, but the fitness, interestingly, I had a very intense instructor (whom I’ve described in detail in chapter six on exercise). My master was Greg Tearney and his wonderful, wonderful wife, Master Judy Tearney. She was the first blackbelt karate woman in America, but he taught us mind over matter, and when I went into fitness, there were two things out of everything. You won't believe, but during the black belt cycles, he was making us do over 500 push-ups and 500 sit-ups in between all the sparring rounds, which are ridiculous. He made us run uphill for a 5K the first day of the black belt class. We were preparing for this for years, of course, but the gym, when I went, I figured, you know, I've never done pull-ups and dips, so I felt very embarrassed about that because I was otherwise very strong, but pull-ups and dips, these are among the hardest things, especially the pull-ups with full-range motion. So I started doing them with the assisted pull-ups machine, and I saw people were looking at me, especially the young ones because I was older, right?
I was 41 at the time, and that's where I made a decision. You care what others think about you. It's not your business. Let them watch all they want. You are focused on your pull-ups. You want to be able to do 100 pull-ups a year from now. You need to focus on the pull-ups. Don't focus on these people, and I adopted that mindset with every other thing that I did at the gym and in my job as well, as soon as I did well, and now I'm able to do over 100 pull-ups in a session without a problem, without any assisted pull-up dip machine, and nobody's watching or laughing. They watch it, but they don’t laugh anymore. [Laughs] It's the opposite --
Amanda Testa: Right, that's impressive.
Alexandra Dotcheva: -- because here I am 46 now, you know, and 100 dips, 100 pull-ups, 8 to 12 miles on the bicycle with the highest resistance from start to finish without even stopping for a water, I mean, these are things that you build with consistency or you stop caring about what others think about you, 'cause those who still care what others think about them, they're exactly where they were six years ago at the gym. They're now the same exact way. They're doing the same exercises. They think they're exercises; they're like mild warm-ups as far as I'm concerned, right?
But this mindset, you transfer everywhere in your life, in every other aspect, and once you have experience with many things that you are doing, you need to be able to connect the dots and see how all of them relate, and you can have the same mental approach with everything you do, and it works. It's just that very small switch in mindset that you've got to stick with and believe it and just trust it.
Amanda Testa: Yes, and I think the practicing is the key, right?
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: The continued practice and focus.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Not compromise.
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so I'm wondering, too, if there's any other question that you really wish that I would have asked or if there are any other words you want to share about the book or about what you want people to know.
Alexandra Dotcheva: With respect to the book, I wrote it because people started asking all these questions, right? So I eventually organized and said what if I just tell them what I did because they always ask me, "How are you so physically fit? How are you able to do this diet? Where do I start with being on a vegan healthy diet?" There is a whole chapter with recipes from my own household, super simple recipes. I'm very -- I can't imagine cooking every day. No, we cook twice a week. It takes me 45 minutes to cook, and then we eat.
So investing chapters and all that, it's also drawn completely from my personal experience so people can see how you can start investing, how you can learn or get involved, and I believe I have exhausted pretty much the five aspects in a comprehensive way that gives you a system, and it's based on experience. There is no BS. Your experience will be different, but I want you to see that I struggled a lot with tremendous self-doubt to the point of self-humiliation just to earn some approval from others, and that was in my teenage years and early 20s and late 20s. If people are hesitant to start something new or they're in a midlife crisis, that's the best book for them, truthfully, right now because it's very organized, it's very methodical and easy to read --
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm.
Alexandra Dotcheva: -- is what I'm told from everybody who has bought it so far, and that's just it. You can always afford to buy a book.
I have it on electronic and paperback versions so whichever suits you best, give it a try, and see what fits!
Amanda Testa: Beautiful, and, you know, one other question that I wanted to ask, too, is around the financial aspect in finding the money habits that support you. I'm wondering if you might just share a little bit about some ways that -- 'cause, again, like you mentioned, if you don’t have the financial wellbeing or there's constant fear, then that's gonna affect your health, and that's gonna affect your relationships and everything else. So I'm wondering if you were to share just maybe one or two tips around creating the money habits that serve you, what would you share?
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yeah, you need to make a difference between things that bring value in your life and those that don’t bring value in your life. So, for one thing, you want to stay away from credit card debt, but you can have debt when it’s rental properties. Tenants pay for this debt and you provide a nice place for them to live, an affordable place to live, I have to say. Don't bank on your tenants if you want them to respect you. Right now, this is very relevant with what happened with the COVID crisis and everything, but when you save money, first of all, you have to save much more than 10 percent of your income if you really want to get anywhere faster, but the saved money, you first invest in your financial education, and by financial education I mean all of my teachers, all of my mentors are self-made millionaires.
I didn’t go take a financial college class because I know the professor earns a salary to make ends meet. I already knew how to do that, so I didn’t want somebody to teach me how to make money when they're relying on a salary themselves, so I need to know how the self-made millionaires made their money from scratch so I can become one of them.
So I paid a couple of them for their online training, information products you buy, and you apply these strategies to your life, and it helped me. I was told, "Oh, these are scammers. Don’t do that, The Rich Dad Company. I studied with The Rich Dad Company, Robert Kiyosaki. I was warned against their teachings by people that were just as poor and financially ignorant as I was. As much as they were very well-intended, I decided not to listen to them, and said, "Well, let me see. I can risk some money and buy the courses." First, I read six of his books, of course. Then, I decided to buy the courses online, and the best money ever spent.
They teach you how to prioritize. They teach you financial statements, and I'm not advertising, necessarily, The Rich Dad Company courses. There are other investment programs that you can do, but just research for yourself. Don’t be afraid to learn, read reviews, spend a little money, buy their books, see if you can trust them, and really don't buy things just to show off what you have. Create financial goals, realize how much you want your net worth by the time you're 60 or 65 or 55, again, depending on your goals. I, personally, am not very fond of the net worth concept. I really like the -- I'm a cash flow investor more so than capital gains and net worth. I mean, your net worth grows naturally, but cash flow, multiple streams of income that you can rely on for the rest of your life, and you want assets that are -- the income is slowly taxed, not like the earned income, that is the highest tax income. You have income from rental real estate. That's the lowest-taxed income because it's passive. Learn the difference between commissions and passive income and portfolio income.
There is so much to learn in the financial world, but it all depends on your goals and plans, and most people don’t have a goal because they don’t know what will really make them happy. They have these generic ideas, "Oh, I want more money," but why do you want more money? "I want to be in good health." Why? Do you want to achieve something amazing that you need the good health for, like the really hardworking and successful people need their health to achieve all they achieve, or do you just talk to make yourself liked to your friends and neighbors? It's really interesting when you hear people talk, when you realize they really don’t have much in terms of goals.
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm.
Alexandra Dotcheva: The financial aspect is no less. People are so irresponsible, financially. Look at the credit card crisis in this country right now. It's not a new thing, of course, but I never had credit card debt. My bank pays me every month to use their card. I've never paid interest in my -- for the last six years, I have not paid a penny of interest to my credit card or bank, but I get their cash rewards every month. They pay me to [Laughs] use their card. I've written in detail about this in chapter ten, the financial discipline, education, and education.
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm.
Alexandra Dotcheva: And then the next chapter is about financial growth and investing.
Amanda Testa: One of the things I just want to share about that is, you know, like you say, you're never too late to learn something, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming, but really, it's not when you take it simply and just step-by-step, right? You can learn anything, and I think --
Alexandra Dotcheva: Just don't stop after step four! [Laughs] Keep on with five, six, seven.
Amanda Testa: Yes, well, that's the thing, too. I was listening to someone the other day -- I can't remember who -- but talking about that's what the master knows. When you're at the mastery, there is never a stop to the learning, right?
Alexandra Dotcheva: No.
Amanda Testa: There is never a stop, and that's what the master knows. You're not gonna stop learning. You're gonna always learn new things, and you’ve got to continue the learning process.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yes, ma'am, and my most favorite from martial arts is, “The difference between the master and the beginner is that the master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried,” and this is such a true statement. There's a lot of failure in life, but if you treat it as a learning curve, then it's not really a failure. It's just you discovered one more way that it didn’t work. That's what [INDISCERNIBLE] said once upon a time. [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: Yes.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: Well, thank you so much for being here and for sharing all of these beautiful inspirations and also to share more about your book, Holistic Self-Confidence. I'm wondering if you could just let everyone know where the best place to find you is and learn more about how they can get the book.
Alexandra Dotcheva: I do have a website. It's www.holisticselfconfidence.com, no dashes. The book is purchasable in paperback and eBook formats. I also have a blog that people can read. I just recently posted the sixth blog post 'cause I just started, right? They can read the blog. It's free, obviously, so they can see if they are interested in trusting me or not before they buy the book, but, like I said, the book is one of the most affordable ways to learn, then you buy courses from other people. That's a little bit more challenging for your financial organization, but I started through books. That's how I started my learning. I was clueless about finances, about health in many ways 15 years ago, and piece by piece, you just build your knowledge and make better decisions.
Amanda Testa: Yes, and that's what I love about the library, too, right? You don’t have to have a bunch of money to put in to learn. You can even just go to the library and get books which is great.
Alexandra Dotcheva: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That's right. That's right.
Amanda Testa: Well, thank you so much again, and I'll make sure to put in the show notes where you can find more about Alexandra and how to connect and get her book. Thank you all for listening, and thank you again for being here, Alexandra.
Alexandra Dotcheva: A pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having me, Amanda.
Amanda Testa: Yes, we will see you all next week.
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