The best-facilitated conversation I have ever had with myself.
Rhys Thorvald, www.terracognita.studio
James-Olivia is who you want to work with when you want to be LOVED, HEARD and GUIDED into understanding the intersections of disconnection we’re ingrained in — fully and deeply. They are incredibly gifted at listening to the experiences of your life and helping you dissect and dismantle the lies of limitation and cultural programming that separate you from moving towards embodying your realness in our society.
Ash Johns, www.ashleyjohns.com
James-Olivia has been an incredible support to me through some of the most challenging and confusing times of my life. In moments where I feel completely stuck, James creates space for me to explore the deeper parts of myself that resist being uncovered. This exploration and the honesty it produces have allowed me to loosen my knots and feel generative motion again, bringing me into closer connection both with myself and those I’m in relationship with. I feel truly listened to and heard by James-Olivia, and their questions and (consensual) reflections back to me have allowed me to learn how to actually listen to myself and the people I care about.
I love that James-Olivia brings a strong anti-oppressive framework to their coaching practice, and the many ways that they consistently link the personal to the communities and systems we are all a part of. While I can always count on James-Olivia to be loving in our conversations, it is a love that is committed to truth telling and accountability; I know that I will leave our conversations understanding myself, my relationships and my social conditioning more thoroughly, whether or not it’s pretty. But James-Olivia is utterly unconcerned with pretty, which creates the space to actually just BE and make aware, sovereign, clear decisions about who we are constantly becoming. I can’t think of a bigger gift.
It’s always amazing to talk to James-Olivia. They tell you the truth, they are always surprising, and they’re willing to hold your hand while leading you into places that may be uncomfortable for you. If you want truth and surprise, without being pandered to, these are conversations you need to have.” is what I would say to other people. But for me, I basically just wish these conversations would never end.
Tiana Dodson, One Beautiful Yes
We had our first group retreat of the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition, and James-Olivia graciously facilitated the much needed difficult conversations that the people in the coalition needed to have, both to better understand each other’s personal and collective intents in the work we do to support immigrant communities, and to open spaces for collaborative future projects. In a short amount of time, James kept us focused on these goals, at the same time enabling us to check in with ourselves, and acknowledge that our ethics, our capacities, our syntony and dissonance, and also our privilege are at the basis of what we do and how. I feel reinvigorated by knowing that we can better structure our collective, or at least take steps toward that. James, you played an intricate part of that beautiful process. Thank you!
Patricia Rodriguez, Associate Professor, Politics at Ithaca College; Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition
James-Olivia was a generous and focused facilitator for our Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition retreat. They provided a critical support structure that helped us tackle some important issues. James-Olivia has a dedicated approach to holding participants accountable, alongside compassionate recognition of the difficulty of collective decision-making. They didn’t solve any problems for us, but helped us come together to discuss how we might implement transformative change moving forward. For that, I am grateful!
The retreat was challenging, and I had to definitely surmount some initial skepticism about being in contemplative space. But James-Olivia quickly helped us “get to work” and I ultimately appreciated the reflective moments they asked us to engage in. The time flew by, and illuminated what cards we all have to put on the table, even if we didn’t figure out what to do with them all yet. We have some hard work ahead, but this was a critical first step.
Shannon Gleason, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Labor Relations, Law & History at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations; Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition
James-Olivia and I met in 2010 and I am forever grateful for the ongoing opportunity to learn and grow alongside this humble and hungry soul. I found James-Olivia at a time where my mind and body were experiencing a disconnect. James-Olivia has the skill to guide one’s inquiry inside and utilize personal accountability to motivate change, empowerment and balance. I continue to lean on James as part of my village. I cherish the unfiltered perspective, transparent communication and humility they brings to our shared space.
Christina Garcia, Co-Founder C Scape Foundation
I immediately felt at ease with James-Olivia, even though we were virtual strangers. My intention behind this call was to gain some clarity around my responsibility in these charged times of blatant racism and hatred … as a mixed race woman. James-Olivia guided me through an amazing coaching conversation that honored not only their own story, but highlighted parts of my own that I had ceased to acknowledge. I entered the dialogue feeling tense and pent up, and exited the experience feeling at ease, and centered in the work that was mine to do. One of the most pivotal questions was this: “What is yours to be done?” Thank you for a massive life shift, James-Olivia!
Naomi Hattaway, Global Community Leader, naomihattaway.com
It was a pure pleasure having a chance to speak to James-Olivia. They create ease, a sense of trust (because you know they will be honest), holds space for complexity and inspires connection and openness. It’s no wonder their sweet spot is around healing and deepening in relationship. They live and breathe it.
In a field of coaches/healers/spiritual people holding space for radical transformation (which necessarily includes the examination of how we exist and choose consciously in systems and structures of privilege and oppression) they are someone who models integrity in leadership. I’m thrilled to have been introduced to them.
James-Olivia really knows how to help folks ask and process the unspoken, but necessary, questions about themselves. During our chat, I was able to pinpoint the source of my knot, sit in its tightness, and then unravel the tangled areas to create something beautiful.
Preslaysa Williams, award-winning author and actress
If you have a chance to work with a coach, I highly recommend James-Olivia. She’s gentle yet honest, and I suspect you’ll love her open, conversational approach to coaching. As both a coach and client myself, I truly appreciate when coaches let their clients come to their own best conclusions that align with who they are rather than dictating how they should feel or what they should or should not do. Our call was like having a heart to heart talk with a best friend, the kind of friend who will call you on your shit, tell you like it is, and has your best interests in mind. Out of that coaching call came a burst of strength and confidence to follow this deep wild heart calling inside me.
Tree Franklin, findyourinnerhappy.com
Our call was a beautiful experience. I love how you hold space. Your clear boundaries, defined agreements, and way of being make having a challenging and deep conversations feel safe. I felt like I could take my time with my responses, and answer honestly without any fear of judgment. I really felt seen and held during my time with you and walked away with feeling full, elevated, and so at peace.
During our call, you encouraged me to shift my view of what’s more important as I prepare myself to show up fully and powerfully for my impact in the world. You helped me see that my inner work is so much more important than the performative B.S. that I used to feel pressure to partake in. Perhaps the biggest shift and one that is still in progress was regarding my yearning for deeper sisterhood. What we discussed showed how much closer it is to materializing than I previously realized and how much of what I’m seeking is already inside me.
Thank you, James! I gained sooooo much from our talk and feel like I have been blessed for lifetimes just by knowing you and having conversations with you. <3
Violeta Potter, violetapotter.com
James-Olivia is my coach and my friend. The two are separate relationships. This is a gift.
Although my coaching with James was directed at individual relationship issues, all of my relationships began to change. Some become more fluid, honest and beautiful. Some I let go of completely. Some are still a challenge, but worth continuing to work through them, with love.
James-Olivia has the gift of being able to see another human’s reality, even when they don’t see it themselves. They guide us to the places we need to look at, through honest conversation, to see whether we want to keep this reality or change it. There is never any judgement, only guidance. We become open to seeing what we really already know. It is freedom.
Some conversations can be challenging for someone like me because confrontation makes me uncomfortable. I learned that being uncomfortable is a GOOD thing! I became more comfortable when I could speak my truths and work through them, rather than sit in limbo waiting for the other shoe to drop. Discomfort came in spurts, rather than always being present.
Another part of my journey through this life has been learning about systemic racism, my own white privilege (which is blinding) and how to navigate through the changes that are happening in our world.* I was very uncomfortable challenging the status quo because of my discomfort with confrontation. James guided me on how to have these conversations with love. I am responsible for the information I speak and learn, not the response. I figured out when to speak and more importantly, when to not. Once I get going it’s hard to stop me!
I am always a work in progress. I will continue to use James-Olivia’s coaching services for however long and often is needed. I am honored and grateful to have her in our lives.
Nancy Brownell-Howe, Balanced Bowenwork
*Note from James-Olivia: I am not an anti-racism educator. I will enthusiastically refer you to resources and my own mentors and teachers who can guide you in your own anti-racism work. Nancy and I are able to have these conversations in our coaching relationship and in our friendship because she listens to and learns from BIWOC and she actively does the work of dismantling white supremacy and other systems of oppression.
I am building stronger relationships with everyone I know. I already feel more connected to several of my friends just because I got the courage to ask for help when I needed it. My overall anxiety has improved. I am not instantly reacting to situations or people. The most important break through I made was when James told me [something I needed to hear]. It was so simple but so powerful. I find myself repeating this to myself and my daughter multiple times a day now.
James-Olivia has an incredible way of connecting with you. It feels like you are having a heart to heart talk with your best friend. I had zero reservations about telling her my deepest secrets and never felt judged or uncomfortable. She is gentle but honest, sensitive but strong and makes you really believe you are capable of anything.
Ketrin C., Seattle, WA
James made me start thinking about what I really want and how I’m going to get it. I know she always comes from a place of love. Sometimes I need a little bit of tough love and that’s what she did for me. She doesn’t let me make excuses and she calls me out on my shit. No one else does that. And I know she does it because she really sees me and she knows what I’m capable of.
McKenna K., Tucson, AZ
James-Olivia utilizes direct communication wrapped in a silk scarf of kindness; it’s a rare and powerful skill.
Dean Baraba, Co-Founder C Scape Foundation
James worked with me to break apart concepts that were keeping me lodged in place. Beforehand, I felt somewhat immobile regarding what materials to work with inside myself and in the world, to move forward actively in my life. I started with some values I have. After connecting, I felt that my window to my own world was free and bright. After the conversation I had simple and concrete places to start. These concrete things right here in the world, and the very unlinear process we took, changed me. I could feel it in my body, which is my starting place.
Amy L., New York
I had the pleasure of working with James Olivia over the course of 3 months in 2017. My life on every level was in transition. You might say I was “free falling” from having lost a job and trying to regain my foothold in an industry which was/is dramatically changing. I also was hanging on to a relationship which was not serving my highest growth. On the contrary, I was allowing it to negatively impact my self-worth.
What I valued most about my work with James was the safe, gentle, loving container she provided AND action oriented coaching. There were days I didn’t feel like committing to our call (I was that low), but I was ALWAYS so glad I did as she provided insights that helped propel me forward, simply by listening and asking targeted questions. I always came out of our work together with 2-3 action items; areas I agreed to work on between our sessions. Sometimes I fell short and did not complete my assignments; there was never judgement from her; only acceptance for where I was at and in turn what led to my inability to complete what I had originally set forth as an objective.
She has trained in a variety of modalities and is well read. She doesn’t just apply one technique in her work with you; she digs into her tool bag and utilizes the ones that will serve YOU the best.
She honors her commitment by being on time. She also remembers what was unveiled and discussed from session to session, providing much needed continuity/consistency in your working relationship.
Although it took me 3 months (past our coaching sessions) to get out of what was an emotionally abusive relationship, I can attribute the ultimate decision to leave to the work I did with James. She offered nuggets wisdom (i.e. “the conversation IS the relationship”), as James also struggled (in the past) to rid herself from a similar relationship dynamic. Her ability to keep a professional boundary and yet allow you to see into HER heart, vulnerability, strength and life path was quite remarkable and unique.
I am so grateful for the work we did together. I know our work together is far from finished and I look forward to more!
James is passionate about serving others as a catalyst for positive growth and change. She is compassionate, supportive, highly intelligent, authentic, comes from a place of deep integrity and has a wicked sense of humor. (Yes, you need to have a sense of humor when you are a coach.)
I started out not knowing what to expect or anticipate when we first started our coaching relationship together. Three months later, I have a better understanding of where I have grown, where I still need to grow (always a process), and to be kind and compassionate with my self as I am to others.
I am in the very beginning stages of collaborating on a new business with a colleague/friend. I have never started a business before and have many concerns. James listened to my concerns, my confusion and my fears, reflecting back to me that while I don’t have formal experience in starting a business, that my intuition is right on, I have transferable skills and a network of friends and colleagues who can point me in the right direction.
Emily B., MA Ed, Academic Counselor, Performing Artist, Social Entrepreneur, Seattle, WA
Question everything, not judge, label, and condemn everything. I have never been able to sit with a question. I was a good student who did as he was told, which means when a question came up, I was supposed to know the answer. If I couldn’t answer the question, I couldn’t pass the test. Not passing the test meant I wasn’t a good student (and also that I couldn’t continue my acting vocation). Not being a good student, when my only job from the age of 5-21 was to study and pass tests might as well have been the same as not being a good person. James-Olivia and I spent weeks breaking that paradigm, which is something I realized after we concluded my working sessions.
Asking the question makes me the teacher instead of the student. Asking questions of my thoughts, my dreams, my habits, even questioning others instead of judging. After spending my life answering to others and caving to external circumstances I’m now questioning and allowing the answer to arise in its own time.
James-Olivia is a wonderful coach and a wonderful listener. They encouraged me to find my own answers and pushed me when I needed to be pushed. My relationships with family members have improved as I have gotten more confidence in myself.
L.C., Seattle, WA
James offered me a weekly space for self reflection that was incredibly crucial in the time. I was able to reassess beliefs and values in an accountable way, in which particular aspects were revisited, allowing real growth to occur in those areas.
I found James to be incredibly personable, yet professional and able to hold me to accountability. She’s very clear and open, it was so supportive to have her in our weekly meetings and I often look back at the pieces of wisdom we unveiled in our process.
Helena P., New York, NY
James-Olivia is a gifted workshop guide who delivers hands on, in-depth knowledge about the intricacies of forgiveness.
James leads professionally and creates a sensitive atmosphere whereby personal safety for participants is central. Clear boundaries are established so that each person can identify and choose what they are ready to share or not share. James affirms by example some of the principles of forgiveness. She clarifies that the work of forgiveness offers new tools and new definitions. Life sometimes imparts what can feel like unbending communication with others, but with focus, the workshop can help manifest choices and more hopeful shifts or outcomes over time.
James has a comfortable style in introducing content in the workshop. I found the quiet periodic silent breaks that were built into the structure of the group work, were personally revelatory for feeling and resting with the conversation.
James compiled a detailed workbook, beneficial for workshop growth; also designed for continued home use. Included were key principles and reflections pertaining to forgiveness with numerous writing workouts. These step-by-step exercises, constructed to build on each other, helped me to see how my original ‘story’ about an ongoing obstacle was actually holding me back from self-love and forgiveness. In its place I could see what could become a more honest interpretation, by removing judgment in the wording of my ‘story’. The process revealed new perspectives, which assisted me in moving forward with a decision to forgive.
During and after this workshop, I gained new awareness. I wholeheartedly recommend this work and any future related workshops that James will be leading.
Barbara P., Tucson, AZ
Once again you gave an amazing workshop. I particularly enjoyed this subject and group of people who all contributed in strong and open ways. It truly helps to connect, and also hearing your wisdom once again, which included multiple opportunities to participate. I appreciate your well developed and thoughtful exercises that guide us all towards goodness, living a fuller and richer life, but also to the messy stuff!
I am grateful for you, your kindness, and for your passion for helping me and others deeply,